Establishing Copy Prohibition Laws is Unjust

reed's picture
Submitted by reed on Tue, 2012-05-15 21:24

1) A punishment greater than the harm caused (or intended) is unjust.

2) There is no harm caused (or intended) by copying.

3) Therefore, any punishment for copying is unjust.


( categories: )

Tom

Damien Grant's picture

I see, difficult issues and the boundaries are very fuzzy.

If I discover a new star, do I own it? If I work out a strand of DNA, do I own that? Decoding a strand of DNA has clear commercial value though, so a patent system grants an incentive to discover it I guess.

At the end of the process however a patent is for a limited time so the issue does resolve itself.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

my quick response to your question on invention is that it must have a commercial application

If it ain't got no commercial application, it ain't yours! Or, in Tom's words, "Well, that's just too bad!" (In other words, if you can't make money from it, what's the point in paying patent attorneys and other crony cogs in the State machine to steamroll over everyone else's rights by granting you a monopoly enforced at the point of a government gun?)

Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

I am not entirely sure about how the exact boundaries are framed here

I am. According to the subjective preferences and prejudices of Greg Perkins.

Invention and discovery

Tom Burroughes's picture

Damian, my quick response to your question on invention is that it must have a commercial application (so a law of nature that is discovered does not count and can't be patented). Here is another point. I quote from Greg Perkins, an objectivist who has written an article ("Don't Steal This Article!"): http://www.philosophyinaction....

The distinction between wealth and its preconditions lets us clarify the ethical significance of inventions: inventors use their understanding of nature (often involving discoveries made by scientists) to solve specific problems in human welfare. Inventors are not recognizing some general fact about reality, but creating a recipe for producing wealth, thereby enabling the production of specific life-serving objects which would not have existed without their mental work. The crucial distinction between discovery and invention lies in their object: facts of nature are what they are and exist waiting to be discovered, while inventions are objects which would not exist without a creator. So intellectual property rights are a recognition of a crucial precondition of the life-serving creation of wealth — and they are not, contrary to this complaint, a general reward for mental effort that is arbitrarily denied for some classes of thought.

Moreover, a failure to distinguish between practical invention and theoretical discovery in intellectual property protection would work directly against the very purpose of individual rights. It would be unjust and contrary to the requirements of man’s life to protect discoveries as intellectual property, by making possible the demand that people ignore facts and act on known falsehoods in lieu of paying for the privilege of living. It would mean people being prohibited from acting in accordance with a fact once it is known — including barring their taking life-sustaining actions and using that knowledge to create new, life-serving objects. In contrast, there is no injustice when inventors or artists peacefully withhold the use of their recipes for manufacturing things that could not otherwise exist. Indeed, injustice would lie in denying creators the right to set their terms for providing the necessary means to life-serving wealth.

I am not entirely sure about how the exact boundaries are framed here, but he has a good stab at it, I think.

God creates

Richard Goode's picture

Time Limits

Damien Grant's picture

I have often wondered on the time limits of a patent.

It is an obvious compromise between granting an incentive to the inventor and the public interest but it seems such an arbitrary delineation I can only conclude that it has no basis in any philosophical underpinning and is merely a pragmatic approach to a complex problem.

If I own something, why does my ownership of it ‘run out’ after a set period?

I accept that, in some way what a patent does is to grant the holder a state monopoly on that thing and the state only chooses to give me a limited monopoly, balancing my interests as an inventor and the economic harm caused by a monopoly, but could not the same thing be said of land?

I own the land, I build a house on it. The state says that I can use that house for twenty years but then after that, to balance the needs of the common, I will need to allow anyone access to it? The only difference is scarcity and ability to be replicated but that is a nature of the asset, not of my rights to it.

So, I come to the view that the patent system is in some way flawed, the state is not protecting my assets for twenty years, it is permitting it’s theft after twenty years, but that is the price inventors must pay for benefiting from a state monopoly in an area where it is very difficult for them to otherwise enforce their rights.

The basis for the argument in favour of patents that I have said in this thread is Utilitarian in nature and therefore not very intellectually satisfying and this, it seems to be, is the basis of copyright and patent law.

Monopolies are by their very nature inefficient , but this is not a justification against them. I have a monopoly on who can live in my house. That is inefficient but not a cause for the revoking of the monopoly.

I’m not convinced by Goode’s reasoning but I am curious about the debate in the other thread about the ‘second inventor’.

If I write a book, that is going to be unique. It will be something new and one of the infinite combinations of letters and words that can be strung together. But if I discover that a table spoon of sugar fixes hiccups, or that a chemical compound mixed with another chemical compound cures jock itch, have I invented something or have I discovered something?

And is inventing and is discovering the same thing?

I puzzle over discovered strands of DNA being patented. This was not something that was made, it was discovered. The discovery took effort and the Utilitarian argument still holds, but how can you claim ownership of something that was always there?

The answer could be that this is the same as the issue of land; the dibs principle of ownership, but somehow it seems less satisfying.

Goode's response is not very

Tom Burroughes's picture

Goode's response is not very convincing.

“You allude to "the need for humans to secure production to survive and flourish." Suppose that you are the Little Red Hen. You have baked some bread, and you have written a book, The Little Red Hen's Little Red Book. You plan to survive winter by living off the sales of your bread and the sales of your book. You cannot live off the sales of your bread if I initiate force against you. (E.g., by breaking into your bakery, destroying your oven.) You cannot live off the sales of your book unless you initiate force against me. (E.g., by breaking into my printery, destroying my printing press.) Doesn't this glaring asymmetry set alarm bells ringing?”

No, because there is only a “glaring asymmetry” if you take the simplistic idea that only “tangible” things can be owned and base your justification of property on the sort of “scarcity” argument that is common among some libertarians (but not all, I should add). If, on the other hand, you understand the purpose of securing property rights, which is to facilitate how humans can survive and thrive peacefully, and understand the point of production in this, and securing the fruits of said (and no, I am not going to painstakingly go through all this argument again and again), then the supposed contradiction goes away, or at least, can be reasoned out. This is not to say that resolving disputes about scarce goods and so on is not a useful feature of property rights, but it is not the main benefit of it. It is not like the rules for judo or cricket.

There are, of course, differences between the type of things that humans try to own and why, and those differences explain things such as sunset provisions on patents and copyright, explain things like fair use in copyright, or the independent inventor issue with patents, and so on, or, in the case of physical property, why even rules governing just first acquisition exist (the Locke proviso in homesteading, etc). These rules take into account the non-rivalrousness of ideas and inventions but also the need for those who create them where none existed before to have the ability to take exclusive commercial benefit from them for a period of time. But like I said before, as IP is infinite - there is no limit on how many creative/inventive things Man can create - it is wrong to state that IP is an oppressive monopoly. I create a book that did not exist before - how am I taking something that already existed and monopolise it? Au contraire - I have produced something new and insist that copiers pay me, at least for a certain period of time. That is the whole friggin' point.

And it really is absurd to claim that I can only live off sales of my book by "initiating force" against the copier/plagiarist. That ignores the clear moral issue of authorship as grounds for the legitimate exclusive right, for a period of time, to commercially exploit what the creator has produced. I wrote the damn book; I spent time – which is scarce, by the way – on producing it, so why should I not seek exclusive commercial rights to exploit sales of it in certain ways? And in a digital world, even without statutory copyright, this will become easier to do with embedded copyright charging codes and the like. (This seems to be a fact that some IP critics overlook).

The copyright time limit, by the way (in case anyone brings this up), is based upon the idea that after a certain point in time, the work of art (book, picture, etc) has entered the “public domain” and that it would be clearly oppressive to enforce it beyond a certain number of years when a work becomes part of the mental universe we all share in and use. The time-limited aspect is, I suppose, odd or “arbitrary” to the “scarcity” theorist, but no more “arbitrary” than the idea that a homesteader of physical land cannot just grab an entire region for himself and push his claim on nothing other than physical force, or "own" the airspace miles above his land, etc.

The more I think about it, the more I come to the view that the “scarcity” defence of property is too thin a defence, is basically amoral, and cannot withstand the many serious objections that can be made about how even physical property rights originate. And the way to get around this problem is the teleogical approach of Rand, Lysander Spooner and the Lockeans in understanding why we have property rights in the first place. I also suspect that the scarcity idea appeals because it is so simple, and the complexity of IP makes some people suspicious. But that is unwarranted.

you are welcome

Damien Grant's picture

However, I do not think that you should take that as any sort of victory in this debate. I like what Tom wrote, he articulated what I had been thinking much better than I had been able to.

Things like money are not physical things, and nor are they scarce, so what difference does that make? They can still be owned.

My failure to understand where in the space-time continuum my intellectual property sits does not weaken my argument that I have intellectual property and if you steal it I will sue you.

You have a very narrow definition of the term ‘non-initiation of force’.

If I was to publish lies about you, lies that caused you commercial harm or damaged your reputation and impacted negatively on your life, are you entitled to take action against me for this?

Two women wearing the same dress

Richard Goode's picture

Two women wearing the same dress

Take two extreme views on what constitutes “that which all bicycles have in common in virtue of which they are bicycles,” Platonism and nominalism. According to Platonism, that which all bicycles have in common in virtue of which they are bicycles is that they all partake of the Platonic form of the bicycle. No one can own Platonic forms. According to nominalism, that which all bicycles have in common in virtue of which they are bicycles is that they are members of the set of all bicycles. No one can own membership of a set.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I do not know

I'm at a loss to even know how to answer that question.

Thank you.

I do not know

Damien Grant's picture

I'm at a loss to even know how to answer that question.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

"Where is your intellectual property physically located?"

It's a serious question.

Does your intellectual property exist in time and space? Or does it exist, like a Platonic form, outside the realm of reality?

vested

Damien Grant's picture

"Where is your intellectual property physically located?"

It is vested in Jesus.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I own the content.

Where is your intellectual property physically located?

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

But if we stop this fixation with scarcity as the only grounding of property rights, and understand the fuller, Lockean justification (mixing of labour, creativity, the need for humans to secure production to survive and flourish), then IP such as copyright can be just as legitimate, in the eyes of defenders of the free market, as "tangible property".

No, it can never be just as legitimate, because you have overlooked a crucial difference between IP and tangible property.

You allude to "the need for humans to secure production to survive and flourish." Suppose that you are the Little Red Hen. You have baked some bread, and you have written a book, The Little Red Hen's Little Red Book. You plan to survive winter by living off the sales of your bread and the sales of your book.

You cannot live off the sales of your bread if I initiate force against you. (E.g., by breaking into your bakery, destroying your oven.)

You cannot live off the sales of your book unless you initiate force against me. (E.g., by breaking into my printery, destroying my printing press.)

Doesn't this glaring asymmetry set alarm bells ringing? Or did you become deaf to such warnings when you made reason your only absolute?

Tangible/intangible property rights

Tom Burroughes's picture

Damian Grant wrote:

"I am unsure of the moral rights most of us have to the land we own. At some point almost all land currently owned was taken by force from someone who had claimed it by being their first. Is the land rightfully mine if I brought it off someone who stole it? Run that argument back a thousand years and see where it gets you. Remember to take your ‘non-initiation-of-force’ motto with you."

That is a very good point. Whenever opponents of statutory IP (or even, perhaps, IP that might arise from contract law, assuming this is possible) trot out the line that the only real property is tangible, because of the scarcity, rivalrousness of said, they tend to ignore the fact that even with physical stuff, such as land, there is considerable argument about how to frame a justice acquisition of property in the first place.

Those who know their political theory will be familiar with John Locke and his famous "proviso", for instance. So even the boundaries of physical property can be "fuzzy" from a legal/ethical point of view. If I fence off a piece of land, do I just own the fence that I have made and put into position, or the land it surrounds? How deep into the ground does my claim go? Do I own all the minerals underneath down the Earth's core? Or only X metres? And how much of the airspace above that fenced land do I own? 100 meters? 5 km? What? Forever? If I can only homestead land by physical force, is this not just a "might is right" argument for property, and as such, how is this morally right?

This is where laws and arguments come in to set the rules about physical property and how it is acquired, and they are just as "unnatural" in this narrow use of the word - as intellectual property rights are accused of being, with their supposedly "arbitrary" timelimits on copyright or patents. But if we stop this fixation with scarcity as the only grounding of property rights, and understand the fuller, Lockean justification (mixing of labour, creativity, the need for humans to secure production to survive and flourish), then IP such as copyright can be just as legitimate, in the eyes of defenders of the free market, as "tangible property".

Another point has been made by the legal theorist Adam D. Moore, who takes a Lockean justification of IP (he rejects a utilitarian one). There is only so much physical land, say, that can be owned and it is limited. So even with a Lockean proviso, some people will be left disappointed. But the great thing about IP, on this view, is that given the infinite number of creative works and inventions that humans can come up with, there is no zero-sum game in humans acquiring IP for limited periods before it falls back in to the public domain, and for a next generation of people to then add fresh creations of their own, and on and on, in a constant process of progress. It is hard to see how Dickens getting copyright on David Copperfield for X years somehow takes away the chance of Tolstoy or George Eliot to write their books with equal success.

Bear in mind also, as another commenter has said, that other forms of property exist in things that are intangible, such as options, debt obligations, leases, and other contracts in the financial markets, etc. These are no doubt "artificial", but without them, much commercial life would be impossible. There is not a hard and fast dividing line, as I see it, between "tangible" and "intangible" property.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I own the content.

I don't think you understand my question.

Let me put it another way. You say you own the content, I own the copy. If I were to remove your content from my copy, what would remain?

I'm finding this issue to be intellectually challenging. How about you?

rg

Damien Grant's picture

I own the content.

I when you brought your copy you brought one copy. That is all you brought.

You have no rights to sell more than your single copy.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

This is what is so maddening about the IP issue. It is fuzzy at the edges. We can see a core of moral claims that exist on works of creation/invention ...

Fuzziness at the edges is often a tell-tale sign that the issue is fuzzy to the core.

Unlike such anarchists as S. Kinsella or others, I do not, however, concede what they demand, which is the right to copy recently created works at will, since this shows no respect for the time, effort and brilliance of creators in the first place.

What? You think there should be copy prohibition laws because copying is disrespectful?!

Content

Tom Burroughes's picture

A difficulty - we briefly discussed this on the other big thread on IP - is what happens in the case of a book that is sold under copyright but then sold by a second-hand dealer. Does the second hand bookshop retailer have to pay a fee to the original author? I suppose it is possible to imagine some sort of contractual requirement to that effect, but it would appear oppressive to enforce it.

For me, the reason why copyright must be circumscribed is because although I can see the full moral force of saying that the creator a work of art, say, is entitled to exclusive control over the commercial use of it for a period of time (because it is impossible to see how it could have been independently created by someone else), that after a certain period of time, the work becomes so much a part of the "public domain" that is impossible to enforce copyright without it interfering seriously with freedoms of other creators. This is what is so maddening about the IP issue. It is fuzzy at the edges. We can see a core of moral claims that exist on works of creation/invention, but the fuzziness means that any enforcement of said beyond a certain point is oppressive. Unlike such anarchists as S. Kinsella or others, I do not, however, concede what they demand, which is the right to copy recently created works at will, since this shows no respect for the time, effort and brilliance of creators in the first place.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I own the content. I am entitled to any revenue that comes from it.

You own your version and you are in possession of the content. But you do not own the content. You have no right to do anything with the content without my consent.

OK. But what exactly is the nature of "the content"? (Let's talk about a printed-on-paper version for the sake of argument.) You say I own my copy (my "version") but am merely in possession of "the content". But what is the content? Is it the printed words? Presumably, I own both the paper and the ink. What is it that I don't own? (Remove the printed content, and I'd be left with something indistinguishable from Bob Jones's book, The First Twelve Months - The Achievements of The Third Labour Government, or my own minor masterpiece, The Case for Compulsory Taxation, with which you're already familiar.

RG

Damien Grant's picture

I own the content. I am entitled to any revenue that comes from it.

You own your version and you are in possession of the content. But you do not own the content. You have no right to do anything with the content without my consent.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

You are in possession of it.

You do not own it.

Is it a riddle?

You say you own your op-ed. What exactly is the nature of the thing you say you own?

I addressed this question to Linz. But if you have an answer, I'd be pleased to hear it.

no, Richard

Damien Grant's picture

You are in possession of it.

You do not own it.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

For those who believe in the power of the markets, we cannot be pissed if the market prefers to celebrate nice tits and longevity over our intellectual heroes.

But I can be pissed—sorely pissed—if the market prefers cheap imitations to the copyrighted, patented, trademarked authorised copies of the original that belongs—do you hear me? I own!—to me.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

Certain of Ayn's ideas as expressed in her words, which body of work ...

The work has a body. That's reassuring. So, "certain of Ayn's ideas as expressed in her words" constitute a "body of work" and "it's hers." Which of her words? The ones printed in my copy of VOS, or the ones printed in yours? I'm still seeking an answer to my question

You say you own your op-ed. What exactly is the nature of the thing you say you own?

Demonic possessive pronouns

Richard Goode's picture

What about demonic possessive pronouns? Do they always denote ownership—of your soul, by Satan?—or are they called "demonic possessive" because they denote demonic possession?

Baade

Lindsay Perigo's picture

My copy of VOS is ink on paper. Yours (by the sound of it) is very different. It's binary data stored in a digital medium. Yet, they are both VOS. What is it that my copy and your copy have in common in virtue of which they are VOS? Isn't that the question you should be asking? Because it is that thing, I think, that you claim that Ayn Rand (or her estate) has property rights to.

Mine is ink on paper also. The essential thing our copies have in common, aside no doubt from the warning against breach of copyright I cited, is the content. Certain of Ayn's ideas as expressed in her words, which body of work she is entitled to protect from unauthorised reproduction because it's hers. It's hers because it was her labour that created it. Without her and her effort it wouldn't exist. While it was merely ideas in her head, the issue of copyright didn't and couldn't arise. When it acquired material form, the issue did arise. Your response is to say anyone at all is entitled to help himself to it and do as he pleases with it, including publishing it under his name, as soon as it's down on paper. A woman, you say, does not have the right to the product of her mind.

(Note, however, the caveats that I imagine Rand herself would add re VOS, or at least parts of it: by her own lights in this work she has discovered truths rather than created them. You cannot copyright the idea that selfishness is a virtue; you can copyright the work in which you explicate the idea.)

You say, rightly, you own your copy but Ayn didn't—and her estate—doesn't own her original! Yet you have your copy precisely because of the mechanisms and procedures created to give effect to Ayn's ownership.

it seems to me

Damien Grant's picture

That Richard is confusing possession with ownership

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

Strange how I may forbid you to copy my copy of VOS but not my own op-ed.

You may forbid me from copying your copies of your op-ed. In the event, however, you didn't. You posted your op-ed on the Internet, which constitutes an invitation to copy. By clicking the link to the op-ed, I accepted your invitation and made a copy of your op-ed by downloading it. That copy was mine.

Stolen concept, anyone?

There are no stolen concepts. Isn't that funny?

My copy of VOS is mine by extension of its creator's—Rand's—ownership. Ownership is the exclusive right of use and disposal.

So you don't own your copy of VOS? Since you don't have "exclusive right of use" (you're not allowed to copy it).

Exercising this right, Rand did a deal with the publishers. They, in accordance with terms set by her, did deals with printers, distributors, retailers, and finally, me. When I bought it, I accepted her terms. Here's what the publisher of VOS tells me:

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorised electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

If I'm not mistaken, Baade, you would have signed up to the same deal when you purchased yours ...

I didn't sign up to any deal. Whatever next? Another social contract I didn't know about?

As for any "contradiction"—there isn't one. For ideas to be transmitted they need to be set down by material means in material form. Ink, typewriters, word processors, computers, paper, books, etc. The law that forbids you physically to reproduce the material is not there to protect the paper—it's there to protect what's on it: in this case,

Ink.

Rand said, "An idea as such cannot be protected until it has been given a material form." But, once given a material form, copyrights and patents do not protect it! It's a clear contradiction.

Again I say, it's you, Baade, who uphold the disembodiment of ideas. You have explicitly said right here that consciousness is possible without a brain.

In theory. Do we have sentient AI yet? Probably not.

Let's get back to discussing the myth of intellectual property. You say you own your op-ed. What exactly is the nature of the thing you say you own?

My copy of VOS is ink on paper. Yours (by the sound of it) is very different. It's binary data stored in a digital medium. Yet, they are both VOS. What is it that my copy and your copy have in common in virtue of which they are VOS? Isn't that the question you should be asking? Because it is that thing, I think, that you claim that Ayn Rand (or her estate) has property rights to.

OT

Richard Goode's picture

So Gobby has a body? Is it like a goblin's? What's a goblin's body like? Does it require food? Does it excrete? Does that account for pomowankers?

I don't know.

Michael ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I imagine it is a thankless job to argue with Goode. He reminds me of postmodern thinkers.

I guess that's why I call him a pomowanker. Eye He is a "postmodern thinker," except that that's a contradiction in terms.

But it's not thankless, arguing with Baade. See what gets revealed. Just as his music preferences are nihilism set to cacophony, his views on copyright are nihilism set to pettifoggery. According to Baade, Newberry has no claim on Newberries. Anyone may pass off a Newberry as his. Except there's no such thing as "his." No one owns anything, least of all the person who creates it.

L: "Possessive pronouns

Newberry's picture

L: "Possessive pronouns always denote ownership—that is why they're called "possessive"—in that they specify to whom or to what something belongs, of whom or of what something is an attribute: the tail belongs to the dog, the axis to the earth, pettifogging is an attribute of pomowankers, etc."

Lindsay, I enjoyed reading your comments. Now the above is cool way to learn grammar. But I imagine it is a thankless job to argue with Goode. He reminds me of postmodern thinkers.

It has probably been brought

Newberry's picture

It has probably been brought up before but copyrights protect the creator, specifically their time, energy, and investment into creating their art, book, invention, scientific knowledge, and etc. Why would anyone want to take that away from them? I am not very imaginative at the moment, but the type of person that would want to eliminate copyright doesn't have any thought, discoveries, invention, or creation worth protecting. A very strange kind of envy.

Michael

Baade

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Of course the mind requires a body within which to operate and with which to bring its ideas into concrete existence. It's only you, qua Goblian, who deny that."

But I don't deny it. I do wish you wouldn't misrepresent me.

So Gobby has a body? Is it like a goblin's? What's a goblin's body like? Does it require food? Does it excrete? Does that account for pomowankers?

Are you going to maintain Rand's contradiction? There are no such things as disembodied minds. There are no such things as disembodied ideas. An embodied mind can own an embodied idea. You own your copy of VOS. Since it's yours, you can forbid me from copying it. You can't forbid me from copying someone else's copy. In particular, you can't forbid me from copying my own copy. I do what I want with my own property. My copy of VOS belongs to me. In its physical entirety, idea and all.

Strange how I may forbid you to copy my copy of VOS but not my own op-ed. Stolen concept, anyone?

My copy of VOS is mine by extension of its creator's—Rand's—ownership. Ownership is the exclusive right of use and disposal. Exercising this right, Rand did a deal with the publishers. They, in accordance with terms set by her, did deals with printers, distributors, retailers, and finally, me. When I bought it, I accepted her terms. Here's what the publisher of VOS tells me:

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorised electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

If I'm not mistaken, Baade, you would have signed up to the same deal when you purchased yours, unless you obtained it illicitly from someone with a similar lack of scruple to your own. Now, of course there's no doubt that you can do what the publisher proscribes; we're talking about what you may (and may not) do. In particular you may not pass it off as your own, and/or make money therefrom. You insist that you may. Your position is vicious.

As for any "contradiction"—there isn't one. For ideas to be transmitted they need to be set down by material means in material form. Ink, typewriters, word processors, computers, paper, books, etc. The law that forbids you physically to reproduce the material is not there to protect the paper—it's there to protect what's on it: in this case, Rand's ideas as expressed directly by her in her words, in accordance with her ownership thereof. Elementary.

Again I say, it's you, Baade, who uphold the disembodiment of ideas. You have explicitly said right here that consciousness is possible without a brain. If you recall, I then said you were the only evidence for that. My jibe was, of course, good-humoured, but your fellow-Goblian Barren Blavatsky, who is only ever ill-humoured and pathologically nasty, then stole the line. Must be a Goblian thing. In any event, as best I can tell, I am not misrepresenting you at all.

Minds and ideas

Richard Goode's picture

Of course the mind requires a body within which to operate and with which to bring its ideas into concrete existence. It's only you, qua Goblian, who deny that.

But I don't deny it. I do wish you wouldn't misrepresent me.

the law establishes the property right of a mind to that which it has brought into existence.

But what has the mind brought into existence?

An idea as such cannot be protected until it has been given a material form. ... what the patent or copyright protects is not the physical object as such, but the idea which it embodies.

Rand contradicts herself within the same paragraph! Bloody typical! She says an "idea as such" cannot be protected until it has been given a material form ... but then goes on to say that after it has been given a material form, the protection is not of "the physical object as such," i.e., it is not protection of the idea "given a material form." Rather, it is protection of "the idea which it embodies" i.e., it is protection of the "idea as such."

Are you going to maintain Rand's contradiction?

There are no such things as disembodied minds. There are no such things as disembodied ideas. An embodied mind can own an embodied idea. You own your copy of VOS. Since it's yours, you can forbid me from copying it. You can't forbid me from copying someone else's copy. In particular, you can't forbid me from copying my own copy. I do what I want with my own property. My copy of VOS belongs to me. In its physical entirety, idea and all.

Ethics vs. etiquette

Richard Goode's picture

I'm still puzzled why you asked my permission to reproduce it.

Because not to do so would be a tad rude.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

Possessive pronouns always denote ownership—that is why they're called "possessive"

No. Possessive pronouns denote possession—that is why they're called "possessive"!

Possession and ownership, like authorship and ownership, are two different beasts.

—in that they specify to whom or to what something belongs, of whom or of what something is an attribute: the tail belongs to the dog, the axis to the earth, pettifogging is an attribute of pomowankers, etc.

The possessive pronouns specify to whom or to what something belongs—in the sense of being an attribute of, not in the sense of being owned by.

You know full well, though, that what we're discussing here is a particular type of belonging, entailing conceptually conscious beings with the capacity to lay—and recognise—a moral claim to something. In those situations the possessive pronoun means "belongs to X by moral right which should be recognised in law."

I know full well that what we're discussing here is ownership.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

The physical book is yours. The contents are not.

Do you mean that the physical contents are not mine?

Or do you mean that the non-physical contents are not mine?

Baade

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Now, this looks like it might be a promising path to take.

"If I choose life, Baade, then I must use my mind. But for there to be any point to my doing so, I must have exclusive claim over the fruits thereof."

But, trust me, it leads nowhere.

That's no answer. And I don't trust you. You think it's OK to steal stuff.

Silly word games as usual

Lindsay Perigo's picture

No, possessive pronouns do not necessarily, or, indeed, usually, denote ownership. You leave your footprints on the beach. Do you own your footprints? No. I move in with my girlfriend. Do I own my girlfriend? No. And so on. Also, you omitted to mention the possessive pronoun "its". A dog chases its tail. Does the dog own its tail? No. The earth turns on its axis. Does the earth own its axis? No. And so on.

Possessive pronouns always denote ownership—that is why they're called "possessive"—in that they specify to whom or to what something belongs, of whom or of what something is an attribute: the tail belongs to the dog, the axis to the earth, pettifogging is an attribute of pomowankers, etc. You know full well, though, that what we're discussing here is a particular type of belonging, entailing conceptually conscious beings with the capacity to lay—and recognise—a moral claim to something. In those situations the possessive pronoun means "belongs to X by moral right which should be recognised in law."

If by "Does Linz own his op-ed?" you mean "Does Linz own the op-ed because he authored it?" then that's what you should ask. You shouldn't use the term "his op-ed" because your answer is 'no," meaning the article doesn't belong to me by moral right; it's not mine.

no one owns the article you wrote

There you go. In which case, I'm still puzzled why you asked my permission to reproduce it. If my authorship doesn't confer ownership—rendering unauthorised reproduction an act of theft—why would you need my permission? In your universe anyone may help himself to anything he damn well pleases, without permission or attribution.

No one owns Atlas Shrugged, either.Atlas Shrugged is an idea. There are no such things as disembodied ideas. (You've already acknowledged that you don't uphold "disembodiment in the matter of copyright.") There are only embodied instances of ideas. Such tangible instances can be owned. There is no intangible Atlas Shrugged to own.

Erm, did you ever even read what Rand said? Since I can't say it better, I'll quote her:

What the patent and copyright laws acknowledge is the paramount role of mental effort in the production of material values; these laws protect the mind’s contribution in its purest form: the origination of an idea. The subject of patents and copyrights is intellectual property.

An idea as such cannot be protected until it has been given a material form. An invention has to be embodied in a physical model before it can be patented; a story has to be written or printed. But what the patent or copyright protects is not the physical object as such, but the idea which it embodies. By forbidding an unauthorized reproduction of the object, the law declares, in effect, that the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object’s value, that that value is created by the originator of the idea and may not be used without his consent; thus the law establishes the property right of a mind to that which it has brought into existence.

Of course the mind requires a body within which to operate and with which to bring its ideas into concrete existence. It's only you, qua Goblian, who deny that.

Your position is that a mind has no property right to that which it has brought into existence. My position is that it does by dint of that very fact (and ultimately by dint of life as the standard of value). I do, as mentioned on one of the other IP threads, maintain that we can come up with something better than "tough titty" when it comes to the rights of the second inventor over what his mind has brought into existence, but the complete abandonment of intellectual property rights is not it. We're not communists.

rent

Damien Grant's picture

The physical book is yours. The contents are not. I pay rent. This gives me the right to use the property but not to sell it to someone else.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

The nub of the issue is the distinction between authorship and ownership. There's an "authorship/ownership gap" analogous to Hume's "is/ought gap." If we're to countenance the fantastical notion of intellectual property, that gap must be bridged. We have to get from authorship to ownership.

Now, this looks like it might be a promising path to take.

If I choose life, Baade, then I must use my mind. But for there to be any point to my doing so, I must have exclusive claim over the fruits thereof.

But, trust me, it leads nowhere.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

The distinction between real things and ideas is arbitrary.

The distinction between real things and disembodied ideas is not arbitrary. Disembodied ideas aren't real. They don't exist. (I thought we had agreed that there are no such things as "disembodied ideas"?)

If you own intellectual property, what is it that you own? I own my copy of VOS. Linz owns his. You don't own a copy? Copyright law prohibits me from making a further copy of my copy to give to you. Copyright law restricts what I can do with *my* property. Such is the stuff of totalitarianism! (But you can grab one here.)

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

I feel obliged to point out to you, Baade, that when you ask "Does Linz own his oped?" you've already answered your own question. You called it "his." "His," like "my" is a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns denote ownership. "Your" is another one. When you asked me, "May I reproduce your Bloomberg op-ed on my blog?" you meant "May I reproduce the article you own on my blog?" If you now contend there is no such thing as ownership, I trust you'll drop all possessive pronouns from your vocabulary in future, Baade. 'Nuff said.

No, possessive pronouns do not necessarily, or, indeed, usually, denote ownership. You leave your footprints on the beach. Do you own your footprints? No. I move in with my girlfriend. Do I own my girlfriend? No. And so on. Also, you omitted to mention the possessive pronoun "its". A dog chases its tail. Does the dog own its tail? No. The earth turns on its axis. Does the earth own its axis? No. And so on.

When I asked you, "May I reproduce your Bloomberg op-ed on my blog?" I meant "May I reproduce the article you wrote on my blog?"

I do not contend that there is no such thing as ownership. I contend that there is no such thing as ownership of intellectual property. I have explained how one gets to own land or tangible goods, and also explained how the erroneous notion of intellectual property arises, here.

I note you avoid my earlier question: if I don't own the article I wrote, who does? Nobody? Everybody? Anyone who chooses to plagiarise it? Does it become anyone's but mine because *I* created it? That's what your position amounts to.

Patience is a virtue. The answer to your question is, no one owns the article you wrote. No one owns Atlas Shrugged, either.

Atlas Shrugged is an idea. There are no such things as disembodied ideas. (You've already acknowledged that you don't uphold "disembodiment in the matter of copyright.") There are only embodied instances of ideas. Such tangible instances can be owned. There is no intangible Atlas Shrugged to own.

[your arguments,] Baade, which are based on goblins.

None of my arguments concerning intellectual property rights is based on "goblins". (Nonetheless, I did check with the big G. He says there's nothing new under the sun. He says there's nothing of which one can say, “Look! This is something new.” That invalidates all patents, I would have thought.)

Baade

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I used the word "real" of me and my (Jeezy—I must check myself for using these unreasonable possessive pronouns) article to distinguish my (oops) arguments from yours, Baade, which are based on goblins.

I feel obliged to point out to you, Baade, that when you ask "Does Linz own his oped?" you've already answered your own question. You called it "his." "His," like "my" is a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns denote ownership. "Your" is another one. When you asked me, "May I reproduce your Bloomberg op-ed on my blog?" you meant "May I reproduce the article you own on my blog?" If you now contend there is no such thing as ownership, I trust you'll drop all possessive pronouns from your vocabulary in future, Baade. 'Nuff said.

Except to add that of course it's my position that authorship bestows ownership. I wrote the bloody thing; of course that means I have the exclusive right to use and dispose of it as I see fit—i.e., I own it. It is the product of my mind. *My* mind. Do you contend that I don't own that, either, Baade? Such is the stuff of totalitarianism.

If I choose life, Baade, then I must use my mind. But for there to be any point to my doing so, I must have exclusive claim over the fruits thereof. Intellectual property rights recognise that necessity and uphold that claim. For all of us.

I note you avoid my earlier question: if I don't own the article I wrote, who does? Nobody? Everybody? Anyone who chooses to plagiarise it? Does it become anyone's but mine because *I* created it? That's what your position amounts to. Again, the stuff of tyranny. Only a contemporary PhD steeped in nihilism could tout such a position as "reasonable."

Oh, and I'm still curious as to your answer to this, Baade:

But to the point at hand: you have now said that it would be *un*acceptable to do so *without* attribution and permission, as though it were your own writing (notwithstanding that you have done so in the past and then refused to acknowledge that this constituted wrongdoing). Given that your starting premise in this argument is that there is no such thing as an intellectual property right, *why* is it unacceptable?

An idea

Damien Grant's picture

A lack of fairness is not the issue.

The difference between ownership and authorship is not the issue.

You concede that Lindsay's piece is a thing, 'it is real'.

What, then, is the difference between this real thing and a bank deposit? A bank deposit is nothing more real than an idea that the bank must give me money. Why the bank should do this, well, that is laid down in laws, but ignore those, money itself is an idea. It is no more real than a song, a chemical combination for a drug or a shark frozen in formaldehyde.

We have a starting point at real things can be owned. The distinction between real things and ideas is arbitrary.

A company is a set of ideas. That I work for someone is an idea, the amount i get paid is an agreed idea. Remove ideas from the world of man and you have nothing.

You are trying to make a distinction between two things that are the same. The only difference between the two is that one is more easily stolen.

A contract is an idea. If I breach this contract I can be sued. You claim you did not agree to be bound by any such contract and his is true but you were not party to the agreement between my landlord and me that granted me exclusive use of his land. You are still trespassing if come uninvited.

You can still be sued if you steal. Not being a party to the contract is no defense.

Does Linz own his op-ed?

Richard Goode's picture

Does Linz own his op-ed? No. It is his op-ed in the sense of authorship. It is not his op-ed in the sense of ownership. He is the op-ed's author, not its owner.

I have hammered the point that the burden of proof is on he who makes the positive existential claim. To illustrate the point, in response to Damien's ongoing failure to take up the burden of proof, I noted that the claim "God exists" is on a par with "intellectual property rights exist", insofar as the burden of proof is on both claimants. It is not for atheists or those, such as myself, who deny the existence of IP, to prove a negative.

Now, Linz has responded. (Emphasis mine.)

As to your claim to Damien that "there is no god" is on a par with "there is no intellectual property right" ... how can a trained philosopher say such a thing? The first says there is no such thing as this thing for which no evidence has been provided. The second says there is no such thing as this thing for which the evidence is before our very eyes: *I*, a real entity, wrote the Bloomberg piece, a real entity; it is thus *mine*; my ownership of it is as real as I and it. Your position amounts to: I wrote it, therefore it belongs to everybody else.

That's his argument, right there, in bold. The word 'thus' is a conclusion indicator. Thus, we can present Linz's argument formally, as a premise and a conclusion, like so.

(P1) *I*, a real entity, wrote the Bloomberg piece, a real entity;

Therefore, (C) it is *mine*; my ownership of it is as real as I and it.

More succinctly, and in the third-person, we have this.

(P1) Perigo authored the Bloomberg piece.

Therefore, (C) Perigo owns the Bloomberg piece.

(I have omitted the word 'real', because I'm not sure what useful purpose it serves. There is no doubt that Linz is real, his Bloomberg piece is real, and the former's authorship of the latter is real. What's at issue here is the reality of his ownership of the Bloomberg piece. If we are, ultimately, to conclude that Linz owns the Bloomberg piece, to say that he really does own it or that his ownership is real adds nothing of substance, only emphasis.)

I will paraphrase Hume here.

In every production theory of property, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the authorship of a piece of writing, or makes observations concerning innovation; when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, author, and authorship, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an owner, or ownership. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this owner, or ownership, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it shou'd be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.

And that, folks, is why this attempt to shoulder the burden of proof is, so far, unsuccessful. The conclusion (C) simply does not follow from the premise (P1). Now, I figure that this failure could be for one of three reasons. Either, the argument is meant to stand as I presented it. In which case, it is simply invalid. Or, the argument is actually an enthymeme. It is an argument with a hidden, implicit, or suppressed premise (P2). Perhaps one which was thought to be so obvious as to be not worth stating. Nonetheless, if there is an implicit premise here, it needs to be stated explicitly. Then we can re-assess the soundness of the argument.

The third reason I can think of for why the argument fails is that, in the mind of a devout Objectivist, the words 'authorship' and 'ownership' are virtual synonyms. Somehow, the distinction between authorship and ownership has been obliterated. However, the two terms are not synonymous. If this is why the argument fails, I hope that this observation will serve to drive a wedge between the two concepts, authorship and ownership, in the mind of anyone who confounds the two.

I will conclude by noting that something Damien said (right after stating that he was not interested in the burden of proof debate) could be construed as a very basic form of the above argument. He said (speaking of a newly developed drug)

Someone has done something to create it, this idea is theirs.

The question(s) that remain: Why (and how) does creatorship (the fact that one is the creator of something) give rise to ownership (the fact that one is the owner of something)? I have yet to be given any answer to this question that I find convincing. The epistemic onus has not been met. Reason dictates that I must deny the existence of intellectual property rights. Being reasonable, I do so deny them.

Having said all that, if my blood, sweat and tears goes into developing a novel money-making idea, which you then copy, and you become rich and I'm left with the unpaid R & D bill, then ... well, that's just not fair. But sometimes life isn't.

Speaking of prostates ...

Richard Goode's picture

I want a prostate test that works and does not involve getting intimate with my GP.

... check out the photo that accompanies this article! (Read the article and weep.)

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Smiling

Maybe

Damien Grant's picture

But you need less of them to get back to grips with reality.

Tribulations

Richard Goode's picture

What are you releasing to the market?

BZP, 4-MMC, JWH-018, 6-APB ...

You seem to have some idea that medical research can be done in a garage.

Medical research can be done in a bedroom.

I think what you need, Damien, is a drug used to stimulate imagination.

Trials

Damien Grant's picture

No. What are you releasing to the market?

Random compounds perhaps.

You seem to have some idea that medical research can be done in a garage. Not sure where you get this from.

No?

Richard Goode's picture

no.

Evidence that one person did that would mean nothing.

Evidence that one person did that is evidence that ten people on a medium-sized business budget could design, synthesise and test thousands of new, safe and effective drugs ... how many new, safe and effective drugs do you want?!

Some drugs ... need large scale trials.

Easy done. Release the drug to the market. Take notes.

You would need to show that all drugs were able to be so designed, as are all books, movies, computer games, etc.

Get real, Damien. All I need to offer is proof of concept.

no.

Damien Grant's picture

Evidence that one person did that would mean nothing.

Some drugs can be done on a shoe string, others need large scale trials.

You would need to show that all drugs were able to be so designed, as are all books, movies, computer games, etc.

Try developing Halo on a shoe string. Might be tough.

So ...

Richard Goode's picture

Logic, reason, maths, all are effective Richard.

... if I were to demonstrate that one man on a shoe-string budget can design, synthesise and test hundreds of new, safe and effective drugs ... would that suffice to convince?

just answer the question?

Damien Grant's picture

Logic, reason, maths, all are effective Richard.

BTW

Richard Goode's picture

My specialty is recreational drugs. Smiling

So ...

Richard Goode's picture

It costs money to make drugs. Many attempts fail and there is vast amounts invested in these failed attempts.

If a company invests millions in a drug that works, how will they get thier money back?

What is the incentive for drug firms to invest in development if there is no patent protection?

... what sort of demonstration would it take to convince you that new drug development will continue apace in the absence of patent protection rackets?

(There's no point in my wasting my time and yours with demonstrations that fail to convince ...)

costs

Damien Grant's picture

It costs money to make drugs. Many attempts fail and there is vast amounts invested in these failed attempts.

If a company invests millions in a drug that works, how will they get thier money back?

What is the incentive for drug firms to invest in development if there is no patent protection?

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

What sort of demonstration would it take to convince you that new drug development will continue apace in the absence of patent protection rackets? (This inquiring mind would like to know.)

Is maths utilitarian?

Damien Grant's picture

Honestly Richard. It was a very simple micro economic model. You dismiss it because you are a libertarian? I did not know being a libertarian meant you were free from the initiation of force from maths. If you want to answer my question do so within the framework of that simple model.

Anyway, you have already said there will be fewer films like Avatar and you have said that investment will be moved into other areas of the economy. We are done here, aren’t we? You want a world without intellectual property rights and you accept there will be less innovation in this world? I cannot argue with that. You like the colour green, I prefer blue. End of discussion. We know where we stand.

"And legitimate conventional rights, such as property rights in land and tangible goods."

And I see you declare, by fiat, that some rights are legitimate and conventional and others are not.

I am unsure of the moral rights most of us have to the land we own. At some point almost all land currently owned was taken by force from someone who had claimed it by being their first. Is the land rightfully mine if I brought it off someone who stole it? Run that argument back a thousand years and see where it gets you. Remember to take your ‘non-initiation-of-force’ motto with you.

You do not have an argument here Richard. You have a belief system. Not the same thing at all.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

http://www.solopassion.com/node/9130#comment-110345

You have not answered it.

There was no need for me to answer it. I'm a libertarian; I think in terms of human rights. Inalienable rights, such as the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And legitimate conventional rights, such as property rights in land and tangible goods. Whereas, you are a statist. You think in terms of "narrow economic considerations" and "reasons of commercial efficiency only." You think that "the morality of intellectual property rights is irrelevant." You state, explicitly, that "morality has nothing to do with it."

There was no need for me to answer it, because your argument was unabashedly, unadulteratedly utilitarian. Jeremy Bentham, one of the founders of utilitarianism, spoke of human rights as being "nonsense on stilts." Unadulterated utilitarianism is evil. Rand scorned it. Even the most evil man in mankind's history scorned it. I, too, scorn it.

There is no reason to believe that men have property rights to the products of their own minds (qua products of their own minds). Were you to shoulder the burden of proof (as opposed to summarily dismissing doing so as "a cop-out") you would attempt to provide a reason to believe that men have property rights to the products of their own minds. (I note, with relief, that Linz has just made such an attempt. The reason he has provided is no good, but I'll get to that. But, credit where credit's due, he's come on to the field to play ball. All you do is sit on the sidelines drinking and prematurely declaring, "Game over." It's not even half-time.)

And, in fact, I did respond to your utilitarian argument, for example, here and here. (Still waiting on you to tell me, what sort of demonstration would it take to convince you that new drug development will continue apace in the absence of patent protection rackets?)

Just

Damien Grant's picture

The thread says 'just', not morality.

I do not care about the owner of the Viagra patent. I should maybe, he spent a lot of money on it, but I do not. It is out there now.

I do, however, care about the next drug, movie, book, computer game being developed. I want to be able to watch a movie that cost $100m to produce for $20, rather than having to pay for entire cost of its production.

I want a drug that will allow me to gouge myself and not gain weight, I want a drug that will cure herpes, baldness, HIV and foot rot. I want a prostate test that works and does not involve getting intimate with my GP. I do not want any more twilight movies but respect those that do.

I want to listen to new songs, play Halo 5, and eat at a restaurant that the owner has an investment in the brand.

However, if these things are going to be done, those who are going to do them need to be paid. The business that is going to invest one hundred million in the HIV drug needs a financial incentive.

My agreeing to copyright protection is not me giving a damn about patents already in existence. I am selfish and motivated by my own self-interest.

Therefore, if you, Mr Goode, copy an existing patent, you are destroying the financial incentives of those who are developing the next one. You are infringing on my opportunity to purchase Halo 5 in the future and I will send in the jackboots on you. With extreme prejudice, I might add.

If you have typhoid I am quite happy for the initiation of force to be used to keep you in quarantine. Copyright theft is commercial typhoid.

Baade

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Would it be acceptable for me to reproduce your op-ed, Of Bossyboots, Busybodies and Bloombergs, on my blog *with* attribution and *with* your permission? It's a stellar piece and deserves the widest possible audience.

Of course! And I hope you do! And thank you!

But to the point at hand: you have now said that it would be *un*acceptable to do so *without* attribution and permission, as though it were your own writing (notwithstanding that you have done so in the past and then refused to acknowledge that this constituted wrongdoing). Given that your starting premise in this argument is that there is no such thing as an intellectual property right, *why* is it unacceptable?

As to your claim to Damien that "there is no god" is on a par with "there is no intellectual property right" ... how can a trained philosopher say such a thing? The first says there is no such thing as this thing for which no evidence has been provided. The second says there is no such thing as this thing for which the evidence is before our very eyes: *I*, a real entity, wrote the Bloomberg piece, a real entity; it is thus *mine*; my ownership of it is as real as I and it. Your position amounts to: I wrote it, therefore it belongs to everybody else.

put up

Damien Grant's picture

I did:

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

You have not answered it.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

The nonsense of burden of proof is a cop-out, especially as I provided you with one.

Not only are you an abject statist atheist, you're utterly irrational to (jack)boot.

You don't understand what a burden of proof is, or why it's yours. You certainly haven't provided me with one, and you certainly haven't shouldered yours.

Put up or shut up.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

We know what we want; private investment in innovation. How do we create an incentive for such a thing to happen?

That's contradictory. If you *want* private investment in innovation then you already have an *incentive*. (The two terms are synonyms.)

I do not need to get into the issue of morality of intellectual property ...

You do if you are to stay on topic. This thread is all about the (im)morality of intellectual property.

Grant property rights over ideas.

No need for that. I already have property rights over my own ideas (including my ideas that I copied from you) because my ideas reside in my head, and I own my own body including the contents of my head. Your freedom ends where my nose begins.

Jackbooted thugs

Damien Grant's picture

Why do we have property rights over land? Who knows! Deep philosophy issues there, but what difference does it make when people own their land and the output of their labour as opposed to when they do not?

Is there, by chance, an example, a grand experiment, when people lost the benefit of their labour, where they were disengaged from their property, when the link between working on your land and gaining the benefit of their land was separated?

If such a thing happened, do you think that investment in land would decline, or would people continue to build, farm, develop their land, for the benefit of others? Is it possible, as Reed says, that farming, subdividing, building, would be like software, and driven by some mystical force as powerful as the invisible hand would drive these workers to maintain and expand production, or would crops fail, buildings go unmaintained, land lie fallow?

I do not know, I wonder what results such an experiment would produce.

Your arguments are hopeless. The nonsense of burden of proof is a cop-out, especially as I provided you with one.

You can neither put up, nor shut up.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

The state is making a narrow economic consideration. The morality of intellectual property rights is irrelevant. As is the morality of who can use what radio frequencies. These things are managed by the state for reasons of commercial efficiency only.

That's despicable.

my favourite topic

Damien Grant's picture

The state does not enforce every right we possess, moral or otherwise. If you are married, you have a moral expectation that your partner will be faithful. This is not something that the state gets involved with.

The state does, however, get involved with the moral right that an author has over the contents of their book?

Why?

Is it because the state thinks that such moral rights have greater weight that fidelity?

No. The state is making a narrow economic consideration. The morality of intellectual property rights is irrelevant. As is the morality of who can use what radio frequencies. These things are managed by the state for reasons of commercial efficiency only.

Is it morally right that I cannot broadcast on the same frequency as More FM? Who knows, and who cares. Morality has nothing to do with it. In order to have a market for radio to work we need a set of agreed rules on who can use what band. It works pretty well.

I do not need to get into the issue of morality of intellectual property because this issue is being worked backwards. We know what we want; private investment in innovation. How do we create an incentive for such a thing to happen? Grant property rights over ideas.

Richard

Jmaurone's picture

Thanks, and you're welcome. But I'll have to pass on being the referee, though.

Y'all fight nice, now...

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

would it be acceptable for you to reproduce Damien's articles on your blog, without attribution or permission, as though they were yours?

No.

Would it be acceptable for me to reproduce your op-ed, Of Bossyboots, Busybodies and Bloombergs, on my blog *with* attribution and *with* your permission? It's a stellar piece and deserves the widest possible audience.

Joe

Richard Goode's picture

Thanks for your thoughtful contributions to this thread.

Do you fancy being a referee?

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Yes, there is a cost today in preventing such things being copied, and yes, if patent protection was removed some innovation would still occur, but the economic concerns for me is that there would be much less investment in such things.

Subjective appreciation aside, I think we are in agreement on the matter of costs and benefits. There are costs and benefits to having IP laws. There are costs and benefits to not having IP laws. My response (as made previously) to your concern that there would be "much less investment in such things" is that there would be much more investment in other things.

Note, however, that I am NOT INTERESTED in a cost/benefit analysis. Because to argue for IP laws on the basis of a cost/benefit analysis is to creep through the serpent windings of utilitarianism, the doctrine whose catchphrase is “The greatest good for the greatest number”. As Rand correctly noted

“The greatest good for the greatest number” is one of the most vicious slogans ever foisted on humanity.

This slogan has no concrete, specific meaning. There is no way to interpret it benevolently, but a great many ways in which it can be used to justify the most vicious actions.

What is the definition of “the good” in this slogan? None, except: whatever is good for the greatest number. Who, in any particular issue, decides what is good for the greatest number? Why, the greatest number.

If you consider this moral, you would have to approve of the following examples, which are exact applications of this slogan in practice: fifty-one percent of humanity enslaving the other forty-nine; nine hungry cannibals eating the tenth one; a lynching mob murdering a man whom they consider dangerous to the community.

There were seventy million Germans in Germany and six hundred thousand Jews. The greatest number (the Germans) supported the Nazi government which told them that their greatest good would be served by exterminating the smaller number (the Jews) and grabbing their property. This was the horror achieved in practice by a vicious slogan accepted in theory.

But, you might say, the majority in all these examples did not achieve any real good for itself either? No. It didn’t. Because “the good” is not determined by counting numbers and is not achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone.

"The good" is not determined by a cost/benefit analysis. It is not achieved by riding roughshod over the rights of those who use their own paper and their own ink and their own printing presses to "knock off" copies of Atlas Shrugged.

This is a very narrow argument based on the outcomes and ignoring the philosophy of why one person can claim the benefit of another’s work without their consent.

This "very narrow argument" is NOT my argument. I do NOT have an argument! I do NOT need one! I do not need an argument, because the burden of proof is YOURS.

You accuse me of "ignoring the philosophy of why one person can claim the benefit of another’s work without their consent." Why can one person claim the benefit of another's work without their consent? Well ... why the hell not?

Just as you assert that there is NO God, I assert that men have NO property rights to the products of their minds (as such). In both cases, the burden of proof is on he who makes the positive existential claim. Are you going to continue to ignore the philosophical elephant in the room? Or are you going to provide an argument to back your assertion that men do have property rights to the products of their own minds? (And are you going to bother to clarify what you mean by "products of their own minds"? I thought we had agreed that there are no such things as "disembodied ideas"?)

Before you try to divert this thread onto your favourite topic, please note the difference between the case of God and the case of intellectual property rights. There is an epistemic burden of proof on me to give reasons for believing in the existence of God. However, there is no moral burden of proof. You see, I am not going to send my jackbooted thugs around to your place to kick in your door (or drag you through the civil courts) because of your atheism. You, however, propose to send your jackbooted thugs around to my place to kick in my door (or drag me through the civil courts) because of your belief in the myth of intellectual property rights. And that, quite frankly, is ... I'll think I'll stop now, for fear of saying something I might not regret.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

As for using my material on his own blog, well, that would be consistent with his views stated here, so it would not be possible to label him a hypocrite. I trust, however, that it is not the case, because it would be rude if he had done that.

You're right. It would be a tad rude. But rest assured—you're an abject statist atheist, and I'm an august Christian libertarian—the only use your material will find on my blog is for target practice. That's fair use.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I’m pretty sure I could make a more compelling argument against IP than either Mr Goode or Reed has.

I'm pretty sure that you couldn't. But, please, do give it a go. That would be the rational thing to do. It's one of the basic rules of rationality that when you attack an opponent's position, you should attack his strongest position—even if you have to tell him what his strongest position is.

Shouldering the burden of proof?

Richard Goode's picture

Atlas shrugged!

the debate has been unsatisfying.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

why would it be acceptable for you to reproduce Damien's articles on your blog, without attribution or permission, as though they were yours?

I've never said it would be acceptable for me to do so.

Do you think it would be? Or are you committing the fallacy of presupposition just for the hell of it? Have you stopped beating your wife yet?!

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

There is, however, incontrovertible evidence of men's minds and the creations thereof.

Did you leave out the words 'property rights to' accidentally or on purpose?

There is, however, incontrovertible evidence of men's minds and property rights to the creations thereof.

Do show us the incontrovertible evidence of property rights to the creations of men's minds.

Recipes for Disaster?

Jmaurone's picture

I just read something I found interesting that relates to this thread. In a book called Reworked:

"You've probably heard of Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Julia Child, Paula Deen, Rick Bayless, or Jaques Pepin. They're great chefs, but there are a lot of great chefs out there. So why do you know these few better than others? Because they share everything they know. They put their recipes in cookbooks and and show their technique on cooking shows.

"As a business owner, you should share everything you know, too. This is anathema to most in the business world. Businesses are usually paranoid and secretive. They think they have proprietary this and competitive advantage that. Maybe a rare few do, but most don't. And those that don't should stop acting like those that do. Don't be afraid of sharing.

"A recipe is much easier to copy than a business. Shouldn't that scare Mario Batali? Why would he go on TV and show you how he does what he does? Why would he put all his recipes in cookbooks where anyone can buy and replicate them? Because he knows those recipes and techniques aren't enough to beat him at his own game. No one's going to buy his cookbook, open a restaurant next door, and put him out of business. It just doesn't work like that. Yet this is what many in the business world think will happen if their competitors know how they do things. Get over it."

I should note that the authors, later in the book, discourage copying:

"That's a formula for failure...The problem with this sort of copying is that it skips understanding-and understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is the way it is. When you just copy and paste, you miss that...

So much of the work a creator puts into something is invisible...The copycat doesn't really know why something works the way it does...The copy is a faux finish."

Tie that in with the previous passage about why famous cooks are famous, and, well...it puts the "Soup Nazi" in a new light...

subjective

Damien Grant's picture

"Sure, films such as Avatar will no longer be made if copy prohibition laws are repealed. But this is an argument *in favour* of removing said laws!"

Subjective appreciation aside, I think we are in agreement here. The removal of patent protection means that there will be less investment in such ventures. Avatar of course represents, to me, a much wider category of such things, from drugs, investments in brands, books, technology, software etc.

Yes, there is a cost today in preventing such things being copied, and yes, if patent protection was removed some innovation would still occur, but the economic concerns for me is that there would be much less investment in such things.

This is a very narrow argument based on the outcomes and ignoring the philosophy of why one person can claim the benefit of another’s work without their consent.

a tad rude.

Damien Grant's picture

I did say somewhere below in this thread that I was resisting thinking Richard Goode was a crank for the sake of this issue as the idea is an interesting one, but the debate has been unsatisfying.

I’m pretty sure I could make a more compelling argument against IP than either Mr Goode or Reed has. At least Reed’s posts are pithy and clever. Richard’s are a little circular.

As for using my material on his own blog, well, that would be consistent with his views stated here, so it would not be possible to label him a hypocrite. I trust, however, that it is not the case, because it would be rude if he had done that.

Baade

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Do not be surprised to find Linz asserting that there is no God.

Linz asserts there is no evidence of a goblin.

There is, however, incontrovertible evidence of men's minds and the creations thereof.

So do enlighten us, Baade—why would it be acceptable for you to reproduce Damien's articles on your blog, without attribution or permission, as though they were yours?

Damien ...

Richard Goode's picture

Do not be surprised to find him asserting that men have no property right to the products of their minds

Do not be surprised to find Linz asserting that there is no God.

You might ask him why he thinks it would be acceptable for him to reproduce your Herald articles on his blog, without attribution or permission, as though they were his.

You might. And you'd be committing the same error of reasoning that you committed here.

Own goal

Richard Goode's picture

I need logic, reason, something, to allow me to see why films Avatar will be made if the revenue for such activity is removed.

Sure, films such as Avatar will no longer be made if copy prohibition laws are repealed. But this is an argument *in favour* of removing said laws!

Damien ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Simply saying something is a fact does not make it a fact.

In the case of Baade, I'm afraid he thinks it does. You are dealing with someone who asserts the existence of goblins. Do not be surprised to find him asserting that men have no property right to the products of their minds, especially when you have seen him practise this anti-principle right here. Treat the argument as affording illumination of how low he's prepared to stoop, what sophistry he's prepared to resort to, in defence of thievery, not as an exercise in which he is engaging in good faith. We couldn't make him up!

You might ask him why he thinks it would be acceptable for him to reproduce your Herald articles on his blog, without attribution or permission, as though they were his.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Without patent protection there would be no drug to be copied.

is FALSE. It's an urban MYTH.

I know you think this; but you have not actually demonstrated why.

Before I do so, Damien ... tell me, what sort of demonstration would it take to convince you that new drug development will continue apace in the absence of patent protection rackets?

urban cafe

Damien Grant's picture

Without patent protection there would be no drug to be copied.

is FALSE. It's an urban MYTH.

I know you think this; but you have not actually demonstrated why.

Simply saying something is a fact does not make it a fact. I need logic, reason, something, to allow me to see why films Avatar will be made if the revenue for such activity is removed. The argument presented by Reed, although flawed, is at least an argument. You, Richard, have presented no argument other than pointing at China as evidence for your views. I have made several arguments for why I think less innovation will happen. Your response is to type bullshit in capital letters and revert to personal abuse.

 

software

Damien Grant's picture

some people sleep with me because they like me, some of them because I pay them. Why do you think that those who currently provide their services for money will continue to do so if their financial reward is removed?

Learn to spell 'sildenafil'

Richard Goode's picture

Niagara falls, Viagra rises.

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