The ippr think-tank has published a paper “Markets in the online public sphere” on Intellectual Property issues. (Author William Davies).
The paper is an attempt to identify the questions involved, rather than answer them, and as such is worthwhile but not particularly exciting. The main new idea is to classify information transfers in the digital realm according to temporality, classifying information as:
Deliberation (synchronous, interactive transfers) Service (synchronous, passive) Content (asynchronous, temporal) Heritage (asynchronous, timeless) These categories leak into each other, but are probably a useful tool in thinking about the issues.
The leakiness is what the author appears to see as the root of the problems – how one can protect commerce in Content without unacceptable impact on Deliberation or Heritage, or conversely how can one protect the freedom to Deliberate without destroying the business of Content.
While those questions are real, to me they are not the sticking point. I believe that compromise can be reached on what forms of information transfer should be restricted and what shouldn’t. Not a perfect compromise, to be sure, but some kind of widely acceptable outcome.
What I see as the most vital issue is not what should be subject to restriction by law, but who should bear the cost of enforcement. That might sound like a minor detail, but it is in fact the fundamental problem, with far-reaching consequences.
(The rest of this piece is on Anomaly UK – The Director’s Cut)