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Robert Romero

Intellectual property

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

What do you mean by exposed?  The thoughts in your head are NOT the subject of ID.  We are talking about possession of a recording you can play on a CD player or whatever device you listen to.  That's NOT about exposure to and having a memory of an idea.  

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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.

You seem to be assuming your conclusion. Why do property rights need to come up at all! Plenty of societies, albeit failed ones, understood scarcity, and went for collectivistic notions of dividing stuff. The Incas did that, and they weren't primitive people like a jungle tribe. There was no property per se, and if you didn't like it, too bad. As scarce as potatoes were, they weren't owned by one person. No one owned anything. There was a system to manage scarcity, it just wasn't property. Really, the Inca were proto-Communists. But what makes the Inca wrong - is it that communitarianism is inefficient? By arguments of consequentialism, this is enough so far. But by arguments of egoism, I can't say why it's better for me to have a concept property. I'd just use force to get what I want, after all, that maintains my hold over scarce goods plus there's less conflict if I distribute my extras.

That last bit is the same as with arguing against IP, that it's wielding force to create artificial scarcity that depends upon favors. Scarcity doesn't get closer to saying why property matters, or much about why I'd care if someone's property is denied. If I take a crayon, why would it matter to me that I ignored your ownership? I might prefer to abolish property then establish the Crayon Reserve that accepts applications for temporary Crayon Possession so that people only get crayons when making masterpiece stick figures. Indeed, that might sound like IP, where it needs to ultimately ignore property if you're anti-IP. Here, though, the purpose is to do away with property at all so all of life is fairly distributed. There is no principle other than need.

But what would make a crayon -mine- as opposed to merely an item you and I both want? Scarcity may point out the limits on how to possess a crayon (break it in half for two, sharing, can't replicate) but not who gets to make the decision. Only once it's property does scarcity matter, or if there is no property at all.

Regarding ideas and scarcity:

Land is scarce, there are only so many meters to cross. Basketballs are scarce, there are only so many that have been made. Ideas, insofar as it's one you can implement, are scarce. There are only so many bytes of implementable ideas at a given time, as limited by knowledge. A car was not a possible idea for an caveman, and certainly not buildable. Not all ideas can be scarce, in the sense imagination has no bounds. An implementable idea is a creation that can be built in reality. All these boundaries are abstract, and such abstraction is needed for scarcity. Bytes are real representations, they can't be denied any more than lengths. Being less one item isn't important - I mean, I'm not even down one farm if you sneak onto it each day and plant some corn of my own in a secret corner. The supply of farmland is scarce by being finite.

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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."

You're the one who made property dependent upon scarcity - I'm merely applying it to examples to demonstrate why it is irrelevant to property from an ethical standpoint.  That is the point of objectivity - Pointing to reality.  I keep trying to show that something being created by me and being mine has nothing to do with how scarce it is.  What is important is that it is mine and I can dispose of it for me. 

Any kind of attempts to make property public is to sever that relationship.

As for take a man's thoughts - That is what the attempt of making IP communal is - To take a man's thoughts you could not have created yourself.  To be able to use another man's thoughts in the same way communal owned "property" is used as an excuse to use another man's property.  Except the stagnation and depleted crash of  the Tragedy of the Commons so elegantly pointed out by economic libertarians is a principle forgotten when it comes to the source of that property - The mind. 

Then it is blank out time and open up commons!

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What do you mean by exposed?  The thoughts in your head are NOT the subject of ID.  We are talking about possession of a recording you can play on a CD player or whatever device you listen to.  That's NOT about exposure to and having a memory of an idea.  

Suppose I'm a street performer who hears a song and then uses it to sing and play a guitar for donations from people who appreciate my rendition.

Do I owe the original artist a percentage of my cut, or should I charge him for advertising?

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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.

If someone is working to develop an idea and I sneak into his office to steal it, I can be properly accused of theft.  If however, someones idea has been developed into a product in a free market and I become aware of it, doesn't IP contradict laissez-faire to the degree that I am impeded from becoming a competitor?

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Why do property rights need to come up at all!

Property is a response to scarcity; scarcity forms part of the context in which we develop property rights. That doesn't mean that property rights (or more specifically the Objectivist theory of property rights) will necessarily develop in response to the fact of scarcity in some given society, in some given time frame. Indeed, while there were many different systems of property over the millennia, so far as I know, it took Ayn Rand to finally lay out a just theory of property rights. (Though I'm sure that there are at least echoes of similar thoughts throughout history.)

Plenty of societies, albeit failed ones, understood scarcity, and went for collectivistic notions of dividing stuff. The Incas did that, and they weren't primitive people like a jungle tribe. There was no property per se, and if you didn't like it, too bad.

Well it's true in a sense that what the Incas did (though I'm taking your word on that; I haven't studied the Inca in... quite a while, and never deeply when I did) was not "property per se," but it was still an attempt to address the allocation of scarce material wealth... which I think you recognize when you say that they "understood scarcity." Which is my point.

Other systems of allocating such wealth may be better or worse, when judged by some standard whether ethical or economic or sociopolitical, moral or immoral according to a given ethics, but they're operating within the same general context. And if you substantially alter that context, you change the results (which is exactly what you should expect; this is why context is so important, and why we cannot remove conclusions from their context and act as though there is no connection). Here, the context for property is the nature of material wealth, and specifically that it is scarce. Were material wealth not scarce, we wouldn't need the Incan method of allocating material wealth... or the Objectivist one, or any other.

As to the bulk of the remainder of your post, I'm afraid don't understand the meaning. But I think/hope that this reply already addresses the central point, and trust you to clarify where necessary.

You're the one who made property dependent upon scarcity

No, I'm not making anything so. I'm discussing what I find to be true in reality, and providing my reasoning and examples. I am attempting to point to reality just as much as you are.

I keep trying to show that something being created by me and being mine has nothing to do with how scarce it is.  What is important is that it is mine and I can dispose of it for me.

Right. And what I'm saying is that the reason why it is "important" that you can call something yours and dispose of it for yourself is the fact that it is scarce. Were it not scarce, it would not be important that you could call it your own. You couldn't be deprived of something that was not scarce.

When you say "how scarce it is," it reflects the confusion that seems endemic to this conversation, but I will try again to clarify this point: scarcity (as I am using it, at least) is binary, it is an on/off switch, an either/or, and not a matter of degree. Material values are scarce (as in: all of them, down to every instance). Ideas are not. Material values are thus ownable whereas ideas are not.
 

As for take a man's thoughts - That is what the attempt of making IP communal is - To take a man's thoughts you could not have created yourself.

You cannot take a man's thoughts. Or to the extent that you can in some metaphorical fashion, this is, again, "learning."

 

Except the stagnation and depleted crash of  the Tragedy of the Commons so elegantly pointed out by economic libertarians is a principle forgotten when it comes to the source of that property - The mind.

Then it is blank out time and open up commons!

Actual commons are material wealth, which is why it results in tragedy when everyone is supposed to take ownership. Ideas and thoughts are not material wealth, they are not property, and when everyone shares in an increase in thought and idea it is a boon to the world, down to a man.

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If someone is working to develop an idea and I sneak into his office to steal it, I can be properly accused of theft.  If however, someones idea has been developed into a product in a free market and I become aware of it, doesn't IP contradict laissez-faire to the degree that I am impeded from becoming a competitor?

Are you trying to tell me you are a libertarian as well?

Let me ask this a different way. Hank Reardon brings Reardon Metal onto the market. Do you think you're entitled to just take a piece of it down to the metallurgical lab, analyze it for the chemical components and think you can mix the ingredients together in your own smelting facility?

Edited by dream_weaver

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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.

 Agreed, but that doesn’t address the point.  How does copying an idea or invention keep someone from thriving according to his own individual ends?  He still has the product of his thinking, and can do anything he wants with it.  Nothing has been nullified.

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.

If people see someone else inventing a spear, and decide to copy that invention, how does doing so deprive the inventor of the spear of anything?  He obviously still has his spear and is able to use it to serve his life.  Nothing has been taken.  The advocate of IP is saying ONLY the inventor can make spears, and indeed is justified in using violence to prevent anyone else from making one.   That would mean far fewer spears are made, meaning much less improvement in everyone’s life, including the inventor’s.  That severely limit’s man’s ability to survive, which is antithetical to your original point.

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

 If the use of it by someone else doesn’t deprive the inventor of his use of it, how is he deprived of a need?

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.

The point is not that anyone who uses something owns it.  The point is that the inventor can still use his invention, so there is no basis for saying anything has been taken from him.

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 point regarding air is that no one’s use of it deprives anyone else of the use of it.  The same thing applies to the use of an idea.

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.

Commercializing an idea does not mean someone has a property right in the value of the idea.  You cannot say “no one can do anything that affects the value of my property”.  If lots of people sell the same model car that you’re selling, and you can’t sell your car for as much as you wanted as a result, that’s your tough luck.

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?).

 If someone copies an invention, he’s no more entitled to prevent a third person from using the invention than the first person is.

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Let me ask this a different way. Hank Reardon brings Reardon Metal onto the market. Do you think you're entitled to just take a piece of it down to the metallurgical lab, analyze it for the chemical components and think you can mix the ingredients together in your own smelting facility?

If it results in more people using Reardon metal, gives greater opportunity for improvements on it (including by Reardon himself), and doesn't necessarily result in Reardon making less money, why not?  This is exactly what happened with James Watt's steam engine.

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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... 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.

As far as I can tell, I don't think they are understanding the economic concept of scarcity, as economists do, in terms of rivalrousness. My use of some means for a given end prevents your simultaneous use of the same means for a different end. They seem to think scarcity means the more ordinary language use of whether there is a lot of something or not. 

It seems to me that scarcity is indeed necessary for forming the concept of private property. Now I don't think that prevents anyone from making any sort of argument in favor of IP, but arguments that get scarcity wrong aren't starting points, and the two sides have to at least agree on the concept first.

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Property is a response to scarcity; scarcity forms part of the context in which we develop property rights. That doesn't mean that property rights (or more specifically the Objectivist theory of property rights) will necessarily develop in response to the fact of scarcity in some given society, in some given time frame. Indeed, while there were many different systems of property over the millennia, so far as I know, it took Ayn Rand to finally lay out a just theory of property rights. (Though I'm sure that there are at least echoes of similar thoughts throughout history.)

My post is to say that it doesn't, because many people never went on to talk about property rights, or even need the concept. Perhaps scarcity helps to talk about how to acquire tangible goods. In particular, it helps to determine what sort of ways value is exchanged for value. But property isn't a system, only its protection is. What is it that -makes- something mine? Or stated differently, where does value come from so that I may claim sole monopolistic usage of anything in the first place?

A lot of my idea here is that for something to be scarce, you need to go through other steps. You need to find 1) the ability to use resources/the environment, 2) a purpose for the resource/the environment. That's where property is uniquely important, it's important even before we talk about scarcity. Again, IP isn't about ideas per se, or owning ALL of a broad category (i.e. ALL spears), it's about how anyone comes to see a value. So, while scarcity is relevant, whether it's essential or required is another story.

I know my "implementable ideas are scarce" point is weird. Information is representable as bytes. The entire universe has a limit to how much information can be derived. Similarly, the universe only has so much land. Narrow it down to where people live, it is reasonably limited. Now, to make it easier to think abot, imagine a computer held all the information that can reasonably harnessed in the human corner of the universe. It's a massive database. If you come up with an idea that's realizable in reality, you are taking out a small corner of information. No one else got there before you. Those bytes are yours similar to homesteading land. Like with homesteading, your claim only extends so far.

So, even if you are right about scarcity, I'm claiming you're still wrong that ideas aren't scarce (theories/discoveries/facts are excluded since no one -creates- their value, they exist regardless of a discoverer). Looking up rivalrous, I see how it might not apply, but roads are not rivalrous either.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivalry_(economics)

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If it results in more people using Reardon metal, gives greater opportunity for improvements on it (including by Reardon himself), and doesn't necessarily result in Reardon making less money, why not?  This is exactly what happened with James Watt's steam engine.

Perhaps you would care to enlighten me why the State Science Institute did not do just that very thing—use a metallurgical analysis to reproduce the metal—instead of trying to buy it from Reardon who turned them down, or resort to blackmail in order to get Reardon to turn over the step by step procedures needed to actually successfully smelt the same concoction?

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Perhaps you would care to enlighten me why the State Science Institute did not do just that very thing—use a metallurgical analysis to reproduce the metal—instead of trying to buy it from Reardon who turned them down, or resort to blackmail in order to get Reardon to turn over the step by step procedures needed to actually successfully smelt the same concoction?

You’re asking me to get into the heads of fictional characters?   I could give a very plausible motivation within the context of the novel.  Rearden is a “man of the mind”, as Rand put it.  She would not characterize the men of the State Science Institute as such (“State Science Institute” has no more to do with science than “People’s Republic” has to do with democracy).  She would view them as mystics and men of force.  It’s doubtful that she thought they would have had the intellectual capacity to analyze the metal and duplicate it,  so they needed it spoonfed to them.  Furthermore, it would never occur to them to behave as entrepreneurs and think in terms of improving the formula, making it more available, and making a buck.  Their entire outlook is against the spread of knowledge, in favor of established interests and against innovators, and against technical innovation.  IOW, much like today’s implementation of patents.  So it makes perfect sense for them to acquire (as part and parcel of the notion of ideas as property) it to make sure no one else has knowledge of it and can use it.  It simply becomes the property of the State.

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It seems to me that scarcity is indeed necessary for forming the concept of private property. Now I don't think that prevents anyone from making any sort of argument in favor of IP, but arguments that get scarcity wrong aren't starting points, and the two sides have to at least agree on the concept first.

Indeed. Though I have come to disagree with Rand on IP, I don't think any of the arguments I've made in this thread are necessarily pro- or anti- IP, yet I consider them to be foundational to profitable discussion on the topic.

My post is to say that it doesn't...

I think I've made all of the argument I can make as to why scarcity is part of the necessary context for developing a concept of property. I recognize that you continue to disagree, though I find it difficult to understand your arguments as to why.

What is it that -makes- something mine?

The fact that you performed the labor necessary for its value to be of use. This makes something yours in the name of justice. (It then remains for men to discover this fact, and work to uphold it.)

To concretize this, a banana in a tree (unowned, in the wild, etc.) is a resource, or potentially so at least, if a person recognizes it as such. A banana that a man has gathered from the tree is his property. It is his, specifically, because he is the one who has done what was necessary for the banana to be a value/of use. He has converted this "natural resource" into material wealth.

I know my "implementable ideas are scarce" point is weird. Information is representable as bytes. The entire universe has a limit to how much information can be derived. Similarly, the universe only has so much land. Narrow it down to where people live, it is reasonably limited. Now, to make it easier to think abot, imagine a computer held all the information that can reasonably harnessed in the human corner of the universe. It's a massive database. If you come up with an idea that's realizable in reality, you are taking out a small corner of information. No one else got there before you. Those bytes are yours similar to homesteading land. Like with homesteading, your claim only extends so far.

So, even if you are right about scarcity, I'm claiming you're still wrong that ideas aren't scarce (theories/discoveries/facts are excluded since no one -creates- their value, they exist regardless of a discoverer). Looking up rivalrous, I see how it might not apply, but roads are not rivalrous either.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivalry_(economics)

I apologize if the fault is mine, but this line of argument continues not only to be "weird" to me, but impenetrable.

I'd like to try to pin this down, if possible, and at long last. So here's a concrete example which will hopefully explicate what I mean when I say something like "ideas are not scarce," and what that means for "implementable ideas" and ultimately (in my opinion) "intellectual property":

Imagine that I come over to your home for dinner. While there, I observe that you have fashioned a new implement for cutting and eating your steak; it is a combination knife and fork, like a spork, but it can somehow be wielded with one hand. (I don't know whether this is feasible, or has been invented, but I'll ask your forbearance over such details.)

Okay.

If I were to steal your... knork, I would have harmed you. Your knork is material wealth, and it is property. Whose property? Yours. You not only invented it, but you fashioned it; it exists as material wealth because of your labors. It is as an extension of your life. It is scarce. Which means that, were I to take it from you, you would not have it and you could not use it. I would have deprived you of the fruit of your labors, which is what your very life depends upon. To be very clear about this, to take your knork is an assault on your life, and physical force in response is moral.

I assume we agree so far?

But imagine that I do not steal your knork. Instead, I go home and--unbeknownst to you--I fashion my own knork, for my own, private, solitary usage. What do we make of this? Have I harmed you in any fashion? Have I stolen anything from you? Have I committed some assault on your life? I would say not. I would say that I have not deprived you of the fruit of your labors, but that I have performed my own labors, and am now entitled to the fruits thereof, which is now my private property.

When it comes to "intellectual property," I recognize that many people would have questions about "the market" and "trade," and all of those questions can be discussed in their turn. But first I would like to try to hammer out this rather more delimited example, if possible. What do you make of the idea that I could make my own knork? I say you are no less for my doing so, and that I have not stolen a thing from you (for ideas are not scarce, and are thus not property). Material wealth overall has increased. I would say that if you were to discover that I had made a knork, and if you were to use force to try to deprive me of it, accounting it your own, or to punish me for its creation, that you would be initiating the use of force against me.

But what do you say?

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You’re asking me to get into the heads of fictional characters?   I could give a very plausible motivation within the context of the novel.  Rearden is a “man of the mind”, as Rand put it.  She would not characterize the men of the State Science Institute as such (“State Science Institute” has no more to do with science than “People’s Republic” has to do with democracy).  She would view them as mystics and men of force.  It’s doubtful that she thought they would have had the intellectual capacity to analyze the metal and duplicate it,  so they needed it spoonfed to them.  Furthermore, it would never occur to them to behave as entrepreneurs and think in terms of improving the formula, making it more available, and making a buck.  Their entire outlook is against the spread of knowledge, in favor of established interests and against innovators, and against technical innovation.  IOW, much like today’s implementation of patents.  So it makes perfect sense for them to acquire (as part and parcel of the notion of ideas as property) it to make sure no one else has knowledge of it and can use it.  It simply becomes the property of the State.

 

I was thinking more in terms of the research that Miss Rand did in the field of steel production specifically, and in other related areas more generally that guided her in constructing the concretes of the story.

Simply having the ingredients of Reardon Metal would not enable someone to just pour them into a crucible, heat them up and pour out his finished product as I understand metallurgy. After turning over the gift certificate, Ragnar saw to it that any mill that tried to use the step by step instructions had their operations brought to a standstill. In a way, Reardon Metal had a sort of built in patent by nature to prevent others from just up and manufacturing it. Ragnar represented justice being implemented when the existing governmental structure abdicated the responsibility of protecting the right to the product of his mind brought forth into material form.

Edited by dream_weaver

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I was thinking more in terms of the research that Miss Rand did in the field of steel production specifically, and in other related areas more generally that guided her in constructing the concretes of the story.

Simply having the ingredients of Reardon Metal would not enable someone to just pour them into a crucible, heat them up and pour out his finished product as I understand metallurgy. After turning over the gift certificate, Ragnar saw to it that any mill that tried to use the step by step instructions had their operations brought to a standstill. In a way, Reardon Metal had a sort of built in patent by nature to prevent others from just up and manufacturing it. Ragnar represented justice being implemented when the existing governmental structure abdicated the responsibility of protecting the right to the product of his mind brought forth into material form.

I don't know enough about metallurgy to say that's wrong, or that the idea in general of making something too difficult technically to copy is wrong.  I will say that if someone was smart enough to begin with the ingredients of Rearden metal, and, using his own intellect and metallurgical knowledge, was able to duplicate it, then I would not say he has stolen anything.

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To concretize this, a banana in a tree (unowned, in the wild, etc.) is a resource, or potentially so at least, if a person recognizes it as such. A banana that a man has gathered from the tree is his property. It is his, specifically, because he is the one who has done what was necessary for the banana to be a value/of use. He has converted this "natural resource" into material wealth.

Sorry I'm brief, and I probably won't respond a lot more, as another more pressing topic is on my mind regarding political philosophy in general. But I wanted to know a bit more of your ideas on this:

"To concretize this, a banana in a tree (unowned, in the wild, etc.) is a resource, or potentially so at least, if a person recognizes it as such. A banana that a man has gathered from the tree is his property. It is his, specifically, because he is the one who has done what was necessary for the banana to be a value/of use. He has converted this "natural resource" into material wealth."

What did he do to discover it was of use? This isn't a point about IP in particular, just property. Harvesting yes, but it's not like harvesting is why he cares. Bananas are for some purpose. Why not say the purpose-making is why its his banana and he owns the sole usage rather than a banana itself?

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I don't know enough about metallurgy to say that's wrong, or that the idea in general of making something too difficult technically to copy is wrong.  I will say that if someone was smart enough to begin with the ingredients of Rearden metal, and, using his own intellect and metallurgical knowledge, was able to duplicate it, then I would not say he has stolen anything.

And if a product formed from Reardon Metal was sold to you with an express contract by Hank Reardon that you will not have it metallurgically analyzed for its chemical composition, would that hold the same weight to you as a book with an express contract not to copy it to re-sell?

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And if a product formed from Reardon Metal was sold to you with an express contract by Hank Reardon that you will not have it metallurgically analyzed for its chemical composition, would that hold the same weight to you as a book with an express contract not to copy it to re-sell?

I don't see why not.  A contract is a contract. 

OTOH, suppose the buyer then sells or gives a sample of Rearden metal to a third party.  That person is under no contract not to analyze it.  The fact is that the knowledge of how to make Rearden metal is going to spread, just as it became common knowledge how to make steel, bronze etc.  I don’t view this as a bad thing.

The process of innovation builds on previous knowledge.  It would be ridiculous to have to “reinvent the wheel” while making anything, all the while hoping that someone didn’t patent the wheel.  Perhaps someone improves on Rearden metal.  Perhaps Rearden then uses the improvement to further improve it.  We want these improvements to happen, not be inhibited by IP.

Edited by Robert Romero

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So would you be ok with having authors put a preamble (current copyright law) into their books stipulating the contractual terms you agree to, to be signed prior to purchase?

Yes.  Terms of a private contract.

 

And if a product formed from Reardon Metal was sold to you with an express contract by Hank Reardon that you will not have it metallurgically analyzed for its chemical composition, would that hold the same weight to you as a book with an express contract not to copy it to re-sell?

I don't see why not.  A contract is a contract.

So from the standpoint of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Chapter 11, Patents and Copyright, you seem to be taking issue with individuals delegating the terms of such contracts to government. Would you consider this a correct assessment?

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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I don't see why not.  A contract is a contract. 

OTOH, suppose the buyer then sells or gives a sample of Rearden metal to a third party.  That person is under no contract not to analyze it.  The fact is that the knowledge of how to make Rearden metal is going to spread, just as it became common knowledge how to make steel, bronze etc.  I don’t view this as a bad thing.

The process of innovation builds on previous knowledge.  It would be ridiculous to have to “reinvent the wheel” while making anything, all the while hoping that someone didn’t patent the wheel.  Perhaps someone improves on Rearden metal.  Perhaps Rearden then uses the improvement to further improve it.  We want these improvements to happen, not be inhibited by IP.

This isn't quite what I was responding to. I'm not really interested in chasing moving goal-posts. Coming up with a different metal is no longer discussing Reardon Metal. Reardon coming up with a different metal, is also not discussing Reardon Metal.

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"To concretize this, a banana in a tree (unowned, in the wild, etc.) is a resource, or potentially so at least, if a person recognizes it as such. A banana that a man has gathered from the tree is his property. It is his, specifically, because he is the one who has done what was necessary for the banana to be a value/of use. He has converted this "natural resource" into material wealth."

What did he do to discover it was of use?

There are at least a few potential answers to that question. I think that the vast majority of humanity will have discovered that the banana is of use by learning from observing the behavior, or explicit instruction, of others.

Going back far enough, it was probably down to a process of trial-and-error (which is then reconfirmed subsequently by those who learn), though in the case of the banana, specifically, I'd imagine the chain of instruction goes back quite some ways.

This isn't a point about IP in particular, just property. Harvesting yes, but it's not like harvesting is why he cares. Bananas are for some purpose. Why not say the purpose-making is why its his banana and he owns the sole usage rather than a banana itself?

I'm not 100% sure I understand your question as stated. But the reason why it is his banana is because he has performed the labor necessary to put it to use, both mental and physical. "Purpose-making," in the sense of understanding what a banana is, or what function(s) it can perform, is a vital part of the wealth-making process, but it is not the process entire. The banana must be gotten, and it is in the getting that he comes to own the banana--performing that task or set of tasks which are required to put this banana to use, in reality, which here means climbing the tree and coming back down with the banana.

Once he has done this, and not before, the banana is his.

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So from the standpoint of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Chapter 11, Patents and Copyright you seem to be taking issue with individuals delegating the terms of such contracts to government. Would you consider this a correct assessment?

I don’t know what “delegating to government” means in this context.   Private contracts are voluntary.  Wouldn’t government action be involuntary by its nature?  I was looking at an excerpt of the book talking about patents, and it said that even if someone independently invents something and fails to get to the patent office before someone else, the granting of the government monopoly is ok because the process is “competitive”.  That sounds ridiculous.  That’s like saying that as long as there is competition for a cable monopoly, granting one is ok.

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This isn't quite what I was responding to. I'm not really interested in chasing moving goal-posts. Coming up with a different metal is no longer discussing Reardon Metal. Reardon coming up with a different metal, is also not discussing Reardon Metal.

That seems a bit like saying a Ford is a 1908 Model T, and that any other subsequent models aren't.  Why should "Rearden metal" be a static concept?  Why can't anyone, including Rearden, improve on it?

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