It's been a while since I posted here, and since I've become a staff member I've been tempted to save all my writing for guides, news, and other paid endeavors. However, since I'm such an opinionated ass this seems like a more appropriate place to get some ranting out of my system. To that end I'm going to try to add another entry here whenever something really gets my dander up. As any doctor will tell you there are few things more contagious than raised dander ;)
Here's what I'd like to know. Since when do companies have the right to make money off the public. I realize it's nothing new for corporations to believe they're entitled to my money. They always have, and probably always will. What's new is the government agrees with them.
We see examples of it all the time. Copyright terms are extended because otherwise a work won't be worth any money. Patents are given for things that are either so general as to be useless on their own or so obvious that my 7 year old could come up with them. Laws like the DMCA and EUCD are passed because companies wouldn't make as much money if they had to come up with an idea they could patent. Instead it's all about selling the same crap over and over again. The question today isn't whether we should allow it. That choice has been taken out of our hands. The question is what are the long term consequences of this attitude by various national governments.
To answer that question you need look no further than the DVD player section of your local mega-super-discount chain. The shelves are dominated by cheap players from China and Korea. Why is that? Because they aren't forced to adhere to the ridiculous rules that say Sony (or Time/Warner or whatever corporation you like) deserves to get paid every time you sell anything. In developing countries like these they actually make things besides patents. Cheap DVD players from China were able to almost completely destroy the Japanese and European manufacturers' profit margins because its not in their government's best interest to turn a blind eye because it helps their economy.
So where does that leave the companies who rely on garbage patents and never-ending copyrights? It should be giving their executives many sleepless nights, but I suspect they're too busy counting their money to realize what's going on. Maybe a better question would be what their counterparts a decade or two in the future will be doing to reverse their "unexpected" reversal of fortune as the world economy forces them to play on a level field.
OK I know this blog is almost a year old but I have to say I agree with you pretty much entirely on what you said here.
I have read some recent patents from locals in my area, the news paper posts new patents filed by locals on a weekly basis, and most of them are extremely simple things that I could have made and filed in one of my many sleepwalking episodes.
The point is things such as patents copyrights etc. need to be either regulated a lot better or just abolished.