Sunday, November 14, 2004

Learning to ride for free

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > On the Contrary: Open Season on Others' Ideas
There have always been free riders in various walks of life. But the digital revolution and the rise of networked computers have brought us to the brink of a halcyon age for those who want something for nothing. Intellectual property is the new currency, and it appears that free riders have hit the jackpot. Their time is at hand, and we'd better deal with it.

This is fascinating. There's a nerd ethos that one is obligated to return free-rider gifts with donations. My more technical blogs and my web site are donations of that nature. I hadn't, however, thought this out further -- though I now dimly recall similar discussions in 'Whole Earth Magazine' durings its second golden age (early 90s, the first golden age for WEM was the 70s).

Not that this article is perfect. Drugs are costly in the US and cheaper elsewhere for many reasons -- free riding on development costs is probably not the most significant reason. Fragmented purchasing, direct to consumer marketing and even US liability behaviors are probably bigger factors.

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