Common Sense and Copyright (300 years and counting)

Last week’s Economist had a leader titled “Copyright and wrong” inspired by the signing of the three hundredth anniversary of the original act.  The leader discussed how the the concept of copyright has changed from its original concept of balancing  “incentive to create” with “society’s free access to knowledge and art”. It did this by protecting books from privacy (14 years plus another 14 years if the author was still alive).no to 95

As the Economist so eloquently states,  with the US now granting copyright holders 95 years of protection and other countries enacting similar legislation, it is time to restore the balance.

When you see a term of 95 years, it is clear that the benefit has very little to do with providing incentive to author’s to create works but much to do with heirs and companies created to monetarily exploit the works under the protection of very long copyright.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for allowing an author to derive benefit by  controlling their work’s dissemination (and/or derivative works) during their lifetime or for even 5 years beyond.  I just think that allowing that protection to pass to heirs and/or corporations for such an inordinately long time is wrong. Accidents of happenstance that could benefit society and not the lucky few. Culture and knowledge should not be restricted.

The Economist suggests a return to 28 years. They are right on.

Unlimited Potential, Base of the Pyramid and Emerging Markets

[a long post]

Economist 20090926issuecov The Economist magazine recently published (Sept. 26, 2009) a “Special Report on Telecoms in Emerging Markets”.

While the headline is a bit misleading, the 14 page report covers much more ground than just ‘mobile money’ The Economist makes a very strong case that the balance of power and innovation has shifted form the developed world to the developing world.  I would very much recommend reading the article from start to finish but in the mean time these are the key points I gleaned from the article.

First and foremost, Why are mobile phones so important and impactful in the developing world? As the Economist states

… being able to make and receive phone calls is so important to people that even the very poor are prepared to pay for it. In places with bad roads, unreliable postal services, few trains and parlous landlines, mobile phones can substitute for travel, allow quicker and easier access to information on prices, enable traders to reach wider markets, boost entrepreneurship and generally make it easier to do business. A study by the World Resources Institute found that as developing-world incomes rise, household spending on mobile phones grows faster than spending on energy, water or indeed anything else.

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