Patents and Copyright are Government granted temporary monopoly's over that which has been patented or is under copyright.
Was originally granted to spur more creation of these things to enrich the public domain.
Problem is the temporary part has been massively subverted. Now almost nothing ever makes it into the public domain.
Some Anonymous Coward ass wrote:
As I'm sure you're not a native speaker, let me help you with your studies. "Monopoly's" refers to something owned by a monopoly, as "all the profits are the monopoly's money." You don't use an apostrophe for plurals, you use it for posessives and contractions. The word you were looking for was monopolies.
Get over yourself. Disheveled was submitting a comment on Slashdot, not a thesis to his college advisor or doctoral committee. If we want to start invoking grammatical do's and do not's (Notice the legitimate use of apostrophes indicating neither possession or contraction.), we might also discuss how you wrote "You don't use an apostrophe for plurals, you use it for posessives and contractions" when surely you _meant_ "ONE doesn't use an apostrophe for plurals, ONE uses it for posessives and contractions." After all, disheveled clearly DOES, or at least did, use an apostrophe for a plural.
Disheveled wrote: Problem is the temporary part has been massively subverted. Now almost nothing ever makes it into the public domain.
Some Anonymous Coward ass wrote: You are conflating patents and copyrights, each which has completely different problems. Patents do run out and enter the public domain -- an example is the GIF patent that ran out recently. Patents only last 20 years, which is only a long time if you're only 20. The trouble with patents is they're so expensive only a rich man or a corporation can afford to get one, but if you have the money one is way too easy to get.
Copyrights are only $35 to register, but last way WAY too long.
Disheveled is not conflating anything. You are being extraordinarily intellectually uncharitable in your interpretation of disheveled, and you appear to be conflating ego with actual wisdom or intelligence. Copyrights and patents both do grant temporary "monopolies" (I'm not sure that's actually the best term for what they grant.), but the temporary nature of both have been, as disheveled noted, subverted. In the current tech world, twenty years IS a LONG time. Twenty MONTHS is a long time. Twenty years ago Slashdot did not exist and, IF you had any cell phone, it was heavy, with limited coverage, and very expensive to use. Hell, twenty WEEKS is a long time. It's not uncommon, a few months after some company has released a cutting edge mobile device to collective ooh's and ah's, for another company to release a device that bests the product of the first company.
In any case, as Lord Luceless pointed out, the lowering of the bar on what can be patented has made it possible for entities to easily subvert the temporary nature of patents by getting new ones for relatively trivial modifications.