smellsofbikes writes "This week's New Yorker magazine has a financial article, 'The Permission Problem,' discussing the hidden cost of patent, trademark and copyright laws. It's a subject anyone here already knows well, but he brings up two interesting points: 1) He uses the term 'tragedy of the anticommons.' Instead of depletion of a shared resource, this describes under-use of hoarded resources: areas that can't be explored because they're encumbered by patent/copyright issues. As he points out, the result of this is an invisible loss: drugs not made, software not written. The loss is impossible to quantify and difficult to see. I like the term 'tragedy of the anticommons' because it encapsulates a long-winded explanation into a pithy, memorable phrase that will stick with people unfamiliar with the topic. 2) He also cites a study by Ben Depoorter and Sven Vanneste that discusses why anticommons effects are seen, beyond mere competition. Individual right holders value their contribution to the overall project as a significant fraction of the project value, so if there are more than three or four right holders, their perceived value can far exceed the total value of the project, making it uneconomical."