Leveraging Existing Code: APIs, Libraries, Web Services, and Open-Source Projects
Imagine how much more slowly society would have developed if no one had been allowed to leverage the inventions of others to design new products. The legal concept of intellectual property was contrived to give inventors sufficient financial incentive to create things from which to derive income for a term of exclusive right. Eventually, however, others can and should be able to use these innovations to make discoveries of their own. Maybe a drug developed for one disease can be adapted to cure another. Maybe flexible glass made for more durable dishware can be used to make unbreakable cellphone screens. Our society constantly searches for the next best thing, and we cannot expect to find it if we always begin from scratch.