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O'Reilly Network: Doc Searls: Abolish Intellectual Property Laws

Apr 21, 2000, 14:38 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Stephen Pizzo)

[ Thanks to S.Ramaswamy for this link. ]

"Doc on Industrial Revolution vs. Virtual Revolution
In the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the material world mattered a lot. Even Marx, who was a great opponent of capitalism, framed his arguments in material terms. But the world we have now is one that values immaterial things, and interestingly, it values their abundance and their ability to become abundant. And so on the one hand, we're framing a lot of these arguments about patents in what amounts to material terms that are embedded in the language of patents and the language of the patent office and the language that people use to talk about these things. And it's a box that we tend to stay in when we talk about this stuff. And I think what the hackers did by building the Net was build something that is not a box at all. It is infinite in all directions. On the one hand, if you build a fence across it, it's an extreme inconvenience, and on the other hand, it's something you can also route around. I think companies that patent aggressively in the long run are going to be routed around by the customer, and I think they're going to be routed around by the companies that implement the technologies and business practices that are close to whatever those patents are."

"Doc on rethinking the whole notion of intellectual property
I happen to think that if we got rid of all intellectual property law, and all copyright law for that matter, and just simply said, "Anybody can do whatever they want, we all inform each other," that's the virtue of being human, you know? If I inform you, you're different. And if you inform me, I'm different than I used to be. This is something that came out in a conversation with Tim O'Reilly and I love it, and it's that we are authors of each other. And the Net creates a space where that can happen, and again I just don't think that's a context where the material notions that are really fairly in peak at this point around patents have a whole lot of relevance except as a kind of sport that people can get into and litigate against each other and the rest of it."

"Doc on business process patents
We need to at least begin to agree that business processes -- these things that are called business processes -- and software itself is something that it is really stupid to patent because it works better if we all own some of this stuff than if only one of us owns some of it. The Internet would never be here if it was up to companies working alone to do it. It never would have been here. And that's the context we need to look back at it and say, "Well, we get these benefits from nobody owning this stuff. Can we apply that in this case?"

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