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Author Topic: Intellectual Property: Intellectually Bankrupt  (Read 3206 times)
NghtRppr
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May 02, 2011, 07:34:42 PM
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Intellectual property laws are incompatible with Libertarian philosophy. If you're not a Libertarian, the first part of this argument will do little to persuade you since you must first accept the two foundational beliefs of Libertarianism, the non-aggression principle and the legitimate assignment of property rights. Just a reminder of what these two beliefs entail:

1. The non-aggression principle is the position that violence cannot be used against property you don't own unless in self-defense of your own property.

2. The legitimate assignment of property rights is the position that everyone owns themselves, unowned property that they homestead and any property that is obtained through voluntary title transfers, valid contracts, gifts, gambling, etc.

Holding these two principles, it logically follows that intellectual property is illegitimate. If I own ink and paper, I get to do whatever I want with it as long as it doesn't violate your property rights or the non-aggression principle. That includes copying a novel you wrote, word for word and selling it, either with proper attribution or with no attribution at all. False attribution would be an act of fraud which invalidates a contract but that is a wrong committed towards the buyer, not the original author.

Some people might object that using my ink and paper to copy a novel is theft of your novel and therefore does violate someone's property rights. This mistaken assumption that one can own ideas stems from the belief that a person necessarily owns the product of his or her labor. That is false. If I own some wood and you steal it to make a chair, you don't own the chair. I own the chair and you owe me for damages to my wood. The only way labor brings about ownership is when mixing labor with unowned resources, land, things found in nature, etc. You can pen a novel, but you must already own the ink and paper. A cake pan can only be used by one person at a time. A cake recipe can be used by many people at the same time. Ideas, such as cake recipes, aren't scarce and therefore are not subject to property rights.

Telling me what I can and cannot do with my ink and paper, which is scarce, is claiming ownership of my property, which is theft because it wasn't done voluntarily but rather through the threat of violence or imprisonment.

Anyone that says this is all well and good but wishes to abandon Libertarianism for special cases where it would benefit every individual has a burden of proof. While it seems obvious that without intellectual property laws, people would be harmed through the loss of created work, what goes unnoticed are the people that are currently harmed by the very laws meant to protect others. There are cases of people wanting to make derivative works but cannot do so or will not do so for fear of legal repercussions. Such examples include books written from different points of view, such as the slaves from Gone With The Wind, video games that have been abandoned or not developed often enough, such as Chrono Trigger and Lemmings, music such as covers of Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga songs, and so on. We know that people will be harmed if intellectual property laws are repealed just as we know people are currently harmed by their very existence. The only question for those that want to abandon Libertarianism is, which outweighs which? Nobody can give a definitive answer and therefore it's irresponsible to support such laws, even on non-Libertarian utilitarian grounds, which aren't proven to be beneficial to more individuals than they are harmful.
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chickenado
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May 02, 2011, 11:24:58 PM
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That guy from the free state project presented an argument that went something like this:

Everything is just information. Even physical matter is information encoded in a certain way. Therefore, if physical matter can be property then so can information.

Though experiment: Imagine you can upload your mind into a computer simulation, Matrix-style. Then some day, a hacker/troll creates a copy of you, without your knowledge or consent, and uploads it into a different simulation, where that version of you gets locked into a prison cell.  The first version would never know about this.

Does this constitute a violation of property rights? If yes, of what version of you? Of all versions? Just the version in the second simulation? Just the meatspace version?

Of course you could argue that whoever owns the computer hardware owns the information on it, but imagine that the hardware is a cloud of self replicating robots owned by nobody.
BitterTea
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May 02, 2011, 11:44:49 PM
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Hm, that's interesting, I'll have to think about that for a while. My first impression is that it would be the digital equivalent of kidnapping.

My turn. Smiley

Imagine you can create exact copies of physical objects as easily as we can copy information. Am I violating your property rights by making an exact copy of your car? How about making a copy of a car on the lot at a dealership? Does it seem like anyone attempting to operate a business with the model of selling something so easily copyable is a fool?
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May 03, 2011, 12:01:47 AM
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Do we need a gazillion intellectual arguments to prove your point?

Why not go with entrepreneurship to prove your point?

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May 03, 2011, 12:09:48 AM
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Do we need a gazillion intellectual arguments to prove your point?

Why not go with entrepreneurship to prove your point?

One could start a profitable slave trade business. Would that make such a business moral?
kiba
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May 03, 2011, 12:18:46 AM
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Do we need a gazillion intellectual arguments to prove your point?

Why not go with entrepreneurship to prove your point?

One could start a profitable slave trade business. Would that make such a business moral?

Don't care. I am making money off of my IP-less empire.

goatpig
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May 03, 2011, 01:06:04 AM
 #7

No need for weird sci-fi examples to discuss this point.

I produce electricity, which is immaterial, at the cost of my resources. Are you legitimate to plug your stuff on my power cable without my consent? According, to the "Libertarian" ideal, you wouldn't be stealing my power cable, only the energy it conducts. We can all see this is going to end bad.

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While it seems obvious that without intellectual property laws, people would be harmed through the loss of created work, what goes unnoticed are the people that are currently harmed by the very laws meant to protect others.

This isn't a valid point. You can't bring is a purely pragmatic point into a fundamental discussion. The point isn't who is harmed the most, the point is "Is the product of my mind my property".

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NghtRppr
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May 03, 2011, 01:11:19 AM
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I produce electricity, which is immaterial, at the cost of my resources.

Electrons are physical. Mass and energy are equivalent. Your argument fails.
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May 03, 2011, 01:15:55 AM
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I produce electricity, which is immaterial, at the cost of my resources.

Electrons are physical. Matter and energy are equivalent. Your argument fails.

You're going after the energy that is loaded in those electrons...

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Matter and energy are equivalent.

Keep this serious please.

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NghtRppr
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May 03, 2011, 01:22:41 AM
 #10

I produce electricity, which is immaterial, at the cost of my resources.

Electrons are physical. Matter and energy are equivalent. Your argument fails.

You're going after the energy that is loaded in those electrons...

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Matter and energy are equivalent.

Keep this serious please.

Energy is physical. Basic science isn't serious enough for you?
FatherMcGruder
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May 03, 2011, 01:26:59 AM
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http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm
That's a good book on the topic. You can buy the print version if you want. It has lots of good examples explaining how IP harms us and why we're better off with out it. I got into it about two years ago and it definitely affected my beliefs, to say the least.

I should add that the author suggests government subsidy (instead of patent rights which are another type of subsidy) as a model for pharmaceutic research, which I now disagree with. I still think patents are bad though.

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goatpig
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May 03, 2011, 01:32:51 AM
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Energy is physical. Basic science isn't serious enough for you?

Right, so radio waves are physical?

How do you argue against IP if you stand by that point anyways? If all forms are of either energy, matter, or both, and that energy and matter are equivalent, then intellect is as much of a property as anything else.

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FatherMcGruder
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May 03, 2011, 01:35:36 AM
 #13

How do you argue against IP if you stand by that point anyways? If all forms are of either energy, matter, or both, and that energy and matter are equivalent, then intellect is as much of a property as anything else.
Perhaps you have to reject or at least redefine property then in order to reconcile the issue.

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goatpig
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May 03, 2011, 01:37:47 AM
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I should add that the author suggests government subsidy (instead of patent rights which are another type of subsidy) as a model for pharmaceutic research, which I now disagree with. I still think patents are bad though.

Naturally, if a group of people is affected by some illness and there is no cure, it is possible they'll pool their resources to fund the research of such a cure. The question is, how many of these people will participate in the funding, knowing that they could get the cure for free once it is discovered.

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goatpig
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May 03, 2011, 01:38:10 AM
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How do you argue against IP if you stand by that point anyways? If all forms are of either energy, matter, or both, and that energy and matter are equivalent, then intellect is as much of a property as anything else.
Perhaps you have to reject or at least redefine property then in order to reconcile the issue.

Something of that magnitude at least, indeed.

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NghtRppr
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May 03, 2011, 01:39:17 AM
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Right, so radio waves are physical?

Yes. Don't take my word for it. Look it up.

How do you argue against IP if you stand by that point anyways? If all forms are of either energy, matter, or both, and that energy and matter are equivalent, then intellect is as much of a property as anything else.

Am I sucking energy from your brain like some sort of psychic vampire? No. I get energy from the food I eat. I'm not sure what you're driving at.
goatpig
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May 03, 2011, 01:41:05 AM
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Right, so radio waves are physical?

Yes. Don't take my word for it. Look it up.

How do you argue against IP if you stand by that point anyways? If all forms are of either energy, matter, or both, and that energy and matter are equivalent, then intellect is as much of a property as anything else.

Am I sucking energy from your brain like some sort of psychic vampire? No. I get energy from the food I eat. I'm not sure what you're driving at.

Simple. You own a piece of wood. You shape it into a chair and it stills belongs to you. The only thing you applied upon it is work.

I own my brain. I formulate a design with it. By your standards, it belongs to me.

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goatpig
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May 03, 2011, 01:42:22 AM
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Yes. Don't take my word for it. Look it up.

It is your part to provide documentation on that...

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NghtRppr
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May 03, 2011, 01:46:40 AM
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I own my brain. I formulate a design with it. By your standards, it belongs to me.

A design in your brain is simply a configuration of neurons in your brain. You own your neurons and your brain. I own my neurons and my brain therefore I can put them into any configuration I want even if it's functionally identical to yours. If I was extracting your gray matter with a cerebral bore then you'd have a grievance. As things stand, you're trying to control what I can and cannot do with my own brain. Angry
FatherMcGruder
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May 03, 2011, 01:50:28 AM
 #20

Naturally, if a group of people is affected by some illness and there is no cure, it is possible they'll pool their resources to fund the research of such a cure. The question is, how many of these people will participate in the funding, knowing that they could get the cure for free once it is discovered.
People will contribute to the best of their ability. Plenty of researchers use funds that come from voluntary, non-refundable contributions already.

Use my Trade Hill referral code: TH-R11519

Check out bitcoinity.org and Ripple.

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