When copyright law was harmonised with patent law, the world economy benefitted from the boost provided by the reduced price of knowledge: the C21st’s taxes on knowledge fell. Led by the UK Government abolishing Crown Copyright, which protected works for 125 years, the period in which copyright owners could extract protect works dropped to 20 years from 70 or 50 years, depending on the kind of copyright protected work, after the death of the author. Making knowledge more accessible reduced the education costs and the cost of the know-how required for best practice in industrial and agricultural production and thus stimulated intellectual property production as authors produced more and piracy incentives fell. The late C20th’s vertiginous fall in the price of communicating, made possible by fibre-optic cables, digitalisation and more efficient and cost effective electronic storage and processing, started to be matched by sharply falling prices of information in the C21st and its opening up of the world’s underused stores of intellectual property. As people across the world knew more, they worked better, fought less and communicated more: vicious circles turned virtuous.
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Open Library Screen shot/Internet Archive /Wikimedia Commons
Author: Richard Collins