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Google Books Ngram Viewer is a fantastic tool showing how certain phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over a selected period of time. Recently, fellow bloggers over at orgtheory have played around with this tool (see, for example, “market - science- religion“).
Working on the issue of the digital public domain during my stay at the WZB, I was curious to compare the mentions of “public domain” and “intellectual property”, which are depicted in the graph below:
The resulting graph is pretty interesting. First, I did not know that the term “intellectual property” was virtually non-existant at all prior to 1980. This is remarkable since the negotiations that in the end led to the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) had started in the early 1980s. Again, we can observe a shifting baseline effect (see “Shifting Baseline in Assessing Copyright Regulation?“): today the concept of “intellectual property” has become completely taken for granted, while 30 years ago even the phrase hadn’t been used. Read the rest of this entry »