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THE BATTLE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

 


By Geoff Metcalf

December 4, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

If Google had been around between 300 BC to 400 AD it would have digitized, and filed everything in the ancient Library of Alexandria. The mega cyberspace search engine has sparked a war between publishers and Google Inc.

Notwithstanding ‘minor’ impediments like legal copyrights, Google wants to put EVERYthing written in their new digital depository for anyone with a modem to have.

Lots of authors, publishers, and those sensitive to the concept of ‘intellectual property’ have their underwear in a collective sonic wedgie bunch.

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive is kinda/sorta recognized as a “digital guru” by many. Unlike like the Google/Soviet doctrine of mass or the American variant of ‘Shock and Awe’, Kahle is trying to broker an idealistic dream quest tempered with pragmatism.

Kahle has gotten in bed with Google’s bigtime rivals (Microsoft and Yahoo) in an effort to create what they are suggesting is a “kinder, gentler digital library’ called the “Open Content Alliance”.

The ‘UnGoogle’ variant concentrates on books no longer copyright protected (books published before 1923). Google reportedly plans to cyberize all books from collections of their partners, including a bunch still in copyright. Publishers and authors are not happy with Google, the New York Public Library, Oxford University, Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan.

"Google is building a database of value that was created by authors and publishers and using it to advance the interests of its revenue-generating, for-profit search-engine operation," Allan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers, which has filed a copyright infringement suit.

Dr. Pat Choate is a trusted friend, advisor, economist and author (he was also Ross Perot’s 1996 VP running mate). During the NAFTA debate, Pat mentored me through the morass and was responsible for me eventually reading the entire document. When the Google book grab was announced I naturally reached out to Dr. Choate, who I had recently interviewed about his most recent book, ‘Hot Property : The Stealing of Ideas in an Age of Globalization’.

Choate says “the U.S. economy loses at least $200 Billion as a result of intellectual property piracy. Knockoff handbags and watches to counterfeit drugs all count as part of piracy. The “economic and social consequences of IP piracy is monumental” on an international scale.

His latest book surveys the history of IP laws in the U.S. as rooted in the Constitution. He says, “the original commitment to protect inventors for the good of our nation’s growth was calculated and real.”

However, the U.S., and other nations have undercut and undermined protection of intellectual property rights with lousy enforcement.

We as a nation suffer mega economic losses as a direct result of illegal copying of everything from films to music to…books.

Google, which made it’s bones providing a better mouse trap was initially ‘part of the solution’. It was classic.

  • The market place had a need.
  • Google fulfilled that need.
  • AND did it better than others ‘dabbling’ at it.

Synergy metastasized and Google’s book grab has made them part of the ‘problem’.

The legendary Library of Alexandria allegedly housed all the world’s knowledge until it was mysteriously destroyed some 1,600 years ago.

The technology now exists to digitize and cyberize all the world’s knowledge now…notwithstanding annoying little impediments like copyrights of intellectual property.

It is often observed that “if science CAN do it…science WILL do it.”

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The key question at the nexus of the current war of intellectual property is, ‘should science do it.”

Authors, artists and publishers believe they should enjoy property rights to the product of their intellectual work. Google, Kahle, Microsoft et al believe if they CAN steal intellectual property without compensation or consequences they should…and will.

© 2005 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's

Web Site: www.geoffmetcalf.com. While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  

E-mail: geoff@geoffmetcalf.com


 

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However, the U.S., and other nations have undercut and undermined protection of intellectual property rights with lousy enforcement.