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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Globalization, for what it's worth

While sitting here in the Brussels airport waiting for my flight to Poland and I met some soldiers from the Swedish Army (yes, they have an army). Our common interest, as is should be, is the season Peter Forsberg is having with the Flyers. For what it's worth, the Swedish soldiers wish he still played for Colorado too.

In the background, the Belgian music channel is showing the video for Wang Chung's "Dance Hall Days." I am willing to admit that we Americans are unrepentant philistines as soon as Europe plays its part by not keeping cringe-inducing 1980s pop music alive. I understand the long tail, but really, Wang Chung?

posted by Ray Gifford @ 4:13 PM | Digital Europe 2006, Digital Europe 2006

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Europe as a caricature of itself

You really cannot make this stuff up, but the Europeans -- led by France and Germany -- are considering pumping billions of dollars of capital into a EU-funded search engine to challenge Google. Color me more than skeptical. Letter writer to the IHT Jim Warren pretty much sums up the cultural divide between the US and Europe.

Now, I understand that there is a compelling rationale not to get stuck with a single platform provider (indeed, this was the European rationale for creating and subsidizing Airbus, which after billions of Euros of taxpayer subsidies makes reasonably nice planes), but haven't the Eurocrats heard of Yahoo!? And, unlike aircraft manufacture, this doesn't seem to be a product with a high fixed investment entry barrier.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 5:51 AM | Digital Europe 2006

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gross on Internet Governance

The Internet governance debate isn't just a topic for diplomats, U.S. Ambassador David Gross told the conference here today. It's a critical cultural, economic and political issue, he said.

Gross is still positive about how this issue was dealt with at Phase 2 of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), at which proposals to "internationalize" Internet governance were defeated. Instead, a five-year charter was created for a discussion body to be convened -- but not run -- by the UN secretary general, which will allow any government or interested party to discuss a broad range of Internet issues. He saw this potential for dialogue as very important. But he saw more positives emerging from Tunis:

Continue reading Gross on Internet Governance . . .

posted by Patrick Ross @ 8:34 AM | Digital Europe 2006, Free Speech, Internet, Internet Governance

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Virtualization of Inventions

Martin Campbell-Kelly of the University of Warwick paints an interesting historical narrative about software patents; namely, that they are simply a natural progression toward the "virtualization of invention." What used to be mechanical, and then became integrated into hardware, finally is ultimately virtualized into pure software products. For examples, he cites cryptography machines and postage metering.

He also adds a very important point about the value of software patents: it allows the "little guy" in agains the entrenched incumbents. In the postal meter markets, Pitney-Bowes was the original inventor and patent-holder on postage meter devices, and software patenting allowed virtual postage meter companies to enter the market without being crushed by the incumbent.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 5:44 AM | Digital Europe 2006

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How the Czechs are different from us

A U.S.-based discussion of patents and intellectual property rights might go back all the way, say, to the 1980s to discuss the premises of things like software patents and problems with the patent office. By contrast, Dr. Karel Cada, President of the Czech Industrial Property Office, opens his discussion of patents by citing Aristotle, Kant, Leibnitz, John Stuart Mill and Abraham Lincoln. Cool (that's the official American reaction at a more intellectually-grounded European).

posted by Ray Gifford @ 4:01 AM | Digital Europe 2006

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Prague Winter

PFF is here in Prague co-hosting the second Digital Europe conference with the Czech-based CERGE-EI and the Liberalni Institute. Not surprisingly, we are here talking about intellectual property, appropriately in a room constructed by a 19th Century Czech railroad baron.

The impulse to hold this conference is straightforward: intellectual property rights will be the most important international issue involving private law for the next century. Like the evolution of the Law Merchant and Law of the Sea, the treatment of intellectual property in and between countries will determine how economies evolve, where capital flows and how innovation occurs. The questions are extraordinariy difficult, and the political economy pressures are immense.

All that, and it is extraordinarily cold here. Lesson #1: hold conferences in the Spring.

posted by Ray Gifford @ 3:41 AM | Digital Europe 2006

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