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WebSphere Journal Editorial: The IP Battles Continue

The IP Battles Continue

The battles over intellectual property continue. Google is the company-of-the-day in the headlines, with its plan to make available excerpts and whole text from several university libraries under legal attack from the New York-based Author's Guild, which represents 8,000 authors.

This is a copyright issue. Earlier headlines this year, involving all major U.S. technology providers, on the other hand, involved patents: how they're granted and adjudicated in the U.S., and how they should be granted and adjudicated within the European Union.

Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft are tussling over the hiring of a key employee - about how much of what he knows in the burgeoning area of search belongs to Microsoft, which is the latest issue to threaten Microsoft's long dominance on the desktop - and whether he can be held to the non-compete he signed.

US business people in the entertainment, publishing, software, and clothing industries will flat out tell you they won't do business in China until that country cleans up its act as a global leader in pirated IP. This as China moves rapidly toward full integration in the world economy and prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

We're clearly not at "the end of history," as one unfortunate school of thought maintains, nor are we in a "clash of civilizations," as another book and its acolytes claim. One could certainly think either of these thoughts by superficially examining current events.

Certainly capitalism is in the final rounds of a resounding victory over communism on a global scale, as the former theory posits. And there are certainly religious and political leaders throughout the world making points with their constituents by painting a simplistic portrait of one divine over another.

Yet although communism appears to be gasping its last breath, it is capitalism, not religion, that remains under attack by various individuals and groups throughout the world.

Dig down into the debate over globalization, for example, and one finds an elite group that is mainly disenchanted with the efforts of the World Bank and the IMF, but remains solidly capitalist in its worldview. This view dramatically differs from that of the anarchists and nihilists who demonstrate at global economic summits; these people object to capitalism, period, and find the two institutions mentioned above the most convenient targets.

Meanwhile, people usually characterized by Americans as terrorists and insurgents use religion to justify their agenda, which beyond removing U.S. troops from certain places is also focused on removing what they see as corrupting capitalist inroads into their societies.

Capitalism is the Big Story right now. And capitalism can't function - and so can't be reformed - in a world that lacks intellectual property protection. Just as the semimythical Wild West of the American 19th century was not truly "won" until a semblance of a legal code was instituted and enforced, there will be little advance in the average wealth of the average citizen of the world until a semblance of a fair intellectual property code is instituted and enforced throughout the world.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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WebSphere News Desk 11/29/05 07:16:04 PM EST

WebSphere Journal Editorial: The IP Battles Continue
The battles over intellectual property continue. Google is the company-of-the-day in the headlines, with its plan to make available excerpts and whole text from several university libraries under legal attack from the New York-based Author's Guild, which represents 8,000 authors.