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James Boyle at Zeitgeist 2008

James Boyle at Zeitgeist 2008
In this talk on intellectual property, Duke University professor, Boyle talks about two themes. He says that we are bad at looking at distributed creativity but very good about the dangers of openness. We have biasses not just about IP but about our business plans, our methods of social organization, our culture and our politics.

He also says than in the last couple of decades, people have become the subjects of copyright law as never before. We never had to be in the position of risking with copyright law. The combination of these two themes has powerful implications.

Behavioral economists discovered that people do not act rationally. They said, however, that there are patterns to our thinking. We are risk averse. Most people buy warranties on consumer items. We are aware that the odds of using it are low, but we want to eliminate uncertainty.

He challenges the audience that if we have the choice of two networks, given they do not know what we do now. One totally open and another totally secure. He argues that all of us would have been tempted not to pick the first network.

The other example is of Wikipedia. No one could have predicted this as a viable business as well. We systematically pick closed propitiatory systems. the IP on networks is not intuitive. We have a bias in our thinking.

People of the past were not subjects of copyright law. It could not be easily viloated by individuals. Today we cannot live without copying or distributing information. We 'press' copy law triggers.

The fact is many people do make illicit copies. We have not focussed on the flip side. We have handed the tools of creation of 1.3 billion authors, filmakers and creators. These are subjects of copyright law. They may not have the same motivations as big movie makers or organizations but they too wish to create.

Boyle is the chairman of the Creative Commons. Many who create copyrighted works wish to share them. What can we do with such content- copy, modify or share it?

Creative commons offers simple choices and makes it human readable. We can use google or yahoo to find content based on what is allowed. They come together as we:
1. Are very good at figuring out the dangers.
2. Run the risk of loosing out the benefits.

We may regress to the old world where we are limited from accesseing creativity. Indeed we have democratized creativity.

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