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IMO there are in fact valid reasons to actually abolish copy/patentright beyond "everthing will work out somehow" and "middle ground" argument.
For brevity's sake i would like try to look at technical patents only but i think similar arguments can be made in regards to artistic copyright.
Lets compare the scenarios patenting/no patenting from the point of view of the person who is supposed to be protected by this whole thingie the scientist who invented cure for something or the software engineer who wrote a killer application:
CASE one, today's patenting solution: cure for cancer or THE SPAMKILLFILE algorithm or whatever has been invented or written by a person or a group of people. The moment it gets patented (actually before that but since the general public is none the wiser until stuff gets patented it doesnt matter much) the company those techs and scientist were working for are the ones in total control of that piece of intellectual work (including the power to sit on it and dont let anyone using it for some reason or other) and what is important here ist precisely that: patents do not empower those techheads but rather the firm who they work for. Sure, the do get paid for that piece of work, maybe they even get a raise, but then maybe not. If not, they couldn't just take that expertise of theirs and go implement the "brilliant ideaTM" elsewhere, the company owns that innovatiove piece of knowledge for effectively forever. Even the brilliant scientist who is one among the very few people in the world who actually has the most profound understanding of that new technology or the guru who knows the KILLERAPP code like no one else have no say whatsoever on how that piece of work will be put to good use (or even at all) Instead we have the firm using that piece of knowledge for one purpose and from one angle only, namely profit maximisation. I know we(you) have come to accept the fact that all the good things are a mere byproduct of that profit maximisation paradigm and subordinate to it when push comes to shove. (Indeed this could be one of the reasons people are fed up with IP concept. It helps create certain.. inefficiencies like letting poor people who cant afford the new drugs die and such)
Anyway this wasn't about failings of capitalism in general so lets look at the hypothetical
CASE two, no patent right whatsoever:
The same cure for cancer or killerapp is being developed and put into public domain the moment the product hits the shelves.
(I am aware of the obvious question: why would firms even invest money into R&D if they don't get to keep total control over the resulting innovation? i'll come to that in a moment, please bear with me)
Now for the tech in question the situation is obviously better than ever: her expertise is still worth as much as ever, in fact the more popular the application gets the more is his expertise worth. Sure there are thousands specialists in the same filed who are capable of understanding/implementing the innovation in question but the gals who wrote it are still the ones who know that shit better than anyone else, that is until the technology in all its possible and different implementations is commonplace (which would happen fairly quick with something truly innovative, as one would hope it should).
Now the company better treats their scientists and coders right! Lest they pack up and go implement the idea elsewhere.... Which is kinda apropriate because those where the guys who actually did all the (intellectual) work and such. Yeah the coders still need an admin to mind the network and their servers and such and yes the scientist still need someone to do the stuff that needs to be done and whatsnot but one still could argue that a software developing firm ist primary about writing software and pharmaceutical firm is about developing drugs?
The point i am obviously struggling with here is that patenting is not empowering those people who actually provide the service in question, quite the opposite perhaps?
On the other hand, putting stuff into public domain empowers the inventor in question, but more importantly (if to a lesser extent) it empowers his whole profession! Yeah the new drug might be public domain and everything but still, the amount of people with any real insight into hows and whys is limited to the actual specialists in that field. The levels of sophistication und reproducibility will vary of course but still i think techs are better off empowering each other by making their respective skills more useful even if they "giving up" "their" promised quasimonopoly of patents.
Now, why would firms even want to pay those techs so much money if they don't get to keep total control of the resulting technology? The answer is, i think, for the same reasons they do now: to keep ahead of the competition. What could, of course, change is the risk-to-expected return ratio for the firms in question. A little euphemistic some would say....
Now when we are considering abandoning the institution of patenting it is obvious that it would require something of a... paradigm change, a change in mentality if you will. That much is trivially evident. So lets be a little bolder while we are in the depth of hypothetical compliance anyway and ask ourselfes: would such an reevaluation of risk-to-expected-return for commercial entieties be necessary such a bad idea?
I know many patentig proponents are operating under the asssumption that abandoning (or just weakening) patenting would necessarily result in firms reducing their R&D budget. I say lets not jump to conclusions here. Lets try to evaluate the general case before we get married to some seemingly inevitable special solution/optimisation! A longwinded way to say: they certainly would have to reevaluate their priorities in regards tp R&D, ok.
What are this priorities now and how would they change in absence of patenting? The answers to that question are in my opinion not quite as clear cut as the industry would no doubt try to argue (just to avoid the hustle for example).
I am sorry but i really am in over my head here especially timewise so i have to leave this one with a question rather then a more rigorous approach.. I hope it is not deemed uncourteous to point out that the uncertainty of "might be" applies to the other side too
"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354