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Mnrchst

Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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I have a few problems with the idea of patents and copyrights. I'm hoping someone can explain a rationale for them that's a little clearer than Rand's in her essay on the subject.

1. Rand said that patents and copyrights are a recognition of the idea that people have the right to the product of their own mind. Ignoring exceptions Rand did or would've made to this (children, mathematical discoveries, or a laser which is our only hope of saving the Earth from a giant asteroid on a collision course with our planet) doesn't this just mean that it should be illegal for someone to read your mind and use one of your ideas (which no one else knows) without your permission?

2. How is telling someone they can't use an invention someone else came up with not an initiation of force if the person who invented it willingly told other people about it? I don't see how you're being harmed by people using an idea you came up with if you voluntarily tell them about it. Someone might argue that without the inventor, the idea couldn't be used by the society at large. However, the other element is them telling people about it, which is a choice.

Furthermore, couldn't someone invent a new type of metal and sell it without telling anyone how it works and make a lot of money off of it before it gets reverse-engineered? It seemed to work for Henry Rearden (until he gave it away). I have no problem with a person inventing something, not telling anyone how it works, and selling it to people (unless there's a plausible national security risk involved in our not understanding it, like if it's a cold fusion reactor instead of a metal or a faster processor), but it's not like the moment you invent something it automatically becomes known to the general public.

What about someone getting donations for inventing something? There's no reason why they necessarily would make less money off their invention if there's no patents or copyrights. If everyone could use the a machine which improves economies of scale, there would be the potential for a greater increase in productivity than if it's use is limited. If everyone who could implement the new technology did, and everyone who would've paid the inventor's asking price if s/he held a patent and set a price still did despite the lacks of patents, and someone else who used the invention donated something (however small), the inventor would make more money because s/he didn't/couldn't set a price to keep people from using the invention.

3. Rand said a mathematical or philosophical discovery is about the nature of reality, but a new machine isn't. Therefore, mathematical and philosophical discoveries aren't copyright-worthy, but machines are patent-worthy. But doesn't the machine also concern the nature of reality (i.e. if you put these things in this arrangement you get this result)? I'm not sure how we draw the line between what's copyright/patent-worthy and what isn't. Is a new style of clothing copyright-worthy? If not, how is it fundamentally different from a song?

4. Even if patents are legitimate, I'm not sure how copyrights could possibly be legitimate because there's no way (I can think of) where you can demonstrate a copyright violation. At what point does the new song/book/screenplay become similar enough that there's a violation? By what standard? What about "fair use"? How can we draw the line between satire and non-satire? I think it's ridiculous to say "Oh, well that's not an issue for philosophy. There's some line somewhere, and we'll just let the courts figure it out." Can't philosophy at least provide us with some guidelines on this issue? And, if so, what are those guidelines?

Since antitrust is illegitimate because there's no way anyone can know when they're violating the "law", do I really have to go through every copyrighted book where it's plausible that there could be a copyright violation before I try to release a new book? What if (by a dramatic coincidence) there's a number of similarities with some book written 20 years ago? How am I supposed to avoid this? Maybe no one figures this out until a few months after it's released and I get sued big time. Is that really fair?

* * *

Just in case it gets made if I don't already respond to it, I want to address a utilitarian argument I often hear on this subject (I'm guessing it wouldn't, but I still want to cover this just in case).

"But people won't be motivated to invent without patents and copyrights"

Wouldn't it make just as much sense to say "But people won't voluntarily donate to the government without taxes"? I'd say that if people are self-interested, they'll donate to inventors/artists. As far as the "free-rider problem" goes with respect to taxes, I suppose most Objectivists would argue (and I agree with them) that you shouldn't trade/hire/work for the non-totally broke people who don't donate to the government. I apply the same argument to the non-totally broke people who don't donate to inventors/artists.

* * *

Finally, while this is a bit off-topic, since all property is fundamentally intellectual, isn't the term "intellectual property" a redundancy (like "rational self-interest" or "ethical egoism" or "individual rights" or "laissez-faire capitalism")? Shouldn't we just say something like "ideas property"?

Edited by Mnrchst

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1. Rand said that patents and copyrights are a recognition of the idea that people have the right to the product of their own mind. Ignoring exceptions Rand did or would've made to this (children, mathematical discoveries, or a laser which is our only hope of saving the Earth from a giant asteroid on a collision course with our planet) doesn't this just mean that it should be illegal for someone to read your mind and use one of your ideas (which no one else knows) without your permission?

I apologize for posting a meaningless reply.. but I read this paragraph in the library and burst out laughing and everyone looked at me. Those crazy psychics are stealing my property!!

To contribute to the thread:

How is telling someone they can't use an invention someone else came up with not an initiation of force if the person who invented it willingly told other people about it?

Isn't it also an initiation of force to tell someone to get off of your property? Property rights exist to protect individual's property and those laws need to be upheld.

Edited by OCSL

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Th3ranger, Mnrchst you've made a lot of points, but I'd just like to address only one for now. The reason there is a difference between mathematic/philisophic discoveries and technological discoveries is this: one discovery involves identification, the other creation. Mathematic discoveries are important and require mental effort, but man-made things wouldn't exist in reality without someone doing the work. I want to be clear that I am not making a utilitarian argument - I'm not saying that we have copyright laws because they lead to more inventions. I'm saying that we recognize the achievements of others by way of copyright laws, similar to "homesteading for ideas". Just as the farmer deserves to reap the rewards for the crops he grows, so too does the inventor deserve the rewards for his invention.

This analogy is somewhat unclear on a concrete level but works if you keep in mind the economic idea that relative supply determines cost. Johnny-come-lately copying an inventor's idea and then competing for market share is similar to Johnny walking on to a homesteader's farm during harvest season to reap and sell the crops. Its easy to see material loss when you steal physical goods from a farm. But when you reproduce an invention, you drive down the price of the invention - resulting in a material loss. Not only does the original inventor make less on the inventions he sells, he also sells fewer items. You've already recognized this fact when you mentioned economies of scale making donations easier, but you neglected to mention the inventor's lost value.

Edited by FeatherFall

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I apologize for posting a meaningless reply.. but I read this paragraph in the library and burst out laughing and everyone looked at me. Those crazy psychics are stealing my property!!

What if this becomes possible? We're already getting close.

Isn't it also an initiation of force to tell someone to get off of your property? Property rights exist to protect individual's property and those laws need to be upheld.

I understand this. My question is why a book (itself), song (itself), or invention (itself) is property. If it is, then patents are moral, but if it isn't, then patents are an initiation of force. If no one forces you to tell people about your idea, how are you harmed if people use it?

Edited by Mnrchst

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The reason there is a difference between mathematic/philisophic discoveries and technological discoveries is this: one discovery involves identification, the other creation. Mathematic discoveries are important and require mental effort, but man-made things wouldn't exist in reality without someone doing the work.

That makes sense. Thanks.

Just as the farmer deserves to reap the rewards for the crops he grows, so too does the inventor deserve the rewards for his invention. This analogy is somewhat unclear on a concrete level but works if you keep in mind the economic idea that relative supply determines cost. Johnny-come-lately copying an inventor's idea and then competing for market share is similar to Johnny walking on to a homesteader's farm during harvest season to reap and sell the crops. Its easy to see material loss when you steal physical goods from a farm. But when you reproduce an invention, you drive down the price of the invention - resulting in a material loss. Not only does the original inventor make less on the inventions he sells, he also sells fewer items. You've already recognized this fact when you mentioned economies of scale making donations easier, but you neglected to mention the inventor's lost value.

You're assuming the inventor won't get donations of equal or greater value. Why not say "Just as we deserve to have a government, so too do we deserve to live in a society with taxes." ?

Edited by Mnrchst

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What if this becomes possible? We're already getting close.

I highly doubt we are getting close to mind reading. Admittedly, I did not watch the video since I blew out my computer's speakers.

I understand this. My question is why a book (itself), song (itself), or invention (itself) is property. If it is, then patents are moral, but if it isn't, then patents are an initiation of force. If no one forces you to tell people about your idea, how are you harmed if people use it?

What the patent and copyright laws acknowledge is the paramount role of mental effort in the production of material values: these laws protect the mind’s contribution in its purest form: the origination of an idea.
To use your examples, songs and inventions are property because they are a direct product of the man who produced it. The originator of an idea deserves recognition for what he/she has done. Edited by OCSL

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To use your examples, songs and inventions are property because they are a direct product of the man who produced it. The originator of an idea deserves recognition for what he/she has done.

That argument is incomplete--children are direct products of their parents, yet they aren't the property of their parents.

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[...] since all property is fundamentally intellectual [...]

This is the fundamental principle and since you've accepted it here I'm not sure where the disconnect is.

- Man is a rational being

- he survives by using reason

- in order to survive he must create the values upon which his life depends

- he is entitled to keep the fruits of his labor

- the fundamental labor he performs is thinking, even the physical labor he performs originates in his mind by volitional action

Given the above, if you agree with it, why should we treat a man's intellectual property any differently than his physical property? If the government should not allow others to trespass, use or dispose of your physical property why should they allow others to trespass, use or dispose of your intellectual property?

Once you've subsumed all property under the concept of "intellectual property", as you properly do above, then there is no reason to treat some kinds of property fundamentally differently than others. Since I have a right to the exclusive use and control of my land I should also have the right to the exclusive use and control of my intellectual property, the fruit of my most important labor, the fruit of the thing that keeps me alive.

Here is a good lecture on IP and an excellent Q&A, many of your questions are answered there.

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The issue to me seems to be more about point 4, the application of IP in regards to art.

4. Even if patents are legitimate, I'm not sure how copyrights could possibly be legitimate because there's no way (I can think of) where you can demonstrate a copyright violation. At what point does the new song/book/screenplay become similar enough that there's a violation? By what standard? What about "fair use"? How can we draw the line between satire and non-satire? I think it's ridiculous to say "Oh, well that's not an issue for philosophy. There's some line somewhere, and we'll just let the courts figure it out." Can't philosophy at least provide us with some guidelines on this issue? And, if so, what are those guidelines?

It is indeed more of a legal issue, but yes, philosophy could give some general idea of principles. I unfortunately don't have a real good answer for you (at least, an answer I'm satisfied with), but basically it would involve something about looking for a fundamental difference. Even knockoffs have fundamental differences from the original in terms of quality of product, for instance.

One thing worth watching on this topic of similarity:

Everything is a Remix

Watch the other two parts as well.

Edited by Eiuol

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That argument is incomplete--children are direct products of their parents, yet they aren't the property of their parents.

Rights of a human cannot be compared to rights of an object or idea.

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Mnrchst, I'm not making any assumptions; while I suspect that you're assuming the opposite, neither assumption is appropriate or relevant. One inventor might optimize value with donations, the other by sales. It's the pre-purchase bargaining process that allows each person to agree on a mutually beneficial price. If you cut that out of the process, there is no mechanism to guarantee he reaps a reward commensurate to what he's provided.

Why not say "Just as we deserve to have a government, so too do we deserve to live in a society with taxes." ?

You've lost me here.

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Lets approach the question from another direction.

If I write a piece of software, or design a new widget, do I have the right to sell either of those to you with a clear requirement that you NOT reproduce my efforts without my permission? And if you refuse to my terms, do I have the right NOT to sell my invention to you?

Now assuming I do have that right, then can I further require that not only do you not reproduce that item, but that if you sell OR give that item to someone else, that you do so only on the condition that you make the SAME requirement of whoever receives it? And again, if you refuse to those terms, do I have the right not to sell the product of my creative effort to you?

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This is the fundamental principle and since you've accepted it here I'm not sure where the disconnect is.

- Man is a rational being

- he survives by using reason

- in order to survive he must create the values upon which his life depends

- he is entitled to keep the fruits of his labor

- the fundamental labor he performs is thinking, even the physical labor he performs originates in his mind by volitional action

Given the above, if you agree with it, why should we treat a man's intellectual property any differently than his physical property? If the government should not allow others to trespass, use or dispose of your physical property why should they allow others to trespass, use or dispose of your intellectual property?

Once you've subsumed all property under the concept of "intellectual property", as you properly do above, then there is no reason to treat some kinds of property fundamentally differently than others. Since I have a right to the exclusive use and control of my land I should also have the right to the exclusive use and control of my intellectual property, the fruit of my most important labor, the fruit of the thing that keeps me alive.

Here is a good lecture on IP and an excellent Q&A, many of your questions are answered there.

I agree that all property should be treated fundamentally the same. I'm just not convinced songs/books/inventions are property.

I don't see how your argument (as stated) shouldn't apply to children.

I've watched that lecture before, and all he did (as I recall) was explain that all property is fundamentally intellectual. He didn't provide an argument for why songs/books/inventions are property (that I can recall) which hasn't already been presented in this thread.

Here's how I look at it for the time being: If someone takes my car, I no longer have the car. If someone uses my idea, I can still use the idea. How am I tangibly harmed? It's possible I'll make less money on an idea without patents/copyrights, but it's not necessarily the case. However, if I don't have my car, I necessarily can't use it.

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Rights of a human cannot be compared to rights of an object or idea.

I agree, but the argument as stated is "songs and inventions are property because they are a direct product of the man who produced it." This needs to be refined into something like: "Property is [definition]. Songs and inventions are property because [argument] and children aren't because everyone is an end in themselves and deserve to live for their own happiness.

Another issue I have with the argument as stated: Let's say there's a big asteroid coming towards Earth which will kill us all unless we stop it and we have no technological capability to do so. Then, some guy invents photon torpedos which will vaporize the asteroid and he patents it and says "I will not let anyone use this invention."

Even if I support patents/copyrights, I can't see how it makes sense to say "inventions are property because they are a direct product of the man who produced it"--it's way too simple to be correct.

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It's the pre-purchase bargaining process that allows each person to agree on a mutually beneficial price. If you cut that out of the process, there is no mechanism to guarantee he reaps a reward commensurate to what he's provided.

That's true. Why does he deserve the guarantee? If it's because it's his property, why is it his property? If it's because it's a product of his mind, see my above comments.

With respect to my statement "Why not say 'Just as we deserve to have a government, so too do we deserve to live in a society with taxes.' " here's what I mean:

Some people say we need copyrights/patents to guarantee that someone who provides value (via screenplays and inventions) gets what they deserve. However, we also deserve a government. Government requires funding. Under Objectivism, there's no guarantee the government will get funded. Specifically, there's no guarantee that people who benefit from the military/police/courts/limited zoning/etc. won't do so without payment--just like people who benefit from inventions and (might) not pay for it without patents.

I understand why taxes are immoral. I also understand that all property (whatever qualifies as such) is fundamentally intellectual. I understand that if songs/inventions are property, then the guarantee should exist. I'm don't understand why they qualify as property.

Taxes are bad because even if someone doesn't pay taxes, they're not harming you--we shouldn't equate a zero with a negative. If someone isn't a terrorist or a criminal, they aren't contributing to the problems of terrorism/lawlessness--they aren't tangibly harming you. How are you tangibly harmed if someone uses an idea you tell them about when you have the option of keeping it a secret?

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Here's how I look at it for the time being: If someone takes my car, I no longer have the car. If someone uses my idea, I can still use the idea. How am I tangibly harmed? It's possible I'll make less money on an idea without patents/copyrights, but it's not necessarily the case. However, if I don't have my car, I necessarily can't use it.

What does "use the idea" mean in relation to copyright? It means selling that particular sequence of words or notes, or performing it for compensation. If someone else sells it, or does not buy it because he already has it, or performs it instead of you, then you are harmed if it was your intention to use it in commerce.

Your analogy with the car has the exact same relation to necessity. Maybe you loaned your car out, and while you don't have it you can't use it. This example establishes that the (ill-formed) conversion does not follow: if you don't have your car, it is not necessarily true that your property rights are being violated. It is not the possession that matters for either the car or the copyrighted work, it is the control that matters. Control includes consent of the owner or author, and in the context of property and contract law consent refers to a "concurrence of the minds" between owner or author and the other party.

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I agree, but the argument as stated is "songs and inventions are property because they are a direct product of the man who produced it." This needs to be refined into something like: "Property is [definition]. Songs and inventions are property because [argument] and children aren't because everyone is an end in themselves and deserve to live for their own happiness.

I forgot to add before that I second Marc K's link as a recommendation to watch. I know it's an hour long, but it is extremely helpful in addressing your very broad questions here. The important point is that property rights all are about products are the result of thinking, not just grabbing something and calling it yours, nor is it about avoiding conflict, or really even about providing incentive for people to be productive. Productivity is a consequence, not the basis for supporting property.

I don't understand why you'd wonder if books are property. Someone has to think of a plot, characters, words to use, seeing the project to completion, putting together ideas in a variety of new ways even if derivative, all that. Without an individual to spend mental effort to create that book, there is no book. Also note that I said "seeing the project to completion." I can't write a paragraph of said story then try to sue you if you try to make a 500 page novel based on my idea. I have no product to speak of or plan to make my idea into something real. It's not ideas alone that we're speaking of being property, but the realization of that idea into something real. However, if I wrote a 500 page book and you changed maybe 1 chapter in the whole thing, then sold that book as your own, you'd be using my idea that I've developed, benefiting from my labor. I've heard of arguments like "if he sells more than you, he deserves money because he's better at marketing." Still, it's a ridiculous argument. It's the same as saying: if I water your garden and use fertilizer and produce more tomatoes than you would have otherwise, due to my superior gardening knowledge, then I'd deserve to use all the tomatoes from your garden if I so choose. Another example, not related to commerce: suppose you took my manuscript for your entertainment and nothing else. You might not have damaged anything, but a person similarly could take your car when you're asleep and return in the next day. The idea of property is that a person has a moral right to do whatever they want with their property and set terms of use, because it's how they WANT their value to be used. I would actually claim that poor IP attitudes result in degradation of artistic quality, the same way lack of respect for property like land leads to degradation of the geographical area (tragedy of the commons), so it's not like there are no practical negative consequences in the long-run. If you don't mind people going for joyrides without your permission, that's fine, but it's up to you if you permit that. It's your property and you can do what you want with it.

At this point I'm getting into more particular views on rights, but that's because you're asking very broad questions here.

Edited by Eiuol

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What does "use the idea" mean in relation to copyright? It means selling that particular sequence of words or notes, or performing it for compensation. If someone else sells it, or does not buy it because he already has it, or performs it instead of you, then you are harmed if it was your intention to use it in commerce.

No, it means "use the idea." A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of an original work or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of the work. This includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright. A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor of an invention or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of the invention. Patent infringement is the commission of a prohibited act with respect to a patented invention without permission from the patent holder.

If I download a copyrighted song and don't try to make money off of it, it's a copyright violation. If I build a patented invention and don't try to sell it, it's a patent violation.

Your analogy with the car has the exact same relation to necessity. Maybe you loaned your car out, and while you don't have it you can't use it. This example establishes that the (ill-formed) conversion does not follow: if you don't have your car, it is not necessarily true that your property rights are being violated.

What I meant was my property rights have been violated because it was stolen. If I loan it out and say "I'll be wanting this back soon. I'll call you when I want to use it and you bring it back to me." then I can still use it when I want to. I can't do this with a criminal who stole it.

It is not the possession that matters for either the car or the copyrighted work, it is the control that matters. Control includes consent of the owner or author, and in the context of property and contract law consent refers to a "concurrence of the minds" between owner or author and the other party.

You exclusively control the use of your invention from the time you have invented it to the time someone else invents it. I think you're consenting to other people using your work when you tell them about it--they can't use it if you don't tell them about it. It's not like everyone finds out about your invention the moment you invent it.

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The important point is that property rights all are about products are the result of thinking, not just grabbing something and calling it yours.

"Grabbing" to me would mean reading someone's mind without their consent and then using their idea. If someone tells people about an idea and they use it, how are they "grabbing" it?

Someone has to think of a plot, characters, words to use, seeing the project to completion, putting together ideas in a variety of new ways even if derivative, all that. Without an individual to spend mental effort to create that book, there is no book. Also note that I said "seeing the project to completion." I can't write a paragraph of said story then try to sue you if you try to make a 500 page novel based on my idea. I have no product to speak of or plan to make my idea into something real. It's not ideas alone that we're speaking of being property, but the realization of that idea into something real. However, if I wrote a 500 page book and you changed maybe 1 chapter in the whole thing, then sold that book as your own, you'd be using my idea that I've developed, benefiting from my labor.

I've already addressed this point.

I've heard of arguments like "if he sells more than you, he deserves money because he's better at marketing." Still, it's a ridiculous argument.

I didn't make that argument.

Another example, not related to commerce: suppose you took my manuscript for your entertainment and nothing else. You might not have damaged anything, but a person similarly could take your car when you're asleep and return in the next day.

So we're talking about a physical copy of a manuscript? Yes, obviously that's theft because the owner doesn't have the manuscript. If I use an idea you told me about, you haven't been deprived of your idea.

The idea of property is that a person has a moral right to do whatever they want with their property and set terms of use, because it's how they WANT their value to be used.

I agree. If I read your mind without your consent and then use your idea, I've used your idea without your consent. If you tell people about your idea, you have, as far as I'm concerned, consented to them using it. The critical issue here is what makes property property.

I think what makes property property is that you earned it and only you can have it. I'm not the only person who can have an idea because I can tell people about it. Even if I let people live in a tent in my backyard, it's still my backyard and I can tell those people to get lost any time I want. Other people using my idea doesn't necessarily mean I can't use my idea.

I would actually claim that poor IP attitudes result in degradation of artistic quality, the same way lack of respect for property like land leads to degradation of the geographical area (tragedy of the commons), so it's not like there are no practical negative consequences in the long-run.

There's no discrepancy between morality and practicality, right? So what you're saying is that a lack of copyrights and patents would be immoral. Why?

Also, you didn't explain why a lack of copyrights would necessarily lead to this "degradation." Why would it? People have free will, so I don't see why this is necessarily the case. Also, even if it's probable that that there would be this degradation, why is it relevant? All that matters here is what's moral or not. You could say that a lack of taxation would lead to "negative consequences in the long-run" because a bunch of people wouldn't pay taxes and they'd be free-riders, but taxation solves this problem. But does that make it moral? This "degradation" argument seems like a utilitarian one to me.

If you don't mind people going for joyrides without your permission, that's fine, but it's up to you if you permit that. It's your property and you can do what you want with it.

In other words, "If you don't mind people doing stuff without your permission, it's fine if you give them permission." Huh? Do you mean "It's okay for people to take your car without you giving them your explicit personal blessings if you sign some court order saying, in effect, anyone can come and drive off with your car and it's all good"?

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No, it means "use the idea." A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of an original work or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of the work. This includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright. A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to an inventor of an invention or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of the invention. Patent infringement is the commission of a prohibited act with respect to a patented invention without permission from the patent holder.

If I download a copyrighted song and don't try to make money off of it, it's a copyright violation. If I build a patented invention and don't try to sell it, it's a patent violation.

You have already benefited financially by downloading the song without paying for it, you have "made money off of it." You violate the patent by using it without permission, permission usually being purchased.

What I meant was my property rights have been violated because it was stolen. If I loan it out and say "I'll be wanting this back soon. I'll call you when I want to use it and you bring it back to me." then I can still use it when I want to. I can't do this with a criminal who stole it.
You can't precisely because it is no longer under your control. Control is what matters.

You exclusively control the use of your invention from the time you have invented it to the time someone else invents it. I think you're consenting to other people using your work when you tell them about it--they can't use it if you don't tell them about it. It's not like everyone finds out about your invention the moment you invent it.

No, an indefinite patent term would be impractical and unjust and not objective. Patents require disclosure in exchange for a time-limited right to control the invention. Disclosure is also logically necessary in order to define what exactly the patent right is limited to. Keeping your invention a 'trade secret' can potentially preserve the exclusive advantage of an invention for longer than a patent term but there is no legal right to the invention in that case.

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You have already benefited financially by downloading the song without paying for it, you have "made money off of it."

If the harm here is "benefiting financially", then every free business transaction where financial values are exchanged is bad because both sides benefit financially.

You violate the patent by using it without permission.

I "violate the patent [i assume you mean copyright, since we're talking about a song] by using it without permission" eh? Um, duh. I'm arguing that copyrights are bad. Did I ever say that downloading a copyrighted song isn't a copyright violation?

The question I have is does telling people about an idea you have constitute consent for them to use it? I think this is the case. If this isn't the case, why isn't it so? If it's because a song is property, why is this so?

You can't precisely because it is no longer under your control. Control is what matters.

I thought you said control doesn't matter.

You said earlier that:

"Your analogy with the car has the exact same relation to necessity. Maybe you loaned your car out, and while you don't have it you can't use it. This example establishes that the (ill-formed) conversion does not follow: if you don't have your car, it is not necessarily true that your property rights are being violated."

So, you're saying that control doesn't matter, right?. You're saying the issue is whether or not an idea is property or not, and whether I "control" it doesn't matter (because I don't really control a car I've loaned out which is still my property). So even though I'm right when I say you can control an idea by deciding whether or not to tell people about it, that isn't the essential issue, because even though I can control the use of the idea, my telling people about it alone doesn't constitute consent to its use. It's my property because [?] and even if I tell people about it that doesn't mean I'm consenting to their using it.

Why it this so?

The way I look at it is a person's thoughts are their property, but an idea in and of itself isn't the property of whoever came up with it. If they're deprived of the idea, they're being deprived of their thoughts--their body--their property. If someone uses an idea they came up with, they're not being deprived of their idea because they still have the idea.

If I loan my car out, I'm not being deprived of it because I've allowed someone to use it. I don't "control" it, but I allowed them to control it, so I haven't been deprived of anything. I'm deprived of my car if someone controls it without my consent.

The rationale for copyrights and patents seems to be "You shouldn't be deprived of your idea. Therefore, you should control its use." But you already do control its use because you can decide whether or not to tell people about it.

No, an indefinite patent term would be impractical and unjust and not objective. Patents require disclosure in exchange for a time-limited right to control the invention. Disclosure is also logically necessary in order to define what exactly the patent right is limited to.

I'm not talking about indefinite patent terms. Where are Earth are you getting this from?

The point I'm making is that I get to listen to my song or use my invention as long as no one else discovers it. It's not illegal for me to do this because there's no copyright or patent on it.

Keeping your invention a 'trade secret' can potentially preserve the exclusive advantage of an invention for longer than a patent term but there is no legal right to the invention in that case.

How is there no legal right for me to listen to an un-copyrighted song or an un-patented invention?

Edited by Mnrchst

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If I use an idea you told me about, you haven't been deprived of your idea.

But you may will be deprived of the VALUE of the idea, the VALUE which has been created by the originator's reasoning mind. Think of this less in terms of property and more in terms of the value that has been created. Think more in terms of what is EARNED versus what can be taken without EARNING it.

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If the harm here is "benefiting financially", then every free business transaction where financial values are exchanged is bad because both sides benefit financially.

That's only true if you totally ignore the change in context that a business transaction is a VOLUNTARY exchange of value.

I wouldn't want to think you are being deliberately obtuse in this argument, but between this and your confusion with why people are not property, it appears you are forgetting gaping amounts of Objectivism in order to poke holes in other's arguments.

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