TED Conversations

Kaustuv De Biswas

Co-Founder, Vibrant Data


This conversation is closed.

Despite the controversy over patents, what is a progressive take on authorship in the collaborative world?

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Kaustuv Be Biswas

A US- and India-based entrepreneur whose experimental design firm, dplay, is building open-source toolboxes for design.

This Conversation opens on Nov. 8th at 1:00PM ET


Closing Statement from Kaustuv De Biswas

There is a clear unresolved bifurcation between the desire to share collaborate freely, and the need to own and protect - more so in the creative domains. With the current backdrop of the US patent reform bill - which does not quite capture the common frustrations (eg. commercial giants hard to compete with), the conversation touched upon some interesting ideas and facets - from 'micro-patents', to 'free-essentials', to 'open patenting rounds' to 'ownership responsibilities' . Thank you all for an interesting hour!

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    Nov 8 2011: Intellectual property is an interesting subject, and one that deserves a lot of thought.

    As one who generates content, copyrights, and is getting into trademarks and patents as well, I am somewhat torn. I feel that creative people should be rewarded for their work, and that giving such people incentive to push forward in their fields is imperative. At least in the 20th century, places where people could profit from their innovation the most tended to be the most innovative.

    However, in this day where open source, creative commons, and a basic sense that content should be free on the internet... it is no longer clear that the old model is still in effect. Plenty of progress is made in areas without any hope of profit. (Linux, Wikipedia etc.) There is an assumption that anything you could want to see can be viewed on YouTube for free. Bands and musical artists put their music up on MySpace & Soundcloud for free, and are happy when people download their stuff.

    Even some mainstream acts have done well with a model of 'pay as much as you want or even nothing, but download our album anyway.' Radiohead has actually made more money this way than they did when signed to a major label.

    I suppose a progressive take on authorship will have to take all of this in to consideration. Marcin Jakubowski in his TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/marcin_jakubowski.html made some very solid points on the concept of open source blueprints for things like tractors, microchip printers and the other 50 things he determined to be essential for civilization.

    I am curious where this will go.
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      Nov 8 2011: Thank Jan for rounding it up well - I share the torn feeling as well - there is this clear bifurcation. The desire to share collaborate freely, and the need to own and protect. There is no clear resolution right now - the reason behind throwing the question before such a fantastic community.
      Taking from Marcin's talk - are you suggesting that 'essentials' should be open and free, while desire-ables (if can say so) come for a price :) Btw, love what Radiohead did!
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        Nov 8 2011: I think that Marcin's concept is fabulous, and yes the essentials should be open. Luxury things or items that require a ton of R&D might need to keep their profit incentive...

        Hard to say, as the grey area would be vast.

        HIV drugs are R&D intensive, but the idea of withholding them from poor African villagers because they can not pay 10$ a pill is abhorrent.

        Perhaps we will see a Wikipedia of open source patents. There is already a growing Appropriate Technology movement, especially in the philanthropic charity world. (open sourced patents on well drilling, composting latrines, bio sand water filters and the like)
    • Nov 8 2011: I definitely understand that open source options leave little to no room for profit but there are other incentives that motivate people to join the open source movement. For example, open source encourages both experienced players and inexperienced learners to collaborate and learn from each other to create a final product.

      Also, open source is good for the general public. In other situations, firms may join forces in order to decrease their costs to creating a product, but still choose to raise prices. In other words, when firms engage in joint ventures, the result may be reduced competition. Reduced competition hurts the consumers because they have less options and may be subjected to paying higher prices.

      In open source, it is most often the case that low competition (high collaboration) produces high quality goods... a great benefit to the public. Last thought, I don't think that people really invest time in contributing to the development of an open source product with financial incentives in mind, but for what I believe to be more altruistic reasons, such as personal learning and the belief that information/technologies that make life and work more efficient and productive should be shared with everyone.
    • Nov 8 2011: Jah - interesting indeed, but what if the IP owner can CHOOSE who and when to expose his/her idea to? it could be protected on sunday and exposed on monday..

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