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Monopolies, patents, IT and the future


Quite often the clash of views happens about the "copyright", but obviously the debaters do not understand where it came from, how it was developed, and what would happen to it later.
This post does not claim to be exhaustive, and it aims simply to describe the basic system regularities.

We will not describe here the distant times of the 13th century and a history of the first rights in the republic of Venice. We begin with what are closer and clearer to us.

The past

So, in the 18th century there was the world's first Industrial Revolution in England. The Industrial Revolution has increased the people’s productivity in many times, increased the number of produced goods and created a lot of different kinds of enterprises. Those companies terribly rivaled with each other in everything, including the ideas, solutions, technologies and inventions. Theft of inventions was a normal and natural thing, and their cover-up was the most important task. It should be noted, since Britain was and is an absolute monarchy then the business owners were usually very rich and influential people from the upper, aristocratic class, or the king himself.

Theft of inventions had very bad effect on the relationship between the owners of different businesses and that led to the serious internal strife. It reflected badly on the stability and the rule of the king, as well as the profits of enterprises. In order to avoid all these problems the code of laws was developed known to us as "patent rights". The meaning of those laws was similar to modern: a patent holder received a copyright monopoly on the invention or any particular activity for some time (14 years at that time), and the king received in return the development of state industry and taxes.

A sample of English patent: for Henry Morgan


The present

Since then, it took many centuries and a patent law has developed and taken shape as a large officialdom with powerful tools, such as Patent Databases, attorneys, experts, international agreements and other details. By the 20th century, the patent system in general has reached the peak of its development. But in the 20th century some fundamental changes have happened as the progress of electronics, IT and related fields that have created a huge number of non-material things that were habitually tried to fit in the framework of the existing patent system.

The important point is that always up to the 20th century, certain inventions, products, books, etc., had a material carrier. Namely, when buying "something" you get a physical copy of that and could dispose it as you like, for example: to throw it out, sell it, donate it, etc. This copy was only your property. However, duplication of this thing was not a simple task that ensures a monopoly, and it is a natural limitation of the physical world.

However, with the non-material things that suddenly broke away from the material carriers happened an incident, it turned out that the patent system cannot cope with their unique natural properties as many centuries of development were based only on the measurable properties, tangible, and things that physically existed. In the case with the natural properties of non-material things the patent system cannot do anything (there is no transportation cost and so on).

All these unique properties of non-material things seemed to consumers and society as great merit, but someone else sees in it a serious problem.

We will explain the simple principles of the capitalist system in order to make it clearer, that is - any developing market has its own monopoly that dictates all prices to the producer and consumer on its market. A monopoly is not necessarily just one company, most often it is a group of large companies that are controlling the lion’s share of the market in the conspiracy with each other.

In some cases the state is trying somehow to deal with monopolies, but their existence is only a consequence of the natural principles of the capitalistic system structure, therefore struggling with them is actually struggling with capitalism itself (the fight against monopolies is always dull, and it does not get any special success).

So, by the end of the 20th century all big markets have formed monopolies, and no one - neither the author \ inventor, nor the consumer cannot be present at it without the participation of existing monopolies as a mediator "editor". Now this monopoly dictates the prices, purchases and sales to all participants. Here is an example: the author gets from 0.5% up to 6% of the CD-ROM purchase price in the music industry. The rest gets the monopoly. So the authors get only a small percentage from huge turnovers in the developing markets.

The modern development of IT phenomenon that has never been in human history yet, and now it makes available a huge amount of information to everyone who wants to use it \ generate it \ share it. This phenomenon is gradually changing the real world and people are getting the new opportunities, which have never gotten before. For example: now any Web user is actually erudite person with a huge amount of available information that is being obtained by pressing a few buttons (of course, this does not apply to understanding factor). All of this is provided by free flow of information created by users as a fundamental principle of the Web.
The publishers were the first that felt the change in the monopoly, especially when their books \ music \ videos began rapidly to lose their number of copies since listening to music (seeing \ reading) on the screen or print out became the cheaper, faster, more convenient and easier than going to the store or waiting for delivery of the goods. Non-material things are duplicated easily and moved in any quantities at any distances without a significant amount of material resources and the loss of their qualities.

When the monopolies realized that they are no longer needed, they actually went to war with the progress, making attempts to limit in any way the free spreading of information. Here is an example: it is about half of the cost of modern TV is the value of patents, equipment systems, encryption and data protection.

So, in the early 21st century, the technological progress and IT in combination with the natural properties of non-material things made the presence of monopolies in the markets virtually meaningless. Today’s modern fight against the “piracy” for “copyright” is the struggle of these monopolies for their own survival in order to keep their status and income.

You have to understand that in a historical perspective, it is absolutely useless exercise, since the progress cannot be simply reversed. It is stated in a wise saying: "When the wind begins to blow a fool builds - the wall and a smart - the mill". And someone clever has already begun to build a new monopoly on the properties of these non-material things. Some other established markets of non-material production still poorly feel the impact of all these phenomena, but pretty soon everything will change very much.

The future

It is very difficult to say what will be the future, but something could be predicted in terms of the development of similar modern "services", such as the computer printing. The printers have made the great progress for a half-century and have actually buried the publication industry of the paper books. Probably, somewhere will remain the exclusive publisher of gift books in the minimum amount. Generally, a modern 3D-printer is already a potential "killer" for the most part of industry. Also, considering the development of an anthropomorphic robotics technology - in general, the rest of industry is already a foregone conclusion.

The IT development will soon lead to a gradual elimination of much of modern industry and support services. Accordingly, the "patent law" and "copyright" will lose any practical meaning, which is already quite uncertain. Absolutely anyone will be able to create \ alter \ improve some new "products" (just as it is now on torrent servers), as well as to find the right "products" and bypass the modern monopolies.

Most of the "broken copies" consists only in the question - how will the money be made when the copyright disappears?

Pre-image of the new funding system has been implemented long ago in the modern GNU\OpenSource. The developers of innovations will become much better and qualitative as their talents will receive stimulation from the society in form of the resources for further development, similar modern stimulation, such as free\share-ware and OpenSource.

Especially gifted developers will be very popular, and therefore they could quite successfully to convert their popularity into some material resources. We are sure that many of them will be working in groups and their leaders will have a significant part of total resources for the creation of new monopolies. As you know after the victory over the "copyright" will be followed by the next stage of development that is quite obvious - the struggle for the means of information processing.


We live in an amazing time and many things seem to us inviolable now, but very soon they will not be like that. One of them will be the disappearance of "patent law" and "copyright".
The disappearance of these rudiments of the industrial age will not be that easy, since the modern monopolies will fight for their position and future to the last.
By the way, the development of IT will definitely destroy the copyright.

PS. Below are the links to some theoretical materials on the anti-copyright.

Thank you for your attention.
Sparks 16 january 2012, 15:21
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