This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perverse incentives.

University administrators take note: protecting your students means dealing with less paperwork. Everyone wins.


Tidbit from today's meeting with a senior editor of the Lancet:

The major source of revenue of big journals is reprints, not subscriptions nor ads. Publish a clinical trial and drug companies will pay ~$2m for 100,000 reprints to distribute to doctors. Aside from the issue of bias this raises, which I'm reasonably confident they handle properly, is the copyright issue. This is probably good news for open access. The core insight which led to the GPL-- that copyright can be used to liberate works as well as constrain them--here could be used to allow open access to the public but restrict redistribution rights so that they still have most of their revenue stream.

Mentioned PLoS has good lay summaries (apparently there's resistance there because BMJ does them), which she thought was great. Didn't get a very satisfying answer on the open access question, however. Carving out open access exemptions for specific fields is not enough.

Also had a good talk about why science writing is so bad. It was most gratifying to learn that they edit heavily and detest the passive voice. I'll have to go check out some articles later to see whether that comes out in the final product.


It's always been interesting to me how patent law is so much more balanced than copyright law, particularly regarding term length (14 years vs. 70+life). True, when effective patent life on drugs declined then Hatch-Waxman extended it again, but it did so in a reasonable and conditional manner designed to stimulate innovation, as opposed to the 1998 copyright nonsense. Here, however, the imbalance is causing real issues. Under-dosed artemisinin counterfeits is a truly chilling concept. I've never been an IP abolitionist, I just want the law to do what the Constitution requires: encourage innovation. Seems like an exemption could easily be carved out here for greater punishment. If we can push an expansion of copyright globally surely we can push this, and there's even big money behind it.


Monday, February 12, 2007

A new study in the Journal of Political Economy by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf has found that illegal music downloads have had no noticeable effects on the sale of music, contrary to the claims of the recording industry.