Monthly Archives: May 2007

Ideas. not intellectual property

Last weekend Mark Helprin published an op-ed piece in the New York Times that essentially argued that copyrights should exist in perpetuity. The essence of his argument is that if he writes something, his descendants for all time should be able to earn a living off of that. That’s kind of like saying that my current employer should continue paying my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren ad infinitum for the work I do now. This is an absurd argument on the face of it and Helprin comes across as a fool for even putting the idea forward. Today Techdirt has a wonderfully articulate rebuttal of Helprin’s idea starting from an explanation of the difference between physical and intellectual property.

The purpose of property is to better manage the allocation of scarce resources. Since the resource is limited and not everyone can have it, property rights and property law make complete sense for a civilized society, allowing those with rights to the property to buy, sell and exchange their property. This allows for resources to be efficiently allocated through commerce and the laws of supply and demand. It’s a sensible system for the best allocation of scarce resources. However, when it comes to infinite resources, there’s simply no need to worry about efficient allocation — since anyone can have a copy.

Perhaps what we need to do to make some progress in this whole discussion is to change the terminology to words that are more accurately represent what we are talking about. The whole term intellectual property should be discarded immediately in favor of Ideas. Once we are talking about Ideas the tone of the argument changes. When a company like HBO or Disney starts talking about getting a perpetual monopoly (and a copyright or patent is a government granted monopoly) on an Idea, it might start getting average people’s attention so that they stand up and say NO MORE! Check out the rest of Techdirt’s article here.

Blue Heron

On the way home today I was driving along Gottfredson Road and spotted a blue heron. Since I had a camera with me I naturally stopped a took a few pics.

Wurst of Ypsi 6

There was a fundraiser for the Rutherford pool over at the Corner Brewery this evening with Hullaballoo providing some live tunes. The younger kids all seemed to be having a blast and hopefully they raised a few bucks for the pool. I also tried something new here. Google has a new feature with their web albums that allows you to embed a flash slide show in a blog post. What do you think?

No sense of humor 4

FUZZY PINK BUNNY SLIPPERSWhy is it that some people just have no sense of humor and insist on flauting that fact? Tesla Motors has a blog on their corporate site where staff put up posts talking about what’s going on at the EV manufacturer. A lot of the posts are about some the design decisions they’ve made and why they made them. The most recent post was written by one of their software engineers about his main side pursuit. Greg Solberg has been building electrically driven furniture for over a decade and most recently he and his girlfriend built a pair of 7 1/2 foot long fuzzy pink slippers. I wrote a post the other night on ABG linking to Greg’s post and the first commenter on the post wrote this:

I don’t know what Tesla Motors was thinking when they allowed such a post on their blog.

To this all I can say is LIGHTEN UP! Some environmentalists are just far to earnest for their own good. Sometimes you just need to relax and smile a bit.

Prayer is not going to solve Ypsilanti’s problems 2

Thank goodness that Lois Richardson didn’t win the Ypsi Mayoral election last year.  If the best solution she can come up with for the city’s financial problems is participating in the national prayer day then she probably shouldn’t even be on city council.  The city needs some real action on attracting business to town and resolving the Water Street debacle.  Ypsilanti needs real ideas.  Whatever became of that task force that Mayor Schrieber was going to implement after his election?  We haven’t heard much about that.