Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I have no doubt that corporations can and will screw the public if they can get away with it, although I suppose many people will disagree with me. This is not to say that I don't like free markets -- I'm very much in favour of letting market forces determine the allocation of most goods. The problem is that real life hardly functions as smoothly as simplified textbook models (Those are only aids to illustrate a principle. Only aids!). Market failure happens too often and this is where things get interesting.

Anyway, I tend to be be left-leaning when it comes to intellectual property rights. Having written on the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and discovering for myself how industry concerns essentially dominated policymaking debates on copyright and digital media, I found a sympathetic voice in Tan Min-Liang's commentary on the IP provisions of the much-lauded (well, in The Straits Times anyway) U.S. - Singapore Free Trade Agreement signed last year.

Already I'm seeing versions of the DMCA being replicated in the proposed amendments to our copyright laws -- in particular the controversial law that makes communicating a means of infringing illegal, not just the act of infringement. And if anyone thinks Tan's claim that the IP regulations were meant to favour U.S. companies is exaggerated, think again.

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