Exposing The False Sanctity Of 'Intellectual Property'

from the spin-and-counter-spin dept

The phrase "intellectual property" is a devastatingly effective meme; it really sticks in the head. It’s power mainly comes from the sacred word "property," qualified by the less-sacred but nonetheless powerful word "intellectual." As William Patry wrote in Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars:

“By describing copyright as a private property right, proponents of the description hope to get policy makers and courts to believe that only private, and not public rights are implicated.”1 Later, he adds, “The effort to describe copyright as property is intended to invoke ancient entitlement to powerful rights of exclusion, rights granted automatically as a member of the oldest families.”2 via copyhype

Even those of us who know better refer to copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and other monopolies as "IP." Some of us excuse this by saying "IP" stands for "Imaginary Property" (the word imaginary is weaker than intellectual) or "Intellectual Privilege" (privilege is much weaker than property), but neither of those phrases have the power of intellectual property. On the other hand, they keep the initials IP, which is good – they can be used wherever "IP" is. But we need to use bigger guns. What this problem calls for is a word of the same potency as property – one that sticks in the head so that once the association is made, it can never be lost.

That word is pooperty.

The word poop is as profane as the word property is sacred, making it a uniquely well-suited antidote. This is causing no small consternation among some of my colleagues, as they don’t want to be associated with the profane. But the concept of "IP," which is rooted in censorship, should be associated with the profane, and that’s what happens when you call it intellectual pooperty. Also, it make lawyers laugh; at a recent IP law conference, a signed print of this comic did particularly well at the benefit auction:

Obviously, not everyone can get away with profanity. But I can, because I am an artist (as opposed to a politician). I’m not suggesting this as a tactic for everyone, but it’s a worthy option for some.

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Comments on “Exposing The False Sanctity Of 'Intellectual Property'”

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142 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re:

Oh, lighten up, Frances. Nina did us all a favor and gave us a laugh while making a point. And it’s a GOOD point.

If one side can create a false sense of import through the language they choose to use, the other side can mock that self-agrandization with snarky (and really, Nina, poop != profanity) vocabulary of their own.

I’ve gotten my fill in the past couple days of people taking themselves entirely too seriously. This is a good way to enlighten AND lighten the argument….

patent.drafter (profile) says:

so ... you poop for free?

I think maybe, should I take this post of yours as implicit license to download *every single one* of your online poops, and re-upload them for my profit on sites displaying xxx porn and escort service advertisements?

… uh … you didn’t want your work associated with that sort of stuff?

hey, don’t get your pooperty on my porn parade!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Actually, I paid to read Nina’s art. Down the side of the page is a pile of ads, plus other paid links and other things vying for my attention when I visit techdirt. That is the price I pay for coming to this site.

Her cartoon was no more free than watching CSI on CBS.

Is every download a lost sale?

Oh look, you pooped an idea. No, wait, it smells like bait, never mind.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re:

That’s true. I was just a little disheartened to see some really hateful stuff from other comic creators over my Colleen Doran Embracing Your Fans piece.

Oh well. I guess some reaction is better than no reaction at all….

Oh, and that comic you linked to is absolutely hysterical. Going right up on my office wall. And I’m going to make a point to watch Sita and figure out how I can contribute to you this week, something I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I will say you have learned a lot from your time at TD. Now you know how to dismiss people just like the boss, rather than actually addressing the points made.

Why would you think that poop, which is not unique, is somehow equal to a great scientific discovery, a unique piece of music, or a great literary work?

Are you suggesting that your “movie” is just poop, as common and and worthless as what our bodies expel every day? Are your cartoons poop? Should we just wipe them away with a bit of TP?

I look forward to your explanations.

New Mexico Mark says:

If the cartoon could just be used for a jury...

Sometimes (other might say all too often) jury trials hinge on a memorable phrase or image. “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit.”

If someone unreasonably accused of IP violations could get this cartoon and maybe some of these terms (I really like the term “Imaginary Property”) in front of a jury, it might have way more influence than any drawn-out legal argument.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re:

“So you are saying you work is sh-t?”

Friend, this is an ANALOGY. Nina can clarify, but as I see it, the point the of the comic was that all art is the excretion of a commonly consumed thing: culture. Culture is the food, new art is the secretion. To pretend otherwise is silly.

But some artists, like the one lampooned in Nina’s comic, seem to treat their own work as though it came w/o borrowing from other’s idea, w/o the collective culture behind it, and that it should be treated as something brand new, when it isn’t….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If all that is secreted is poop, it is a worthless endeavor. The act of eating isn’t to create poop, it is to fuel to body. Poop is at best a byproduct of the process, similar to scrap paper after a book is printed and trimmed.

The analogy (is there a pun here) fails because Nina is suggesting that art is no more unique and no more special than our waste. For those people who spend days, months, and even years to make art in it’s various forms, I am sure they don’t consider it waste material.

Nina may have a low opinion of her own works, that doesn’t mean that she can force everyone else to feel the same about their own efforts.

Nina Paley (profile) says:

Re:

Troll, you are hitting on some excellent philosophical topics!

The act of eating isn’t to create poop, it is to fuel to body. Poop is at best a byproduct of the process

The act of inhaling and exhaling culture isn’t to create art, it’s to fuel the soul. Art is indeed a byproduct of a process. Art can be beautiful and nourishing – but so can poop, to other species. And other species’ poop is valuable to us. The finest, most highly-valued wines are in fact made of yeast poop.

Food and art are rooted in the fertility of the soil, and “waste” from some processes nourishes that fertility. Witness collage art made from cast-off advertising waste – Graham Rawle’s brilliant novel Woman’s World is just one fine example. Witness all music, incorporating and recycling bits of sound from everywhere. Witness Everything is a Remix. Witness William Shakespeare, Kahlil Gibran, and yourself.

Look up ecology.

Troll, you are part of a beautiful, complex cultural and physical world you have no awareness of.

patent.drafter (profile) says:

so ... you poop for free?

I have no idea. I wouldn’t waste the time I now spend commenting on provocative blog posts, merely to set up a site like that.

My point was that “intellectual property” can serve not merely to take rent off ideas that have been massaged from the jungian consciousness, but also to protect the reputation of the artist.

Of course Ms Paley seems not to be concerned with that, or with the rent-producing function of i.p. Arguably this is because her works all are “for hire”. Arguably her lack of concern stems from a failure to consider whether she would be hired, unless her patron had some way to reliably profit from her works. The present i.p. regime, like the present regime of law dealing with real and personal properties, provides predictability that sustains a complex economological system … in which blog commenters crawl as copraphages.

Anonymous Coward says:

so ... you poop for free?

The present i.p. regime, like the present regime of law dealing with real and personal properties, provides predictability that sustains a complex economological system

Are you crazy or something.

There is no “predictability” in copyright, it turns everything to s… and create uncertainties so powerful that people are forced to spend millions in some cases just to clear things before hand, it sterilizes the eco-system killing it, it does resemble a lot the behavior of cancer.

Even in economic terms it is a foolish notion.

Learn with Coca-Cola that got all those people resealing their goods and instead of punishing them, they trained and partned with them and that is why you can go to the Sahara or Amazon and you will find Coke there to drink.

Without copyright a cascade of events conspire to bring the original creator to the forefront. People start disseminating the work, people start connecting and integrating that into their lives and start to pay for more and others will make a buck too and when they need more material they probably go to the creator and pay for it, but now that is not allowed to happen people don’t get anything in return, copywrong is just evil.

Stephan Kinsella (profile) says:

Intellectual Properganda

Great comments, Nina. I noted in my post Intellectual Properganda how Fritz Machlup long ago observed, “Those who started using the word property in connection with inventions had a very definite purpose in mind: they wanted to substitute a word with a respectable connotation, ?property?, for a word that had an unpleasant ring, ?privilege?.”

I still refer to it as intellectual property because that is how it is described. BUt since my main targets are patent and copyright, I try to use those labels as much as possible.

dnball (profile) says:

My way too serious two cents

Super and funny antidote to the IP maximalists. But …

I don’t object to the “property” portion of the label. Property, when all the metaphysics is stripped away, is anything that can be bought and sold.

ALL property, however, is encumbered — either specific to the thing [rights of way and other easements, use restrictions that run with the land or on how the thing can lawfully be used] or imposed by law [doctrines of public and private necessity, eminent domain, adverse possession, privileged invasion].

Intellectual Property is no different: the owner’s particular “intellectual property” legal rights shield can [and should] be lawfully pierced by the public on occasion.

My problem is with “intellectual” — which denotes a product of the mind. But that’s too tight a restraint.

If “intellectual property” is the label for property rights that are not real, personal, or contractual then the label is excludes lots of rights thought of as IP step-children: everyone?s right of publicity, the right to be free from trade libel, the right to sell free from unfair competition, right to use geographic indicators, implied contract right via idea submission law, visual artists’ right of attribution, and even domain name registration rights.

I prefer “Intangible Property.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Nina, you remind me of an old friends of mine who spent years living in a hippie style commune. He too had absolutely no clue of the value of anything, and retired poor, living on a meager government handout because he hasn’t learned basic life lessons.

He spoke of things in grand terms, of trees and flowers and chirping bird (but not of basket weavers who sit and twiddle their thumbs and toes). He would go on about synergy and energy and how all things were great. He is currently spending his final years living in a very small 1 room at a retirement home, effectively penniless.

Look up Hubris.

Darryl says:

Its not considered private property..

?By describing copyright as a private property right, proponents of the description hope to get policy makers and courts to believe that only private, and not public rights are implicated”

Who thinks or says its PRIVATE PROPERTY, sure Willian Patry thinks that, but he has an axe to grind with regard to copyright.

You can tell that from where Mike pulled his ‘source’ from, COPYHYPE. They are sure to be balanced in their opinion..

Just like Mike is !!!!! (NOT)..

Anyway it is not refered to as private property, and it is clear that it is MOST OFTEN owned by public corporation, so the entire premise of this ‘article’ is false.

It’s not private property, its not ‘imaginary’ or not real in any way. And it has its own value.

If it did not have its own value, then why do you want to get your dirty little hands on it ?

You say it has not value, then go on to explain how its value should be assigned to you, and not the rightfull owner of it.

Do you see how that makes no sense, unless you consider theft a viable way of acquiring wealth ?

“it has no value, but I really want it, and I cant live without it”. yea right..

Darryl says:

What is your problem ??

What is your problem, is it that you want to use the IP of other’s without paying them or rewarding them for the money and time in the development of that knowledge.

Or is it that you are incapable of developing your own IP, and want to use the efforts of others, for your own gain, for free ?

Is it only the IP you know about that you desire so much ?

So IP that is not copyrighted, or patented, but is just secret is of no interest to you.

It’s only the stuff you WANT that you WANT FOR FREE that you seem concerned about.

Or if you like, you can explain, why it is that you desire to acquire and use for your own benefit something you claim has no value ?

So you want to gain the benefit and profit and utility of the IP without paying for its development, invention and for the people who actually took the considerable risk in the development of that technology. So you can what ?

Make some money off their backs ? nice one..

If you do not think IP has any value, then why on earth are you so keen to get your sticky fingers on it ?

One has to look at your motives.. which are clear.

To say it has no value, therefore you want it, or access to it, means you are lying somewhere.. so which is the lie ?

Darryl says:

Copyright on those cartoon characters ?? Iv'e seen them before !!

Im quite sure I have seen cartoon characters that look just like your’s !!! on TV, and in news papers.

I wonder where you got that idea from Nina ?

Have you paid your copyright to them, or were you the original creator of those cartoon characters ?

some people just never grow out of toilet humor.. ๐Ÿ™‚

What about ‘poop’ jokes, are they you’re own creation ? or did you lift those as well.. that right you did !!!…

At least satire is fair use ๐Ÿ™‚ but not for cartoons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

He was happy while he was doing it, and now deeply regrets it. He didn’t realize that the hippie dippy lifestyle would ever come to an end, leaving him with little to work with. His life’s work was to feed other people for no real return, and so on. Now he wishes he had worked a real job instead, and gotten the return on his labors.

The moral of the story is that while what you are doing right now (giving it all away, sharing is caring, copy left, whatever) seems like the right thing to do, it may not take care of you in the long run.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re:

You friend was practicing a business model Mike has coined as “Give it away and pray”. Many people on this site have said that this model is not a good one, obviously for the reasons you have stated.

However, using a non-scarce good to leverage the sale of something scarce, or to obtain something in return (including a good reputation, which is very valuable and scarce) is not the same as “give it away and pray”. I don’t believe Nina or Mike practice “give it away and pray”.

The moral of the story is that your friend is probably a good person but a bad businessman. However, people who insist that new laws need to be made to protect their broken business model are bad people *and* bad businessmen. So your friend still wins, yes?

abc gum says:

Its not considered private property..

I thought an individual could own copyrights, patents and trademarks. Would this then be considered private property? As stated here many times, these IP laws are there for the protection of the little guy, presumably that would include an individual, even Angry Dude.

But now Darryl sayes no, it is not private property. If not private, then what is it? If I toil and slave building the most awesome whatyacallit, the resulting patent is not private property? Hmmm, better not quit my day job.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Its not considered private property..

Darryl, just yesterday in a comment, you insisted that your comments were entirely based on facts, not opinions, unlike mine. In fact, you mocked me, claiming that I never based my comments on facts. And yet, today, you state:

You can tell that from where Mike pulled his ‘source’ from, COPYHYPE. They are sure to be balanced in their opinion..

There is so much wrong in that statement, it’s not even funny.

Factual error 1: I did not write the post.
Factual error 2: While Nina did quote Bill Patry via Copyhype, those words are from his book on the subject.
Factual error 3: Copyhype (if you’d bothered to even look at it) actually seeks to support the side of copyright maximalism, and tends to take diametrically opposed viewpoints to Techdirt. In fact, I would think you would like the site, since it regular tries to “debunk” statements made on Techdirt.

I mean, you could have checked any of these things out pretty easily. I’m surprised — since you insist your comments are all factually based — that you did not.

Somehow I doubt we’ll get you to admit you were wrong, however.

You say it has not value, then go on to explain how its value should be assigned to you, and not the rightfull owner of it.

This is another factual error. Can you point out any place that I have ever said that content does not have value? I’ll wait.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

I wonder how much of the concept of ?Intellectual Property? is being buoyed up by the conflation of two different meanings of the word ?my? (at least in English, possibly other languages as well): the genitive (?my X? = ?I created X?) versus the possessive (?my X? = ?I own X?).

You start out using the phrase in its first form, and at some point you shift meaning to the second form, and suddenly the stuff you create has become ?property? that can be ?owned?, just like that.

dnball (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Lawrence, that’s an interesting distinction.

But if I create tangible thing X then I own it, just like that. Or my employer, or whoever hired me, does. X IS property. That’s how your two meanings of “my” are conflated.

Even in non-Western cultures [and communist states] when a thing is made it belongs, at most, to the community at large — and let no neighboring community try to come take it because that’s how wars begin. Every tangible thing within the borders of a nation-state is property that can be bought and sold. Which only leaves, I think, the air, oceans, and polar land masses.

Those who oppose the very concept of “intellectual property” merely oppose society’s decision to create enforceable rights restricting all others but the creator of the property from using that property for a certain period of time.

There is NO “natural law” basis that mandates that the creator be given the exclusive right to use his or her creation. Those rights are conferred by man through law — which can, at one extreme, deny the rights altogether and, at the other extreme, make them inviolate and in perpetuity.

I think arguing over whether a copyright and a patent and a trademark and trade secrets are “property” or not is a wholly silly exercise. They are property. The real debate is over where to set their temporal and exclusive use boundaries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

He wasn’t doing “give it away and pray”, he was living the commune lifestyle, where nobody pays for anything, everyone helps everyone else, group meals, and so on. What money they do take in (by doing any work outside the commune or in their case, selling some extra veg they would go) would just go into a kitty to handle emergencies.

If you want to look at it that way, he was living “open source”. Now he is living on the public dole.

Stephan Kinsella (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Copyright and patent are way worse than trademark and trade secret, though none of them are “property”. Just because the state calls them property to help sell them, so what? This is just propaganda. (See my post Intellectual Properganda.) A trade secret, to the extent it’s valid, is just a contract claim. Trademark, to the extent it’s valid, is just a fraud claim on behalf of a defrauded customer–not a claim on behalf of the “owner” of the trademark. It’s not property either.

Patent is just a protectionist monopoly, rooted in protectionism, favoritism, mercantilism, and monopoly privilege grants by monarchs to rent-seekers. Copyright is another state-granted monopoly, rooted in censorship.

Karl (profile) says:

Re:

Look up Hubris.

So, if she doesn’t think art is important enough by your standards, she is trying to force everyone else to have a low opinion of their works.

But if she does believe art is important, she’s guilty of “hubris.”

You’re upset because the rest of us won’t play your game of “heads I win, tails you lose.” Maybe you should just take your coin and go home? We won’t mind.

As far as money is concerned: by releasing “Sita” under a CC license, Nina made more money than she would have otherwise. And by removing the -NC restriction, she’s allowing others to make money, too – without Nina ever losing a dime.

All by simply letting her art be a raw material of culture – which is what art is supposed to be in the first place.

Nina Paley (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

I think arguing over whether a copyright and a patent and a trademark and trade secrets are “property” or not is a wholly silly exercise.
Me too!

They are property.
No, they are not. Property is rivalrous by nature. Culture is the opposite: not merely non-rivalrous, but anti-rivalrous, in that its value increases the more it is shared. To paraphrase what Stephan Kinsella wrote in Against Intellectual Property: valid property minimizes conflicts over scarce goods, while intellectual pooperty maximizes conflicts over infinite goods.

I think arguing over whether water is wet is a silly exercise too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree that water is dry.

Karl (profile) says:

Re:

If you want to look at it that way, he was living “open source”.

You have a woefully inept view of how open source actually works. Most open source companies are 100% profit-driven.

“Living on the public dole” is a more apt comparison to copyright maximalists. Copyright is fundamentally anti-capitalist. Economically, it is rent seeking: getting the government to pass laws so that the copyright holders don’t have to compete in an open market. It is, literally, getting money from the government.

Stephan Kinsella (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Nina is right. As I explain in Knowledge is Power, Human action requires the use of means–scarce (rivalrous) resources–to achieve desird ends. Knowledge guides action. It opens up a wider, richer universe of possibilities: it allows human actors to choose from a wider array of ends, and from a wider, richer set of means to achieve one?s preferred ends.

Human progress requires property rights, so that scarce means may be peacefully and productively used; and it requires an expanding body of knowledge that can allow ever more efficient and creative use of scarce resources. Both property rights in scarce resources, and greater knowledge, contribute to efficiency, and thus to human prosperity.

Recognizing property in scarce means is essential to survival. But to impose property rights on knowledge?which is what ?intellectual property? law does?is suicidal madness. It is to limit and restrict information and knowledge. It is to hobble and blind ourselves.

Mr. Ed says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Property is neutral. People are rivalrous by nature, (primates that they are). When people create things they value them for the time and labor and heart and soul they put into them. Culture is built from the individual
expression of talented creators. That is indeed a scare resource. Copyright exists to control the theft of the
talent, the time, and the cost of creating art. It reduces
conflict.

For example, you could have licensed the music for your film
BEFORE you used it instead of infringing and THEN asking for
a license. That would have reduced the conflict. You created the conflict NOT the copyright law.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Copyright on those cartoon characters ?? Iv'e seen them before !!

Nina is upset because she used a song in her movie that
she didn’t license and now she can’t get her movie
released because she can’t afford to pay for the license.

She wants to punish ALL copyright creators because she
she screwed up.

Scroll up. This was already debunked in this very thread.

Kinda sad when people are so blind with their criticism that they not only lie, but repeat something that is debunked on the same page.

She did license the music. The movie was released a long time ago. She didn’t screw up.

Care to try again?

nasch (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Copyright exists to control the theft of the
talent, the time, and the cost of creating art.

Can you explain how it’s possible to steal someone’s talent? Or time? Seriously, how can I walk up to someone and take away their time, so that they have less time than before I got there, and I have more? And how does a person steal a cost? I understand stealing money, but you’re not talking about stealing money, you’re talking about stealing costs that have already been incurred. How can those be stolen?

Mr. Ed says:

Re:

Nina,

I merely pointed out that you are grousing about Copyright because you screwed up and had to pay for your mistake.

You used the song BEFORE you secured the License.
That was why you had to pay. You took someone’s work
and used it without permission. No one FORCED you to
use the song. You were forced to pay because you
didn’t license the song. Copyright wasn’t at fault. You were.

I am glad to see you have paid up and that you can now
release your film. I would hope you learned something in
the process.

But it seems that you want to punish other creators by attacking Copyright.

Sad.

dnball (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Three points.

First, works of authorship and inventions convey information, NOT knowledge.

I get it that your anti-IP side wants the moral high ground and so you characterize the pro-IP forces as depriving the world of knowledge. But that tactic’s a loser. The vast number of copyrightable works are valueless drivel and many, many patents claim worthless inventions less-advanced than the state of the art.

Your rebuttal is that these critiques are mere subjective judgments. Yes they are. But Quality exists and everyone, including you and the self-anointed enlightened, routinely assign higher value to Keats than the corpus of an internet chat room and more to a room temperature, superconducting material than a novel variation of the head of a ball peen hammer. Every idea is not equal. When you stop equating information with knowledge your side will gain more credibility. [As an aside, Pirsig’s book “Lila” is a wonderful treatment on the subject.]

Second, I realize that you and Nina do WANT the bundle of rights that we call copyright and patent to be property. But they are. Societies [throughout modern history] have decided, democratically, that it benefits them more when the creators of works of authorship and novel, non-obvious inventions w/utility are granted a time and scope-limited bundle of rights in exchange for the creators sharing their creations with the public. As opposed to those creators privately enjoying their works and either privately using their inventions or placing them on shelves for no one to use.

[I get it that you assume a third option: the creator begs off that bargain and publishes w/o demanding any consideration. Certainly some do. But copyright and patent exist to motivate those to publish who otherwise would not.]

You can reasonably argue that governments do not have the authority to adopt Constitutions that recognize these bundles of rights or the authority to enact laws to create and enforce them. But you CANNOT deny that governments have. Because they have, these bundle of rights attach, under statute-specified circumstances, to works of authorship and inventions. They exist. These rights can be bought and they can be sold. In what way are they are not “property?”

The only logical way that I can see for you deny that these rights are “property” is for you to take the position that when a government enacts laws that you believe it has no authority to enact then those laws are void — more so, actually, that those laws do not even exist.

Ok. Believe that and live and work outside the governing structure the rest of us live and work within. But you have no right to live and work within ours and pick and chose which laws to abide by and which you won’t. Try to change them if you like. But you have no right to deny them.

Third, and this is an argument for another day, information IS rivalrous in that it takes resources to create it [and to disseminate it].

People compete for the resources needed to acquire facts, to evaluate them, and to use them to build hypotheses, theories, inventions, works of art, etc. It is too convenient, and simplistic, to say that information is non-rivalrous when resources are need to create it.

Your concern about the limitation on information flow is, in my view, amply answered by the copyright rule that facts and abstractions are not copyrightable and the patent rule that theories, ideas and plans, laws of nature, and scientific principles are not patentable.

Again, the proper debate is over the scope of the property rights that a government should grant to those who create. It is time-wasting to debate that those bundle of rights are not “property.”

Good chat. Thanks.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re:

“That is the price I pay for coming to this site.”

There is nothing stopping you from blocking the ads, or in the case of CBS, taking a break or killing them with Tivo.

“Her cartoon was no more free than watching CSI on CBS.”

Why would anyone think it was more free than watching CSI on CBS? In both contexts the word is used to describe the lack of obligation to pay, not the lack of cost or price.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re:

“I am glad to see you have paid up and that you can now
release your film. I would hope you learned something in
the process. “

It’s nice of you to apologise to Nina for not getting your facts straight.. oh, wait.

“But it seems that you want to punish other creators by attacking Copyright. “

You seem to be attributing malice to the fact that Nina has an opinion you disagree with. Is there something I’m missing that would cause you to think this? Whether you agree or not, Nina is only doing what she believes is best as a content creator and practices what she preaches.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Intellectual Properganda

“By the way, Patry has a good point, but unfortunately he is not opposed to copyright–that is, treating it as intellectual property. (I discuss this here.)”

Looks like a great conversation, did it continue anywhere?

I agree with you that there is way too much ‘well we need some copyright, let’s not be silly’ from people who should know better. If someone can see that there needs to be reform but says ‘five years is enough’ after plucking the number out of thin air, then I get the impression that they are merely trying to placate those calling for reform by getting rid of some of the worst effects without any actual concern for addressing the root of the problem.

Even people who talk about ‘optimum’ copyright length tend to avoid the issue of whether an optimum benefit is worth the negative effects.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

“But if I create tangible thing X then I own it, just like that.”

So, if I take a pack of cards from you and create a house of cards then I own it? I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant, but it’s what you said. If it were more complicated then surely you wouldn’t have empthasised the simplicity by adding ‘just like that’.

“Those who oppose the very concept of “intellectual property” merely oppose society’s decision to create enforceable rights restricting all others but the creator of the property from using that property for a certain period of time. “

That looks like a very ugly (and not too subtle) strawman.

‘There is NO “natural law” basis that mandates that the creator be given the exclusive right to use his or her creation. Those rights are conferred by man through law — which can, at one extreme, deny the rights altogether and, at the other extreme, make them inviolate and in perpetuity. ‘

‘At one extreme pigs can fly really high and at the other they can’t fly at all’. We could even make a law telling pigs that they can fly, but it wouldn’t help them do so. Pigs aside, the point is that the extremity of the law doesn’t matter if it isn’t any use.

“I think arguing over whether a copyright and a patent and a trademark and trade secrets are “property” or not is a wholly silly exercise. They are property. The real debate is over where to set their temporal and exclusive use boundaries.”

You think the argument is a silly exercise because you’ve already decided the outcome?

Anonymous Coward says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

Second, I realize that you and Nina do WANT the bundle of rights that we call copyright and patent to be property. But they are. Societies [throughout modern history] have decided, democratically, that it benefits them more when the creators of works of authorship and novel, non-obvious inventions w/utility are granted a time and scope-limited bundle of rights in exchange for the creators sharing their creations with the public. As opposed to those creators privately enjoying their works and either privately using their inventions or placing them on shelves for no one to use.

That is drivel, nowhere in history you see those monopolies granted democratically. If they were they would not come close to the absurd levels that we have today. Besides the world really don’t need those people to share anything, Arquimedes was using Calculus well before everyone else and his discoveries got lost and where rediscovered later, what people need is the freedom to think and produce their own solutions and that is what IP negates.

[I get it that you assume a third option: the creator begs off that bargain and publishes w/o demanding any consideration. Certainly some do. But copyright and patent exist to motivate those to publish who otherwise would not.]

History tells us that those that don’t want to share are not that important to society and they shouldn’t be able to negate a path to others. Necessity makes people develop things not financial gain alone.

These rights can be bought and they can be sold. In what way are they are not “property?”

Can you put a fence on that property? can you touch it? Can you take that property from somebody who had experience it?

Those are not qualities of imaginary property.

Ok. Believe that and live and work outside the governing structure the rest of us live and work within. But you have no right to live and work within ours and pick and chose which laws to abide by and which you won’t. Try to change them if you like. But you have no right to deny them.

It is the duty of every citizen to fight against unjust laws by any means necessary, so yes if enough people believe that they can ignore some law that law will become useless, those laws are encroaching on society and the people of that society will not be kind to such things and yes people can deny them. Squatters a century ago won a lot of laws by ignoring them, laws were changed after people fought on the streets other times. Those laws are not the what the majority wants. That is why pro-IP people have a problem because they are scared of the people.

People compete for the resources needed to acquire facts, to evaluate them, and to use them to build hypotheses, theories, inventions, works of art, etc. It is too convenient, and simplistic, to say that information is non-rivalrous when resources are need to create it.

Well to what are you referring to? music, after created it can be produced at no cost, it is so easy today that kids can do it, there is no resources used after the creation, so why do they need to be paid over and over again for more then a century?

People are trying to make real state like copyright and charge people for every transaction made on some property, do you think anyone will accept that? Is ridiculous and so is the concept of imaginary property.

Your concern about the limitation on information flow is, in my view, amply answered by the copyright rule that facts and abstractions are not copyrightable and the patent rule that theories, ideas and plans, laws of nature, and scientific principles are not patentable.

That is not true. People are patenting living organins, methods and all kind of ridiculous things, furthermore most people use copyright as a weapon against the competition, they suppress it instead of competing in the market and because it is so expensive everyone settles even if they know they are in the right but can’t show it conclusively or risk a jury that could disregard those things.

Just go to http://www.chillingeffects.org/ or talk to medical researchers and see what they have to say a lot of them are against the absurds that are going on recently.

Again, the proper debate is over the scope of the property rights that a government should grant to those who create. It is time-wasting to debate that those bundle of rights are not “property.”

Well I don’t think so, most people that I talk to, when they are clued in on what is happening and I explain what is IP all of them without fail ask “How can ideas be property?”, so you may think it is a waste of time, but for others the waste of time is making those absurd laws that have no resemblance with the real world and cannot even be secured.

Darryl says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

First, works of authorship and inventions convey information, NOT knowledge.

Would you like to explain to us, how you can have information without knowledge ?

That statement, that you have made requires some explanation?

I find it very hard to work out how it would be possible to recieve information but somehow not be able to gain ANY knowledge from that information.

At the very least you would acquire the knowledge that that information exists, and the knowledge of when, why, how, and by who. And if you view that information, it is quite clear that information will contain knowledge.

And you can pay for and buy the skills and talents of creators, it has happend throught history. You pay them for their creations..

You pay them, because they are capable of creating something you want to experience, that you yourself are not capable of creating..

Therefore you pay for someone elses creativity, and you pay for the risk they take to create that work.

IP has value, it is as physical as the constitution, its as real and it it were not for IP laws, that knowledge would mostly be kept secret and proprietary.

The bottom line is, if you want to use great innovations, you either have to pay for someone smarter than you to acquire it, or you have to create it yourself.

The option just to steal it from anywhere you like is illegal, immoral, and unethical. And market restricting.

If there is not sufficient laws protecting IP then the owners of that IP will be forced to protect their IP by other means.

Take for example, military IP, it is not made public, and it is kept secret, the fashion industry, it is also not protected so each ‘show’ or new release is kept highly secret until its release.

To stop people from stealing their idea’s. they HAVE to resort to security, and secrecy.

That is all that Mikes concept of copyright reform would achieve, not the utopia he pictures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

And you can pay for and buy the skills and talents of creators, it has happend throught history. You pay them for their creations..

Yes you pay them once not everytime somebody uses something that you worked on.

Seriously why don’t you build a ghost-detector to find out who is using imaginary property.

You pay them, because they are capable of creating something you want to experience, that you yourself are not capable of creating..

Not necessarily, I paid for things mostly for convenience and I suspect most others do to, what you don’t do is pay others for things you are willing to do and have the capabilities like spreading data, who is not capable of spreading data?

Data production you say? Also can be accomplished by others without the need for the first creator to get paid.

Therefore you pay for someone elses creativity, and you pay for the risk they take to create that work.

Therefore you pay for others to do what you are not willing to do or couldn’t, not what you can do and are willing to do like distribute data or knowledge.

The option just to steal it from anywhere you like is illegal, immoral, and unethical. And market restricting.

Illegal, Immoral and unethical is the act of letting people die to make a profit, is suing a mother for posting a video of her baby dancing, or suing a mother for filming her children’s birthday, or making everybody pay multiple times for the same thing over and over and over again, or destroying the market place so you there can be only one place to get something and threatening others.

The bottom line is, if you want to use great innovations, you either have to pay for someone smarter than you to acquire it, or you have to create it yourself.

Not true, people can do it on their own today and many do, what you types do is threaten those people because you believe you can own ideas and that every similar expression of said ideas is owned by somebody that is just ridiculous.

Take for example, military IP, it is not made public, and it is kept secret, the fashion industry, it is also not protected so each ‘show’ or new release is kept highly secret until its release.

To stop people from stealing their idea’s. they HAVE to resort to security, and secrecy.

Really, when was the last time the world was astounded by the revelation of a new weapon? More importantly when was a secret weapon used as a deterrent to anything? If people don’t know about it most people don’t care, that is why armies disclose and parade their arsenals so to display to others “You see my guns, I will f. you up”.

That is all that Mikes concept of copyright reform would achieve, not the utopia he pictures.

The only thing Mike does is to start the debate he doesn’t offer solutions here most of the time and that is good, he is like a search light.

You want to see real solutions go see how the hippies of the 70’s are doing today, most failed, but some came on top of things and did something that is truly amazing. Some became Steve Jobs other became the urban homestead a family that live like kings on a budget of $20 K a year.

Now that is incredible, if it was you, you die famished and pennyless because you would not be able to cut it on the real world.

But you see, me and others are no happy with governments today, but I don’t see the need for violence or more laws the only thing I need is to learn how to produce something, that is why I believe we as a people can deal with rising medical costs learning how to produce our own medicine at home, creating local healthcenters, I don’t understand why we pay for insurance, when it its the same thing to just pay and build a new hospital to practice medicine for free, we pay when we are healthy and working and we don’t when we are sick, why would people pay for other people to do that for them and have all the incentives to negate service to them at the same time? That is just dumb, and it doesn’t work, that is why people complain so much.

Self made knowledge for all(shameless plug I know).

http://www.patientslikeme.com/
http://www.patchadams.org/
http://www.urbanhomestead.org/
http://tropicaldisease.org/
http://www.dndi.org/
http://www.iowh.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open_source_healthcare_software
http://nursingassistantguides.com/2009/50-successful-open-source-projects-that-are-changing-medicine/

For 2011 lets get rid of trolls like darryl and start taking charge of our own destinies. darryl’s want us to be slaves to them, it is time to show them what we are made of.

We can build a better world.

dnball (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

You write: “So, if I take a pack of cards from you and create a house of cards then I own it? ? If it were more complicated then surely you wouldn’t have empthasised the simplicity by adding ‘just like that’.”

My statement “But if I create tangible thing X then I own it, just like that” (1) assumes lawful ownership of whatever is needed to create X and (2) included ?just like that? because that is a quote from the poster to whom I was responding and the point that I was rebutting.

You write: “That looks like a very ugly (and not too subtle) strawman.”

What I wrote means that those who deny the existence of intellectual property deny society?s right to create intellectual property rights by law. If you think that is ?straw? so be it.

You write “? Pigs aside, the point is that the extremity of the law doesn’t matter if it isn’t any use.”

Clearly false. The extremes of anything ? including the scope of rights we call intellectual property ? serve to bound what falls within. Deniers of intellectual property exclude it from the boundaries of what established law calls ?property.? My point was to place intellectual property rights within the boundary of ?property? and to posit that the position of those rights within that boundary can be reasonably disputed.

You write: “You think the argument is a silly exercise because you’ve already decided the outcome?”

Yes.

Thoughtful criticism is useful and moves the analysis and discussion forward. Unthoughtful criticism, such as yours, hinders that progress. Stop it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

But if I create tangible thing X then I own it, just like that

That is true only if what you own is your expression of that creation, that is yours, but to claim ownership on the expression of others is just wrong.

Besides what you call property is really a concession, create as an image to old granted monopolies by kings, it has no resemblance with real property except for the fact that in the USA only you can sell those concessions to others.

If real state was like copyright, the constructor of a house would be entitled to monthly payments for the use of that house, and anyone trying to make a similar house would have to pay the original constructor for making derivatives of his house. Of course that is absurd and no one would ever try such a thing and still here we are talking to people who believe that they own everything and can stop others from having ideas or copying something or using something to build some other thing.

Modplan (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

What I wrote means that those who deny the existence of intellectual property deny society?s right to create intellectual property rights by law. If you think that is ?straw? so be it.

This make so sense to me at all. We deny the term intellectual property and its ability to accurately describe something far more nuanced and unlike physical property than some would like to admit, we do not deny the ability for laws like copyright to be created. Your argument conflates the denial of an inaccurate term with the denial of the existence or the ability to create the law itself.

It should be noted that nowhere in the creation of copyright was it recognised as anything like property, your argument is disingenuous in not recognising history and only presenting what you assume to be the correct view, based on seemingly self assurance.

nasch (profile) says:

Intellectual Properganda

If someone can see that there needs to be reform but says ‘five years is enough’ after plucking the number out of thin air, then I get the impression that they are merely trying to placate those calling for reform by getting rid of some of the worst effects without any actual concern for addressing the root of the problem.

Or else they recognize that getting rid of copyright entirely is simply impossible and are trying for something that would help a lot and might have a chance. I would consider that overly optimistic, I think it’s going to be a long time before shortening copyright will be an attainable goal in the US.

BBT says:

Ugh, this is so misguided. Yeah, if someone else uses the abbreviation “IP”, I suppose you can get some humor out of making it stand for something else. But the solution is not to use “Imaginary Property”, “Intellectual Privilege”, “Intellectual Pooperty” or anything else with those initials. The solution if you really want to reframe the discussion is a brand new term which does not have those initials. There isn’t a chance in hell that the average Joe is going to see IP and think “Intellectual Pooperty” instead of “Intellectual Property”. Those initials are firmly claimed by big content.

Instead, use a new term. Use words with negative connotations. “Content Monopolies”. Yeah! People hate monopolies! “Content Usage Restrictions”. I don’t want to be restricted! I’ve posted many more options in the past, and I’m sure others could come up with better ones. The bottom line is that nobody on our side of this fight should EVER be using the term “Intellectual Property”, or the initials IP. Doing so is letting your opponents frame your debate.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

“My statement “But if I create tangible thing X then I own it, just like that” (1) assumes lawful ownership of whatever is needed to create X and (2) included ?just like that? because that is a quote from the poster to whom I was responding and the point that I was rebutting.”

I would point you then to your own quote on unthoughtful criticism. I guess you value a poor stab at humour over the actual point you’re trying to make.

“What I wrote means that those who deny the existence of intellectual property deny society?s right to create intellectual property rights by law. If you think that is ?straw? so be it.”

Or, they’re denying certain interested parties the right to co-opt a word to further their own agenda. You don’t have to be arguing that society doesn’t have the right to make copyright law to be against the concept of intellectual property, hence the strawman.

“Clearly false. The extremes of anything ? including the scope of rights we call intellectual property ? serve to bound what falls within. Deniers of intellectual property exclude it from the boundaries of what established law calls ?property.? My point was to place intellectual property rights within the boundary of ?property? and to posit that the position of those rights within that boundary can be reasonably disputed.”

My point was that pigs can’t fly, but feel free to make a law giving them that right.

‘You write: “You think the argument is a silly exercise because you’ve already decided the outcome?”

Yes.’

I wonder why you bother posting then? My fellow countryfolk tell me that Morris dancing is silly.. I thought you might be interested.

“Thoughtful criticism is useful and moves the analysis and discussion forward. Unthoughtful criticism, such as yours, hinders that progress. Stop it.”

Ah yes, when desperate.. finish with an ad hominem.

dnball (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

“I guess you value a poor stab at humour over the actual point you’re trying to make.”

I have no idea what you’re talking about. I made no joke nor attempted any humor.

“You don’t have to be arguing that society doesn’t have the right to make copyright law to be against the concept of intellectual property, hence the strawman.”

Yes, you do. If someone accepts that society has the right to make copyright laws [i.e., conferring on authors the exclusive right to exploit their creations] then that IS accepting the “concept of intellectual property.” It only isn’t if you reject the validity of laws that you do not happen to agree with.

“My point was that pigs can’t fly, but feel free to make a law giving them that right.”

I did not directly address your pig analogy because it was dumb. I think you’re trying to say that a pig is like intellectual property and the ability to fly is like the concept of “property.” So, your argument-by-analogy goes, I think, that because a pig cannot fly intellectual property is not property. Hmmm. That’s too esoteric, and dumb, for me.

“Ah yes, when desperate.. finish with an ad hominem.”

An ad hominem argument is an argument “against the man.” I did not argue that you are somehow dysfunctional, dishonorable, or otherwise bad. I clearly said that it was your unthoughtful criticism that was unhelpful. You, God willing, can be saved from your delusions.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Genitive Versus Possessive

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I made no joke nor attempted any humor.”

What was the purpose of you repeating what the OP said then? Apparently it was neither to further your point or to make a joke.

“Yes, you do. If someone accepts that society has the right to make copyright laws [i.e., conferring on authors the exclusive right to exploit their creations] then that IS accepting the “concept of intellectual property.” It only isn’t if you reject the validity of laws that you do not happen to agree with.”

Copyright did not develop from the idea of intellectual property. Both UK and US copyright law originated from the notion that there was an overall positive impact from allowing a monopoly. Some European countries (namely France) pushed the idea of intellectual property (otherwise known as authors rights) but the term didn’t even make it into their own Berne Convention outside of referencing the names of organisations. If you’re talking about the Berne Convention or various non UK European countries takes on copyright then sure, authors rights was a big thing with them, but even they didn’t latch onto the concept of Intellectual Property until recently.

“I think you’re trying to say that a pig is like intellectual property and the ability to fly is like the concept of “property.” So, your argument-by-analogy goes, I think, that because a pig cannot fly intellectual property is not property. Hmmm. That’s too esoteric, and dumb, for me. “

I guess if someone uses a car analogy you point out that ‘insert subject here’ doesn’t require fuel.

I have to wonder quite what your definition of intellectual property is if you reject the notion of authors rights. I’ll point out that copyright can already be considered property in the same way as a deed to a house would be property. If you’re just saying that it’s property because that is a common usage of the word then I have to ask what the point of that is other than to ride the coat-tails of actual property rights.

“An ad hominem argument is an argument “against the man.” I did not argue that you are somehow dysfunctional, dishonorable, or otherwise bad. I clearly said that it was your unthoughtful criticism that was unhelpful. You, God willing, can be saved from your delusions.”

Your suggestion that my criticism was unthoughtful serves no purpose other than to voice your opinion of me. If I say that I think you’re a fucking idiot (which I don’t) and therefore people shouldn’t listen, then that’s ad hominem. Being (relatively) polite about it makes it no less ad hominem.

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