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Glyn Moody - from openness to abundance


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The various movements based on digital openness – free software, open content, open data, open science, open government etc. – have made huge strides in recent years, and transformed many aspects of the modern world dramatically. But that is just the beginning. The key drivers of openness – the shift from analogue to digital, and global connectivity – imply much more: digital abundance. And that, in its turn, requires us to re-examine ancient intellectual monopolies born of analogue scarcity.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Great overview of the problems of ancient copyright laws vs the abundance of the Net.
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Glyn Moody - from openness to abundance

  1. 1. from openness to abundance <ul>glyn moody </ul>
  2. 2. openness is winning <ul><li>against what? </li><ul><li>against being closed
  3. 3. against refusal to share digital artefacts
  4. 4. against artifical scarcity of information </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. the history of scarcity <ul><li>once upon a time, ideas and known facts were scarce...
  6. 6. ...because humans were scarce </li><ul><li>2,000 years ago – 200 million
  7. 7. 1,000 years ago – 400 million
  8. 8. 700 years ago – 450 million
  9. 9. 600 years ago – 350 million </li></ul><li>...because humans were busy </li><ul><li>trying to survive </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. mercantilist mindset <ul><li>scarcity meant people viewed the economic system as a zero-sum game, in which any gain by one party required a loss by another </li><ul><li>invasions
  11. 11. monopolies key policy instrument </li></ul><li>informational scarcity </li><ul><li>pirating ideas/skills by enticing foreign master craftsmen that knew them with national monopolies </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. letters patent <ul><li>issued by English monarch to grant monopoly for particular industry </li><ul><li>called ”patent” because not sealed – early ”open source” law </li></ul><li>first English patent granted a 20-year monopoly to Flemish stained- glassmaker (1449)
  13. 13. afterwards, knowledge released
  14. 14. formalised in the Statute of Monopolies (1624) </li></ul>
  15. 15. 17 th -century invention <ul><li>very few inventors
  16. 16. very few inventions
  17. 17. trade secrets easy to keep (trade guilds)
  18. 18. in an age of inventive scarcity, patent monopolies made sense as a mercantilist incentive </li><ul><li>to encourage new inventions
  19. 19. to get them revealed for wider use, rather than hoarded </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. 21 st -century invention <ul><li>today, we have an abundance of inventors and invention, as the creaking patent system shows </li><ul><li>in 2009, 482,871 patent applications filed with USPTO; 135,000 in Europe </li></ul><li>abundant monopolies impede progress, rather than promoting it </li><ul><li>independent invention problem
  21. 21. patent thickets </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. software patent problems <ul><li>most litigated – causing much of the backlog of cases in US </li><ul><li>3% in 1984, 26% in 2002 </li></ul><li>total US profit annually was $100 million for 1996-1999
  23. 23. the total cost of litigating in US was $3.9 billion per year
  24. 24. software patents = overall net loss of $3.8 billion per year </li></ul>
  25. 25. gene patent problems <ul><li>4,000 of 24,000 human genes have been patented in US (2004)
  26. 26. 3,000,000 genome-related patents filed
  27. 27. ”patent-stacking” allows single DNA sequence to be patented in several ways
  28. 28. whole-genome scan: impossible with the huge number of gene patents </li></ul>
  29. 29. ”copy right” <ul><li>key invention: movable type (1457)
  30. 30. in 16 th and 17 th century England, the Stationers' Company had exclusive and perpetual state monopoly over producing printed copies of every registered book (their ”copy right”)
  31. 31. aim was to *control* what was printed by establishing responsibility - instrument of censorship </li></ul>
  32. 32. Statute of Anne (1710) <ul><li>” An Act for the Encouragement of Learning”
  33. 33. gave limited monopoly (14 years + 14 year extension)
  34. 34. text became freely available after that period – created modern public domain
  35. 35. strongly influenced US copyright law </li></ul>
  36. 36. 18 th -century publishing <ul><li>hard </li><ul><li>writers were scarce
  37. 37. typesetting slow
  38. 38. printing presses were expensive
  39. 39. binding was slow
  40. 40. distribution slow
  41. 41. sales limited </li></ul><li>major investment of time, energy money </li></ul>
  42. 42. 18 th -century book piracy <ul><li>*also* hard </li><ul><li>somebody to typeset the text
  43. 43. somebody to print the sheets
  44. 44. somebody to bind the book
  45. 45. somebody to distribute the book
  46. 46. somebody to sell the book </li></ul><li>main saving was not paying author
  47. 47. in an age of scarcity, copyright made infringement even more risky </li></ul>
  48. 48. 21 st -century e-publishing <ul><li>trivially easy </li><ul><li>create it
  49. 49. upload it
  50. 50. sell it globally </li></ul></ul>
  51. 51. 21 st -century e-piracy <ul><li>also trivially easy </li><ul><li>obtain digital content (DRM-free)
  52. 52. upload it
  53. 53. people download it globally </li></ul><li>e-piracy is powered by Moore's Law </li><ul><li>today: 1 Terabyte hard disc 50 €
  54. 54. tomorrow: 1 Exabyte hard disc 50 €
  55. 55. implicit *abundance*: 150,000 MP3 files today, 150,000,000,000 MP3 tomorrow </li></ul></ul>
  56. 56. <ul><li>towards abundance </li></ul><ul><li>10 million articles on Wikipedia
  57. 57. 13 million tracks on Spotify
  58. 58. 100 million blogs
  59. 59. ” hundreds of millions” videos on YouTube
  60. 60. 5 billion pictures on Flickr
  61. 61. one trillion URLs (2008)
  62. 62. but...this is only a part of today's abundance </li></ul>
  63. 63. dark abundance <ul><li>the online materials that may be infringing on copyright, and as such form ”unofficial” abundance
  64. 64. by definition, dark abundance negates the scarcity that lies at the heart of copyright
  65. 65. challenges 18 th -century business models built on scarcity
  66. 66. like dark matter, dark abundance has visible consequences </li></ul>
  67. 67. war on abundance <ul><li>HADOPI; Digital Economy Act; Ley Sinde
  68. 68. ACTA; TPPA
  69. 69. ”PROTECT IP” Act; ”voluntary” Website blocking
  70. 70. places protection of intellectual monopolies and their scarcities above protection of human rights
  71. 71. rather break the Internet than allow it to be used for sharing </li></ul>
  72. 72. war on developing world <ul><li>4 billion have no access to the Internet
  73. 73. thanks to intellectual monopolies they have double obstacle to overcome to improve their lot: </li><ul><li>they must get connected
  74. 74. they must then pay for access to most of the world's knowledge, often at near-Western rates – even though the marginal cost is practically zero </li></ul></ul>
  75. 75. <ul><li>fair abundance </li></ul><ul><li>means giving 24x7 access to all today's knowledge, to anyone with a digital access device – mobile, computer, TV
  76. 76. means access for all humanity – not just the developed world, or the richer classes elsewhere
  77. 77. sounds socialist or worse: actually conservative </li></ul>
  78. 78. back to basics <ul><li>copyright not about preserving the West's grip on knowledge
  79. 79. copyright not about protecting old business models
  80. 80. copyright not about enshrining authors' or publishers' ”rights”
  81. 81. copyright is about ”the Encouragement of Learning” </li><ul><li>explicit in Statute of Anne, US copyright acts </li></ul></ul>
  82. 82. the virtuous circle <ul><li>today, the optimum way of ”encouraging learning” is to free it up for the billions who currently have little access to it
  83. 83. educating them through access to knowledge will generate even more creativity in the system
  84. 84. self-fuelling, positive feedback </li></ul>
  85. 85. but <ul><li>” nobody has the right to diminish my copyright in this way”
  86. 86. however, society *does* have that right - just as it had the right to strengthen copyright, repeatedly, by extending its range and its term, diminishing public domain
  87. 87. not necessarily one-way
  88. 88. society decides which direction and the quid pro quo </li></ul>
  89. 89. the precedent (1) <ul><li>for those who deny that it is impossible to do this, there is a historical precedent: the first-sale doctrine
  90. 90. rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy end once that copy is sold
  91. 91. society decided this was a fair limitation on copyright </li></ul>
  92. 92. the precedent (2) <ul><li>those who talk of ”IP” compare copyright infringement with trespass
  93. 93. in 20 th century, law on trespass radically limited by taking away airspace rights </li><ul><li>&quot;every transcontinental flight would subject the operator to countless trespass suits&quot; </li></ul></ul>
  94. 94. digital airspace <ul><li>we need to allow copies to pass freely through the abundant digital space that surrounds analogue objects, just as planes/satellites can pass freely through infinite airspace above private property
  95. 95. if not, the war on digital sharing becomes a war on the ability of the mind to take flight through knowledge </li></ul>
  96. 96. coming to terms <ul><li>copyright was originally 14 years + 14 years; the copyright ”ratchet” has been moving it up to 70 years + life
  97. 97. the ratchet went the wrong way – should have decreased the term of copyright as more creators arrived, less incentive needed
  98. 98. for analogue content, could bring it back to 14 years + 14 years with renewal </li></ul>
  99. 99. Internet time <ul><li>what about digital content?
  100. 100. famously, one calendar year is seven Internet years
  101. 101. digital content lives on Internet time, so for that, should measure copyright on Internet time
  102. 102. 14 Internet years = 2 calendar years </li></ul>
  103. 103. patently obvious? <ul><li>what about patents?
  104. 104. as for copyright, there are two kinds of patents: analogue and digital
  105. 105. analogue patents operate on calendar time, so could leave the current term (typically 20 years)
  106. 106. digital patents – software patents, gene patents – just don't scale, so abolish them </li></ul>
  107. 107. it won't work <ul><li>there will inevitably be infringing content online
  108. 108. copyright industries will cling to scarcity by waging war on sharing
  109. 109. if analogue patents still exist, clever lawyers will employ the ”computer-implemented invention”/”purified gene” trick, yoking digital and analogue together </li></ul>
  110. 110. abundance and freedom <ul><li>to stop the war on sharing, to allow all humanity to build on all knowledge, need to abolish both copyright and patents, for all domains
  111. 111. there is only one non-arbitrary term for an intellectual monopoly: zero years </li></ul>
  112. 112. beyond mercantilism <ul><li>copyright and patents were rational and necessary incentives for an age of analogue scarcity
  113. 113. in an age of digital abundance, no longer rational or necessary
  114. 114. should no longer put up with the high price that intellectual monopolies exact - hindering progress, holding back billions of lives and the loss of fundamental freedoms </li></ul>
  115. 115. ”against intellectual monopoly” <ul><li>323-page book by Michelle Boldrin and David Levine, free download
  116. 116. ”We show through theory and example that intellectual monopoly is not necessary for innovation and as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty.” </li></ul>
  117. 117. from openness to abundance <ul><li>getting from here to there is non-trivial task
  118. 118. how would open projects function without copyright?
  119. 119. what would the key issues be in a world without intellectual monopolies?
  120. 120. what new roles might open projects play in such a world of abundance? </li></ul>
  121. 121. Abundant Knowledge Conference <ul>[email_address] @glynmoody on </ul>