That’s one of my pet peeves, or main concerns, depending on how you look at it. To put it bluntly, the whole legal infrastructure for dealing with intellectual property is absurdly wrong, in my opinion, distorted to fit the agenda of large corporations and keep on screwing us average Joes.
Case in point #1: The continuous attempts to extend royalties deadlines. Usually companies hide behind the poor widow of some singer or other, but the fact is that this kind of thing interests mainly big recording companies, as can be directly deduced by the involvement of the RIAA (along with the MPA the duo that crafted the DCMA and that enjoys going after suburban housewifes with multi-million dollars lawsuit). Thecomparison made in the article I’ll refer to in a minute is perfect: does anyone know of a programmer that is still being paid for software developed decades ago? See the whole story: Can Anyone Name A Programmer Still Getting Paid For Code He Wrote In 1962?.
Case in point #2: The patent system has been systematically abused to assure obscene revenues to the pharma industry: The real reason drugs cost so much – and why big pharma is so rich. This is combined with the oligopolization of several key sectors of the economy, as stated in the article: “The row between the UK government and Roche implies that this argument [that the monopoly granted by patents is necessary to assure that new drugs are going to be developed] is beginning to unravel, but it also points towards the underlying problem: the lack of true competition. While the rhetoric of free markets is more widespread than ever, the reality has been an increasing degree of consolidation in recent years. The alliance between Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline is the latest example, followed swiftly by the AstraZeneca bid for Pfizer.”
Actually the whole system of economic incentives for the pharma industry is lopsided, with many unwanted effects. Even if we take the discussion in the following article with a grain of salt, it is a fact that drugs that save lives but don’t get a massive return simply are not being researched: How Big Pharma Holds Back in the War on Cancer.