Value capture is important for incentivizing and funding research

One set of incentives is the absolute value that creators capture in terms of money, status, etc. Another set of incentives is relative - how much money or status could I get by going into finance instead of building rocket engines? From the incentive viewpoint, we could maximize the creation of scientific and technological knowledge if we privatized every dollar of value people create so they are maximally incentivized to create that value in the first place.

Technology development can also be expensive, so even if the creators are happy to forgo a large chunk of the value they create, people are much happier to fund projects where they see themselves making a return. Vannevar Bush argues that incentivizing investors is actually the primary reason for IP in Pieces of the Action. A final argument for knowledge privatization has to do with maintenance. Even after it’s implemented, valuable knowledge products often require maintenance, whether it’s fixing software bugs, keeping standards up to date, or just answering questions and helping other people implement it. Maintenance work is the least glorious or appreciated so privatized knowledge and a for-profit product that can pay people to maintain it is the best way to make sure maintenance happens.

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