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Robert Romero

Intellectual property

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Why would a declaration of copyright at the beginning of the book have to cite a bloated document written by a committee of politicians?  Why would it have to have that particular form?

You're free to waive the boilerplate copyright law and just place it in public domain.

You could come up your own contract, but if you had to take someone to court, I'm sure the judge would raise an eyebrow at you.

You would have the added issue of enforcement. Copyright law can be studied by those who work to enforce it. If they had 50,000 individually different contracts it would more likely create a bigger mess of enforcement than using a single standardized source.

As to it being a bloated document, how might an objective perspective to the matter look, and what would the philosophical climate of the culture need look like to have it instantiated?

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I don't think people are better off without IP.  I don't think the example you provide proves this.  All that is is a specific application of the law at particular point in time with respect to a particular group of individuals.  I could argue that socialism makes everyone better off by reference to examples of a more socialist country having a better economy than a more capitalist country.  It does not follow from a single example that a particular principle is wrong. 

 Your counter example of comparing a more socialist economy to a more capitalist economy is flawed.  Citing this or that economic statistic as “proof” that everyone in the socialist economy is better off makes no sense.   Socialism by its very nature means that some people have their property taken from them by force.  There have to be losers.  It’s always a win-lose situation (is everyone better off under Obama because the stock market has risen under him?).   The bad consequences (for many, many people) far outweigh any “good” consequences.  Every proponent of capitalism knows this.   Every proponent of capitalism also knows that all transactions in the market are voluntary, so it always has to be a win win situation.

In my example, everybody was better off without a patent.  It was win win for everybody.   Not only that, the win win was the logical consequence of the absence of a patent.  People, including Watt, were free to innovate without the hammer of patent law being brought down on them.  More people could make steam engines.  Why was that bad, and why wasn’t it logically attributable to the absence of a patent?

Give me time on your other question.

 

Edited by Robert Romero

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You're free to waive the boilerplate copyright law and just place it in public domain.

You could come up your own contract, but if you had to take someone to court, I'm sure the judge would raise an eyebrow at you.

You would have the added issue of enforcement. Copyright law can be studied by those who work to enforce it. If they had 50,000 individually different contracts it would more likely create a bigger mess of enforcement than using a single standardized source.

Or you could have a boilerplate law that isn't as bloated and simply refer to it.  Would take all of one sentence, perhaps with a web link.  Not that difficult.

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Or you could have a boilerplate law that isn't as bloated and simply refer to it.  Would take all of one sentence, perhaps with a web link.  Not that difficult.

 

As to it being a bloated document, how might an objective perspective to the matter look, and what would the philosophical climate of the culture need look like to have it instantiated?

Coming up with an objective perspective on the matter could arrive a less bloated boilerplate law. This would still leave unanswered what the philosophical climate of the culture would need to be to adopt is.

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BTW, in response to the objection that the steam engine is “just one example", I found these quotes from a research paper on patents:

the political economy of government-operated patent systems indicates that such systems are susceptible to pressures that cause the ill effects of patents to grow over time. The political economy pressures tend to benefit those who own patents and are in a good position to lobby for stronger patent protection, but disadvantage current and future innovators as well as ultimate consumers. This explains why the political demand for stronger patent protection comes from old and stagnant industries and firms, not from new and innovative ones.

So we see that patents are not associated with new, innovative firms, but old stagnant ones, and that they favor the old stagnant ones over both the innovative firms and consumers.  No advocate of capitalism should favor this kind of cronyism.

In new industries such as biotechnology and software —where innovation was already thriving in their absence —patents have been introduced without any positive impact on the rate of innovation.

This kind of empirical data is an effective counter to the claim that patents are "needed to encourage innovation".  It also effectively counters the claim that patents encourage innovation.  In fact, the paper shows this:

In 1983 in the United States, 59,715 patents were issued; by 2003, 189,597 patents were issued; and in 2010, 244,341 new patents were approved. In less than 30 years, the flow of patents more than quadrupled. By contrast, neither
innovation nor research and development expenditure nor factor productivity have exhibited any particular upward trend.

 

 To understand more about the actual effect of patents in the real world, consider the recent purchase by Google of Motorola Mobility, primarily for its patent portfolio—not for the ideas and innovations in that portfolio. Few if any changes or improvements to Google’s Android operating system will result from the ownership or study of these software patents. Google’s purpose in obtaining this patent portfolio is purely defensive: it can be used to countersue Apple and Microsoft and blunt their legal attack on Google. These remarks apply to the vast bulk of patents: they do not represent useful innovation at all and are just weapons in an arms race.

Sounds like all that's being protected here is work for lawyers, not ideas.

 

If we look at patent litigation in practice—and as predicted by theories of first-mover competition (Boldrin and Levine 2004, among others)—it takes place when innovation is low. When an industry matures, innovation is no longer encouraged; instead, it is blocked by the ever-increasing appeal to patent protection on part of the insiders.

More proof of the cronyist nature of patents.

Back in 1991, Bill Gates said: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today . . . A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose.”

This is an example of the perversion of capitalism.  What we have is corporate state capitalism, not free market capitalism.  And who gets hurt by it?  You, me, and the true innovators.

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 The heart of the matter regarding the objection to IP is that if something is copyable, the usage is not lost.

You haven't made a good enough case yet to show that copyability matters. To be as blunt as I can about it, I don't care how copyable it is. Your notion of value is different than mine, you are strictly talking about a narrower idea of property, i.e. its value derives from its physical form and only that. If it's infinitely copyable, and thus not scarce, thus has no monetary value in the resulting item itself, why yes, -nothing- is lost or harmed when copied. So, that's why I asked earlier: what is it about your favorite song that makes it important to you? I am looking to see how you think of value in a non-economic context.

"The sense that it’s wrong comes from the notion that your idea is now less valuable to you. "
It -may- be a factor, but it seems wrong because whatever is mine, is mine. That other people's actions impact my things actually only matters if it's an act of force, largely because of how force prevents the use of one's mind. That's the only way what is mine is affected and taken out of my absolute control.

" It was an instant movie camera."
I don't know why you think that's a sensible boundary for an IP supporter. It's not as though homesteading a plot of land on the moon means you own all of the moon. "Instant movie camera" is vague. What kind of camera? How is it made? If that were all that was patented, it'd be a wild and big claim. So, unless you mean to say Sony and the others made effectively -identical- products, these cameras were all probably different in measurable ways. It'd be like saying "video game console". An NES is easily different than a Sega Genesis.

"I’m not saying that this would always happen with patent law, or that this is my primary objection to patent law. "
If you gave an example of a non-corrupt patent law system still showing someone like Watt, it'd be different. Or you'd need to say -all- patent law leads to cronyism.

"Even if it actually makes the inventor less wealthy and inhibits innovation and makes the invention less available (as shown in the Watt example)? "
No. Then it would be bad. But I disagree that you showed that IP law is by nature bad.

By the way, you mean deontological. Non-consequentialist morality includes virtue ethics-type things like Objectivism.

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I've decided to respond to the most relevant paragraph in the OP.  I think we need to address the root problem and try to resolve it.

Individualists are strongly in favor of property rights, but we must ask why do we want property rights?  We want them because property is scarce.

Not true.  We want property because it is valuable (fulfills a need) not because it is scarce.  

If someone takes your land, your car, or your phone, you lose the use of it.

Thieves lose the use of items they steal when those items are recovered by the owners.  This can't be a basis for property rights.  

But if something is superabundant, we do not talk about property rights to it.  For example, no one talks about property rights to atmospheric air.  It’s superabundant and free.  No one says “you’re breathing my air”.  That fact that I’m breathing does not impinge on your breathing.  Property rights are meaningless in this case.

Air exists naturally regardless of our actions.  It makes no sense to compare air to intellectual property (IP) because IP is created by humans and ONLY humans.  If no humans ever made music, books, movies or machines, those things don't exist.  The genesis of property is creation.  If you make it, you own it.  If you sell it, the buyer owns it.  If you give it away, the taker owns it.  If the maker didn't make it, there's NOTHING to sell, give away or copy (or steal as the case may be).  

The question I have for you is: Why do you deny that the artist or inventor owns copies of his original work of art or novel designs until he sells them or gives them away?  

The answer you will give (again) is that the artist or inventor doesn't lose use of his idea.  That does't matter.  Commercializing the idea matters.  He WILL lose the ability to sell any copies that are pirated.  

The thing that makes my head scratch is that you appear to think the pirate DOES own the copy he takes even though the artist/inventor made the original that makes the copy possible (why do you think it's CALLED a copy?).

I can boil this all down to one big question:  Who the hell does own the copy and why??

 

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I think there's something key here with regard to "scarcity" that you are, perhaps, missing.

"We want property rights because it is a moral requirement to live and thrive as a human."

True -- but why is this so? Why are "property rights" a requirement to live and thrive as a human? What is the fact of reality that makes this so? I believe it is scarcity. If property were unlimited (which is to say non-scarce), and by this I mean the material wealth that human beings need to live and thrive, then we should hardly divide things into yours and mine, because we would have no need to.

Property is something you create, sure. But we need to have a concept of "property" in the first place because living requires material values, and material values are not unlimited; they are scarce. Thus I do not think "scarcity" is necessarily irrelevant to a further exploration of the concept property and its proper application.

I’m talking about the primal nature of man.  There is no measurement since we are talking fundamental requirements.  All animals have a method of survival.  Man uses his mind and its capacity to reason to survive and it is this fact that allows him to thrive above the state of an animal.  He thinks and then acts on that thinking.  This ultimately ends in him bringing his thoughts into reality by creating objects that allow him to thrive according to his own individual ends.  If he cannot have the product of his thinking, the property he has created, then you have nullified his mind and his ability to act on his own judgement to live. 

His thoughts now serve the ends of others. Thus, the principle that force destroys value or force nullifies a mind.     

Atlas Shrugged dramatizes this point.

Let’s turn to a simple example:  A primitive hunter who invented the first spear to improve his life had a very scarce object he created for himself.  Several generations later there would have been a lot of spears to hunt.  Property serves man’s nature, not his surroundings. The scarcity level does not affect this primal need.  What is important is that the individual created it for himself and it served his life in the fashion he determined.  The fact it went from super scarce to common had no impact on its status as property that served the individual need of the owner.  You take the spear from the first hunter or the third generation hunter you are still stealing something he earned and diminishing his ability to live by his choice.  The fact it is easier to replace later on does not diminish the moral assault of the theft or the criminal defect of the individual too lazy to make his own spear. 

Ethics is not an issue of arithmetic.  

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Let’s turn to a simple example:  A primitive hunter who invented the first spear to improve his life had a very scarce object he created for himself.  Several generations later there would have been a lot of spears to hunt.  Property serves man’s nature, not his surroundings. The scarcity level does not affect this primal need.  What is important is that the individual created it for himself and it served his life in the fashion he determined.  The fact it went from super scarce to common had no impact on its status as property that served the individual need of the owner.  You take the spear from the first hunter or the third generation hunter you are still stealing something he earned and diminishing his ability to live by his choice.  The fact it is easier to replace later on does not diminish the moral assault of the theft or the criminal defect of the individual too lazy to make his own spear. 

 

Ethics is not an issue of arithmetic.

When you say "scarcity level," and talk of "arithmetic," it leads me to believe that you're misapprehending the point I was attempting to make. I'm not talking about "more or less" scarce, but scarce as a binary: something is either scarce or it is not. It is the fact of scarcity which makes it important to have property -- to divide things up into yours and mine.

If things were not scarce, we would not need to make such distinctions. If spears were available such that anytime a person ever needed or wanted one, it was available (in the very form and fashion desired), we would not have the need to distinguish between one man's spear and another, nor trace the history of a particular spear's creation.

Ultimately all material wealth will be scarce, which is why property is properly a discussion of material wealth (as opposed to "ideas," which are not the subject of property).

To attempt to apply this to the example Robert Romero has introduced, air actually is scarce, though it is in such great abundance here on Earth we treat it practically as though it were not. I suspect that much land was originally treated the same way, and water, too, and probably many other resources. The scarcity of air, and especially clean air, can be demonstrated through controversies over pollution; or smoking in restaurants, bars, or on airplanes; and can also be helpfully imagined if we were to envision certain future colonization scenarios of the moon, Mars, etc., or given sufficient pollution of the Earth. People might indeed become very zealous over "their air."

Anyways, the point I was trying to make is that "scarcity" forms part of the context in which I believe we form the concept of "property" in the first place. Therefore, scarcity continues to be an important part (or at least a relevant part) of the discussion when we try to address ourselves to issues such as "intellectual property."

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I think you are right in that today we discuss property in economic terms, which is what your argument is.  The issue for me is that it is a moral issue.  Thus the arithmetic comment.  Even if binary, it is irrelevant as ethics is based upon man's need to thrive, not on whether something is plentiful or not.  IP is like all property in that it is resolved as an ethical issue long before you advance to sciences like politics or economics. Property rights is a political right because it is a moral right not vice versa.  

This is the equivalent of suggesting freedom of speech is determined by economics.  

Thus the collapse of Western Civilization as we argue with collectivists over Utility and outcome instead of right and wrong.  

Please remember the classical definition of property to understand the moral implications:  Something you have disposal rights over for your own use.  Thus, man was said to not have house as property but property in his house.   Something isn't property if I can not dispose of it as I see fit.  

Abundance of an object doesn't change the fact to own it is to have property in it.  I don't care if it the only object in the world or something from a Star Trek Fantasy land where supposedly replicators can be anything at anytime (and even that is limited in many ways).  If it is mine, then it is mine.  

If not then I do not have property in it, which means I do not have property in my life.  If someone can dispose of something of mine, then they choose my actions for me which is the real purpose - Someone using my life for their ends. 

 

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I think you are right in that today we discuss property in economic terms, which is what your argument is.  The issue for me is that it is a moral issue.  Thus the arithmetic comment.  Even if binary, it is irrelevant as ethics is based upon man's need to thrive, not on whether something is plentiful or not.  IP is like all property in that it is resolved as an ethical issue long before you advance to sciences like politics or economics. Property rights is a political right because it is a moral right not vice versa.

When speaking of "scarcity," I am addressing the nature of man, and man's relationship to the world. I am describing the conditions that give rise to a concept of property in the first place. When you say that "ethics is based upon man's need to thrive," that's true... and then we need some understanding of what "man's need to thrive" means, and how ethics are specifically informed by that (e.g. how man requires material wealth, and how material wealth is created). Before we can have an ethical philosophy, we must have some understanding of how the world works.

Here it is the fact of scarcity which makes property a moral concept. Without scarcity, there is no need for a conception of property. Scarcity is a description of the context in which property makes sense, which is why it is not irrelevant in a discussion of property or the proper application of the same. In order to fully understand "property," a person must have an understanding of why we require property in the first place, which is what leads us to "scarcity."

Abundance of an object doesn't change the fact to own it is to have property in it.  I don't care if it the only object in the world or something from a Star Trek Fantasy land where supposedly replicators can be anything at anytime (and even that is limited in many ways).  If it is mine, then it is mine.

We agree that property is a moral issue, we agree that "abundance of an object doesn't change the fact to own it is to have property in it," we agree that "something isn't property if I cannot dispose of it as I see fit," and we agree that "if someone can dispose of something of mine" then "someone [is] using my life for their ends."

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When speaking of "scarcity," I am addressing the nature of man, and man's relationship to the world. I am describing the conditions that give rise to a concept of property in the first place. When you say that "ethics is based upon man's need to thrive," that's true... and then we need some understanding of what "man's need to thrive" means, and how ethics are specifically informed by that (e.g. how man requires material wealth, and how material wealth is created). Before we can have an ethical philosophy, we must have some understanding of how the world works.

I made an argument on page 1 I think making a case that ideas, in the context of implementable ideas into a concrete form, really is scarce in the same way land is. You define a boundary, and a boundary to property is always done by measurement. I think scarcity is irrelevant, though. Why can't it be property derives from a need to define what you make? I'd say it's more that property leads to a concept of scarcity. Scarcity is notable only once there's a notion of possessing and having made possible by figuring out how to use something, otherwise there's really nothing to fail to have. Scarcity does not even come up until you figure out how to use something.

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"I can boil this all down to one big question:  Who the hell does own the copy and why??"  ~ Craig24

If I hear a song and it remains in my head, don't I own that copy?  If not, then kindly remove it or pay rent for the use of my headspace :devil:

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I made an argument on page 1 I think making a case that ideas, in the context of implementable ideas into a concrete form, really is scarce in the same way land is.

I may not speak directly to your post; honestly, I'm having difficulty understanding much of your meaning. So I'm going to reply as far as I am able, but you may need to help me to understand your meaning further, if and when I speak past it.

Material wealth is scarce. Ideas are not.

"Implementable ideas in a concrete form"? If an idea is implemented in a concrete form, then I think we're discussing material wealth. The material wealth remains scarce whereas the idea is not. If I take your fork from you (which is an idea implemented in a concrete form, which is material wealth) then you are less one fork. If I get the idea of a fork from observing you use one, you are not less anything. This should help to demonstrate the scarcity inherent to the first example (as it deals with material wealth) and absent in the second (as it deals with ideas).

You define a boundary, and a boundary to property is always done by measurement. I think scarcity is irrelevant, though. Why can't it be property derives from a need to define what you make?

I don't know what this means or how it relates to what we're discussing.

I'd say it's more that property leads to a concept of scarcity. Scarcity is notable only once there's a notion of possessing and having made possible by figuring out how to use something, otherwise there's really nothing to fail to have. Scarcity does not even come up until you figure out how to use something.

You can possess and use something without having any concept of property or scarcity.

But to try to further demonstrate my overall meaning, imagine... imagine a preschool class, and it's time to draw. There are crayons available. We have crayons enough for every child, enough to sate their every need/desire for crayons, and let us pretend that these crayons are completely undifferentiated (which would not be true in reality, but more on that in a moment). Each child could use the crayons as their fancy struck them, and thus there would be no conflict between them (over these crayons). There would be no motive to speak of "my crayon"--not in the sense of property (as opposed to "this is the crayon I happen to be using/is currently in my possession"). With respect to these crayons, in this situation, there would be no need to hold or develop such a conceptualization, let alone establishing rules by which a crayon becomes someone's "property."

But if we were to restrict the crayons, this situation would change immediately. If there were, say, only one red crayon available, then it would become meaningful who got to use the red crayon, and why. A child might well say "the red crayon is mine" and mean it fully in the property sense (whether or not we would recognize the legitimacy of his claim), because now he has a reason to do so.

Of course, like any example of apparent non-scarcity involving material wealth, this example is open to salient critique... because all material wealth is scarce, including my first magical "classroom of infinite crayons." One of the ways in which this is true is that every bit of material wealth is differentiated and differentiate-able. Every crayon, for instance, occupies a place in space. A child might not simply want any red crayon, but the red crayon nearest him. Or a bully might want the red crayon in his neighbor's hand because it is in his neighbor's hand. Every individual, physical object is scarce in its full context.

But I think that examining apparent abundance can help to elucidate the fundamental issues involved, and can go some way of understanding the development of these concepts (and their applications) in reality. Here's another such example: suppose a woods in which an early people hunts deer for food. There are plenty of deer and plenty of space. There's no call for anyone to ever try to restrict his neighbors from hunting, or to lay any special claim to the right to do so, because there is no conflict. The wood is considered a commons. But as the deer begin to vanish, there might now be an attempt to assert control over the woods themselves, parceling it out into property (or owned whole by the king), or somewhat more narrowly over the right to hunt (via a license or birthright privilege or etc.). It is the fact of scarcity which motivates people to divvy material wealth into property.

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I may not speak directly to your post; honestly, I'm having difficulty understanding much of your meaning. So I'm going to reply as far as I am able, but you may need to help me to understand your meaning further, if and when I speak past it.

I'll respond to the rest later, but I see an issue with your reasoning. I wanted to iron it out first. Regarding everyone having a crayon, the simple possession is enough of a reason to start developing a concept. Your point seems to be that scarcity is a necessary and critical concept to forming the concept property. To me, it's only required for the concept price. So far so good I think.

My issue comes in when you say property only becomes meaningful when issues of supply come up, i.e. there are a finite number of crayons available. I don't see where you give a reason. Why is it that it leads to a crayon being property, as opposed to say, being a collective item that we ought to share? Sure, scarcity alters the supply, but you seem to be claiming that scarcity is necessary and sufficient to then form the concept property. I'm claiming it might apply, but it's not even necessary.

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BTW, in response to the objection that the steam engine is “just one example", I found these quotes from a research paper on patents:

Source please? So I can read it all, and evaluate the source's quality. I always like to check source quality!

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I think the question of what belongs to who can only be resolved among peers, otherwise it's simply a matter of force being applied via some kind of pecking order.  A single red crayon, as an example of scarcity, doesn't imply a need to establish rules to share it provided life isn't threatened by a lack of red crayons.  Put another way, my want for the use of your unique crayon doesn't establish a moral need for you to share it.  In the case of a dwindling herd of deer in the woods, the perception of a growing scarcity of a particular food source doesn't imply a need to share what's left for essentially the same reason.
 
It seems to me the case for intellectual property, beyond the recognition of self governance among peers, is primarily an artificial creation of scarcity used to enforce a pecking order of questionable moral value.

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"I can boil this all down to one big question:  Who the hell does own the copy and why??"  ~ Craig24

If I hear a song and it remains in my head, don't I own that copy?  If not, then kindly remove it or pay rent for the use of my headspace :devil:

Are you paying to listen to the artist's head space or an actual record of the song?  I can't  play what's in my head on a CD player.  

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When speaking of "scarcity," I am addressing the nature of man, and man's relationship to the world. I am describing the conditions that give rise to a concept of property in the first place. When you say that "ethics is based upon man's need to thrive," that's true... and then we need some understanding of what "man's need to thrive" means, and how ethics are specifically informed by that (e.g. how man requires material wealth, and how material wealth is created). Before we can have an ethical philosophy, we must have some understanding of how the world works.

Here it is the fact of scarcity which makes property a moral concept. Without scarcity, there is no need for a conception of property. Scarcity is a description of the context in which property makes sense, which is why it is not irrelevant in a discussion of property or the proper application of the same. In order to fully understand "property," a person must have an understanding of why we require property in the first place, which is what leads us to "scarcity."

 

Something is property because I created it and will dispose of it for my own personal reasons.  I think - I work to bring that thought into reality.  The product of that thought is an object I plan to use to advance my life.  I have property in the object since my ability to thrive is dependent on acting on my thoughts by disposing of that object. It can be unique or common, it doesn't matter.  It's availability is not an issue ethically, only economic. Something is property because it is mine. It can be the only one in the world or I can craft a pebble like a billion others.  It is mine.  Of value to me. Scarcity only becomes relevant if I choose to trade it.   A unique item may be worth a lot.  A pebble will likely only hold value to me. 

I give the object value, not any random attribute it has in nature.  

If anything the scarcity argument is only reinforcing the fact property is a moral concept devoid of any measurement, which demonstrates the full evil of the situation.  Wealth has to be produced before it can be looted.  Man's mind is the source of all values and the ultimate vale that creates other values.  How despotic is it then to preempt the welfare state looting and go straight for the source and take a man's thoughts?

 

 

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My issue comes in when you say property only becomes meaningful when issues of supply come up, i.e. there are a finite number of crayons available. I don't see where you give a reason. Why is it that it leads to a crayon being property, as opposed to say, being a collective item that we ought to share?

Because property is only meaningful when issues of supply come up (as is the case with all material wealth, but not so with ideas). But take the contrary, and try (as I have invited you to do through my examples) to imagine a situation where there is no issue of supply at all, and then ask yourself what the motivation would be for people to have rules (with respect to ownership) governing the use and disposal of these non-scarce material values. No such situation could exist with respect to material wealth for reasons I hope I've already given to your satisfaction--material wealth is inherently scarce--but we can come close enough to it with something like "air" for Robert Romero to raise it as a seemingly compelling example, and as I've said, such examples can be illuminating.

We don't normally speak of air as a matter of property (notwithstanding the examples I've provided to demonstrate that air, too, is scarce). Early peoples would probably not have even considered such a thing (insofar as they were even aware of the existence of air). Yet if we were colonists on Mars, we would have a keen interest in the division of air, and according property rights to it. We might fashion an entire subcategory of property law that to us, here and now, might well appear ridiculous and unnecessary. (Who knows what? But perhaps we would insist that a person only pass gas in his own air... or pay a fine in recompense!) Well, what makes the difference between one situation and the other?

A red crayon certainly could be regarded as "a collective item that we ought to share," just as in my other example I referenced a common wood. Insofar as there are no conflicts in interest between people sharing the crayon or the woods, this might serve existing interests well enough. And indeed, if I were a teacher in a classroom, I might set up some system of sharing limited classroom resources... or as a parent, between siblings. But there may yet come a point where there is a conflict, because two people might want to use the very same red crayon at the very same time, in a mutually exclusive fashion. (Which is what it means for the red crayon to be "scarce.")

I would want a system to resolve this conflict. As a teacher, I might say that "the first person to pick up the crayon" is allowed to use it for whatever duration of time, or I might allow a system of "dibs" or I might even institute a "classroom economy" whereby a student could earn classroom money and spend it on usage of the red crayon. These rules are analogous to what real people had to do when real people competed over real resources which were, in fact, scarce. If you and I were hunting the same deer in the same wood, how would we resolve our competing claim? Well, we might agree that the first to land an arrow in the deer had rights to it, or something similar. I'm not a hunter and I have no interest in it, but I'd imagine that real-life hunters have some means of working things like that out between themselves. If there were identical deer for each of us, however, and accordingly no competition between us (that is to say no scarcity, so long as it is understood that this could not exist in reality; in reality, every particular deer is scarce), we would not bother to have such rules. Why would we? Such rules would serve no need.

Scarcity creates a need for a system of property--for some person to have rights to the use/disposal of material values in a way that is mutually exclusive from anybody else's use/disposal of those same material values. Any given cupful of water can only be drunk by one person (at a time, at least)--which is again to say that it is "scarce"--therefore we need some system of deciding who gets to drink that cupful of water.

Ayn Rand advocates a particular system, based on justice. Recognizing that the creation of material wealth requires labor, she accords property rights to that wealth to the person who has performed that labor. Or in her words:

Any material element or resource which, in order to become of use or value to men, requires the application of human knowledge and effort, should be private property—by the right of those who apply the knowledge and effort.

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Something is property because I created it and will dispose of it for my own personal reasons.  I think - I work to bring that thought into reality.  The product of that thought is an object I plan to use to advance my life.  I have property in the object since my ability to thrive is dependent on acting on my thoughts by disposing of that object. It can be unique or common, it doesn't matter.  It's availability is not an issue ethically, only economic. Something is property because it is mine. It can be the only one in the world or I can craft a pebble like a billion others.  It is mine.  Of value to me. Scarcity only becomes relevant if I choose to trade it.   A unique item may be worth a lot.  A pebble will likely only hold value to me. 

I give the object value, not any random attribute it has in nature.  

If anything the scarcity argument is only reinforcing the fact property is a moral concept devoid of any measurement, which demonstrates the full evil of the situation.  Wealth has to be produced before it can be looted.  Man's mind is the source of all values and the ultimate vale that creates other values.  How despotic is it then to preempt the welfare state looting and go straight for the source and take a man's thoughts?

I continue to believe that you do not yet understand what I've been trying to communicate, as most of this does not seem to relate to what I've written, and it does not respond to the portion of my post which you've quoted. It again appears to reflect a misconception of my terminology that I've been trying to clarify since your first response to me. For instance, scarcity (as I'm using it) is not "any random attribute," but an attribute that all material values have (one which forms context for the concept of property), and it has nothing to do with whether an item is judged "unique" or "like a billion others." It has nothing to do with economic value or trade.

Apart from your use of "scarcity," insofar as it is supposed to reflect upon my own, I agree with your first two paragraphs.

In the third paragraph, I don't know what it means exactly to "take a man's thoughts," and especially in light of what I've actually meant by "scarcity" (in that ideas are not scarce), though it seems like that might be one (negatively charged) way to describe "learning."

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Are you paying to listen to the artist's head space or an actual record of the song?  I can't  play what's in my head on a CD player.  

I didn't pay for or request it; I just hear it and now there's a copy in my memory. I don't need a CD to recall it and hum or sing or play it on a guitar. Is the memory of a song I neither asked or paid for, mine to use or not?

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I didn't pay for or request it; I just hear it and now there's a copy in my memory. I don't need a CD to recall it and hum or sing or play it on a guitar. Is the memory of a song I neither asked or paid for, mine to use or not?

IP does not refer to what's in your head.  It refers to what is recorded or performed that came from what is in your head.  You are asking the wrong question where IP is concerned.  

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So if I am exposed to someone's IP, they have control over what I can do with it?

Only if you acknowledge their right to it. After that, it is contingent upon how individual rights are respected and upheld by the community at large.

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