The Story Of Abundance

Introducing the Copia Institute

In the opening address from the 2015 Copia Inaugural Summit, founder Mike Masnick talks about the story of abundance and the unique conditions that have made California a hub of tech innovation. Watch the video to learn more about the Copia Institute and our view on promoting innovation by focusing on openness and freedom.

The basis of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century was the reliance on physical machinery to dramatically increase the productivity of industries ranging from textiles to transportation. The development of autonomous machines that can learn, recognize patterns and make complex decisions marks the next phase of automation. Cognitive computing applies software solutions to tasks that could not ordinarily be accomplished without human intervention. Applications range from driverless cars, face recognition algorithms, and natural language processing to data mining and algorithmic high-frequency trading. The global market for smart machines is already a multi-billion dollar industry that is expected to grow by double digits over the next few years. The automation of knowledge-based work will have broad effects on society, increasing economic productivity and providing a cornucopia of wealth.

This case study examines the impact of advanced cognitive computing on society, science, policy, ethics and more.

Biotechnology, as all sciences, advances step by step and builds on fortuitous and often serendipitous discoveries. In 1951, a woman named Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and a sample of her cancerous tissue cells were taken — without her knowledge or consent — and grown in a petri dish. For decades prior, scientists had been trying to keep human cells alive under laboratory conditions without success, but the tumor cells taken from Henrietta Lacks exhibited a remarkable ability to grow and thrive. These HeLa cells became the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. Since 2001, five Nobel prizes have been awarded based on research performed with HeLa cells. Trillions of HeLa cells have been bought and sold and used in medical studies all over the world, and they continue to contribute to the advancement of medicine and biology.

This case study examined the history and impact of HeLa cells and their unique policy implications.

Just as the Gutenberg printing press paved the way for information and ideas to be spread by allowing mass communication, the advent of 3D printing brings the ability for anyone to share design concepts and create physical goods on demand, anywhere. However, intellectual property policies have hindered the 3D printing industry, and increasingly restrictive policies could harm this innovation in unintended ways.

This case study examines the reach and impact of 3D printing, and its implications in the world of copyright, patent and trademark policy.

We live in a genomic age. The amount of important medical and biotech research happening today involving genes is staggering.  And much of it goes back to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The seeds of PCR development can be traced back to the 1970s, and the practical PCR machinery that fueled a biotechnology revolution started running in the 1980s. This innovation was quickly recognized with a Nobel prize in 1993, only about 10 years after its invention and approved patent application. PCR has accelerated the pace of innovation in biotech, and its contribution to society is immense.

This case study examines the impact of PCR and its wide availability to scientists.

Blockchain technology is the distributed database that underlies digital cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Various consensus algorithms can create distributed ledger systems to achieve a verifiable public record of transactions, replacing trust in people or institutions with a trust in mathematics. All of these technologies provide an extremely useful solution for keeping a reliable record of digital information — a practical answer to the theoretical conundrum known as the Byzantine Generals Problem. Keeping track of digital tokens in order to prevent double-spending is the most obvious application, but blockchain technologies allow for any kind of transaction without a requirement for a trusted third party, intermediaries or centralized authority. Hundreds of digital currencies based on blockchain technologies are valued in the billions of dollars with over 100,000 merchants accepting bitcoins, but the applications extend beyond digital cash.

This case study examines the impact of blockchain technology’s impact beyond just its use for digital currencies like Bitcoin.

When it comes to the luxury goods market, we’ve certainly seen a fair amount of disruption. The market was traditionally defined by a small number of very high end players, who had tremendous control over their supply chains all the way down to the retail level. The internet has definitely shaken up that space and created new challenges for the luxury goods market, whether it was in allowing new entrants into the space, or breaking down some of the control over the supply chain and building up viable secondary markets.

The main goal of this report is to look at the internet’s impact on the luxury goods market, and whether or not it’s been beneficial or harmful. What we found is that, even with the global economic problems of the past few years, the luxury goods market is thriving — especially for brands who embraced the internet, digital marketing and innovation.

This report looks at data about the US entertainment industries to get a glimpse into what’s happening around the globe. The basic story certainly remains the same: within the US there has been an explosion in creative output over the past couple of decades. While the nature of the various industries may have changed, the simple, undeniable fact is that there is a cornucopia of amazing new content being produced, consumed, shared and monetized.

For years now, the legacy entertainment industry has been predicting its own demise, claiming that the rise of technology, by enabling easy duplication and sharing — and thus copyright infringement — is destroying their bottom line. If left unchecked, they say, it is not only they that will suffer, but also the content creators, who will be deprived of a means to make a living. And, with artists lacking an incentive to create, no more art will be produced, starving our culture.

It seems obvious to many that this could not possibly be true. This report takes a close look at six key markets: Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Russia and Spain. Not only is the sky not falling, as some would have us believe, but it appears that we’re living through an incredible period of abundance and opportunity, with more people producing more content and more money being made than ever before. As it turns out… The Sky Is Rising!