The Fine Line Between Legitimate Think Tank And Industry Shills

from the reputational-arbitrage dept

Tim Lee recently had an excellent post that deserves even greater attention. It kicks off by talking about how a series of groups that purported to be "free market" think tanks have, over the past few years, tried to become active in debates over copyright and patent law, often promoting stronger IP laws -- which seems a bit odd for supposedly "free market" operations, since intellectual property is a government-granted monopoly on an abundant resource -- or the very antithesis of a free market ideal. What Lee noted, is that these newer groups weren't really intellectually honest "think tanks," but rather were operations funded by certain business interests, set up to look like independent think tanks, and then trying to ride on the good reputation of the think tanks out there who are intellectually honest:
What was going on is that property rights are popular, while the pharmaceutical and recording industries are not. The panel was a small part of a long-range, carefully planned campaign to hitch their rent-seeking agenda to the broader free-market movement. I don't think SPN discloses who pays for its conferences, but I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that the "intellectual property" industries wrote large checks for the privilege of putting that panel together. The situation irritated me so much that I wrote a piece for reason denouncing the project.

The campaign to co-opt the free-market movement for the agenda of "intellectual property" intersts continues to this day. Another quasi-think tank called the Institute for Policy Innovation tried to get me fired in 2006 for writing this admittedly intemperate post about a shoddy study they had put out on the costs of copyright infringement. And just today I was followed on Twitter by a representative from the Property Rights Alliance, the (presumably industry-funded) organization that sponsored that 2005 conference and puts out embarrassingly bad "studies" promoting stronger copyright and patent protections.
While he notes that, so far, these groups haven't been all that successful in the "reputational arbitrage" attempt of using the good names of some real free market think tanks to suggest that stronger intellectual property is, in fact, a "free market" concept, similar attempts elsewhere have had pretty drastic consequences. Take, for example, the extremely controversial Arizona immigration law. It turns out that part of the support for it came out of some very questionable places:
Which brings me to this appalling story (via E.D. Kain) documenting that private prison companies were a key lobbying force behind Arizona's "papers, please" immigration law. If private prison companies had openly drafted and lobbied for a new immigration law that would increase the state's prison population, it would have been obvious what was going on and the effort would have gone nowhere. So instead, the prison companies went to the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that performs think tank-type work for conservative state legislators (and regularly attends SPN conferences), and asked them to draft the language. The legislation was drafted by an ALEC committee, with industry input. An Arizona ALEC member then took the legislation back to his state, where several other ALEC members signed on as co-sponsors.

It's important to be clear that ALEC isn't just about this kind of corruption. I imagine ALEC provides real services to its legislator-members, who often have small staffs and benefit from the help of ideologically like-minded policy experts. And ALEC often collaborates with state-based think tanks, many of which employ genuine policy experts. The problem is that the details of legislation drafted this way are likely to be driven by sponsors' interests. Even assuming that conservatives are going to push for anti-immigrant legislation, there are a number of ways you might do that. If the prison lobby has a seat at the table, the legislation is likely to be written in a way that maximizes the prison population—and the cost to state taxpayers.

Unfortunately, this kind of institutional rot is endemic in the public policy world. This ALEC story is particularly egregious, but most of the time the process is more subtle. Some think tanks (such as Cato) do a pretty good job of insulating their scholars from donor pressure. But there are lots of quasi-think tanks who make no such effort. And the result is a steady gravitational pull in directions that benefit corporate sponsors.
Tim notes that this is not specific to any particular political ideology. It shows up on all sides of the political spectrum. And, he notes (accurately) that many of those involved would deny any sort of "corruption," often pointing out that their own interests already very much "agree" with the positions of their corporate sponsors. But it does worry Lee that this is becoming more common, and when some researchers and scholars from more reputable firms move to others that are less reputable, it sometimes becomes tricky to determine the borderlines of what is legitimate output, and what's really propaganda.

He points out that he's not quite sure what the solution is, but I'd argue transparency, and more openness to debate is a key aspect that could help. Those who are being intellectually honest do not fear an honest debate about the research and claims they make -- and often will encourage it. Those who are simply trying to drive home a certain point for a certain interest will do whatever possible to avoid an honest and open debate.


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  1.  
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    Jesse, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:01pm

    As a side note, I will never understand why Americans feel the need to privatize important services like prisons and healthcare. Privatization does not always lead to better service for lower cost. In the case of health care, it appears to be the opposite in both regards. Canadians pay less for better average service (obviously not better than your richest people, but then we don't have millions without coverage).

    Off-topic, but it's getting late so forgive me.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:04pm

    I find it funny that Cato is brought up as an example of a think tank that isolates its scholars from donors in light of this years firing of several of them for not following the party line of Koch brothers.

     

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  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    darryl, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:21pm

    "intellectually honest" No threat of you being called that Mike !!!

    since intellectual property is a government-granted monopoly on an abundant resource -- or the very antithesis of a free market ideal.

    Really Mike !!!!, so then you will be able to give us lots of examples to support your cliam.

    Show me (us) one OR ANY 'government-granted momopolies' that is intellectual property.

    You should be able to list many of them, then list EVEN FREAKING ONE Mike !!!!!..

    FREE MARKET what do you think a free market is ? Mike ?? you give everything away for free ?

    How is owning knowledge of something that people will pay you for that knowledge against the free market ?

    I think you might be thinking about the "free for all, market" where you just get what you can take, and sell what you can steal.
    There is nothing in IP rights that are against free markets, it ensured competition, it ensures advancement because if you cannot do something one way, you may just come up with a better way to do it. Rendering the previous patent worthless.

    Yes, there are two way to fight patents, create (invent a method) things that are better, thus destroying that patents worth.

    Or you can copy or ignore the patent, use that technology, add nothing to technical advancement, and we wont progress at all.

    Or you can cancel patents, and live with systems that do not have patent and IP protections, such as military technology.

    You dont get to steal anything, you dont even get to know what they are doing, and that would happen everywhere if it were not for patents.

    You are living in a dream world if you think that if patents suddenly went away then things would be different in a better way..

    They most certainly would not, and all you have to do is LOOK, and possibly THINK even.

    If those protections are not in place, then those creating that technology will seek and find ways to protect their IP.

    The best way is to keep it secret, that is what they do, so how is not even knowing what developments there are going to help you copy those developments or technologies, let alone improve on them ??

    abundant resource

    No mike, it is **NOT** an abundant resource. Do you have any IP ? do you know things that are of value?

    Do you know everything that is of value ?

    Do you understand what IP is ?? by definition it is property, and its a finite quantity, if it was an 'abundant resource' then there would NEVER be issues about who own what IP, and it could not possibly lead to a monopoly.

    Bacause if you are not able to use some specifc IP if you claim its so abundant, then you would just be able to use other IP to do the same job, (but via a different method).

    But the fact that IP is prized, and is real, and viable, it is clear it is not abundant, its is rare.

    Idea's might be common, but good idea, working idea, and inventions are not common at all.

    Everyone has idea's they are abundant. But you can have a lifetime of idea's and zero good idea's and zero idea's that will change how mankind does something.


    I look forward to seeing your long list of "government-granted monopoly"

    intellectual property is a government-granted monopoly on an abundant resource

    How can what is property (IP)of knowledge be granted by a government ?

    So what happens, the government calls up company X and saying "im going to give you this intellectual property" but only because we want you to be the only one to use it ??

    "I grant thee, Interlectual Property, by the power vested in me by the US constitution, the right and rank of 'monopoly', so help you God"..

    Yes Mike, like THAT happens.. LOL


    reputational-arbitrage

    You might want to explain what you mean by that statement Mike !!!.

    We all know arbitrage is to make an excessivly high profit from what you do, far in excess of the work you do.

    If anyone has a reputational-arbitrage is YOU Mike..

    That is you claim a far greater knowledge of IP, patents, the world, finance that your words bear out.

    You try to 'talk the talk' but you babble, and mumble, and make things up.

    But clearly you are not game to "walk the walk" and actually follow you're own advice.

    Its good enough to tell everyone else how to do it, and at the same time, not even considering pulling your finger out and leading by example.

    No, Mike, its just too easy, flogging Crystal balls, (paywalls) and collecting Google add money !!!.

    Why take the risk right Mike, Just tell everyone else to do it. Try to talk the talk, never able to walk the walk..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:24pm

    Re: "intellectually honest" No threat of you being called that Mike !!!

    It's really awesome how many different ways you manage to be wrong in one rant. Thanks for keeping the entertainment value up, Darryl!

     

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    Jon Noowtun, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    But it does worry Lee that this is becoming more common, and when some researchers and scholars from more reputable firms move to others that are less reputable, it sometimes becomes tricky to determine the borderlines of what is legitimate output, and what's really propaganda.


    No it's not!!!!! Anyone who defends a corporation in any way is obviously a shill and needs to be censor... um, I mean silenced!!!!!

    www.Pee2PeeNet.net

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:34pm

    Re:

    Aww, how cute, the crying baby is throwing his tantrum again.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:34pm

    Re: Re: "intellectually honest" No threat of you being called that Mike !!!

    Could he at least stop the blank line spacings? My clicky wheel hampster is getting tired.

     

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    IronM@sk, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 11:01pm

    Re: "intellectually honest" No threat of you being called that Mike !!!

    Oh good lord please make it stop.

     

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    Karl (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 12:10am

    Think tanks

    a series of groups that purported to be "free market" think tanks have, over the past few years, tried to become active in debates over copyright and patent law

    In other news: the sky is blue.

    Seriously, who here doesn't know that "think tanks" are propaganda machines? They are usually formed by an industry (and/or political group) that hires the "best and brightest" specifically to justify their arguments before Congress, and to create "talking points" for "mainstream" journalists.

    That's the only reason think tanks exist. Why pretend otherwise?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 12:24am

    Re: Think tanks

    That's the only reason think tanks exist. Why pretend otherwise?


    There are some that actually do good work and were created for public service...

     

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    Karl (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re: Think tanks

    There are some that actually do good work and were created for public service...

    [citation needed]

    ...Seriously, I've talked with a couple of people who were in think tanks (on a very low level). Whether left or right, they all seemed to know that they were simply justifying what their mainstream political party wanted to say. They all knew that "think tank" was an acronym for "propaganda machine."

    Name one that is independent of ideology, and that is funded by someone other than the people who significantly fund the Democrats and/or Republicans.

    Name one that actually proposes solutions rather than justifies opinions. I hope you can give me one, because I haven't run across one yet.

     

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    Matthew Stinar (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 1:42am

    Re:

    It's because our government has proven incompetent at these and so many other things. Would you let the guy who drops everything he touches hold your baby? I sortta doubt it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 1:59am

    Re: Re: Think tanks

    There are some that actually do good work and were created for public service...
    Hmmm not sure I agree with you there Mike
    Unfortunately, this kind of institutional rot is endemic in the public policy world.
    And I don't think it's limited ot the public policy world either. Scientific studies are often just as flawed.

    The problem is the old "follow the money" adage. Someone has to pay for research and even the most ethical will tend to be biased towards whoever is paying the cheque, even if only unconciously. I agree with the transparancy though - it should be made very clear where any study ultimately comes from then at least you can make up your own mind. No more "Oh look it turns out cholocate is really good for you" that turns out to have been research funded by the sugar industry for example.

    I do get especially suspicious about anything that comes from places called things like "Institute for Policy Innovation" though. Anyone with a grandiose title like that I always suspect of the exact opposite intent.

    BBC sitcom "Yes Minister" almost always has quotes for such situations. In this case:
    "Always get rid of the difficult bit in the title – it does less harm there than in the text" (Sir Humphrey)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 2:11am

    Re: Re: "intellectually honest" No threat of you being called that Mike !!!

    It's really awesome how many different ways you manage to be wrong in one rant.
    You read it all???? I'm impressed! I didn't have the strength to get past the bit an inch or so down where he picked up on the word "free" in "free market" and decided (again) that Mike meant everything shouldn't cost anything.

    Oh.. on that note:
    Free Market: •Any market in which trade is unregulated; an economic system free from government intervention
    At that point my own scroll-wheel hamster took a beating, but that's Ok the little git probably deserved it.

     

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    catullusrl, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:25am

    Masnick = Industry shill

    Oh the irony! Masnick's post shows a stunning lack of awareness. The simple truth is that Masnick is a shill for the economic interests of Silicon Valley which fund the site via advertising.The idea that Techdirt is objective and intellectually honest is a joke. As Tim Lee says

    this is not specific to any particular political ideology. It shows up on all sides of the political spectrum. And, he notes (accurately) that many of those involved would deny any sort of "corruption," often pointing out that their own interests already very much "agree" with the positions of their corporate sponsors. But it does worry Lee that this is becoming more common, and when some researchers and scholars from more reputable firms move to others that are less reputable, it sometimes becomes tricky to determine the borderlines of what is legitimate output, and what's really propaganda.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:33am

    Example: the Iraq Study Group was set up to war-monger.

    Wherever there's profits or politics, the "fine line" you speak of exists only until the full truth is known.

    That "think tanks" are propaganda mills is so manifest that you couldn't even find a wide line for your title.

     

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    abc gum, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re:

    It is that sort of pessimism that drives their success. When all encompassing terms are put in play, one has most likely overlooked something.

    Oh - and get off my lawn.

     

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    abc gum, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:43am

    Re:

    I wonder ... did the Koch brothers donate to the Bohner campaign?

     

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  19.  
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    abc gum, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:51am

    Re: Masnick = Industry shill

    Maybe the term irony also has a different meaning in your alternate universe.

     

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    abc gum, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 4:54am

    " since intellectual property is a government-granted monopoly on an abundant resource -- or the very antithesis of a free market ideal."

    I'm thinking that even a fifth grader could understand this statement.

     

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    Kingster (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:15am

    Re:

    Seems that Darryl didn't get through that grade.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re: Masnick = Industry shill

    Maybe the term irony also has a different meaning in your alternate universe.
    Irony: descriptive "Having the properties or flavour of a heated device used to flatten clothes"

    *grin*

     

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  23.  
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    Dave Brezina, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:06am

    Industry Shills -- Historical Patent Case

    One of the first "patent fraud" cases involved an industry shill. The industry patent lawyer wrote an article extolling the virtues of a labor saving glass forming invention but the byline was that of a leader in the glassblowers' union. Then the lawyer argued the article was more persuasive because the author was making a statement against his own interests. It all came out because the entire glass industry was involved in an industry-wide price fixing campaign -- I'm pretty sure it was all about "Depression Glass." The lawyer was disbarred and the Supreme Court announce an uncompomising duty of candor to the Patent Office.

     

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  24.  
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    Matt Polmanteer (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    Re:

    There is no other reason then we have terrified into believing anything the gov't does is socialism and that is a terrible terrible thing! What should really terrify them is these being private. The thought that the people running the jail actually stand to benefit from keeping you in jail is appalling. They don't care about justice they care about their next paycheck. The same is true for healthcare! Same goes for student loans that were gov't backed so the Banks received all the gains and didn't have to worry about losing anything. There are somethings that are just better off being run by the gov't for the benefit of all of us.

    I think this is all part of the bigger problem that our gov't is facing right now. Its all about the money! More and more the people that have their hand in the cookie jar are being cited as the word of God when it comes to issues regarding them. These "think tank" hacks have the answers they want and are trying to fit the data to that. The sad thing is this is the same in all parts of policy right now. Look no further than ACTA or whats happening with energy policy!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re:

    These "think tank" hacks have the answers they want and are trying to fit the data to that.
    Yes, probably using "Reason" from "Wayforward technologies". See "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" for details. (warning DOC file). Read from "It was called Reason, and in its own way it was sensational." Page 11

     

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    Richard (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re:

    t's because our government has proven incompetent at these and so many other things. Would you let the guy who drops everything he touches hold your baby? I sortta doubt it.

    If you don't trust the government to run healthcare or prisons how come you trust the government to make laws....

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Re: Masnick = Industry shill

    The simple truth is that Masnick is a shill for the economic interests of Silicon Valley which fund the site via advertising

    Now this is funny in how incredibly untrue it is on almost every aspect of that sentence. I do not shill for the economic interests of Silicon Valley. I disagree with the viewpoints of most Silicon Valley companies. Advertising only represents a small portion of our company's revenue, and our revenue is spread out in many different ways among so many different sources that to claim I represent only a particular viewpoint is silly. I disagree with the stances of nearly every company who advertises on the site and I've regularly called out companies who advertise on the site whenever they do things I think are dumb.

    Keep trying.

     

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  28.  
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    staff, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    PROPERTY

    so many words, so little sense

    Why do you think they call it intellectual PROPERTY?

    For a knowledgeable analysis of patent issues, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re: PROPERTY

    Probably because they can't argue their case on the merits. You know, like you.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Why do you think they call it intellectual PROPERTY?
    "Always get rid of the difficult bit in the title – it does less harm there than in the text" (Sir Humphrey)

    See how that works?

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Re: Example: the Iraq Study Group was set up to war-monger.

    Example: the Iraq Study Group was set up to war-monger.

    If a person is a war-monger, is the thing they do called war-monging? Do they set out to war-mong? Or to mong war?

     

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  32.  
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    QContrary, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 9:03am

    Re:

    There's a difference between not being in lock step with the party line and actively alienating donors--not just the Koch brothers. Lindsey and Wilkinson's work fell under the latter category: actively alienating donors by suggesting alliances with organizations and individuals that have been an anathema to Cato's core mission and principles.

    (And in the case of Lindsey, check out his bio page at Cato--the guy had pretty much no scholarly output for the last 2+ years, which probably has more to do with his departure than some misguided, paranoid conspiracy theory in which Charles and David Koch are active participants in personnel decisions at the many organizations they contribute to).

    There are MANY other Cato scholars whose work falls under the former. Julian Sanchez's and Jim Harper's work on data and privacy; Tim Lee's work on telecom and Internet policy; Tim Lynch's work on criminal justice and opposition to the drug war; Bob Levy's and Jeffry Miron's work in support of gay rights; Dan Griswold's work on trade and immigration; the entire foreign policy team: based on their output, it's pretty obvious that none of these guys worries for a second about what the Kochs--or other donors of a more conservative bent--think about what they're doing.

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Think Tanks He points out that he's not quite sure what the solution is, but I'd argue transparency

    "He points out that he's not quite sure what the solution is, but I'd argue transparency, ..." - RIGHT ON! After many, many years in projects under deep security, I assure you that the main purpose of any type of security is to protect the guilty.
    While there are legitimate purposes for such things, here the only reasonable answer is transparency.

     

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    Karl (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    Re: PROPERTY

    Why do you think they call it intellectual PROPERTY?

    Because "they" are intellectually dishonest. IP is no more "property" than Al Gore's proposed "carbon credits."

    Nice link, by the way. The site is down, but the Google cache reveals that the website (I assume it's yours) thinks the PTO isn't cranking out enough patents... especially to "inventors" who will never bring their inventions to market.

    Incidentally, the website got something wrong. The Constitution doesn't actually grant copyrights or patents to artists or inventors. It grants to Congress the right to create patent and copyright laws. But they are under no obligation to do so; in fact, the Founding Fathers deliberately left it in Congress' hands, so that those laws could be changed or repealed entirely if the public believed they weren't benefiting from them.

    In other words, copyrights and patents are not inalienable rights, like property rights; they are statutory rights, like the "right" to make a right turn on red. Those rights inherently belong to the public, and the public can take them away any time it chooses.

    As Thomas Jefferson said: "Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody."

     

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    Bruce, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 11:55am

    Mike a shill?

    It is funny to see Mike called a shill for Silicon Valley when he is opposed to much of what they do.

    It is funnier to see him speak up and show himself a liar or a fool :
    " since intellectual property is a government-granted monopoly on an abundant resource -- or the very antithesis of a free market ideal." Actually just the opposite. Patents are inherently to things that are as scarce as substantive comments on TechDirt, namely inventions that are non-obvious to a PHOSITRA, and thus not abundant resources. Copyrights are to original works of art, not abundant resources. Trademarks are to brand names indicative of a single source, not abundant resources. Stop making deliberate false statements, Mike, you know better than that. Lieing makes you look like a shill and will confuse people into mistaking you for dishonest rather than just plain wrong.

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

    Re: "intellectually honest" No threat of you being called that Mike !!!

    Tsk tsk. As bad as that post is (and even for dah-RILL', it's a doozy), I'm kind of disappointed it got "reported".

    Sure it's easier to scan the page now, but.. at.. what... cost!?!?!

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Mike a shill?

    dishonest rather than just plain wrong.

    Which one are you?

     

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    The eejit (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Mike a shill?

    So the recent patent on voice-activated calling is both non-obvious AND there's no prior art?

    Because if so, then that's so far beyond a SNAFU it's not funny.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Mike a shill?

    Thank you for admitting that you failed Econ 101, Bruce. It was very brave of you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Mike a shill?

    Your willful stupidity is amazing. Only one person can hold a monopoly on a product so of course the monopoly would itself be scarce.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 12th, 2010 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Re: PROPERTY

    That's RJR's site, in case you didn't know.

     

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

  42.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Nov 13th, 2010 @ 12:20am

    Re: Mike a shill?

    Actually just the opposite.

    Just so you know, both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison considered copyrights and patents a "monopoly." They were the ones who wrote the "Copyright Clause," so they'd probably know better than you.

    That government-granted monopoly is a monopoly on publishing or manufacturing; it's a monopoly on copying. While the original expression or invention is not "abundant," the copies certainly are. Economically speaking, that monopoly is granted so that public goods can become club goods.

    Of course, that only works if those goods are excludable. That may be the case with patents (which only deal with commercial copying). But, for better or worse, it is no longer possible with copyrights.

    Trademarks are not in the Constitution at all. Federal trademark laws arise from the "Commerce Clause," which allowed the federal government to regulate interstate trade. They did not exist on a federal level until 1881.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Nov 13th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Well, let's see... We have, where I live, Canadian doctors and nurses commuting in to work for higher pay so they can pay off their schooling debts. We don't have to wait on important surgeries like hip replacement just because someone decided that it was 'elective surgery' to be able to move without pain. While not everyone has coverage, everyone can get treatment regardless of the ability to pay, as state/federally funded hospitals and clinics are not allowed to turn patients away for an inability to pay. Hmm... I'd say it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Both sides have merit, but tossing around singular-sided attacks is just petty.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Bruce, Nov 14th, 2010 @ 12:55am

    Re:Re: Mike a shill?

    Good post, Karl. I agree with the 1st, 3rd and 4th para. It is quite correct that Jefferson and Madison considered copyrights and patents limited monopolies, but not on abundant resources. In your second para, you have misstated slightly the nature of the exclusive rights of a patent, which also include "using and selling", although I think you know that. Likewise, to say that a patent is a monopoly on copying is not quite correct, as proof of copying is not required to show infringement. It is one of the advantages of a patent that unintentional infringement is still infringement. But, I'll stop there as this is off topic for this thread, which was on think tanks and how many are advocates dishonestly portraying themselves as independent. We see that in campaign funding sources, too.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    catullusrl, Nov 14th, 2010 @ 5:28am

    Re Masnick = Industry shill

    When was the last time an industry shill publicly admitted that they were an industry shill, Masnick? You used to work for Intel, and in many ways you still do.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 14th, 2010 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re Masnick = Industry shill

    There's also a fine line between working for an industry and being a shill. Mike hasn't crosssed over into shill territory.

     

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

  47.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Nov 14th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re:Re: Mike a shill?

    It is quite correct that Jefferson and Madison considered copyrights and patents limited monopolies, but not on abundant resources.

    Well, I guess that depends on what you mean by "abundant." They are monopolies on what other people can make with their own resources. As far as the copyright holders are concerned, those copies are "abundant," since they do not have to expend any of their own resources for those copies to exist.

    In your second para, you have misstated slightly the nature of the exclusive rights of a patent

    Sorry, I probably wasn't clear. By "copy," I meant "product." I didn't mean it in the sense that plagiarism is also "copying."

    If you infringed on someone's patent, but never manufactured or distributed the infringing device (even for free), nor used it to make money, then I doubt very much that any court would find you guilty of patent infringement. It would be like singing in the shower.

    For example. Fraunhofer owns several patents on MP3 technology (most only valid in Europe). This means that if someone makes a commercial MP3 encoder, they must pay a license or they are infringing. And, in fact, Fraunhofer did initiate lawsuits against many companies over the years.

    On the other hand, let's say some CS major creates his own MP3 encoder, as part of a school project. Unless that student makes his code available to the public (either paid or gratis), the student isn't a patent infringer. (My brother did this.)

    That's the distinction I was trying to make. The patent/copyright does not cover all uses of the original invention or expression; it only covers its distribution, and/or its use in commerce.

    That's why it's inappropriate to think of IP as "property," and appropriate to think of it as a "monopoly." The original expression or invention is not protected; what is protected is its commercial value.

    This is why the MPAA and RIAA are so quick to inflate the detriment to commerce that non-commercial infringement has. If it had no negative effect, non-commercial infringement wouldn't even be considered infringement at all.

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 14th, 2010 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re Masnick = Industry shill

    You used to work for Intel, and in many ways you still do.

    Seriously? I worked for Intel for less than a year, and that took place more than 13 years ago. I regularly call the company out for stupid things it does:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100512/0305359391.shtml

    Arguing that I'm a shill for Intel is pretty funny in how easily proven wrong it is.

    Keep trying.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

    Aww, how cute, the crying baby is throwing his tantrum again.


    I think you're missing the point. These posts are an obvious parody of Jon Newton, the nutcase who runs www.P2PNet.net. The funny part is that except for the over-use of exclamation points, this is only a slight exaggeration of how Newton acts on his blog. Hardly a day goes by that he doesn't post some story slagging off "Gargle", and anyone who dares to post an opposing viewpoint is labeled a "shill" or "fanboi" and has their comments deleted.

     

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


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