Intellectual Property - the contract of - and the Theft of Copying

Mark Hubbard's picture
Submitted by Mark Hubbard on Sat, 2010-01-16 02:35

Out of interest, where do SOLOists stand on the issue of intellectual property, file copying and file sharing.

I'm having a falling out with Mises.org over this issue, as that site constantly argues for theft.

The below is my post to Stephen Kinsella's post 'Copying Is Not Theft':

http://blog.mises.org/archives...

My post was as follows, though the Cory Doctorow link contains most of my thoughts on the subject. If nothing else, a show of hands here: is copying theft, or is it not? Why?

I am a Libertarian, and an Objectivist, and have followed this great blog for some time, however, only really reading the economic articles. I've seen many IP posts but not had the time to do anything other than skim through the odd one, but from that, and this post, I have gleaned a fundamental disagreement I have with the position of some of the posters here on IP.

In this context, I don't care about the 'technical' argument: copying is theft.

If I write a novel, then sell it as an ebook on line, then I am entitled to profit from the sales of it: it is the tangible product of my mind. Everyone who copies it without paying me is initiating fraud and denying me what is legitimately mine.

Yes?

Does this 'site' have a position on this issue?

Any other position is destroying the ability of artists and intellectuals, to list just some groups, to make a living under laissez-faire, and that's repugnant, and wrong.

I don't have time to argue the point here, although I did argue these issues with author Cory Doctorow in 2004 on his blog. At that stage I was posting under the handle of 'tribeless' (I only post under my own name now): Doctorow's original argument is at the start of the link, then my 'disagreement' follows, I think going through about three or four pages of comments - (um, that was five years ago, and I was posting hurriedly there also, so excuse the typos):

http://craphound.com/est/00004...

Per the continuing debate down the Mises thread, I think justifications of 'copying is not theft' is sophistry of the worse sort.


( categories: )

Take your time Mark.

Robert's picture

I've been thinking that Mises.org was one of the good guys in the field of economics, a field in which I am particularly weak.

If the principal contributors of articles to that site hold principles as antithetical to freedom as that, it isn't worth frequenting that site. I've got enough trouble understanding the economic arguments without having to expend the effort to remain alert to any under-cutting of property rights.

Actually Robert there is a

Mark Hubbard's picture

Actually Robert there is a much stronger connection ... but I've got appointment, I'll get to it in about an hour.

Kinsella = Mises.org

Robert's picture

Sorry Mark, that one holds about as much water and for the same reason as concluding that the owners of the old SOLO website were in philosophical lock-step with MSK.

True, it might be nice if the owners formally repudiated Kinsella in the way Linz repudiated MSK, but no matter how dumb it might be to stay silent you can't conclude that the absence of comment equates to collusion. From my point of view, the forums appear to be a minor part of the Mises.org site: there is more to Mises.org than Kinsella.

I for one have been enlightened by their economic articles on the current economic malaise. So I'd need a little more than a correlation from their user statistics to believe that they were opposed to the concept of IP.

Peter Surda, I do not have

John Donohue's picture

Peter Surda, I do not have time to respond at length today/tonight. I will do so, however.

Meanwhile, this is a tiny start to validating 'state'...

"With regards to state, it's very simple. State is a territorial monopoly on the initiation of force."

...but of course does not clear the contradiction I pointed out nor provide enough basis to establish "state."

Oh that was it. One of their

Mark Hubbard's picture

Oh that was it.

One of their main contributors is lawyer Stephen Kinsella. He mainly posts on anti-IP issues, and anti-IP header posts make up somewhere between 20% and 30% (my estimate) of the content of the site. I am yet to find a single header post giving a pro-Libertarian-IP stance. Kinsella's last post was drawing a connection between IP and racism for Christ's sake. (Pleased to say even his general 'supporters' kicked back adversely at that one).

Re Bala, he explicitly states his ability and ethical clear conscience to pilfer files from, or upload to, file sharing sites - look at his comments below regarding Burn's manuscript - so, to that extent, I'm just taking him at his word. I"m allowed to take a man at his word. If you don't want people thinking you're a thief, then you should not give the sanction for outright looting on public forums. His line of argument is at base always the sanction for an ultimate act of theft of property. What is stopping him from pilfering on file share sites? He doesn't think of it as theft, or unethical.

Hmmm....

Peter Surda's picture

The only ones causing your emotional distress are yourselves, experiencing cognitive dissonance. The only reason why there is no discussion is your attitude. It apparently does not occur to you that you have no clue about what your opponents' arguments actually are. Since these have been repeatedly and thoroughly presented to you on several occasions, instead of demonstrating your superiority you make yourselves into fools. I might just sit back and watch.

That...

Robert's picture

The owners of Mises.org and they who run the bookstore necessarily share the premises of Ali Bala and his forty alleged thieves.

I'm more than willing to retract the charge of foolishness if you are able to provide a link that categorically proves that mises.org supports the removal of IP protections.

If you could also refer to where Bala etc. explicitly admits to participating in the file-sharing scourge, that'd be helpful too. Nothing proves your Objectivist Chops more than a good, old fashioned denouncing Smiling

I agree with your post below

Mark Hubbard's picture

Smiling I agree with your post below Robert. Um, but, remind me:

You perpetuate a foolish point made by Mark ...

What was that again? I don't necessarily deny I haven't made one, just wondering what it might be.

You perpetuate

Robert's picture

a foolish point made by Mark by using reductio ad absurdum in a weak manner and I'm the one who should have the regrets?

It did occur to me that the opinions found on Mises.org may not reflect the opinions of the owner of that site, but to point that out would have deflected attention from the body of Mark's post.

I probably should have let your BS comment stand too - but it pissed me off. You made the same mistake -- reputedly in jest (I have my doubts) -- with regards the owners and participants of this site.

And if you want to know why that pissed me off, let me enlighten you:

I'm getting sick and fucking tired of people -- on this, that, and damned near every thread -- blaming the owner of this site for the form and content of the opinions expressed on it, for the rules governing the site, for the lack of rules governing the site, and for the owners impertinence in thinking that he can post his own opinions on his own sodding site.

It is a trend I'm noticing in society at large, it probably deserves to be called the Goldilocks syndrome. For instance: complaints abound that Fox News or CNN are too slanted one way or another for their tastes. "This person's porridge is too hot for my tastes! This person's porridge is too cold!" These people clear their throats to whine, but are incapable of lifting a finger to make their own porridge to their own tastes. Now I don't care to pay attention to their whining except that their constant droning creates an annoying buzzing noise that distracts from the matter at hand.

So how about you stop beating about the bush and say what you mean rather than trying to score cheap shots.

Of course you are at liberty to do as you wish, but I strongly suggest that you practice your comedy and sarcasm a LOT more because brother, your routine stinks!

It is regrettable ...

Peter Surda's picture

... that while you recognised my pitiful excuse for a joke for what it is, you also neglect to remark upon the same issue in Mark Hubbard's arguments. Or, to borrow from contemporary slang, whooooosh!

What a foolish retort!

Robert's picture

Fanatical IP promoters have a site that they allow you to view and contribute to you on their own terms. Your participation on this forum in no way gives you ownership rights over anything other than your own statements.

That isn't a violation of the concept of IP. It is a celebration of it. And you'd have to be a fool to not see that.

To be honest with you Mark...

Robert's picture

I think placing the term 'intellectual' into intellectual property is a red-herring. Either you are dealing with property in the philosophical sense or you aren't.

The other bone of contention that seems to be arising is the confusion over where the law sits in this argument.

The problem is that the courts deal in the tangible. The person who makes the claim must provide evidence supporting that claim of ownership. But the fact that you cannot hang a 'Exhibit A' tag on a pure thought does not make that thought any less your property. Obviously it is, you made the effort to think it. The contents of your skull is every bit your own as the skin that surrounds it.

But to plead for the court's help in defending the proceeds that accrue from the use of that thought it you need to do several things to prove that (a) the thought was yours and (b) that your thought was original. That is, you need to record that thought, in an understandable form, by some physical means. This is not asking too much. Indeed, it is a common requirement of demonstrating ownership of that which is not 'intellectual property.'

The fact that the courts can only act upon the tangible - the expression and proceeds arising from that thought isn't not a limitation of the philosophy. It is a limitation (and a welcome one) of objective law. Philosophy underpins law not the other way around.

Frankly I can't see the issue as being any more complicated than that. The folks who get hung up on the legal details (e.g. copyright, patent) are either doing so because they are empiricists or because they are seeking to gain popular support for the pseudo-right to pilfer the product of other people's effort.

Whatever form the legal writ that protects property takes, what matters is that there is some objective and impartial means to settle such disputes. For if there is not, the only thing that can settle an argument is a gun.

That does not mean that philosophical effort need not be expended to justify nuances in the law such as time limits on copyright. But it does mean that disagreements over the justification of these nuances do not dilute the central argument: that IP is property and should be defended by objective laws.

Now I don't know and I don't care if that's an objectivist point of view or not. It is my point of view and Ali Bala and his forty alleged thieves can kiss my arse if they have a problem with it.

And you know ...

Peter Surda's picture

... what else is funny? That fanatical IP promoters have a blog that's available for all the world at no cost.

Cross post from my mornings

Mark Hubbard's picture

Cross post from my mornings post to the next anti-IP thread on Mises.org - such posts are probably 30% of content.

Picking up on Karem's very good posts on the anti-IP thread below this, Karem, the IP-socialists - they're actually anarchists, who we all know couldn't run a market economy given same requires contract and IP - ... the IP-socialists don't believe in any rights attaching to the creator of a work: I've seen Bala state that twice.

On SOLO, Bala is even asserting that once a writer - Jennifer Burns is currently posting on www.solopassion.com - has their manuscript they must protect it from prying eyes at all costs. And with blokes like the thieves on this site she would! As soon as the manuscript hits electronic format, it's open season apparently. I ask, why would a writer write? The one way apparently the writer can't make income in this thieves world is selling books: as Rand says, the products of their minds, their property.

I find it sick.

Fortunately, Objectivism specifically supports the creators property in the products of his mind, precisely what IP protects.

Rand states “Creation” means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before.

It is not ‘identification’, it is the creation of something ‘that had not existed before’: repeat, something that had not existed before, in other words a uniqueness, an ability for an individual to express the self in a unique way, and to have original thought. Not just a mere matter of identification of a bloody pattern.

A sculpture ‘cannot be brought into existence out of nothing’, as Rand says, you need stone, but once the sculptor has done his art, applied his mind and his passion, that stone is ‘something that had not existed before’ a new thing, an original thing, an expression of the uniqueness of its creator and by the process of the application of his mind to change the stone, his property – it could not belong to anybody else.

But the thieves in here pushing the anti-IP have no respect for that I-Property right.

IP is fairly in the domain of a minarchist government in a Libertarian State (or private sector).

Think of a world with no IP, with no respect for the creator of a work:

No choice of books.
No choice of movies.
No choice of music.
No innovation.
No science labs (privatelyfunded anyway).
No R & D in the private sector.
No modern capitalist society supporting liberty.

Just a bunch of cuthroat thieves waiting for your manuscript or your movie to hit the Net.

Lovely world.

The slogan for Mises.org is 'proceed ever more boldly against evil'.

Huh?

Every anti-IP thread is promoting evil.

Now here's an hilarious thing.

Mises.org posts a huge quantity of anti-IP posts, yet, is trying to finance itself via a 'store' selling books!

ROTFL.

Why? Most members here sanction the right to thieve every book being sold for no payment whatsoever. They believe the writers of books are stupid, indeed, to ever put their books on the market - look at Bala's comments on:

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

Sick.

Yes to liberty. But this site seems to be in the way of that.

Jay and Bala

Robert's picture

nobody is forcing you to stay. If you don't like the climate over here, bugger off to somewhere else. But presume to come here and waggle your finger at the members of this forum for their supposed lack of manners and philosophical prowess. That isn't an argument, that's a whine.

Bala, I agree.

Jay Lakner's picture

Bala wrote:
"None of you guys out here is an Objectivist."

Sadly, I'd have to agree with you. Most of these people are faking it. They are not true Objectivists.
Not even one of them has attempted to use Objectivist starting premises to either,
a) Justify their position, or,
b) Disprove your argument.
My guess is that most of them do not understand how Objectivist philosophy is derived. They agree with Objectivist conclusions and believe that's what classifies them as an "Objectivist". However it is not belief in the conclusions of Objectivism that makes someone an "Objectivist", it is a belief in the starting premises of Objectivism that makes someone an "Objectivist".

I now understand why they "argue by intimidation". They don't know any other way. They don't understand how to logically reason. I couldn't understand why these "Objectivists" were being so abusive when I first came on here. Now it is clear. They are not Objectivists.

(I realise I just disturbed a hornets nest. I'm about to be stung. Here come the insults...)

Gregster - To each his....

Bala's picture

.... excuse

To John Donohue, I am an enemy of Capitalism and Freedom
To Mark Hubbard, I am a Burglar or a Thief (whatever) and hence my argument does not merit a proper response
To you, it is the lack of time

Given that you have read Ayn Rand, I'm sure you've heard of the technique of "argument by intimidation". Since I too have read Rand, I am aware of it, I am not cowed down by it.

I'll tell you what's what. None of you guys out here is an Objectivist. The prime example of that is Mark Hubbard himself. Here's his statement right from this very thread (which I paraphrase).

" If Objectivism were to be fundamentally opposed to IP, I would have to review my relationship with it. "

What else am I to infer that to Mark, IP comes first and since Objectivism is consistent with that belief of his, he has chosen to "be" an Objectivist.

No bigger insult could be hurled at Ayn Rand. And he says I should stop caling myself an Objectivist.

You guys are responsible for making Objectivism appear like a cult movement. Stop giving that wonderful philosophy a bad name.

Very well

Peter Surda's picture

I have no problem with replacing "theory" with "statement" or "proposition".

From experience, I know that some people have trouble understanding the principle of falsifiability. It merely means that for a falsifiable statement, there is another statement, or experiment, whose validity we currently may not know, but, if shown correct or false, would lead to the original statement being false too. For a non-falsifiable statement, such another statement (or experiment) doesn't exist.

Let's say "There is no cure for cancer". We currently do not know of one. We do not know if this statement is correct or not. However, in future, should it happen that a therapy or a substance lead to cancers' elimination, this would disprove the statement. Therefore, the statement is falsifiable.

Let's now say "There is a cure for cancer". It is true that in the previous case, this would confirm the statement. However, no amount of measurements showing ineffective cures can lead us to show the statement wrong.

Axioms, for example, are non-falsifiable. Of course, that does not make them "wrong". But among other things it shows that attempting to refute an axiom is pointless.

The criterion of falsifiability shows me which arguments are "dangerous" and are more akin to beliefs rather than reasoning.

With regards to state, it's very simple. State is a territorial monopoly on the initiation of force.

I see...

Robert's picture

So your accusing Linz of stealing is as arbitrary as Mark's accusing Bala of stealing.

Seeing as you have made the accusation, I assume that you have evidence that the owners of those performances object to their being posted and heard (note that the recordings are being played, not copied) on You-Tube.

As to your assertion that copy-right should extend to infinity regardless of what the then copy-right laws/agreement voluntarily entered into by the owner and publisher says -- that's complete and utter fucking bullshit.

If you want an eternal copyright, go and lobby Congress and put your case before the Supreme Court. And when you win -- thereby changing current thinking upon the subject -- you might have some basis to accuse Linz of theft were he to link to You-Tube after that date. To do so prior to that is an invention of your fevered imagination.

The law already provides for copyright lasting something like 70 years past the author's death -- long after he could hope to gain any more use from his creation.

Moreover, many of the performances Linz links to are made by publicly funded orchestras in publicly subsidized venues... But then again, inconvenient facts like that would upset your narrative.

Peter Surda

John Donohue's picture

Peter right off the bat I'd like to request one convention, namely using the term "statement" or "proposition" instead of the way you deployed "theory." The word "Theory" in science refers to an article of knowledge demonstrated to be true, having been vetted by the rational community, stood the test of time, being repeatable. I realize the term has been dragged down in recent years, as in "oh it's only a theory." I strongly dislike that error because it strikes a blow at scientific certainty.

That having been said, reading your post I'd like to start by asking for clarification on "falsifyable" and its polar "non-falsifyable" on two fronts:
1) what makes a proposition "non" or not apparently is: "we do of do not have a way of determining if it is true." I am dubious about a method that not only KNOWS it cannot know something and moreover sees fit to not declare the proposition untrue on its face. why bother making a distinction?
2) we already have a identity problem given your example of the existent "state". I don't stipulate that word, so it has to be identified. I am wary of any definition previously in use floating around, because internal to your example is the juxtaposition of "stateless society" with "laws created and enforced". This is my red flag, so I don't stipulate "state." I would be seeking a clear definition but also the method by which you arrived at the definition.

Mr Bala

gregster's picture

My "hollowness" would move the world way farther than your evil sophistry.

If I had time I'd kill your thrust.

Gregster - I wonder who the imbecile is!!

Bala's picture

I have presented an argument. I requested, nay urged, nay challenged you to refute it. You did NOTHING. Instead, you engage in ad hominem.

You have revealed your hollowness in its entirety.

Incidentally, the other point I wonder about is who is the "religionist" out here. I, the one who has presented his complete argument or all the rest of you out here who just keep making assertions for which you do not bother to give the least bit of justification? Actually, I am being unfair to the lot of you - you do keep saying that the justification is "Rand said this". So who is the religionist? I wonder how much dumber this can get....

Never thought I'd see it said here

gregster's picture

"Assumptions..... I have heard this funny quip. When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME."

Crikey, how embarrassed I'd be to say that. A clue perhaps to the quality of mind in operation?

Bala: "I have a lot of objections. I believe that the main value is in the creation. That by itself, however, does not confer the status "property" upon it. To do so would be whim worshipping and evasion of reality (once again, back to my core argument)."

Imbecile. It's akin to arguing with religionists, ffs.

Example of falsifyability

Peter Surda's picture

Maybe I should explain that there are actually two "axes": falsifyable vs. non-falsifyable, and falsified vs. non-falsified. Here are some examples:

  • Falsifyable: IP can't exist without a state. We do not have an example of a stateless society with IP. However, should a stateless society come to existence and we would observe IP laws created and enforced by private suppliers, that would falsify the claim.
  • Non-falsifyable: Two immaterial goods can be identical. We do not have a way of determining whether this is correct or not. No measurement can confirm or invalidate this theory.
  • Falsified: IP is necessary in order to earn money from mental labour. This is disproved thoroughly by the aforementioned book Against Intellectual Monopoly, however even easier there are plenty of jobs that contain large proportion of mental labour, unprotected by IP, yet they earn very well nevertheless. Doctors, lawyers, investors, tax advisors. Coincidentally, I'm a software engineer yet do not recall ever using IP in order to earn money, even though the avoidance was not deliberate.
  • Not-falsified: The example for "falsifyable" from above fits into this category as well.

I should stress that under Popper's approach, one cannot prove a theory correct, one can only have theories that are non-falsifyable (we have not way of determining whether they are correct or not), and non-falsified (while it might be possible to show the theory is wrong in the future, so far it hasn't happened). Furthermore, there are a lot of areas where non-falsifyable theories are impossible to create and inductive reasoning is unavoidable if one wants to have a theory at all.

You might also note that some of the objections I brought up before are non-falsifyable. This is correct, I merely show that for a non-falsifyable pro-IP argument directed at me, I can create a non-falsifyable anti-IP counterargument, thus hopefully demonstrating the futility of such an endeavor and the necessity of making one's theories stronger. I can make a more simple, albeat possibly insulting, example: just like pro-IP-ers call us thieves and robbers, I can counter that it is them who are thieves, depriving us of our property. I consider such an argument too silly to make, yet maybe it demonstrates the issues with non-falsifyable theories better than the other examples.

My final point to Linz

Bala's picture

" Why, according to you? "

Please refer to my core argument. I have explained why material goods are legitimate "property".

" If it's a PDF file, is it still her legitimate property, according to you? "

To my knowledge, PDF files need to be resident on some media, usually the hard disk of a computer or a portable memory device. These equipment would be her property, wouldn't they?

" Do you have any objection to this proposition: "the physical form of the intellectual creation is all when it comes to arriving at property rights; the creation itself is nothing"? "

I have a lot of objections. I believe that the main value is in the creation. That by itself, however, does not confer the status "property" upon it. To do so would be whim worshipping and evasion of reality (once again, back to my core argument).

Bye for now. Anything more from me will be only after you at least try to address my basic point that it is immoral to treat ideas & patterns as property and that it would require one to evade reality and worship one's whims to try to enforce the notion that they are indeed legitimate 'property".

You are sounding very

Bala's picture

You are sounding very confused.

" But you can claim Jennifer's manuscript as your own to do with what you wish? "

Where did I say that? I said that since the manuscript would be her "property", I have no business taking it without her permission and that the responsibility of keeping it from prying eyes is hers.

For example, if she were to keep it in her house, to lay my hands on the manuscript, I would have to engage in a little house-breaking (act as a burglar would... ah!!! That should please you.)

Since the house is her legitimate property, I would need to violate her property rights before I can even see the manuscript.

Hence, the only contradiction is between your premises and my conclusions. And that's called a disagreement, not a contradiction.

" A capitalist market operates on IP "

Assumptions..... I have heard this funny quip. When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.

" You don't have a core argument Bala the Burglar, Bala the Bullshiter, at least not that I haven't addressed already. "

Now!!!! Who is in denial?

I really have to stop till you get out of denial and read what I have said right at the beginning. Bye for now! Just 1 more to Linz and I am off.

Absent a definition of "act", Objectivism is nonsense.

Jay Lakner's picture

Let's start from the beginning:

1. Existence exists.
2. To be is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. That which has no attributes does not and cannot exist.
3. Therefore, existence is identity.
4. Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists.
5. To be conscious is to be conscious of something. Therefore an objective reality independent of consciousness must exist for consciousness to be possible.
6. The mind cannot create reality, it is a means of discovering reality.
7. Causation is the law of identity applied to action.
8. It is entities that act, and every action is the action of an entity.
9. The way entities act is caused by the specific nature (or "identity") of those entities; if they were different they would act differently.

But what is the definition of "act"?

Since "act" is not defined, any logical conclusions drawn after this point are not proven. Until Objectivists front up a definition of "act" based on objective reality, their entire philosophical framework is mere speculation. Once a definition is put forth, then and only then, can we procede down the chain of logic to determine the concepts of "property" and "rights".

Absent this key definition, arguments like "copying is theft" are irrational nonsense.

Are there any Objectivists on this site who are capable of answering my very simple question?

" The entire scholarship and

Mark Hubbard's picture

" The entire scholarship and book publishing industry has it wrong "

Of course they do.

Snort.

Who among them has any experience of what life would be in a world without IP?

Pity we can't ask someone from feudal England, about the twelfth century, because it would be pretty much like then. The formation of IP in modern capitalist markets has been in big part responsible for the prosperity and freedoms we have today (which I know are now being eroded by Nanny Statism in all its guises). I cite just one piece of IP as an example: Microsoft's IP.

The simple PRINCIPLE that I

Mark Hubbard's picture

The simple PRINCIPLE that I cannot claim for myself the rights that I deny to others.

But you can claim Jennifer's manuscript as your own to do with what you wish? That's a cosy arrangement.

Contradiction, examine your premises.

By the way, a freedom movement requires a capitalist market. A capitalist market operates on IP - take away IP now, what do we have left with our industries in the West: there wouldn't be a single R & D program from tomorrow. So your view on IP Bala The Burglar: how do you actually think you, in your own megalomaniac mind, are furthering the cause of individual liberty?

Sorry Linz, I missed one of your points:

Where do you find them??

I take it there's no finders fee then Smiling

... another dreadful post from He Who Knows All Business (and all business to date apparently knows shite).

You don't have a core argument Bala the Burglar, Bala the Bullshiter, at least not that I haven't addressed already.

Though businessmen looking at your 'pattern': what do you think they're going to think?

Enough. Who'd think I have a busy week. Thankyou Bala for showing us the face of evil, it's important to be reminded.

I'm still puzzled ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The simple objection would be that the manuscript, consisting as it does, of physical papers with print on it, is her legitimate "property".

Why, according to you?

If it's a PDF file, is it still her legitimate property, according to you?

Do you have any objection to this proposition: "the physical form of the intellectual creation is all when it comes to arriving at property rights; the creation itself is nothing"?

Mark Hubbard - You are tempting me

Bala's picture

You said

" The entire scholarship and book publishing industry has it wrong "

Of course they do. Who among them has any experience of what life would be in a world without IP?

And whose megalomania are we talking of? Mine? Or yours, which leads you to procalim that authors and publishers would starve and die without IP protection?

Sorry!!! This is final till you address my core argument.

One last time Linz

Bala's picture

You said,

" Again I ask, Mr. Bala: what would be your objection to seizing the manuscript as soon as she's completed it? "

The simple objection would be that the manuscript, consisting as it does, of physical papers with print on it, is her legitimate "property". It is of course her responsibility to herself to keep it away from prying eyes till she gets her due from her publishers.

" What, for that matter, is your objection to murder? "

The Right to Life. Non-contradiction. The simple PRINCIPLE that I cannot claim for myself the rights that I deny to others.

" Your reasoning amounts to: that which folk can get away with is by dint of that fact legitimate. "

This is YOUR bastardised version of my original argument.

Jennifer Burns should have

Mark Hubbard's picture

Jennifer Burns should have made her money BEFORE releasing the full manuscript to her publishers. That she did not do so and banked on sales of her book for royalties, knowing fully well that it would be copied would have to be called her mistake.

The publishers who agreed to specific terms in complete disregard of the fact that the book may be or rather will be copied made their own set of mistakes.

Hilarious, yes. What's that word? Megalomania?

The entire scholarship and book publishing industry has it wrong - they should have had Bala advising them. They should have been making planes or something. Hold on, planes. They rely on IP for their profits.

Tell you what, if we recognise IP as the property it is, authors aren't reduced to making a living by doing everything other than selling their books, musicians likewise, scientists, philosophers ... We need change nothing. Just throw the rule of law at that low down dirty street gang called file sharers, who are the collectivists, the Borg, at the door of civilisation.

If copying per se is not wrong, the fact that it deprives Jennifer and her publishers of some income is irrelevant to the judgement of the morality of copying.

Ah, but copying is wrong. That's the point of my, and Ayn's, argument. Refer to my post below regarding 'retardation'

From here, Bala the burglar, all I have to do is let your posts stands. You buried yourself.

(But do us a favour: do not refer to yourself as an Objectivist, capitalist, freedom lover, et al. You're firmly in the other camp.)

Dear me!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I truly *have* seen it all now:

Jennifer Burns should have made her money BEFORE releasing the full manuscript to her publishers. That she did not do so and banked on sales of her book for royalties, knowing fully well that it would be copied would have to be called her mistake.

Again I ask, Mr. Bala: what would be your objection to seizing and copying the manuscript as soon as she's completed it?

Your reasoning amounts to: that which folk can get away with is by dint of that fact legitimate.

What, for that matter, is your objection to murder?

Aaron is not moderated because of his views on IP. He's moderated for telling me to shoo and "go back to stealing classical music." Anything he posts that doesn't contain that kind of shit will get through.

Mark Hubbard - I'm not posting again until....

Bala's picture

..... you really address my core argument. I'm referring to the one I laid out right at the beginning of this thread.

Linz,

Just wanted to say the same thing to you too. I do understand this is YOUR blog and it is of course your prerogative to decide if I should post, but I just wanted to state my position before I get moderated too.

(I was open to talking to Aaron, but since he is now moderated, I am left with few options.)

Mark Hubbard - You are truly hilarious

Bala's picture

Jennifer Burns should have made her money BEFORE releasing the full manuscript to her publishers. That she did not do so and banked on sales of her book for royalties, knowing fully well that it would be copied would have to be called her mistake.

The publishers who agreed to specific terms in complete disregard of the fact that the book may be or rather will be copied made their own set of mistakes.

Having made mistakes such as this, how is it justified to call "unethical", legitimate acts that have the consequence of "depriving" Jennifer and her publishers of money that "ought" (this is a whimsical "ought") to have been theirs? If copying per se is not wrong, the fact that it deprives Jennifer and her publishers of some income is irrelevant to the judgement of the morality of copying.

Copying does not deprive Jennifer of her book or the freedom to sell it. As Ayn Rand put it, Rights are a moral concept defining and sanctioning man's freedom of action. Her own emphasis was on "freedom". So, I wonder which right is being adversely affected.

As for your principal

Mark Hubbard's picture

As for your principal adversary in this debate—we've seen some slimeballs here on SOLO but I think this one just about takes the cake. I read his posts and shudder. Even Scherk finds him unpalatable! Where do you find them??

Yes. It would be interesting if the lawyer Kinsella, the patent lawyer who doesn't believe in patents, or so I understand - you'd just be lining up to be his client: 'I'll work on your patent during the day, but I'm on the Internet tonight trying to destroy your IP if that's okay, what the hay, you've only invested a couple of zillion in it'.

You'd like the Kinsella thread I posted below. IP is stopping hip hop music. There is a God, and he's called IP Smiling

(I've got no problem with Aaron's view on IP, but the personal angle is obviously your domain).

Mark

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Young people are not people; they are aliens, the foul deformities of a Comprachico "education." They have neither head nor heart. They are best avoided, or, if contact is unavoidable, shot.

As for your principal adversary in this debate—we've seen some slimeballs here on SOLO but I think this one just about takes the cake. I read his posts and shudder. Even Scherk finds him unpalatable! Where do you find them??

Oh, I forgot. Anarcho-Saddamites.org. I hope you've learned your lesson.

I've moderated Aaron. If he thinks he can tell me to shoo on my own site and "go back to stealing classical music" without retribution then he should think again.

Let's say you identify a

Mark Hubbard's picture

Let's say you identify a great investment plan. You go on to the floor of NYSE and scream it out. Would you then claim that everyone else who copied it and reduced your profit is acting immorally? The root cause would be your stupidity to shout it out on the floor of the NYSE.

I'd simply make the investment. There is no need to tell anyone else. If I wanted to make money from the IP, I'd write a book, that's why IP is so essential.

Now answer my question below, Bala the Burglar.

And yes.... I am speaking to

Mark Hubbard's picture

And yes.... I am speaking to a robot.

Yeah, I know. You certainly have no understanding of the fantastic side of being a human. You're a second hander of the worse sort, trying to pull everything good down.

I don't know if I can be bothered: the mental gymnastics from this point just deflect from the importance of the argument. I've proven my point and I probably should let it stand. But, while deciding you missed the last part of my post. Answer it.

I publish a book. A young member of 'generation theft' buys a copy of the book - money gained from his pirating business - scans it to an electronic file and uploads to a file sharing program destroying my ability to earn an income from 'the product of my mind', my property.

You have no ethical concerns about this 'theft'? You think it is absolutely okay for this to happen? You don't have a niggle of concern?

We have Jennifer Burns posting on this very site about her just published book - note to self to buy, that's BUY Bala: are you prepared to post here there is no moral, ethical problem with posting her book to a file sharing site?

Come on, explain to Jennifer Burns why, all her hard work, research and inspiration, her and her publishers risk to bring us a book of value; you explain to her why you feel free to piss away this product of her mind, this property she has created, against the wall of 'generation theft'. I reckon she, and every other author, musician, holder of IP that you are swindling, deserves at least that.

So Bala, in the face of my posts, explain to Jennifer the 'pattern' of her book, and why she has no dominion over it. (Hint: you have to convince her she has not produced a unique, discreet thing, but is merely a channel for the hive mind).

Talk to her, directly. Tell her how she was so stupid as to produce a book, she should have structured her whole endeavor around a community hall tour. You, Kinsella, drag Objectivism through the sewer, in a way, as has been shown by Ayn's own words, she would have been enraged over.

Mark Hubbard - Here's a parallel

Bala's picture

Let's say you identify a great investment plan. You go on to the floor of NYSE and scream it out. Would you then claim that everyone else who copied it and reduced your profit is acting immorally? The root cause would be your stupidity to shout it out on the floor of the NYSE.

Mark Hubbard - You need to justify your assertions

Bala's picture

This

" your anti-IP argument has at base an attack on the fact that an individual has the ability of unique expression and original thought. "

is an assertion unless you explain why this statement is true. I did not respond because there is no sense in responding to assertions which carry no justification.

Still let me answer you directly. Firstly, unique expression and original thought alone, while important, do not automatically form a justification for treatment as "property". That apart, uniqueness is a state of existence. When you claim that I am not ready to treat uniqueness as a criterion for treatment as "property", the onus is on you to say why it is a valid criterion, not on me to show that it is not. You are making a claim which you need to justify.

Secondly, that all knowledge is an "identification" of particular aspects of existence and of causality within existence is not a negation of the human mind. Identification is the first stage (no.... second after perception) of concept formation. Expression means expression of something and that requires prior identification of that something which you wish to express. Hence, your argument that my focus on identification negates the role of expression is utter hogwash.

My point is simply that identification per se does not form a justification for treating something as "property". One needs more than that, especially when one sees rights as a recognition of a condition of existence essential for the survival of man qua man.

This, however, was the most hilarious part.

" In that attack is an attack on any struggle for individual liberty itself because it relies on a hive mind, negating the existence of an individual mind "

When I spoke of "identification", did you stop for a second to think of what that entity is which "identifies"? Or did you suffer from a blan-out?

So much for the "strength" of your arguments.

And yes.... I am speaking to a robot.

Well, they do Linz. I know

Mark Hubbard's picture

Well, they do Linz. I know some young people - I normally try to keep away from young people - and the stolen 'wealth' they get through file sharing is staggering. Even outside the file sharing programs, there are at least four usenet ebook newsgroups: you can get basically anything you want, all the Harry Potters, everything.

The problem is with the advent of Kindle and the ability to read electronic books comfortably from now on, I don't know how the book trade - and I love books - survives. And then there's music ...

I still don't know ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... why the anarcho-Saddamites even bother with the "buying" part. Why, by their lights, don't they just hack-and-grab? Anyone?

I'm arguing with a freaking

Mark Hubbard's picture

I'm arguing with a freaking Transformer.

You base an entire supposed refutation on my use of one word 'only', and ignore, again, the substantive part of my post. I'm quite sure you're not this dumb - you don't want to deal with the actual issue do you?

In my debunking post I now change my sentence:

It is not ‘only identification’, it is the creation of something ‘that had not existed before’...

To:

It is not about identification, it is the creation of something ‘that had not existed before’...

Now, deal with the substantive part of my post: your anti-IP argument has at base an attack on the fact that an individual has the ability of unique expression and original thought. In that attack is an attack on any struggle for individual liberty itself because it relies on a hive mind, negating the existence of an individual mind, and the individual human being's pursuit of happiness.

And again for the choir, Bala the Burglar:

I publish a book. A young member of 'generation theft' buys a copy of the book - money gained from his pirating business - scans it to an electronic file and uploads to a file sharing program destroying my ability to earn an income from 'the product of my mind', my property.

You have no ethical concerns about this 'theft'? You think it is absolutely okay for this to happen? You don't have a niggle of concern?

We have Jennifer Burns posting on this very site about her just published book - note to self to buy, that's BUY Bala: are you prepared to post here there is no moral, ethical problem with posting her book to a file sharing site?

Mark Hubbard - A small correction

Bala's picture

I said

" I could go further citing the entire book, but your attempt to show that "only' an identification is risible. To use the phrase "only identification" shows that you do not have a clue as to how important to man the ability to "identify" is. "

Please correct it as below

" I could go further citing the entire book, but your attempt to show that my use of "only" indicates contempt is risible. To treat my use of the phrase "only identification" as an indicator of contempt shows that you do not have a clue as to how important to man the ability to "identify" is. "

Aaron - Something important I "identified" :)

Bala's picture

I was referring to Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology to reply to Mark Hubbard and came across this statement.

"Property denotes the relationship of a man to an object (or an idea): his right to use it and to dispose of it - and involves a long chain of moral-legal concepts, including the procedure by which the object was acquired. The mere observation of a man in the act of using an object will not convey the concept "property"" - Ayn Rand in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, pp 37

Actually, I intended to use this very statement (in my own words) as the basis of my argument that at the end of the day, "property" is a concept and more importantly, a "moral concept". (Probably I just absorbed this statement and subconsciously recalled it Smiling )

Now that I am clear Ayn Rand herself said this, I request you to add this to my overall justification for the rejection of the validity of treating ideas and patterns as "property". To me, this sort of ties up the entire argument as a purely Objectivist one with no loose ends. I request you to "identify" any (loose ends) that you see.

Debunking debunked - To Mark Hubbard

Bala's picture

You said

" It is not ‘only identification’, it is the creation of something ‘that had not existed before’: "

"Only" can also be used in the sense of "it is that and no more". It is not pejorative or intended to diminish the importance of the concept to which it is applied.

Even if you want to talk of "creation", you are talking of creating a "concept". However, even in that, you would be in error because "concepts" themselves are a mental integration of aspects of existence that you "identify".

Here's Rand in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".

"A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated according to a specific chaacteristic/characteristics and united by a specific integration" (Chapter 2, Sentence 1)

"A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic/characteristics, with their particular measurements omitted" (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded 2nd edition, pp 13)

"Measurement is the identification of a relationship - a quantitative relationship established by means of a standard that serves as a unit" (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded 2nd edition, pp 7)

I could go further citing the entire book, but your attempt to show that "only' an identification is risible. To use the phrase "only identification" shows that you do not have a clue as to how important to man the ability to "identify" is.

Just one more clue towards understanding that - "The distinguishing characteristic of Logic (the art of non-contradictory identification).......". (Ayn Rand in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded 2nd edition, pp 36). I know she has defined it in other books too, but I guess any 1 is sufficient.

" Why do you have such low regard for ‘the human’? "

And just how did you come to the conclusion that I have such low regard for "the human"? I can see precious little apart from arbitrary accusations with poor or no justification.

According to Kinsella,

Mark Hubbard's picture

According to Kinsella, copyright apparently supports racism. Faulty reasoning yet again.

http://blog.mises.org/archives...

Can't be too long before I get the cold shoulder from Mises I suspect. We'll see ...

Peter Surda, I would be

John Donohue's picture

Peter Surda,

I would be willing to at least describe the path to proving the justification for requiring government protection of intellectual property from the root up. This is not a low level proof! There is an entire edifice of metaphysical and epistemological structure leading up to it, not to mention the main body of Objectivist political philosophy that needs to be established as a ground against which protection by government of IP is clearly justified. This is why I asked you if you are an Objectivist, because anyone who is has already been up that path has concurred that Miss Rand's metaphysics are correct and that induction is required to prove the validity and identify of all existents inside the discussion. First of all, I am not necessarily asking you to do that, and second I am certainly not the best person to actually "run the table" on it. Ayn Rand and in my opinion Leonard Peikoff are.

I have a certain idea that might be fruitful. Would it help for you to spotlight two sequences from your point of view, one that you did falsify and then the one you cannot falsify? I personally would benefit from that, because I am not experienced in the actual nuts and bolts procedures of Poppers's method and I'd like to witness it in action. At the same time i have no doubt we would run into a situation where I would indicate that lack of rigor (existents not fully grounded prior to deduction) would illustrate the point at which the proponent of falsifiability (or less!) believes Rand is refuted and the Objectivist loses interest because an act of either rationalism or empiricism has occurred.

If that is of interest I would be willing to engage. Go ahead and fire away with one if you like, including one in which you believe I made an error in logic, since I believe you have one in your pocket. Stipulation that things move carefully and civility is maintained.

'It was an exercise

PhilipD's picture

'It was an exercise completely rooted in Morality...'

Yep, rooted for sure.

Bala the Burglar Debunked

Mark Hubbard's picture

[I'll make time for this.]

Incredible, Bala, you’ve managed to rationalise living right out of life.

This site is not called ‘sense of life’ for nothing: living, and as a human, not a hyper computer, is an essential element of Objectivism.

Here’s where you’re wrong. Rand said:

“Creation” means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before.

Your response to this was By Rand's own definition, all "creation" is nothing more than "identification" of particular aspects of reality. It is nothing more than the identification that certain rearrangements of reality … I am loath to including such "identification" as a basis of "property".

It is not ‘only identification’, it is the creation of something ‘that had not existed before’: repeat, something that had not existed before, in other words a uniqueness, an ability for an individual to express the self in a unique way, and to have original thought. Not just a mere matter of identification of a bloody pattern.

A sculpture ‘cannot be brought into existence out of nothing’, as Rand says, you need stone, but once the sculptor has done his art, applied his mind and his passion, that stone is ‘something that had not existed before’ a new thing, an original thing, an expression of the uniqueness of its creator and by the process of the application of his mind to change the stone, his property – it could not belong to anybody else.

The ludicrous position you’ve put yourself in over this because of a ‘loathing’ to see the importance of the individual human and the unique power for creation and originality within every human mind (well, not those that have turned away from the tangible and tried to turn their minds into inhuman computers as you have done) .

Again, note there was a litmus test for determining that you were wrong, and explains my anger that being when you got yourself to the position that said it was ethically fine to buy an author’s book, scan it, upload it to a file share program and allow the product of that author’s mind to be plundered by thieves and charlatans. The minute you were standing in the boots of a common thief of property, like that, you should have known you were wrong. Why did you not?

Why do you have such low regard for ‘the human’?

Truly absurd. Start walking around on planet Earth like a human being , and for Rand’s sake stop over-thinking so much. Then please repair the damage you have done: go to Mises, recant your insane and unethical, immoral position, and affirm that theft of the product of an individual human’s mind is an act of the utmost evil

Replying to Aaron (and to John Donohue too in the process)

Bala's picture

You had said

" all, including Bala, disregard the relevance of mans' mind in creating a new pattern and this relevance to property "

I disagree. At no point have I disregarded the relevance of man's mind in creating a new pattern. I am not even questioning its relevance to "property". What I am doing is trying to define a theory of "property" inductively and try to figure out what man "ought" to treat as "property" and what he "ought" not to. It was an exercise completely rooted in Morality, that too a Morality based on Objectivist premises. All I managed to glean was that any attempt to attach the term "property", where the "right to exclude" is an integral part of that term, to anything other than materials objects that by their very nature are "scarce" (please note that by "scarce", I mean that there is and can ever be only 1 of it) and hence demand exclusivity does not flow inductively from Objectivist premises. I was thus trying to show that the concept Intellectual Property does not flow from the nature of man and is hence an arbitrary attachment to Objectivism (That Ayn Rand made this arbitrary attachment does not make it any more valid). Since Objectivism claims to develop a Rational Morality/Ethics through a process of induction taking as its basis an Objective Reality, I had no option but to say that the concept "Intellectual Property" has no place in it. If you seek to critique/fault me, it should be on this. I have laid it all bare for anyone to tear apart.

I guess this answers John Donohue's point about induction vs deduction too. Frankly, I developed this line of reasoning when a person on a noodlefood thread sort of stumped me by saying that my argument (in my article which Stephan Kinsella titled "An Objectivist recants on IP") is based on deductive reasoning while Ayn Rand's ideas were developed inductively and that deductive reasoning cannot disprove that which is developed inductively. I had to develop this theory of mine (for whatever it is worth) more to maintain my own sanity than for anything else.

Replying to your specific question about homesteading, I doubt if I will agree that homesteading is a "basis" of property. I might recognise it as the term that encapsulates the entire process of "making a hitherto unowned nature-given good one's property". Please note that the definition of homesteading itself includes the concept "property". To go ahead and make the concept "property" depend on the concept "homesteading" would make it circular reasoning. Therefore, I think it is important to define the concept "property" without reference to the concept "homesteading".

Specifically on "creation", I'll just quote Ayn Rand herself (this is copied from the Ayn Rand Lexicon available online Smiling )

" The power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements is the only creative power man possesses. It is an enormous and glorious power—and it is the only meaning of the concept “creative.” “Creation” does not (and metaphysically cannot) mean the power to bring something into existence out of nothing. “Creation” means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before. (This is true of any human product, scientific or esthetic: man’s imagination is nothing more than the ability to rearrange the things he has observed in reality.) The best and briefest identification of man’s power in regard to nature is Francis Bacon’s “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” In this context, “to be commanded” means to be made to serve man’s purposes; “to be obeyed” means that they cannot be served unless man discovers the properties of natural elements and uses them accordingly. "

By Rand's own definition, all "creation" is nothing more than "identification" of particular aspects of reality. It is nothing more than the identification that certain rearrangements of reality (i.e., of particular elements of reality) may be, with a high probability, expected to bring about certain specific and desired outcomes. I am loath to including such "identification" as a basis of "property". It does not flow inductively from Objectivist premises.

What a pleasant surprise John

Peter Surda's picture

Finally it appears I'm making some progress. Thank you for a civil reply.

Yes, you are correct. Popper's falsificationism rejects inductive reasoning. However, it is practically difficult to maintain this approach in a consistent manner, because a lot of events in everyday life cannot be covered by falsifiable theories. Maybe I should rephrase my approach with regards to IP. The reason I hold an anti-IP position is not because I arrived to an IP-less property theory inductively. Rather, I was able to falsify those pro-IP theories that were presented to me. Or some that weren't, but I analysed them nevertheless in order not to miss anything. They either do not allow to conclude of what property is, or lead to contradictory conclusions. Or at least to absurd conclusions. The one that was left, which does not consider non-rival goods property, so far resisted my attempts to falsify it. For completeness' sake, I came up with two alternative theories that are more-or-less equivalent: ownership of non-rival goods is non-exclusive, and non-rival goods are always unique. All these three definitions are functionally equivalent. Admittedly, some of the conclusions of that might sound strange or even absurd. Nevertheless, this is where I am. I consider the "absurdities" that follow from an ip-less property theory strange but at least feasible. I find it less absurd to accept that I can't prevent third parties from benefiting from my work, rather than that Soviet Union co-owns Atlas Shrugged. I consider it less strange that I can't prevent third parties from copying that which is publicly accessible, rather than enforcement thereof requiring monitoring of everybody. I consider it less strange that I can't own a program that I write as opposed to the ability to own the number 4. I consider it less strange that I can't have a monopoly on supplying a certain type of drug, as opposed to being able to have a monopoly on the supply of shoes.

To summarise, I do not have a positive proof of the correctness of my arguments, only a negative one (it is a leftover after eliminating the incorrect ones). But feel free to prove me wrong.

how can ever the twain meet?

John Donohue's picture

Peter Surda, at least this is an interesting exchange. Thank you for being forthright in the identification of the school of thought you deploy.

Also, I salute you for consistency. The paragraphs back to me quite strikingly sing of falisifiability, so you are practicing what you hold important. Okay.

Obviously, you've delineated a course for deduction at the beginning of your statement. However, you don't mention induction. In my encounters with Popper and his approach, induction remains denied per Hume, right? I gather that falsifiability is meant to still deny induction but put something under truth test for science (and more) other than deduction by itself.

This is where we will have contention. Speaking for myself only, I do not consdider Popper's trials of deduction which you aptly described to be sufficient for a truth test. They cannot make up for the absence of rock-solid indentification of existents and clarity in concepts to be achieved through induction with appropriate context. This is why I looped back when you said "logic" and not reason, by which Objectivists mean both logic and facts, with the facts to be built up through induction and deduction.

This scientififc/Objectivst approach limits concepts to those proven in their essentials in objective reality and enables colleagues to contend, yes, over details inside an investigation, but also to have the surety of reality and agreement at the root of their study. Falsificiability does not screen for entry, in my experience. It allows "things" to be placed on the table by all comers just because they want to introduce them. Then, unfortunately, deduction takes off accompanied by any amount of disjoint and blind alleys, all because the work of identification of the nature of the existents in play was never validated objectively.

If you have looked into Objectivism I am sure you could have anticipated that this contention would surface right away. The engine of concept formation in Objectivist philosophy requires inductive reasoning.

To put it another way, in the first syllogism, how do you validate the identity of the existents in the premises before engaging the deductive engines?

This is hilarious.

Jay Lakner's picture

This is hilarious. Not one single Objectivist can give me a definition of "act".
It's kind of important when one considers that their ENTIRE PHILOSOPHY IS BASED ON IT.

I have time, today, for

Mark Hubbard's picture

I have time, today, for nothing other than this post.

Why do I use the theft tag? I think it important to use that because ultimately the anti-IP argument always ends up with that act.

That camp feels free to buy a book, scan to electronic file, upload to a file sharing service, and allow the plunder of ‘generation theft’ to go on, and with adult sanction: think where that leads (hint, watch the news and youth crime statistics).

But the reason for the passion strikes at the core of something absolutely fundamental in the freedom movement (and that’s all I care about).

The anti-IP stance is predicated entirely on the notion that an individual human mind is incapable of unique expression.

There it goes: everything.

Having taken the individual from the centre, a liberty movement is not only not possible, it’s not necessary. We lose Humanism, Classical Liberalism, Objectivism, all the ‘isms that have made the West the best civilization that humankind has yet seen. And I lose any chance of any movement toward freedom. The anti-IP stance is an attack at the very basis of individual liberty, being the individual him/herself.

That’s why its worth getting angry about.

And Jay proves the anti-IP have no idea of the destruction they do with the intellectualised mind game they think that is all that is at stake here. Hell, Jay states:

Spreading antagonism and hate over such a (currently) insignificant topic makes no sense.

‘Insignificant’!

Individual liberty.

Every corporate R & D program, every science lab, and the capital invested in that and the discoveries coming from that. Probably almost every new product brought to market. That is, our entire modern industrialized economies. Insignificant that is not. Without IP we could not even hold this discussion for there would be no computer operating system. In fact, take PC’s from the economy, what do we have left in any industry?

Again, the only economic system compatible with freedom is capitalism, but a capitalist economy can’t operate without IP, that is why IP has developed.

Aaron: on your three final points to me we have no disagreement (I don’t know enough to comment on the patents). And like you, I don’t see why IP should have an expiration date, that should be creator driven – many might want an expiration date. And good to see you agree with my ‘the absurdity of the monopoly’ argument, and that there is nothing stopping IP being a function of the private sector. And yes, pity to seem them resurface here.

To bury it: yes, I want a complete monopoly over my novel and its use, just as I want a complete monopoly over the use of my car, including who uses it, my house, my property.

The anti-IP argument is the sanction of theft, and I will continue to call it, constructive or not, because the anti-IP lobby stand for nothing less than a collectivist - in their denial of the individual mind - null nihilism.

And Jay, I’m not interested, nor do I have time, for the intellectual striptease. Just state your entire position. How do you intend to sanction the theft of my novel, were I to publish one – though in ‘your’ world there would be no point, for as a novelist I would have to make money out of everything, other than selling my novel, apparently.

It's a simple question. Why refuse to answer?

Jay Lakner's picture

Aaron,
Objectivists base their entire philosophy on the premise that "Life is a sequence of self-generated self-sustaining actions".
But I am unclear on what they mean by "actions".
I can't tell Objectivists what the definition of "actions" is.
It's not my premise! It's the premise of Objectivists.
It's up to those who subscribe to those premises to define the terms in those premises.

Furthermore, I do not wish to tell people what to think. If I lay out my position it will be ignored, just as Bala's inductive reasoning was (and still is) ignored. It is the Objectivists who believe, beyond doubt, that their position is correct. And they are ready to hurl insults at anyone who disagrees with them. Rather than go down Bala's path, I invite Objectivists to defend their philosophy by answering some very simple questions.

What's the big deal? It's a very simple question.

What is the definition of "act"?

Jay Lakner suggests a) united allies; b) scared, ignorant allies

William Scott Scherk's picture

Jay Lakner: We are all allies against a common enemy. Spreading antagonism and hate over such a (currently) insignificant topic makes no sense. Our discussion of philosophy should be light-hearted and constructive, not emotionally-charged, antagonistic and destructive.

If so, Jay, could you please explain your suggestions that your interlocutors are either scared, ignorant, and/or stuffed full of second-hand nonsense?

That doesn't sound like alliance-building. Nor does your Do What Teacher Says excercise: Class, we will begin with an excercise. You will define 'act' for me. Then we can proceed. No back-talk. No argument. Do what I say.

WSS

Peter- We're going to have

Aaron's picture

Peter-
We're going to have some serious disagreements too, but I found your post back to me interesting and will get back with you starting with your 'list' post when I have time.

Aaron

Jay- "Nobody has yet

Aaron's picture

Jay-
"Nobody has yet responded to my post, "1. Define act" "

I'm not apt to hurl insults at you, but that post just didn't seem that interesting. Instead of trying to be Socratic and get pro-IPers to give a definition to assault, why don't you posit your own definition and show where it leads?

Aaron

Robert- Re: Shooing

Aaron's picture

Robert-
Re: Shooing Linz

"Surely you jest."

No. Linz hasn't contributed to the conversation other than to cheer on the worst fallacies and name-calling, and to call me 'one of the Bad Guys'. I don't expect him *to* shoo, but the point is that he's just a nuisance on this thread.

"Stealing Music?"

You apparently missed the context of a couple posts ago. Mark and others have been attacking Bala, calling him a thief and accusing him without evidence of file-sharing copyright violations. I believe in copyright without arbitrary time limit, so pointed out classical music should still rightfully be protected (though clearly isn't under current law) - yet that it would be a useless counterproductive argument tactic to come on here calling those recording and sharing classical music 'two-bit thieves'. The follow-on to Linz was a joking reiteration of that point. I do believe that copying music, books, etc. that were never intentionally released by author to the public domain (but that the law simply ceased protecting due to a date passing) constitutes a form of theft. It's not really one of my hot-button issues as I think it essentially impossible to try to do what's right once something's been tossed into the public domain by current legal systems, even though things should be different. Anyway, the point of the follow-on to Linz is really to Mark, John, etc. about the absurdity of yelling 'thief!' as a debate tactic.

Aaron

I'm still waiting for an answer.

Jay Lakner's picture

Nobody has yet responded to my post, "1. Define act"
Most of the people on this site are ready to hurl insults at me when I say that IP is invalid, yet it seems that not one of you is willing to follow my reasoning and attempt to prove me wrong.

Dear Aaron, with regard to

Peter Surda's picture

Dear Aaron,

with regard to the labour theory of value, I believe you misunderstood me. I do not claim that labour never results in property, rather that it sometimes doesn't. I assume you would agree with me that the examples I presented do not constitute property of the "originator". My point was that this is an invalid approach, because the theory does not explain when labour does and when doesn't lead to property. In my humble opinion, a valid property theory must lead to explanations as to what is property and what isn't. It can't be subjective.

It's like saying that "Shooting guns leads to murder". Well, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. But the sentence does not explain how to differentiate between those two. As a theory, it's useless, because it does not correctly match reality.

With regards to trademarks, if we ignore the current implementation, they do not require IP. A trademark "infringement" is lying to your customer about the nature of your company or products. Without IP, this would in certain cases result in fraud and the "infringer" would be liable to their customers (but not to the "trademark holder").

Linz- Shoo.

Robert's picture

Angry

Surely you jest.

Do you think that just because you can read it on your computer that that gives you the right to tell the owner to bugger off?

Stealing Music? He's linking to a site that plays recordings of these performances. As far as I know, you-tube does not knowingly allow content to be posted to its servers against the wishes of the owners of the material.

What do you mean no-IP and pro-IP 'Theories!'

Robert's picture

Look at history! Hell! Compare what happens in foreign lands and in the USA. And if you want a more equal comparison (although you'll have a harder task to filter out other factors effecting the outcome) compare what happens in Academia and Commerce in the USA.

The consequences of no-IP and IP-protection should be obvious simply by looking at the per-capita income statistics.

Linz- Shoo. Get back to

Aaron's picture

Linz-
Shoo. Get back to stealing classical music.

Mark-
The Noodlefood essay you mention is the same one I'd included in my list and highly recommended. It is one of the best pro-IP articles I've read, and discussion and expansion of it was instrumental in my becoming more pro-copyright. You gave me a reading assignment I already read Smiling. It's not an assignment, but I still recommend everything else on that list if you are interested in thoroughly exploring the issues.

I felt like banging my head against the wall at points, but I also finished reading the rest of this thread. Misc comments-

On pro-IP arguments:
- again, contract law is not sufficient for IP. What Ross was arguing may validly bind the immediate purchaser of a product (assuming they explicitly agree to the contract; there's also some serious question about what constitutes a valid contract and whether unsigned statements, click-through agreements, etc. would suffice). However, it wouldn't bind any third party that came across the property by negligence or willful violation of the contract by the bound party. Hence contract law alone lacks anything near the power of what we think of as IP law. I do believe the anti-IPers wouldn't have an argument with you if you thought contract law was sufficient.
- when 'what constitutes property?' is a question at hand, it really is not just ad hominem but also question-begging to label your opponent a thief. The amount of anti-IP 'debate' that amounted to this has been really disappointing. While it's not enough to win a debate to be good-mannered but wrong (e.g. witness Adonis), it's also a pretty bad approach to commit logical fallacies and name-call.
- maybe I missed one, but I'm glad not to have seen any cringe-inducing analogies such as 'downloading my book is the same as stealing it from my shelf'

On anti-IP arguments:
- all, including Bala, disregard the relevance of mans' mind in creating a new pattern and this relevance to property and focus solely on scarcity (a bad term, exclusivity would be better) as the basis of property. Peter goes further to try to misconstrue considering mental creation in property as a Marxist theory-of-value, ignoring the fact that that bad argument would undermine all consideration of man's efforts in original creation of property, i.e. undermine the libertarian concept of homesteading.
- Bala had a bizarre objection to the idea of a valid contract stipulation between two parties - I'm glad another anti-IPer called him on this
- I know it's not really relevant, but... Shylock was robbed! Clearly Shylock was an unsavory character, but it was on the merchant of Venice to deliver his pound of flesh, so where he cut if from and how much blood he lost in process was frankly his problem, not Shylock's.
- Mark, you're absolutely right on the irrelevancy of the 'monopoly' argument and incorrectness of the 'IP requires the State' argument you mention early on. I thought those arguments were fortunately left on Mises.org and that the anti-IP advocates who came here were not making them, though it appears Peter seems to have gone there.

For the record, I've evolved much in my views, still think IP has many tough, complex questions and I don't hold these views as strongly as most other political views, but my views now:
1) Trademarks - easily derived from anti-fraud (I hold this fairly strongly). Though the current legal implementation has been subject to serious abuses, I don't think it would be hard to derive a rational implementation of trademark, and this simply doesn't seem to hold the complexities of the other two:
2) Patents - I'm for the idea in general to protect mental creation of a new invention ('pattern'). However, I do not know a good practical way to implement this at this time, and consider the current status quo simply abysmal
3) Copyrights - I'm for copyrights, without arbitrary time limits, though with a recognition of abandoned property. This is stronger than the Objectivist party line, which for some reason puts an expiration date on this form of property rights.

So in short I'm guaranteed at odds with both sides Smiling. I'm still very interested in issues especially such as if there's any reasonable way to recognize independent creation and have a meaningful patent system, the role of non-rival goods in the expense of enforcement of copyrights, how exactly abandoned property fits in, etc.

Aaron

I'm not an objectivist

Peter Surda's picture

I'll being from the end. No, I do not consider my objectivist. Not because I would necessarily disagree with objectivism, I simply don't consider it important to associate or disassociate myself with it. I try to avoid labelling and prefer to find my own path. It would probably be accurate to call me a skeptic, a fan of the Austrian Economic School and a follower of Popper's principle of falsifyability. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Atlas Shrugged and it had a positive influence on me.

Now back to logic. Would you agree that the basic of reasoning is that one starts with premises, then one applies logic and draws conclusion? Would you agree that beliefs have no effect on the validity of such approach? Furthermore, should it turn out that the two such conclusions contradict each other, then either the logic or the premises are incorrect? And if one desires to come to a certain conclusion, yet is unable to find the premises or logic that lead to it, there is no reason to claim the conclusion is correct? Conversely, if one can't find an error in either the premises or logic, then the conclusion, no matter how outrageous it may sound, is nevertheless correct?

Logic can result in the reassessment of one's beliefs. This is what I am trying to point out. For the purposes of discussion, I do not make normative claims, unless I explicitly say so. My sole aim is to determine the truth, even at the cost of inconveniencing others.

So, once I eliminate the IP theories that are self-contradictory, I am left with ones that have very strange consequences. Admittedly, the theory of "no-IP" also has strange consequences, but compared with the pro-IP theories, they are at least empirically possible. The IP proponents are free to find errors in my claims or propose their own theory that does not suffer from the aforementioned problems.

"I looked up the definition

John Donohue's picture

"I looked up the definition of reason from Objectivist point of view. It appears that from that definition, logic is a subset, or an aspect, of reason. Therefore, violating logic means violating reason too. In other words, you have not answered my question."

It was an ill-formed question.

And the above formulation is not quite right.

Reason -- the 'reason' that is absolute in the philosophy of Ayn Rand and Aristotle and science -- consists of both facts and logic with neither subservient to the other. So "logic is a subset or aspect, of reason" is askew. 'Logic is a component of reason' I would agree with.

While true that if one's logic is fallacious, the conclusion is unproven, there is zero point in entering into that sort of analysis unless there is agreement on the method of validating the facts involved in any argument.

What is your method for validating the truth of the concepts (facts) in your arguments?

Furthermore -- and more entailing -- are you an Objectivist?

I looked up the definition of

Peter Surda's picture

I looked up the definition of reason from objectivist point of view. It appears that from that definition, logic is a subset, or an aspect, of reason. Therefore, violating logic means violating reason too. In other words, you have not answered my question.

you have to use reason, not

John Donohue's picture

you have to use reason, not just logic, before I would even care.

So, if I show that your

Peter Surda's picture

So, if I show that your statements contain a logical error, you would still insist on them being correct on some other grounds?

Surda, I am an Objectivist.

John Donohue's picture

Surda, I am an Objectivist. We reject logic as an isolated endeavor. It's called 'rationalism.'

Instead we accept reason as an absolute.

Here's another one: "As for

John Donohue's picture

Here's another one:

"As for whether Bala is an Objectivist [...] If Bala claims adherence to objective reality, reason, rational self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism and just has disagreements in political application I grant him the same benefit of the doubt."

Meaning Ayn Rand is open to any enemy that constructs reality such that her prime core has been found fallacious. Bala, and Kinsella, claim to have proven Ayn Rand wrong in her core.

Bala is not an Objectivist. No human can be an Objectivist and reject Ayn Rand's political philosophy and capitalism. No human can claim to be a champion of these and yet fly the flag of anarchy with a little flag of hatred of proper government protection of intellectual property fluttering in the breeze.

It is not excommunication. It is seppuku.

Dear John

Peter Surda's picture

So you consider being self-righteous more important than being right? Well, I don't. For me, logic takes precedence over ethics. But thanks, now I know that since you don't follow the same path, there is no benefit for me in debating you.

"I found a way to put32 more angels on the head of a pin..."

John Donohue's picture

"First of all, let me try to clarify something. My reason for participating in the debate is purely intellectual. I am not concerned about ethics."

REJECTED IN FULL without reading further. Thanks for saving me time.

Hello

Peter Surda's picture

It appears Mark is not attempting to respond to my objections on mises.org so I decided to come here.

First of all, let me try to clarify something. My reason for participating in the debate is purely intellectual. I am not concerned about ethics. The only thing I'd like is to either demonstrate the error in my opponents' arguments, or admit when they demonstrate an error in mine. I am not interested in demonstrating or disproving ethics, I am only concerned about logic. I strongly believe that Bala and especially Jay Lakner share my approach. The misunderstanding is very visible on Mark Hubbards' reactions to Jay Lakner. The only thing Jay did was to show that Mark's arguments are contradictory with respect to each other. The validity of this claim does not depend on Jay being an objectivist or ethical.

So, allow me to address some of the points made in the discussion. I'll start with the easy ones:

Anarchy:
A lot of participants seem to be antagonistic to anarchy. There is an easy way out. Do you believe that people should be free to choose any of existing good producers and service suppliers in order to satisfy their needs? Do you believe that it is no business of the state to restrict market entry for producers or suppliers? Well, if you answer to both of these as "yes", then you're an anarchist. It's as simple as that. Because the state is just a monopoly on provision of certain services. The rejection of the monopoly does not imply any specific number of entities that provide those services. It can be zero, one, or any arbitrary larger number. It just implies that the use of force in order to prevent providers to provide these services is illegitimate.

Back to IP:
Maybe the IP proponents can pool their resources and come up with a proper theory of IP. Unfortunately, I don't know of any. All of them are either based on unproved utilitarian assumptions, or they are inconsistent (they do not apply in all cases). I'll summarise the common issues:

  • Property is the right to the value of a good. This is based on the labour theory of value (discredited by most economists and nowadays associated with Marxism). There is no way to either establish objective value of a good, nor a way to foresee whether any action whatsoever influences the value of a good. If applied consistently, it would make any competition or the emergence of markets illegal, since these drive prices down. It would be illegal to sell substitutes. It would be illegal to present ideas that increase productivity. It would be illegal to make negative comment about other persons' property.
  • One has the right to the profit from one's labour. An alternative approach to the previous issue. There is no such right. Furthermore, if applied consistently, it would make all positive externalities and all causally related activities into rights violations. Including motivation and inspiration. This includes children being the property of their parents, an answer being (co-)property of the one posing a question. Soviet Union (which inspired Ayn Rand to write her books) would (co-)own her books.
  • Immaterial goods can be identical. There is no way to determine whether two immaterial goods are identical. What we can do is to interpret them and try to ascertain whether the differences are "significant". However, this is not an objective approach. Immaterial goods can only be subjectively identical, but never objectively.
  • Immaterial goods have clear boundaries. This is disproved by the previous two points. The IP based approach to boundaries of goods (and therefore property) is that one draws an arbitrary curve on a twodimensional graph, the axes of which are causality and similarity. I consider this approach wholly unscientific and subjective.
  • The IP laws are more-or-less explained by the IP theory. The current laws do not match any of the theories proposed by IP proponents. For one, none of them establish the concept of property. Also, they all feature exceptions and are only valid for a limited amount of time. Furthermore, the categories (copyright, patents, trademarks) are arbitrarily chosen categories that are not explained by any theory.
  • IP is necessary in order to earn money from mental labour. This is a simple inability to recognise that besides monopoly rent, there are an infinite number of business methods that allow this. For a more detailed analysis, consult Boldrin & Levine: Against Intellectual Monopoly. There is no need for a monopoly in abstract patterns, just like there is no need for a monopoly in any market.
  • IP has a positive net effect. Just like IP has an effect on the increase of revenue, it also has an effect on the increase of costs. The overall effect is that the prices are driven up and production becomes more expensive. Often IP proponents argue that the costs of R&D need to be offset by the increased revenue, however they fail to show that this is not a confusion of cause and effect. It could very well be that the huge costs themselves are the result of IP.
  • IP is a complementary property, extended to unowned areas. IP creates overlaps in ownership and the more abstract concept always takes precedence (e.g. patents > copyright > physical).
  • IP can exist without a state and can be provided by a market. Unlike with physical objects, in order to determine an infringement in IP, it is necessary to observe the infringer. Therefore, protection against IP infringement must involve monitoring of everybody. Such a situation is less likely to occur without a state.
  • IP is based on a sound theory or property. The only sound property theory that I so far encountered is that property is the right to integrity of the said property. Since it is impossible to damage an immaterial good, they cannot be owned.
  • The right to exclude is necessary. With rival goods, the right to exclude is a consequence of the rivalry, it is impossible to consume the good without excluding others. This does not even require any property rights or humanity. There is no such necessity with immaterial goods.
  • IP is just a type of contract While it is possible to use contracts to bind another party, they cannot be used to bind a third party. If I use a contract to restrict copying for buyers of my book, in case copying occurs, they might be liable for damages, but the contract is inapplicable to the third party. For that, IP is necessary.

Maybe some of you can address some of the objections. I would be delighted to have an intelligent debate.

Are you scared?

Jay Lakner's picture

"No Jay, before you go any further you need to clearly state your position"

That is what I'm trying to do. Step by step so we can identify the exact point where our opinion differs. It makes little sense to run through a line logical reasoning if we disagree on point 1.
Are you too scared to give your fundamental premises a thorough examination?
Are you too scared to examine the very line of logical reasoning that leads you to your conclusions?
Such a fear can only exist if:
a) You instinctively know you're wrong, or,
b) You don't understand the fundamentals of your own beliefs. (ie you're just taking some else's word for it)

As for the whole "giving Objectivists a bad name" thing, I explained that already but I'll elaborate a bit more. I made mention that I did not think it was logical for Objectivists and other libertarian groups to have this growing divide. Given our current situation, we should be united allies in our cause to topple runaway big government. Freedom is under attack and it makes little sense for the defenders of freedom (Objectivists, libertarians, minarchists and anarchists) be to divided. We are all allies against a common enemy. Spreading antagonism and hate over such a (currently) insignificant topic makes no sense. Our discussion of philosophy should be light-hearted and constructive, not emotionally-charged, antagonistic and destructive.

No, that wine you might not

Mark Hubbard's picture

No, (that wine), you might not be wrong. I have two big meetings over the next two days, and cannot do other than 'look in here'. I will research some of my threads next weekend though. I can't stand a contradiction, especially in myself, and your judgment has normally proven to be wise Smiling

Oh dear!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Proof from past threads? I know there've been numerous times when I've applauded your KASS, only to have to groan the next day when I've seen you backtracking. But I don't want to spend time on it, so I retract. And add: stick to your guns. You're not wrong!

... but I know I'll tune in

Mark Hubbard's picture

... but I know I'll tune in tomorrow and find you've backtracked.

Proof from past threads Linz? I'm truly interested if I have. And would worry if I did.

I know on one thread I did backtrack, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, and thinking I have overreached my position after a good nights sleep (Adonis). But Adonis proved otherwise, and I did not move from my resolve again ... at least not that I can remember?

But I do drink the odd bottle of wine ...

No Jay, before you go any

Mark Hubbard's picture

No Jay, before you go any further you need to clearly state your position, or let me do it for you. From Mises, quote:

When did I profess to be a follower of a philosophy? You do not know my opinions on the matter. I have not revealed them to you.
I can tell you now that I am not an Objectivist. I have never been an Objectivist.

http://blog.mises.org/archives...

And then my last post to you:

You're a slippery sod Jay.

You said [to me]: "Otherwise, all you are doing is giving Objectivists a bad name."

and:

"Unfortunately it has now gotten to the point where most of the people I regularly chat to use the term "Objectivist" as an insult."

Well, why 'unfortunately'? Why do you care given:

"I can tell you now that I am not an Objectivist. I have never been an Objectivist."

Want to explain the contradiction?

Carry on ...

Alas, Mark ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

As I get older, I find I have no patience left for intelligentsia fools and thieves. I'm sick of it all. I will never see a free society in my lifetime, because most often the enemy is within, vis a vis, the evil Mr Goode on this thread, the patent lawyer on Mises (Kinsella) who doesn't believe in patents, and Bala the Thief. The world becomes more and more like some type of outlandish horror movie.

Dare I suggest that as you get older you must learn to have the courage of your convictions and not wimp out the next day? Your appraisals here are all correct, but I know I'll tune in tomorrow and find you've backtracked. And don't be seduced by Aaron's facade of reasonableness either. He's one of the Bad Guys

Amazing what folk are trying to smuggle through under the term "patterns." I hadn't encountered this before. The things one is spared by *not* going to mises.org or rockwell.com!

1. Define act.

Jay Lakner's picture

It seems that Bala's reasoning is completely above most people's heads. Therefore I have decided to share my own reasoning as to why patterns and ideas cannot be treated as property. My approach is somewhat different to Bala's. In fact it is far more fundamental. I'm going to go through this step by step. Once we have reached a consensus on a point I will move onto the next step. Let's get started...

Man is a rational animal with a volitional consciousness.
Life is a sequence of self-generated self-sustaining actions.
The purpose of all action is life itself and its sustenance.

I assume I have agreement so far. But the word "action" is not defined.
"Action" is treated as a fundamental term upon which all Objectivist principles are inductively derived.
But what if it isn't the most fundamental?
What if there is a more fundamental layer to all this.
Afterall, to be conscious is to be conscious of something. Therefore an objective reality must exist outside of human thought.
So one must define "act" in terms of this objective reality before we can go further.

What does it mean to "act"?
What does "action" involve?

Before I can go any further, I need someone to give me a specific definition of "act".

Aaron, read all of this

Mark Hubbard's picture

Aaron, read all of this thread. Shakespeare aside - yeah, bad choice, if your post is correct, I'd have to research that more, it's certainly not the position gained from my BA - but I hope you get my point otherwise regarding my aesthetics post: Bala the Burglar is not an Objectivist in my book, he is a Borg nihilist, the end of freedom and laissez faire, for he doesn't recognise the existence of the individual mind, and everything that flows from it: that is, therefore, the basis of Humanism, Objectivism, Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism.

Have you read Perkins article: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog... ?

Put up your links, I'll read them all. But Bala and Kinsella belong to a street gang of thieves and are the no-exit of freedom, not the road to it. Every businessman who looks at the anti-IP threads on Mises, their skin will crawl and they will wisely run and run and run. That site is a disservice to the cause of liberty of the individual.

As I get older, I find I have no patience left for intelligentsia fools and thieves. I'm sick of it all. I will never see a free society in my lifetime, because most often the enemy is within, vis a vis, the evil Mr Goode on this thread, the patent lawyer on Mises (Kinsella) who doesn't believe in patents, and Bala the Thief. The world becomes more and more like some type of outlandish horror movie.

But read all of this thread Aaron, all of it, the Perkins article, and no doubt, report back.

Bala- I think we'll disagree

Aaron's picture

Bala-
I think we'll disagree strongly, but am curious to know how fundamental the source of disagreement is. Do you recognize the efforts of human productive effort as the initial basis of property, e.g. via homesteading? If so, do you recognize a place for mans' mind in creating a novel arrangement of words, notes, etc. - essentially 'homesteading a pattern'? If not, do you claim property based solely on exclusivity (being a 'rival good'), or on some other foundation?

Aaron

Essays, articles, links

Aaron's picture

I've been very interested in IP, have read broadly on it, and have held a wide range of views on it. I'm still not convinced or holding my views solidly on a lot of points, and have interest in reading and debating more. This list contains the links I referred to previously Mark, as well as a number of items I've read and recommend at least for background, or bookmarked for possible interesting reading of debates.

Aaron

Articles, essays:
Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand, specifically essay 'Patents & Copyrights'. (not legally available online) This is a weak essay, nowhere near up to Rand's normal quality. While it does refer to the critical idea of the creation of mans' mind being key in the concept of property, unfortunately it also contains unconnected assertions, some outright misinformation, in the end arguing largely for the US status quo. Regardless, it's a must-read for any Objectivist interested in arguing IP as well as for anyone arguing against the Objectivist party line.

The Ethics of Liberty, Murray Rothbard, specifically chapter 16, 'Knowledge, True and False'. This essay is not primarily about IP, but within it makes Rothbard's argument for copyright. This argument is also a weak point for Rothbard, as he essentially invalidly extrapolates contract law as binding third parties not involved in the contract. However, the chapter is interesting for anyone arguing with anti-IP anarchists, who often acknowledge primary intellectual debt to Rothbard despite the fact that he himself was a strong copyright advocate (or anyone arguing against an IP advocate mistakenly casting Rothbard as anti-IP).

Against Intellectual Property, Stephan Kinsella. Unlike either essay above, this one is more comprehensive and academic. It strongest suit is actually that it contains many good references and notes to other reading, including Rand, Rothbard and many others. In content it contains a good description of the common anti-IP libertarian notion of property only being based on scarcity, not on the creation of mans' mind. Kinsella also fails in most of his points, but this essay is better than almost anything else he wrote, including (IIRC) being free of some common Kinsella-isms such as the absurd argument that 'IP requires the State'. Definitely worthwhile reading for background and understanding the common modern anti-IP arguments.

The Law of Intellectual Property, Lysander Spooner. (I'm not certain Spooner intended this for public domain and that it should be posted) Written over 150 years ago, obviously pre-Objectivism, this essay by proto-libertarian Spooner nonetheless makes likely the best and most thoroughly argued case for intellectual property overall that I've seen. Wed to the notion of property based on mans' creation, he builds the case for copyright and patent, without utilitarian compromises limiting duration, and responds explicitly to common counterarguments. His work is also not without flaws, but I highly recommend it to anyone investigating pro- or anti-IP arguments.

Don't Steal This Article, Greg Perkins. Easily the best modern Objectivist advocacy of IP that I've read. Despite also having objections to this, it contains the basis of the key argument against anti-IP'ers who claim 'you've violated my rights to mold my property into x pattern!' - dropping context of whether they could realistically have ever come up with that pattern before. Highly recommended.

Smaller works or forum posts, primarily for comments and debate (on these I've read at least the main posts but on the Noodlefood and Mises.org ones haven't gone through most comments yet):
Question on Copyrights - Rebirth of Reason discussion. Discussion where Michael Moeller unfortunately jumped to some conclusions about me and frankly was a rude distraction, but Steve Wolfer and MSK helped flesh out some of the implications of Greg Perkin's key point about not depriving someone of 'pattern creation rights' they realistically never had. In the process of exploring that point I moved to a decidedly stronger pro-copyright stance.

Rejoinder to Aaron on Previous IP Thread - SOLOPassion discussion. Somewhat more civil discussion on IP between Moeller and myself where we were both subject to geological times between responses. Appears to be my move. Smiling

An Objectivist Recants on IP?? - Greg Perkins. Long interesting discussion I've bookmarked and was about 1/3 way through the comments, and first encountered Bala.

IP: The Objectivists Strike Back! - Stephan Kinsella. Main post is weak writing by Kinsella, including the bogus 'IP requires State' argument, but the comments looked interesting, bookmarked to read and digest.

Kinsella v. Schulman on Logorights and IP - Stephan Kinsella. Just added this to my long reading list, thanks to you Mark.

Copying Is Not Theft - remixed (song and video) - Stephan Kinsella. Likewise, another long comment discussion adding to my backlog thanks to you Smiling.

Mark- 80 unread posts??

Aaron's picture

Mark-
80 unread posts?? You've got to be kidding me. I started this response after the 1st 6, and I saw a few of the most recent, but am going to finish writing this before tackling the many in-between.

You liked posts on the Mises.org thread by MichaelM? I wonder if that's Michael Moeller who used to be regular on SOLO. There's no love lost between us since he was an asshole to me in an IP thread a couple years ago, but Moeller and I actually agree on more than you'd initially think and started a slow, relatively civil IP discussion last year. If he put on his happy face I think he'd be an interesting addition to this thread.

I'll compile a set of links to the discussions I was referring to and other articles I'd recommend on IP in another post.

As for whether Bala is an Objectivist - there are many posts I've not read yet, so maybe something I'm missing, but there's been plenty of schisms and I'm generally loathe to get into calling someone not a 'real Objectivist' assuming they agree with the standing-on-one-foot definition. If they are egregiously at odds, such as thinking they've unified Islam and Objectivism, OK, excommunication would be called for. However, often disagreements are just in sticky and complex applications of political philosophy, and there I'd give a lot of leeway. For example, some big-Os advocate intentionally targeting and killing civilians to terrorize those living under an enemy government. Despite that utterly being at odds with Objectivist principles, I don't brand them 'not real Objectivists' and rather assume that somewhere, somehow, there's still a good-faith disagreement and (aircraft carrier sized) error of knowledge. If Bala claims adherence to objective reality, reason, rational self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism and just has disagreements in political application I grant him the same benefit of the doubt.

More generally - what is up with the attacks about file sharing in the most recent posts? Say I believe in copyright in perpetuity - that is, without the common (to the legal status quo and party-line Objectivism) compromise of making some valid property rights less-equal than others by having an arbitrary time limit in years. I'd see all of you SOLOers who listen to Rachmaninoff and other classical composers without paying royalties to their heirs as blatantly and willfully violating their property rights. Yet even so, I think it would be completely counterproductive and useless to intelligent discussion to just come in here name-calling everyone two-bit thieves.

Final point for now since this recent statement of yours caught my eye:

"Shakespeare 'owns' the 'pattern' of King Lear."

That example is an astoundingly bad choice. Elizabethan England didn't have even the modern idea of authorship, let alone copyright. Shakespeare and others not only lifted plots, characters, and lines freely from the Greeks and Romans, but from each other. They'd literally attend plays put on by rivals, copy large parts of them, modify with the playwright's own slant and improvements and put them on himself. Admittedly Shakespeare was a master at this - there's a reason his versions of plays are ones that outlived his rivals. But that doesn't change the fact that what he did would have gotten him sued penniless if the Elizabethans had anything resembling the modern concept of copyright. While it's orthogonal to the discussion of whether copyright is valid or not, Shakespeare's contributions and resulting fame are due in no small part to that era essentially lacking copyright laws.

Aaron

KASS Copyright Violator of the Day

Richard Goode's picture

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