The Gowers Review of Intellectual property released a final report today. The Open Rights Group has a good response on the overall impact, but I noticed some rhetorical bias. Paragraph 1.9 of the report says:
1.9 Achieving this balance is made more difficult by the vocabulary used to discuss IP policy and practice. Copyright infringement through unauthorised copying and distribution of music and video across the Internet is likened to stealing by some, and to sharing by others. Those who seek to prevent others from using a patented invention without permission are branded ‘trolls’*. Those who copy and distribute material illegally are called ‘pirates’. And the problem of ‘orphan’ works, which arises where copyright owners are untraceable, perhaps provokes an easy sympathy.
Having made this point though, the rest of the review uses 'piracy' throughout in phrases like 'strengthening enforcement of IP rights, whether through clamping down on piracy or trade in counterfeit goods', and does not mention patent trolling at all. Down in the glossary at the end, the report defines:
Piracy: Unauthorised duplication of goods protected by IP law
By using this rhetorical trick, Gowers continually makes an equivalence between commercial counterfeiting of CDs on a large scale with the copying inherent and necessary in any use of digital media. Gowers also makes some bizarre leaps of logic:
1.4 Ideas are expensive to produce but cheap to copy. The fixed costs of producing knowledge are high. Hollywood blockbusters can costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make[...]
How much knowledge does a Hollywood blockbuster contain, compared to, say, the Wikipedia page on intellectual property? The fixed costs there are remarkably low. The costs of production are continually plummeting, thanks to digital technologies, and that enables commons-based peer production, like Wikipedia. Some of Gowers recommendations are good, but it looks like he didn't engage with Benkler's Wealth of Networks thesis on new kinds of knowledge creation.