v17_2006k - 190 Steven Yarger 10 TURNING PIRATES INTO...

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190 Steven Yarger 10 T URNING P IRATES I NTO P ROPRIETERS H OW AND W HY TO M AKE S OFTWARE I NTELLECTUAL P ROPERTY W ORK IN D EVELOPING C OUNTRIES Steven Yarger Intellectual property (IP) assets are of paramount importance in the developed world. Yet the regulations used to protect these assets artiF cially limit their application in developing countries that could beneF t from the ideas these assets utilize. In the software industry, and because of distinct characteristics of software IP, this paper offers a solution that shares the value of these assets among various parties to improve outcomes for all. Through a partnership between local government and software IP owners, the labor enhancing beneF ts of software can be spread throughout the developing world legally and efF ciently. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessen- ing mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like F re, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of conF nement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. —Thomas Jefferson Steven Yarger is a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration candidate at the University of Michigan ([email protected]).
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191 Turning Pirates Into Proprieters: How and Why to Make Software Intellectual Property Work in Developing Countries I NTRODUCTION Ideas are more important than things. This truth is becoming apparent as the developed world moves rapidly toward a knowledge economy, in which value derives not from ownership and utilization of hard assets, but from the processing and interpretation of information. Such a system requires an adjustment of the way societies protect private property. Whereas physical assets allow straightforward protection due to their tangibility and excludability—only one entity can own a machine or piece of land at one time—idea assets are different. Thomas Jefferson, the father of American intellectual property law, best expressed the non-excludability of ideas in the quote at the opening of this paper. But the special quality of non-excludability, together with the concept of non-diminishing returns on idea assets Jefferson also mentions, presents a conundrum to a knowledge economy: how to protect the ownership of assets, as stated by Jefferson, which cost nothing to share “in nature”? The developed world has solved this problem by instituting intellectual property (IP) laws that grant idea generators exclusive rights to their ideas—most importantly the right to prosecute for infringement—for a limited length of time. The reasoning behind these laws goes to the core of free market
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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v17_2006k - 190 Steven Yarger 10 TURNING PIRATES INTO...

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