Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dread Pirate Europa

One way in which Europe is growing into failed states: a lack of respect for property rights.

In an online marketplace, where music file sharing had become commonplace and which was so anarchic that it threatened to derail the entire recorded music industry, Apple almost single-handedly developed the legal music downloads market and put everything back on track. Consumers may not like paying for music but unfortunately for them their favourite bands have to eat. Apple, to its credit, understood the issue and created the 99c single track download.

For some reason, Apple's dominance, even though it was won fairly in a highly competitive market, makes European regulators nervous. First the Scandinavians and now the French want to force Apple to open up its iTunes store to portable music players other than iPod. In other words, they're telling Apple that it can no longer keep its own proprietary technology if it wants to do business in their countries. For some reason, the governments of these countries believe they have the right to commandeer technology that was paid for and developed in the laboratories of a publicly owned enterprise in the US. Is it any wonder, that Apple refers to these countries' efforts as state-sponsored piracy?
Though this is one issue, it reflects a pattern of treatment of foreign intellectusl property which will eventually extend to its’ own people. It’s actually about individual rights, or the lack thereof.