Intellectual property protections, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, "are like Vitamin D. If you get too little Vitamin D, you get rickets. If you get too much Vitamin D, it will kill you." -- Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat, a NC-based company dedicated to open source software (in contrast to Microsoft, whose software is closed to development from outsiders). Red Hat makes money by customizing the Linux operating system and creating linux-based software for businesses.
In a talk at UNC-Chapel Hill, he pointed out that intellectual property laws and contracts are often so strict that they stifle innovation and can kill a product that might otherwise be used. Why should the copyright on a book, for example, be for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years? On his blog, Young posted a content creator's bill of rights, among other interesting posts on intellectual property rights.
Fifteen years ago, concerned about the potential loss of free public access to software, music, literature, art, history and other cultural artifacts, Young gave $1 million to start www.ibiblio.org at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the first web sites on the Internet. It has grown into a vast repository of open source material, processing more than 16 million documents a day, according to this UNC Tarheel article. In February, 2008, Ibiblio will celebrate its' 15th anniversary.
Young is also founder of Lulu.com, an Internet-based print-on-demand publishing company, in which writers (not publishing companies) maintain the rights to their own material, and Lulu.TV, a video upload and revenue-sharing site in which content producers (unlike at www.youtube.com) receive a percentage of revenue the site generates. Young is one of the pioneering voices in the open-source revolution.
Listen or watch parts of Young's presentation at UNC.