Saturday, March 10, 2012

Greg Mankiw on SOPA

Greg Mankiw proposes a productive starting point for discussion about SOPA:
This is an important economic issue for the United States. We are large producers of intellectual property: movies, novels, software, video games, TV shows, and even economics textbooks. If offshore websites find a way to distribute this intellectual property without paying for it, it is as if organized crime were stealing merchandise from a manufacturing firm at the loading dock.

I fully agree. Heck, I make my living in intellectual property.

However, I strongly feel that when there is a conflict, basic liberties take priority. People playing DVDs they own, on DVD players they own, should not be liable for inducing infringement. Teenagers making mix tapes for each other should not be criminals, not even formally. Web sites should not be taken down until the people running them have had their day in court.

We should all find a way to understand that changing technologies mean that some businesses will rise and others decline. However, there are plenty of business models within the parameters of basic freedom. I have suggested controlling performance, and Arnold Kling has suggested controlling aggregates of data. Those are two ideas, and I am sure there are plenty more.

Before we can really try to find the next business models around intellectual property, we must all get used to the idea that the 20th century is neither the beginning nor the end of history. Business models developed during the 20th century made some amount of sense for their time. Technology has significantly improved, especially technology that involves computation and data transmission, and we owe it to ourselves to improve the business models, too.

1 comment:

Santosh Dash said...

We can have a law similar to GENERIC DRUGS. Every textbook, movies, novels, software, video games, TV shows (or every product to be specific)will be provided property rights for a certain time period (say, 5-10 years). For that period no one is allowed to copy, and the soft copies should not be available for free. Once this property rights period expires then it can be provided free.