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Author Topic: Intellectual Property - In All Fairness!  (Read 95869 times)
gibson042
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September 02, 2011, 04:30:02 PM
 #181

gibson042 my question was 'which owners are the "real" owners?'  The present day Turks and Israelis or the descendents of the dispossessed Armenians, Arabs and Greeks?

As I already stated, you were correct in asserting that the factual owners are those who successfully defend a claim.

If by "real" owners you mean who ought to be able to do so, that's something for the involved parties to work out theirselves through peaceful dispute resolution. If I were an arbitrator dealing with such a dispute right now (i.e., decades after the fact), I would be inclined to declare the property abandoned in 1974, but might insist that the aggrieved is owed some compensation for the circumstances by which the new owner took possession. In 1976, I'd probably have sided with the original owner.

It's messy, and these are the kinds of problems caused by large-scale aggression.
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Hawker
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September 02, 2011, 04:35:11 PM
 #182

gibson042 my question was 'which owners are the "real" owners?'  The present day Turks and Israelis or the descendents of the dispossessed Armenians, Arabs and Greeks?

As I already stated, you were correct in asserting that the factual owners are those who successfully defend a claim.

If by "real" owners you mean who ought to be able to do so, that's something for the involved parties to work out theirselves through peaceful dispute resolution. If I were an arbitrator dealing with such a dispute right now (i.e., decades after the fact), I would be inclined to declare the property abandoned in 1974, but might insist that the aggrieved is owed some compensation for the circumstances by which the new owner took possession. In 1976, I'd probably have sided with the original owner.

It's messy, and these are the kinds of problems caused by large-scale aggression.

Running for your life is a strange definition of "property abandoned."  In the Armenians case, the ones that didn't run fast enough were slaughtered.  But thats history now.

In simple terms, do you believe the Turks and Israelis to be the legitimate owners today? 

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September 02, 2011, 04:46:49 PM
 #183

Running for your life is a strange definition of "property abandoned."  In the Armenians case, the ones that didn't run fast enough were slaughtered.  But thats history now.

In simple terms, do you believe the Turks and Israelis to be the legitimate owners today?  

Running for your life and then doing nothing about it for 37 years is a strange definition of "property held".

And I'm still not exactly sure what you mean by adjectives like "real" and "legitimate". A principled arbitrator would need to determine on a case-by-case basis who has the best claim to any given property given the facts presented. If the facts lead to a conclusion that the original owner has in fact abandoned the property, then it was available for homesteading.

It would also be expedient for an arbitrator to satisfy all parties to the greatest possible extent. In the hypothetical case I've already discussed, it might be accomplished by having the homesteader compensate the abandoner for profiting from eir loss. The amount of compensation would depend on, among other things, how long ago the events took place and how active the abandoner has been in reacquiring possession.

Edit: It would also hugely depend upon whether the homesteader was involved in chasing out the abandoner. In my hypothetical, I've been assuming that it was someone who came in after the fact.

Also, I'd like to hear your answer to the question. In simple terms, do you believe the Turks and Israelis to be the legitimate owners today?
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September 02, 2011, 04:53:34 PM
 #184

"Running for your life and then doing nothing about it for 37 years is a strange definition of "property held"."

Be fair - Armenians, Palestinians and Greeks have been clamouring to get back home from the day they were expelled.  And there is no question of arbitration.  The Turks and Israelis have the land and will not be negotiating anytime soon.  But that is not the victims fault so don't accuse them of "doing nothing."

What I am trying to illustrate is the nature of ownership.  Some are posting here like private property and ownership are some kind of ethereal creations that have existed since before men walked the Earth while intellectual property is a violent imposition.  Whereas, looking at real ownership, you can see property of any kind is something that is given to you by the society you are in.  If you agree with this, the question become "Is intellectual property a good idea or a crap idea?" not "Is intellectual property legitimate?"

 

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September 02, 2011, 05:06:56 PM
 #185

Like I said, these are the problems of large-scale aggression. You seem to be defending the concept by stating that "society" are justified in imposing their will upon peaceful people.

My possessions were not given to me by "society", they were given to me by individuals, some of whom offered them as gifts, some of whom I traded with directly, and some of whom I traded with as representatives of voluntarily-joined organizations. Possessions have been also taken from me, some by individuals acting alone and some by individuals representing organizations claiming the power to unilaterally demand things of me, their implicit serf.

The reality is that force (or more specifically, the threat thereof) is frequently used to distort the chain of ownership that would otherwise exist. Intellectual property is the description given to one such distortion, by which force is threatened often and used occasionally against people who would use their own resources to implement ideas copied or derived from others. It is both a bad idea and a rejection of the principle that possessions ought only be acquired by homesteading or voluntary transfer.
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September 02, 2011, 05:10:56 PM
 #186

Like I said, these are the problems of large-scale aggression. You seem to be defending the concept by stating that "society" are justified in imposing their will upon peaceful people.

My possessions were not given to me by "society", they were given to me by individuals, some of whom offered them as gifts, some of whom I traded with directly, and some of whom I traded with as representatives of voluntarily-joined organizations. Possessions have been also taken from me, some by individuals acting alone and some by individuals representing organizations claiming the power to unilaterally demand things of me, their implicit serf.

The reality is that force (or more specifically, the threat thereof) is frequently used to distort the chain of ownership that would otherwise exist. Intellectual property is the description given to one such distortion, by which force is threatened often and used occasionally against people who would use their own resources to implement ideas copied or derived from others. It is both a bad idea and a rejection of the principle that possessions ought only be acquired by homesteading or voluntary transfer.

With respect, you are avoiding answering the question.  I didn't ask about your possessions.  I asked about the nature of ownership.  Where do you believe that property rights come from somewhere other than society?  If property rights don't come from society, then who owns the farms in Eastern Turkey, Israel and Northern Cyprus that were taken by force when once society destroyed another?

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September 02, 2011, 05:26:28 PM
 #187

With respect, you are avoiding answering the question.  I didn't ask about your possessions.  I asked about the nature of ownership.  Where do you believe that property rights come from somewhere other than society?  If property rights don't come from society, then who owns the farms in Eastern Turkey, Israel and Northern Cyprus that were taken by force when once society destroyed another?

The factual nature of ownership is that owners are those who successfully defend a claim. An philosophical definition of ownership requires that it only be granted with homesteading or voluntary transfer, and only revoked with abandonment or voluntary transfer. The two perspectives disagree.

But, to quote you to yourself:
You haven't answered.  Who is the legitimate owner -Turks and Israelis or the descendents of the dispossessed Armenians, Arabs and Greeks?
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September 02, 2011, 05:34:43 PM
 #188

With respect, you are avoiding answering the question.  I didn't ask about your possessions.  I asked about the nature of ownership.  Where do you believe that property rights come from somewhere other than society?  If property rights don't come from society, then who owns the farms in Eastern Turkey, Israel and Northern Cyprus that were taken by force when once society destroyed another?

The factual nature of ownership is that owners are those who successfully defend a claim. An philosophical definition of ownership requires that it only be granted with homesteading or voluntary transfer, and only revoked with abandonment or voluntary transfer. The two perspectives disagree.

But, to quote you to yourself:
You haven't answered.  Who is the legitimate owner -Turks and Israelis or the descendents of the dispossessed Armenians, Arabs and Greeks?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_rights#Thomas_Hobbes_.2817th_century.29

"Hobbes' reflection began with the idea of "giving to every man his own," a phrase he drew from the writings of Cicero. But he wondered: How can anybody call anything his own? He concluded: My own can only truly be mine if there is one unambiguously strongest power in the realm, and that power treats it as mine, protecting its status as such."

I suppose its a very English way of looking at things I'll grant you as all property in England came from the conquest in 1066.  I'm Irish and all our property rights came from the conquest in 1641.

Anyway, you may have a different philosopher ?  There are many and I'm not sure how you'd select one over another if you are not going to look at the "factual nature" of things.  What is the point of a philosophy that is not based on facts?



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September 02, 2011, 06:02:58 PM
 #189

Therein lies the conundrum.

Is vs. Ought.

Examples:

You are the current possessor of land/objects. This is factual. I can observe it, therefore it is.

1.) You acquired the land via force. You evicted an individual from off of a piece of land because you merely have superior might and strength. You conquered them. You ought to own the land?

2.) You acquired the land via force. You were evicted from the land by late-comers (invaders, conquerers). You defended yourself against their onslaught and reclaimed the land. You ought to own the land?

3.) You acquired the land via force. The land was abandoned and it required little effort (almost no force) to homestead it, and there were no occupiers to contest your claim. You ought to own the land?

4.) You possess an object. This tangible physical thing is in your possession. You acquired it in trade or it was previously abandoned (no known owner). You ought to own the object?

5.) You possess an object. This tangible physical thing is in your possession. You acquired it in trade or it was previously abandoned (no known owner). You modifiy the composition of the object. This object is now similar to another object in the possession of another man. You ought to own the object?

See where I'm going with this?

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September 02, 2011, 06:10:24 PM
 #190

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_rights#Thomas_Hobbes_.2817th_century.29

"Hobbes' reflection began with the idea of "giving to every man his own," a phrase he drew from the writings of Cicero. But he wondered: How can anybody call anything his own? He concluded: My own can only truly be mine if there is one unambiguously strongest power in the realm, and that power treats it as mine, protecting its status as such."

So, the forwarded definition of property is "that which the unambiguously strongest power in the realm treats as property"? Void for circularity. Also void for lack of context (what defines "unambiguously"? "strongest"? "the realm"?). Even if those issues get resolved, you still have to deal with the following exhaustive methods by which material could be granted or lose the label of "one's property":
  • change in opinion of the unambiguously strongest power in the realm
  • replacement of the unambiguously strongest power in the realm
  • transition away from a valid assignment of unambiguously strongest power in the realm (death of a monarch, competing factions, invasion, collapse of a state, etc.)
    • this one is especially bad, because it results in the immediate revocation of all property in "the realm"!

Since the result is essentially a codification of "might makes right", I suppose you are compelled to acknowledge that slaves were property in the the States ultimately joining into the Confederate States of America until 1860(ish; depending on definition of the "unambiguously strongest power in the realm"), and property in Maryland and Missouri until 1864 and 1865, respectively. And that people can again become permissible as property at the whim of any "unambiguously strongest power in the realm". Is this really the position you want to take?

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What is the point of a philosophy that is not based on facts?

Already covered by FredericBastiat and namesake Frederic Bastiat.

Also, you still need to address your own question:
You haven't answered.  Who is the legitimate owner -Turks and Israelis or the descendents of the dispossessed Armenians, Arabs and Greeks?
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September 02, 2011, 06:24:43 PM
 #191

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_rights#Thomas_Hobbes_.2817th_century.29

"Hobbes' reflection began with the idea of "giving to every man his own," a phrase he drew from the writings of Cicero. But he wondered: How can anybody call anything his own? He concluded: My own can only truly be mine if there is one unambiguously strongest power in the realm, and that power treats it as mine, protecting its status as such."

So, the forwarded definition of property is "that which the unambiguously strongest power in the realm treats as property"? Void for circularity. Also void for lack of context (what defines "unambiguously"? "strongest"? "the realm"?). Even if those issues get resolved, you still have to deal with the following exhaustive methods by which material could be granted or lose the label of "one's property":
  • change in opinion of the unambiguously strongest power in the realm
  • replacement of the unambiguously strongest power in the realm
  • transition away from a valid assignment of unambiguously strongest power in the realm (death of a monarch, competing factions, invasion, collapse of a state, etc.)
    • this one is especially bad, because it results in the immediate revocation of all property in "the realm"!

Since the result is essentially a codification of "might makes right", I suppose you are compelled to acknowledge that slaves were property in the the States ultimately joining into the Confederate States of America until 1860(ish; depending on definition of the "unambiguously strongest power in the realm"), and property in Maryland and Missouri until 1864 and 1865, respectively. And that people can again become permissible as property at the whim of any "unambiguously strongest power in the realm". Is this really the position you want to take?

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What is the point of a philosophy that is not based on facts?

Already covered by FredericBastiat and namesake Frederic Bastiat.

Also, you still need to address your own question:
You haven't answered.  Who is the legitimate owner -Turks and Israelis or the descendents of the dispossessed Armenians, Arabs and Greeks?


The answer is the Turks and Israelis. Any other answer ignores reality.  Any philosophy that says otherwise is better suited to castles in the sky than the world we live in.   I personally find the reality very ugly and have had heated discussions with Turks on the value of restitution and reconciliation.  I've been about the lake Van and Rize areas; its pretty clear who owns what and any effort to make the world a better place must start with the reality of where we are now.

In ethical terms we are evolving.  Those who owned slaves were not evil brutes any more than woman who has an abortion is an evil brute.  Today we see slavery as wrong and abortion as tolerable.  If we were having this conversation 1000 years ago, the situation would be exactly reversed.  Thats precisely why I object to people saying intellectual property is illegitimate.  It implies there is some kind of eternal ethical standard and that they are on the right side of it and that those who happen to like the benefits on intellectual property are moral pygmies.  When if fact, they simply find it ugly and would do better to communicate a better alternative.

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September 02, 2011, 06:39:11 PM
 #192

The answer is the Turks and Israelis. Any other answer ignores reality.  Any philosophy that says otherwise is better suited to castles in the sky than the world we live in.   I personally find the reality very ugly and have had heated discussions with Turks on the value of restitution and reconciliation.  I've been about the lake Van and Rize areas; its pretty clear who owns what and any effort to make the world a better place must start with the reality of where we are now.

In ethical terms we are evolving.  Those who owned slaves were not evil brutes any more than woman who has an abortion is an evil brute.  Today we see slavery as wrong and abortion as tolerable.  If we were having this conversation 1000 years ago, the situation would be exactly reversed.  Thats precisely why I object to people saying intellectual property is illegitimate.  It implies there is some kind of eternal ethical standard and that they are on the right side of it and that those who happen to like the benefits on intellectual property are moral pygmies.  When if fact, they simply find it ugly and would do better to communicate a better alternative.

I think I comprehend you a little better now, but you don't seem to understand the is-ought problem or the consequences of your position. If property begins and ends with simply "that under one's control", then how can disputes be resolved? "The guy down the street may say that car is his, but my guns make me the strongest power in the realm. Hand over the keys!"

I'm not saying that those who owned slaves were evil, just that I'm not willing to advocate a system in which people can become slaves at the whim of the powerful.

And if you start with the principle that possessions ought to be acquired only by homesteading or voluntary transfer, then you must logically reject the concept of Intellectual Property. Either you accept the starting principle, or you accept a different principle, or you are truly neutral on the means through which possessions ought to be acquired (i.e., trade/theft = po-tay-to/po-tah-to). Which is it?
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September 02, 2011, 06:56:14 PM
 #193

You are comparing violence that is against the rules of society with violence by society.  Ultimately we control society and the way to change it is to change people's minds.  In our societies, the rules we choose are based on commonly accepted ideas of what is good.  For example, you can talk about homesteading forever, but if you are being cruel to the animals that you own, society will take them off you, fine you a lot of money and forbid you from owning more animals.  Is that a breach of some right you thought you had?  Of course not.

All rights are social constructs and as such will be messy.  We want films so we allow movie makers copyright.  We want consumer goods so we allow brand owners have trademarks.  We want people to make the most of resources so we allow security of tenure.  We don't want cruelty so we confiscate dogs that are being tortured.  But we don't care as much if its a dog in a laboratory and we don't care at all if its a rat.  Is this logically consistent? Yes - rights are what society uses to achieve its goals and to see them as ends in themselves is to confuse the tool with the task.

Thats why I object to people saying intellectual property infringes some other right.  It misses the point of what a right is and why you are given it.

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September 02, 2011, 07:05:17 PM
 #194

The alternative to intellectual property is to have no intellectual property at all. That is the proposal, and I believe it has merit. Are we not arguing the merits and demerits of IP?

Arguing about what type of intellectual property we should have, in my opinion, is similar to the assumption that if we just switched blacks for whites that slavery would be so much better. I don't want to pick the lesser of two "evils", I don't want "evil" at all.

A thousand years ago, IP didn't exist, that's a relatively recent development. Monopoly predation has, in some form or other, of course, always existed, but that isn't the point. Unless what you're trying to say is, as long as your ignorant of your "offenses" you can't or shouldn't be held accountable for your actions. Consider yourself informed.

However and notwithstanding that, I do believe there are eternal "truths". I don't know what they all are, and I have no problem accepting new ones when they come along, but I sure as hell won't concede the fact that laws are dependent on length of existence, or that an object is unlawful based on on it's composition, or function.

An object, in and of itself, isn't "evil", "objectionable" or "offensive", it's the use of that object as a tool which can bring harm to others; and please don't say that competition is offensive, it isn't, it's about freedom of choice.

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September 02, 2011, 07:18:32 PM
 #195

You are comparing violence that is against the rules of society with violence by society.  Ultimately we control society and the way to change it is to change people's minds.  In our societies, the rules we choose are based on commonly accepted ideas of what is good.  For example, you can talk about homesteading forever, but if you are being cruel to the animals that you own, society will take them off you, fine you a lot of money and forbid you from owning more animals.

Question: how do you feel about members of a society whose rules I disagree with declaring me to be a member against my will? Because you're arguably about to do that to me.

Quote
All rights are social constructs and as such will be messy.  We want films so we allow movie makers copyright.  We want consumer goods so we allow brand owners have trademarks.  We want people to make the most of resources so we allow security of tenure.  We don't want cruelty so we confiscate dogs that are being tortured.  But we don't care as much if its a dog in a laboratory and we don't care at all if its a rat.  Is this logically consistent? Yes - rights are what society uses to achieve its goals and to see them as ends in themselves is to confuse the tool with the task.

I have purposefully avoided the word "rights" in favor of asking how things ought to be, and honestly I don't feel like you've satisfactorily answered. And if you intend all those "we"s to include me, I resent the imposition. I am and have been a member of many societies—relating variously to academics, professions, hobbies, and interests—and none of them presumed to include me as a member before receiving my explicit request to join, or to enforce their rules upon non-members. I do not allow anyone copyright or tenure, I am not willing to forcefully seize another person's animals, and I refuse to sidestep guilt by allowing others to do so in my name.

Please, put aside for the moment your understanding of "rights" and answer me both the above question and this one:

Ought possessions be acquired by anything other than homesteading or voluntary transfer?
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September 02, 2011, 07:24:26 PM
 #196

You are comparing violence that is against the rules of society with violence by society.  Ultimately we control society and the way to change it is to change people's minds.  In our societies, the rules we choose are based on commonly accepted ideas of what is good.  For example, you can talk about homesteading forever, but if you are being cruel to the animals that you own, society will take them off you, fine you a lot of money and forbid you from owning more animals.

Question: how do you feel about members of a society whose rules I disagree with declaring me to be a member against my will? Because you're arguably about to do that to me.

Quote
All rights are social constructs and as such will be messy.  We want films so we allow movie makers copyright.  We want consumer goods so we allow brand owners have trademarks.  We want people to make the most of resources so we allow security of tenure.  We don't want cruelty so we confiscate dogs that are being tortured.  But we don't care as much if its a dog in a laboratory and we don't care at all if its a rat.  Is this logically consistent? Yes - rights are what society uses to achieve its goals and to see them as ends in themselves is to confuse the tool with the task.

I have purposefully avoided the word "rights" in favor of asking how things ought to be, and honestly I don't feel like you've satisfactorily answered. And if you intend all those "we"s to include me, I resent the imposition. I am and have been a member of many societies—relating variously to academics, professions, hobbies, and interests—and none of them presumed to include me as a member before receiving my explicit request to join, or to enforce their rules upon non-members. I do not allow anyone copyright or tenure, I am not willing to forcefully seize another person's animals, and I refuse to sidestep guilt by allowing others to do so in my name.

Please, put aside for the moment your understanding of "rights" and answer me both the above question and this one:

Ought possessions be acquired by anything other than homesteading or voluntary transfer?

A society that collects stamps is completely different in scope from an entire society such as the English, or the Turks or Israelis.  You can choose not to collect stamps.  You can't choose the nation/state/society you are born into.  BTW, I have moved into American, Turkish and English society so I know what it means to find yourself in a place where the values are alien.

Ought possessions be acquired by anything other than homesteading or voluntary transfer?

Yes of course.  I've had what we call "rescue dogs" which have been confiscated from their owners, neutered and offered to people who want to offer them a better home.  My right to live in a society that abhors cruelty trumps the original owners right to beat and starve his dog.

Don't you agree?

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September 02, 2011, 07:36:25 PM
 #197

A society that collects stamps is completely different in scope from an entire society such as the English, or the Turks or Israelis.  You can choose not to collect stamps.  You can't choose the nation/state/society you are born into.

I take it from this special pleading that you are comfortable with members of a society whose rules I disagree with declaring me to be a member and enforcing them upon me against my will. I take personal offense, and do not plan to continue this conversation.

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Ought possessions be acquired by anything other than homesteading or voluntary transfer?

Yes of course.  I've had what we call "rescue dogs" which have been confiscated from their owners, neutered and offered to people who want to offer them a better home.  My right to live in a society that abhors cruelty trumps the original owners right to beat and starve his dog.

Don't you agree?

No. Shame, censure, and ostracism can reduce cruelty. Advocating "might makes right" institutionalizes it.
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September 02, 2011, 07:47:31 PM
 #198

A society that collects stamps is completely different in scope from an entire society such as the English, or the Turks or Israelis.  You can choose not to collect stamps.  You can't choose the nation/state/society you are born into.

I take it from this special pleading that you are comfortable with members of a society whose rules I disagree with declaring me to be a member and enforcing them upon me against my will. I take personal offense, and do not plan to continue this conversation.

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Ought possessions be acquired by anything other than homesteading or voluntary transfer?

Yes of course.  I've had what we call "rescue dogs" which have been confiscated from their owners, neutered and offered to people who want to offer them a better home.  My right to live in a society that abhors cruelty trumps the original owners right to beat and starve his dog.

Don't you agree?

No. Shame, censure, and ostracism can reduce cruelty. Advocating "might makes right" institutionalizes it.

Shame, censure and ostracism...how would we inflict that?  One possible way would be to send inspectors onto the property, haul the self-righteous owner (and they are often very sure they are only "within their rights") in front of a public hearing, have the hearing publicly condemn them and impose a penalty and confiscate their animals.  That seems like a reliable mechanism to me.  Perhaps you have something better in mind? 

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September 02, 2011, 08:04:47 PM
 #199

The alternative to intellectual property is to have no intellectual property at all. That is the proposal, and I believe it has merit. Are we not arguing the merits and demerits of IP?

...snip...

If we are arguing about whether or not IP is a good thing, that's fine.  I'm perfectly aware that patent law is a mess and that every day I break someone's patent because some idiot in the USPO has granted a software patent on something that seems esoteric to him but is blindlingly obvious to a first year Computer Science student.  There is a strong case for reform and for rolling back 1000s of obvious patents.  However, if someone wants to pay for research, for example ARM, society should encourage them as what little growth we have comes from innovation.

Moreover, I do like the reliability of brands.  For example, I don't see that I lose anything by not being able to open a restaurant called McDonalds with golden arches but I gain the certainty that wherever I go, there is a burger I can count on and a free clean public toilet.  Same applies to Coca-Cola, Stella Artois and 1000s of other consumer goods.  The trademark system seems to me to be fine.

Copyright; well I'm a programmer and see no reason to work for free.  Without copyright, I can't have a website selling my software as it will be available for free on download.com  So I'm biased.  But I don't know of anyone that thinks they are disadvantaged by copyright law.

So I think its a good thing for society.  You don't.  I doubt either of us are going to change our minds about that.


NghtRppr
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September 02, 2011, 08:12:50 PM
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Copyright; well I'm a programmer and see no reason to work for free.  Without copyright, I can't have a website selling my software as it will be available for free on download.com  So I'm biased.  But I don't know of anyone that thinks they are disadvantaged by copyright law.

I'm a programmer too. I've made over a million dollars in the last few years alone selling my software. Piracy hurts me deeply in that narrow sense but I still think copyright laws should be abolished. I was a libertarian first and went into examining the issue, hoping I could make it fit with my libertarian ideology but I couldn't. In the end, my principles won. I still think that using software without paying what it's worth to you is immoral but it shouldn't be illegal.
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