Knowledge Is A Universal Natural Resource — And Locking It Up Hurts Everyone

from the time-to-face-facts dept

One of the more important points in understanding some of the fights over the ridiculousness of today’s copyright and patent laws is to recognize how knowledge (information) is a natural resource. It is the input that makes other great things. Economist Paul Romer’s famous research really showed how knowledge and information as a resource is what creates economic growth. Once you recognize that fact, you begin to run into problems when you think about locking up that natural resource. Think of other natural resources. Do we think the world is better off if there’s a greater supply of each of those? An abundance? If we have an abundance of wheat, that’s a good thing. If we have an abundance of energy, that’s a good thing. There may be side effects of such abundances, but the overall abundance is something worth cherishing.

The problem, however, comes when you have a new abundance where once there was scarcity. And that’s because anywhere there’s a scarcity, someone has built a business model based on that very scarcity. But that is a business model issue. Years ago, most economies rejected the idea of mercantilism, where governments would purposely build up monopolies and artificial scarcities, because of the realization that, in the long run, everyone was better off with a competitive market. The guy who had the sugar monopoly may have hated it — but everyone else was much, much better off.

And, so, we go back to knowledge and information. Unlike most other resources, knowledge is not just abundant… it is infinite. As Thomas Jefferson once famously wrote:

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.

And yet… we still default to thinking that this amazing resource should be locked up. Because it’s often easier to see how the guy who owns the sugar monopoly benefits, than to think through the more complicated market in which there are competing sugar providers, each trying to offer a better product, under which consumers benefit at a massive scale, markets grow and opportunity blossoms. It’s easier to just focus on the fact that it makes life more difficult for the one monopolist.

And often, it seems that we run into this same issue when it comes to intellectual property law. Brent Ahsley recently wrote an interesting post, in which he talks about how something he created way back in 2002, one of the first DHTML-based embeddable chat windows — has <a href=”” target=_blank”>become a mainstream piece of technology, but one over which Ahsley has no control, nor profits from. But, unlike the typical analysis, Ahsley realizes that the world is much better off this way:

I occasionally find myself talking with someone about facebook chat or google chat and I’ll say “I sorta invented that” and point them to my Feb 2002 blog entry where I built and released to the wild what was one of the earliest embeddable DHTML chat windows, using my also free and open what-was-not-yet-called-Ajax library I released in 2000, about 5 years before many people came along and pushed the state of the art much further down the road.

Invariably I am told that I should be rich and that all those sites and people “stole” my ideas. I disagree and say that these were all perfectly obvious inventions to me and all the others who came after me and that it was my duty to the net to feed my work back into it such that folks could stand on my shoulders as I had stood on those of others.

That is how the net works – or at least it used to. It still does in open development circles but the content and patent industries are fighting hard to brainwash everyone that knowledge is inherently owned.

And this, as Ahsley recognizes, is a problem. The world of monopolists is focused on protecting the monopoly. But if Ashley, for example, had patented aspects of his AJAX library, or his embeddable chat, would the world be a better place? It’s likely that such chat features would not be as common. It’s likely that such chat offerings (which are now everywhere) would not be as powerful or as useful. It’s likely that the world would be a worse place. Ahsley, personally, might be a little wealthier — perhaps someone would pay him to license the functionality, or perhaps he’d successfully sue someone. But the world would be more limited and there would be less to go on.

This, then, is the problem that many of us face in looking at and trying to understand the nature of economics, growth, innovation and progress when looking at the world of monopoly protections. It’s easy to see the sugar monopolist, and see how taking down those monopolies might make his job harder (even if it creates a big market with more opportunity to make more money). But to recognize that bigger picture, as Ashley does, is difficult.

Ashley tries to put it all in perspective:

Anything that is knowable is a part of the universe of truth that has no owner and no bounds. The invention or discovery of anything results in the exposure of one or more hitherto undocumented universal truths to the collected human record.

The true and original purpose of copyright and patents is to create a temporary legal fiction which acts in many respects like ownership, conferring upon an individual person rights to control the use and dissemination of morsels of universal truth which they had the luck and/or tenacity to first identify, so they can be recompensed for their contribution to the universe’s growing stockpile of exposed truth for the benefit of all humanity.

The legal expansion to include corporate personhood and subsequent term extensions tending towards permanence of the legal assignment of ownership equivalence amounts to the expropriation and destruction of large parts of humanity’s natural knowledge resources.

It’s not too much different from bulldozing the rainforest.

At some point, it needs to be recognized that the purpose of these laws has been twisted and twisted and twisted to the point that they are broken. They’re not acting as a reward for those who discover key elements of knowledge in exchange for sharing them. They’ve become tolls in and of themselves for the sole purpose of enriching the monopolist. And that takes us right back to mercantilism.

If we were able to reject industrial mercantilism as the wrong economic approach 250 years or so ago, at some point we’re going to reach the age where we can reject intellectual mercantilism as well.

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Comments on “Knowledge Is A Universal Natural Resource — And Locking It Up Hurts Everyone”

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ALANTONE (profile) says:

Re: From Golden Age to Dark Age

Actually I think we are reaching the end of a golden age. SOPA was just another example of the government, large businesses and special interests attempt to control the Internet completely. They overreached this time. But they learn. Next time they will not only use protecting jobs, but also babies and puppies to get SOPA passed.

Anyway, at this rate I can imagine a future Internet where the government can have the I.R.S (Internet Review Service) audit our Internet activity. That my friend will be the real ?dark age?.

Overcast (profile) says:

Sometimes I feel like we are in the middle ages still.

NO, had we been – Newton, DaVinci, and Galileo’s inventions might have been sent cease and desist orders and they might well have just gave up on creating new stuff, heh.

Content users and creators had it better then – and government, well – every day it gets a bit more feudal.

Liz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

DaVinci and Galileo were both accused of heresy.

DaVinci’s work and illustrations of the human body, inside and out, had some mark him as a satanist who was performing dark rituals. They used his notations and designs as proof. He was also a weapons designer, and those who employed him wanted his work locked up and out of enemy hands.

Galileo is a more notable case for his discoveries in astronomy. Pointing out that the Earth is NOT the center of the Universe, much less the solar system. His punishment for exposing knowledge that goes against the official doctrine was to rebuke his claims and was placed under house arrest.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Galileo is a more notable case for his discoveries in astronomy. Pointing out that the Earth is NOT the center of the Universe, much less the solar system. His punishment for exposing knowledge that goes against the official doctrine was to rebuke his claims and was placed under house arrest.

Actually Copernicus (who actually proposed the heliocentric system) and Kepler (who made it into a proper scientific theory) were never persecuted. Galileo’s great contribution was in the earthbound realm of mechanics. The reason he was persecuted was because he was a self important arsehole who tried to use his knowledge of astronomy to advance his personal position.

His views on astronomy were no more than a pretext. Medieval popes were generally much more enlightened in these matters than modern American creationists.

Transbot9 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actual court records of the case showed that Galileo accidently botched his defense – despite a friendly judge that was trying to help him out of a bad situation that was more about politics than religion.

DaVinci was guilty of the crime grave-robbing. While he had a lot of great ideas, he did have trouble actually finishing anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets celebrate free(as in freedom)


This video was created in order to promote the use of Creative Commons on the volunteer computing based rendering service ( and in any other relevant context.

The video was a production of Studio Lumikuu (

Script & Production: Julius Tuomisto
Graphics & Modeling: Jani Lintunen
Animation & Rendering: Mats Holmberg
Compositing & Editing: Hannu Hoffr?n

Big Buck Bunny (c) 2008 Blender Foundation
Big Buck Bunny soundtrack (c) 2008 Jan Morgenstern (this remix track with voice over released CC-BY under permission from composer)

Released under CC-BY. Any edits should include additional credit as follows:

BBB Loves CC (c) 2012 & Studio Lumikuu

Disclaimer: No lawyers with any kind of sense of humour were hurt during the making of this movie. 🙂

Source: Youtube: BBB Loves CC (feat. Big Buck Bunny) Uploaded by RenderfarmFi on Jan 24, 2012.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:


Nice to see somebody use that word. It means the same thing as ?protectionism?, and is the opposite of ?capitalism?. Whereas Capitalists believe free-market competition is a good thing that leads to superior products and services for customers, Mercantilists believe that businesses cannot prosper without special protection from the State to snuff out competition.

Both patents and copyrights date from the Mercantilist (pre-Capitalist) era.

ced1106 (profile) says:


I have to disagree with you here. One practical example is China, which has a blatant disregard for IP. While, in the states, this disregard is only for entertainment IP, the actual IP disregard is far more serious. It is to the point where companies hire employees *specifically to steal other company’s secrets*. If you look at countries known for their intangible properties (entertainment, books, software), China’s certainly not one of them.

Information, or, rather, research, often has an overhead costs that no one wants to pay. Basic research has been chronically underfunded, and only performed in universities, because companies see no immediate profitable benefits from it.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Re: China


If you look at countries known for their intangible properties (entertainment, books, software), China’s certainly not one of them.

What a peculiar, ignorant thing to say. I just have to go to the Freeview to find not one, but two channels broadcasting Chinese-made material (with some occasional items on yet another channel).

As for books, it only took me a couple of clicks on Amazon.

Want software? Maybe start by looking here.

Honestly, the Web is right there in front of you. You could have used it just as easily as I did to find these, but you didn?t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: China

You are right research has an overhead that no company wants to pay for it that is why they use government funding to do the basic and claim ownership over it and lock it up, not letting anybody near it.

About China did you just said that in 3 thousand years they did nothing?

For me they are one of the most vibrant media market on the planet in terms of production of IP along with India, Russia and South Korea, they produce thousands of movies a year, double the amount the US does, they produce thousands of songs every year now, they produce thousands of books every year and you are saying they don’t have a stake in it?

What they don’t have yet is old big players that can kill new entrants and that is a good thing, everybody is trying to be big, everybody is producing, everybody is working and in the process creating wealth.

A granted monopoly does one thing and one thing only, it excludes others from the market that is the single most important thing to remember about it, because it affects everything else negatively, production numbers fall, this means less work, with less work less employment and less goods produced, with less of those things there is less economic activity the only one that benefits is the one guy that got the monopoly he is the only person who benefits from it at the expense of everything else.

It may be frustrating to have someone else copy you and make a fortune, but if that other guy did it he demonstrated that there is a market, the failure was not in the product but how it was market and observing how the other guy did it can give insights on how to do it for yourself even though the market share will be less, which most probably is a good thing since you get a market that is served by multiple players and when things get though the weak will exit that market but probably some will survive and will learn how to weather those situations in the future and keep the thing going, production becomes resilient.

Another development in the world is open source, where you got global R&D with localized benefits, everybody gets together to solve problems and find solutions to them all around the world and each player collects the benefits in his own market is like when people got together to build barns and windmills so everybody could benefit from those.

Granted monopolies were never good, not once in history anybody had anything good to say about those things.

Whatch: The peasant and The Monk and you see what happened every single time someone tried to monopolize anything.
Youtube: BBC World: Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives

Copyright and patents may end up being the reason for the second American civil war.

99% of the population will not protect the privileges of the 1% at their own detriment, people are not that nice and they need information to be free and accessible for them to have a life.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: China

If you look at countries known for their intangible properties (entertainment, books, software), China’s certainly not one of them.

What have the Chinese ever done for us?


Well apart from paper
What have the Chinese ever done for us?


Well apart from paper and gunpowder..
What have the Chinese ever done for us?


Well apart from paper , gunpowder and printing..
What have the Chinese ever done for us?


Well apart from paper , gunpowder, printing and porcelain..
What have the Chinese ever done for us?

See where this is going….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition !

Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: China

Basic research has been chronically underfunded, and only performed in universities, because companies see no immediate profitable benefits from it.

That’s largely true now, but it wasn’t always so: Bell Labs, for example.

Companies are now driven by unrelenting forces of greed: bonuses for the C-level people (no matter how stupid and incompetent they are), stock price increases and dividends to satisfy the shareholders (who are pathetic whining infants that throw tantrums if they don’t get their way), increasingly shoddy products, worthless warranties, disdain for even the most loyal customers, and the willingness to spend more on professional liars (i.e., marketing) than on making quality goods and services.

And why should these bloated greedpigs in their mansions do any research? It’s easier to have their attorneys steal it from the public via litigation.

Edward Teach says:

Re: Re: China

I don’t think Bell Labs is a great example. as Bell Labs existed because The Bell System had a more-or-less legal monopoly on land-line phone service. They had cushy monopoly rents, and they used some of it to do Bell Labs.

IBM’s industrial research might be a better example, but I’d be hard-pressed to cite another. Maybe Xerox PARC? Did GM or Ford or GE have a well-funded basic research arm? Not of the caliber of Bell Labs or IBM or PARC, to be sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: China

Basic research has been chronically underfunded

The only reason that basic research has been underfunded, is because much of that basic research keeps getting locked up. Hence the same research often has to be conducted again and again and again by divergent groups, instead of simply being able to build on results that have already been quantified (because they can’t get access to those results).

Suja (profile) says:

Re: Re: ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

didn’t you know? there was no pre-IP era, the world didn’t exist back then

the big bang was actually when IP/copyright was invented, that’s why the world exists now

all those masterpieces & folktales, someone made them all recently, you know, like disney

history is a lie

Suja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

looking at it again, yah pretty much

or so deeply ingrained in the whole copyright mentality that they can’t possibly imagine an artist who actually doesn’t see “the benefit” nor the alleged “protections” i’m “supposed” to be getting

it’s like, yah great, i can “control” my works… uh, i do that already when i make them and upload them somewhere

problem is nobody will see them hardly cause everyone is too afraid to share them, scared that i might be “one of those” people who will go apeshit the moment somebody doesn’t jump through one of their permission hoops

i’m quite a hermit plus got some issues with stalkers i’m working out so it’s quite difficult to get ahold of me

in recent days i’ve come to notice most people just don’t even bother asking OR using stuff anymore, too much trouble to search for the person and wait for their reply, yet too scared to use it for fear of retaliation

in what way does this “help” me as an artist?

what’s fucked up is some yahoo with an already large fanbase can come along and plagiarize one of my works and because they have more fans (thus more views) everyone will believe they made it and call ME the thief!

they get away with because i’m obscure, and will probably remain so as long as people are afraid to share works

in what way does this “protect” me as an artist?

what do i get in return? that i can boss people around & tell them what to do and sue their ass if they don’t listen to me? i don’t know about anyone else but a reign of fear & tyranny is not the kind of relationship i want to build with my fans

what else do i get return? a bunch of idiots thinking they can speak for me as an artist because the thrill of cheap, dirty power sounds like a great trade-off for common sense

a bunch of idiots who take their fans for granted, while i’d kill for a decent sized fanbase of any kind

& these are the same idiots who think they know what’s best for me as an artist, at this point i’m almost afraid to upload some of my works due to copyright bullshit, that’s another thing….

as an artist i’m thoroughly disgusted, this system does not help or protect me in any way, to say the least it has been nothing but trouble for me

Edward Teach says:

Re: Re: Re: ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

OK, put up or shut up, “Gil”.

What dates (just to the decade is OK) for “The Modern Era” and for “I.P.”? Let’s see how they overlap.

For your edification, you personally should write down what you currently think these two eras date to, BEFORE you do any googling or look in Wikipedia.

But wait, given your stance, I’ll assume you won’t use PIRATE KNOWLEDGE like from google or wikipedia, but rather thumb through your personal copy (not library! That’s theft!) of Encyclopedia Americana. Or Britannia, I don’t care.

We’ll wait here for you.

Gil says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

Are you that dense? Obviously the modern era started around 1850 onwards. Are you some Libertarian twat who think the highest growth human history was from 1800 to 1900? A standard graph of patents obtained show more and more patents issued through the 20th century which also happens to be the era of technological growth. Since I.P. is a relatively recent concept (a few centuries) then humanity should have had its Industrial Revolution in Ancient Greece or Rome yet strangely it didn’t (although Rome came close).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

Industrial Revolution (1790 to 1860), is that what you call a proof that patents made a difference?

IP was at that time not respected at all, it was so low regarded that the only thing people needed to do is to go somewhere else and keep doing what they did, the US only started recognizing others IP’s when they had their own and wanted it to impose that on others, the great Industrial Revolution in the US was in great part due to the ability of people to just copy others and get away with it with impunity.

Now lets make a graph of IP litigation, economic growth and IP registrations to see how much that improved things.

Since the 70’s the US has grown near zero percent in exports it is totally dependent on internal consumption to stay afloat, the industrial capacity of the US didn’t grow either it stayed the same for almost half a century now despite the government saying it grows every year but it doesn’t, it grows just because the number of people grow it has not expanded and in fact it is now shrinking and the biggest problem is that people can exclude others from opening a business, if you get a monopoly on something you can manufacture that thing anywhere but the US and bring it in without fear of competition, that doesn’t sound cool and it is not healthy for the economy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

Knowledge of innovation was spread by several means. Workers who were trained in the technique might move to another employer or might be poached. A common method was for someone to make a study tour, gathering information where he could. During the whole of the Industrial Revolution and for the century before, all European countries and America engaged in study-touring; some nations, like Sweden and France, even trained civil servants or technicians to undertake it as a matter of state policy. In other countries, notably Britain and America, this practice was carried out by individual manufacturers anxious to improve their own methods. Study tours were common then, as now, as was the keeping of travel diaries. Records made by industrialists and technicians of the period are an incomparable source of information about their methods.

Wikipedia: Industrial Revolution (1790 to 1860)

The thing that enable the Industrial Revolution was by far the free flow of ideas and the easy of deployment meaning there was no legal threats that could stop others from implementing anything, they learned and implemented what they needed and further developed and build upon what they gathered, that is what enabled the revolution not IP law which is a problem for the free flow and use of ideas.

No granted monopoly ever that I know of, spawned innovation.
What we see today is the total paralyzes of the industrial park in America because of it, a few big players are getting bigger and bigger at the cost of the little ones that are increasingly being squeezed out of the market and that will end the same way it ended every other time, with people breaking the law getting punished and eventually violence will breakout again, because the small players too need to find a way to make some money and they will get tired of being deprived of knowledge that could make that happen.

Gil says:

Re: Re: Re:3 ?an world without I.P. wouldn't go far.?

I was thinking of a graph like this:

In other words, yes, people are only going to invent professionally if they can get rewarded for it. It’s just like the difference in quality between professional singers and karapke singers.

bob (profile) says:

A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

Alas, valuable things need protection and one of the best way to give valuable things is to give them an owner. As we’ve seen time and time again, things that are held in a commonweal are worn down, depleted and eventually exhausted.

It’s funny that the wild-eyed optimist chose to compare this to “bulldozing the rainforest.” The biggest problem in Brazil is that no one can control the mobs that roam through the rainforest cutting down the trees, burning their stumps, raising a crop and then moving on. They have no stake in the land and they treat it poorly.

The sad truth is that knowledge is neither free to create nor free to curate. This is why a university education is so expensive. Even storing the knowledge in a book instead of a professor costs money for upkeep.

There’s this belief that we don’t need to invest in institutions because the Internet is so vast and someone out there will keep a copy around. Someone will have one squirreled away. That works some of the time, but far less often than we’re lead to expect by blue sky essays like this one.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

Alas, valuable things need protection and one of the best way to give valuable things is to give them an owner. As we’ve seen time and time again, things that are held in a commonweal are worn down, depleted and eventually exhausted.

Ah the old fallacy of applying the “tragedy of the commons” argument to knowledge.

Unfortunately the facts here are against you.

Time and again it has been shown that works in copyright are less available and less likely to be preserved than
those in the public domain.

If what you say is true why did RCA shove all their old 78rpm master discs into the foundations of their new building and why are the BBC desperately casting around for someone who (illegally) recorded the “Tenth planet” epsiode of DR Who because they wiped their own copy?

Richard (profile) says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

Alas, valuable things need protection and one of the best way to give valuable things is to give them an owner. As we’ve seen time and time again, things that are held in a commonweal are worn down, depleted and eventually exhausted.

I’m not at all sure that the tragedy of the commons is actually true even in the physical domain. Thousands of derelict, privately owned, properties all over the world cry out against it. I think it was just an excuse invented by greedy aristocrats who wanted to turf out the lower orders. The open field system worked perfectly well for hundreds of years.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

Cool story bro, I got one too, just as relevant:

Uh… Okay. Intellectual Property to me is just like a story I know called “The Puppy Who Lost His Way.” The world was changing, and the puppy was getting… bigger.

So, you see, the puppy was like knowledge. In that, they were both lost in the woods. And nobody, especially the little boy – “big content” – knew where to find ’em. Except that the puppy was a dog. But knowledge, my friends, that had to be locked up.

Patents rule!

Suja (profile) says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

“valuable things need protection”

protection from WHAT? exposure? fans?

i constantly see this “protection” thing being brought up yet every single time it raises the same question you act like there’s this pack of fucking dingoes waiting to tear the thing to pieces the moment copyright is removed from it

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

“Alas, valuable things need protection and one of the best way to give valuable things is to give them an owner.”

Film Archives Being Eaten Away; Would Be Nice If People Could Make Copies To Preserve

CBS Would Rather Kill Off Classic Jack Benny Video Footage Than Let Fans Rescue And Digitize It

Arguing Over Copyright While Books Disintegrate

Yes, these owners are protecting valuable works.

Not valuable? Release the rights!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

Alas, valuable things need protection and one of the best way to give valuable things is to give them an owner.

Really? I’d say not so much. In fact, in many cases owners tend to be abusive, neglectful, or indifferent about things they consider property. One of the best ways to care for valuable things is to give them a caretaker.

The biggest problem in Brazil is that no one can control the mobs that roam through the rainforest cutting down the trees, burning their stumps, raising a crop and then moving on. They have no stake in the land and they treat it poorly.

It should be noted that these “mobs” generally work at the behest of people who claim “ownership” (whether they really have ownership rights or not) of the land. There are numerous indigenous tribes who act as caretakers, and do not treat it poorly, because they do have a stake in the land.

Brent Ashley (profile) says:

Re: A wonderful sentiment--- if it were true

The “blue sky essay” part of my post was preceded by the following line which Mike didn’t include in his quote.

“This is what it?s all about, from a pure philosophical perspective:”

Perhaps even without this preface, you feel that an attempt to express something with philosophical purity equates to wild-eyed optimism.

My goal was not to dismiss the entire real world of pragmatism but to provide a distilled definition of the problem domain and then begin a discussion, which I’m happy to see it has.

Apparently my choice of the qualifier “not too much different from” was not enough to deflect analogy-pedantry. I grant that the problem has little to do with forest-clearing machinery and Brazilian mob rule. Touch?.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 11th commandment - New testament version

Of course I’m well aware of the context –

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts? 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.”

and I see no conflict with my point.

The point here is that if you give freely you can expect to also receive freely. Communities that live this message are very durable. Compare this quotation from the website of
the monastery of St Macarius in Egypt.

“The monastery has no regular source of income and no bank account. We do not sollicit donations, publicize the monastery’s financial needs or receive financial support from any organization. And yet, when the monastery’s needs are put before God in our communal prayers, donations are received daily, miraculously meeting our needs exactly. The monks therefore have no doubt that God has undertaken responsibility for this enormous work, not only in the spiritual, but also in the material realm.”

The monastery of St Macarius has existed on the same site for over 1500 years.

ken (profile) says:

Internet proves old ideas about IP wrong

I hear people say that without IP ownership and strong enforcement that people will stop creating because they cannot make money off of their work. The proof this is bunk is the Internet itself. When the Internet was truly free and not burdened by countless lawsuits we saw the greatest explosion of creativity ever. People shared freely and it made the Internet as we know it today. The Internet is now severely threatened by patent and copyright lawsuits and the result has been a break on innovation and creativity.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Internet proves old ideas about IP wrong

Moreover, IP can actually harm innovation: see, for example, the case of “witricity”, an idea that Nikola Tesla actually proposed back int he late 1800s, and is only just being re-“discovered” now by MIT. A part of the reason for this is Tesla’s insanity, but another part of it is Edison’s patent war over current systems.

Brian says:

I appreciate intellectual property AND open source

I disagree. It’s not a legal fiction, it’s a legal protection. It’s not put in place with the hope of preventing the dissemination of a knowledge, but with the hope of rewarding and compensating creative effort. A simple act of justice. How else are these people to feed themselves? Should they have to work twice as much, once at a pay job and the other in a creative arena? Can you see how this might dissipate focus and reduce creative incentive?

Open source and sharing are great, but they should be entered into by the willing, who can afford and desire to share their efforts freely. And they should not be used as some sanctimonius justification for any and all copyright infringement. Especially in a country (US), where wealth / money means the difference between getting health care or not, not even life’s luxuries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I appreciate intellectual property AND open source

Open source and sharing are great,

It may be great (your opinion) but the reality is Open Source has been a total failure.

It has achieved basically nothing, all it can do, and all it tries to do is to copy idea’s off others, and implement those ideas, poorly..

With 25 years, and all these hard working Open Source zealots what have you got to show as a result of that work ?

What are we supposed to think you are smart because you managed to copy something someone else has allready come up with ? Do you think you are smart because you can copy shit ?

What happens when there is no one to copy off ? what do you do then ?

You know as well as I do, you do nothing, as you are incapable of the development of the IDEA..

Open Source is good at doing something someone has allready done, it is incapable of doing the original work.

You can copy a great song, but you most certainly cannot create a great song. So as long as that great song exists, you are happy.

Your ignorance, means that what does not allready exist is not worth having !!!, must such to be you guys !!!

darryl says:

Islamic Golden Age

During the Islamic Golden Age (c. 750 CE – c. 1258 CE) philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations. Scientific and intellectual achievements blossomed in the Golden age.

Many notable Islamic scientists lived and practiced during the Islamic Golden Age. Among the achievements of Muslim scholars during this period were the development of trigonometry into its modern form (greatly simplifying its practical application to calculate the phases of the moon), advances in optics, and advances in astronomy.

Medicine was a central part of medieval Islamic culture. Responding to circumstances of time and place, Islamic physicians and scholars developed a large and complex medical literature exploring and synthesizing the theory and practice of medicine. (from the National Library of Medicine digital archives)

America is not even in the race, compared to china, or Mesopotamia for the advancement of human knowledge.

Your space program, run by Germans who worked for Hitler, your atomic bomb, what country was Openheimer from ?

It’s understandable though, America is a young country, in world terms it is a pimple faced teen, very immature.

Europe and the middle east were THE centers of knowledge and learning.

America is “sort of” ok at stealing other peoples idea’s, making them look shiny and getting people to buy a nice shiny thing.

But historically, the US has contributed almost NOTHING to the knowledgebase of mankind.

IP has existed as long as the intellect has existed.

That means if you have a brain, you know things, you have intelectual property.

What YOU know is YOUR PROPERTY, and not anyone elses property.

Americans and especially Masnick cannot seem to understand that most basic of concepts !!!

I am sure Masnick knows thousands (or dozens) of things that no one else knows, that is HIS intelectual property.

The vast majority of the IP that Masnick has is of no use, value or interest to anyone else. But could be of great value to Masnick.

(If you consider what you know to be of some value,,, I do).

darryl says:

If you have an Intellect, you have Intellectual property.

If you have an intellect, you have IP, and it is YOUR IP and no one elses.

Sure you can tell someone the product of your intellect, but that does not mean you lose that property from your own intellect.

it is still your intellectual property, even if you are not the only one who has a similar property.

You can own a car, it is YOUR car, it is your property, but that does not mean you own ALL cars, or that someone else cannot have a car because you do.

The opposite of IP is ignorance, and there appears to be a great deal of that here.

Due mainly to how “the masnick” wants you to believe.

The fact is “America” can make virtually NO claim to the advancement of human knowledge..

It appears the only thing the US has really mastered is theft of knowledge from other sources. When it comes to actually working something out by themselves, well you just fail to have the require Intellectual Property to achieve that.

So you steal it…

Ask yourself, and make a list of all the Great technological advances that America has achieved ???
And achieved by NOT stealing the idea of someone else ?

It will be a VERY short list indeed..

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