Sunday, December 23, 2007

A creative approach to intellectual property

Over the past 15 years, the rise of digital technology and the global economy has made it ever easier to copy, distribute, and profit from the fruits of other people's creativity - from the new Fergie album spreading across peer-to-peer networks to pirated "Spider-Man" DVDs showing up on the streets of Shanghai. In response, American lawmakers have instituted increasingly sweeping laws, seeking to stymie intellectual-property theft with lengthier copyright terms and more stringent consequences for violators. Without these measures, they reason, innovators will lose money, and innovation will suffer.

In something as simple as the public outcry of a Hollywood jokester, Sprigman, an associate professor of law at the University of Virginia, sees an approach that he hopes could put the lie to this thinking, and turn the heads of lawmakers. He sees a comedian enforcing respect for originality without resorting to legislation, lawyers, or the courts. He sees intellectual property being protected - not by the strong arm of the government, but by way of the very technologies that have incited stronger laws in the first place.

"People usually talk about how the Internet destroys intellectual property," says Sprigman. "But here the Internet enforces intellectual property. It helps to protect creativity by shaming pirates."

The Boston Globe Sunday issue has the full article here.

Nice approach to a tough issue. I think this approach has some merit, especially since the restrictive legal approach isn't working.

What do you think?