Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!
We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).
... are for entertainment value only. It's like shoving 500 feral cats into a van and watching the action.
Who the hell cares if this scientist took some under-the-table money over a decade ago. Neither side has proven anything, and pointing out a pimple on the other side's stripper doesn't make anyone look creditable.
Dear Slashdot: poisoning your content in this way doesn't motivate me to visit your site.
Addressing your answer to these elements in order:
1- Lower efficiency cells can be used, it just takes more cells to produce the same output.
2- There is nothing stopping an under-developed country from making their own solar cells. They are basically glass with thin films of material deposited thereon.
3- Even if these films require the use of rare earth materials, glass and those materials cannot be patented. Build the plant in the under-developed country, import the materials and make as many cells as you like.
That's three strikes, and my point wins.
And as far as the importation of consumer products: a rice farmer with two cows doesn't care about efficient water-use appliances nor about the generation of electricity. He doesn't import the advanced technology because he doesn't want it or can't afford it, not because there's some patent-holder keeping it from him. (You left out the cost of transporting the cells to his location, which will be perhaps more significant than the manufacturing cost. Transporting panes of glass can be a tricky business...)
Why doesn't the IP/patents of the industrialized world matter to poorer nations? The answer in one word: jurisdiction. A U.S. patent won't stop anyone from practicing or importing an invention in any other country, so long as those activities are done entirely outside of the U.S. (Replace "U.S" with any other country or region and you have the same thing.) The article just touched on the possibility that technology might be stopped in the developing world IF it was not possible to build the potentially-infringing products to be installed elsewhere. But that really isn't much of an impediment: all products are assemblages of their component parts, and those component parts are rarely protected in their totality under patents. Want to build the technology in Nigeria (where there are no patents to it)? Then build the component parts in the industrialized world, ship them there, and let the Nigerian workers turn their wrenches. Unless there is a component part that is (1) essential to a patented product or method, (2) must be exclusively manufactured in the places where it is patented, and (3) has no non-infringing uses, then this theoretical IP won't stop the technology from being built and developed in the third world. It's a big red herring.
The problem isn't one of IP: it's one of a lack of capital and ROI. When large companies see profit in building energy infrastructure in those poorer nations, I assure you that they'll be right there.
It will never work, because the receiving party of a work declared to be in the public domain cannot verify that the declaring party had the right to do so. Such declarations could be made erroneously or falsely: just having a registry of such declarations doesn't remove the possibility that there is a true copyright-holder out there who might want to pursue his rights later. All the receiving party could to is claim not to have engaged in willful infringement, because he relied upon the declaration.
Imagine that I registered the song "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" and all its recordings into the public domain. As I am not the Beatles, I have no right to do that, and that registration would be false. Using this kind of registry would only confuse the potential market of licensees and clog up the courts with law suits.
The CO detector law requires a $20 battery operated CO detector. (Look under "COSTS".) That is insignificant. What LA wants to do is require supports to be reinforced or replaced which will cost thousands to do.
The Sprinkler system law "requires sprinklers to be installed in accordance with the sprinkler provisions applicable at the time the alteration permit was issued". In other words, property owners who don't alter their properties are exempt.
For these two laws, neither is a "taking" of existing property rights under the Fifth Amendment.
You make the common mistake of thinking that property is the land or building. It's the rights *associated with* the land or building. When the state takes away the owner's ability to use those rights, then the Fifth Amendment requires just compensation. Who gets to use land or improvements thereupon does not matter; the fact that the building doesn't become a public one has zero relevance.
New laws will apply to new buildings or to improvements made to old ones (for permits to issue). There are lots and lots of old structures that remain the same because they haven't been improved. Unless the state wants to compensate the owner, it has no power to force the owner to act. If you look at those new laws in detail, you'll find that they do not impact the present owner's rights to use the property as they were before.