May 15th, 2007

Exporting I.P.


The New Yorker has a great article about US Free Trade agreement and the IP provision (DMCA) that comes with it:

Why does the U.S. insist on these rules? Quite simply, American drug, software, and media companies are furious about the pirating of their products, and are eager to extend the monopolies that their patents and copyrights confer. These companies are the main advocates for such rules, and the big winners. The losers are often the citizens in developing countries, who find themselves subject to a Draconian I.P. regime that reduces access to new technologies.

More interesting, it cites the following:

History suggests that after a certain point tougher I.P. rules yield diminishing returns. Josh Lerner, a professor at Harvard Business School, looked at a hundred and fifty years of patenting, and found that strengthening patent laws had little effect on the number of innovations within a country. And, in the U.S., stronger patent protections for things like software have had little or no effect on the amount of innovation in the field. The benefits of stronger I.P. protection are even less convincing when it comes to copyright: there’s little evidence that writers and artists are made more productive or creative by the prospect of earning profits for seventy years after they die, and the historical record suggests only a tenuous connection between stronger I.P. laws and creative output.

Singapore is one of the first country to sign the free trade agreement with US and we also have our copyright laws changed, sad to say.

ps: Anyone has a source to the study made by John Lerner?

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