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Author Topic: Do libertarians support the idea of information as property?  (Read 5903 times)
bitplane
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July 02, 2011, 02:17:34 AM
 #21


That's pretty much the WTFPL without the swearing and with a disclaimer. I prefer the obscenities and love the preamble Cheesy
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Adapt.

...and you can hold the people who leak secrets accountable by putting everbodys employment in that department on the line or being innovative with tracking. (Hidden numbers in the documents, etc.)

Not being able to trust anyone sounds rather costly to society as a whole. You'd have to put up artificial barriers to communication and wouldn't be able to outsource anything to anyone.

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If information is revealed out of breach of contract, one should not punish the ones who have received the information by memory erasure or the ceasing of their current property. Only the breacher of the contract should be held liable.

Sounds nice in theory, but not very practical at all. Can you give some ideas of how this would actually work in practice? I know my arguments could be taken as an appeal to consequences, but in the real world we need to strike a balance between idealism and practicality.
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July 02, 2011, 02:19:51 AM
 #22

There's nothing impractical about protecting the innocent.
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July 02, 2011, 02:40:07 AM
 #23

If information is revealed out of breach of contract, one should not punish the ones who have received the information by memory erasure or the ceasing of their current property. Only the breacher of the contract should be held liable.
If you assume no laws specifically about intellectual property, you cannot bind completely innocent third parties. For example, if Jack acquires a copy of your DVD movie through a contract with you, negligently loses the copy, and Jeff finds it on the street and makes 1,000 copies, you can only go after Jack, not Jeff. But you can bind third parties who acquire the information through some kind of wrongful act.

In practice, it won't matter. Intellectual property protection agencies will probably not permit you to agree piecemeal. You'll either have to sign their contract agreeing to respect all works registered with them or never see a movie at the movie theater. Heck, you may not even be able to browse the Internet because web sites will require you to agree to such things. For all practical purposes, the vast majority of people will have no choice but to agree to respect reasonable IP rights.

I don't think people who object to our patent, copyright, and trademark laws realize how much they are getting for what they are giving.

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July 02, 2011, 02:49:24 AM
 #24


In practice, it won't matter. Intellectual property protection agencies will probably not permit you to agree piecemeal. You'll either have to sign their contract agreeing to respect all works registered with them or never see a movie at the movie theater. Heck, you may not even be able to browse the Internet because web sites will require you to agree to such things. For all practical purposes, the vast majority of people will have no choice but to agree to respect reasonable IP rights.

Or... such a system would collapse under its own weight.

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July 02, 2011, 02:58:08 AM
 #25

Or... such a system would collapse under its own weight.
It might. It's very hard to predict what will actually happen. People might come up with a better way than I can imagine just sitting on a chair in my office. There will be billions of dollars for the guy who gets it right. That's one of the beauties of the Libertarian solution -- you don't have to figure it out. You just have to make sure someone has an incentive to figure it out. And doing this right would be worth huge amounts.

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July 02, 2011, 06:30:44 AM
 #26

So which information should be protected by regulation and/or treated as property, and why?

Information is not property.
Why not? What necessary characteristics does information lack?
Scarcity and enforceability (without holding people's REAL property hostage).

Scarcity isn't the only necessary qualifier for property, nor should something no longer be property if it's difficult to enforce it as such. Property is not property because it is rare, it is property because it is the product of your mind/creation.

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July 02, 2011, 06:50:38 AM
 #27

So which information should be protected by regulation and/or treated as property, and why?

Information is not property.
Why not? What necessary characteristics does information lack?
Scarcity and enforceability (without holding people's REAL property hostage).

Scarcity isn't the only necessary qualifier for property, nor should something no longer be property if it's difficult to enforce it as such. Property is not property because it is rare, it is property because it is the product of your mind/creation.
Why should I be denied to do what I please with my property because you claim you it's a friggin product of your mind?
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July 02, 2011, 07:05:36 AM
 #28

If you must classify Information as property, treat it as property, not some special class of thing.

Once you have transferred ownership of property, you can not then specify what someone does with it.

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July 02, 2011, 07:10:24 AM
 #29

Why should I be denied to do what I please with my property because you claim you it's a friggin product of your mind?
Because if you don't, I won't share the products of my mind with you and we will both lose. To flip it around, why shouldn't I be allowed to share the products of my mind on whatever terms I please, with others free to agree with terms or not as they please?

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July 02, 2011, 07:12:35 AM
 #30

If you must classify Information as property, treat it as property, not some special class of thing.

Once you have transferred ownership of property, you can not then specify what someone does with it.
Right, but people don't have to transfer ownership of information if they don't wish to, they can simply grant people a restricted license to use it. In a Libertarian society as most people envision it, thinks like DVDs and CDs wouldn't simply be sold, they'd have their physical possession transferred pursuant to a contract. The creator/distributor would retain some rights, so it wouldn't be a transfer of ownership but merely a transfer of physical possession and a grant of some rights to use another's property.

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myrkul
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July 02, 2011, 07:28:38 AM
 #31

If you must classify Information as property, treat it as property, not some special class of thing.

Once you have transferred ownership of property, you can not then specify what someone does with it.
Right, but people don't have to transfer ownership of information if they don't wish to, they can simply grant people a restricted license to use it. In a Libertarian society as most people envision it, thinks like DVDs and CDs wouldn't simply be sold, they'd have their physical possession transferred pursuant to a contract. The creator/distributor would retain some rights, so it wouldn't be a transfer of ownership but merely a transfer of physical possession and a grant of some rights to use another's property.

Some people would do it that way.

Others would sell it once, for the full value it was worth, and let someone else copy it.

Still others would give the music away (probably digitally) and make money on the merchandise.

And, of course, the donation model is a fine option.

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July 02, 2011, 07:50:45 AM
 #32

If you must classify Information as property, treat it as property, not some special class of thing.

Once you have transferred ownership of property, you can not then specify what someone does with it.
Right, but people don't have to transfer ownership of information if they don't wish to, they can simply grant people a restricted license to use it. In a Libertarian society as most people envision it, thinks like DVDs and CDs wouldn't simply be sold, they'd have their physical possession transferred pursuant to a contract. The creator/distributor would retain some rights, so it wouldn't be a transfer of ownership but merely a transfer of physical possession and a grant of some rights to use another's property.

Some people would do it that way.

Others would sell it once, for the full value it was worth, and let someone else copy it.

Still others would give the music away (probably digitally) and make money on the merchandise.

And, of course, the donation model is a fine option.

These "Others" struggle with the concept of forward thinking. These "Others" propose two ways of exchanging information; Give it away or perform a miraculous calculation to price their knowledge based upon the effect that this knowledge will have in the future. Sure, that would work if we were all oracles.

But lets say that they are oracles and are able to price their knowledge. This price for a lot of knowledge would be prohibitively high for most but a few. Providing no incentive to share valuable items of information.


These "Others" do not allow someone who has an idea to go and find another party who can put their idea into practice and share the outcome of this collaboration. Instead they expect the "ideas" person to also be a pricing oracle and find another to pay the price. Otherwise give away the idea and get nothing in return. Ridiculous.

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July 02, 2011, 07:59:33 AM
 #33

I'm sorry, did you have something productive to add to the discussion?

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July 02, 2011, 12:33:28 PM
 #34

Right, but people don't have to transfer ownership of information if they don't wish to, they can simply grant people a restricted license to use it. In a Libertarian society as most people envision it, thinks like DVDs and CDs wouldn't simply be sold, they'd have their physical possession transferred pursuant to a contract. The creator/distributor would retain some rights, so it wouldn't be a transfer of ownership but merely a transfer of physical possession and a grant of some rights to use another's property.
In this case we'd most likely have no concept of "fair use", each of the media giants would have people sign up to lifelong, incredibly restrictive contracts if they wished to see a movie, use a website or software. With no restrictions on the content of such contracts, forums like this would be sued out of existence for breach of contract if someone's avatar was an unauthorized copy, violated a contractual trademark and so on. I'd imagine it would be the end of free speech and the Internet as we know it.

I would certainly prefer our current state-sponsored monopolies over this sort of situation where legal might is right and the little guy has no protection other than isolating himself from the rest of society.
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July 02, 2011, 02:06:27 PM
 #35

I would certainly prefer our current state-sponsored monopolies over this sort of situation where legal might is right and the little guy has no protection other than isolating himself from the rest of society.
As would pretty much everyone else. Again, in a Libertarian society, the person who solves this problem in a way that makes as many people happy will make billions. I have a few ideas for how to do it, but there are probably better ones out there.

One model is competing "rights protection" agencies. Some might demand very restrictive terms. Others might have much looser terms. Those who create content could sign up with as many rights protection agencies as they wished, unless they had restrictive policies prohibiting that. When a movie, say, was shown, signs could indicate which agencies are accepted. When you enter the theater (or buy a book, or whatever), you might have to show a biometric ID that indicated you had agreed to the terms of a rights protection agency acceptable to the content owner.

Rights protections agencies that had very restrictive terms would provide people who registered works with them with a very high level of protection. But many people might refuse to sign up with such agencies, so distribution might be very limited. The ratchet may work towards freer terms. With freer terms, more people sign up, which means content owners make more money because they have more customers.

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July 02, 2011, 03:19:51 PM
 #36

Property is not property because it is rare, it is property because it is the product of your mind/creation.

If you steal some wood from me and make a chair, you don't own the chair. It's my chair and you owe me for damages to my wood.
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July 02, 2011, 04:29:15 PM
 #37

Information is non-scarce. When one gives it to another person, the originator still has it.

Information is non-rival. When you take it from someone, you do not deprive him of the ability to use that information.

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July 02, 2011, 04:43:05 PM
 #38

http://www.everythingisaremix.info/
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July 03, 2011, 05:20:47 PM
 #39

Information is non-scarce. When one gives it to another person, the originator still has it.

Information is non-rival. When you take it from someone, you do not deprive him of the ability to use that information.
If you honestly believe this, please give me all the private keys corresponding to your Bitcoin accounts.

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July 03, 2011, 05:32:57 PM
 #40

Information is non-scarce. When one gives it to another person, the originator still has it.

Information is non-rival. When you take it from someone, you do not deprive him of the ability to use that information.
If you honestly believe this, please give me all the private keys corresponding to your Bitcoin accounts.

The private keys would still exist and they could still be used. That's like saying that if I give you the password to my encrypted hard drive and you delete the contents that some how the password vanishes and can't be used. It can still be used but the information you deleted can't.
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