(OT?) Copyright and IP

Alexis Kotlowy thrashbarg at kaput.homeunix.org
Sat Aug 22 07:13:30 CDT 2015

Hi List,

This relates to the ongoing discussion about vintage computer software

A year or so ago I did some Beta videotape backups for the Australian
Computer Society. They're of keynote speeches at the 10th Australian
Computer Conference in 1983. One that I'd like to mention is by Tania
Amochev from (then) Control Data Corporation, titled Information
Services of the Future.

In it, things we now call data mining and Google AdSense are discussed,
and the potential of data services in general (this is in 1983). One
thing that struck me was the contrast between traditional copyright of
material items, and how such ideas don't apply very well to non-material

I was left with the impression that the idea of "Intellectual Property"
is in some ways an attempt to force information to be treated like
materials, which is an easy way to put a value information, but also
allows it to be hoarded. This goes directly against how information
behaves, which is to flow freely. This free-flow of information allows
more information to be derived or generated, enhancing productivity and
overall knowledge.

To quote: "Information is diffusive - it leaks. The more it leaks, the
more of it there is. Information is aggressive, even imperialistic. It
simply breaks out of its unnatural bonds, the bonds of secrecy in which
'thing minded' people try to lock it. So secrecy, property rights,
confidentiality, all enshrined in Western thought and law, are not
particularly effective restraints on information."

This is not a cry to abolish copyright and intellectual property laws,
but to highlight some of the inadequacies of the thought process behind
these laws when dealing with high speed, global information.

Does anyone have any thoughts? If there was a massive shift in the
fundamental philosophy of how information should be valued, where would
you like that shift to go? For example, is there a way to pay
programmers and similar professions by the quality of their work, rather
than just the number of lines of code they write. How do you measure the
quality of information?

I'll see if I can get permission to have the six keynote addresses put
online, because they're all fascinating.



P.S., if this is way off topic, my apologies.

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