Copyrights favor established industrial producers because they hold the IP.
Do you have a source for that? I'd be interested in seeing such a thing.
An interesting present day case is the ACM charging for academic papers. Some papers are available from the author's website for free, but some are not. Although the fee is affordable (around $20-30), do publications that are free lead to better propagation and thus more/better research?
I think it's very hard to judge this, because I think what happens in practice is that unknown academics give away their papers - it helps them to get known. Whereas the ones that you have to pay for are the massively famous ones with (eg) 700+ citations. Their knowledge is already out there in the community, and their reputation probably further promotes their research much more than the small fee retards it. In addition to this, you're probably better off reading a free review/summary/interpretation of the famous work than reading it in the original - so the ideas keep promulgating.
Traditionally, journals would send a few printed copies to the author so that the author could send them to people who wrote them asking for a copy, a custom that continues to some extent today. Putting the final version of the paper on your web site is simply an extension of this approach.
Copyright is pretty much irrelevant as an incentive for production of academic work. In nearly all fields, authors don't get paid by journals for writing papers. In many cases, in fact, they have to pay for the privilege of writing those papers. Academic books aren't net cash-flow negatives in the same way as journal and conference papers, but the total earnings per hour are very low.
In academic publishing, copyright has historically served as an incentive for printing academic work. Given our new methods of printing, using laser printers and computer screens, that incentive is no longer relevant. The main issue today is to prevent the last copy of an old paper from being lost, and ensure that it can be found easily so that it can be copied. Libraries are better suited to these purposes than printing companies. Copyright in its current form is a serious menace to that kind of preservation.
Non-academic publishing may be a different ballgame, of course. I don't know.
"During the period of Watt's patents [1775-1800] the United Kingdom added about 750 horsepower of steam engines per year. In the thirty years following Watt's patents, additional horsepower was added at a rate of more than 4,000 per year. Moreover, the fuel efficiency of steam engines changed little during the period of Watt's patent; while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by a factor of five."
Regarding the logistic curve, yes, your point is valid in general; however, the article cited makes it clear that Watt's patent dramatically slowed down the adoption rate by delaying essential improvements for 25 years. In particular, the adoption of high-pressure steam (an idea Watt simply disliked) proved essential for locomotives and for improving the fuel efficiency to a level where steam engines were practical in more than a small corner of the British economy.
You are certainly correct about high-pressure steam being essential. Did Watt's patent make it illegal to develop high-pressure steam engines, or just uneconomic?
That said, I agree that the terminology is flexible and the steam turbine can be considered a kind of steam engine; it is, however, very different in its principle of operation from the Watt-type steam engine (which it displaced in the XXth century). Regarding high-pressure steam, as far as I know Watt's patent precluded anyone from using a condenser in their steam engine, which is an essential component. Thus only engineers affiliated with Watt himself were able to produce commercial steam engines during the 25 years he held the patent, and he refused to let them work with high-pressure steam (despite a good deal of interest).
For a more thorough, and much better documented, discussion of these issues, I recommend chapter 3 (Internal Combustion Engines) of Vaclav Smil's book "Creating the Twentieth Century".
A condenser is not an essential component for a high-pressure steam engine. It can be useful (modern power-plant steam turbines use condensers because they're quite sensitive to lime deposits, so the water has to be expensively purified before use) but e.g. steam locomotives did not normally use them.
It is not the case that there were no non-Watt commercial steam engines built in England during Watt's patent; a good number of Newcomen-type engines continued to be built. But thank you for explaining that Watt refused to license his patent.
Thank you very much for the book recommendation! It sounds like a book I've been wanting to write. Maybe Smil has saved me the trouble.
It's interesting that reciprocating engines are quite common in the modern economy outside of the steam department. There are even commercial electric power plants driven by reciprocating engines. But they're internal-combustion.
I'm not entirely sure about the condenser bit, but I do remember Smil addressing the issue with references and all. His books are quite amazing, it's quite a pity they're not better known.
However, simple rotary pneumatic motors are used quite effectively in many hand tools, and they're essentially low-speed turbines. They don't have the immense efficiency of the Parsons turbine, but they are quite simple and can be quite reliable. (The high-speed ones used in dentists' drills had to wait for the development of the air bearing, though.)
I would be cautious about explaining such complex event by a single reason, as alway there are many factors involved.
Too bad the book in question isn't free to read, otherwise, I would be able to add more knowledge about the other side.
The abolitionists on the other hand, cheerfully made their work freely available when they can. They also happens to make a few bucks off of it too.
It’s certainly nice to see attempts at explaining why Germany caught up with and to some extent even overtook England. I don’t think that the canonical explanations (which to me always seem to include a lot of handwaving) are very convincing.
[+] Map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e9/Deu...
The article hints at this when it suggests a German earned more in royalties (without effective copyright) for a treatise on leather tanning at the beginning of the century than Mary Shelley did for Frankenstein.
Either UK publishers were exceptionally bad at maximising revenue (or sharing it with authors), or there was a much greater demand for books in Germany which had little to do with the supply of cheap copies
A highly plausible explanation is that German appetite for reading was driven by compulsory state-sponsored primary education, contrasting with the part-time, parochial education available in the UK at the time.
Despite low literacy rates the UK did a pretty impressive job of industrialising in the 20th century; to argue otherwise is to ignore the rate of absolute progress in favour of dubious relative metrics in the manner of Wired's recent "web is dead".
19th-century Germany and Japan and modern China have all had the ability to work directly toward a goal, rather than having to wait for industrialization to emerge naturally from within their own economies (although if they had, it would probably have produced a set of customs and practices much more suited to their own cultures and economic conditions).
One would think, then, that economic strength is related to not how much money publishers make - but to how thoroughly knowledge is distributed throughout the country.
Given this, could a valid economy be built where there are no copyright laws? Where writers, researchers and other creators of works to be published are paid by how many people read them - but not directly by the people who read them?
Getting the government involved would likely lead to rapid politicization of what gets published. What entity would step up to fund this, then?
In other words:
If spreading knowledge without the encumberance of copyright law enhances the economy and makes everyone richer (except, presumably, the artist whose work will be copied), what system could be put in place to make sure the artist/researcher/scientist/inventor is compensated for his contributions to the growth of the economy?
(The 19th century is considered the classic period of German literature. And arguably of German science, too.)
In the past, there has been example of American publishers paying more money to British authors than they receive in royalty in their own land even though USA didn't recognize foreign copyright at the time.
Even though there was no copyright, the same thing happened to America as it did to Germany. There was increased literacy built on the back of (in some case well-compensated) British authors.
I am sure artist/inventors/researchers/scientists can find business models that substain themselves.
English: Explosion of Knowledge
The title itself isn't very interesting. The change is.