Thursday, 23 June 2011

The land of intellectual property™

There's something going on with the world now. Everybody keeps suing each other. Oracle sues Google, Apple sues Samsung, Samsung sues Apple, Nokia sues Apple, Apple sues Amazon and sends a cease-and-desist letter to an open-source project, Microsoft (and bunch of other guys) sue Apple, Lodsys suing Google, Apple and small developers... And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like there's no more innovation going on, only established forces trying to undermine competition.

The greatest hypocrisy of all this is that when those forces themselves are caught copying, or are on the receiving side of ridiculous lawsuits - they seem to behave differently. Take, for example, the recent Microsoft whining over Google's Nortel purchase. Google tries to monopolize the market, unfair competition, yada-yada - but wait, isn't that exactly what Microsoft was doing since, like, forever?

The earlier mentioned lawsuite involving Apple and Samsung - Apple sued Samsung claiming that Samsung blatantly copies iPhone. OK, fair enough, I have the Galaxy S, i admit it looks very much like iPhone, and Galaxy S II looks pretty much like iPhone 4, and Galaxy Tab looks like iPad 2. On the other hand, there aren't a lot of ways one can make a touch-enabled phone, or a tablet. They will end up looking awfully lot like each other in any case. The tablet concept isn't new, so isn't the iPhone form-factor - Apple didn't invent them.

Apple also claims that Samsung's TouchWiz looks and feels like iPhone's launchers. OK, so what? It's not like iPhone UI is entirely original either. And let's not forget a poor guy who's app got rejected and has later appeared as part of iOS. So no, everyone copies everyone, this is called competition. If someone makes a better use of someone else's idea - why the fuck not (the guy could even have a chance to screw Apple as there was something similar in the past)?

It seems like whenever a big corporation copies someone else's ideas that's OK, but whenever they see their stuff copied the same way - it's somehow bad. It's not, copying is essential to what we do. Copying is fundamental aspect of learning and creativity. You can't go anywhere without copying others. Of course, using someone else's effort isn't exactly ethical, but that's how open-source works. That's how innovation and competition works.

If you can't think of something entirely new - look around and make use of what is available. Android seems to grow just like that - it largely incorporates different ideas. They might not be all that original, but they do it right (mostly). If you can use someone else's idea and improve on it (or even just adapt to your situation) - why not?

However, the most funny things now happen in the field of copyrights and the whole shebang - DMCA, MPAA/RIAA, ICE and others. Really, you just have to look at the timeline of some libertarian website like Techdirt to see these guys in action:

These are just a few entries you would find in there - many more are likely to appear. There's just so much bullshit in there it's not even funny anymore. Everyone's fighting for freedom abroad while locking down their own country more and more.

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