The Revolt Of The Poor — страница 2

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publishing houses, record companies, software companies and fashion houses worry ? The answer lurks in history. Intellectual property is a relatively new notion. In the near past, no one considered knowledge or the fruits of creativity (art, design) as ?patentable?, or as someone “property?. The artist was but a mere channel through which divine grace flowed. Texts, discoveries, inventions, works of art and music, designs ? all belonged to the community and could be replicated freely. True, the chosen ones, the conduits, were honoured but were rarely financially rewarded. They were commissioned to produce their works of art and were salaried, in most cases. Only with the advent of the Industrial Revolution were the embryonic precursors of intellectual property introduced but

they were still limited to industrial designs and processes, mainly as embedded in machinery. The patent was born. The more massified the market, the more sophisticated the sales and marketing techniques, the bigger the financial stakes ? the larger loomed the issue of intellectual property. It spread from machinery to designs, processes, books, newspapers, any printed matter, works of art and music, films (which, at their beginning were not considered art), software, software embedded in hardware and even unto genetic material. Intellectual property rights ? despite their noble title ? are less about the intellect and more about property. This is Big Money : the markets in intellectual property outweigh the total industrial production in the world. The aim is to secure a

monopoly on a specific work. This is an especially grave matter in academic publishing where small- circulation magazines do not allow their content to be quoted or published even for non-commercial purposes. The monopolists of knowledge and intellectual products cannot allow competition anywhere in the world ? because theirs is a world market. A pirate in Skopje is in direct competition will Bill Gates. When selling a pirated Microsoft product ? he is depriving Microsoft not only of its income, but of a client (=future income), of its monopolistic status (cheap copies can be smuggled into other markets) and of its competition-deterring image (a major monopoly preserving asset). This is a threat which Microsoft cannot tolerate. Hence its efforts to eradicate piracy – successful

China and an utter failure in legally-relaxed Russia. But what Microsoft fails to understand is that the problem lies with its pricing policy ? not with the pirates. When faced with a global marketplace, a company can adopt one of two policies: either to adjust the price of its products to a world average of purchasing power ? or to use discretionary pricing. A Macedonian with an average monthly income of of 160 USD clearly cannot afford to buy the Encyclopaedia Encarta Deluxe. In America, 100 USD is the income generated in average day’s work. In Macedonian terms, therefore, the Encarta is 20 times more expensive. Either the price should be lowered in the Macedonian market ? or an average world price should be fixed which will reflect an average global purchasing power.

Something must be done about it not only from the economic point of view. Intellectual products are very price sensitive and highly elastic. Lower prices will be more than compensated for by a much higher sales volume. There is no other way to explain the pirate industries : evidently, at the right price a lot of people are willing to buy these products. High prices are an implicit trade-off favouring small, elite, select, rich world clientele. This raises a moral issue : are the children of Macedonia less worthy of education and access to the latest in human knowledge and creation ? Two developments threaten the future of intellectual property rights. One is the Internet. Academics ? fed up with the monopolistic practices of professional publications – already publish there in

big numbers. I published a few book on the Internet and they can be freely downloaded by anyone who has a computer or a modem. There are electronic magazines, trade journals, billboards, professional publications, thousand of books are available full text. Hackers even made sites available from which it is possible to download whole software and multimedia products. It is very easy and cheap to publish in the Internet, the barriers to entry are virtually nil, pardon the pun. Web addresses are provided free of charge, authoring and publishing software tools are incorporated in most word processors and browser applications. As the Internet acquires more impressive sound and video capabilities it will proceed to threaten the monopoly of the record companies, the movie studios and so