The long understood theory for why IP rights are necessary has been that people won’t invent useful technologies or create worthwhile art and literature without having the right to profit from their labors.
But, as I am explaining in this series of posts, this fundamental assumption turns out to be wrong.
People are driven to create and invent even in the absence of external rewards, such as those provided by IP rights. Some big projects, such as Wikipedia and Creative Commons, are real-life demonstrations of how this assumption is flawed. Additionally, a new wave of social science research is showing how people are intrinsically motivated to create and innovate.
For a great example, look no further than blogs. Probably 99% of the blog content out there is written without expectation of financial reward. Indeed, copyright entitlements do not seem to be an important driver of blogging at all.
In fact, if anything, it seems like copyright may do more to hinder blogging than to help it. As we’ve seen with the Righthaven lawsuits, copyright can be a powerful source of woe for bloggers.
Very little of the social science work on inherent motivation for creative labor has made its way into the legal scholarship about intellectual property. But I think that will have to change.
I’ll be exploring details and implications (including lots of caveats) on Pixelization over the coming days and weeks.