16 February 2011

Does Intellectual Property Promote Growth?

The historical case that strong intellectual property laws promote economic growth is a weak one.

Talking about Chinese industrial growth, Americans are in the position of 19th-century Europeans who acted as if America’s industrial rise could be explained simply by its vast natural resources and its exploitation of immigrant and slave labor, plus its very casual attitude toward copyright and patent laws protecting foreign, mainly British, books and inventions. (Today, Americans walk the streets of China and see their movies, music, software, and books sold everywhere in cheap pirate versions. A century and a half ago, Charles Dickens walked the streets of young America and fumed to see his novels in cheap pirate versions.)

From here.

1 comment:

Michael Malak said...

Did Disney bank on China sales before making Toy Story 3, and now harmed by piracy there?

Would Disney have produced Toy Store 3 if it were legal to download off YouTube?

There are some limited circumstances in which IP laws can foster development of new IP: a stable an egalitarian society, a stable market segment, tort laws that don't favor large corporations, and an IP government agency that is rewarded on accuracy rather than quantity.

Since these conditions are the exception rather than the rule, and since the conditions are not stable even when they exist, and since harm greater than benefit has come lately from IP enforcement, it might be best to just get rid of at least copyrights and patents.