“The Social Network,” Entrepreneurship, and Intellectual Property

The Social NetworkThere are some good commentaries up on the superb Facebook movie, The Social Network: The Daily Caller’s ‘The Social Network’ and the case against intellectual property rights and Jeff Tucker’s A Movie That Gets It Right, as  well as Robert Wenzel’s The Social Network: The Movie that Could Save Us All.

In my view, the movie fails in its apparent attempt to show the Zuckerberg character as an asshole (I don’t know how true to life the character is), other than the way he treated his girlfriend in the beginning. It’s also hard to tell if the movie intended to show how ridiculous some intellectual property claims are, but as argued very well in the Daily Caller post, the movie does show this. One part of the plot concerns twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, whose plans for an exclusive Harvard student network were upstaged by Zuckerberg, leading them to complain that he “stole” their idea. As the Daily Caller post notes:

“If you had invented Facebook, you would have invented Facebook,” Zuckerberg sneers, dismissing the Winklevoss twins’ contribution to the existence of Facebook. Yet it’s indisputable that the networking site the twins envisioned at least partly inspired Zuckerberg, who gave them the run around for weeks while quietly launching a rival site.

Dubious as Zuckerberg’s tactics may have been, “The Social Network” does not consider him a criminal. Audiences shouldn’t, either.

… In an age where websites like Facebook have made it easier than ever for people around the world to interact and share their ideas, laws shouldn’t stand in the way of the free flow of information and innovation.

During a legal hearing, Zuckerberg makes the ultimate statement against intellectual property rights, asking, “Does a guy who makes a really good chair owe money to anyone who ever made a chair?” If people value Facebook and the system that made its development possible, the answer should be a resounding no.

[Cross-posted at C4SIF]

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