Friday, June 24, 2005

Life in the United States...

... must just be getting stranger and stranger. It sure appears that way from New Zealand.

News out of the US today shows a Surpeme Court ruling allowing private developers to take control over private property owners, because they refuse to sell out to the developers, and the proposed property development has significant public benefits - through Eminent Domain. What an absolute blow to private property rights in a country that has found pride in private property and the rights of citizens to own their land. Hang on, isn't that a bit like the current land grab the Labour Government is attempting from farmers?

Anyway, back to the US. There is one very interesting aspect of this decision in relation to Intellectual Property (IP). This sets a precedent whereby if the public benefit of intellectual property is greater than the private rights of ownership, then this will give legal basis to wholesale IP infringement.

If we are lucky, someone in the United States could start by claiming the source code for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office under Eminent Domain. I believe it would be trivial to demonstrate the public economic benefits to be gained from transferring that property to the public domain. Seriously. How much do you think the New Zealand economy loses annually due to the Microsoft tax? No firm figures exist, but it would have to be approaching the $100 million mark - given that the New Zealand Government spends $30+ million on education over three years. Imagine that reinvested in the local economy. I can see significant public benefits there, more than enough to justify a small company buried in America somewhere going broke. I hope someone tries it on, I really do.


Blogger ZenTiger said...


7/01/2005 12:57:00 PM  

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