Words by c.z.robertson

Digital Dilemmas

2001-05-07 01:00:00 UTC

Oh dear. There are some things I just shouldn't read; they just annoy me too much. Henry M. Gladney's Are Intellectual Property Rights a Digital Dilemma? is one of them. As an "extremist", I feel compelled to make some points about it.

Firstly, while Gladney claims to be against IP extremism, he seems far more inclined to attack the IP minimalists than the maximalists, when by his own admission it is the maximalists who are winning where legislation is concerned. Or perhaps I'm overly sensitive to it... read for yourself and make up your own mind.

Secondly, Gladney is just plain wrong when, attacking Barlow, he states that "there was little evidence in 1994 that copyright and patent law impeded the free exchange of ideas". To give one example, a few years earlier Negativland had been sued by Island Records for a fragmentary sample of a U2 song.

He also make claims that are contentious at the very least when he uses the software industry to illustrate the beneficial effects of patents. It has been the software industry that most vociferously fought against patent protection in recent years, and it seems strange that an IBM employee should fail to realise this. On the other hand, IBM have the largest portfolio of software-related patents of any company in the industry.