US Chamber of Commerce’s “The Innovation Lifecycle” and the New Economy
The United States Chamber of Commerce recently launched an interactive online presentation called “The Innovation Lifecycle” which is supposed to help educate Americans and policymakers about the importance of IP protection. The video goes through the stages of the product lifecyle: Idea, R&D, Production, Distribution, and Benefits. While I agree that strong IP laws do promote sound trade and create jobs in America, the video seems to neglect the fact that innovation also sometimes comes from using other people’s ideas and making new products for consumers to enjoy.
Take for example the recent rise in “mashup music.” While certain forms of it have been around in clubs and other venues, the ease with which a person can take multiple sources of music and create a whole new song has developed into its own genre. The Global IP Center would be quick to say that this is profiting off of the work of the source artist’s material, however, if innovation is the goal the Global IP Center is trying to promote, then certainly someone creating a new form of music for listeners to enjoy should be championed as well. Creating new markets is a vital part of the US economy and will allow our country to stay competitive. Cavalierly dismissing innovation that comes in the form of modifying existing products fails to capture areas where new products can be developed.
I have written on this blog before about how artists should be allowed to exercise their rights, and I am cognizant that some may not like what is done to their creations by mashup artists or open source computer programmers and modifiers. However, to completely ignore that innovation doesn’t just come out of thin air, but can come through collaboration and trying to blend different concepts together just seems to sugar coat the issue. America’s best exports in the coming years will come from the IP fields and what should be promoted, on top of our existing IP laws and trade agreements, is an attempt to have the online communities that rework existing innovative programs and products with the produces themselves to create new products for the world to enjoy. I applaud the Global IP Center for attempting to create a video that will appeal to people who are not familiar with IP, but I am worried that too often, some of the real innovators in our society are being neglected, for fear of being seen as condoning illegal behavior.