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Time for Atlanta to use broadband to create an intellectual depot

Detroit’s bankruptcy took up plenty of space in the media over the past couple of weeks. It made me wonder what type of outside-the-box thinking policy makers employed in figuring out how to bring more revenue into the city.

I’ve also been doing a little thinking about the knowledge economy, specifically how a city can take advantage of the intellectual capital of its residents and provide the world access to that capital while bringing in additional tax revenues. That would call for increases in incomes received by the possessors of intellectual capital.

Experts face two dilemmas. First, they need to be found by people seeking knowledge. They have to be made available. The second dilemma is what they have to share must have a certain level scarcity. In other words if a large number of people already possess the information held by the expert, the value of the information decreases.

There may be a way to resolve both dilemmas using broadband. Broadband access makes easy finding a group of experts. Rather than having to visit the websites of various think tanks, university academic departments, and consultancy offices, a city could create an online intellectual property depot or exchange. Using some program or algorithm, experts can be displayed under certain categories of expertise, side by side, displaying their names, credentials, years of experience, and appointment times for in-person, telephone, or on-line consults.

Here is where the scarcity comes in. The consultant may list on the exchange two main products. First she may list her appointment times where she invites bids for certain slots. The starting bids for each slot increases based on the opportunity costs of meeting with someone during the slot. For example, maybe the consultant prefers working out from 11 am to 1 pm so to ensure that window stays open, she increases the starting bid for that slot.

Another way to create scarcity would be to provide licenses for the one-time and non-exclusive use of patent or copyrighted material owned by individuals, businesses, or universities. This is already being done by The Intellectual Property Exchange International, a trading platform located in Chicago where patents are placed in unit license rights contracts and sold in primary or secondary markets as financial instruments. The concept appears relatively new and there may be more room for entry into the exchange business.

Between Georgia Tech, Emory, Georgia State, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta, there are plenty of professors with consultancies or holding patents that could probably do with the exposure.

About two years ago I participated on a panel during a conference of the National Association of Black Mayors. In describing broadband and its benefits to cities, I argued that cities should act like harbors within the stream of electronic commerce. The knowledge economy is seeing an increasing exchange of intellectual capital, capital needed to address a myriad of problems across the globe. A city that can showcase its intellectual property by making its holders available in that stream is bound to attract more talent and increase its tax revenues garnered from the increasing output that talent can generate.

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Megaupload and willful blindness?

Honestly never heard of Megaupload before this news broke. Their services remind me of those lockers you see at airports and bus stations. You rent a box and the box owner probably warns you up front not to put anything in there that you wouldn’t want seen on the evening news.

Megaupload could probably claim that it did not know that copyright material was being uploaded and downloaded, but that would be a bit naïve on their part, especially since their technology was replacing an older, less efficient file sharing technology. The “I didn’t know” argument may not hold up against the prosecution’s argument of willful blindness, however. Time for their attorneys to take a look at the Pentalpha and Grokster cases for further guidance on litigation strategy or better yet, guidance on a settlement. Not only won’t willful blindness hold, but their file sharing business model may have induced more consumers to infringe on copyrights.

Fortunately these guys aren’t a public company or else investors would be seeing shares tank.

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So where is the Obama Administration alternative to SOPA?

The Wall Street Journal reported last Saturday about President Obama’s discomfort with the Stop Online Piracy Act. Seems even if it passes Congress, Mr. Obama will veto it.

Is the Obama Administration saying it’s more concerned about protecting content delivered by rogue web sites? If what is currently on the books was effective against infringement on American copyrights, would this legislation have been brought forward? What alternative legislation has the Obama Administration offered?

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So this is why Google’s upset

Posted December 21st, 2011 in copyright, intellectual property, Internet, net neutrality, SOPA and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, Inc., recently referred to HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011, as censorship.

Censorship? Really?

What we have here is an aggregator like Google running scared because of threats to its advertisment revenue. So what if content providers have to sustain an increasingly aggressive attack on their intellectual property. Compound the attacks with the expense of having to defend against a culprit sitting overseas and you can see why Internet piracy is disturbing.

Other critics of SOPA such as Joshua Kopstein are claiming that SOPA will negatively impact the free flow of information and harm the Internet as we know it. Sniff, sniff. I can smell a net neutrality proponent here.

In an evolving economy like ours where citizens are using the Internet as a resource for generating income, the last thing we need is less protection of intellectual property. If we follow the anti-SOPA line of thought, there eventually won’t be any information of worth moving across the Internet.

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I’m feeling Mitt on China and intellectual property

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today issued a notice asking U.S. patent and trademark holders to chime in on the difficulties they may be having enforcing their patents and trademarks in China.

China bashing has been part of the political rhetoric of late, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney recently laying in to the Asian Tiger for stealing American inventions. For example, as reported by Bloomberg News, Mr. Romney has called for a free-trade zone for countries that don’t go around dissing American inventors. Mr. Romney has also called out China on violating copyright law as well.

I can relate to Mr. Romney’s concerns. I don’t know if I’ve been hit just by spam or something more sinister, but last week I received three e-mails from an alleged Chinese firm claiming that they were in the process of registering my domain name as a “.cn.” They said that while they acknowledge that I would be concerned about this (like, duh, you think), they wanted to go ahead and register my name so that they could sell goods under the domain name.

They also recommended that I buy the domain name, plus some other derivatives of it, and that they would gladly send the price list.

Hmmm. I can hear the theme from “The Godfather” in the background.

Why would any Chinese consumer buy goods and services from an “” given that the name belongs to a Afro-Carib-Irish guy living in Atlanta with an Anglo-German name, who is a couple shades darker than President Obama?

Also, why should I be forced to buy domain names I don’t want?

I can only conclude that this company wants to bite on whatever intellectual property I produce and pirate it. Granted, intellectual and Alton Drew may not go hand in hand (just ask my four readers), but does that give China the right to force me to buy domain names or steal my writings?