CAL wins in the High Court: NSW Govt has no implied license to make and distribute copies of surveyors’ drawings. But here’s an interesting question. What if the NSW government wanted to make the surveyor information freely available at no cost? What, in other words, if no one was getting a windfall? There’s a lot of talk, at the moment, about Public Sector Information, and the general desirability of governments making access to such information cheaper, and more readily available, in order to encourage maximum commercial and non-commercial use of the information in all kinds of interesting ways. The Victorian Parliament is actually having an inquiry on this at the moment. What, then, are the implications of this decision for the governments of Australia making material freely available – say, under open licensing? If they did that, would they have to pay remuneration? And if so, is that going to make Australian governments less enthusiastic about making public sector information freely available? And if so, will we be deprived of whatever benefits may come from more open access to public sector information? Food for thought. —

The lawyers creating unnecessary intellectual property rents -again. Today we have people successfully patenting garden swings and toast! Litigation on software patents is four times more likely than chemical patents; business methods patents twelve times more likely; finance patents 49 times. But what’s ultimately much more serious are road blocks preventing further innovation.  —Club Troppo

The Permission Problem. In the second decade of the twentieth century, it was almost impossible to build an airplane in the United States. That situation was the result of a chaotic legal battle among the dozens of companies that held patents on the various components that made a plane go. No one could manufacture aircraft without fear of being hauled into court… The situation that grounded the U.S. aircraft industry is an example of what the Columbia law professor Michael Heller, in his new book, “The Gridlock Economy,” calls the “anticommons.”– The New Yorker [via The Open Road]

A blogger resigns over the “depressing” state of copyright law. Much like the U.S. economy, things are getting worse, not better. Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. — The Patry Copyright Blog [via Club Troppo]