Question: Should intellectual property be afforded the same, more, or less protections than physical property? In today’s world, do IP laws encourage or prevent innovation?
When someone invents or creates a work the creator/inventor should be able to claim rights to their work. While this is the basic idea behind intellectual property and copyright laws we have seen these laws been taken advantage of and innovation stalled. One of the biggest examples of patent laws being taken advantage of are patent trolls. Patent trolls are companies that don’t contribute and their only purpose is to extract money from the patent law system. There are millions to billions dollars at stake here and often companies which patent trolls threaten just pay a licensing fee to avoid an expensive and drawn out patent suit.
One of the most shocking parts to me of Thursday’s class was the discussion about licensing whether it was copyleft licensing such as GPL or permissive licensing. Bill Gates makes the argument if we want more innovation or better software the creators need to be able to pay. This is regards to his argument for intellectual property and software. This is against open source software and for proprietary. While I agree that with Bill Gates that charging a price for software will increase the quality of the software I’m worried that having more proprietary software could hinder innovation by decreasing the knowledge shared between developers.
Google is making another kernel Fuscsia that is a BSD license. This allows them to keep the proprietary code to themselves but still have ‘open source’. Google currently uses a linux os for their chrome books and linux is under a GPL license. Google is going through the pain and struggle of writing a brand new operating system so they can have BSD licensing and not share any of the proprietary code. The main motivator behind this change is money as if they change to a permissive license Google will not have to share all their code as they do with the GPL license.
John Deere in the past did not allowed famers to repair tractors that they have bought because John Deere put locks on the software so that those farmers had to come to a John Deere repair site to fix their tractors. John Deere claim they own the software on their tractors, but it seems odd that a farmer who buys a product from them can’t even fix it themselves. Now farmers are able to repair their own tractors because John Deere’s claim on this was obviously silly. This type of protection of IP hurts consumers and inventors in my opinions and I’m glad that there were laws removing protections of the software that John Deere owned.
Overall, I think the IP should have the same protections as physical property. I think that IP laws are meant to encourage innovation as they protect the inventor and encourage others to invent, however their should be restrictions on companies such as patent trolls who exist just to stop innovation or companies like Apple who want to have a monopoly on who can repair their computers.