James Boyle: A natural experiment (Economics of Copyright)

I included a link to this article in the bottom paragraph of my previous post but, on the odd chance that you didn’t click on it, I thought I would give it its own post.

Some months ago I pointed you to a James Boyle commentary piece in The Financial Times which mentioned the following tidbit:

Professor James Bessen and Robert Hunt of the Federal Reserve Bank found that the increase in the level of software patenting in the US was associated with a significant decline in investment in research and development by software companies. As more and more patents were granted, companies spent less on R&D.

The Economist is also concerned about excessive patenting & copyrights.

Anyway, I failed to point you to this one where Prof. Boyle provides us with this money quote:

Imagine a process of reviewing prescription drugs which goes like this: representatives from the drug company come to the regulators and argue that their drug works well and should be approved. They have no evidence of this beyond a few anecdotes about people who want to take it and perhaps some very simple models of how the drug might affect the human body. The drug is approved. No trials, no empirical evidence of any kind, no follow-up. Or imagine a process of making environmental regulations in which there were no data, and no attempts to gather data, about the effects of the particular pollutants being studied. Even the harshest critics of drug regulation or environmental regulation would admit we generally do better than this. But this is often the way we make intellectual property policy.

Disclosure – James Boyle, in addition to editing an edition of the Duke University journal : Law & Contemporary Problems called “The Public Domain” is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law at Duke Law School, a board member of Creative Commons and the co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

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