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How Corruption Is Strangling US Innovation 391

hype7 writes "The Harvard Business Review is running a very interesting piece on how money in politics is having a deleterious effect on U.S. innovation. From the article: 'Somehow, it seems that every time that [Mickey Mouse] is about to enter the public domain, Congress has passed a bill to extend the length of copyright. Congress has paid no heed to research or calls for reform; the only thing that matters to determining the appropriate length of copyright is how old Mickey is. Rather than create an incentive to innovate and develop new characters, the present system has created the perverse situation where it makes more sense for Big Content to make campaign contributions to extend protection for their old work.if you were in any doubt how deep inside the political system the system of contributions have allowed incumbents to insert their hands, take a look at what happened when the Republican Study Committee released a paper pointing out some of the problems with current copyright regime. The debate was stifled within 24 hours. And just for good measure, Rep Marsha Blackburn, whose district abuts Nashville and who received more money from the music industry than any other Republican congressional candidate, apparently had the author of the study, Derek Khanna, fired. Sure, debate around policy is important, but it's clearly not as important as raising campaign funds.'"
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How Corruption Is Strangling US Innovation

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  • oh boy ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garaged ( 579941 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:42PM (#42226559) Homepage

    What a surprise ! :D

    getting serious, it is really sad what is happening with society, we have come to a stage where pretty much everything we do is getting richer the rich, we see that a lot here in México, every new law is pushing for lower salaries and less benefits, and from some years ago, gov is pushing to convert universities into technicall schools so we can have even more cheap workers.

  • by anyaristow ( 1448609 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:45PM (#42226585)

    With all else that article had to say, the entire summary was about copyright? Hot button much?

  • Steamboat Mickey (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:46PM (#42226591)

    As soon as Steamboat Mickey is in the public domain I'm going to burn that shit on billions of DVDs and just sell it on the street. I will be RICH cuz everyone wnats da Steamboat Mickey

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:54PM (#42226659)

    one of the most popular halloween costumes this year was from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, a Peter Pan spin off that Disney has in its 3rd season now
    disney jr has lots of new characters like Oso, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and others

    and the popularity of Mickey and its copyright protection is what fueled the children's animation revolution of the last 20 some years
    lion king
    all the Pixar movies
    and at least a dozen other movies

  • by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:01PM (#42226707)
    I don't understand your reasoning here. Are you saying that because Disney has created more characters than Mickey Mouse, it's fine that copyright protection be extended ad infinitum? Could you elaborate a bit on your argument please, as I'm sure there is at small step inbetween premise and conclusion that I am missing.
  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#42226715) Homepage

    There is a WIDE gulf between completely lack of copyright,and the never-ending copyright terms that we have in the USA today. (And don't tell me that copyrights are finite, because they DO get extended every time things are about to start to enter the public domain again.)

    Arguing against infinite copyrights doesn't necessarily mean arguing for absolutely no copyright at all.

  • My problem is that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:04PM (#42226729) Journal

    companies like Disney rape the public domain for ideas and never give back to the public domain.

  • Re:oh boy ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pwizard2 ( 920421 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:06PM (#42226751)
    The rich will flee the country with as much ill-gotten wealth as they can take with them. They don't care if the USA falls apart because they have stashes in tax shelters around the world so they can just move when things get bad. The rest of us will be stuck in the shithole they created.
  • It's scary how few people in the U.S. take the corruption in their government seriously. There are jokes!

    The corruption is FAR, FAR more severe than shown in the Harvard Review article. For example, read Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban [].

    Or read House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties [].

    To many in the U.S. government, killing other people is a way of making money.
  • Re:surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:15PM (#42226833)

    money corrupts politics, news @ 11

    Of course, but that is not the problem.
    Most civilised countries throw in jail corrupt politicians. In the US bribery is legalised among other nice things such as torture and abductions (extraordinary renditions), and the penalty is zip, nothing at all. In fact the more bribes, ehm contributions you have the bigger the possibility of finding a job in the bribing industry right after leaving Congress.
    HBR is correct, the US is failing not because of bribery, but because there is no mechanism in the system to thwart that threat.

  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:23PM (#42226889)

    47 million on food stamps, average welfare spending per poor household is HIGHER than median income.

    The tragedy isn't that 47 million people are getting food stamps, the tragedy is that a person can be holding down three part time jobs paying *more* than minimum wage, and still need food stamps. Corporations are paying their employees starvation wages, working their salaried employees for hundreds of mandatory unpaid overtime hours every year, and paying almost no taxes to boot. Our system isn't fostering corruption, it is the embodiment of it!


  • Re:water is wet (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:27PM (#42226927)
    "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people . . . . I as much as any man am in favor of the superior position assigned to the white race." - Abraham Lincoln
  • Re:oh boy ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pwizard2 ( 920421 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:33PM (#42226981)
    Are you one of those people who still believes in trickle-down/supply side economics? The rich LOVE trickle down because they are the only ones who benefit.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:38PM (#42227021)
    Like Bain and the guys that did Hostess in are what's scaring me. Basically guys with money and connections come in, buy a company, and then immediately start raiding the pension funds and paying themselves huge consulting fees from the loans they take out on the business' good name. Then they blame the whole sodding mess on workers making 45k/yr and unions and shut the whole thing down and move it to Mexico where slave labor abounds.
    br> These guys are what'll stop innovation. They've got it so good (because they're so damn rich) they don't care about innovation. They become intensely, frighteningly conservative. There what's moved the US so far right these days. They don't want anything to change since they're makin' out like bandits. Hell, they've made progress (as in 'progressive') a bad word...
  • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ayertim'> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:41PM (#42227049)

    47 million on food stamps, average welfare spending per poor household is HIGHER than median income

    [Citation needed]
    That seems unlikely, as median income is (so far) above the poverty line (42K, I think vs 14-18K poverty line, depending on number of children). I doubt that the welfare offered exceeds the poverty line by a factor of two, which is what you seem to be claiming. It is even less likely that the average welfare per household did.

    I just read a story about an illegal immigrant getting a free kidney transplant

    [Citation needed]
    How would an illegal immigrant have insurance?

    If you are in America and not getting money for nothing you are a moron now

    Lose your job, go below the poverty line and you could get money for nothing too! You wouldn't like it thought.

    Welfare spending in 2012 has exceeded $1 Trillion.

    The economy had collapsed recently and unemployment is high. There are more people needing welfare than in other years (say, before the last implosion). The number of $ means nothing without considering current unemployment rates, overall inflation, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:46PM (#42227095)

    All that they have to do is revoke all Copyright extensions from the last century, and revert all existing copyright expiration dates to their original dates, subject to the following:

    If the copyright holder wants to extend the copyright, there will be a fee of 1 Million USD per year, per work to do so, doubling each year for that work. This dollar amount is a suggestion - but it should be punitive enough to discourage copyright extensions from being made, and keep the list from getting too big.

    Create a website that lists all of the works that have had their copyright extended. All other works revert to the public domain at their normal copyright expiration dates. Back when copyrights were originally extended, this would have required a paper distribution of the list, with yearly updates. Now, thanks to the internet, the cost of distributing that list is essentially free.

    This would serve two purposes: (1) allow the works to enter public domain as they were originally intended, and (2), generate tons of revenue for the federal government for each work that is restricted from the public domain. This is Win-Win.

    This will allow Disney to continue to retain the copyright on Steamboat Willie indefinitely, or as long as they are willing to pay. If the copyright would have expired, it would have only affected that work, not Mickey Mouse in general (which is trademarked). All it would mean is that someone could watch and distribute Steamboat Willie without paying Disney - not that anybody could create their own Mickey Mouse cartoon. Our public domain has been robbed of millions of works because of this idiocy.

  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:53PM (#42227155)

    Although people are often sloppy about the distinction, strictly speaking, that's rent seeking, not corruption. The difference is important. Corruption suggests a criminal offense, and it suggests that the solution is more laws, regulation, and law enforcement. But if you try to fix rent seeking with additional laws, you're just throwing gasoline on the fire, since people will figure out how to use the new laws to their advantage as well.

    Rent seeking grows with the size and power of government. The only way to reduce it is to reduce the size of government.

  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:00PM (#42227223)

    I don't see the point of this article. It seems to be based on the common conflation of copyright, trademarks, and patents.

    Copyright terms have no bearing on innovation. It restricts the creation of unauthorized copies and derivative works to the domain of fair use until the term of the copyright expires. These activities are, by their very nature, not innovative. I fail to see how the continual extension of copyright duration impacts innovation in any way.

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:37PM (#42227577)

    Now I know the source of your lie. That does not mean it isn't a lie.

    Do you honestly believe that every poor family in the US receives over 40 thousand dollars a year in welfare?

    It is ridiculous, and unbelievable, because there is no way it can be true.

    And you are an idiot for spreading it.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:03PM (#42227779)

    immigrant insurance

    They wouldn't need it, provided their life was in imminent danger. Hospitals are not allowed to turn away people with life-threatening conditions even if they can't pay, so the cost gets spread around to all other patients. And the situation is actually even worse than it seems since the hospital will likely refuse treatment when it would still be relatively cheap to correct in the hopes that some other hospital will be the one stuck with the patient when their condition eventually becomes life-threatening. The net effect is that everyone gets hit with higher costs, but the situation can't be corrected except perhaps by sweeping legislation since any hospital that "gave away" preventative treatments would end up paying even more since they're unlikely to be the primary beneficiary of the reduction in un-refusable patients. The universal insurance mandatory may begin to correct this situation, though we'll have to see how it actually plays out, it could just be that the insurance companies pocket all the gains.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:06PM (#42227807) Homepage

    is that a person can be holding down three part time jobs paying *more* than minimum wage, and still need food stamps

    Funny that I made the same statement just after the last election, and was modded a troll for it. This isn't really the end-be-all fault of corporations though, this is the end-be-all fault of over government regulations. Want to see where it's similar? Try Japan and Europe. Massive regulations, people entrenched, everyone under 35 has part-time jobs, or are going through temp agencies and working 3 of them, and still not making ends meet.

    Why though? Because it costs more to hire someone new at full time, than it does to keep the people you have who are grandfathered at existing rates, and hire everyone else at part time. Enjoy that government regulation suckers. At least it's not quite that bad in Canada, yet.

  • Re:oh boy ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:56PM (#42228169) Homepage Journal

    Gates was a 'poor' Harvard student son of a prominant lawyer. His mom was a director of the United way and his grand dad was a bank president. So yeah, (Gucci) rags to riches there. Perhaps not 'rich' but certainly well off.

    Similar for Zuckerberg.

    Jobs was indeed from what most would consider an average middle class family.

    While blind luck and connections without work wouldn't have gotten them where they are today, work without blind luck and connections wouldn't have done it for them either.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:36PM (#42228501)

    Its not Godwin to point out that if you cant afford a child in the current environment, you shouldn't have one. It is basic pragmatism and the sign of an Intelligent Being.

    It is, however, also pragmatic to consider the consequences of allowing this state of affairs to persist. Society needs replacements for expiring members, and while it's possible to support it through immigration, the scale required will cause a shift in culture and demographics and thus social unrest, especially since the newcomers will likely find their dream of a better life running headfirst into the brutal reality of poverty that caused the problem in the first place. Furthermore, is it really such a good idea to have massive amounts of people who live in misery, have nothing to tie them down, and can only realistically improve their situation through winning a lottery or staking a revolution?

  • by OldSport ( 2677879 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @08:15PM (#42229273)

    My old econ professor said "in the USA, you call it lobbying. In my country and in others, they call it corruption." We have this culture of just accepting it as part of politics when really it should be strictly outlawed, but obviously the only people who will outlaw it are the cunts being paid to keep it legal. Short of a revolution, we are basically fucked. Not in a catastrophic way, but in a "slow, inexorable slide to the bottom" kind of way.

  • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:43PM (#42230139) Journal

    Oh and another thing, you talk of too much regulation but the whole reason we're in a multi-year downturn is because the financial markets were not properly regulated and the bankers fucked the economy.

  • by bogjobber ( 880402 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:49AM (#42231739)
    Except that real unemployment figures are either the same as the US or lower in most of Europe. In Germany and Scandinavia, where "regulations" and the welfare state are probably stronger than nearly anywhere else in the world, unemployment is *far* lower than in the US.

    And these people have higher wages, work less, and receive more government services. Barely making ends meet in Europe doesn't mean you're literally on the edge of survival like it does in the US. It means you just don't have any money to spend.

    I have no idea what facts you're using to make your judgments, but it definitely doesn't correspond to reality.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker