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May 22, 2013

No IP protections? An economic and security broadside against the U.S.

 
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A Washington Post op-ed today serves as a great follow up to my last post about the Special 301 report, as it describes the danger of the theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP). Put another way, the Special 301 report identifies countries that are a particular problem when it comes to protecting U.S. IP sold, or otherwise provided, into that country.

The op-ed makes clear what happens when our IP is stolen it also makes clear something else -- what happens if there were no longer IP protections in the U.S.? Just read the piece and extend and broaden the impact resulting from piracy. What are those results? More jobs would be lost, even more wealth would be transferred from the U.S. to other countries such as China, loss of the U.S. competitive edge and a long term economic decline, and a loss of our military protections.

Opponents to IP protections would make two arguments, that no one is calling for an end to all IP protections, and that if there were no protections then so much of the economy would not have been built on IP in the first place. Both arguments are weak and disingenuous.

One can easily find any number of people who question whether there should be any IP protections, or specifically whether patents or copyright protections should exist. Similarly, it is easy to find a great number of people who question how broad any protections should be if they are to exist. Of course, there is also the constant parade of the disingenuous who claim that they like IP protections but who never seem to be able to articulate what protections they support, or when faced with new protections always oppose them.

As to the second argument, it is at best a red herring. The fact is that we have decided, beginning with the U.S. Constitution, to afford protections to IP. Of course there are debates as to the specific details of those protections, but protections have long been in place. To suddenly remove those protections, or any significant portions, would cause economic havoc for at least some, if not all, of the IP industries. Such a disruption to economy is unwise, and more rapidly uncorks even greater negative domestic and international ends that are described in the op-ed.




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