In this new digital era, many are questioning the current intellectual property laws and are calling for reform. The recording industry has ruthlessly pursued file sharers even beyond what most people consider fair and reasonable. Many people wonder why it's in our best interest to keep a song's rights protected for many years. How long is long enough for content rights to get reasonable returns on the original investment required to create the work?
The battle cry has been that we must protect property rights or we will see less great movies and music and writing. The content will start disappearing because there just won't be enough revenue in it if we weaken property rights. In fact it is argued that not only must the content be protected, but the content owner should have full control over how and when it is viewed or used.
In an interview with Bill Gates
at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by CNET news.com, we hear his thoughts about intellectual property. He answers with some pretty amazing comments like
...There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises.
...when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they've got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future.
Check out the article itself for more of the context for what he has to say about intellectual property and many other issues related to Microsoft's business.
But however you slice it, a big opportunity for Microsoft lies in making the most of the large revenue streams associated with content providers and content delivery systems. Microsoft is unlikely to support any weakening of copyright or patent laws as long as they expect to have a piece of that pie. Good or bad? I suppose that's the $1,000,000 question.