Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Protecting, or not protecting, Intellectual Property

Julia Kirby has written an interesting article, published on the Harvard Business Review, called Why China Might Never Protect IP - that's Intellectual Property, to you and me.

China plainly has a different view of what belongs to whom. Or perhaps they have a different view of theft. But what Kirby points out is that even in the Western world now people are focusing increasingly on openness, a way in which when I create something that you can use or develop, I just let it go for free. Linux is an early example; Wikipedia is a later one, and one that has those people who think you have to make money out of everything still scratching their heads over.

Newspapers are learning the hard way that people aren't interested in being 'special people' who can read the 'special' news by paying a subscription for an online newspaper. Some will - that's fine. Most people who use the Internet have an innate sense that if newspaper A online isn't free newspaper B will be. Guess who gets read?

One of the comments on Kirby's article calls the article drivel. I just read through Seth Godin's alphabetical list of ;post-industrial' words. He introduces it by saying:

New times demand new words, because the old words don't help us see the world differently. Along the way, I've invented a few, and it occurs to me that sometimes I use them as if you know what I'm talking about.

Yes, he has invented a few, but not so many that we don't understand what he says. And his list isn't that unfamiliar. Anyway, one of his favourite words/phrases is the 'lizard brain'. My suspicion is that the person who called Kirby's article 'drivel' was being driven by his lizard brain when he wrote his comment. Kirby and Godin would mostly agree with each other's 'worldview' (another of the words on Godin's list, and definitely one he hasn't invented!)

We're in an extraordinary transition time in terms of property of all sorts; greed and endless profit is no longer the motivating factor for many people. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out, and at the speed with which things are moving, I may still be around to see what happens!
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