By: Aarthi S. Anand
Before striking down laws increasing copyright’s domain, judges and legislators are asking for evidence that information products will be created even if copyright protection is not provided. The future of Internet technology depends on locating this evidence in time to limit expansive copyright. United States law, however, already protects information products under copyright. Hence, this counterfactual evidence that judges request cannot be generated in the United States. In response to the demand for data, American legal scholars have attempted to mine evidence from open software and other non-commercial endeavors on the Internet. However, these endeavors have been dismissed as exceptions or “cults,” unrelated to mainstream industry needs. This Article, for the first time, provides evidence of growth in the commercial software industry without intellectual property protection. Between 1993 and 2010, the software industry in India emerged as the fastest growing in the world, accounting for $76 billion in revenues by 2010. In the same time period, the software industry in India remained unaffected by changes in intellectual property protection for software. By demonstrating industry growth without strong intellectual property protections, the Indian data fills the critical gap in American literature.
Moreover, the comparative data from India enables scholars to separate causality from outcomes in specific empirical and analytical studies emerging out of the United States. In the case study of California’s Silicon Valley, for instance, there is a risk that causality may be extrapolated to alternative California statutes, giving rise to errors of second order. The comparative analysis checks this potential inaccuracy. The industry in India also provides illuminating data from contracting practices—decisive evidence of the legal infrastructure firms need and will create by contract, if not found in a priori law. This study equips policy-makers to go beyond the “historic accident” explanation to understand why the software industry flourishes where it does.
Cite: 11 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 65