IP protection: how to resolve the crisis?

Everybody sees that IP protection is now in very deep crisis. Computers, networking, peering networks and media exchange made the situation very unstable. But it is becoming much more unstable due to ethical conflict. From one side, any efforts must be paid and people doing software or music expect to earn money using what they do. From the other one, it seems stupid and not too honoring to prevent people from copying content they obtained legally. Paper book is what I can share for everybody, why I can’t share electronic one?

This crisis became quite long time ago, but last years it becomes more and more impacting the real world. Music, literature, innovative ideas, almost all non-material property is in scope of it. However software is under the biggest pressure. For example, we still don’t have any kind of software components market, many companies prefer to re-write even simple modules than buy ready to use ones due to very unclear situation with licensing and payments. Software vendors, software developers, freelancers, small companies who would have a chance to make and sale intelligent software components are under high risks pressure and prefer avoiding so narrow way. It is a huge efforts wasting, big inconvenience, but it’s just an example. Any of you can easily find another example from software world.

Couple years ago it was looking as new business strategies can resolve this issue. In particular, “pay for what you use” seemed very effective, many people including me expected that users will be happy to pay for only usage of modules, not for software products and packages. Web applications gave a chance for this strategy.
However now it seems this idea is failing. Web applications are occupying their place in computer world, but not being a replacement of the local and distributed ones. And people… people want to own what they pay for. Good example is Amazon S3. It could be quite effective replacement of the local hard drive, but people don’t want to pay for what they can not take with them and overall success of S3 is much much less than it could be. For me, it looks like other “new” marketing approaches will go the same way or lim ited, very lim ited success. Nobody can avoid simple goods-money-goods exchange, which is simple, clear and well understandable for the most of human population.

However it looks like it’s possible to search for the solution beyond another door. The main question is why product maker keeps IP so long? 10, 20, 70 years are typically many times longer than the product lifecycle management process would show it to be. And it really produces a lot of troubles. For example, creating new solution, company is able to block usage of the older ones as it still keeps copyright on it. IP conflict provokes monopoly conflict as well.

But why not to reduce the period when author keeps copyright on his software development product? Let’s say two or three years for software (and for example five for music, ten for books…). It would authorize users using older versions and products for free. And it will speed up the progress, because corporations will be aware that in three years their current solutions become obsolete and they must do new ones, moreover, significantly better ones to continue getting revenue.

For sure, such approach is not to excite corporations as they will need to work more for less. But it will be a chance to break the chain of mutual claims between IP creators, owners and consumers. It will also give a kind of fair solution as the most part of IP is not valuable enough to bring money to the author, his legatees and legatees of his legatees. And it may force people to think faster.

Why not?


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