Reading Materials

There are two new European Commission-commissioned reports worth checking out.  First, there is a lengthy study [PDF] on the economic impact of open source software that provides numbers that should get the attention of politicians and policy makers worldwide.  The study estimates that it would cost 12 billion euros (over C$18 billion) to reproduce the same software code of current quality FLOSS applications.  Moreover, the number of new software applications is doubling every 18 – 24 months.  It further finds an 800 million euro voluntary contribution by software programmers.  The industry impact is breathtaking with estimates that firms representing 263 billion euro in revenue and 565,000 jobs have invested 1.2 billion euro in FLOSS software that is then made freely available.  In short, the direct and indirect economic impact is very significant and must surely form a more integral part of any national economic and ICT strategy.

The EC has also released a study[PDF] completed by the exceptional Institute for Information Law on the harmonization of European copyright law. 
The study raises many notable points including the need to distinguish between copyright awareness (which is high) and copyright acceptance (not so much).  It also has little good to say about the harmonization process, noting that it invariably results "upwards" harmonization that exceed minimun international standards, and concludes that:

"on balance, the harmonisation process has produced mixed results at great expense, and its beneficial effects on the Internal Market remain largely unproven and are limited at best.  This conclusion calls for caution and restraint when considering future of initiatives of harmonisation. . . "

In addition to these two studies, there is a new U.S. copyright law treatise from Bill Patry that has just come on the market.  The scope and size of the treatise is incredible – seven volumes and nearly 6,000 pages (with a big price tag to match).  An exceptional accomplishment from a very thoughtful commentator on copyright law matters.

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