An excellent summary of James Burke’s book, The Day the Universe Changed; I haven’t read it, but it sounds good. Reportedly, there’s a section covering a period in British history when patent law was extended to cover 100 years; ‘Like copyright today a person could not extend on a process developed on the day of their birth – they and their children (and even many of their grandchildren) would be dead long before the patent expired.’
Meanwhile, Germany refused to respect these terms, and their industry flourished — ‘a backwards agrarian society became an industrial powerhouse that far exceeded the capabilities of the British industry they ‘stole’ from, within a working lifetime.’
Details of how Lowell, Massachusetts became an industrial-era milling powerhouse through the US ‘stealing’ British patents: ‘an English immigrant, Samuel Slater … had worked his way up from apprentice to overseer in an English factory using the Arkwright system. Drawn by American bounties for the introduction of textile technology, he passed as a farmer and sailed for America with details of the Arkwright water frame committed to memory.’
Games: GameChronicles on the GTA:VC – Scarface connection. A nice summary of all (or at least, most) of the Scarface homages in the game.