When You Try To Figure Out Who Owns Imaginary 'Property,' Things Get Confusing Fast

from the rights-holders? dept

We've discussed in the past how copyright isn't really "property" at all, and trying to compare it to regular property leads to all sorts of confusing problems. Take, for example, this lawsuit, found via Michael Scott, over who owns the rights to thousands of songs. The actual mess is a bit complex, but as you read through it, you realize that we're dealing with the emperor's new clothes in the form of copyrights. A bunch of different people are arguing over who owns a totally made up thing, with different people simply claiming to own it, and leaving it for the courts to figure out. Here's just a snippet of the mess (which gets more complex if you read the whole article):
Carbert Music is publisher of more than 150,000 songs from all music genres, including "Back in Black" by AC/DC, "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown and "What a Wonderful World," according to the complaint.

Carbert claims Don Great, who is not a party to this lawsuit, fraudulently registered "thousands" of the Carlin Library's songs in his own name, or in the name of his companies, Don Great Music and Tinseltown Music, or in the name of defendant May-Loo Music....

Five years later, May-Loo sued Great, claiming he had brokered secret business deals on behalf of May-Loo and had mishandled revenue. Great countersued, but a federal jury found awarded Loose and May-Loo $1.9 million in 2004, according to Carbert's complaint.

Carbert says it bought a catalogue of music called the GRH Catalogue from Harrose Music Co. in 2005. Soon afterward, Carlin says, it discovered that Great had falsely registered "many" of the GRH songs to himself, his companies or May-Loo. Great's actions "muddied the chain of title" and kept Carbert from licensing the songs, Carbert says.
With real property, even if there are ownership disputes, they don't get as ridiculously complicated as this. They don't go on for years with multiple people all believing they own the property only to find out later they might not. They don't involve people just declaring they own a piece of property with no one realizing they might not. These are all arguments over "imaginary" property, which isn't property at all. At what point do people realize just how ridiculous this whole structure is?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:00pm

    im starting to cut parts out of my head

    ya know them parts tha are copyrighted by hollywood , and ima sendign them back
    bad brain matter

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    I find it funny that we live in a world where bits of imaginary property have more rights afforded to it and it's preservation than an enemy combatant has afforded to their preservation. An actual human being, who may or may not be guilty of an offense!

    Ha at us.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:26pm

    "At what point do people realize just how ridiculous this whole structure is?"

    If they're your normal, everyday person who just likes music? Long ago.

    If they're grasping, rent-seeking corporate hacks? Apparently never.

     

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  4.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    To determine who owns the imaginary property, can't they just look up who pays the imaginary taxes on it...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:44pm

    IIRC, there was a lawsuit many years ago between two towns in Mexico disputing the boundary between the towns. Some news reports noted that the suit was finally settled after pending for about 350 years.

    In India there is a reported dispute between heirs over the property of a decedent that has dragged on, so it is reported, since about 1836.

    Whether these are true or not I have not been able to confirm by independent sources. If, however, the reports are in fact correct they would make US lawsuits look as if they take place in the blink of an eye.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:10pm

    "... First we hang all the Lawyers"

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 12:53am

    Everybody knows, everybody knows where we’re going...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 2:22am

    With real property, even if there are ownership disputes, they don't get as ridiculously complicated as this.

    What gives you that impression? Business negotiations and contract disputes, especially where large sums of money are involved are equally complex. Heck, I have seen simple civil suits fir things like construction defects where a plaintiff--a single homeowner--will engage 12 or 15 defendants. You think the paperwork on a suit like that is simple? You think 6 minutes with Wapner solves those problems?

    Spend a few hours in a small law office handling "simple" civil suits sometime.

    We get it already. You have no use for lawyers. You have little use for government systems to adjudicate disputes. No matter how often the system works, a few examples of when it doesn't are condemnation enough to throw the whole thing out. It's seriously turning into Libertarian Fantasy Groundhog Day around here.

     

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  9.  
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    sdpate (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 2:39am

    Copyright

    Real property that you can touch and walk on gets tied up in legal action all the time over undisclosed but registered liens. Anyone who buys a piece of land without a legal search for clear title is considered idiotic. The purchaser of the music copyrights should have taken the time to search the US Copyright office for registered ownership, then gotten an affidavit and other assurance that the songs were clearly within the scope of purchase.

    Just because the deal is complex doesn't negate the rights of the parties.

     

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  10.  
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    Colg, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 2:41am

    Re: taxes

    Oh that's a great idea!
    Tax copyright and patents like we do regular property.
    I mean it's real and valuable, provides income and it doesn't even need maintenance. You can set values easily by looking at what the "owners" are claiming in court for damages. Hell give them perpetual copyright with the option to donate it to the public domain and I bet we see the public domain grow exponentially over the next few years...

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:32am

    Re:

    "No matter how often the system works"

    The problem is that when it comes to IP laws the system fails far more often than it works.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:39am

    Re:

    Heck, I have seen simple civil suits fir things like construction defects where a plaintiff--a single homeowner--will engage 12 or 15 defendants.

    So you think an "ownership dispute" is the same thing as a "liability dispute"? Ha. Stupid copyright troll, go back to the **AA.

    We get it already. You have no use for lawyers.

    No, we get it already. You're a shill for an industry that likes nothing better than to screw people over with their lawyers.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:41am

    Re: Copyright

    The purchaser of the music copyrights should have taken the time to search the US Copyright office for registered ownership, then gotten an affidavit and other assurance that the songs were clearly within the scope of purchase.

    Who says they didn't?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:43am

    VOTE PIRATE PARTISAN!!!

    "The copyright laws in this country are already outrageous and I will not support any law that wishes to add additional enforcement, or expansion of copyright laws until the current system is fixed."

    http://www.pirate-party.us/content/respond-us-governments-request-increase-enforcement-co pyright-law

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:51am

    Rights

    So, if you download a song from an online service and it later turns out that a court decides that the service didn't really have the proper rights, then I guess you become an infringer, err, I mean "pirate".

    So remember, boys and girls, always hire a lawyer and go to court to get a declaratory judgment on the rights to that song before you buy the download. It's the only safe thing to do!

     

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  16.  
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    Deployed, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:14am

    Re: Re: taxes

    Hell yea.. I like that... TAX it like they tax rich people.. bout 48% of the value or they can give it to the public domain.. Love that Idea

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    It's always seemed to me that "intellectual property" is more of a marketing or rhetorical term anyway. Like it was invented by pitch people. For example, say you're a media company looking to woo investors. So the investor asks, "what am I investing in? What are your assets? What thing of value are you going to produce with my money? How is it going to make money for me?" And then you look around and notice that mostly you've got pieces of paper that grant your company a temporary window of the exclusive right to distribute creative content for profit. And somebody in your company decides that, no, these aren't mere pieces of paper at all. Why, it's a "portfolio" of "intellectual property!" And some sucker at an investment company believed it and put up (other people's) money on it. But then those other people ask where the money went and so the sucker has to pass along the "intellectual property" story.

    I mean, an exclusive right to distribute content for profit doesn't seem very sexy or valuable when it's actually easier to distribute content without profit entering into it at all (which works around the exclusive right whether you like it or not). But if you license that right out to another company to produce something else from it, then you get paid whether they make any money or not. It's not a big surprise that they'd focus on finding as many things as possible to license to others, then. Play your cards right and it's a perpetual stream of money for a one time filing of a piece of paper. So let's build a portfolio of that sweet sweet intellectual property, and we'll always call it that instead of calling it what it really is (exclusive right to distribute for profit). But maybe the rhetorical flourish worked too well, because if you sell something to investors as "property," that's what they're going to think it is. Even if it really isn't. Well now they're stuck and you're stuck. Either you all have to admit that it was a linguistic exaggeration (or scam, if you like), or you have to try and make it so after the fact. And that seems to be where we are now. Everyone scrambling to make it a real thing in order to justify stupid investments that they're stuck with--and damn the public, and damn the promotion of progress.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:34am

    You're all jerks.

    And yes, this comment will be moderated because you like to moderate comments.

     

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  19.  
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    Dementia (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    Re:

    And you're an idiot, because no matter what Mike may personally think of your post, he doesn't erase them. Once again, this blog is about the discussions. Even you outburst classifies and so it will be left here for the rest of us to see.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re:

    Yeah? but he sure as hell moderates them

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re:

    I could create the most incredible prose right now and unless Mike got a call from the head of state saying tone it down, it would need be reviewed by techdirt's finest. So in protest, i provide you with an earlier work of crap that was reviewed by mods called "Suck My Dick":

    I think we will learn ascertain a very important lesson, which is when credit is cheap, products are cheaper because the net borrowing cost (or opportunity cost being a spendthrift) are lowered. This perhaps results in a society's expectation of consumption over assets.

    This then results in a desire from industry to increase asset valuation. Since 1930, this was accomplished through political means to gain a higher valuation to satisfy investors. An unfortunate side effect of this is that the price of entry into existing industries becomes too high for new players to be admitted. This is something that a lay person is not expected to recognize.

    The problem may be that there exist few real tried, tested, and equitable alternatives to the current system. Part of this may be a result of the industry's inability to experiment with new models when times were good. Another theory is that the legal framework in place doesn't focus on offensive capabilities and allow for an extension of commerce in a realistic marketplace where pertinent data and information can be available at a moment's notice.

    But rather, adherence to an old system where strengthening the existing marketplace through legal means is more applicable.

    However, I believe that we're fast approaching a place, a sort of intersection between the two schools of thought where an offensive move can indeed be considered defensive, thusly rendering ACTA as well as DCMA obsolete.

    In the short term, we have to accept that consumption will decline in some industries such as Pharma will be able to organically grow their market without real innovation outside of marketing.

    Alas, some of these industries seem to believe creation of international treaties outside of the generally accepted and voted-upon Act/Bill process used by the US Congress for over 200 years is insufficient to their investors.

    Their excess leverage is defined retrospectively as the forward looking assumptions will in time be proven false.

    The current expectation of Government to act and strengthen a system which provides a mechanism to re-value undervalued assets through regulation risks disappointing voters at its own risk. These areas are bio, bio-medical, pharma and bio-tech.

    I tend to believe that through the works of Mike and others here that the RIAA and MPAA were brought along for the ride.

    What strikes me as odd is the policy decision to increase supply-side economic theory because not everyone used that lower cost capital to invest but rather many use it to consume.

     

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  22.  
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    abv gum, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Re:

    Nice try - fail

    "Business negotiations and contract disputes" are not the same as "real property" disputes.

    A proper comparison would be if two companies were to have a complicated arguement about who owned the business complex next door.

     

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  23.  
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    abc gum, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:57am

    Re: Copyright

    Your valid point is moot because before the ill conceived purchase there was a fraudulent registration.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Get off my imaginary lawn you darn teenagers!!! You’re infringing on my imaginary property, now MOVE IT!!!

     

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  25.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    @7

    yup one of those corporate hacks and insanely greedy people who'd probably watch the old lady get run over rather then attempt to stop that form happening.

    MIGHT even sue a disabled person
    might even...

    well i think these people are insane
    INSANE, because as the one poster said "long ago" happened for a lot more then music lovers and literally everyone should be one of those in some fashion.

    heres a nice quote for sarcastic above from a lil tune

    and the sign said
    long haird freaky people need not apply
    so i took my hair up under my hat and went in to ask him why
    he said you look like i fine upstanding young man, i think you'll do
    SO i took off my hat and said i imagine that, HUH me WORKING FOR YOU

    [chorus
    sign sign everyone a sign barking up the scenery breaking my mind
    do this don't do that can't ya read the sign
    /end chorus]

    and the sign said anybody caught trespassing,
    would be shot on site,
    so i jumped on the fence,
    and i yelled at the house,
    HEY WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT,
    to put up a fence to keep me out,
    OH to keep mother nature in,
    if GOD was here,
    he'd tell ya to your face,
    man your some kinda sinner,

    [chorus]
    Now hey you mister can't you read,
    got ta have a certain tie to get a seat,
    ya can't even watch ,
    NO can't eat,
    YOU AINT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE

    SIGN SAID YOU GOT TO HAVE A MEMBERSHIP CARD TO GET INSIDE
    UHH

    and the sign said
    everybody welcome come in neal down and pray,
    BUT when they passed around the plate at the end of it all
    i didn't have a penny to pay,

    SO I GOT ME A PEN AND PAPER
    i SAID thank you lord for thinkin bout me
    im alive and doin fine

    [chrorus]

     

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  26.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    [chrorus] correction

    sign , sign , everywhere a sign, barkin up the scenery breakin my mind, do this don't do that...can't ya read the sign

     

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  27.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Tangible and Intangible Property

    "With real property, even if there are ownership disputes, they don't get as ridiculously complicated as this. They don't go on for years with multiple people all believing they own the property only to find out later they might not. They don't involve people just declaring they own a piece of property with no one realizing they might not. These are all arguments over "imaginary" property, which isn't property at all. At what point do people realize just how ridiculous this whole structure is?"

    Tangible property such as real estate does get just as complicated which is why we buy title insurance and do physical surveys. There is little difference between ownership of intangible property and tangible property. Both can have clouded titles or mistakes in the meets and bounds descriptions and one can buy insurance to cover the costs of dealing with these types of problems.

    Rather you like it or not intangible property rights are becoming more important and you will have to learn to deal with it or maybe join the Amish.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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  28.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Re:

    "... First we hang all the Lawyers"

    Have you considered what we had before? Would you prefer trial by combat or a sovereign deciding?

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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  29.  
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    TtfnJohn, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Copyright

    Actually it's not moot. In a country where a copyright must be registered, though not all countries require that, to be valid the allegedly fraudulent registrations whould have shown up before the purchase was completed.

    That alone says the plaintiff didn't do a copyright "title" search.

     

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  30.  
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    TtfnJohn, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:00am

    Bad Bad Poster you!

    I'm sicking the intellectual property cops on you cause I dreamed that song long before it was ever written or recorded, long before anyone ever heard of hippies, long before I was even born!

    Now pay up!

     

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  31.  
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    Anthony Nguyen, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Hello,

    So, because intellectual property is presumably more difficult to manage and easily susceptible to fraud it not only doesn't deserve protection but it doesn't even deserve to be called property?

    Consumers purchase one product over a similar product because of reasons that are intangible (design of the product or design of the packaging, the "goodwill" of the manufacturer, etc.). These intangible qualities of products (even more so if the product itself is considered to be intangible) are very valuable not only to the creators of the content, but also the consumers who seem to insist that they are not.

    Intellectual property is still property, regardless of its "imaginary" existence. Perhaps it seems imaginary for two reasons: 1) general consumers never had to deal with intellectual property before the digital age and are justifiably ignorant of its importance, and 2) society has developed a tremendously tight bond between property and tangibility, making them seem inseparable, perhaps due to the lack of exposure to intellectual property (though art and music have always been around).

     

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  32.  
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    TtfnJohn, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: You can thank a sovereign for copyright, thank you

    The idea of copyright originated in England long before 1776 and was a response by the Queen at the time to what she considered a group of people preying on creators of what we now call "content" for their own profit while the creators were left trying to collect for their work.

    That group were called, and are still called, publishers. Lately we've added another predator species to the list. We call them patent trolls. Look in the mirror if you need to identify one, Ronald J Riley.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    i think you need to spend time in the real world mr masnick as this sort of thing happens in real estate and such all the time. try to buy property in louisiana or try to figure out how deep a piece of land goes in most places. there are so many claims and counter claims you would go crazy. the existence of fraudsters doesn't negate the value of the underlying system.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    "So, because intellectual property is presumably more difficult to manage and easily susceptible to fraud it not only doesn't deserve protection but it doesn't even deserve to be called property?"

    It doesn't deserve to be called property because copyright/patents are regulatory by nature. They do not cover things in the holder's possession but things that never were.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    How much in property taxes do you pay on your IP?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    Do you always take everything literally?

     

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  37.  
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    WammerJammer (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:58am

    Imaginary Lover?

    Imaginations unreal!!

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    How much property tax do you pay on your refrigerator?

     

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  39.  
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    abc gum, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    RJR -> "which is why we buy title insurance"

    The purchasing person/entity usually borrows in order to complete said purchase and it is a requirement of the loaning entity that the purchaser pay for title insurance put in place to protect the investment made by the loaning entity. If a person were to pay cash for their purchase, is it a requirement that they get title insurance ?

    RJR -> "There is little difference between ownership of intangible property and tangible property."

    You sir, are incorrect as there are many differencs and I'm sure you are quite aware of them.

    RJR -> "and one can buy insurance to cover the costs of dealing with these types of problems."

    Thank goodness for that. I feel so much better now. I'm positive that insurance will solve all the worlds problems and the insurance industry would not even consider disallowing legitimate claims.

     

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  40.  
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    ZOMG, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Are you suggesting that "goodwill" should also be considered property?

     

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  41.  
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    abc gum, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    I get it now, because two things share a common attribute that makes them the same. Thanks for clearing that up.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    How much money do you make from your refrigerator?

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:26am

    Intellectual property is nothing like real property.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Shouldn't everything be considered property? Like love? Or gibberish?

    Why aren't facts considered property? E=mc2?

    I own 1+1=2!

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    The imaginary teenagers on my imaginary lawn do not own this imaginary property and they need to get off.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    The difference is that the refrigerator occupies space on property that you own and pay taxes on. So yes, in a sense you are paying taxes on your refrigerator because you're paying taxes on the space it takes up.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    and likewise, if you were to store your refrigerator at a public storage venue you would pay the public storage venue rent and the public storage venue would pay the government property taxes for the space that the refrigerator uses.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    Which begs the question, where is the space that the IP is being stored at and the taxes that are being paid on it? How much space does this IP take up? How much land do you need to accommodate said IP and how much are the taxes on said land.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    Actually it's not moot. In a country where a copyright must be registered, though not all countries require that

    Actually, almost all of the countries in the world are signatories to the Berne Convention and thus require no registration for automatic copyright.

    That alone says the plaintiff didn't do a copyright "title" search.

    Fail. Read what I just wrote above.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: Bad Bad Poster you!

    I'm sicking the intellectual property cops on you cause I dreamed that song long before it was ever written or recorded, long before anyone ever heard of hippies, long before I was even born!

    Copyright doesn't apply until a work is fixed in a tangible form.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    "perhaps due to the lack of exposure to intellectual property"

    Perhaps people need more exposure to fiction?

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Hey, maybe if I keep saying (and wishing really hard!) that a temporary, exclusive right to distribute something to others for profit is the same thing as a piece of property, it will magically become true. But probably not, though.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    "Tangible property such as real estate does get just as complicated which is why we buy title insurance and do physical surveys."

    Which is what we are going to need to start doing whenever we buy anything covered by copyright. First hire a title search company, then buy insurance to cover us in case the title search company got it wrong and we get sued for buying "unauthorized" material anyway.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:55am

    But of course IP maximists do not want to pay taxes on their unearned (alleged) property, they want to get something for nothing and our idiot government hands out monopolies to any undeserving entity who merely pays the most in campaign contributions and patent filing fees.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Re:

    Yeah, but you can probably get the government to believe it is true and create outrageous laws to support such nonsense, like the current laws we have in place right now.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: You can thank a sovereign for copyright, thank you

    A patent lawsuit ending with "off with their heads" would be very bad news for the patent trolls. That's why patent trolls and lawyers live in a symbiotic relationship.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    You sir, are incorrect as there are many differencs and I'm sure you are quite aware of them.

    But he likes to pretend otherwise.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: Bad Bad Poster you!

    How are brain waves not tangible?

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    Apparently you are not familiar with the fee structure imposed by statute on patent applications and issued patents, nor the IRS laws and regulations subjecting patents to capital gains treatment.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re:

    If only patents worked the same as copyright!

    Silly IP.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re:

    I am referring to property taxes, not income taxes.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nor am I referring to sales taxes. In the case of property taxes you pay taxes regardless of whether or not said property earns you a profit.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:52pm

    “When You Try To Figure Out Who Owns Imaginary 'Property,' Things Get Confusing Fast”

    I got the solution. Why not just allow them to own the imaginary property in their imagination and not reality?

     

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  64.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    "So, because intellectual property is presumably more difficult to manage and easily susceptible to fraud it not only doesn't deserve protection but it doesn't even deserve to be called property?"

    Yes, and also because in many cases Intellectual Property doesn't have the limits inherent to make ownership necessary.

    "Consumers purchase one product over a similar product because of reasons that are intangible (design of the product or design of the packaging, the "goodwill" of the manufacturer, etc.). These intangible qualities of products (even more so if the product itself is considered to be intangible) are very valuable not only to the creators of the content, but also the consumers who seem to insist that they are not."

    Very pointless. Needs more point. What is your point? Is your point intangible?

    'Intellectual property is still property, regardless of its "imaginary" existence.'

    Calling them the same thing clears everything up. It's a wonder that they don't just do away with the word 'Intellectual' altogether to avoid confusion.

    "Perhaps it seems imaginary for two reasons: 1) general consumers never had to deal with intellectual property before the digital age and are justifiably ignorant of its importance"

    That's a very helpful and profound load of bollocks. Please explain why it is important before you attribute ignorance to a portion of the population you pulled from between your buttocks.

    "and 2) society has developed a tremendously tight bond between property and tangibility, making them seem inseparable, perhaps due to the lack of exposure to intellectual property (though art and music have always been around)."

    To summarise: society believes property is tangible due to lack of exposure to something they have been exposed to since time immemorial?

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Re:

    This would probably solve a lot of the problems stemming from IP.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Ideas should be taxed and the revenue from that taxation should be given to the government.

    Seems fair.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    “So, because intellectual property is presumably more difficult to manage and easily susceptible to fraud it not only doesn't deserve protection but it doesn't even deserve to be called property?”

    Because it is more difficult to manage and enforce and hence more EXPENSIVE it should be taxed more so as to pay for its litigation and enforcement.

     

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  68.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:32pm

    Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Intellectual property is still property, regardless of its "imaginary" existence

    No. Legally it has no "property" status. The term "intellectual property" was invented by the holders of government monopoly concessions (which is what these things actually are) as a tool to aid them in their propaganda. Propaganda which is designed to bully lawmakers into extending their rights and to fool the public into believing that these rights extend much further than they actually do!

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:02pm

    Is there a fair use provision associated with real property? Could I reasonably "take" 10% or 5% or 1% of your real property and you would be fine with it?

    Because real property and intellectual property is the same thing, right?

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:53pm

    Re:

    > Is there a fair use provision associated with real property?

    If you grow beautiful roses in your yard, I can look at them and enjoy their beauty, for free. I can take a picture of them too, and keep it to look at later, and even make copies to give to my friends. Even after I do so, you still own your flowers, 100 percent, and are in no way diminished in your ability to do what you want with them. Because recording them, and making digital copies of my recording, are not physically "taking" anything from you. And we all should be fine with that.

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Unless you're a lawyer.

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    Re:

    There have also been decades-long disputes between China and Russia over the boundary line between the two...the reasons for the dispute are somewhat complex, complicated by the fact that the river that nominal served as the boundary changed course...

    "Non-imaginary" property is defined by imaginary lines, and those imaginary lines have been the source of disputes dating back to before the modern definition of property. It is unlikely that any property or property right can ever exist without some sort of controversy surrounding it.

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    “Perhaps it seems imaginary for two reasons: 1) general consumers never had to deal with intellectual property before the digital age and are justifiably ignorant of its importance”

    Oh yes, we are supposed to believe that you are somehow less ignorant than the rest of us. All wisdom comes from you and anyone that disagrees with you is, by definition, ignorant, because it is you who gets to determine right from wrong and what the public ought to believe and subscribe to and what kind of laws they ought to support.

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    (to continue) and you also get to determine what the public ought to value and that they should support laws that unfairly benefit you.

    Frankly I find most IP maximists, at least the ones here on techdirt, to be dishonest and I see no reason to trust their moral judgment being that they don’t even understand that being dishonest is wrong.

     

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  75.  
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    Richard Corsale, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Eminent domain

    Eminent domain can be declared and real property can be seized if it's in the interest of public welfare.. Is the same true for IP? Can a local government seize a patent if it's needed to progress a society?

     

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  76.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Eminent domain

    Eminent domain laws have almost never been used for the public good. Instead (as some episode of Pen and Teller has noted), they have been used to take property away from citizens in the name of protecting some obscure bird only to give that property to some big corporation, like WalMart, a year later who would then likely take measures to ensure that birds keep off its property. The bird would probably be better off without these laws.

     

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  77.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Eminent domain

    I think that in the US, the patent is not seized by the government, but it can be used without notice or compensation.

     

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  78.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:50pm

    Re: Eminent domain

    Since IP is like real property I propose that, since IP doesn’t do any good and causes plenty of harm to innovation, the economy, and society and that the lack of IP would be of huge social benefit to our economy and to innovation, that we use eminent domain laws to perpetually cease all patents and copyrights immediately hand them over to the public.

     

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  79.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    "An actual human being, who may or may not be guilty of an offense!"

    LOL ... thats your third strike, I dont care if you didnt do it, prove you didnt, I say you are guilty and thats all that matters.

    Yeah Imaginary property what a wonderful thing.

     

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  80.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re:

    Trial by combat is my choice.

    We could broadcast the lawyers hacking each other to pieces ... and oh yeah copyright it so we can collect royalties from now till the end of time minus a day.

     

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  81.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    There is insurance for that

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Just an observation from "been there, done that".

    The ownership of patents is quite easy to determine as all patents are registered with the USPTO. If a patent lapses for failure to pay maintenance fees, that too is easy to find. Interpreting patents may be somewhat difficult at times, but finding out who owns them is not.

    The same is true of trademarks, but finding registration documents is a bit more work because trademark is an area in which both states and the federal government participate. There are, however, the equivalent of title search companies that makes the process easier.

    Copyrights used to be the same way. You would search the registration records of the Copyright Office. Unfortunately, when the US ended its 90+ year holdout from adopting what I term the "European System" under the Berne Convention, determining the ownership of a work became in many instances well nigh impossible since registration was eliminated as a requirement for securing a copyright. Even then, however, there was the ameliorating fact that copyright notices were mandated lest copyright be lost. About 1990, however, this requirement was eliminated as the US once more caved to the "European System".

    I, for one, continue to believe, as do many others...academics and practitioners alike, that the acts of 1976 and about 1990 were a definite step backwards that converted a relatively predictable system into one where confusion can in many instances rule the day.

    Fortunately, there are still a large number of authors who routinely engage in the practice of applying for copyright registrations that are catalogued and can be easily searched. Unfortunately, there is much too large of number of authors who do not.

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    if the intention is to create confusion, this article is bang on. in the real world, we have all sorts of imaginary lines, from borders to property lines and such. those lines mostly are not natural they are created artificially by man. we fight wars over them and go to court to settle them. that someone may have created a fraud in selling rights that they dont really own is no different from someone selling a stolen car or selling property they do not own by faking survey and location documents. there will always be mistakes and errors, but it is not a reason to throw up your hands and damn the whole system.

     

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  84.  
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    abc gum, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 1:03pm

    Re:

    Your post is interesting and illustrates why one should register their copyright prior to posting it on the internet. I'm curious how one goes about proving ownership after a fraudulent registration has occurred. In the case of a photograph one could show possession of the RAW file as this might be considered evidence if the fraudster lacked such a file. With written material I suppose one could mail it to themselves, if unopened the postmark might be evidence. In addition, because it is difficult to prove your copyright was stolen, it must also be difficult to defend against fraudulent accusations of same.

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    The whole system needs to be destroyed because, more generally, it causes more harm than good. Not just because misappropriation fraud but the system itself IS a fraud. The patent office is a fraud, intellectual property IS a fraud.

     

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  86.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re:

    "I, for one, continue to believe, as do many others...academics and practitioners alike, that the acts of 1976 and about 1990 were a definite step backwards that converted a relatively predictable system into one where confusion can in many instances rule the day."

    I applaud your ability to speak for so many while posting anonymously. Jibe aside, the act you refer to was Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 (active 1989). Welcome to the discussion.

    "Fortunately, there are still a large number of authors who routinely engage in the practice of applying for copyright registrations that are catalogued and can be easily searched. Unfortunately, there is much too large of number of authors who do not."

    I understand from Mike's excerpt of the linked article that the issue is with registered copyrights, but that those registrations are claimed to be fraudulent. How would your suggestions of universal registration (as it was in the US before those acts), have avoided this mess?

     

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  87.  
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    abc gum, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    You seem to equate real and imaginary property as being the same, they are not. Possibly, this is the source of your confusion. Although a property boundaries can be an imaginary line, the property is real. A dispute would about how much of land is inside vs outside said boundary. Imaginary property is vastly different in this regard.

    If the system is to be saved, what do you suggest be done? How can endless resources not be wasted in frivolous law suits over things that were obvious decades ago or things that were in the public domain.

     

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  88.  
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    Richard Corsale, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Eminent domain

    Sure, but the question of eminent domain right or wrong being just as applicable to IP as it is to TP (heuu heeue) is the point I'm trying to make. Is seems to me that patent hawks love to make IP as an analog to tangible property as long as it suits them. When it gets inconvenient or becomes a liability, they start bumbling around.

    If, I break my arm while trespassing on your property I can sue you. If I break my arm while checking out of a site that has one click to check out, can I sue Amazon? There is no liability to IP as there is every other form of ownership.

     

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  89.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Eminent domain

    What if I hurt myself infringing on your patent? Do I get to sue you? Or if I license your software and I hurt myself in the process of using it? Or if I license your patent and I hurt myself in the process of using it?

     

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  90.  
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    Pitabred, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re:

    At least the property itself is finite even if the line is contested.

     

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  91.  
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    Pitabred, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    The USPTO is not floating in the air. You also have all the various police departments and such tasked with enforcing imaginary property laws. These things are not free, and are a detriment to society. It prevents me from doing things, limits my freedoms. Why is that not taxed?

     

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  92.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Eminent domain

    No. You are not permitted to profit from an illegal act. On the other hand, if you license someone's software and you hurt yourself in the process of using it in the way in which it was intended, then you may have a case. See an attorney!

    If you license a patent and your hurt yourself in the process of using it, more than likely you are on your own - unless it was evident that the only way to practice the patent leads to harm, in which case there is probably a suit of some sort there.

     

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  93.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Eminent domain

    No. You are not permitted to profit from an illegal act. On the other hand, if you license someone's software and you hurt yourself in the process of using it in the way in which it was intended, then you may have a case. See an attorney!

    If you license a patent and your hurt yourself in the process of using it, more than likely you are on your own - unless it was evident that the only way to practice the patent leads to harm, in which case there is probably a suit of some sort there.

     

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  94.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    That is taxed. What is your point?

     

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  95.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Eminent domain

    You think there is no liability to IP? Tons of people have sued over IP. For example, how many artists have been sued for having "obscene lyrics" or having "satanic lyrics"? Of course, those suits never win, but it does not stop people from trying. There can indeed be liability from IP.

     

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  96.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    Re:

    You hit the nail on the head. Real property may be "finite," but just what does "finite" mean? If you lay claim to the entire continent of North America, even though it is already inhabited, is that really finite or seemingly infinite? At the time North America was claimed it must have seemed that land was quasi-infinite. It was certainly as cheap as a downloaded song is now, even though the people laying claim to the land did not own it (interesting parallel there!).

    Property itself is more imaginary than people realize. Just how do you know you "own" the land you are on? Well, the only way anyone knows is through pieces of paper. If the paper is missing - or fraudulent - then you may not own the land at all, or it becomes murky, as has happened many times in the past, either intentionally or unintentionally.

     

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  97.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Eminent domain

    I suspect the answer is yes.

    http://blog.iphandbook.org/?p=338

     

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  98.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    It is taxed. Where have you been?

     

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  99.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:53pm

    Re:

    Ideas, to the best of my knowledge, are not taxed, but trademarks and patents are.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, that sounds just like the tax on patents and trademarks!

     

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  101.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    The IP is being stored in and at many places. The IP, if we are talking trademarks and patents, are taxed regularly, regardless of where it is stored. As for the amount of "land" it takes to store IP, it depends on just how big the IP is. Of course, we know that all land is taxed (with a few exceptions), so any land where IP is stored must be taxed also.

     

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  102.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    Millions...

     

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  103.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:02pm

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    It is not called "property," it is called a property right.

     

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  104.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 8:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    A "property right" presupposes there is "property" that one can possibly have rights over.

     

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  105.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    " perhaps due to the lack of exposure to intellectual property"

    People have been coming up with new ideas and mathematical constructs for a very long time. To the extent that these things can be said to be property the exposure to them has been around for quite some time. So I see no reason to attribute our intuitive logic that no one is owed a monopoly on anything to the lack of exposure to new ideas (or to this kind of alleged property).

     

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  106.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    I said it should be taxed MORE. Learn to read.

     

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  107.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Maintenance fees only apply to utility patents. They do not apply to design or plant patents. In the case of utility patents they are do 3½, 7½ and 11½ years from the date that patents are granted.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maintenance_fee_%28patent%29

    Also see

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/advanced-patent/maintenance-fees/

     

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  108.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    "As for the amount of "land" it takes to store IP, it depends on just how big the IP is."

    and how big is the IP? is it 3 feet by 3 feet? 6 feet by 6 feet?

    "Of course, we know that all land is taxed (with a few exceptions), so any land where IP is stored must be taxed also."

    You are taxed on the land that your refrigerator is stored but where is the monopoly privilege on the creation of said refrigerator stored?

     

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  109.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Eminent domain

    The liability there is over whether or not the artist is allowed to say what he/she said. This would be the case regardless of the IP nature of what was said.

     

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  110.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:26pm

    "If you lay claim to the entire continent of North America, even though it is already inhabited, is that really finite or seemingly infinite?"

    It's finite.

    "At the time North America was claimed it must have seemed that land was quasi-infinite. It was certainly as cheap as a downloaded song is now, even though the people laying claim to the land did not own it (interesting parallel there!)."

    and what does this have to do with the ability to make copies of something?

    "Property itself is more imaginary than people realize."

    Uhm.. I think not.

    "Just how do you know you "own" the land you are on?"

    Whether or not one "owns" land maybe imaginary but this doesn't make the land itself imaginary.

     

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  111.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:02am

    Re: Re:

    ...while posting anonymously.

    As if though *you* aren't.
    Pot, meet kettle.

     

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  112.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:09am

    Re: Re:

    At the time North America was claimed it must have seemed that land was quasi-infinite.

    No, it wasn't considered to be infinite. People had been fighting wars over land for a long time because it wasn't considered "infinite".

    It was certainly as cheap as a downloaded song is now, even though the people laying claim to the land did not own it (interesting parallel there!).

    North America for a dollar? I don't think so. Hey, you wanna buy a bridge?

     

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  113.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 3:16am

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    'No. Legally it has no "property" status. The term "intellectual property" was invented by the holders of government monopoly concessions (which is what these things actually are) as a tool to aid them in their propaganda. Propaganda which is designed to bully lawmakers into extending their rights and to fool the public into believing that these rights extend much further than they actually do!'

    I fear this line is intentionally blurred in part by the use of 'Intellectual Property' in the titles of various statutes. If you search the 2009 US copyright law you will find hundreds of references to Intellectual Property, mostly when referring to other documents. You will also find the term used repeatedly in the NET act of 1997

     

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  114.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 3:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "As if though *you* aren't.
    Pot, meet kettle."


    I only claim to speak for myself. Plus, there is a difference between anonymity and knowing someone's real name. I have always posted using this account which makes me not anonymous in the context of this site.

     

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  115.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "At the time North America was claimed it must have seemed that land was quasi-infinite.

    No, it wasn't considered to be infinite. People had been fighting wars over land for a long time because it wasn't considered "infinite"."

    Just because people were fighting wars over the land does not make the land seem non-infinite. One of the themes that appears in literature of the time was how important it was to "open up" the land and how abundant it seemed. The primary reason for the wars was not because the land was finite, but because multiple groups claimed the same abundant land.

    "It was certainly as cheap as a downloaded song is now, even though the people laying claim to the land did not own it (interesting parallel there!).

    North America for a dollar? I don't think so. Hey, you wanna buy a bridge?"

    Uhhh...know a lot about history, do you? Millions of acres in North America were given away for FREE. How much cheaper can a song be than FREE?

     

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  116.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:40am

    Re:

    ""If you lay claim to the entire continent of North America, even though it is already inhabited, is that really finite or seemingly infinite?"

    It's finite."

    It may be "finite," but we know that today. Read the literature of the era where the North American continent was described as having limitless resources. The people of the TIME considered the continent to be infinite.

    ""At the time North America was claimed it must have seemed that land was quasi-infinite. It was certainly as cheap as a downloaded song is now, even though the people laying claim to the land did not own it (interesting parallel there!)."

    and what does this have to do with the ability to make copies of something?"

    I give up. What does that have to do with making a copy of something, since you brought it up?

    ""Property itself is more imaginary than people realize."

    Uhm.. I think not."

    Ummm...I think so, and you offered no evidence otherwise.

    ""Just how do you know you "own" the land you are on?"

    Whether or not one "owns" land maybe imaginary but this doesn't make the land itself imaginary."

    I did not say land was imaginary, I said ownership was. Two different things. Pay attention.

     

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  117.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    ""As for the amount of "land" it takes to store IP, it depends on just how big the IP is."

    and how big is the IP? is it 3 feet by 3 feet? 6 feet by 6 feet?"

    First, you have to specify the IP. If the IP is for a hybrid transmission, then the IP in the hybrid transmission is about 1 foot by 1 foot by 3 feet.

    ""Of course, we know that all land is taxed (with a few exceptions), so any land where IP is stored must be taxed also."

    You are taxed on the land that your refrigerator is stored but where is the monopoly privilege on the creation of said refrigerator stored?"

    I do not know where the "monopoly privilege" on the creation of the refrigerator is stored. How do you store a "monopoly privilege." How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? That seems just as relevant to the conversation.

     

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  118.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    That is quite correct.

     

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  119.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    I apologize. You did say it should be taxed more.

    As for being taxed more, thanks to a recent post by Mr. Masnick we learned that the average award per suit is around $3 million. Since the average cost of a suit is around $3.5 million, it seems as though plaintiffs would figure out that filing a suit is valuable for only one thing, and that is stopping someone from copying your design - which was the original right conferred by the Constitution. Unfortunately, NPE's gain a higher average award per suit, making it profitable for NPE's to litigate. However, this too shall pass.

     

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  120.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    "No. Legally it has no "property" status. The term "intellectual property" was invented by the holders of government monopoly concessions (which is what these things actually are) as a tool to aid them in their propaganda. Propaganda which is designed to bully lawmakers into extending their rights and to fool the public into believing that these rights extend much further than they actually do!"

    Richard, you are in error. The term "intellectual property" appears to have first been used at the time of the founding of the Swiss Federal Office for Intellectual Property. When the administrative secretariats established by the Paris Convention and Berne Convention merged in 1893, they also adopted the term as well.

    So the term was not invented by "holders of government monopoly concessions;" the term was invented by the government.

     

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  121.  
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    Angela, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    I'm sorry to point this out, but I can't let it slide: your argument is factually incorrect. You're not paying taxes on the refrigerator (unless you pay taxes at the time of purchase). You would pay taxes on the property at the same rates whether that spot on your floor was empty, or occupied by the refrigerator.

    There are accounting methods whereby you could allocate part of the taxes to that refrigerator for costing purposes, but that does *not* mean that you are actually paying taxes on the refrigerator.

     

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  122.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    Re:

    fair enough but we really are du for a revolution at some point. this system is completely untenable

     

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  123.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    More broadly, you are not paying any taxes at all on the vast majority of the property you own. For the average person, only land owned as property, improvements to the land, and a vehicle owned as property are taxed. All other physical property is generally not taxed, with the possible exception of sales tax.

     

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  124.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, your statement is not really true. Read "The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Law" by William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner. The system is multi-faceted and somewhat balanced, but there are factors that have led to an imbalance, particularly in the area of copyrights.

     

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  125.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I have always posted using this account which makes me not anonymous in the context of this site.

    What a load. If you aren't anonymous, then give us your your full real name, phone number and home address to start with.

    Waiting...

     

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  126.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I have always posted using this account which makes me not anonymous in the context of this site."

    Me too!

    -Anonymous Coward

     

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  127.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Just because people were fighting wars over the land does not make the land seem non-infinite.

    People don't tend to fight and die for infinite resources.

    One of the themes that appears in literature of the time was how important it was to "open up" the land and how abundant it seemed.

    Money is abundant, still it isn't infinite. Big difference.

    The primary reason for the wars was not because the land was finite, but because multiple groups claimed the same abundant land.

    The same land because it wasn't infinite.

    Uhhh...know a lot about history, do you? Millions of acres in North America were given away for FREE. How much cheaper can a song be than FREE?

    Talk about not knowing history. Land grants were almost always given as rewards or repayments of some sort. Such as for political favors or homesteading. That's not exactly "free".

     

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  128.  
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    sean, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 9:12am

    We've discussed in the past how copyright isn't really "property" at all, and trying to compare it to regular property leads to all sorts of confusing problems. no, you have stated your opinion on how everything anyone thinks up should belong to the collective. quit preaching, and start reporting.

     

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  129.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    The term "intellectual property" appears to have first been used at the time of the founding of the Swiss Federal Office for Intellectual Property.

    Really? The Swiss were using the English language at that time? Interesting.

    So the term was not invented by "holders of government monopoly concessions;" the term was invented by the government.

    Oh I see, you think Techdirt is a Swiss site. You are mistaken. It is a U.S. site and around here we don't consider the Swiss government to be "the government".

     

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  130.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    "Richard, you are in error. The term "intellectual property" appears to have first been used at the time of the founding of the Swiss Federal Office for Intellectual Property. When the administrative secretariats established by the Paris Convention and Berne Convention merged in 1893, they also adopted the term as well."

    For a complete and not quite finished history on the subject read Justin Hughes' article on the subject. Some interesting snippets are that it pre-dates the founding of the Swiss Federal Office for Intellectual Property and originally it only referred to copyright.

    One thing's for sure, it was not created by any English speaking government.

     

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  131.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    As for being taxed more, thanks to a recent post by Mr. Masnick we learned that the average award per suit is around $3 million. Since the average cost of a suit is around $3.5 million, it seems as though plaintiffs would figure out that filing a suit is valuable for only one thing, and that is stopping someone from copying your design - which was the original right conferred by the Constitution.

    Wow. Someone does not understand statistics at all.

    Average is a meaningless number when you know the distribution... And with patent awards, it's a very, very broad distribution. Nobodies filing patent suits based on the average -- but on the idea that they might get one of those $500 million awards...

    Seriously, you must know this. Arguing otherwise is blatantly dishonest.

     

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  132.  
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    Richard Corsale, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eminent domain

    exactly! Obscene lyrics have nothing to do with IP.

     

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  133.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Ah, yes. The ever-popular odds. But, if only 20 or 30 plaintiffs actually make money out of the 2800-3000 suits filed per year, is 1% odds of success really worth the risk?

    Furthermore, if you look at the peak awards, not only are they also dropping, but the majority of awards are being dropped significantly on appeal - and we appear to be at the start of a trend in the downward direction for awards.

    People are clearly unhappy that a few small players are causing such huge distortions in a system that has traditionally worked fairly well, and there is just as clearly a judicial movement to reign those abuses in since congress seems unable to do so.

    I am sure you are as aware of these facts as I am. To argue otherwise would be blatantly dishonest.

     

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  134.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Vivaelamor:

    Wow, what an incredible paper. I have never seen a more thorough analysis of the origin of the usage of "intellectual property."

    The entire paper is quite a good read, but several things stood out - all from the paper:

    (1) Intellectual property has been used to refer to patents and copyrights since at least the latter half of the 19th century. The phrase seemed to include trademarks at a later date.

    (2) It seems that the primary references to "intellectual property" came from the government. Indeed, there seemed to not have been much, if any, mention of the word in private quarters until after the government began adopting the term.

    (3) The use of "intellectual property" as a propaganda device seems pretty well debunked by this paper. After all, "intellectual property" replaced "literary property." As the paper notes, the use of "property" to refer to creative works of the mind was in existence well before the change to "intellectual" property.

    Further, the term "intellectual property" was uniformly used in Spain to refer to copyrights for a long time, and yet there is no evidence that copyright grew any faster in
    Spain than elsewhere, further evidence that the term appears to be given little propaganda weight.

    (4) Though the more common usage was in Europe, there were two early uses in the United States that seem to indicate an umbrella meaning. Both uses were in courts, one in 1845 and the first citation by the Supreme Court in 1878. So, it might be a bit hasty to say that "intellectual property" as an umbrella term was of non-English speaking country origin.

    The paper also points out that the U.S. is one of the few countries where the various aspects of intellectual property were organized into one cluster from the very beginning, which would seem to be a driver for a common term. Once again, the source of this terminology was government rather than those who might benefit from marginal propagand avalue.

    (5) There has been opposition to the term "property" since at least the early part of the 19th century. The reason was that property seems to imply perpetual. Augustin-Charles Renouard thought it would be better to call copyright a privilege to denote the true nature of copyright, including the intent to limit the scope of copyright.

    However, Eugene Pouillet pointed out that since royal privileges were mostly perpetual, he was unsure of whether privilege was much different from property.

    (6) It seems like the U.S. House of Representatives made a fairly definitive statement regarding copyright being property in 1830:

    "...[t]hough the nature of literary property is peculiar, it is not the less real and valuable"; a 1838 U.S. Senate report - expressly saying it was getting into the natural rights issues -- described copyright as 'property of a peculiar character, not absolute but special, subject to conditions and limitations."

    (7) The following paragraph in the paper is also interesting in its discussion of Joseph Marie Portalis, who argued that copyright was also property but that such property could be limited in duration "[t]he property right can be limited to varying degrees in its effects without changing its nature."

    (8) In the paragraph after, Eugene Pouillet pointed out that copyright is founded in natural law:

    "That this property is of a special nature, that it has required particular regulation, and that, while having its source in natural law, it has demanded organization different from the organization of ordinary property, that is obvious."

    This paper is a great read. I recommend it to any student of intellectual property and its origins. Thanks to Vivaelamor for pointing it out!!!

     

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  135.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    It appears that the term was first used in the United States of America, which I recall uses English as its primary language, first used the term in its umbrella form in 1845 - and it was a court, a GOVERNMENTAL BODY, that used it. The Supreme Court used the term in a similar fashion in 1878. I also seem to recall the U.S. Supreme Court being a governmental body, even as far back as 1878.

     

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  136.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Just because people were fighting wars over the land does not make the land seem non-infinite.

    People don't tend to fight and die for infinite resources."

    Ah, but just because you fight and die over something does not prove that it is finite. Christians have been fighting each other over interpretations of the bible for centuries, and as far as I know, biblical knowledge is an infinite resource.

    "One of the themes that appears in literature of the time was how important it was to "open up" the land and how abundant it seemed.

    Money is abundant, still it isn't infinite. Big difference."

    Non sequitur. Money is not land.

    "The primary reason for the wars was not because the land was finite, but because multiple groups claimed the same abundant land.

    The same land because it wasn't infinite."

    But, many of these groups could have aimed a few compass points in another direction and they would have been fine. Different question: for all intents and purposes the water in the ocean is limitless, and yet people fight over it. Why fight for something was is infinite for a practical viewpoint? Because there are reasons to fight that have nothing to do with finite or infinite - there is the good old "principle of the thing."

    "Uhhh...know a lot about history, do you? Millions of acres in North America were given away for FREE. How much cheaper can a song be than FREE?

    Talk about not knowing history. Land grants were almost always given as rewards or repayments of some sort. Such as for political favors or homesteading. That's not exactly "free"."

    *sigh* The history of homesteading and land grants goes back to the beginning of the United States. There are even modern day examples...

    A community in Ellesworth, Kansas is giving away free land. The only requirement is the same requirement since the beginning, essentially improve the land; i.e., build a house. Imagine that, free land to build a home!

    http://money.cnn.com/2004/12/22/real_estate/buying_selling/thursday_freeland/

    The Homestead Act dates to 1862. It provided that ANYONE, let me say this slowly, ANY ONE, could homestead 160 acres. No reward, no payment, no political favors. If, at the end of five years, the land had been improved, which typically meant farming and/or a house, title to the land passed to the homesteader. I believe more than 250 million acres were given away under this program to more than 1 millon people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_Act

    Perhaps one of the most famous of the free giveaways was the the Oklahoma land rush. With the exception of a few cheaters, the land was available to anyone who get stake a claim, no political favors, no rewards, no repayments.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Run_of_1889

     

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  137.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "What a load. If you aren't anonymous, then give us your your full real name, phone number and home address to start with."

    Pseudonymous. If you want to call it anonymous instead, that's fine by me.

     

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  138.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Thanks! Now I will call intellectual property by it's proper name, intellectual privilege.

    Copyright is an intellectual privilege that lasts for centuries.

     

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  139.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Ah, yes. The ever-popular odds. But, if only 20 or 30 plaintiffs actually make money out of the 2800-3000 suits filed per year, is 1% odds of success really worth the risk?


    You should ask the people filing the lawsuits -- but the obvious answer is "yes, very much." The problem, as you must know (you can't honestly be that clueless about human nature, can you??) is that everyone filing the lawsuit overestimates their own chances and the likelihood of winning $612 million.

     

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  140.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

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

    A community in Ellesworth, Kansas is giving away free land. The only requirement is the same requirement since the beginning, essentially improve the land; i.e., build a house. Imagine that, free land to build a home!

    As a reward for improving the land. That's not "free".

    The Homestead Act dates to 1862. It provided that ANYONE, let me say this slowly, ANY ONE, could homestead 160 acres. No reward, no payment, no political favors.

    Only as a reward for homesteading the land. And even then it was limited because land was recognized as not being "infinite". Again, not free.

    Perhaps one of the most famous of the free giveaways was the the Oklahoma land rush. With the exception of a few cheaters, the land was available to anyone who get stake a claim, no political favors, no rewards, no repayments.

    Read your own reference: "Provided a settler lived on the land and improved it, the settler could then receive the title to the land." So it was actually as a reward for homesteading. Again, not free.

    You seem to be construing "free" as anything you don't pay money for, which is dishonest. For example, many people go to work for the reward of money. However, I doubt that they consider that to be "free money" just because they didn't have to buy it with other money.

     

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  141.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

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

    Pseudonymous. If you want to call it anonymous instead, that's fine by me.

    OK then, I guess I'm just "pseudonymous" too then. Plenty of people know me personally, so I'm not really anonymous either, huh? So that makes me the same as you, pot. Or is it kettle?

     

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  142.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    It will be interesting to see how things progress in the next year or two, eh? The number of suits being filed has been down for most of the last two years. Awards are going down (though as we have discussed, awards to NPE's remain above average, meaning that more NPE's are making money in suits in comparison with practicing entities that are generally not getting enough in awards to offset their fees).

    If the current trend continues, then some time in the next year or so even the average award for NPE's will be insufficient to make a suit worthwhile, and the peak awards should keep dropping. There are already web sites where litigation attorneys are counseling clients not to file patent lawsuits if your only goal is to make money, because patent lawsuits are not winners. I also very recently saw an article that notes that litigation attorneys are cutting way back on taking patent cases on contingency.

    The one possible curve ball is patent reform, which has included all sorts of limits on patent litigation. That would really put a stake through most suits, leaving only the most egregious cases.

     

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  143.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

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

    lol...I like pseudonymous. You are a funny person vivaelamor.

     

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  144.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Actually, I am perfectly fine with that as well. I particularly think that copyright has gone insane, though it does not "last for centuries." I believe it is something like "life plus 70 years," though there are experts here that know better than I. Even if a person created something at a ridiculously young age, say two years old, and lived to the age of 115 or 120, their total copyright protection would be less than two centuries - assuming I got the term correct.

     

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  145.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    I'm assuming that the length of copyright will increase. Another 20 years? Has the length been going down? Is that the trend? Downward? No?

    Then, realistically, copyright lasts for centuries. I can't wait for it to last for millenniums!

     

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  146.  
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    anymouse (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    In most cases Businesses are supposed to report and pay personal property taxes on ANY personal property used in the business (personal in this instance refers to anything physically used in the business, not personally owned).

    Buy a copy machine and put it in your business, it should be added to your personal property tax return and the business will have to pay personal property taxes on it for the life of the copy machine (life being the accounting life, so 5-7 years depending on depreciation method).

    So yes, if you own a business you should be paying property tax on your refrigerator that's used in that business (depending on the state, I'm referring to WA state laws, but most are similar if not more onerous).

     

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  147.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    Good heavens, I hope not. No, the length has not been going down, even though there is not a single shred of evidence that shows that the current length of copyright is "promoted the progress."

    The article "The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Law" by William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner" discussed copyright lengths analytically. They pointed out that patents have a sort of self-regulating feature because companies that patent recognize increasing the length of patents decreases the speed that they can get access to the technology of others, which means that there is almost always as many people for shorter patent length as there is longer length, so the length stays the same.

    The same tendency does not seem to hold true for copyrights, though there are other mechanisms involved. One of their best points was that Disney, which has benefited hugely from the public domain, was also one of the companies that pushed hard for extending copyright length. Landes and Posner speculated that the reason is that Disney got insufficient benefit from public domain to outweigh the benefit from lengthened privilege.

    They pointed out that there seemed to be very little balancing force against extending copyright length. So, scary as it seems, there actually is the possibility of "forever minus a day," even though that is not actually in the best interests of music publishers and studios; they are just not sufficiently forward-thinking enough to realize it.

     

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

  148.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    Do you have a link for that? I would like to see more details.

     

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

  149.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "If it's too hard to do then it's not worth doing"?

    You know who is really good at thinking in a forward manner?

    Artists.

     

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

  150.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 6:46pm

    Re: Tangible and Intangible Property

    "Rather you like it or not intangible property rights are becoming more important and you will have to learn to deal with it or maybe join the Amish."

    Or in other words, my imagination is going to become your reality.

    Thanks for the laugh Ronald McDonald, the world always need a good clown (even the Amish!)

     

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

  151.  
    identicon
    Reed, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Re: Best suggestion yet!

    "I got the solution. Why not just allow them to own the imaginary property in their imagination and not reality?"

    I think this may be the best idea in regards to Intellectual Property on Techdirt ever!

    I have thought the same thing, but Anon put it so well.

     

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

  152.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Best suggestion yet!

    and they can enforce their imaginary property laws on their imaginary friends too.

     

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

  153.  
    icon
    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:55pm

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

    "OK then, I guess I'm just "pseudonymous" too then."

    Anonymous Coward isn't so much a name as it is a label. You'd be like an author with the pen name 'not known'. Oh wait, sorry; I didn't realise that you hadn't bothered to look the word up.

     

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

  154.  
    icon
    Pat B. (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    See "Amiga" before calling this "complicated"

    If you want a good example of ridiculously complicated and confusing things, see what was done to "Amiga" to bloat it to a claimed value of $87,000,000, including the obligatory dubious copyright assignments (based on a _trademark_ contract!):

    http://sites.google.com/site/freeamiga/

     

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

  155.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Re: See "Amiga" before calling this "complicated"

    And not one bit of the complexity had to do with patents...just imagine.

     

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

  156.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 10:59am

    Re: See "Amiga" before calling this "complicated"

    And not one bit of the complexity had to do with patents...just imagine.

     

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

  157.  
    identicon
    copyright, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    Ask Carburt for a copyright assignment from the authors for each titled composition and then you know their scam.

     

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

  158.  
    identicon
    copyright, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    Ask Carburt for a copyright assignment from the authors for each titled composition and then you know their scam.

     

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

  159.  
    identicon
    copyright, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright

    "That alone says the plaintiff didn't do a copyright "title" search."

    A comprehensive search was done by the rightful owners in the 1998-2002.

    Carbdirt received notice of infringement in years in 2002-2003.

    Easy for carbdirt music to run cross country and sue from NY claiming song titles which they don't have a signed copyright transfer from the authors. Check out the federal court verdict entered against Irma Loose in September, October of 2009 and against May-Loo in April 2009.

    A little research will uncover their scam.
    These guys are trying to overturn copyright law

     

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


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