09 January, 2008

The Pirate's Dilemma

Here's a fascinating excerpt from Matt Mason's new book, The Pirate's Dilemma, via torrentfreak.com. To wit:

We live in a world where it is legal for a company to patent pigs, or any other living thing except for a full birth human being, but copying a CD you bought onto your hard drive is considered an infringement of someone else’s rights. A place where an average law abiding citizen could owe more than $12 million dollars in fines if they were sued every time they accidentally violated copyright law in a single day. A society where it’s ok for each of us to be hit with 5,000 advertising messages every 24 hours, usually without our permission, but creating a piece of art and placing it in public yourself without permission can land you in prison. This isn’t just about the pros and cons of file sharing - this is about an entire species losing its sense of perspective, failing to understand the potential of one of its most precious (and yet most abundant) resources.

Many of us are confused about whether our ideas should count as information, or property. When we have a new idea, there are two opposing forces at work. At the same time as we are thinking “how can I get this out there?” we’re also asking ourselves “how can I benefit from/monetize this idea?” We want to spread ideas as information, but capitalize on them as intellectual property. This problem with information is something I call The Pirate’s Dilemma.

Interesting stuff, and there's not much on there that I don't agree with. I've had this book mentioned to me three times today alone—I'm going to have to shortlist it on my reading pile. . . .

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