By Michael Heller and James Saltzman
Translated by Seon-Young Kim
Goods or services are limited, but there are plenty of people who want them. ‘First-come-first-served’ is a rule that anyone can understand and agree to in this case. The person who arrives first becomes the owner of a luxury watch and Pokemon bread.
But there is another way. In the United States, the Supreme Court is free to attend, but agencies pay up to $6,000 to lobbyists and lawyers who don’t have time and money to line up instead. For reference, it is said that the actual amount of money received by homeless people and part-timers who stand in line is the minimum wage.
Is this agency service really a problem or a trick? Rather than auction the audience, how about using the proceeds for a good cause? Two professors who are co-authors of this book 『Main』 and who are affiliated with the American Law School and Environmental Graduate School also suggest another method. It is to open the courtroom online so that anyone can see it.
In March, when Pokemon Bread was so popular that it ran out of stock, citizens were queuing in long lines before opening hours to purchase Pokémon Bread at a mart in Seoul. [뉴스1]
According to the authors, six types of ownership, including first-come-first-served basis, occupation, labor, attribution, self-ownership, and inheritance, are representative logics used when claiming ownership. This book richly shows through concrete examples how this logic was formed and how it is shaken in the present age.
What we realize through this is that ownership is neither an absolute truth nor a natural human right. According to the book, ownership is a “social engineering choice.” It’s not a “found fact”, it’s a “conclusion we draw.” Whose possession will it be? The goal to achieve through ownership is first. Ownership allows you to control and change people’s behavior.
James Saltzman, the author of the book Mine. [사진 흐름출판]
The authors cite Duke University as an example, where the basketball team is famous and it is hard to get a ticket for every game. It is not on a first-come, first-served basis that the university students watch the game from the cheering table right next to the court. In front of the stadium, they camp for 3 days and 2 nights and have to go through a ‘campout’ event where attendance is checked frequently. Duke’s goal is not efficiency or process. “It is about optimally distributing precious and limited resources to serve a specific purpose,” and it is about nurturing an enthusiastic fandom and giving them cheering seats.
Another realization is the importance of how and who designs ownership. The authors clearly articulate their own views by dissolving the means used for ownership design, such as ‘exclusion and control’ and ‘liberal sharing’, in concrete examples.
Michael Heller, one of the authors of the book ‘Mine’. [사진 흐름출판]
In particular, it emphasizes the balance between exclusion and control rather than ‘exclusion’ such as ‘If it’s mine, it’s not yours.’ Breaking the frame and pointing to the bigger picture instead of being immersed in the pros and cons that are in front of you is what runs through this book. The authors emphasize a method like a regulator instead of the dichotomous switch of ‘on/off.’ For example, organ trading is not only for pros and cons, but also for medical institutions, and suggests a way to make purchases possible with an upper price limit.
Although it is a book that covers so many fields, the authors devoted a considerable amount to so-called intellectual property rights. It may be a story centered on the United States, which strongly protects intellectual property rights, but the authors argue that excessive compensation for intellectual labor has sequelae. For example, he points out the phenomenon that the complex ownership of new technology patents prevents the release of new drugs, or the works are completely buried as the ownership is divided and passed on to several descendants after the author’s death.
In particular, he strongly criticizes Disney, which has been lobbying Congress to extend Mickey Mouse copyright protection by decades. The argument is that since creator Walt Disney is already deceased, it cannot inspire creators’ will or create public interest, but only benefit the company.
Interestingly, Disney is also changing. As with popular culture products, the creative use of fans increases their fandom. Now, Disney copied what fans made. The authors don’t expect Disney to try to extend the Mickey Mouse Protection Act’s next expiration date around 2024. I wonder if that’s really the case.