Database Nations


Both those who would expand intellectual property rights and those who would roll them back are, for the most part, restricted to making broad theoretical arguments—incentives are necessary for innovation; the ability to build on previous creative work is necessary for innovation—and appealing to anecdotes. But Duke law professor and Q-lookalike James Boyle has found a pretty good empirical case study: intellectual property rights in databases, which are protected in Europe, but not the US. Boyle concludes that the European database IP rights confer no detectable economic benefit and are little more than a means of seeking monopoly rents by market incumbents. Insert my Claude Raines–style faux shock here.