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Intellectual property

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I thought a lot about intellectual property (IP) recently and I can not decide myself on this topic. I see huge problems with the concept of IP, but the world without IP looks rather grim too. So I'm at a loss. Sometimes it seems to me that something is wrong with both positions on some deeper level but I can't see it.

I argued a lot with libertarians where I posed myself as an IP apologist. I think that I have a good understanding of their position. And now I want to explore the Objectivist position deeper.

So I decided to do it in a form of debate. I will defend here the idea of abolishing IP, as if I’m fully convinced in it (which I'm not), against anyone who would like to defend it.

So, that's my proposal. Is anyone interested? I'm not really sure about the rules of the debate now, so, I want to hear your proposals. I only want to say that I won't be always able to reply every day, so I want to ask to extend time limit for replies for me to 48 hours (I’ve read that 24 hours is the usual one). I'm also afraid that if there will be numerous opponents, putting incompatible arguments on different levels of sophistication, to all of which I must answer, the debate will be confusing and messy and will consume too much of my energy. So I would ideally prefer to debate with a single opponent. But I want to hear the strongest version of the Objectivist argument for IP, so this should be an opponent (may be two, three of them) who really knows what he is saying. If there is no one who can justly claim an authority on this subject then I would prefer to debate with a forum hivemind.

That's all for now. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Example without IP:

1.You design and build a mechanical calculator.

2.You mount a business based on that.

3.Seeing your success, 10 more enterprises start building exact copies of your invention.

4.You're out of business.

How and why will you support that the design of the invention it is not your property?

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You should make your initial case against IP, let whoever wants to answer it do so, and then you can answer the posts you want to answer. You don't have to answer everyone.

But who's gonna bother answering you when you're all set up to ban them from the thread if you deem their answers below par? I'm interested in the subject, but I definitely won't be posting unless that option is off the table.

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Example without IP:

1.You design and build a mechanical calculator.

2.You mount a business based on that.

3.Seeing your success, 10 more enterprises start building exact copies of your invention.

4.You're out of business.

How and why will you support that the design of the invention it is not your property?

Unfortunately, this is fundamentally a utilitarian argument. I.e., without IP no one will bother to invent anything (which historically, is not true).

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Unfortunately, this is fundamentally a utilitarian argument. I.e., without IP no one will bother to invent anything (which historically, is not true).

So you can probe that without IP the US would have had the same rate of inventions?... because of history?...

Being this an objectivistic forum, I was pointing that IP is as valuable as physical property.

Anyway, you cannot know what would had been invented or not without IP. That's because the nature of invention, unexpected. You cannot know what has NOT been invented.

Example: I don't know if Edison, privated from the economic resources generated from his IP, would have invented the same number of things in his lifetime.

Less resources -> more time per invention + limited lifetime = less inventions.

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My quick case for IP: If you want to be alive and live in a society, the best way to do so is by allowing other people to pursue their life. Mutual trade is the most beneficiary way of living for man among men.

Individual rights are recognition of this fact.

Property rights assure that whoever created a product keeps it (or is free to trade it or to trade one's labor). There are a few things behind property rights:

1. Man's life as a standard of evaluating things.

2. The fact that men need to produce what their life requires to survive and once produced, keep it and use it according to their judgment.

3. The law of causality - products exist as a result of man producing them.

Intellectual property rights are a recognition of the fact that the source of products is an idea (man's mind). The one who comes up with a brand new design for a product is the one who brings about its existence (law of causality).

Of course if someone else takes the plan and builds it he is also responsible for its existence, but he is only the second link. The first and primary is the one who came up with the idea and design.

So the one who caused the product to exist is the one who should own it. In the case of intellectual property, one does not fully create the final product, which is why one does not legally get to OWN every physical product of one's design, but one gets, in the form of payment (and ability to decide whom should be granted production rights) the ownership of the idea and gets protection for his right to trade it.

(This explanation was kind of messy, but I think it still has some good enough elements so I'm posting it. Hope it helps).

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You should make your initial case against IP, let whoever wants to answer it do so, and then you can answer the posts you want to answer. You don't have to answer everyone.

But who's gonna bother answering you when you're all set up to ban them from the thread if you deem their answers below par? I'm interested in the subject, but I definitely won't be posting unless that option is off the table.

I'm not going to ban anyone simply because I can't. I'm not a moderator here.

Sorry if this sounded rude. I got confused by strict rules put for this subforum in a sticky thread but it looks like they are outdated. So I will just post my initial case against IP in several hours. I will also try to answer there to commentators who has already posted.

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My quick simple argument for IP:

All property is ultimately intellectual property and thus should be treated the same.

To fill in the gaps a little, if you agree that:

- All human action, including intellectual action, originates in the individual mind,

- and that every individual should have title to the fruits of their labor, including intellectual labor,

- then humans should have title to their intellectual work.

All property is derived from the same source, the human mind. IP is simply the most abstractly potent form of property.

If you agree in principle with the above, then the rest are legal details (which are non-trivial). Working out those details will become very argumentative and would probably need to involve several experts. I am less interested in dealing with them than I am in agreeing on principle, but this is your thread, knock yourself out.

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In my case against IP I will criticize a natural law position on it, specifically – Ayn Rand’s position as I’m posting it on Objectivist forum. Frankly speaking, I’m not interested in discussing a utilitarian approach to this question because it’s confused at its root.

I read and understood Ayn Rand’s article “Patents and Copyrights” but this was long ago and I don’t have a book at hand now. So, I will rely on my memory and on the entry on patents and copyrights in Ayn Rand Lexicon which is available online here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_...copyrights.html If I get her position wrong in some respects, I hope forum members will correct me.

So, miss Rand claims that “patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind”.

So let’s check what this premise implies.

Let’s started with the issue miss Rand herself has explored: issue of scientific discoveries and philosophical ideas. Miss Rand writes on this subject:

“It is important to note, in this connection, that a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention. A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (:thumbsup: if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission”

So here we see two arguments against intellectual property on discoveries. The first is that they are not created by a discoverer. This is true. But what about the knowledge about these discoveries? Isn’t it created by a discoverer? Isn’t it a product of the work of his mind? And can’t he demand protection of his property rights on this knowledge? If not – why? It doesn’t follow from miss Rand’s premise.

The second argument doesn’t follow from her premise too. She states that the discoverer can’t “demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods”. But why can’t he? He surely can demand that men use less efficient methods of production without his permission even if they have objective knowledge about more efficient methods. How is that less absurd?

And here we come to the question: isn’t the strict division between inventions and discoveries arbitrary? Can’t we represent any invention as some combination of laws of nature? Can’t we describe any invention in a manner which what contain nothing but statements about objective properties of some physical body or parts of it and about how their manifestations under certain conditions? So is there any objective difference between a discovery and an invention?

If there isn’t than we should protect discoveries by patents and that will result in an utter chaos.

There are two other arbitrary limitations on intellectual property, which I find in miss Rand’s position. The first one is that ideas can be protected only after they have some material form. But how does it follow from our premise? Aren’t our ideas a product of our mind before they get material form?

The second one is the time limit on the intellectual property rights. As far as I remember miss Rand puts forward only one argument for such time limit: intellectual property doesn’t depreciate. But so, what? Land plots don’t depreciate too, but we protect property rights on them for eternity. The product of my mind will forever remain the product of my mind. Doesn’t it mean that my property rights on it should be protected, too, forever?

But nevertheless let’s take all these arbitrary limitations for granted and than explore the ultimate example, which, to my mind, absolutely destroys the idea of intellectual property at its root. Let’s suppose that I invented a new chess opening. Do I have the right to forbid all other chess players to use it? I don’t see why not – this is clearly the product of my mind. But then we should say goodbye to chess and to the most of other competitive games as well.

I challenge any supporter of intellectual property to show me a natural law argument, which will not allow me claim property rights on chess openings.

As we have seen miss Rand’s central premise leads us to laughable absurdities. This is a clear sign that something is wrong with this premise, though it seems clear, simple and indisputable. May be the problem is with the concept of “product”? Can we call an intangible thing a product? And can we really establish property rights on intangibles? May be these two concepts are incompatible?

Here is the area in which I’m not sure. But I do see that the contradiction exists and it needs to be resolved.

That was my case against intellectual property.

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So here we see two arguments against intellectual property on discoveries. The first is that they are not created by a discoverer. This is true. But what about the knowledge about these discoveries? Isn’t it created by a discoverer?

A person's knowledge is actually an attribute of a person. And every man owns himself, so you definitely don't own my knowledge.

Isn’t it created by a discoverer? Isn’t it a product of the work of his mind? And can’t he demand protection of his property rights on this knowledge? If not – why? It doesn’t follow from miss Rand’s premise.

No, no, no, because knowlege belongs to the person doing the "knowing".

If, for instance, you discovered some secret, and posted it on this forum, I would learn it, and that knowledge would be mine. Asking me to un-learn it would be silly. But you are free to guard your secret, you don't have to tell me, so you do have the right to your discovery, you just don't have the right to force me to ignore it once I find out about it.

Miss Rand's premise is that IP can be implemented through patents and copyright. If the person who comes across a discovery uses it to actually make something useful, be it a product or a process that can be replicated, then that person can patent that something and sell it. Or, one can write a book about the discovery itself, and sell it and it is copyrighted. (or one can make a youtube video and give it away for free) What one cannot do is tell other people to ignore what they read, after they bought that book (or saw in the vid), instead of learning about the discovery and using it to create useful things the discoverer chose not to or was unable to create.

The second argument doesn’t follow from her premise too. She states that the discoverer can’t “demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods”. But why can’t he? He surely can demand that men use less efficient methods of production without his permission even if they have objective knowledge about more efficient methods. How is that less absurd?

An owner of a patent has control over his property, which is a specific product or process. If it is a product he can demand that no one else produce and sell it, because he invented it. If it is a process, he can demand that no one use it, because again, it's his invention. Why are you saying that he could demand that no one can use some other, more efficient process, that he didn't invent, to achieve the same goal? (let's say X invents a way to purify water, who say that Y isn't free to purify water in another way? you can't patent water purification, you can only patent a specific way to do it)

And here we come to the question: isn’t the strict division between inventions and discoveries arbitrary? Can’t we represent any invention as some combination of laws of nature? Can’t we describe any invention in a manner which what contain nothing but statements about objective properties of some physical body or parts of it and about how their manifestations under certain conditions? So is there any objective difference between a discovery and an invention?

If there isn’t than we should protect discoveries by patents and that will result in an utter chaos.

We're in luck then, since there is. Is there something specifically about which you don't know whether it's a discovery or an invention?

The second one is the time limit on the intellectual property rights. As far as I remember miss Rand puts forward only one argument for such time limit: intellectual property doesn’t depreciate. But so, what? Land plots don’t depreciate too, but we protect property rights on them for eternity. The product of my mind will forever remain the product of my mind. Doesn’t it mean that my property rights on it should be protected, too, forever?

The purpose of patents is to give credit where it is due, but they shouldn't be used to hold up other people's prorgess. For instance, you can't "reserve" Internet addresses just for the purpose of selling them to celebrities with that name, precisely for that reason. The time limit is another way to ensure that the purpose of a patent is to allow the owner to profit from his invention, not to instead patent something to control other people's actions. If patents were allowed to be forever, then even after the time it usually takes an invention to run its course, the patent holder will still use it just for that second purpose. (Maybe someone can come up with a concrete example, to better explain it, I'm not that familiar with the subject.)

But aren't you arguing in favor of patents wthout time limit, rather than against patents, anyway, here? Why would you do that?

But nevertheless let’s take all these arbitrary limitations for granted and than explore the ultimate example, which, to my mind, absolutely destroys the idea of intellectual property at its root. Let’s suppose that I invented a new chess opening. Do I have the right to forbid all other chess players to use it? I don’t see why not – this is clearly the product of my mind. But then we should say goodbye to chess and to the most of other competitive games as well.

You have the right to invent (and patent) a new game, and forbid anyone from playing it, if you wish. (I think there are plenty of games which are patented)

My explanation would work best if chess had an owner, because then it would be quite easy to just say that since you volunteered to work on someone else's property (the game of chess, in which every possible move is layed out already, by its inventors), your contributions belong to that person, not to you. But it's not private property, it's "open source".

It is unclear how it lost its owner, but it did. That doesn't mean that you can patent it yourself. What you can do is ammend it, as in modify its rules, or add to them, and come up with your own flavor of chess. (a clearer example would be Linux, which is an open source OS that can be freely modified, and the modifications can be patented and sold, but Linux itself cannot be claimed.)

Another example this would apply to is NFL rules American Football. The NFL took the game of football, which was a "free sport", and created a league, and all sorts of new rules for it.

If you come up with a play that works great in the NFL (an application of their rules), and tell them about it, they will thank you for your help, and send you on your way. However, if you come up with a new set of rules, and patent them as Gavagai football, you can make your own league and the NFL can't steal your ideas. There needs to be an objective process, in which you present some proof that you will indeed use the set of rules you invented, before you can patent them. ( otherwise, everyone would patent all sorts of nonsense just hoping to stumble on something they can use to shake down the NFL)

As we have seen miss Rand’s central premise leads us to laughable absurdities.

You can play Devil's advocate just as usefully, without going quite that far.

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So you can probe that without IP the US would have had the same rate of inventions?... because of history?...

That's not what I said. I was claiming that there was some invention before our modern scheme of intellectual property existed. Actually there was quite a bit -- but it doesn't compare to the explosion of inventiveness that happened here once we instituted patents and copyright.

Being this an objectivistic forum, I was pointing that IP is as valuable as physical property.

I don't disagree with IP, I simply thought your specific argument for it was weak. It amounted to a pragmatic argument--we won't get inventions without this (which isn't even true!)--or as many inventions (which probably is true)--rather than a moral one.

On the other hand I have seen no convincing argument that the system we have today is necessarily the most moral or appropriate one. Though it may "work" better, if your metric is number of patents filed.

Anyway, you cannot know what would had been invented or not without IP. That's because the nature of invention, unexpected. You cannot know what has NOT been invented.

Example: I don't know if Edison, privated from the economic resources generated from his IP, would have invented the same number of things in his lifetime.

Less resources -> more time per invention + limited lifetime = less inventions.

Irrelevant since you are responding to something I didn't say, making a point that does not address my point.

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It seems to me that you "need" to reach certain conclusion (you should do some introspection in order to know why)

and in order to reach your conclusion you twist facts, concepts and reasoning.

Maybe the final result makes you feel "good" (because your "need" to reach that conclusion),

but I assure you that has nothing to do with reality.

In order to reach objetive conclusions, you have to start with clear facts and definitions and then follow the implications of the facts, to wherever they take you, not to where you wish they take you.

In my case against IP I will criticize a natural law position on it, specifically – Ayn Rand’s position as I’m posting it on Objectivist forum. Frankly speaking, I’m not interested in discussing a utilitarian approach to this question because it’s confused at its root.

I read and understood Ayn Rand’s article “Patents and Copyrights” but this was long ago and I don’t have a book at hand now. So, I will rely on my memory and on the entry on patents and copyrights in Ayn Rand Lexicon which is available online here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_...copyrights.html If I get her position wrong in some respects, I hope forum members will correct me.

So, miss Rand claims that “patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind”.

So let’s check what this premise implies.

Let’s started with the issue miss Rand herself has explored: issue of scientific discoveries and philosophical ideas. Miss Rand writes on this subject:

“It is important to note, in this connection, that a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention. A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (<_< if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission”

So here we see two arguments against intellectual property on discoveries. The first is that they are not created by a discoverer. This is true. But what about the knowledge about these discoveries? Isn’t it created by a discoverer? Isn’t it a product of the work of his mind? And can’t he demand protection of his property rights on this knowledge? If not – why? It doesn’t follow from miss Rand’s premise.

Here you're twisting words. It's absolutely clear that a discovery is, for example, that gravity force acceleration is 9.8 m/s2. This law is not patentable, once discovered, you cannot force others to believe that is 5 o -10 m/s2, that's not your right.

But, a hot air ballon as a transportation device, is a design based on this and other discoveries. And that design is your property, and is patentable.

I see a clear difference between "discoveries/law of nature" and "devices" or designs based on discoveries.

The second argument doesn’t follow from her premise too. She states that the discoverer can’t “demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods”. But why can’t he? He surely can demand that men use less efficient methods of production without his permission even if they have objective knowledge about more efficient methods. How is that less absurd?

Again, you're confusing the discovery of a law of nature with a method of production.

And here we come to the question: isn’t the strict division between inventions and discoveries arbitrary? Can’t we represent any invention as some combination of laws of nature? Can’t we describe any invention in a manner which what contain nothing but statements about objective properties of some physical body or parts of it and about how their manifestations under certain conditions? So is there any objective difference between a discovery and an invention?

Yes, there is an objective difference between a discovery and an invention, and is obvious.

If there isn’t than we should protect discoveries by patents and that will result in an utter chaos.

There are two other arbitrary limitations on intellectual property, which I find in miss Rand’s position. The first one is that ideas can be protected only after they have some material form.

I'm no expert in patent laws, but I believe that you can claim to have an invention based on diagrams and descriptions. You can later present a working model.

The important date is the submission date of the diagrams.

Let’s suppose that I invented a new chess opening. Do I have the right to forbid all other chess players to use it? I don’t see why not – this is clearly the product of my mind. But then we should say goodbye to chess and to the most of other competitive games as well.

Chess is a game with arbitrary rules. There is no rule saying you can "patent" openings.

There are other competitive games, where you use patents, and is forbidden to use other's competitors ideas.

For example: world class rally.

I challenge any supporter of intellectual property to show me a natural law argument, which will not allow me claim property rights on chess openings.

That's because chess rules are arbitrary, they do not derive from natural law, they're designed to make chess interesting.

As we have seen miss Rand’s central premise leads us to laughable absurdities.

<humor><irony>Sure, since her philosophy disregard focus and reasoning, it's higly probably she almost never checked her premises</irony></humor>

"We" have not "seen" the contradiction. I've just witnessed some confusion between "law of nature" and "IP".

I can assume from your way of "reasoning", that you "want/wish/need" a contradiction to exist.

To know why you want/wish that, you must do some introspection. Most of the time is because reality is too harsh and self-delusion is much more comfortably.

I GUESS your're having problems with other conclusions from Rand ideas that you need to disprove in order to avoid pain. (Maybe another topic more important to your life)... and, since you're repressing that topic, you're using this IP topic just as a susbtitute.

Of course, if you're repressing, you'll be very angered now.

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That's not what I said. I was claiming that there was some invention before our modern scheme of intellectual property existed. Actually there was quite a bit -- but it doesn't compare to the explosion of inventiveness that happened here once we instituted patents and copyright.

I don't disagree with IP, I simply thought your specific argument for it was weak. It amounted to a pragmatic argument--we won't get inventions without this (which isn't even true!)--or as many inventions (which probably is true)--rather than a moral one.

On the other hand I have seen no convincing argument that the system we have today is necessarily the most moral or appropriate one. Though it may "work" better, if your metric is number of patents filed.

Irrelevant since you are responding to something I didn't say, making a point that does not address my point.

Ok. I Agree with you.

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That's because chess rules are arbitrary, they do not derive from natural law, they're designed to make chess interesting

That's not why. (and no, chess rules aren't arbitrary).

I can assume from your way of "reasoning", that you "want/wish/need" a contradiction to exist.

To know why you want/wish that, you must do some introspection. Most of the time is because reality is too harsh and self-delusion is much more comfortably.

I GUESS your're having problems with other conclusions from Rand ideas that you need to disprove in order to avoid pain. (Maybe another topic more important to your life)... and, since you're repressing that topic, you're using this IP topic just as a susbtitute.

Of course, if you're repressing, you'll be very angered now.

I am, because we're having a nice conversation, and you but in with stupid insults. Again. All you had to do is read the thread to know what he's doing.

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That's not why. (and no, chess rules aren't arbitrary).

I was using "arbitrary" as: "Conventional, agreed between several people".

Maybe not the best choice of words.

I am, because we're having a nice conversation, and you but in with stupid insults. Again. All you had to do is read the thread to know what he's doing.

I was not trying to insult him. I'm telling him exactly whats was in my mind w/o niceness or euphemisms.

I'm assuming he's mature and strong enough to accept, discard or use what I've said.

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2 Jake Ellison

A person's knowledge is actually an attribute of a person. And every man owns himself, so you definitely don't own my knowledge

If, for instance, you discovered some secret, and posted it on this forum, I would learn it, and that knowledge would be mine

Isn't it the same with ideas? Why can't I say that if I learn some idea from you than this idea will actualy be mine?

I want to remind you that miss Rand's premise is that any product of our mind should be guarded as our property. I simply don't see how an idea about some invention is less a product of our mind than an idea about some law of nature. Both types of ideas are the effect of the creative work of our mind. And the Law of Causality is the the Objectivist justification of property rights.

Miss Rand is right when she point's out that the discoverer doesn't create the law of nature itself. But he still creates our awareness of this law of nature.

So, to restate my argument. I don't see any essential difference between the labor of the discoverer and the labor of the inventor. I don't see any essential difference between an effect of their labor either: in both cases we obtain some new knowledge through it. So I don't understand why the law should treat them differently.

What one cannot do is tell other people to ignore what they read, after they bought that book (or saw in the vid), instead of learning about the discovery and using it to create useful things the discoverer chose not to or was unable to create

But don't we demand absolutely the same thing when we instill patent protection? We make people aware that for example some new, more efficient, method of production is discovered. But then we tell them that they are forbidden to use it before the get an agreement from an owner of the patent. Where is the difference?

Why are you saying that he could demand that no one can use some other, more efficient process, that he didn't invent, to achieve the same goal?

No, I'm not saying it. I'm saying that he can demand that no one can use the process he invented. Isn't it the same thing to demand that no one uses a discovery without a permission of the discoverer?

The purpose of patents is to give credit where it is due, but they shouldn't be used to hold up other people's prorgess

That's new for me. As far as I remember intellectual property is as much a property as any other property, according to miss Rand's logic. Are you seriously going to defend an idea that tangible property shouldn't be used to "hold up other people's prorgess"? I always thought that property can be used in any way an owner wish to use it, if only he doesn't trespass other men fundamental rights. I thoght this is the Objectivist position too. Or there is such thing as "the right to progress"?

Seriously, what is your proof of this claim?

But aren't you arguing in favor of patents wthout time limit, rather than against patents, anyway, here? Why would you do that?

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

You have the right to invent (and patent) a new game, and forbid anyone from playing it, if you wish.

I think there is a misunderstanding here. "Chess opening" isn't some new game game or a modification of it. This is a specific sequence of moves in existing game (chess) which allows both players to get a decent position by middle game. And my question is why can't I patent such a sequence if I have invented it and forbid every one else to use it in their game. This is a product of my mind after all!

In American Football some specific combination or tactics would be a correct analogy.

I will answer to Lucio later today, have to run now.

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Isn't it the same with ideas? Why can't I say that if I learn some idea from you than this idea will actualy be mine?

I want to remind you that miss Rand's premise is that any product of our mind should be guarded as our property. I simply don't see how an idea about some invention is less a product of our mind than an idea about some law of nature. Both types of ideas are the effect of the creative work of our mind. And the Law of Causality is the the Objectivist justification of property rights.

Miss Rand is right when she point's out that the discoverer doesn't create the law of nature itself. But he still creates our awareness of this law of nature.

So, to restate my argument. I don't see any essential difference between the labor of the discoverer and the labor of the inventor. I don't see any essential difference between an effect of their labor either: in both cases we obtain some new knowledge through it. So I don't understand why the law should treat them differently.

They should be treated differently because:

1. there is a difference, namely that laws of nature are not created by the discoverer, inventions, books, music etc are.

2. it would be impossible to treat them the same way, since knowledge can only belong to the person doing the knowing.

Miss Rand's premise is that everyone has a right to the product of their mind. Laws of nature are not the product of one's mind, knowledge of them is, and knowledge of such laws can be guarded only by keeping them secret. How do you propose the government guard your knowledge better than that?

When you discover a law of nature, you don't need a special mechanism such as a patent or copyright to keep it secret (not that such a mechanism exists, it doesn't), because you can guard it by simply not publishing it, or saying it in public. You have that protection because of simple property rights. If you want to bring extra people in on your secret, you also have the tool of confidentiality agreements, to guard your secret.

When patents and copyright become necessary is when you decide to use your knowledge and create something with it. Then, someone else cannot take your products, and recreate and sell them as your own. But there also cannot be a law that forbids someone from knowing your discovery, after you chose to tell it to them, or to refuse to act on that knowledge.

Miss Rand is right when she point's out that the discoverer doesn't create the law of nature itself. But he still creates our awareness of this law of nature.

So, to restate my argument.

If we are going to go in circles, restating our arguments, that is your fault, not mine. I explained very clearly what knowledge is, how it os not the creaton of anyone except the person doing the knowing, and how it would be absurd to legislate the content of someone's mind, forcing them to unknow something.

You changed your premise from "the discoverer owns the knowledge in others" to "the discoverer created awareness", but it's the same false premise. The discoverer is free to keep his secrets, and when he shares them, others can't help but know them, be aware of them, or however else you wish to say it, and they are free to act on that knowledge, forcing them to act on the opposite of it would be absurd.

But don't we demand absolutely the same thing when we instill patent protection? We make people aware that for example some new, more efficient, method of production is discovered.

To discover something implies that it already existed, to create something means that it did not. Why is it not clear that inventing a more efficient process is an act of creation, not discovery?

That's new for me. As far as I remember intellectual property is as much a property as any other property, according to miss Rand's logic. Are you seriously going to defend an idea that tangible property shouldn't be used to "hold up other people's prorgess"?

Look deeper into Objectivism, property is not the primary. All rights are rights to action, not objects. If a legal mechanism is not preventing others from violating your freedom to act, but rather just preventing others from acting in general, for no particular reason, than that legal mechanism is not serving its purpose.

And my question is why can't I patent such a sequence if I have invented it and forbid every one else to use it in their game. This is a product of my mind after all!

Say you decide to paint your brand new Mercedes E Class Estate pink, and the result is the most lucrative marketing idea in the history of mankind. You have no right to patent pink Mercedes E Class Estates as your property. The car is already someone else's property, and the modification (the paint without the car) is not a useful thing that you should have a right to patent. In fact, Mercedes can simply take your idea, because your attempt to patent the idea will be rejected, as it is not a useful product without the rights to the car, only a ploy to hinder their ability to freely paint their car any color. (except some that were created and patented by various inventors, but that detail is a needless complication)

Your opening strategy is just as meaningless without the rights to the game of chess, which is not yours, as pink car paint, without the rights to the car.

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Gavagai, you've made an extraordinary leap in the understanding of Rand's argument for/against IP rights to certain things. I will repeat it here:

So here we see two arguments against intellectual property on discoveries. The first is that they are not created by a discoverer. This is true. But what about the knowledge about these discoveries? Isn’t it created by a discoverer? Isn’t it a product of the work of his mind? And can’t he demand protection of his property rights on this knowledge? If not – why? It doesn’t follow from miss Rand’s premise.

The second argument doesn’t follow from her premise too. She states that the discoverer can’t “demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods”. But why can’t he? He surely can demand that men use less efficient methods of production without his permission even if they have objective knowledge about more efficient methods. How is that less absurd?

While I don't denigrate Ayn Rand's talent for philosophy, it seems that there is a bit of an oversight here.

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They should be treated differently because:

1. there is a difference, namely that laws of nature are not created by the discoverer, inventions, books, music etc are.

2. it would be impossible to treat them the same way, since knowledge can only belong to the person doing the knowing.

Miss Rand's premise is that everyone has a right to the product of their mind. Laws of nature are not the product of one's mind, knowledge of them is, and knowledge of such laws can be guarded only by keeping them secret. How do you propose the government guard your knowledge better than that?

When you discover a law of nature, you don't need a special mechanism such as a patent or copyright to keep it secret (not that such a mechanism exists, it doesn't), because you can guard it by simply not publishing it, or saying it in public. You have that protection because of simple property rights. If you want to bring extra people in on your secret, you also have the tool of confidentiality agreements, to guard your secret.

When patents and copyright become necessary is when you decide to use your knowledge and create something with it. Then, someone else cannot take your products, and recreate and sell them as your own. But there also cannot be a law that forbids someone from knowing your discovery, after you chose to tell it to them, or to refuse to act on that knowledge.

Okay, what's essential about the difference between knowing "rubbing two solid objects together causes friction, tree branches are solid objects, friction causes heat, heat applied to a flammable substance causes fire, and tree branches are flammable substances" and knowing "If I rub these two tree branches together I can create fire"? The former is considered knowledge about the laws of nature and the latter is considered knowledge of a process. Yet if one applies deductive reasoning one follows from the other in a precise and certain manner.

If we are going to go in circles, restating our arguments, that is your fault, not mine. I explained very clearly what knowledge is, how it os not the creaton of anyone except the person doing the knowing, and how it would be absurd to legislate the content of someone's mind, forcing them to unknow something.

You changed your premise from "the discoverer owns the knowledge in others" to "the discoverer created awareness", but it's the same false premise. The discoverer is free to keep his secrets, and when he shares them, others can't help but know them, be aware of them, or however else you wish to say it, and they are free to act on that knowledge, forcing them to act on the opposite of it would be absurd.

To discover something implies that it already existed, to create something means that it did not. Why is it not clear that inventing a more efficient process is an act of creation, not discovery?

Except nobody's creating new laws of nature. They're rearranging knowledge of laws of nature in such a manner that it becomes knowledge of a useful process. Now it's clear that rearranging something existing into something that hasn't existed before in a given context is creation, but here's the million dollar question: Why isn't knowledge of the laws of nature simply the rearrangement of already existing knowledge, say knowledge of phenomena that can be sensed, and thus creation?

People have manipulated elements of nature in ways that are unique, and created algorithms that are simply one manipulation after another to cause a desired result, and yet sometimes it's called a law of nature and sometimes it isn't.

This is directly related to liberty. The difference I see is that one refers to the part of the process involving human action and one refers to the part of the process that does not involve human action. So in essence, when one owns intellectual property, one is owning the way humans may operate. So intellectual property is homesteading human action, specifically the actions that any person may take or not.

Look deeper into Objectivism, property is not the primary. All rights are rights to action, not objects. If a legal mechanism is not preventing others from violating your freedom to act, but rather just preventing others from acting in general, for no particular reason, than that legal mechanism is not serving its purpose.

Say you decide to paint your brand new Mercedes E Class Estate pink, and the result is the most lucrative marketing idea in the history of mankind. You have no right to patent pink Mercedes E Class Estates as your property. The car is already someone else's property, and the modification (the paint without the car) is not a useful thing that you should have a right to patent. In fact, Mercedes can simply take your idea, because your attempt to patent the idea will be rejected, as it is not a useful product without the rights to the car, only a ploy to hinder their ability to freely paint their car any color. (except some that were created and patented by various inventors, but that detail is a needless complication)

Your opening strategy is just as meaningless without the rights to the game of chess, which is not yours, as pink car paint, without the rights to the car.

Then perhaps I may chime in with my own insights. I've debated this issue before and have new angles that other people have not tried, or at least compilations of angles that have been tried but which have not been tried in succession.

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If anyone is interested in this issue and has a tough stomach for rationalistic nonsense, there is a discussion here in which I participated briefly (it will be obvious who I am).

If the original poster is interested in a structured debate (i.e. without random interjections), I am willing.

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Okay, what's essential about the difference between knowing "rubbing two solid objects together causes friction, tree branches are solid objects, friction causes heat, heat applied to a flammable substance causes fire, and tree branches are flammable substances" and knowing "If I rub these two tree branches together I can create fire"? The former is considered knowledge about the laws of nature and the latter is considered knowledge of a process. Yet if one applies deductive reasoning one follows from the other in a precise and certain manner.

First off, you can rub two tree branches together all you want, you won't create anything but some sore blisters. What you need is a precise way of rubbing them together (one of the techniques I'm familiar with: cut a hole in one larger block of wood, to fit the end of a stick in it, use a rope and a third stick o create a bow-like contraption, weave the rope on the bow around the small stick once, thus using it to spin the end inside the hole you made, to create friction. Oh and by the way, have some highly flammable dry grass around, and a ready made fireplace, with sticks and logs on top of each other in a specific way.

The essential difference between knowing that friction causes heat, and at certain temperatures, wood catches fire, (all things that exist in nature) and knowing the method I described (which does not exist in nature, or at least I'm not aware of bears making fires before some human came up with this method), is the nice cozy fire you get at the end, from my method, but not from your knowledge. If I were to have invented the method myself, just now, thus bringing fire to millions, I would deserve the rights to my method, but not to the physical properties of wood.

Except nobody's creating new laws of nature. They're rearranging knowledge of laws of nature in such a manner that it becomes knowledge of a useful process. Now it's clear that rearranging something existing into something that hasn't existed before in a given context is creation, but here's the million dollar question: Why isn't knowledge of the laws of nature simply the rearrangement of already existing knowledge, say knowledge of phenomena that can be sensed, and thus creation?

People have manipulated elements of nature in ways that are unique, and created algorithms that are simply one manipulation after another to cause a desired result, and yet sometimes it's called a law of nature and sometimes it isn't.

That's obviously not true. The laws of nature are simply the physical properties of things that exist in nature. A process or a machine is more than a sum of its parts, it is something entirely new, that never existed before. It's not just a "combination" of laws of nature.

This is directly related to liberty. The difference I see is that one refers to the part of the process involving human action and one refers to the part of the process that does not involve human action. So in essence, when one owns intellectual property, one is owning the way humans may operate. So intellectual property is homesteading human action, specifically the actions that any person may take or not.

Yeah, so is physical property, in exactly the same way, except in relation to physical objects, not creations of one's mind. There's no rule against regulating human action. Human action needs to be regulated, otherwise there's anarchy. You don't want anarchy.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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