by Laurent GUERBY
Mon Aug 21st, 2006 at 05:16:37 AM EST
In his latest article on the FT A closed mind about an open world, James Boyle offer some interesting thoughts about intellectual property:
Over the past 15 years, a group of scholars has finally persuaded economists to believe something non-economists find obvious: "behavioural economics" shows that people do not act as economic theory predicts.[...]
Studying intellectual property and the internet has convinced me that we have another cognitive bias. Call it the openness aversion. We are likely to undervalue the importance, viability and productive power of open systems, open networks and non-proprietary production. Test yourself on the following questions. In each case, it is 1991 and I have removed from you all knowledge of the past 15 years.
***Back from front page
You have to design a global computer network. One group of scientists describes a system that is fundamentally open - open protocols and systems so anyone could connect to it and offer information or products to the world. Another group - scholars, businessmen, bureaucrats - points out the problems. Anyone could connect to it. They could do anything. There would be porn, piracy, viruses and spam. Terrorists could put up videos glorifying themselves. Your activist neighbour could compete with The New York Times in documenting the Iraq war. Better to have a well-managed system, in which official approval is required to put up a site; where only a few actions are permitted; where most of us are merely recipients of information; where spam, viruses, piracy (and innovation and anonymous speech) are impossible. Which would you have picked?
The questions I asked are related to the world wide web - which celebrated its 15th birthday last year. Would we create it today? In 1991, you would have scoffed at the web, at open-source software and at getting your information from Google. Control and ownership seem intuitively the right way to go. How do you feel about today's debates? Should we preserve "net neutrality" and openness or give network owners greater control? Should we create new rights for broadcasters and database owners? The next project of the behavioural economists should be to study our cognitive frameworks about property, control and networks. Like the pilot in the cloud looking at his instruments, we might learn that we are upside down.
Together with lawyers bias for money, it explains a lot, don't you think? :)