Alex Steffen of Worldchanging has posted a great interview with me about WIPO, the copyfight, and international development.
WIPO -- the World Intellectual Property Organization -- is the UN's most captive agency. WIPO was originally a stand-alone organization, essentially an industry consortium for rightsholders' interests, and they got brought in under the umbrella of the UN thirty or so years ago, with the understanding that they would change their practices to make them consistent with other UN instruments like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights -- humanitarian instruments -- and that it would become a humanitarian agency for development.
Which makes sense. Information goods are a critical piece of the development picture. Every successfully developed country made use of free information goods. More accurately, they all went through a stage when they were a pirate nation. America spent a century as a pirate nation, ripping off the intellectual property of every country around it, and in particular, of Britain, because when you're a net importer of intellectual property, signing on to multilateral copyright and patent agreements is signing on to exporting your wealth off-shore. When you're a net exporter of intellectual property, it makes economic sense.
The choice is not simply one of piracy or monopoly. There is a whole rich middle ground of public domain and open information regimes which could give developing world countries the tools they need to serve humanitarian purposes, while protecting the legitimate interests of authors, performers and inventors. WIPO could have created a global knowledge goods regime which protected both the commercial and the humanitarian fairly.
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs. Note that this […]
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]