Interesting times: Internet, copyright, patents

Since 2008, I completed moving online all my activities, and therefore the country or territory is irrelevant.

I planned to do this research here in BeNeLux “pro bono”, but it did not happen- hence, the online sharing.

We are heading toward interesting times but, as usual, time is the main constraint.

if you want, move directly to what I foresee

Few days ago, with the beginning of the month of October 2009, I kept my schedule and switched gear.

As previously promised, I will keep writing on my blog articles on the impact of political and technological/scientific changes and innovation.

Despite what you can read on the websites (e.g. PartnershipIncubator.Com), the online activities will still be “pro bono” probably for some time, while I transition my company toward a de-facto non profit role (i.e. only on applied and basic research on innovations, presented via the articles published on the blog, with consulting and other activities to keep the activity self-sustaining).

In my case, I simply used as a “milestone” the expiry date of my current residency permit in Brussels, 2012-01-02.

Actually, my target is end December 2011.

I still do not know if I will be able to do in Brussels what I was doing in other countries (mainly: consulting, project and change management, information technology-related activities, support to the business development of SMEs).

Therefore, from October 1st I simply started splitting my online activities from whatever I will do until end 2011.

I will keep reporting and observing on institutional and economical changes in Europe, but I will do that from outside Schuman, as anyway all the articles that I published did not receive any input or support from the local drinking crowd, and therefore I prefer to share my ideas via a public forum, instead of just in the local watering holes.

Why 2011? Because I want to complete few local language skills, by expanding my Dutch language skills and recovering/improving my old rusty German, while preparing for post-2011, by consolidating some old projects that I had prepared pre-2003 in UK, and reviewing further language skills.

Between now and end 2011, depending on where and what I will do, I will see if the old idea (from January 2006, when I applied for a residency permit) of having a normal occupation in BeNeLux, while doing “pro bono” support via PartnershipIncubator.Com is feasible with the new language skills, or if it will make more sense to relocate, and maybe help to create a team somewhere else.

It is a small world- and, moving online, borders become even more irrelevant.

There are some calls to stifle innovation by creating artificial online borders- but it is akin to re-instating border controls within Schengen: a temporary, cumbersome, and annoying palliative.

Considering that ICANN (the authority overseeing Internet) has been de facto released from the US government control, it would be funny to try to create virtual national borders.

The alternative? Shifting everything to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), with a Gosplan-style planning and filtering of every innovation before it is deployed on the market.

Frankly, it is technically and economically unfeasible.

Technically, because most of the new technologies are based on existing ones- it is the”crowdsourced” or “viral marketed” agreement between users that generates new uses, communities, platforms.

Economically, because most recent innovations (e.g. the “OpenSource” software that is the engine of many online sites) was created by tiny outfits or individuals, and none of them would be able or interested in following the regulatory path. Hence, a centralize technology approval system would stifle innovation- unless it were intuitive and automated: paperless, and hassle-free.

Personally, I do not believe that much in public funding for research- unless it comes with an “open licensing” approach, i.e. the results of the research are public, not subject to copyright or patenting, but allowing the free development of derivative products.

I underlined products, because I think that the European Union should ignore the misleading suggestion that a patenting or copyright system for software and business ideas/processes would protect the small players.

Unless defending a copyright or a patent becomes free, small innovative companies that are built around an idea or product will never have the resources (human and financial) to enforce a level playing field with larger entities.

Under the current system, the benefits from an extension of the intellectual property rights protection would be only for current patent owners building artificial red-tape to stifle innovation produced by nimbler entitities (as common in the pharma industry), or specialized legal offices, focused on “mass producing” patent applications.

Small companies simply cannot afford the current intellectual property protection system.

Maybe, a way to balance the free-innovation with intellectual property rights and other public interest protection would be to transfer the control of the patent registration and the Internet routing mechanisms respectively to the WIPO and the ITU.

And give the option to give a tiny slice of the rights to the institutions as an “insurance” for the legal protection.

As I wrote above- interesting times.


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