Friday, June 24, 2005

Intellectual property 

In her Wall Street Journal column today Mary O’Grady slammed Brazil for violating drug company patent rights to give out free AIDS drugs. Imagine the horror of it. A good drug company like Pfizer might not meet its quarterly profit numbers just because Brazil wants to help people with HIV. Wall Street will not be happy. I guess it would be better to let the 600,000 people in Brazil with HIV just die than screw a good drug company like Pfizer. Anyways, that is a little far afield for this blog.

But there is one thing that is relevant – intellectual property. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that a lot of people are just ripping off Chavez’s ideas without any sort of credit or compensation.

Take for example Venezuela’s law on idle lands. Chavez implemented a law that allows the government to sieze idle farm land and give it to poor landless people to farm. The opposition of course raised a hew and cry about this saying that it was trampling property rights. However, up north in the U.S., the Mecca of capitalism, they liked what they saw going on in Venezuela and decided to copy it. Witness this decision from the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday:

Government officials do not violate the US Constitution when they seize and demolish homes and businesses to make room for private development.
In a major decision that narrows the constitutional protection of property owners, the US Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause authorizes government seizure of private property even when it merely offers a benefit to the public, rather than actual public use.

And when Venezuela implemented a new media law to keep violence from being broadcast when children are likely to see it the opposition slammed the law. But apparently there are those who thought it was a good idea. Look what happened yesterday according to the New York Times:

With its standard’s under scrutiny, the BBC, Britain’s state broadcaster, said on Thursday that it would use a time delay mechanism in live coverage of some news events to prevent broadcasting “really distressing, upsetting images.”

It was one thing when they copied his oil policies. But this is really starting to get out of hand. Just too much of Chavez’s intellectual property is getting ripped off. Maybe Mary O’Grady will write about it in her column next week.


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