Libertarian VP Candidate... Patent Hoarder?

from the please-explain dept

I don't consider myself to be a libertarian, though I tend to agree with libertarians on many policy issues (to be clear: I don't consider myself anything politically -- not even the dreaded "independent"). However, the split among libertarians over intellectual property rights fascinates me. There is a large group of libertarians who are against intellectual property rights (or, at least in favor of weakening them drastically). And then there's another camp that are very much in favor of intellectual property rights (and for making them much stronger). It's one issue where there's a huge split. The reasoning is pretty straightforward. Libertarians are big property rights supporters. Those who think IP is real property tend to be supporters of the system. Those who realize it's not at all like regular property have problems with the system. See Stephen Kinsella's presentation for a good overview on why intellectual property, such as patents and copyright, does not seem to match up with libertarian philosophy.

However, don't tell that to the guy running on the Libertarian Party ticket for the Vice President slot, Wayne Root. Tim Lee points out that Root appears to be your garden variety patent hoarder who has been successfully forcing a bunch of online sports betting websites to pay up over a patent that seems to very broadly cover an online prediction market (a concept that has been both talked about and been around for quite some time). Not that the party has even the slightest chance of getting anywhere, but I guess it's safe to assume that the Libertarian Party's platform won't have much about patent system reform this year.


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  1.  
    identicon
    ChurchHatesTucker, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:50pm

    Yeah, well...

    That's the problem with Libertarians. "Libertarian Party" is almost an oxymoron. A glorious oxymoron, sure, but it makes it hard to rally the troops...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:20pm

    Mike is not a libertarian

    LOL wut?

     

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  3.  
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    Kiba, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Mike is not a libertarian

    I am sure Mike has been labeled as left or the right by other people too.

    Mike and his supporters has been pigeonholed far too many time.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:12pm

    Gahh politics was already depressing enough, now I have this scumbucket in my party's VP slot.

     

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  5.  
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    Tom P., Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:33pm

    I am getting the distinct impression that Barr/Root have very little support among grassroots libertarians. In fact, according to www.lastfreevoice.com at least one state Libertarian Party is suing for the right to put an entirely different presidential ticket on the ballot for their state.

     

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  6.  
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    Jake, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 11:24pm

    I didn't even know there was a third political party in the United States...

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 12:08am

    Re:

    Dude, re-read the article. The LP of Mass is suing to put Barr and Root on the ballot, not to keep them off. Third parties have early petition deadlines in most states, sometimes being so onerous that a petition must be circulated before a party's presidential candidates are chosen. When this is the case, many state parties use "stand in" candidates on their petition forms, then provide their secretaries of state with a substitution, being the final ticket. In this case, the Mass Secretary of Commonwealth has told them they couldn't replace the names on their petitions with Barr/Root.

     

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  8.  
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    Laurent GUERBY, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 12:09am

    Hayek

    Reenforcing existing property rights is just perfect match for "conservatism".

    One of the most proheminent libertarian around, Hayek, wrote without ambiguity on "intellectual" property:

    """ Just to illustrate how great out ignorance of the optimum forms of delimitation of various rights remains - despite our confidence in the indispensability of the general institution of several property - a few remarks about one particuilar form of property may be made. [...]

    The difference between these and other kinds of property rights is this: while ownership of material goods guides the user of scarce means to their most important uses, in the case of immaterial goods such as literary productions and technological inventions the ability to produce them is also limited, yet once they have come into existence, they can be indefinitely multiplied and can be made scarce only by law in order to create an inducement to produce such ideas. Yet it is not obvious that such forced scarcity is the most effective way to stimulate the human creative process. I doubt whether there exists a single great work of literature which we would not possess had the author been unable to obtain an exclusive copyright for it; it seems to me that the case for copyright must rest almost entirely on the circumstance that such exceedingly useful works as encyclopaedias, dictionaries, textbooks and other works of reference could not be produced if, once they existed, they could freely be reproduced.

    Similarly, recurrent re-examinations of the problem have not demonstrated that the obtainability of patents of invention actually enhances the flow of new technical knowledge rather than leading to wasteful concentration of research on problems whose solution in the near future can be foreseen and where, in consequence of the law, anyone who hits upon a solution a moment before the next gains the right to its exclusive use for a prolonged period.

    The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, 1988 (p. 35) Friedrich von Hayek"""

    I guess that just about half of the libertarians are just hypocrites.

     

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  9.  
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    Brian Hayes, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 2:34am

    Double dare

    One:
    Look at the background of these characters knocking on the White House door. Were Washington clean, these men wouldn't dare belong.

    Two:
    Michael is a treasure, muckraker extraordinaire. Day after day, he thumps corruption and distills obfuscation until even I can understand the issues.

    Kudos.

     

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  10.  
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    Tensor, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 4:49am

    Mke & Libertarians

    free love, socialism, financial indpendence, yada yada
    ---most people don't know much about the history of technology, anyhow

     

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    Tensor, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    Mike & Libertarians

    hmm---there was Carlson, and Armstrong, and Goddard, and Whittle, and Farnsworth, and Gould, and Lemelson, etc etc, and then there was "the rest of us"---it would appear we'd be living in caves, without fire, if they didn't exist ----kiss an inventor today

     

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  12.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 5:30am

    Libertarian Schism

    The fundamental problem with "intellectual property rights" is that they conflict with property rights; in order to enforce them, you must forbid all kinds of activities that might take place between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes. That is the dilemma for "Libertarians": in treating "intellectual property" as being just like "property", they end up trampling on their own concept of "freedom".

     

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  13.  
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    John TripWire, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 6:35am

    LOL, This comes as no surprise at all. LOL

    JT
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.net

     

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  14.  
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    Brian Hayes, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    enforce, forbid, treat, ;

    The modern way to dilute a person, not grabbed by force or guile, is to concede to a mud bath. Screw Socialism, Capitalism, Right, Left. That's mere arguing the merit of taking. Too obscure for me.

    But I am not here for winning nor order nor compliance nor to give more than we agree to trade. Each is just domain earned in blood. I'm saying that once myself, Constitution willing, I am precious under law, given all rights another, torn not by freedom but by treachery, and part of our American treasure. Screw any threat or seduction try to take any part of this.

    Mike always, it reads to me, argues for solvent parties, as if we are, and warns us not to be less, even if forced, and never fooled.

    I don't think what's been done by those before us we can't give to those after.

     

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  15.  
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    WTF, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    WTF

    Why is it that utterance of the word "libertarian" tends to bring out *eccentric* people who have no clue how to construct a coherent statement?

     

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  16.  
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    Kiba, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 12:46pm

    Re: enforce, forbid, treat, ;

    Huh?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    There are a lot more than 3. Again, Democrats and Republicans control the media so you get token gestures at best towards the others.

    Most political parties are bad anyways. One should vote based on merit and issues and on the beliefs of the candidate, and his advisors.

    Or hers, though personally I think Clinton could be as damaging as McCain so I am glad she's not a candidate for presendency. Mixed feelings on her being VP given that she seemed more selfish than anything in staying in the race for so long.

     

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  18.  
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    Brian Hayes, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 4:15pm

    Huh?

    There I was admiring Masnick's clarity and then typed something stupid. Looking over my silly comment, I guess I can say Friday night Tequila did it. I think I was saying I hope we're not bogged down in argument and that we really truly will live our values when we can. Salute, y'all.

     

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  19.  
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    Bryan Price, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 8:15pm

    And I might care

    if the Libertarians were actually running a Libertarian candidate instead of a LINO.

     

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  20.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 8th, 2008 @ 5:24am

    IP Rights vs Privileges

    Rights are natural, inalienable and self-evident.

    Privileges such as copyright and patent suspend other people's rights (such as their liberty and privacy) in order to reward a favoured class (merchants with the reward of a monopoly).

    Thus a libertarian is against intellectual property privileges (copyright and patent) and in favour of intellectual property rights (life, privacy, truth, liberty).

    When privileged people pretend their privileges are rights, then everyone starts getting confused as to whether they're for or against 'rights', and consequently confused as to whether they are a libertarian...

    "I will not accept the enslavement of my fellow man, nor any imposition upon his liberty, as reward for the publication of my art."

     

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  21.  
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    Overcast, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 6:23am

    I didn't even know there was a third political party in the United States...

    lol, you mean a second one? Anyone seriously think the dems and repubs are really different?

    Just a different set of lies - but none of them follow through with any of their promises. Think the Dems will pull us out of Iraq? Seriously - the dem congress hasn't.

    Although, I can see McCain winning this time - taking 4 years to clean up the war and then Hillary running again, with Obama as VP. Maybe I'm cynical - but I think that's the plan.

     

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  22.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 8th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    there are only two parties

    if you vote for any party other than the big 2, you are throwing your vote away.

    if you want to see your cause succeed it would be better to throw your money into a lobbying outfit since money is the only force of political change.

     

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  23.  
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    Lojiko, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Libertarians and Property Rights

    I think most Libertarians would agree that it's OK for people to secure patents and copyrights for a given time, to reward innovation, it's when copyrights last 100+ years that libertarians disagree. Should a copyright be something a person can leave in their will to their grandchildren?

     

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  24.  
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    Lojiko, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Re: there are only two parties

    "Change comes from only one direction: outside"
    -Ben Franklin

    Why would I vote for either major party when neither major party represents my values? You say voting third-party is a wasted vote, but voting for people I don't like just because they belong to a bigger political party is retarded.

     

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  25.  
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    ehrichweiss, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 12:25pm

    Re: there are only two parties

    What we need is a voting system where if I, say, vote for Cthulu**, and he concedes then I can have a secondary or even tertiary vote that will be given to the candidate of my choosing. That way I don't "waste" a vote and we can more easily have a clear winner and we don't have people whining that people who vote for a third party are throwing their votes away.

    **
    (vote Cthulu when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    "There is a large group of libertarians who are against intellectual property rights (or, at least in favor of weakening them drastically). And then there's another camp that are very much in favor of intellectual property rights (and for making them much stronger). It's one issue where there's a huge split. The reasoning is pretty straightforward. Libertarians are big property rights supporters. Those who think IP is real property tend to be supporters of the system. Those who realize it's not at all like regular property have problems with the system. See Stephen Kinsella's presentation for a good overview on why intellectual property, such as patents and copyright, does not seem to match up with libertarian philosophy."

    By far one of the weakest statements posted on this site.

    "Large group"...how large is "large"?

    "Another camp"..how large is "camp"?

    "Huge split"....really? Says who?

    "Those who think IP is real property?...never met anyone, libertarian or otherwise, who "think" this is the case.

    "Those who realize it is not at all like regular property"..."realize" implies this group is spot on and everyone else is wrong. Plus, what the heck is "regular property"?

    Kinsella's presentation with "good" in the same sentence? At best it is superficial and uninformative. At worst it is no more than a dog and pony show to elicit laughs.

    Sorry, but these comments are not up to par with what you usually present.

     

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  27.  
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    Mark Stouffer, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Hayek

    Wait, it doesn't say that there shouldn't be IP rights, only that they should be justified on the basis of motivation for production. It gives no method for evaluating the motivation for producing protected works. If we compare years with no IP rights to those where IP rights are established I think we can see a drastic advantage to those rights, no?

     

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  28.  
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    MLS, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Re: Hayek

    "If we compare years with no IP rights to those where IP rights are established I think we can see a drastic advantage to those rights, no?"

    Now you have done it...once again the "Italy" example re pharma may be raised as an answer to your question. Of course, no one raising this example has ever peeled back the layers of the onion to examine the details of what was actually being developed in Italy pre-1978.

     

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  29.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 8th, 2008 @ 9:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hayek

    Now you have done it...once again the "Italy" example re pharma may be raised as an answer to your question. Of course, no one raising this example has ever peeled back the layers of the onion to examine the details of what was actually being developed in Italy pre-1978.

    Why the Italy example? Why not the Netherlands? Or Switzerland? Or Petra Moser's study. All of which point to plenty of innovation without patents.

     

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  30.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 8th, 2008 @ 9:53pm

    Re:

    "Large group"...how large is "large"?

    "Another camp"..how large is "camp"?


    The answer is, frankly, I don't know, and it doesn't matter. There are a good amount of people on both sides. The Randian Objectivists, for example, are huge fans of IP. Then there are libertarian think tanks like PFF, which consistently advocate for stronger IP rights.

    You have CATO which is neutral.

    You have Mises, which is anti-IP.

    So... I think it's a fair statement. The exact sizes doesn't matter -- but the fact that there is a split is true and easily defensible.

    "Those who think IP is real property?...never met anyone, libertarian or otherwise, who "think" this is the case.

    Then you haven't been paying attention. There are tons of people who think IP is real property.


    Kinsella's presentation with "good" in the same sentence? At best it is superficial and uninformative. At worst it is no more than a dog and pony show to elicit laughs.


    Do you have a substantive critique? I'd love to hear it. Simply declaring it not good doesn't tell us much about what you think is not true about it.

     

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  31.  
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    MLS, Jun 8th, 2008 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hayek

    Comment limited to "Petra Moser's study".

    Study of "stuff" from World Fairs in the 1800's and early 1900's are an interesting trip down memory lane, but the inventions she focuses on demonstrate she is not particularly familiar with how businesses go about determining what to protect and what not to protect. She is right on trade secrets being an important factor, but then that is hardly a revelation. As for patents, there is nothing in her paper (actually several papers) that in any way suggests she has a firm grasp of even the most basic aspects of patent law. I simply do not see how one can draw principled conclusions concerning the pros/cons of patents if one is not firmly grounded in what this body of law entails.

    I only mentioned Italy because it was discussed extensively by Levine et al. in at least one of their papers. Unfortunately, their paper did not delve into the particulars of what was being "offered up" by pharma in Italy pre-1978. Information I have received from persons familiar with the Italian pharma industry is to the effect it was not in any significant manner involved in the invention, development and production of drugs for medical use.

     

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  32.  
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    Kevin, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 4:01am

    Re:

    I didn't even know there was a third political party in the United States...

    You probably have never voted in a presidential election, there are literally dozens of parties. Remember Ross Perot and the Reform Party? Libertarian party, socialist party, green party, and so on...

     

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  33.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 9th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: there are only two parties

    What we need is a voting system where if I, say, vote for Cthulu**, and he concedes then I can have a secondary or even tertiary vote that will be given to the candidate of my choosing. That way I don't "waste" a vote and we can more easily have a clear winner and we don't have people whining that people who vote for a third party are throwing their votes away.

    that's just retarded.

    you can't rig elections if people can make secondary and tertiary votes. you can't buy elections with PR campaigns if people can make multiple choices. also, news organizations can't offer real time coverage of elections if there are multiple parties and multiple votes that have to be tallied. think of all that lost advertising revenue. whole industries have been built around there only being two very predictible parties and two overall philosophies, do you want those industries to go under?

    a lot of time and money has been invested in gerrymandering the country in to a two party system so that's not going to be undone in this or any other lifetime.

    you have plenty of choice, each election features two criminals who tell very well crafted lies based on focus groups, opinion polls, and consultants of all kinds. a lot of money had been spent on those lies, the least you can do is believe one of them.

    the system is simple: just choose which lies you want to be disappointed by after the election and then play along and act surprised when the winner fails to deliver on them. the system works if we all do our part.

     

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  34.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 9th, 2008 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re:

    Yup. I think IP is real property (and I'm a libertarian too).

    I'm very happy to argue why everyone's intellectual property rights should be protected just as much as their material property rights.

    To see that one can both be a libertarian and in support of IP rights let’s see how, whilst still tightly adhering to the US constitution, the people’s liberty need not be unethically suspended, as it is by copyright and patent, when securing their natural intellectual property rights:

    1. Authors and inventors, being human beings have a natural, exclusive right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
    2. This natural right should be secured by the state – to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.
    3. The natural right can last no longer than the lifetime of the author or inventor.
    4. The natural right should be secured for a limited time equal to the limited lifetime of the author or inventor, except in the event of unnatural death, when this limited time should be extended to secure a now unnatural exclusive right by a further quarter of the normal lifespan.
    5. The natural right ceases to be exclusive when the author or inventor voluntarily communicates (or permits the communication of) their writings and discoveries to other parties, whether by gift or exchange.
    6. An author’s or inventor’s writings and discoveries naturally remain exclusive to all natural parties to whom they have been voluntarily communicated (by any such party).
    7. All such communicated parties may, as a collective, be treated as if a single author or inventor and should have secured (by the state) their natural, exclusive right for as long as they each shall live.
    8. No communicated party may as a consequence submit to the abridgement of their freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to further communicate (the writings and discoveries voluntarily communicated to them) to whomsoever they choose. NB This doesn’t preclude a communicant’s commercial exchange of their continued silence (confidentiality).
    9. Those who are not voluntarily communicated parties, who view, remove, copy, or otherwise communicate a party’s writings or discoveries to themselves (or any other) without that party’s permission shall be penalised statutorily (for the violation of privacy) and additionally in proportion to the market value of the publication of those writings or discoveries (where publication is their exchange for money with members of the public at large), and further required to restore any removal and destroy any copies manufactured. All who have been further illegitimately communicated may also be similarly liable in so far as they are complicit, but must at least also cease and reverse any communication in so far as it is practicable.

     

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  35.  
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    stv, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    Call it what you will...patent troll, patent hoarder, etc. It all means one thing. We’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay. Reform and stop being a shill.

    When corporate America agrees to not use our inventions without consent, American inventors and small entities will agree to stop suing them.

     

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  36.  
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    stv, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Call it what you will...patent troll, patent hoarder, etc. It all means one thing: "We’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay". Reform and stop being a shill.

    When corporate America agrees to not use our inventions without consent, American inventors and small entities will agree to stop suing them.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re:

    Then you haven't been paying attention. There are tons of people who think IP is real property.

    And some of the prominent tons of people are?

    Do you have a substantive critique? I'd love to hear it. Simply declaring it not good doesn't tell us much about what you think is not true about it.

    Do you have a substantive review? I'd love to hear it. Simply declaring it is good doesn't tell us much about what you think is true about it.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re:

    I am running for the House of Representatives as the candidate for the IP is Property Party, with my platform being to kill patent reform, give the DMCA more teeth, and export US IP law to the world as a mandate. Additionally, I plan to introduce a bill declaring that "economic studies" are "hate speech" exempt from the 1st Amendment, and banning further use of the phrase "business models".

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Almost forgot. Crude oil will be declared by law to be an infinite good, a free model will be required, and oil companies/governments will have to sell t-shirts, limited edition barrels of crude, and tour as the "Cartel Carolers" to generate revenue.

     

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  40.  
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    angry dude, Jun 9th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    lunch time lemmings

    patents as transferrable property assets are the backbone of american economy (I am not exagerating here)

    How do you think employment contracts would look like if patents were not transferrable from inventors to their corporate employers and further down the chain of corporate aquisitions and mergers ?

    Like it ot not, but Patents ARE PROPERTY. Period.

     

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  41.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 9th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Libertarian Schism

    Intellectual works are property.

    The privileges of copyright and patent conflict with intellectual property rights - and as you astutely observe, for libertarians who've confused privilege as right 'end up trampling on their own concept of "freedom"'.

     

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  42.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 9th, 2008 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Then you haven't been paying attention. There are tons of people who think IP is real property.

    And some of the prominent tons of people are?


    Well, angry dude, in his comment below. :)

    But, did you miss the part of my comment where I mentioned Randian Objectivists and PFF, both of which claim that IP is property?

    Or how about the RIAA, the MPAA and the BSA. All of which also insist that IP is property.

    Do you have a substantive review? I'd love to hear it. Simply declaring it is good doesn't tell us much about what you think is true about it.

    I've reviewed many of the points here substantively over the years. Which part do you think was not substantiated?

     

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  43.  
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    Eric Esch, Jun 11th, 2008 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: there are only two parties

    "What we need is a voting system where if I, say, vote for Cthulu**, and he concedes then I can have a secondary or even tertiary vote that will be given to the candidate of my choosing. That way I don't "waste" a vote and we can more easily have a clear winner and we don't have people whining that people who vote for a third party are throwing their votes away.

    that's just retarded.

    you can't rig elections if people can make secondary and tertiary votes. you can't buy elections with PR campaigns if people can make multiple choices. also, news organizations can't offer real time coverage of elections if there are multiple parties and multiple votes that have to be tallied. think of all that lost advertising revenue. whole industries have been built around there only being two very predictible parties and two overall philosophies, do you want those industries to go under?

    a lot of time and money has been invested in gerrymandering the country in to a two party system so that's not going to be undone in this or any other lifetime.

    you have plenty of choice, each election features two criminals who tell very well crafted lies based on focus groups, opinion polls, and consultants of all kinds. a lot of money had been spent on those lies, the least you can do is believe one of them.

    the system is simple: just choose which lies you want to be disappointed by after the election and then play along and act surprised when the winner fails to deliver on them. the system works if we all do our part."

    Wow that may be the most impressive example of sarcasm I have ever seen. At least I hope so.

    I am a libertarian. The current nominees of my party are so divergent from my views that they or I must renounce the lable. It won't be me. I think Barr was nominated just to interfere with the republican vote and that disturbs me. How can Barr be a libertarian and be pro-life and anti gay marriage at the same time? He also supports central banking. Where is Ron Paul when you need him? Oh wait- He's a republican again and doesn't like black people. We're screwed!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Bill Turpin, Oct 4th, 2008 @ 8:56am

    Re: IP Rights vs Privileges

    You are a true Libertarian. I wish that most people could see it this clearly. Thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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