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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 »

Sorry, but I simply have to add my two cents on what Leonhard is writing about. Yeah, I’m blogging a bit out of my depth here, but as an ardent fan of original music and deep skeptic of intellectual property rights, I’ve had a strong opinion on this subject for years.

It comes as no surprise that ABBA are arguing for the preservation of the music industry. Too old or forgotten to sell any new songs, their income depends on the re-selling and licensing of old songs. Björn claims that downloaders are stealing the ideas of “single individuals” who, presumably, should receive income for it.

But the real question is: who needs the music industry? By pitting overproduced, overfinanced pop products against homegrown artists and appropriating the majority of proceeds, does the music industry really encourage creativity? I wonder how many professional musicians actually work for (major) record labels, but beyond any doubt it’s a very small percentage. The rest ekes out an honest and more or less satisfying existence doing what they can’t resist doing: making. good. original. music.

And here’s a link to the current capitalist crisis: As banking practices show, financial incentives just simply do not produce excellence. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
June 2023

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