Immaterialrätt och undvikande av skada / utnyttjande av potential

januari 5, 2010

I artikeln Trespass-Copyright Parallels and the Harm-Benefit Distinction tar  Wendy J. Gordon upp en intressant poäng som kan få konsekvenser för hur man ser på äganderätten och skillnaden mellan äganderätt och immaterialrätt, nämligen att det finns en asymmetri mellan hur duktiga människor är på att undvika skador på det vi äger och hur duktiga vi är på att dra nytta av potentialen hos det vi äger. Hon skriver inledande att:

”the law generally defers decisions about land use to individual landowners as mini-sovereigns, generally refusing to second-guess those private decisions and trusting that in following their self-interest the owners will unknowingly act as stewards of the public interest.  Whether owners can indeed carry out this stewardship function in large part rests, of course, on whether their private incentives will mimic social costs and benefits. So we can reframe our initial question as follows: is there any reason for the law to trust the “invisible hand”  less when copyright owners rather than land owners are at issue?”

Sedan nämner hon ett antal vanliga exempel på skillnader, däribland t ex. icke-rivalitet, och förklarar därpå sitt bidrag till debatten så här:

”I’d like to add to the above-listed considerations an issue that I do not think the literature has previously addressed in a serious way — namely, the harm-benefit distinction.  Consider the following hypothesis: People (including property owners) are less motivated to “capture benefits” than to avoid losing a possession.  Similarly, losing an opportunity to profit does not motivate action as strongly as avoiding harm.  Intangibles are more open to harmless and beneficial use by strangers than are tangibles such as land.  Therefore, owners of land and other tangibles are more reliable maximizers of the value of what they own than are owners of intangibles.”

Här kan det vara intressant att jämföra med Michael Shermers beskrivning av människors irrationalitet i en artikel i Los Angeles Times där han berättar hur man i djurförsök med apor (kapuciner) kunnat visa att de delar människors, till synes irrationella, motvilja mot förlust:

”But in another trial in which the experimental conditions were manipulated in such a way that the monkeys had a choice of a 50% chance of a bonus or a 50% chance of a loss, the monkeys were twice as averse to the loss as they were motivated by the gain. Remarkable! Monkeys show the same sensitivity to changes in supply and demand and prices as people do, as well as displaying one of the most powerful effects in all of human behavior: loss aversion.”

Det finns säkert en evolutionär förklaring till detta drag, och det är troligt att det tjänar sitt syfte i vissa sammanhang. Gordon ger också exempel på hur denna inställning i flera fall kan vara rationell (se sida 69-71, dvs. 8-10 i pdf-filen).  Så här i förbifarten kan jag notera att Shermer även tar upp det psykologiska missunnsamhetsanlag som kanske kan förklara varför vi reagerar så negativt på freeriders (se föregående inlägg och Lemleys artikel om varför freeriders inte är det egentliga problemet i immaterialrättssammanhang):

”Consider one more experimental example to prove the point: the ultimatum game. You are given $100 to split between yourself and your game partner. Whatever division of the money you propose, if your partner accepts it, you each get to keep your share. If, however, your partner rejects it, neither of you gets any money. How much should you offer? Why not suggest a $90-$10 split? If your game partner is a rational, self-interested money-maximizer — the very embodiment of Homo economicus — he isn’t going to turn down a free 10 bucks, is he? He is. Research shows that proposals that offer much less than a $70-$30 split are usually rejected.”

För att återgå till den första artikeln sammanfattar Gordon litet längre fram i artikeln sitt perspektiv så här:

If the non-Coasean observation is accurate that people fear loss more than they desire gain, this gives us the first premise of a syllogism: an owner will respond less readily to opportunities to maximize the beneficial use of her property  than she will to opportunities for avoiding harms to it.  Although some tangible property can be harmlessly shared, intangibles (such as the patterns that make up “works of authorship”) are much more likely than tangibles to be nonrival and inexhaustible.  This leads us to a second premise: that copyright is more likely than real property to  involve harmless but beneficial uses by third parties.  If the preceding two premises are accurate, then this conclusion may follow: since owners  are likely to be more vigilant in avoiding harms than in pursuing benefits, and since nonharmful benefits are more likely to occur in the  case of intangibles, copyright owners are less likely to maximize the social value of their property than are the owners of tangible property.

This quasi-syllogism suggests that it is far less clear that the market can “correct for” the misallocation of rights to control artistic works than the misallocation of rights to control real property.  Without the prospect of a “harm” to call attention to a competing use, and without the definiteness of measurement that “harms” can provide to real property owners, copyright owners might be less prone than tangible property owners to engage in privately and socially valuable licensing.  When this reluctance is coupled with the effects of nonrivalry, and with the probability that a larger range of potential uses exist for a valuable piece of copyrighted material than for a valuable piece of land, it seems likely that copyright owners, left to the private market, will license a narrower range of their property’s potential uses than will the owners of realty.  Further, authors’ emotional investment in their work may make them (if they own the copyrights) prone to overestimating the value of their work, setting unrealistically high prices that derail bargaining.

One Response to “Immaterialrätt och undvikande av skada / utnyttjande av potential”


  1. En intressant poäng och väl formulerad! Dock kommer jag fram till en annan slutsats en vad författaren gör. Som jag ser det är detta ett argument för att upphovsrättsinnehavare politiska investeringar för att behålla sina rättigheter är ledda till att skapa mer skada än de vanliga egendomsinnehavarnas investeringar. Kanske fungerar båda slutsatser med argumentet.

    Dock borde inte upphovsrättsinnehavaren långsiktigt agera irrationellt och inte tjäna så mycket pengar som möjligt, vilket författaren menar i sista stycket du citerar. Nog för att människan har en hel del problem att agera rätt i verkligheten, men när det gäller att få vinst är det nog en bra utgångspunkt att man kommer att vara rationell. De borde alltså ge ut så många licenser som maximerar deras vinst, dock kanske det inte ger lika mycket social välfärd som en egendomsinnehavares ”licensiering”.


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