Is Intellectual Property A Violation Of Real Property?

from the thinking-this-through dept

While there was a recent argument being made (weakly) that all property is intellectual property, reader Kerry Kaye recently pointed out a discussion of the opposite point of view, saying that intellectual property is actually a violation of the concept of real property. I have to admit that, while I had hoped to find the article compelling, I actually found it to be lacking in substance. At points it seems to go around in circles without clearly making a point. You could, potentially, make a case that intellectual property tries to limit what you can do directly with the output of your own mind, and that is antithetical to the concept that you have the right to make use of the output of your own brain -- which could violated basic property rights, depending on your definition of property rights. In fact, this is the part that I find most troubling about intellectual property laws (especially patents): that it effectively tells you that even if you come up with something entirely on your own, others can stop you from making use of those ideas.

Perhaps a much more compelling (though, I'm sure not to strong believers in intellectual property) discussion on a similar topic is a recent piece by Vedad Krehic, (pointed out by Michael Scott) that discusses how intellectual property laws turn IP holders against their own customers. In it, he makes a similar, but much clearer argument like the one above:
If a friend, however, lends me a music CD and if I then make a copy, so that I can listen to the music without having to borrow the disc again in the future, nobody is harmed. It is possible that I could, for example, have made an agreement or contract with him when I borrowed the disc stating that I cannot copy it. If I were to do it anyway, I'd be in violation of a private agreement. If not, who is harmed by my act of duplication? I used my own tangible property (CD drive, computer, and hard drive or blank CD) to fashion a duplicate of the data on the CD. The original CD is still my friend's property. I return it to him, and while he is no better or worse off than he was before, I am now better off. The imprint of the music on my tangible property makes that property marginally worth more to me, as I can enjoy its use to a greater extent than previously.

Was anyone harmed at any point here?

Yes -- if you choose to believe the consumer entertainment industry. They claim there was a third party here that was being harmed. Can you see the third party? There was me, and there was my friend. There was my property and that of my friend. I don't see the third party anywhere in that process. I suppose my friend could have been in a contract with the person or organization he purchased the CD from not to copy it, but I wouldn't have been bound by that contract. Either way, I did nothing wrong.
And this is where the trouble comes in for intellectual property versus real property:
Can anyone please explain to me how someone can be a just owner of something, yet not be allowed to exercise his or her ownership rights over it? He can throw rancid tomatoes at the painting, but not duplicate the pattern that makes the painting a painting, rather than just canvas and paint? Or, to use a different type of copyrightable pattern, how can someone own their own brain yet not own the part of it containing a song they memorized?

The logical conclusion is that the natural right of property and the idea of copyright, and of intellectual property in general, are fundamentally incompatible and conflict sharply. You cannot own something and have someone else dictate to you what you can and cannot do with it, without that being an element voluntarily arrived at through contract. In absence of a contract, the dictating party is initiating aggression against the just owner of an item. Intellectual property is an assault on tangible property.
And that's the problem that we keep pointing out around here that troubles us so much. There are many -- especially in copyright debates -- who insist that those who don't agree with copyright law should just avoid supporting those who do. But they ignore how copyright law is used, regularly, to limit what should be fundamental property rights of individuals to do as they please to products they legally purchased.

In fact, Krehic then takes this further, and notes that much of the entertainment industry's troubles today may be traced back to the fact that it has aggressively tried to use copyright law to stop people from doing what they want with their own property, and it's that mistake (which they keep compounding) that has resulted in customers defecting, rather than any issue of "piracy." Again, it's easy to predict that intellectual property supporters will scoff at this and dismiss it as ridiculous, but there is growing evidence to support this position. As we've seen over and over again, content creators who learn to embrace file sharing and the power of new technologies, while connecting with fans, and providing a smarter business model, have been thriving. It's not piracy that's causing harm, it's bad business model choices, and many of those bad business model choices are driven by an over-reliance on the "crutch" that intellectual property provides, which gives firms the ability to take away property rights from individuals.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    GOD does not tell you anyone can own your mind

    he says you may own things you can hold
    things you can walk on

    nothing more

     

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    Nina Paley (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Kinsella / Von Mieses

    Stephan Kinsella wrote about this in Against Intellectual Property, published by the Von Mises Institute. These are libertarians who consider real property sacred, and condemn IP for degrading real property rights.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:16am

      Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

      "Stephan Kinsella wrote about this in Against Intellectual Property, published by the Von Mises Institute. These are libertarians who consider real property sacred, and condemn IP for degrading real property rights."

      I see property rights as the solution to problems associated with scarce resources. IP has been shown to interfere with our ability to efficiently use scarce resources again and again, a prime example being selling CD's because they are easier to police, at the expense of actual scarce resources. I'd still not call property rights 'sacred' though.

       

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        Steve R. (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

        As a follow-up, certain property rights, such as water rights evolve out of scarcity. Logically shouldn't it then follow that when a resource becomes infinite its property right dissolves?

         

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          vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 9:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

          "As a follow-up, certain property rights, such as water rights evolve out of scarcity. Logically shouldn't it then follow that when a resource becomes infinite its property right dissolves?"

          Not necessarily. Physical goods have other issues that relate to scarcity, such as accessibility. There is probably more of any resource in the universe than we will ever need. There is probably more water under the surface of Europa than on the whole of the Earth, but it's pretty useless to us while it is orbiting Jupiter.

          Hydrogen is the most abundant of all elements and Oxygen is the third most abundant. Put those abundant resources together and you have Water, which is a much more scarce resource.

          To use a car analogy, even if you have infinite cars only one person can drive each at a time. Property is about more than just scarcity of the resource, it is also about issues relating to scarcity. Digital information is an abstract, every representation is actually physically a collection of 1's and 0's in whatever form. Scarcity issues do apply to the 1's and 0's just not necessarily to their configuration because the configuration can be copied as many times as you have 1's and 0's.

           

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            Steve R. (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 10:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

            You are correct concerning the concept of "accessibility". To get Hydrogen in a usable form requires the expenditure of specialized equipment and manpower. Specialized equipment and manpower is also required to deliver Hydrogen. Beyond that, what are you saying????????

            While Hydrogen has an "accessibility" issues, I have yet to here of anyone claiming that they own Hydrogen. The resource is therefore technically free for the taking (as far as I know). Try pumping oil as a "free" resource; people will be screaming theft.

             

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              vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 10:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

              "While Hydrogen has an "accessibility" issues, I have yet to here of anyone claiming that they own Hydrogen. The resource is therefore technically free for the taking (as far as I know). Try pumping oil as a "free" resource; people will be screaming theft."

              Well, Carbon is a pretty common element too and I think people would take issue with you if you started violating their bodies. The point was that scarcity is about more than how much of something there is, even an element. You can have infinite humans but each one would be a person and would likely object to being subject to slavery. There may be infinite water, but if you use some Star Trek transporter to take it out of my flask while I am walking in a desert, then I might die.

              Theft is theft because of the deprivation. As shown in the drinking flask example above, depriving someone of something abundant can still be harmful.

               

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                Steve R. (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

                vivaelamor, you wrote: "Well, Carbon is a pretty common element too and I think people would take issue with you if you started violating their bodies." Two different issues violating a persons body does not affect the value of carbon.

                Your water flask example seems to contrived to be usable as a definition of "theft". Stealing a physical resource, such as water, is considered theft because you are denying them the use of that resources, which I assume they acquired legally and is now their property. However, with intellectual property there is no theft since you are not denying the person the use of the resource. You have simply made another copy. Now, in Star Trek there is the replicator, consequently your strawman would never run out of water in the desert since he could make more!

                 

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                  vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

                  "Stealing a physical resource, such as water, is considered theft because you are denying them the use of that resources, which I assume they acquired legally and is now their property. However, with intellectual property there is no theft since you are not denying the person the use of the resource."

                  I did not mention anything about stealing intellectual property. I often give people detailed explanations on why infringement does not equate to theft. I am firmly against strong IP laws and believe it is up to the proponents to prove they are needed at all.

                  I have been trying to address the notion you put forward that if there is no scarcity then there should be no property rights. As you accept that although water is an abundant resource, it should still be subject to property rights, we seem to be in agreement.

                  "You have simply made another copy. Now, in Star Trek there is the replicator, consequently your strawman would never run out of water in the desert since he could make more!"

                  For what it is worth to continue the analogy, just because replicators may exist does not mean people should be expected to have access to them at all times, or ever. In the Star Trek universe physical property rights are still important and would be less likely to be violated due to replicators.

                   

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                    vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 2:34pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

                    Sorry to self-reply but I wanted to summarise: I think the key issue here is information is infinitely abundant in a way which is different to having infinite amounts of a physical resource.

                     

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        Greevar (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:45pm

        Scarcity is an illusion.

        It's a lie fed to us to perpetuate a culture of disposable items. There are no scarce resources, just artificial boundaries that give others the power to demand payment for resources that never really belonged to them in the first place. How can you move into an area, mark out a boundary, and claim that everything within is yours? Then, you extract the resources in that partition and sell it?

        No one owns anything but the effort they make to effect change. You don't own your land, it belongs to everyone. When you die or move on, someone else will use it. That's not ownership, that's borrowing. Scarcity is just a misuse of resources by perpetuating the lie that once something is consumed, it's gone. Nothing is destroyed, it's only transformed and when that thing is past its usefulness, it is to be transformed into something else. So I say again, we can only own our ability to effect change, or transform. Everything else in this world is commonwealth.

         

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      Steve R. (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

      Re: Kinsella / Von Mieses

      Nina has expressed my concern exactly. IP degrades the concept of real property. IP is one of those concepts that has unfortunately gathered legitimacy in the public mind but is in reality fundamentally flawed.

      Unfortunately, once a concept such as IP becomes "real" in the public mind it is very difficult to refute.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    "saying that intellectual property is actually a violation of the concept of real property."

    Others on techdirt have already said something to this extent. It's amazing how I constantly see things said in comments on techdirt first and then others write up papers on them. But it's good.

    Adams smiths original version of free markets didn't really include things like IP. When Adam Smith said free markets it was in reference to physical goods and services and the lack of a government sanctioned monopoly on who can sell certain goods and services. Intellectual property negates the true meaning of a free markets exactly by granting a monopoly on who can sell what which is exactly what free market capitalism is against. After all, what is a monopoly on who can sell an item? A monopoly on who can sell something is a monopoly on who can sell an item with X characteristics. It's ultimately an expressed idea of what people can and can't sell. Isn't that basically what a patent is.

    but IP maximists, at least some commenters on this blog that I have seen, have perverted the original meaning of the term free market capitalism by stating that the lack of IP somehow means that everything is socialized. This, of course, is nonsense and only demonstrates the true dishonest and fraudulent nature that Adam smith warns against, the fraud that IP itself encourages.

    “The granting [of] patents ‘inflames cupidity’, excites fraud, stimulates men to run after schemes that may enable them to levy a tax on the public, begets disputes and quarrels betwixt inventors, provokes endless lawsuits...The principle of the law from which such consequences flow cannot be just.”

    http://adamsmithslostlegacy.blogspot.com/2005/10/patents-are-monopolies.html

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      (to continue) the moment you have patents you don't have free markets. Adam smiths whole idea about free markets included the lack of IP and in fact much of it was exactly about the lack of government monopoly power and things like patents. The moment you have patents you don't have free markets. and America is NOWHERE near a free market by anything that even remotely resembles its original meaning, period. It's more of a plutocracy. Every time mainstream media claims to encourage free market capitalism they are telling lies through their teeth because they keep ignoring the main point that Adam smith was trying to make and that is that government sanctioned monopolies and things like patents are bad and yet the U.S. takes them for granted.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:49am

        Re: Re:

        (to continue)

        Heck, I've been called a socialist for supporting free market capitalism (ie: the lack of IP).

        "otherwise the us quickly sinks into a socialist state with no true ownership of anything.
        ...
        no socialism is the sharing of everything through collective and shared ownership it has nothing to do with government. ... exactly how many u2 songs exist? limited or unlimited? it is only unlimited if you look at copies not the original product. your argument is a fail."

        Apr 10th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

        The nerve of IP maximists. They are either too lazy to know the true meaning of free market capitalism (which would suggest that they only want IP to facilitate their lazy nature so that they can make money and not do any work) or they are dishonest. and this isn't, by any means, the first time I've seen IP maximists on techdirt equate the lack of IP with things like socialism and communism in an attempt to pervert Adam Smiths original meaning.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 9:30pm

      Re:

      Oops, that quote didn't come from adam smith. My mistake.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:27am

    Finally

    This article has been in the crystal ball for ages and I've been waiting for it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    of course they go around in circles because it is an unprovable concept. it has no basis in law or in logic.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:34am

      Re:

      No, it's because the author cannot articulate the point properly.

      The idea that ip is in conflict with real property is in itself very sound.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        property is property, they are all artificial constructs. ip, rp, whatever. it is all by agreement that is can exist. the only ones who dont do it are pure socialists, collectivists who live in communes and share everything without ownership. would you like that idea comrade?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You have no idea what you are talking about.

          I'm against IP because I believe in the free market system. Copyrights and patents are exceptions to the free market for the simple fact that it prevents competitors from making their own copies of the item in question. In other words, it's telling other people what they can't do with their own materials. It's intellectually dishonest to call that property.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            my neighbor owning a bigger house next time mine prevents me from building a very big swimming pool and a dirt track for my motocross bike. that is an artificial restriction that limits my free speech.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              That's a really bad analogy. The key difference between copying and building the dirt track is that the dirt track would be using materials not in your possession, while making a copy of something uses only your own stuff.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 6:39pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                but possession is the issue. property rights in any form artificially create possession when everything really belongs to all of us. applying free speech to its completely limit means that any property ownership restriction somehow will limit my freedoms. either all property is false or it is real. your choice. now give me your car.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 2:50am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  So Either I accept a monopoly as a property right or I can't believe in physical property?

                  That makes no sense at all. It is clear now that you are nothing more than a troll.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 3:03am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Also, What I've been saying is that ownership of a work should rest within individual copies of the work instead of the ip maximists idea of monopoly holder owning even copies they did not create.

                    So it's not like I'm saying that the works would not have owners, I just believe the ownership of them should be defined under the traditional, pre-IP definition of property.

                     

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 2:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  So by your logic, since humans were once considered property then the fact you're now unable to own them means we shouldn't be able to own cars anymore.

                   

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                  Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 3:19am

                  RE: either all property is false or it is real.

                  Nice strawman there.

                   

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              M-H, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:57am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I AM NOT A LAWYER. (And how stupid is it, that you have to say that whenever you mention the law, even your own opinions on the law. Any ways I AM NO LAWYER.)

              This one is a joke, right? … Right? Okay look, there is this thing called 'land' and 'land' is finite. There is less 'land' then ocean even. Now, when you buy your house, you are also buying this thing called 'land'. Now, those neighbors you talk about also own 'land'. Therefore, what you are talking about, is not a restriction on how you handle YOUR 'land' but the refusal of the neighbor to allow you building on THEIR 'land'. As such, actual ownership matters, as it is the ownership of this 'land' that provides the restriction of building.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "I AM NOT A LAWYER. (And how stupid is it, that you have to say that whenever you mention the law, even your own opinions on the law. Any ways I AM NO LAWYER.)"

                You don't have to put that disclaimer. your comment doesn't even seem to have anything to do with IP law specifically, but more about the difference between the taking of other's physical goods and creating your own.

                 

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              Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You're not very creative at coming up with analogies. Perhaps you should stay away from making them?

               

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    Marcos, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Once in a debate some guy said intellectual property was a "juridical fiction". I replied that property itself might be labeled a "juridical fiction", if you were radical enough.

    One point that Kaye misses is that no right is absolute, and property rights certainly are not. If you own a car, that doesn't mean you can do with it *whatever* you want - you have to obey traffic rules. If you own a gun, that doesn't mean you have the right to kill people.

    There's much to be discussed on the limits to IP. But sheer disqualification doesn't seem the best way to do it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:41am

      Re:

      and this is another reason why I think that a patent holder shouldn't simply be able to charge what s/he wants. They should have reasonable limits with respect to what they can charge, they shouldn't simply be able to charge any arbitrary amount they desire.

      While I think some IP is OK, I think that most IP needs to disappear and the length needs to be substantially reduced for both patents and copywrong privileges.

       

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      M-H, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      This one is more reasonable. However, while you own the car, you do not however, own the road. It is the owner of the road setting the rules on the usage of said property that puts rights of ways and speed limits into place. I THINK that if you own your own property and road, you are not bound by speed limitations, otherwise all racetracks would be havens of motor vehicle violations. I am sure someone else can correct me on this one.
      That said, you mention gun ownership. I honestly cannot think of a flaw in that one, though I am sure there is someway to come to the conclusion your usage is depriving them of their usage of their life or some such. After all, you are seeking to destroy something they 'own', in violation of their right. Although a life allowed to be owned? Ach, no matter.

       

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      M-H, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:56am

      Re:

      I AM NOT A LAWYER. (And how stupid is it, that you have to say that whenever you mention the law, even your own opinions on the law. Any ways I AM NO LAWYER.)

      This one is more reasonable. However, while you own the car, you do not however, own the road. It is the owner of the road setting the rules on the usage of said property that puts rights of ways and speed limits into place. I THINK that if you own your own property and road, you are not bound by speed limitations, otherwise all racetracks would be havens of motor vehicle violations. I am sure someone else can correct me on this one.
      That said, you mention gun ownership. I honestly cannot think of a flaw in that one, though I am sure there is someway to come to the conclusion your usage is depriving them of their usage of their life or some such. After all, you are seeking to destroy something they 'own', in violation of their right. Although a life allowed to be owned? Ach, no matter.

       

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      hxa, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:28am

      Re: Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:31am

      Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:31am:
      > There's much to be discussed on the limits to IP. But sheer disqualification doesn't seem the best way to do it.

      The sense that it is about property is what needs sheer disqualification. The term 'Intellectual Property' is a just linguistic trick, like an advertising slogan. But it is a meme that has become so rooted as to distort everyone's thinking.

      There is a single core question for copyrights and patents: do they increase production enough to compensate for decreased distribution? That may indeed be debated (though it is substantially about objective evidence) but everything else is pointless and/or nonsense.

       

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      Steve R. (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

      Libertarian Stumble Points

      I've had several conceptual problems with some Libertarians. As you point out, no right is absolute; yet some Libertarians seem to take this absolutist view. Not only that but they seldom seem to feel ethically/morally constrained in whatever activity they are doing. It's OK to cheat, after all (they claim) its always the customers responsibility to figure it out, if they don't it's the customer's own fault. This attitude seems to fly-in-the-face of taking responsibility for your actions.

      What is perhaps extremely ironic are those ersatz Libertarians who believe in IP. They are all for small government and keeping the government out of one's private life except when it comes to IP. All of a sudden they demand a big government police state to protect their IP!!!!!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

        Re: Libertarian Stumble Points

        "It's OK to cheat, after all (they claim) its always the customers responsibility to figure it out, if they don't it's the customer's own fault."

        I hate labels, but for what it is worth that doesn't sound very libertarian. If the rights to swing a fist stop at another persons face then the right to lie stops at the knowledge that lie will cause harm. If cheating is OK then so is lying about safety procedures or any number of other things that may cause harm. Even the vast majority of anarchists wouldn't suggest that dog-eat-dog is acceptable.

         

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      P3T3R5ON (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

      Re:

      @Marcos (Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:31am)

      Your right. If I own a car that doens't mean I can do whatever I want with it because eventually I will cross a line called public safety.

      However I can repaint it, I can add NOS to it, I can change the tires, I can raise it or lower it, I can drop in a HEMI, .... on and on and on. I have changed the RP to something that is not what it was origionally sold as.

      But what if I did the same thing to an album... no i'm not talking about dropping in twin turbos on an album. What I'm talking about is taking the origional songs, remixing them or slowing the tune down and making it a country song or turning it into industrial music.

      Whats the difference?

      At one point in time both the design of the auto and the lyrics and notes of the cd were somebodies IP, now in RP form. Why can I change one and not the other?

      The root of the problem is that at one point in time all things were IP. Then somebody somewhere was pissed that somebody else took their idea of say the (getting hypothetical) catapult and made a better one. What does the originator do? He gets the king to make a law that only allows people to make catapults that fall within the design of the original and has to have permission to do so. Flash forward a few millenia.... does this mean that the US Army would have to ask permission to not only change the design of the original catapult but also ask permission to build one? (The tank being a descendent of the catapult.)

      So simply put... This is about one person wanting to be more special then everybody else because they think the output from their brain is more special then the output of anybody else's brain.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    "which could violated basic property rights"


    Should be "which could violate"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    To characterize Mr. Mossoff's "argument" as "weakly" made does seem to be a bit premature since his paper remains unpublished.

    Importantly, Mr. Mossoff is not a "pro-IP" individual as some seem want to believe. His focus is much broader and pertains to the concept of "property" in general. What is it? Is the position denominated as the "right to exclude" a sufficient basis upon which to hang the appelation "property"? In his work what he is attempting to do is present what he believes is a "unifying" theory broader in scope than the right to exclude, and to then let the chips fall where they may under the unifying theory he proposes.

    I, for one, will wait until his paper is presented for public scrutiny before forming any opinion on its strengths and/or weaknesses.

     

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    Big_Mike (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Like I said before. Take away the money given to politicians to make this a law and have an open debate, these laws would change.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Even if you own a piece of land with a house on it, you are still limited with what you are allowed to do with it. It can in fact even be taken away from you.
    There is nothing that can be owned without some limitation.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Would literary allusions be infringements of copyright? Then we should ban basically every notable author in the history of literature, especially T. S. Eliot.

     

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    vadim (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:03am

    FOSS friendly legislation

    Hello, I've started a pretty interesting (IMO) thread regarding FOSS friendly legislation: on Groklaw And would be intersetd for techdirt folks feedback.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:09am

    if i pay you anything for it

    its mine so says the lord
    as YOU are not GOD you cannot put any further restrictions on what i do with it

     

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    scote, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Patents are blatant theft

    In the case of independent invention, patents prevent you from using ideas you yourself invent. The person who files for a patent gets to tell you that your ideas belong to him and than only he can use them. To my mind that is stealing.

    Imagine if you owned property with trees on it and decided to harvest some and sell them--and then somebody comes along and tells you that harvesting trees is patented so you can't. He's telling you what you can do with your property. Patents are the same. They tell you want you can do with ideas you come up with if somebody thought of it and patented it. Or, in the case of the ridiculously broad patents, they didn't think of it but can claim their patent covers it.

     

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    scote, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Patents are blatant theft

    In the case of independent invention, patents prevent you from using ideas you yourself invent. The person who files for a patent gets to tell you that your ideas belong to him and than only he can use them. To my mind that is stealing.

    Imagine if you owned property with trees on it and decided to harvest some and sell them--and then somebody comes along and tells you that harvesting trees is patented so you can't. He's telling you what you can do with your property. Patents are the same. They tell you want you can do with ideas you come up with if somebody thought of it and patented it. Or, in the case of the ridiculously broad patents, they didn't think of it but can claim their patent covers it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    wiht land i can build on , make tools and fabricate things, make food and sell such things to you and you then OWN them

    i dont put copyrights on food do i, or a END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT that states you cant eat this food on tuesday except in the month of October and you can have more then two on a plate at once. YEA see when we boil down the essence of copyright its truly insane, those that are for it are just greedy and lazy and wish to screw everyone they can to afford the next yacht

     

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    Kevin Carson, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    "If you don't believe in slavery, don't buy a slave"

    "There are many -- especially in copyright debates -- who insist that those who don't agree with copyright law should just avoid supporting those who do. But they ignore how copyright law is used, regularly, to limit what should be fundamental property rights of individuals to do as they please to products they legally purchased."

    Precisely. It's like arguing "if you don't believe in slavery, you don't have to buy a slave." The problem is, the very claim to "property" in a slave involves imposing constraints on the rights of OTHERS that the others don't recognize as legitimate.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:21am

      Re: "If you don't believe in slavery, don't buy a slave"

      The problem is, the very claim to "property" in a slave involves imposing constraints on the rights of OTHERS that the others don't recognize as legitimate.


      I used to think comparing slavery with copyrights patents was a little over the top, but when you put it that way it makes sense.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:22am

        Re: "If you don't believe in slavery, don't buy a slave"(correction)

        *comparing slavery with copyrights and patents

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    The whole concept of property (whether land or objects) infers that you can do whatever you want with that property. But there are always limits, and those limits are usually defined by what people would consider human rights. You're not allowed to murder someone with something you own, because it violates the right to live.

    That's why in order to defend intellectual property, you have to come up with something that trumps someone's right to do what they will with their own property. You can't just say, "Because it makes me a lot of money." And of course, the constitution defines it as such. And congress has gone well beyond any such benefit to society.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:25am

    It will be a cold day in hell, when I accept that someone else can tell me what to do with what I own.

     

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    Alex Bowles, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Tangible vs. Intangible goods

    The smart thing to do is to recognize that the term 'intellectual property' is a clever bit of propaganda advanced by those who want to replace many of the rules that govern intangible goods with the (generally) far more serious rules that govern the tangible goods (a.k.a. real property).

    Instead of going along with this, opt for the terms 'tangible goods' and 'intangible goods' if you really want to help preserve clarity in distinctions between them. 'Goods' is a very broad term, after all, and one widely used in relation to intangible qualities and benefits, as well as physical objects with commercial value.

    'Property', on the other hand, has none of this neutrality. The term is heavily weighted towards the tangible realm, and freighted with meaning stemming from its original application to considerations of land and livestock.

    Avoidance of a deliberately confusing term is a great way to avoid confusion about the things that term describes. It's also an excellent way to advance conversation about the very real problems that attend the production of intangible goods, especially in a world that can't widely or easily recognize them for what they are.

     

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      Matt (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:49am

      Re: Tangible vs. Intangible goods

      What he said. All of this discussion of intellectual "property" assumes qualities of intangible goods that simply do not exist.

      When lawyers talk about "property," at least in modern jurisprudence, they are referring to a "bundle of rights." That bundle generally includes the right to exclude others from use. It may include some rights to use and assign. None of those rights existed for, say, music recordings until 1970, and arguably they still do not. Referring to a copyright in a sound recording as "intellectual property" was, thus, a clear misnomer until very recently.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 9:46pm

      Re: Tangible vs. Intangible goods

      'Property', on the other hand, has none of this neutrality. The term is heavily weighted towards the tangible realm, and freighted with meaning stemming from its original application to considerations of land and livestock.


      I would advise you to actually look up the legal definition of "property" before continuing to blather on any further.

       

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    btrussell (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    If IP is a right, then only the originator of IP Rights can claim so. All other claims are infringing.

     

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    Nick Datesh (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:04am

    rights

    The claim that anyone has the "right" to anything ignores that no one has the right to anything unless they have the power to exclude others.

    This is certainly true of real property. The property has no particular use to me if everyone can use it without limitation. Now, give me a small army of gunslingers and I can make my land worth something.

    Until someone comes along with a bigger army, of course.

     

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      vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 10:23am

      Re: rights

      "The claim that anyone has the "right" to anything ignores that no one has the right to anything unless they have the power to exclude others."

      Rights ideally stem from necessity. If you are imposing unnecessary restrictions on something to make it valuable to you then you are violating other peoples rights, not asserting yours.

       

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    Memyself, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:18am

    I've never understood why this basic concept is so difficult to understand. You don't "own" the music on the CD and you don't "own" the movie on the DVD. Not in the same sense as you do when you buy a pizza. What you are purchasing is single user rights. Rights that are limited at the time of the sale. Complaining about this is akin to complaining that you are not legally allowed to let your friend drive your rental car. There are no "fundamental property rights". Nor should there be. Because not all property is equal.

    As long as the anti-intellectual property side argues from a position that purports that all ownership is automatically equal, there is no real discussion to be had in regards to copyright reform.

     

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      Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:51am

      Re:

      The modern concept of licensing intellectual property versus purchasing is not, IMO, all that easy. Sarkozy is a freaking head of state, and he has no idea what violates copyright agreements.

      What was an easy concept, is the nauseating feeling I got the first time I realized I was actually purchasing a limitation of my own rights (i.e. First Amendment rights) when I last bought a CD. Legal costs included in purchase price, of course.

       

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        Memyself, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

        Re: Re:

        Sarkozy is a head of state. He's in a position to have experts explain these issues to him. I really don't expect politicians to have a personal understanding of each and every issue that will come across their path, but instead to have the wherewithal to consult with those who do when they need to.

        You never purchased a limitation of your own rights. You entered into a transaction with specific conditions of your own volition. The seller of a product has the right to set terms. You don't have to participate if you don't care for the terms.

         

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          Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 7:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Sarkozy is a head of state. He's in a position to have experts explain these issues to him. I really don't expect politicians to have a personal understanding of each and every issue that will come across their path, but instead to have the wherewithal to consult with those who do when they need to.


          So we are in agreement, IP laws are at least somewhat difficult to understand.

          You never purchased a limitation of your own rights. You entered into a transaction with specific conditions of your own volition


          I agree that is how IP laws and licensing works, I disagree that the terms are valid under the protection of the First Amendment. I also disagree that a contract is valid unless all parties understand their obligations prior to executing the agreement. Your average person on the street, IMO, does not understand what limitations on their rights they have purchased.

          You don't have to participate if you don't care for the terms.


          We are, once again, in agreement.

           

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      Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      So to make your statement clear:

      When we BUY music, it is like RENTING a car?

      And you don't see why we're upset???

       

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        Memyself, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

        Re: Re:

        No... I don't see why you're upset. You're not buying full rights. You're buying limited rights. That's why the music/books/movies/games are relatively cheap compared to the cost and time invested to produce. Just like why renting a car is much cheaper than buying a car.

        There is a discernible benefit to the customer. Cheap art. That's nothing to be upset over.

        If you want full rights, they're often available. But you have to pay a more reasonable price to gain full rights. And that's something most people will not want to pay.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And THIS is why IP is a fundamental conflict with real property. Because you cannot limit the rights of real property.

           

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            Memyself, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 6:03pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That's not true. Under certain circumstances, there can be restrictions and limitations on the ownership of physical property. If there weren't, the entire concept of the time-share property would fall apart.

             

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              vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 10:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "That's not true. Under certain circumstances, there can be restrictions and limitations on the ownership of physical property. If there weren't, the entire concept of the time-share property would fall apart."

              Time-shares are mutually beneficial contracts made by agreement. Copyright, in contrast, is no longer mutually beneficial and was never an agreement. Time-share contracts exercise people's rights to use their property, they don't impose restrictions on those rights.

               

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                Memyself, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Please note that I did not offer up Time-Share as analogous with intellectual property. I offered it as a counter to the fallacious general claim that the ownership of physical property exists in a restriction free universe. So pointing out that the two are not analogous serves no purpose, I made no claim that they are.

                Copyright certainly can be mutually beneficial. Just because you fail to notice the benefits does not mean they do not exist. Also: Time-Share contracts certainly do come with specific restrictions on how and when you can use your property.

                 

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                  vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "Please note that I did not offer up Time-Share as analogous with intellectual property. I offered it as a counter to the fallacious general claim that the ownership of physical property exists in a restriction free universe. So pointing out that the two are not analogous serves no purpose, I made no claim that they are."

                  You made your strawman out of a strawman accusation?! I'm dizzy. The discussion is about IP, hence the comparison to copyright.

                  "Copyright certainly can be mutually beneficial. Just because you fail to notice the benefits does not mean they do not exist. Also: Time-Share contracts certainly do come with specific restrictions on how and when you can use your property."

                  The restrictions on a time-share contract are agreed by the owners of the property under the time-share. The ability to time-share kinda makes the point that there isn't any restrictions on how you can use physical property, when compared to IP. If you tried to time-share a digitally distributed movie I think you'd be accused of copyright infringement.

                   

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                    Memyself, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 4:48pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "The restrictions on a time-share contract are agreed by the owners of the property under the time-share."

                    And the restrictions placed upon intellectual property are outlined for the consumer.

                    "The ability to time-share kinda makes the point that there isn't any restrictions on how you can use physical property, when compared to IP."

                    One: Again, I never compared it directly to IP. Two: If you try to draw a direct comparison between the two, of course they are going to come up different.

                    But the fact is, you can "own" physical property and still have your usage rights restricted, under certain circumstances that are usually stipulated at the time pf purchase. The person I was responding to claimed otherwise, and the Time Share is an example of limited or restricted ownership.

                     

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                      vivaelamor (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "And the restrictions placed upon intellectual property are outlined for the consumer. "

                      But not agreed by. The agreement law itself, which was largely decided a long time before I was born.

                      "One: Again, I never compared it directly to IP. Two: If you try to draw a direct comparison between the two, of course they are going to come up different."

                      And again, no one claimed you compared it to IP. As for 'of course they are going to come up different', meh. I'm all typed out for pointless explanations.

                      "But the fact is, you can "own" physical property and still have your usage rights restricted, under certain circumstances that are usually stipulated at the time pf purchase. The person I was responding to claimed otherwise, and the Time Share is an example of limited or restricted ownership."

                      Copyright isn't limited or restricted ownership though. When you buy something with copyrighted material on it, you own the medium and are granted the right to the material. You don't own that copyright in any way whatsoever, you own the physical medium.

                      The funny thing is, I agree with you that physical property can have restrictions. Your time-share example just fails to make that point because the restrictions are a voluntary agreement made by normal means of ownership. Planning permission is an actual restriction on physical property. Various laws about dangerous substances, or weapons, are others.

                       

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                        Memyself, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        From my perspective, committing the act of purchase of a product that is labeled clearly with stipulations equates to an "agreement".

                        Maybe the disconnect here is that I believe that purchasing materials under copyright equates to limited ownership, within the context of the conversation at hand. Technically you are correct. There is no actual ownership beyond the physical item you purchase. But where I tend to disagree with many people is that purchase of that physical object does not translate to complete freedom of the contents of the physical object. If you buy a book, the physical copy is yours. But the story contained within is not yours to reproduce and redistribute simply because you purchased the book.

                         

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                          hxa, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 3:38am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Of course it is possible to make up any kind of rules for buying things (such as limited licenses to reproduce). Defending that general point is a complete distraction.

                          The question is: do particular rules make any sense?

                          For intellectual monopoly it all comes down to the simple basic fact: abstracts are infinitely copyable -- they are not limited like physical things, so restricting their freedom is basically foolish, like throwing away a natural resource.

                           

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                            Memyself, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Just because you think something is foolish, doesn't actually mean that it is foolish. I've already written here at length about how taking a book/film/game/ect and splitting up the costs of producing said book/film/game/ect is beneficial to the consumer.

                            I'm curious, where exactly do you draw the line with lifting said restrictions? Because a world without any artificial constraints (in regards to putting a cost on an intangible good) means zero cost to the consumer at every level. You might consider that positive. But I fail to see how imposing your world view on how an artist should or should not choose to monetize their efforts encourages the development of art.

                            Currently, it's each artists choice on how to distribute their work. Why should any external viewpoint dictate an artists choice? If I want to release a book for free, I can. If I want to ask a million dollars for a copy of my book, I can. No one has to buy my book if the price seems unfair. But no one is entitled to a copy for free if they refuse to pay the asked for price.

                            Art is not a natural resource. It takes time and effort to create. It is not owned by anyone other than the person who chooses to spend the time and effort to create it, unless they willingly choose to transfer their rights.

                             

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No... I don't see why you're upset. You're not buying full rights. You're buying limited rights. That's why the music/books/movies/games are relatively cheap compared to the cost and time invested to produce. Just like why renting a car is much cheaper than buying a car.


          Precisely.

          However, the fact that you had to explain something so simple is rather depressing.

           

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            DanC (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Then shouldn't the producers of content be honest with their customers and tell them that they're actually only renting the music and movies?

             

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              Memyself, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Seriously? Let's take a look at the copyright information printed in a random book from my shelf:

              "All Rights Reserved
              Copyright 1989
              No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher."

              I see this alot. Claims that this information has somehow been withheld from the innocent public. It has not. The information that you are not purchasing universal rights to a given book/game/movie/ect have always been posted clearly and concisely.

               

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                Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You mean the information that's inside the book, which you could read AFTER you 'bought' it, which tells you that you actually rented it?

                True that it's there, and we all have come to expect it, and also not read those pages. But that's like concert tickets that you buy, and then when the tix arrive, all kinds of conditions are printed on the back. Not really a two-way street kind of agreement.

                What if I want to photocopy one pretty illustration from the book I bought because my kids liked it. And I put it on the wall in their bedroom? Is that really a violation of the law? Seems like maybe it should not be.

                 

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                  Memyself, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:34pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  In regards to books: It's there. Are they supposed to print in on the cover? Although even then, there are usually copyright and "all rights reserved" symbols on the cover.

                  A certain amount of pre-existing expectations must be allowed for. I knew of and understood these restrictions when I was still a young child. They're pretty straight forward and can be found in almost every publication in some form or another.

                  And no... you didn't "rent" it. You bought it, with certain well known restrictions to your usage.

                  In regards to concert tickets, my experience is that the terms and conditions can usually be found out before hand. Personally, I make a habit of researching terms and conditions one anything before I make a purchase. For the most part, a small amount of research before you commit money will will yield informative results.

                  There is nothing wrong with expecting due diligence on the part of the consumer. If you are as concerned as you suggest about your usage rights, you have a responsibility to investigate the restrictions involved in your purchase.

                  If you want to photocopy one image for your kids bedroom, it's technically a violation. Although speaking as someone who works specifically with publishing kids books, most publishers and authors will not care. Even if they knew. Which they won't. It is possible to send a letter requesting use. I have received several of those in the past and usually respond with some form of original artwork, as well as whatever permission I can extend.

                  Where this breaks down is when people use imagery (in the context of this example) to decorate a commercial buisness.

                   

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            Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 9:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No. The music/books/bames are cheaper because that is the market price. It is a function of supply and demand.

            The music/books/games are relatively cheap because the marginal cost of production was low. And today it's near zero. In a competitive market, Price = MC. It's from Econ 101.

            The market doesn't care - never had, never will - about anyone's cost of production. It cares about supply and demand. However, the fact that I had to explain something so simple is rather depressing.

             

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              Memyself, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "However, the fact that I had to explain something so simple is rather depressing."

              Oh. Okay. I see you're going to be arrogant about this. As long as we're clear on who set the tone.

              You seem unable to grasp a very simple concept. Production cost is not simply a calculation of reproduction costs. Production costs are all encompassing. Pretending that they are not serves zero purpose other than to establish that you really don't understand the topic.

              It should be obvious to anyone that if our market was truly supply and demand based, there would be zero cost on all intangible media. Because supply is obviously not an issue. But no matter how much you might believe that this is how things should be, you might notice that this is not actually how things are. And that's because supply and demand is only one small part of the overall economics that exist in the real world.

              While you are correct that the average person does not care about the true cost of production, it turns out that the individuals responsible for the cost of production DO care. If Company A is releasing a game, and that game costs one million dollars in production, it doesn't matter if reproduction is practically zero. Company A still needs to recoup their expenses or the game will be considered a financial failure. It isn't terribly difficult to ascertain what happens to a company that makes zero dollars. For most of us, anyway.

              Now, if the public finds the necessary costs applied to a product to be prohibitive, they won't buy it. And Company A will fail to recoup their losses. So it benefits said company to break the cost of their product up amongst multiple customers. This is why what you are typically sold is a single use right. So that the company can attempt to split the cost up amongst a larger group of people. So that you don't end up paying that full million dollars for the game.

              In other words: It is unreasonable to expect a product that costs a million dollars to make to be sold for fifty dollars without some restrictions.

              By the way, this is also from Econ 101. Try to keep up.

               

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              Memyself, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 12:26pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Actually, I apologize whole-heartedly. I assumed your response was directed at me, It was not. Sorry for reacting like a dick. It was completely unwarranted.

               

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                Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Yeah, although I would never deny being arrogant, I was directly responding and mocking the arrogance of the Anon Coward from Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:04pm. Originally, my reply was in the thread right below him and I quoted his line:

                "However, the fact that you had to explain something so simple is rather depressing."

                You must have though that was for you.

                That said, I still disagree with you. The components of fixed costs you discuss do have an effect on the market price, but only so much as they affect the supply curve. Supply and Demand still determine market price.

                 

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          Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 6:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You're not buying full rights. You're buying limited rights.
          And then all you fuckers are upset when we stop buying the pointless limited rights.
          Idiots.
          Rather obvious why the recording industry has losses year after year while the overall music industry is doing better and better.

           

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          Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 9:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Then we have a massive problem with false advertising, because the music industry has been asking me to "BUY" music all my life, and I have done just that.

          If, after the fact, I am being told that I actually just RENTED the music, I think that's false advertising. But maybe it's to be expected from and industry that also confuses "copy" and "steal".

          When you rent, the object is not yours and you have to give it back. When you buy, you ostensibly own something of value and get to keep it, using it as you see fit. Basically, your car rental analogy isn't a good fit - or maybe it is, but actually argues against your point.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Like I stated to someone else: the information that you are not purchasing universal rights has always been quite clear. I don't understand how you can argue that it has not. Again, this is taken from a random book on my shelf:


            "All Rights Reserved
            Copyright 1989
            No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher."

            In what way is any of this unclear?

            And yes, the car analogy is not perfect. No analogy ever will be. To be clear, I never stated that a book/game/movie was a rental, but instead that you are not purchasing universal rights. It's not at all an identical process to renting. It is it's own equally valid process with clear rules dictating specifically how it operates. So I don't see how you can claim false advertising when the terms of sale have always been posted clearly.

            And in case you miss the other post: Again, sorry for the unwarranted tone in my earlier response. I was being a dick, and misunderstanding who you were responding to. Apologies.

             

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              hxa, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 4:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Your whole 'argument' is this: the rules are quite clear, they are well established, and rules are things you should obey.

              The clarity of a rule is not a justification. The familiarity of a rule is not a justification.

              The question, as always, is *why* should we have rules that restrict the flow of information? -- such rules have obvious faults: conflicts with more primary rules (property), impracticality of implementation, and lack of evidence for effectiveness and efficiency . . .

               

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                Memyself, Apr 16th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                And such rules have obvious benefits, as I have outlined on this thread already.

                For the record, I favor copyright reform. But just because the system has flaws does not mean the system doesn't have existing strengths.

                 

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    hxa, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 10:48am

    All that IP nonsense

    The whole fundamentalist 'metaphysical' argument for IP is an obnoxious 'Randian' fatuity. Leave the technicalities of justification, and ask: why? What really is the point? What is the intended result?

    It seems the vocation of a miser or a bureaucrat. They either seek to deny others benefit, though it costs nothing to them; or they seek to burden everyone with worthless rules and regulations, though such things produce nothing at all. If they seek payment for labour, a simple fee or other direct exchange would do. If it is rightful recognition or esteem for their work, that requires no price to be exacted from anyone else. It would be lessened if it did. The cultural value of a work is rewarded by honor and acclaim, not by royalty.

    Fundamentalist intellectual monopoly, besides not being credible, is not respectable. Any reasonable person should entirely discard it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 11:52pm

      Re: All that IP nonsense

      The whole fundamentalist 'metaphysical' argument for IP is an obnoxious 'Randian' fatuity. Leave the technicalities of justification, and ask: why? What really is the point? What is the intended result?


      Simple. To the laborer, go the fruits, thus incentivizing the continuation of labor.

      You, on the other hand, preach the gospel of the parasite, the counterfeiter, the freeloader, the coat-tail-rider, the Johny-come-lately. At its most simple, the gospel of the undeserved.

      Your type of mindset would be right at home in the middle of a bustling Shanghai flea market where fraudulence is the cornerstone of success. Had you been born a flea instead of a man I have no doubt you would have been the reddest and most engorged of your peers, your amazing bloodsucking prowess renowned and routinely discussed by all of the other tics, lice, and tapeworms, from head to tail, on whatever unfortunate creature it was you all decided to exert your "right to liberty" on.

      "To the best exploiters, go the spoils" the anti-IP crowd endlessly chants, no doubt quietly holding their own exploitative ability in high esteem (evidenced by how popular this sentiment is in tech circles where the financial potential for unencumbered IP exploitation is currently the greatest). But what most of them fail to realize, or at least fail to admit, is that such a dogma ultimately incentivizes exploitation rather than creation, and the inherent unsustainability of that is the very thing our founding fathers wisely sought to correct.

      With few exceptions, opponents of IP do not seek to adjust the scales but rather to invert them utterly for their own financial benefit. To make these predacious motives more palatable for the uninformed they dress them up in a bunch of self righteous rhetoric only to end up looking no more convincing than the dress and bonnet clad wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood". It is my sincerest hope that as time presses on, more and more people upon hearing such thinly veiled rhetoric will interrupt the spiel to remark: "My, what big teeth you have..."

       

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        hxa, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 3:15am

        Re: Re: All that IP nonsense

        > incentivizing the continuation of labor

        That is the practical argument, not the arcane philosophical fundamentalist kind.

        Ask yourself: why should labor be incentivized?

        Any individual makes their own incentive, they need nothing external: if they need something they just work to produce it for themself. A law preventing copying doesn't help them at all: they already have motive, and they don't need protection since copying can't remove anything from them.

        The incentive of intellectual monopoly is to benefit the broader community; that is its whole underlying purpose. That is a perfectly reasonable argument, but it has nothing to do with giving absolute, intrinsic 'ownership' to anyone -- its ultimate intent is, in a way, almost the complete opposite.

         

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    Weasel, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    The Fallacy and Ownership including IPR

    Newton said it all - about 'standing on the shoulders of giants' that has gone before. The futile human identity crisis is to claim ownership and property over human thinking, built on the collective abilities of humanity. Irrespective of original thought or pushing new boundaries -the issue here has got nothing to do with advancing knowledge or science - and everything to do with human ego-centric greed and vested behaviour. When those claiming IPR today lie on their death bed and look back - they will see how sad, meaningless and futile their false assumptions and expectations were.In ecology and the cosmos each of us is totally irrelevant.

     

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    Tech Dirt Reader, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 11:41am

    The parable of the secret fishing spot.

    Bill was an intellectual property lawyer, who worked in the city, but liked to relax at a secret fishing spot in the country. Bill fished this spot nearly every weekend and always caught fish there. One Saturday Bill got to his spot and found Sam already fishing there. Bill insisted that is was his spot, because he found it first, it was his intellectual property. Sam not looking for a hassle offered Bill a few of his beers and agreed not to tell anyone about the spot. Each week Sam would bring the beer and Bill and Sam would enjoy the fishing and drinking.

    One year the fourth of July fell on a Wednesday so, Bill decided to head out to his secret spot and found Sam and Mike fishing and drinking beer. Bill was livid. How could Sam violate his agreement and let Mike fish here on weekdays? Nothing Mike had to offer was good enough to assuage Bills anger. Bill spilled the beer, kicked over the bait and called the police.

    Being and intellectual property lawyer Bill was prepared to win in court. He presented his case. But Mike presented the Deed to the property with the secret spot.

    And that is the difference between real and intellectual property.

     

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    WisconsinGod, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Ownership...

    From a story I read a while back...

    As most of you receiving this know, New Orleans residents are challenged often with the task of tracing home titles back potentially hundreds of years. With a community rich with history stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along through generations of family, making it quite difficult to establish ownership. Here's a great letter an attorney wrote to the FHA on behalf of a client that was priceless!!

    A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted, if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply

    ( letter):

    "Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."



    Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows

    (actual letter)

    "Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S. , from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application.

    For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. Ownership was obtained from France , which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain .. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named, Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus ' expedition.

    Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that Godalso made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we please have our damn loan?"

    The loan was approved.

     

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    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 3:42pm

    Copyright is also very sticky!

    Mike, you are right: IP law not only invades property rights it also controls what they can do with, how they use, their minds and thoughts.

    And not only does copyright pit IP holders against their own customers, as Krehic notes, copyright is almost impossible to get rid of. You get a copyright whether you want it or not--the state automatically gives it to you even if you don't apply, even if you don't mark something "copyright"; and does not even provide a simple and effective way to dedicate your work to the public domain and decline copyright (see my post
    Copyright is Very Sticky!).

    As I explained in Intellectual Property and the Structure of Human Action, the fundamental mistake made by those who advocate IP is they treat information the same as scarce resources. IP law basically gives property rights in information--patterns, designs, knowledge, etc. When we act in the world to achieve our goals, we use scarce means (our bodies, food, tools, land, and so on), but our action is guided by various ideas and information. To successfuly act and prosper, the actor needs control of the means since these means are scarce and by their nature can only be used by one person.

    That is why we need property rights in scarce things--we coudln't use them otherwise. If you take my eggs from me I can't make the cake.

    But to make the cake I also need knowledge -- the recipe. I don't need to own the recipe to be able to make the cake. Millions of other people can know and use the same recipe at the same without interfering with my own cake making. There is simply no conflict to solve, no reason for property rights to arise here.

    Some things in the world are (unfortunately) scarce, so we have to economize and assign owners so they can be used peacefully and productively. Luckily, information and knowledge is not scarce.

    Material progress is made over time in human society because information is not scarce and can be infinitely multiplied, learned, taught, and built on. The more patterns, recipes, causal laws that are known add to the stock of knowledge available to actors, and acts as a greater and greater wealth multiplier by allowing actors to engage in ever more efficient and productive action. (It is a good thing that ideas are infinitely reproducible, not a bad thing; there is no need to impose artificial scarcity on these things to make them more like scarce resources; see IP and Artificial Scarcity.) As I wrote in Intellectual Property and Libertarianism:
    "This is not to deny the importance of knowledge, or creation and innovation. Action, in addition to employing scarce owned means, may also be informed by technical knowledge of causal laws or other practical information. To be sure, creation is an important means of increasing wealth. As Hoppe has observed, One can acquire and increase wealth either through homesteading, production and contractual exchange, or by expropriating and exploiting homesteaders, producers, or contractual exchangers. There are no other ways. While production or creation may be a means of gaining wealth, it is not an independent source of ownership or rights. Production is not the creation of new matter; it is the transformation of things from one form to another the transformation of things someone already owns, either the producer or someone else."
    Granting property rights in scarce resources, but not in ideas, is precisely what is needed to permit successful action as well as societal progress and prosperity.

     

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      Memyself, Apr 14th, 2010 @ 4:03pm

      Re: Copyright is also very sticky!

      "You get a copyright whether you want it or not--the state automatically gives it to you even if you don't apply, even if you don't mark something "copyright"; and does not even provide a simple and effective way to dedicate your work to the public domain and decline copyright"

      This makes no sense to me. Copyright is only relevant if it is enforced. You hold the copyright but choose not to enforce it. You include permission for redistribution in the original material. End of problem.

      Lot's of people do this. Automatic copyright is not a problem.

       

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    Robert Scott Lawrence (profile), Apr 14th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    You hit the nail on the head. The consumer wants to be able to do whatever he wants to with the DVD or CD or book or picture he just bought, which puts him in an antagonistic position to the company (and, really, the artist) who is selling the product. The music companies don't want you to loan your the new Lemonheads CD to your neighbor -- they want him to go buy his own copy. And they certainly don't want you to make a free copy for your girlfriend -- remember those adolescent days when you made a tape of cool songs for the girl you liked? -- they want you to buy her a copy and wrap it up with their proprietary giftwrap and bow. Fortunately we still have public libraries to preserve at least a modicum of our culture so that future generations have a no-fee way to feed their creative need for knowledge.

     

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    Yosi, Apr 15th, 2010 @ 1:13am

    "ownership" doesn't equal "do whatever I want"

    As others already pointed it out, the mere fact that you own something, be it car, land, CD or anything else doesn't automatically mean that you can do whatever crazy thing you want.
    You man own the land, but you can't build there unless given permission for local authorities.
    You may own the car, driving on public roads is subject to various laws and regulations.
    You own cellphone, but you can't modify its transmitter without FCC permission.
    And the list goes on.
    With CD, you don't own the information - you own _media_ and permission to use that information (music/video/software) under certain conditions.

    Copyright itself is not the problem, extreme overuse is. As anything in life, dosage is critical. You have to eat every day, but do it too match and you will suffer from overweight.

    Back to your story about two friends and mysterious "third party" between them - I actually side with "evil industry" here. What if you ask your friend $5 for borrowing CD? Still fail to see the problem? Still fail to see "lost sale"?

    Your claims about marginal price of digital products being $0 is nonsense. Your phone call is also have marginal price of about $0 since infrastructure is already in place. If so, why phones are not free? You know the answer - $0 figure is wrong.

     

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      Steve R. (profile), Apr 15th, 2010 @ 6:02am

      Re: "ownership" doesn't equal "do whatever I want"

      Faulty logic, Yosi. The ability to make phone calls and the physical presence of the phone itself are two different things. The price of phone calls is diminishing. Look at the elimination of many fees, such as long distance. In fact, with Google voice chat one could now say that phone calls are free and that Google has even "eliminated" the need for a physical phone.

      Nevertheless, just because you can call for free, logic does not dictate that the phone itself free. Producing a phone (which is a physical product) requires the use of physical resources that have to be paid for. Consequently, phones are not free.

       

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