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The Wealth Of Networks

We've seen a lot of these arguments before.

-the copyright stuff is something that pops up a lot.

-nonrivalrous information: everyone can use it as the same time.  Copyright restricts this availability of information.

-copyright law protects people who spend money and time coming up with ideas.  People against it argue that either it damages everyone because it prevents use of general information (preventing progression of society) and how do you copyright something if the idea isn't really that unique and built on other people's ideas.

-"it would be absurd to risk a higher rate of failure in their core business activities in order to save a few hundred thousand dollars on licensing fees."

-better off avoiding the negative public stigma and the time and energy devoted to trying to put up this protection

-free/open-source software as the common example of common-based production.

-copyleft:  anyone is free to use it and make any changes as long as they continue to make it available to other people under the same terms. You can't change little things and slap a copyright on it.  But doesn't necessarily prevent you from making money on something!

-why?  You get genuine joy from producing something and providing it for people.


Important Concepts:

1. Copyright laws are not necessary to profit.

Newspapers don't profit from exclusive ownership of their stories; they mainly profit from advertisements.

2. Information is Nonrival

Using information does not detract from others having access to that information

3. New information is built on past information.

Information builds upon past knowledge and information.  If information exists as exclusive and private property, the cost of producing new info and rewarding those who do will  increase over time.

"The reason is that if any new information good or innovation builds on existing information, then strengthening intellectual property rights increases the prices that those who invest in producing information today must pay to those who did so yesterday, in addition to increasing the rewards an information producer can get tomorrow."

4. Innovation exists even if Copyright Laws are absent.

"The answer is that it comes mostly from a mixture of (1) nonmarket sources-both state and nonstate-and (2) market actors whose business models do not depend on the regulatory framework of intellectual property."

Four important concepts:

1. When everyone contributes something really small (like spare computation power), we can collectively produce something really big without significant cost to any one individual.

2. People want to help contribute to large projects. Volunteer time and social pressure helps motivate people to help.

3. Copyright laws encourage people to "come up with it first" and ensure that these inventors will be able to get rewarded. However, they also discourage innovation by adding  a cost to access previous thinking.


How do these concepts affect the way we think about technology?

Digital technology and the ability to collaborate does change the nature of problemsolviing. While an optimism about human nature and averaging out irregularities can make the results credible, how do you have accountability for a large project?

-The dissemination of information was once controlled by mass media outlets and corporations, but individuals can generate their own content using blogs and other online forms of writing.

-This reduces the cost of information dissemination. It completely shatters free-market principles, since people are donating this information. This is making the current copyright laws ineffective.

-Copyrights are counterproductive, because they make inovation more expensive.

-If people could access old information for free, the creation of new information would be much less expensive.