The Minister for Innovation has decided to ignore the Productivity Commission’s recommendations, and not to change the Australian regulatory regime for books introduced by the previous Labor government. In other words, publishers get to keep their territorial exclusivity for books, and the government thinks we should all get e-Readers instead (seriously, that’s practically in the press release).

Gans says it all really – the government, having spent the first year or two of their governmental life commissioning independent reviews and reports of various kinds has shown that lobbying can overturn any recommendations that result. Look forward to an increase in the lobbying population in Canberra.

But what I find amusing/interesting is this. When the film industry lobbied for better protection in the context of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement negotiations, they lost. The book publishing industry has won. Which do you think has a brighter future in this increasingly audio-visual age…?

The folks over at strangemaps have posted an interesting map of the USA, matching the gross domestic product (GDP) of each individual state with a country with a similarly-sized GDP.

Strangemaps rightly points out that the map presents a somewhat distorted picture; while the state/nation state GDP levels may be similar, the corresponding population levels are not. This means that similar GDP figures do not necessarily indicate similar levels of wealth per capita in the US states and countries compared, although it does rank the size of the economies of US states and the corresponding foreign countries.

The rest of strangemaps is worth a look if you have a moment–there are some very interesting maps there. One of my recent favourites is the Online Communities Map.

There’s something rather interesting going on at the Productivity Commission here in Australia. The Commonwealth Government has asked the PC to undertake a research study on public support for science and innovation in Australia. Now, I’d heard some muttered cynical comments that one of the purposes of this particular inquiry might be to give government some reasons to reduce public funding for innovation (I’m not sure why giving a review to an independent body like the PC would further this kind of aim: I’m just reporting scuttlebut here).

But there’s some interesting submissions going up now, that make for interesting reading if you are interested in innovation and the drivers of innovation. (more…)

IPRIA and the Melbourne Business School have an event coming up which would be of interest to readers of this blog: David Levine and Eric Von Hippel will be giving a seminar on Intellectual Property and Innovation: A Different Perspective. It’s all happening on 11 August. More details over the fold. (more…)

A new voice in Australian blogs: Joshua Gans, a colleague of mine in Melbourne, has started a blog, apparently due to Andrew Leigh’s inspiring influence. Gans’ research focuses on areas of applied game theory: specifically in the nature of technological competition and also in various aspects of the regulation of market power. He writes/comments/consults on competition, innovation – that kind of thing. Definitely worth watching.

Slate Magazine has a fascinating article on the economics of Starbucks, which focuses on “the elusive ‘short’ cappuccino”; or why Starbucks will serve you “a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it.” (more…)

I found this while seeing if I could find stats about the results of Harvey Danger’s experiment in allowing their latest album to be downloaded for free (apologies for those who find it monotonous, as I’ve posted about it twice already in the last couple of months, but I find it a great way to try to find hard data behind all the press spin about music and the net). (more…)

Two short stories that illustrate two of my pet theories about the net: MMORPG economies and RSS. The first, in the New York Times reports on Chinese ‘gold farmers’ — people who sit and play MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) all day, to build up virtual gold which they then sell for real money to time-poor players. (more…)