CNet: In recent years, there’s been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, “We’ve got to look at patents, we’ve got to look at copyrights.” What’s driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?
Bill Gates: No, I’d say that of the world’s economies, there’s more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist.
And this debate will always be there. I’d be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned–including the U.S. patent system. There are some goals to cap some reform elements. But the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we’ve had the best intellectual-property system–there’s no doubt about that in my mind, and when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they’ve got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future.
When I was a young punk I dyed my hair, sneered at everyone, and thought “Kill your parents” was an arch joke. Now my generation dyes their hair (to hide the grey), sneers at the camera, and exhorts you to let your parents die for their stock options. We have
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As entertainment a while back, I used to tell the story of World War One. It was great fun at parties. I’d get rolling during work lunches at bougie little lunch places, and half of the establishment would be staring balefully at our table around the time I cut