Patent and copyright extremists are wrecking havoc, from technology markets forced to pay patent trolls and giant companies grabbing rights to the future through patents with absurd claims, to Europe extending copyright to 70 years in the name of a few living artists (and their long-dead managers).
But there continues to be ample evidence that copyright and patents need not strangle the future, and folks putting money behind the idea.
The UK's decision to ignore the extremists who put royalties into the European Interoperability Framework, insisting on Royalty Free standards for the goods they procure is a little marker on the road.
Sure, it's entirely self-serving – governments strapped for cash don't want to pay the patent ransom – but if governments shouldn't be force do do so, what about the rest of us?
Interesting that two of the centers are at the same school – Carnegie Mellon – but it's still a strike at a corrupt system, that demonstrates a big part of the problem.
Patents, which were designed to go to individual inventors, to be individual rights, are now increasingly corporate rights. If you work for a company and do research, the company gets patent rights to anything you do for them. And the same is increasingly true at University campuses. Unless you're going to fund your own lab you can't really invent and get rights. These are corporate rights.
The other day I saw, for the second time in recent weeks, a bumper sticker attacking corporate personhood. This is really the heart of the problem, that corporations are individuals under the law, supposedly men but in fact supermen, because they can't be jailed, and they can't really die since all they own is just passed off – either through auction or sale – to another immortal company.
There is a small, but growing revolt against this nonsense abroad in the land. I wonder what would happen if some mainstream political candidate took it on directly?