Introduction to Intellectual Property: Crash Course IP 1
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Introduction to Intellectual Property: Crash Course IP 1


Hi, I’m Stan Muller. This is Crash Course and today we begin our miniseries on Intellectual Property. Hey, isn’t the entire concept of
Intellectual Property illegitimate? I mean, how can we justify locking up the world of science and arts so corporations, publishing houses and other gatekeepers can control what we know and what we think! Information wants to be free, man! Hey, me from the past! There’s a Stan from the past! This is great! Stan: Hey! Me from the past! There’s a Stan
from the past, this is great! Anyway. I can tell by looking at your vacant and bloodshot eyes that you’ve been up all night downloading Chumbawumba records over a
dialup connection. I remember those days, and I remember desperately trying to cling to any ethos
that justified your rampant copyright infringement. That is if you ever participated in such activities.
And even if you had participated in said infringing activities, the statute of limitations has likely
run out. I don’t even know what LimeWire is! [Theme Music] I like how this is getting started, because
Stan from the past raises some interesting points! There’s a good chance that he, and
a lot of you watching this video, might think about aspects of Intellectual Property as
outdated and pretty much irrelevant. Maybe lots of you don’t think of it at all! That line, “Information wants to be free”,
has been used to argue that current intellectual properly laws are outdated, over-broad and
generally awful. The quotation is attributed to Stewart Brand and he
said this to a group of computer programmers in 1984. “On the one hand Information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information
in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be
free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you
have these two fighting against each other.” The full quote, which you hardly ever hear, actually spells out the major tension between
intellectual property and technology quite well. And it did it more than 30 years ago, when
the digital age was just beginning. As information technology becomes more and more pervasive
and important in our day-to-day lives in the information society, information itself becomes
exponentially more important and more valuable. Paradoxically, as our information technology
improves, and as our computers and connections get better and faster, and sharing becomes
easier, we’re less able to control the copying and dissemination of this incredibly valuable
information. The law of supply and demand pushes down the information’s value.
This tension is nothing new. Technology, especially in the context of copyright
law, has always presented challenges. Socrates’s and Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’ bemoaned
the advent of books, arguing that they “will implant forgetfulness in [human beings’] souls;
they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling
things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.” One way that humans have attempted to deal
with these new technologies, with varying success, is by passing laws. The scourge of the piano
roll was contemplated in the 1909 Copyright Act, the photocopier in 1976, and the Internet was covered
in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But we’re going to try to avoid this simplified
intellectual property versus technology binary. The idea that we have to choose between devaluing
the fruits of intellectual talent and labor, or devaluing the revolutionary information
sharing capacity of our networks, is wrong-headed. The more interesting and more difficult question
is how we can strike a balance; how we can incentivize and promote this revolution in
the way we share information, while at the same time incentivizing and promoting the
production of creative works and inventions by having respect for the human beings that
actually created them. The difference between today’s debates and
those that took place 100 years ago is that intellectual property pervades our lives more
and more every day. This is especially true for anyone viewing
this video. I know that about 90% of you view Crash Course in a web browser, so consider
the layers of IP in this very YouTube page. A lot of what you’re looking at is covered
by copyright. This video, for example, is covered as a motion picture work. The website
itself is considered a literary work. The Thought Bubble, the theme song, and the
video you watched right before this one, all have copyright protection. The software that
streams the video is also a literary work. The web browser you’re using is most likely
registered as a computer program, as is the operating system. Lest you Linux weirdos think
that you don’t have a copyright on your OS: You do. You’re just not enforcing it. Even your comments could be covered by copyright.
That haiku you just posted: “Who is this person?
What happened to Mr. Green? Dislike. Unsubscribe.” That’s copyright-able! When you agreed to
this [image of YouTube user agreement], you granted YouTube a worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use your content in any way they see fit. There are also patents in play here. There’s
proprietary video streaming technology, and many of the components in your computer are patented. But wait! There’s more! YouTube is a registered trademark, and if
you saw an ad before this video, there was most likely a trademark in there. This is
a trademark and under this sticker is an image
of a piece of fruit, also a trademark. And behind the camera, our most precious and
valuable mark, Mark Olsen. Mark Olsen, everybody! The search algorithm that got you here? That’s
a trade secret. My appearance in this video, and subsequent marketing of commemorative
mugs with my likeness fixed on each one- that implicates my right of publicity. If you’re watching this on an iPhone or an Android, there’s a whole other world of copyrights and patents that apply. When you start to deconstruct it like this,
it’s dizzying. But despite all this complexity, most of the time the system moves along with
a fluidity that sometimes makes it easy to put it out of your mind. Kind of like the
internal functioning of your digestive tract. But it’s there. Always there. Gurgling and churning
and functioning. Did anybody order lunch? Now most of this fluidity and seamlessness
is borne on the back of hundreds or thousands of lawsuits, many of them against Google,
thousands of pages of intricately complex contracts, and hundreds of millions of take
down notices. The point is that none of us, or very few
of us, can go about our daily lives without being impacted by intellectual property. It’s
only when it hits home, like when you receive that cease-and-desist letter from a trademark attorney
for opening a restaurant called Burger Queen, or digital rights management software stops you from listening to your iTunes downloads on your Zune. Maybe your YouTube video gets taken down
because of that T-Swizzie song in the background (that’s what the kids call Taylor Swift). Maybe you get a letter from your internet
service provider, informing you that someone using your account has downloaded every episode
of Game of Thrones and that if it keeps up you may be fined or imprisoned- or beheaded!
That’s when it flares up. Flare up! God, are we still on the digestive
tract metaphor? Somebody get me a Tums. Tums, by the way, registered trademark of the GlaxoSmithKline
group of companies. Most of us encounter IP only on its borders. We hear horror stories about the motion picture and recording industry suing grandmothers. We watch those unskippable FBI messages warning us about the consequences of copyright infringement, or we complain about paying thousands of dollars per pill for medicine. We tend to encounter intellectual property
law in places where we, as users, are basically being told ‘no’. And being told ‘no’ over
and over again is irritating, especially when these “no’s” don’t seem to make any sense.
And they’re really irritating when they come with threats of fines or imprisonment. So in this course we’re going to focus less
on enforcement and the “no’s” and more on the part of intellectual property that often
says ‘yes’, ‘sometimes’, ‘maybe’, ‘it is certain’, or even ‘ask again later’. I’m speaking, of course, of the “Liquid filled
die agitator containing a die having raised indicia on the facets thereof”, registered as patent
US 3119621, which you might know as the Magic 8-Ball. Before we get too far, we should probably
define intellectual property. This is going to get pretty abstract, so let’s go to the
Thought Bubble. The theoretical definition of intellectual
property would begin by saying that it is: “Nonphysical property that stems from, is identified as, and whose value is based on an idea or some ideas.” There has to be some element of novelty; the
thing that we describe as intellectual property can’t be commonplace, or generally known,
in the society where it’s created, at the time that it becomes property. You can’t claim that
you invented the wheel or that you wrote Moby Dick. Even though the source material for all IP
is social — the inputs are our education, our human interactions, and basically all the
sensory data around us that we take in — the thing that we call ‘IP’ is the product of
us putting together all these social inputs into something that we’re gonna call “the
idea”. “Only the concrete, tangible, or physical embodiments
of the idea are protected by intellectual property law.” The idea has to be fixed into a form and location in which humans have access to it. That could be a novel, or a logo, or a liquid filled die agitator containing a die having raised indicia on the facets thereof. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So in its purest and best form, IP is the propertization of intellectual effort and talent. In its most corrupt and worst form,
intellectual property can be, and has been used by the propertied and powerful to protect
concentrated markets and broken business models. At its very worst, it can be used a a censorship
tool. Intellectual property differs somewhat from
real property like cars or houses because it’s limited in duration and scope. For example,
copyrights last for the life of the author plus 70 years. Copyrighted works can be copied under the
fair use exception for certain personal or publicly beneficial uses. Let’s say a book
reviewer quotes long passages of a novel, then pans the book. It’s likely the author
of the book wouldn’t grant permission for this type of use. But we want to encourage
informed public discourse. So there’s a good chance it would be found to be a fair use. Patent laws carved out a limited experimental
use exception that permits minimal use of a patent for amusement, to satisfy idle
curiosity, or for strictly philosophical inquiry. Again, the patent owner probably wouldn’t like this,
but the law wants to encourage individual tinkering. Both these limitations exist to
serve the primary objective of intellectual property: that’s to promote the progress of science
and useful arts by increasing our stock of knowledge. So in this series, we’re going to focus on
the 3 main branches of intellectual property: copyrights, patents, and trademarks. We won’t
have time to get into some of the lesser cousins of the family like trade secrets or the right
of publicity, but all of these are included under the umbrella of intellectual property. So in the coming weeks we’re going to try
to get at some of the nuts and bolt of what intellectual property is, because like it
or not, IP is only going to become more and more relevant as our lives become more and
more digital. So regardless of what or how you feel about
any aspect of IP, it’s probably a good idea to have some basic knowledge of it. It doesn’t
matter if you’re a consumer or a creator of protected content or both. Is understanding
IP going to help you? You may rely on it. See you next week. Crash Course: Intellectual Property is filmed in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz here in sunny
Indianapolis, Indiana, and it’s made with the help of all of these nice workers for
hire. If you’d like to help us make Crash Course
in a monetary way that doesn’t imply any ownership in the final work, you can subscribe at Patreon,
a voluntary subscription service where you can support Crash Course and help make it free
for everyone forever. You can get great perks, but the greatest perk of all is the satisfaction of
spreading knowledge. Right? So thanks for watching. We’ll see you next week.

100 Comments

  • Robert N

    There is nothing intellectual about "Intellectual" property bigotry – the idea that you can own an idea (through law and legal coercion and legal threats of coercion).
    Frankly, I find it quite delusional the idea that you can own an idea or an abstraction, atleast to the point of pointing guns at people or having others do it for you ie law enforcement.
    Add the fact that you can own the abstraction for 70 years after you have died, which makes it that much more insane.
    I know, "its not the abstraction that you own, its the physical object that your abstraction has been infused with that you own", right.
    Still, the principle is that: even after you gain (legitimate) ownership over it (lets say a book), the writer still owns it to the point to where he/she can tell you what you can and can't do with it (if he/she is alive to do so that is…)
    But the reality is, that by the principle of self ownership, once you have gained legitimate ownership over something through voluntary exchange, you own it. You can do what you want with it. (not in "legal" law ofcoarse, but in moral law)
    Sorry, I know that this is not a philosophy show…
    but that's all that I have to say about intellectual propertarian bigotry, anyways.
    ©This comment is copyrighted by me 😉

  • Maddy Diba

    I don't know why but Stan's voice really makes me interested in this information just as much or even a little more than Hank does…he's great.

  • heavyweaponsgaming

    I like how clearly neutral, unbiased, and impartial this series is, informing people and not trying to convince people of a certain point of view, definitely not.

  • Carey A

    The quote about "nonphysical property is based on…" is missing a citation. It's marked as Citation 2, but that's Plato's quote. It should be Citation 3 and a citation given.

  • Mark Twain

    This presenter & video is spectacular. Since Time is Money then this series of video in the Mind of the Right inventor is worth a Billion Dollars..

  • Jeffrey Riddle

    HA "Workers for Hire"  Classic.  Are we anticipating some sort of possible cause of action by your producers, artists, and/or cameramen?

  • Kyle Comeaux

    Can a single song lyric quote (one sentence) be used on products for sale? Or would that be infringement? Thanks!

  • Dag Odenhall

    The death of author plus 70 years length for copyright is just ridiculous. Make it five years from publication or something sensible like that. The author would still have protection during the initial surge of demand on release.

  • Dasus

    I usually enjoy these clips. This one began by implying that anyone saying, that copyrights and patents are inherently wrong and/or limiting towards society as a whole, are stupid potheads. It wasn't particularly pleasant for me and frankly I expected more from you.

  • Polaris Léon Mábus

    Our definitions of what intellectual property is are different which matters. A individual can copyright there own intellectual & physical property data. As for my property without payment is stealing which means that any internet provider or company providing a service on the internet or phone that I use have legal terms they have to o bid by regarding what is know as intellectual & physical property data. Email, twitter, face book, apps, games, you name it.

  • Suzanna Guinn

    I am currently a HS senior and I am considering becoming a IP lawyer. What are the downsides and upsides to the particular area of law?

  • Reuben Stern

    That patent clause might be useful… I might learn C++ and reverse engineer some AI. explains how AVE get's away with his BOLTR videos too.

  • Round Square

    Why is this juvenile trash in my recommended? Anyway, there is no evidence that IP promotes new ideas, and quite alot of data suggesting it serves only to prevent the discovery of new info.

  • Marsha Creary

    I saw someone make a comment about employers who work for Disney. They said that their contract specifies that they own all intellectual property and they also referenced perpetuity. Are you familiar with that type of contract?

  • Ronak Vachhani

    Your lecture was very good but can you tell me the exact difference between ownership,inventorship and authorship in intellectual property?

  • Aniri Richar

    …technology- is – magic trickeries that – last – longer – than – catholic notes & – men – has – less – chance – of – avoiding – distopia – $ince – robots – are – programmed – by – whom ?…keep – on – egnorin'- the – fortunate that – bio – mesure with …Cameras – that – looks – at – old – & – young – people 's – even – nose – hair…😕 – to – control – what – 1 – can – wear – eat – breathes – forget – what – 1- saw – without – the – joys – of – tasty – aqua – vita … looking – foward – pleasing – your – 💖💕- ones ,- sensous – kisses , – it – all- be – controlled. ..😕😰
    Throlls – saying – not – true – it's – all – for …😮😢😯…

  • lhpoetry

    Life +70 is ridiculous. Period. It's all about publishing houses, and has nothing to do with protecting author's rights. Even if the artist is alive, 10-20, max 50 years should be the limitation before things go into Public domain.

    Also, copyright and digital media is completely unfair to developing countries, because 1)access to media is limited (Netflix, Vimeo, Spotify, Amazon, for example are usually technically region-blocked unless you use a VPN; still worse, Paypal is unavailable to creators) 2)If developing countries have access (Itunes for example), the prices are usually HIGHER than they are in the US, in countries where wages are as much as 10 or 100 times lower. 3)The regional DVD system is completely completely outdated in a digital, internet world, with many companies just not even bothering to release their work in in certain regions. 4)Unstable internet means that like, if I want to show this video in my class, I have to download it, and every time that Youtube updates their security, I have find a new way to download, just to share a simple video with my class.

    All of this in addition to the fact that access to digital media, like access to SMS services or cell phone coverage, is usually hyper-inflated in price to begin with. While I understand that an Avengers movie costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make, a digital, DRM-free copy of a movie shouldn't cost more than $10, an album, shouldn't cost more than $5, a book, probably no more than $7 or $20 in the case of a textbook maybe. I guess I'm okay with DRM for movies limiting me to one copy of something, but it should still be in a format I can move and use with my own player. Generally though, DRM is easily broken.

    Anyway, yes, intellectual property laws are important…however, the way the laws are now don't protect creators as much as they do media corporations. The Public domain as a concept has been destroyed by Life + 70, and these laws are more about greed and consolidating capital than they are about rewarding creative energies and creators who can't afford lawyers.

  • Tyler Barker

    Intelectual Property.. its kind of seems like a made up think.. to create a think tank. Like do you know how many catergories or Vocabulary words i could make up or put together, to create think tanks.

    I choose to just know people how there intrests and abilities. ( a base ball field as many positions, a basketball team does too, different sizes and different abilities, all put together) its make a intellegence community or team. Thats what was needed. The cool thing about it is, it put everybody else who "bought into the think tank deal, like actually paid for it contracted it" Its put them to work for us, Americans. I seen the FBI logo, on a Intectual property website or contract for example, I heard thepresident talk about "Intellectual Property" for example. It means they bought into the "deal" they got sold.

    Heres the stradedgy for hacker or somebody taking over inteclectual property.
    I say "cool" , you believe in intelectual property, Im gonna make you stick to that.. until your realize it sucks and holding you back, its causing you problems. Put them in there own think tank, then make them hate the think tank.. Boom i conquered intelectual property and the people who made it, along with the people they sold it to, along with the contracts and work they have to do to try to keep up, they have to do work, to keep up to speed.

    That is why is so important be honest, get your abilities out there,in writing in media, so you can expose the con artists… you get a following from it, its a good thing. A natural progression.

    Whats the difference between Intelectual Property and a Entuerpuenuer … nothing really its the exact same word meaning, so why resell entuerpunuer influence, as "intelectual property"..

    Trump Fires in California the ones burning up the cities and state, Is that that "Intellectual Property"? if i see it on T.V.? a little flame map of the fires that say "Trump FIre" we can make intelectual property believers or professionals "think" about it, put it in there tank. Trump Fire.. Alls we had to do is say it.. write it or type it.. The people he contracted to use Intecetecual Property stuff is going to be used by us, they will make it a "thing" for us for free Presidential Intellectual Property TGB the way i mean it..
    They can fight to make it a "thing" if they want, maybe take it through congress a couple times.

    Just be "American" its comes with all the good stuff… American intellegence is pretty awesome too. TGB the way i mean it. You guys called A.I. for awhile, i started developing it, American Intellegence TGB the way i mean it

  • Patrick Andrews

    3:00 balance the need to incentivise sharing of information and incentivise production of inventions(?) These two things are not really in opposition. The first doesn't need an incentive. The second is based on the idea that nobody invents things without a profit in mind. This is a specious argument, made by lawyers (who never have ideas) in support of their business. Companies need to start paying inventors without involving lawyers (whose only function is to create conflict).

  • Wardler

    Intellectual property is bogus. Property rights are derived from our self ownership (which has it's own philosophical reasoning). You cannot believe in individual property rights and intellectual property at the same time.

    Intellectual property espouses that if someone has an idea first, then they own that idea and all of it's effects and productions. It means if you have the same idea of any sort in your own mind, that the "original" person who thought it now owns a piece of your person. It means that if you open your mouth to sing, someone else owns the sounds coming from your labor.

    Well, this is very clearly not true. Just because you listen to a song does not mean that the performer owns a piece of your person. And just because you sing a song does not mean the original performer now owns your labor. And in the same way if you copy digital bits in the same order as that in a sound file on another computer, that person does not own part of your hard drive.

    IP is just another government farce–a mafia style monopoly. It flies in the face of the non-aggression principle. It is hardly different than the first apple farmer preventing a second apple farm from opening on the other side of the country–just because the apples look nearly identical.

  • Wardler

    Nonphysical property: well there is no such thing. Considering that all data is stored, used, or manipulated in some physical form. Be it a hard drive or groups of neurons in a person's brain, ideas are real physical property. It is hard to imagine that just because someone had a similar grouping of neurons first that they now own a piece of your brain. In the same way it is quite plausible that just because someone arranged bits & bytes in a particular order for a piece of software or a sound file that they now own a piece of your hard drive.

    And if it is true that they do not own your brain or your hard drive or in fact your singing voice or artistic pen strokes then it is nothing less than assault under monopolistic intent should they extort money or use force or threats of force to impede on your voluntary and peaceful interaction with other people.

    That is why IP is illegitimate. It is poorly disguised form of government mandated monopoly.

  • Wardler

    The primary objective of intellectual property law is to stifle innovation and prevent competition so that lazy business owners, writers, artists, or programmers can monopolize a particular product for their own monetary benefit.

  • Andrew Zhou

    who is paying the people that worked towards the intellectual property, and where would that money come from? IP couldn't be free, it could have open access, maybe with bunch of ads and pop-ups……
    What about the stealing of intellectual property, which occurs frequently in places the laws surrounding IP are not accurately defined and properly defended/enforced. Like Chinese web novels for example. Some of those "original authors" that copy almost entirely off someone else's work, changing a few words and lines, and character names. Also some of those fan fiction writers, that literally just follow the plot line of the story they're doing a fan fiction on. 
    When those fakes are made into movies and television shows, and the interests of many people, including powerful ones, are tied onto the same boat, who's going to defend the original IP, who would defend the author. 
    It is not in anyone's interest to rely on the morality of other strangers, and gamble what they might have invested a lot of time, or even their whole life into.

  • Michael Klein

    So as confusing as it sounds, I am creating training COURSES (multiple videos) that are on one of my websites where those who want to learn the subject pays my business, i.e. me a fee to view the video(s) on the course as an On-Demand. Therefore, do I copyright this, can I copyright it, do I set up a trademark, what?

  • Tracy-allen Ezechukwu

    I am still confuseddddddddddddd.😭😭😭😭😭
    Even the thought bubble hasn't helped me understand the concept fully. Why are we so conplexxxxxxxxxxx????????
    😭😭😭
    I give up. For now though. 🤒

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