Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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"Piracy" as a Source of Innovation

The Economist (July 19) has two articles on "piracy" and innovation, "Look for the Silver Lining", p. 23, and "Thanks, Me Hearties", p. 74.

Both articles note that record companies are using stats about file-sharing network traffic to learn where new singers are most popular, so they can target their marketing and advertising more effectively. TV programmers can do the same thing.

"Silver Lining" cites Bill Gates' point that "piracy" enables Microsoft to compete more effectively against open source software such as Linux.

It also mentions Matt Mason's book The Pirate's Dilemma, where he mentions a Japanese designer who removed the "whoosh" mark from Nike's Air Force trainers, slapped on his own design, and sold them for a premium price under his own brand. Instead of suing him, Nike saw an opportunity and invested in his firm, then started its own premium remix brand.

Matt Mason says the copied should innovate anew by copying the "pirates" path. Imitation can indeed be a form of innovation, as Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine show in Against Intellectual Monopoly.

Here is Matt Mason speaking about the pirate's dilemma; here is a blog related to his book: "The Pirate's Dilemma".


The authors of this one don't seem to be putting their money where their mouth is at all! No sign of any free downloadable, or even online-readable, copy of the book. If it's there, the link is very well hidden. :P

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