eBooks have been a great thing for me- I rarely think to carry a book along with me or have a bag for carrying one, but I always have a smartphone on me, plus an iPad at times. When I was in Spain in 2009, I read a novel on my iPhone that’s over 1000 pages long in paperback form. No, a 3.5″ backlit LCD screen isn’t the nicest reading experience, but I’d like to borrow a saying from the photography world that I believe applies here:
The best way to read a book is the one you have with you.
The Guardian reports that International Intellectual Property Alliance requested that the U.S. Trade Representative to put countries using open source in government on a “Special 301 watchlist” – a list of intellectual property-violating nations, or “state sponsors of piracy.” The recommendation states:
The Indonesian government’s policy… simply weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness by creating an artificial preference for companies offering open source software and related services, even as it denies many legitimate companies access to the government market.
Rather than fostering a system that will allow users to benefit from the best solution available in the market, irrespective of the development model, it encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations.
As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights and also limits the ability of government or public-sector customers (e.g., State-owned enterprise) to choose the best solutions.
In general, this is just another example of an established, successful industry trying to maintain power by coercing governments to make emerging business models illegal, rather than bothering to innovate and create sustainability in the free market. I rant about this all the time, so I won’t continue to do so here.
But since this was filed by the “International Intellectual Property Alliance” – an interest group which conveniently separates this action’s publicity from the companies it represents – I thought I’d just call out just a few of the member companies which are behind this anticompetitive action: (this list goes through member organizations of the IIPA, including the BSA, ESA and AAP)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Bloomberg Press
- The Cato Institute (Free market libertarian economics think tanks for government regulations?!)
- Cisco Systems
- Electronic Arts
- Harcourt, Inc.
- Houghton Mifflin Co.
- Motion Picture Association of America
- Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
- Countless University presses (MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, Universities of California, Chicago, New York, North Carolina and more)
While there isn’t evidence that these companies directly instigated the effort to stifle competition from open source, they are the financial backers of this anticompetitive organization, and thus have a responsibility to be accountable for its actions.