Today, many large websites, among them Wikipedia and Google, have participated in a protest against the SOPA and PIPA bills that are floating around Congress. These bills, supported by copyright organizations such as the MPAA and RIAA, would vastly expand government power, in an attempt to go after file sharers and people deemed to aid them.

I am not a friend of distributing material against the will of the copyright holders, but I am a friend of free speech, the open infrastructure of the web, and legally constrained government power, which I why I fully support the opposition to these bills. The EFF has a good list of reasons for why you should as well.

Andra intressanta bloggar om: politik, upphovsrätt, piratkopiering, sopa

Launching The Innovation Renaissance, Alex Tabarrok

Launching The Innovation Renaissance is a new Kindle Single, in which Alex Tabarrok points to the fundamental importance of innovation in improving our lives and creating economic opportunities and growth. The format, shorter than a traditional book but longer than a magazine article, is appealing and the whole text can be read in a few hours.

I agree whole-heartedly with Steven Landsburg’s review of the book. A key passage:

Those of us who write about economics know that the search for perfect real-world examples can be excruciating. Readers crave them, but most of the time a given example ends up illustrating a point that’s close to, but not exactly, what the writer is trying to get at — and so ends up muddying the waters. Tabarrok’s got an amazing knack for finding exactly the right examples, so that we’re simultaneously enthralled by his storytelling and clued in to exactly what he wants us to understand.

His recommended policies — patent reform, prize funds, better education through better teachers, trade schools instead of colleges for many students, liberalized immigration policies for skilled workers, globalization — are all backed by formidable intellectual consensus. Among people who know what they’re talking about, almost none of this stuff is controversial. For the public at large, this book will explain why.

A comment on patent reform: One of Tabarrok’s points is that as markets become more integrated and global, and as poor countries are growing richer, the time needed to recover the costs of development shrinks, and thus patents ought to be shortened. It is a good point, but it is not obvious that policy will move in that direction. Regulatory capture is a problem, and as markets grow, the incentives for rent-seeking in this area grow with them.

I hope the book is widely read. You do not need a Kindle to enjoy it.

Andra intressanta bloggar om: politik, ekonomi, innovation, patent, upphovsrätt, böcker