02 December 2006

The Big IP Lie

A very interesting transcript of a conversation between Reuters and Warner Music Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman. The latter is clearly trying to come across as a hip, reasonable chap:

Adam Reuters: How has the music industry, from production to marketing to distribution, changed in the MySpace, YouTube era we find ourselves in?

Edgar Bronfman: It really is all about the sense of community. There used to be a sense of community if you remember a really great record store where you could go through all the albums and talk about your records. Now you can have that sort of sharing in a virtual community or on an Internet community, and therefore do it much more broadly.

But later on, he is revealed for what he is when he slips in the Big IP Lie:

Intellectual property is intellectual property, whether it’s in the form of an avatar or a song or any such thing. These are the creations of someone’s mind, and it’s property as real as real estate.

No, Ed, no, no, no. What you call "intellectual property" is really an intellectual monopoly: it is a limited privilege, granted by the state, to encourage creativity. It is not property, however much you might like to claim it implicity. It is a bargain, with a quid pro quo: it has to allow reasonable "fair use", and it has to be given up after a reasonable time. You and your industry seem to have forgotten both aspects.

Might I suggest you start talking about intellectual monopolies rather than "intellectual property" to help remind you about your obligations under this bargain?