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IP: Intellectual Property

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Out of respect for the original topic of this thread and the people that wish to discuss it I am going to continue the discussion the validity of intellectual property rights in the new thread Andrew created. I'll be happy to respond to any posts in that thread (If you want me to respond to your last post Mark, then re-post it in that thread [if you do then add a little context, even though most people are probably already familiar with this thread]).

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GoodOrangeMan,

Out of respect for this thread I won't continue this discussion in a new thread.

All of the context is here and it has gone on for 6 pages.

Whatever your interpretation of the original question all posts here bear directly on it. And the originator hasn't asked that a new thread be started.

There was no need to start a new thread.

If you choose to bow out of this discussion, it matters not, I'll just nod my head and grin.

Marc K.

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GoodOrangeMan,

If you do decide to continue I have a couple of suggestions.

Answer the question I posed to Godless Capitalist in post #62 which is the same as the one I asked in post #32. I don't think you ever answered.

Doing this and answering my question from two posts ago is the only way to move this discussion forward.

Marc

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So now you are equivocating the Japanese art of paper folding with a fruit? :D

You are right about one thing, there was no reason to start a new thread (the UAA has spoken!). So if no one else objects I will continue our discussion in this thread. I have no intention of letting you get away with your sham, much less a grin and a nod. My next response will be the post #32 as you suggested.

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“Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.”  --  by Ayn Rand, “CUI”.

It is incredible to me that supposed Objectivists on an Objectivist forum are struggling with such a fundamental issue as this. Setting aside all the extraneous problems in implementing such canons in law there are two principles on which we must have agreement in order to discuss this issue logically:

1) In order to live man has the right to the fruits of his labor.

2) Everything man does originates in his mind.

Knowing that man is a conceptual being and that his most fundamental right is his right to life, it is plain that man must have the right to the fruit of his labor and that all of his labor is necessarily the product of his mind.

Godless Capitalist has already questioned the validity of the “concept of intellectual property”. I would appreciate knowing which of you disagree with the above as this will be a signal to me that logical discussion with you is impossible.

There isn’t much to respond to actually… I agree with everything (except what Ayn Rand said because it presumes that patents are the correct implementation of a person’s right to their ideas). Your next step presumably is to ask how I can claim that a person has the “rights to the fruits of their labor” but not a right to prohibit another persons use of their ideas? Anyways, I'll save my answers for questions you ask.

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In my humble opinion if two inventors invent the same thing but one gets to the patent office first then the other person should be able to also apply for a patent for it if he can prove that he did in fact come up with the idea on his own.

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In my humble opinion if two inventors invent the same thing but one gets to the patent office first then the other person should be able to also apply for a patent for it if he can prove that he did in fact come up with the idea indepentantly. This would protect the intelectual property rights of everyone, although not perfectly.

If such an implementation was possible I would consider it, but I have reason to believe it is not possible. Rights are moral principles sanctioning action that must be protected to keep people safe from each other. The whole point to rights is that they never conflict with one another; ergo they can be enforced without causing any injustice. The case of the second inventor is an injustice if he is not allowed to use his idea; I find it hard to believe that anyone disagrees with that. The difficulty in implementing intellectual property rights seems to reflect the difficulty in implementing any other moral principle that is not a right by nature, which says to me it cannot be enforced properly and moreover any attempt to enforce it will do more harm than good. Because you cannot force people to think, the government has to draw a clear line between protecting people and forcing people, that line is was divides rights from other moral principles; it is the line between people hurting themselves, and people hurting other people.

You cannot protect people’s right to productive actions based on their ideas and put a prohibition on ideas at the same time.

When you are born you have no physical property rights, you have no right to any object, product, or material value. However you have every right to every idea you can grasp, every concept you can integrate, every principle you can discover. As you grow you get every right to every object, product, or material value that you produce. However you do not get a state run monopoly of your new idea.

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Sorry, forgot to reply to this one, here goes :D

Have you read the rest of this thread?

Declaring an idea won't get you a patent. You must turn it into physical reality first, and it must be completely original.

Haven’t you realized I’m accepting your terms yet? Do you think the fundamental issue of owning an idea is dependent on whether or not you build a working model? So what are you requirements for the model? Does it have to be to scale? Made of gold perhaps?

Progress!!!!
Specifically your understanding of my position, nothing more.

What would make it immoral?
Whether or not it was immoral would depend very much on context. First off did you independently discover/invent the idea or are you copying it from someone else? If you are copying it from someone else what type of investment did they put into discovering it? Are you going to use the idea in full or part of it? Is your idea an innovation on their invention? How will your market affect their market?

A good man would recognize the value other man’s ideas take the above questions into consideration. These are questions a moral man might ask himself before using another man’s idea for his own purposes. These are considerations however that can only be moraly taken into account by individuals in context; a committee or absolutist stance would not be more just.

If that someone didn't have a patent would it still be immoral?
Once again you forget I’m not accepting your terms. If I am arguing against the validity of patents why do you think my code of morals would be dependent on whether something is patented or not?

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Many governments have claimed that any land that is not yet owned by anyone is owned by "the public". Now, Ghana is trying to take this to the next step by claiming that any intellectual "property" that is not owned, is owned by "the public".

Here is an article . The government is trying to push a bill that wants people to pay royalty for the use of folklore. Not just that, if you want to translate an old folktale into another language, you might have to apply for a permit!

Frankly, when I read the story I thought it was a joke. So, for anyone who has doubts like I did: check the World Intellectual Property Organization. Search for "Ghana" and "folklore", and you'll find the draft proposal!

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The government is trying to push a bill that wants people to pay royalty for the use of folklore. Not just that, if you want to translate an old folktale into another language, you might have to apply for a permit!

A dramatic demonstration that "the public" doesn't actually MEAN anything. If "the public" owns something, that means that "the public" has the right to dispose of it, etc. So, this permit/royalty thing simply means that "the public", in actuality, = "the government of Ghana".

Interesting equivocation.

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So, this permit/royalty thing simply means that "the public", in actuality, = "the government of Ghana".
True. In fact, it oftens means the person who wears the mantle of "representative of the public". In Ghana's case, some two-bit dictator, no doubt.

...on the expiration of a patent or copyright, the intellectual property involved does not become "public property" (though it is labeled as "in the public domain"); it ceases to exist qua property.

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A dramatic demonstration that "the public" doesn't actually MEAN anything.  If "the public" owns something, that means that "the public" has the right to dispose of it, etc.  So, this permit/royalty thing simply means that "the public", in actuality, = "the government of Ghana".

Interesting equivocation.

This is a very good insight. In fact, even under limited government, all so-called "public" property is nothing more than property owned and controlled by whatever politicians happen to be in power at the moment. If government property were truly public property, each member of the public would be allowed to claim his share of it. I, for example, would like my share of the local high school. Either give me a segment of the schoolyard, or give me its approximate worth in dollars.

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A recent newsstory about IP. A famous chef wants copyright enforced on the recipes he invents. Food for thought?
It's certainly funny. And I don't think it's at all beyond the realm of the Euro-possible for them to redefine IP in this manner, though maybe not by 2008. Of course recipes are, at least theoretically, copyrightable, except for recipes for the PB&J sandwich, bucatini all' amatriciana, and General Tso's chicken (not a complete list). What does that get him? The right to prevent copying the recipe -- and no right to control use.

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From the Copyright Office:

"Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection."

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I would like to recommend Greg Perkins' article, Don't Steal This Article, in the January 2006 edition of Axiomatic to anyone interested in intellectual property issues. I found his article very illuminated. If you like the preview, be sure to subscribe. Axiomatic is excellent.

Edited by Atlas51184

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I don't see why recipes should be treated any differently than song lyrics. Both are products of man's mind, and the purpose of a civilized society is to protect such achievements from second-handers -- for a limited period of time, that is.

What burns me up is seeing people go into a book store and reading stuff on the shelves for an hour or so -- and then walking out without paying a red cent. That's the same as shoplifting.

I always pay for a book or magazine before I read it.

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What burns me up is seeing people go into a book store and reading stuff on the shelves for an hour or so -- and then walking out without paying a red cent. That's the same as shoplifting.

No it's not. If it were, why on earth do the two largest book retailers in America, Barnes & Noble and Borders both spend lots of money both in terms of floor space and in furniture such as comfortable chairs and lots of tables to encourage people to come in and browse through their offerings? Obviously they do so because they sell far more merchandise by allowing people to preview it and get "hooked" than they lose from people who get all the value they were seeking in the first place while in the store.

I have occasionally run across small mom and pop vendors of magazines at places such as convenience stores or flea markets which have a sign saying "This is not a library - please buy what you want to read." In some cases, I suspect the sign was more to discourage people from loitering in the limited space available and making it difficult for others to conveniently access the offerings. Obviously, if such a sign is posted, one should comply - though my guess is that such signs have the effect of alienating more potential customers than they gain from increased sales, thus their rarity.

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I don't see why recipes should be treated any differently than song lyrics. Both are products of man's mind, and the purpose of a civilized society is to protect such achievements from second-handers -- for a limited period of time, that is.

Something like a recipe is covered by patent law, potentially. There are unfortunate gray areas now that undercut IP protection (patents covering software that should be covered by copyright, is one huge example), but the general idea is sound - copyright for protecting specific artistic (literary, musical, sculptural, etc.) expressions, and patents for protecting "utilitarian" expressions of invention (hence the term utility patents). Trademarks are a kind of in-between - a specific artistic rendering of a company's mark, used to identify and sell goods.

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How come you think they are more properly in the realm of copyright?

Because, among many reasons, as many recent events have shown including particularly the Blackberry case that may end up shutting down RIM, it is unduly difficult to know when you're violating a software patent. Also, many such patents are unreasonably broad or trivial or represent (often obvious) prior art. As such they are non-objective.

By contrast it is very easy to detect copyright violations of copyrighted source or object code. That's because there's a clear and objective definition of what is copyrighted.

Also, software patents cover much of what could be dubbed abstract ideas or mathematical algorithms. So, to contrast the two: imagine that Ayn Rand could have (or wanted to, which I'm sure she didn't) patented the ideas of Objectivism. That would cover any instantiation of rational thought. Clearly that is absurdly broad, even though, as a whole, Objectivism is indeed novel and non-obvious. But she does have copyright protection on the actual words that she wrote to explicate Objectivism, and it is easy to detect violations of that copyright. That's an illustration of the difference.

Historically, patents cover particular creative arrangements of mechanical devices (extended to other realms later on, such as chemistry). You might be able to patent a particular kind of vehicle that uses 3 wheels in a certain non-obvious configuration legitimately, but not the wheel itself, which is obvious and unavoidable, or the idea of vehicle. Patenting software is pretty much akin to patenting an abstract idea such as the wheel or the concept of vehicle, and I think that's where the basic idea of software patents is flawed. A *particular* instantiation of an algorithm is exactly a piece of computer code, and that ought to be covered by copyright law.

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