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Mnrchst

Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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What errors? You're not telling me what they are. How is making a baby not volitional creation? If you actually explained this, I'd be able to consider the arguments.

Babies are exempt because human beings cannot be literally owned by other human beings under any coherent system of individual rights. Several people have already pointed this out, but it seems like you are more interested in running in circles for twelve pages than allowing the dialogue to progress.

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Brian, I've already covered all this, but I'll do it again.

Mnrchst, So in your view a man has no right whatsoever to benefit from his idea without allowing all others benefit as well?

1 - I'm still undecided about IP. I've attempted to justify anti-IP, but haven't committed to that position.

2 - A person can benefit from their invention if they don't tell anyone how it works, can play their new song at a concert where people paid for tickets, etc. If you think "But then they won't make as much money," please read over this entire thread.

The form ideas take is based upon their nature, and so it is not valid to use the standard for their possession that you use. That standard is based upon the nature of a physical object. A car cannot exist in its own nature in the minds of anyone who knows it, an idea can. They are different in their nature.

Which would be why ideas aren't property if the possession standard is correct. And if ideas are property, the difference in their nature doesn't prevent either from being property. I agree that all property is intellectual because you need ideas to get physical property, but I don't see that that necessarily means that ideas themselves should be property. It's like saying "I need people to build something, and that something is worthy of being property, therefore, people are worthy of being property."

An idea is a product created by a man using his mind. That mind is not simply something he has but also something that he is. Any product of his mind belongs to him by definition because that thing is a product of that which defines man.

Again, interpreted as is, I don't see how this doesn't apply to children.

Also, interpreted as is, wouldn't this mean patents and copyrights should be held in perpetuity? I know that Rand opposed such, but by limiting patents and copyrights, you're denying that guy the ability to determine how a product of his mind is used. She said that it would lead to de facto collectivism, but doesn't that mean her justification isn't a natural rights one, but a utilitarian one?

Also, interpreted as is, wouldn't this mean an idea which is critical to saving the Earth from destruction could be patented by the inventor, and not used?

Maybe I just "don't get it", but this seems way too vague to be correct. I'm not saying "IP is terrible", I'm saying "this justification for IP doesn't make sense."

What standard do you use to determine that the concept of property in only to be applied to physical objects?

See post #98. Again, it's not what I believe, but what I'm currently leaning towards.

The law of identity is also why your "children" argument is invalid. A child is a human being with rights based upon his nature. He cannot even be considered in a discussion about property because his nature excludes him from the outset.

You're right--children shouldn't be considered in this discussion. The problem is that no one has either (1) explained to me how children are not products of volitional thought or (2) provided a different standard for what should and shouldn't be property.

Edited by Mnrchst

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You're right--children shouldn't be considered in this discussion. The problem is that no one has either ... or (2) provided a different standard for what should and shouldn't be property.

... Volitional beings cannot be the property of another. Moving on.

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Babies are exempt because human beings cannot be literally owned by other human beings under any coherent system of individual rights. Several people have already pointed this out, but it seems like you are more interested in running in circles for twelve pages than allowing the dialogue to progress.

Eiuol said "You are overgeneralizing about what is meant by "products of one's volitional creative efforts." You identify one instance of volition, and a baby is being made, therefore, volitional creation? There are many errors within that thought process."

So it sounds like he's saying "making a baby isn't actually volitional creation." This I have a problem with.

You, however, are saying, "You only get to own certain products of your volitional thought. Children don't count because they have rights, which by definition are inalienable." This makes much more sense.

The problem is I'm not being told why those other products get to count. The only justification I'm aware of so far is "Every type of productive work involves a combination of mental and physical effort, and IP laws protect the mind's contribution in its purest form: the origination of an idea. Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man's right to the product of his mind."

But what about the ideas that don't get to count? What about a two page short story? What about a fashion style? I've been told that you can only have IP with concretes and not concepts, so that rules out fashion styles. But then wouldn't that mean we shouldn't have copyrights (or at least have them be radically different)? If you say there's an IP violation if a song is too similar to a copyrighted one, isn't that treating the song as a concept instead of a concrete?

What if I make a simple, but unique drawing? Why doesn't that count?

What if someone invents something which is critical to saving the Earth from destruction? I assume we wouldn't allow someone to patent that idea (in a conventional sense) because then they could say "Don't use it--I made the antidote and I deserve to watch the human race die from a virus."

And if I invent something, why shouldn't I be able to pass on the patent to someone else, and have them pass it on to someone else, and so on for forever. Rand said it would lead to de facto collectivism because you'd have a bunch of people with (1) IP on ideas they didn't create and (2) it would interfere with technological progress because all the patent-holders could prevent new technologies from getting used.

But with regards to (1), couldn't an earthquake kill a bunch of inventors and musicians? Wouldn't that lead to a lot of IP getting in the hands of those who didn't create the idea. And (2) wouldn't this be just as much of a problem after a few years if there was a sudden burst of inventions as if there were a slow pace of technological progress after 50 years?

What ties all the "good ideas as property" together? Is a five year patent a terrible idea? Is a fifty year patent a terrible idea? Should copyrights last way longer than patents?

Edited by Mnrchst

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Brian, I've already covered all this, but I'll do it again.

2 - A person can benefit from their invention if they don't tell anyone how it works, can play their new song at a concert where people paid for tickets, etc. If you think "But then they won't make as much money," please read over this entire thread.

If they play their song at a concert, aren't they revealing their creation to the world and thus anyone hearing it may in turn also use the song for their own benefit? My point in asking is this: if one's only right to intellectual property is to choose whether or not to reveal it then they have no means of benefitting from it without allowing others the opportunity to also benefit from it. Quite the collectivist result.

Which would be why ideas aren't property if the possession standard is correct. And if ideas are property, the difference in their nature doesn't prevent either from being property. I agree that all property is intellectual because you need ideas to get physical property, but I don't see that that necessarily means that ideas themselves should be property. It's like saying "I need people to build something, and that something is worthy of being property, therefore, people are worthy of being property."

Again, why would the possession standard be correct? By what principle? Certainly not objectivist epistimological standards.

Again, interpreted as is, I don't see how this doesn't apply to children.

First, I answered that. Children are excluded because of their nature. It is man's right to their own life that demands property rights. Property rights cannot supercede that.

Second, children are not a product of that which defines man. The ability to reproduce is something man possesses, like all forms of life, but it is not essential in defining his nature. According to objectivism, the definition of some thing must be based on that which is essential in its nature and not those things which are not. So "a rational animal" is a suitable definition for man, but "a rational animal that reproduces" is not. The rational mind is that which defines man, the ability to release or accept semen in the appopriate place is not.

Also, interpreted as is, wouldn't this mean patents and copyrights should be held in perpetuity? I know that Rand opposed such, but by limiting patents and copyrights, you're denying that guy the ability to determine how a product of his mind is used. She said that it would lead to de facto collectivism, but doesn't that mean her justification isn't a natural rights one, but a utilitarian one?

I don't have much to say on this as I haven't studied this aspect of IP and haven't given it proper thought.

Also, interpreted as is, wouldn't this mean an idea which is critical to saving the Earth from destruction could be patented by the inventor, and not used?

Context. Emergencies are subject to different standards. For example, off the top of my head I would say that the asteroid/laser scenario suggests that if there is not time to devise any other method then it would be OK to use it.

Maybe I just "don't get it", but this seems way too vague to be correct. I'm not saying "IP is terrible", I'm saying "this justification for IP doesn't make sense."

See post #98. Again, it's not what I believe, but what I'm currently leaning towards.

It doesn't really answer my question. You seem to have decided on the primacy of possession (if you will) without really explaining why that that is THE standard.

An idea isn't simply a product of the mind, it is the product of the mind. It is what the mind does. If a man has no rights to that which he produces by his nature using the defining faculty that is essential to his nature he has no rights. If it is not his property...what the hell is or ever could be? THIS is not his property but a rock he happens to find in the yard is?

You're right--children shouldn't be considered in this discussion. The problem is that no one has either (1) explained to me how children are not products of volitional thought or (2) provided a different standard for what should and shouldn't be property.

You are attempting to apply standards to something which they don't apply. Children are not the product of volitional thought because they are not the product of volitional thought. That is to say, volition is not a defining characteristic or a requirement of having children. Having sex may or may not be volitional, conception is not. Volition is not essential to the process at all, and therefore cannot be a defining characteristic.

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Mnrchst, I've already included in my argument a reason for why people are not property. Knowledge is contextual. "Property" is a concept that is meaningless without the concept "rights". Rights, if given to one person, have to be given to all people. So, if a person is property, nobody has rights. Any definition given of property must be interpreted with that in mind. Anyway, your history suggests that we'll be back to this in another four or five posts, so I'm going to spend my time reading A Dance With Dragons from now on.

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What errors? You're not telling me what they are. How is making a baby not volitional creation? If you actually explained this, I'd be able to consider the arguments.

Look at the image. Identifying merely an instance of volition in an entire process of creation does not then make the entire process a volitional creative process. It's like coming to the conclusion there of saying "has black, white, and red - therefore, it is black, white, and red." Well, yes, each of those characteristics are present, but you don't go calling it a red, black, and white face. My point is that there is a conceptual error going on of presuming that my idea about volitional creative processes applies the moment you identify a single step involving volition. We can forget about the context of people and also refer instead to hair growing on your head, saliva you produce, stuff like that. There is no sensible way to label bodily processes as property, which is why saying "you own yourself" does not make much sense. While yes, some volitional is involved, we at best call those actions semi-voluntrary. Actually, as I recall, Aristotle differentiated between voluntary and nonvoluntary action, which are both different than an action that is volitional and free. Many actions are voluntary yet necessarily have to occur a certain way for various reasons (giving to a robber that demands money can be considered voluntary and volitional, but it is the least bit free). The idea I'm conveying here is that IP refers to volitional and free actions.

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But what about the ideas that don't get to count? What about a two page short story? What about a fashion style? I've been told that you can only have IP with concretes and not concepts, so that rules out fashion styles. But then wouldn't that mean we shouldn't have copyrights (or at least have them be radically different)? If you say there's an IP violation if a song is too similar to a copyrighted one, isn't that treating the song as a concept instead of a concrete?

What if I make a simple, but unique drawing? Why doesn't that count?

What if someone invents something which is critical to saving the Earth from destruction? I assume we wouldn't allow someone to patent that idea (in a conventional sense) because then they could say "Don't use it--I made the antidote and I deserve to watch the human race die from a virus."

Your position seems to be: Not all intellectual products qualify as IP therefore NO intellectual product SHOULD qualify as IP. IP is invalid.

Is this an accurate assessment?

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they have no means of benefiting from it without allowing others the opportunity to also benefit from it.

They've benefited from it by the tickets they sold.

Again, why would the possession standard be correct? By what principle?

I was attempting to justify anti-IP by applying the reason why all physical property should be privately owned to ideas, which, in retrospect, doesn't make sense.

Children are not a product of that which defines man. The ability to reproduce is something man possesses, like all forms of life, but it is not essential in defining his nature. According to objectivism, the definition of some thing must be based on that which is essential in its nature and not those things which are not. So "a rational animal" is a suitable definition for man, but "a rational animal that reproduces" is not.

This is the argument I needed. Thanks.

An idea isn't simply a product of the mind, it is the product of the mind. It is what the mind does. If a man has no rights to that which he produces by his nature using the defining faculty that is essential to his nature he has no rights.

Again, this makes sense. The thing which gives be pause however is how indefinite patents are bad. I'm not sure how we reconcile "patents are good for a while", but not "for forever". It seems like we'd have to go with something like "We need humans to progress technologically and make art." But isn't that sort of the same thing as saying "Humans need to make babies?"

I guess the argument is that if you have indefinite patents, then you're preventing people from having property rights for their discoveries, but if you have a one month patent, that is scarcely a property title, so you've got to have a balance in order for people in general to have property rights. Is that about it?

You are attempting to apply standards to something which they don't apply. Children are not the product of volitional thought because they are not the product of volitional thought. That is to say, volition is not a defining characteristic or a requirement of having children. Having sex may or may not be volitional, conception is not. Volition is not essential to the process at all, and therefore cannot be a defining characteristic.

Maybe there's no volition by the parent, but wouldn't there have to be some volition somewhere? And wouldn't that person be responsible for the conception?

Also, the mother needs to keep drinking water and feeding herself, but we've already covered why this doesn't matter, so I guess it's a moot point.

Edited by Mnrchst

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Mnrchst, I've already included in my argument a reason for why people are not property. Knowledge is contextual. "Property" is a concept that is meaningless without the concept "rights". Rights, if given to one person, have to be given to all people. So, if a person is property, nobody has rights. Any definition given of property must be interpreted with that in mind.

Right, but, again, my whole point is that the "you made it, it's yours argument" is incomplete. However, Brian's argument is "you made something which is consistent with the nature of humans, therefore, it's yours" which I think makes sense. For some reason, you kept thinking I wasn't aware of the obvious fact of why children aren't property simply because I was pointing out how the argument for IP being presented wasn't complete, kept re-iterating the obvious argument, and then didn't refine the argument like Brian did.

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While yes, some volitional is involved, we at best call those actions semi-voluntary.

I think the error you're making here is that you're assuming that because there are non-volitional things going on, then there isn't necessary volitional things going on through the whole process, too. The mom needs to keep eating and drinking for 9 months to have the baby. However, it's a moot point now because I've accepted that making babies isn't a part of human nature.

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Your position seems to be: Not all intellectual products qualify as IP therefore NO intellectual product SHOULD qualify as IP. Is this an accurate assessment?

No, I'm just pointing out that there's a general lack of specificity here about why X qualifies but Y doesn't. However, this problem happens to apply only to copyrights and not patents.

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Well, I'm sorry this took so long, but now I'd say I support patents, but not copyrights.

For patents: "People have ideas in order to do anything. Therefore, if people have property to some physical things, then they should also have property to some ideas, and vice versa. The ideas/physical things which become property are that which are consistent with human nature. Humans survive. Therefore, land, food, and water is property because it's consistent with human nature to both get/create it and have to work for it. Oxygen (in the air), however, can't be, because when humans were first around, they didn't have to get/create/work for it. Ideas which are necessary to solve existential problems (life/death) are, therefore, property. However, they can't be held in perpetuity, because then people are prevented from getting property to the values they create. Therefore, you strike a balance somewhere so people can get property in general (patents exist for 10 years, maybe). Finally, you have emergency circumstances where you ignore all this in order for anyone else to have any property. Again, you strike a balance--if there's a disease which is killing a few people, the patent-holder on a cure can keep people from using it. However, if the disease/asteroid is killing everyone, we've got to ignore the patent."

Is that about right?

However, for copyrights, I've still got a couple issues with it:

1. How is making songs/books/paintings a part of human nature? We need to work to survive. Therefore, things which are patentable are worthy of being property--it addresses the life/death choice. But you can't feed yourself/save humanity with a song/story.

2. If concepts shouldn't be property (like fashion styles, because it's unenforceable), then wouldn't that mean there should be no copyrights? The only way to practically enforce copyrights would be to treat them like concepts. Otherwise, someone can alter a song very slightly, and it will no longer be the same concrete original.

Edited by Mnrchst

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I think the error you're making here is that you're assuming that because there are non-volitional things going on, then there isn't necessary volitional things going on through the whole process, too. The mom needs to keep eating and drinking for 9 months to have the baby. However, it's a moot point now because I've accepted that making babies isn't a part of human nature.

That wasn't what I was saying. I was mostly posting it for anyone else to read, anyway. The idea was mostly about the distinctions between those three types of actions, and how even processes that you had no potential control over *in totality* don't really fall under the type of action that takes place in writing stories, making songs, etc. A baby is still made regardless of if you tell your body to make the baby. A story can *only* be written if you direct the process entirely yourself. A story doesn't write itself; a story will not be written unless you think of every single word to be used.

About fashion styles, I'd say enforceability is an irrelevant point. I'd say it falls under discoveries.

Also, in the paragraph you wrote in your last post: there's no reason air cannot be property. If you can contain it and do something with it, you can call it property. For instance, if you lived in some outpost on the moon or underwater, people would need to buy air like they buy food. About a "disease killing everyone", that really needs more context. To get into that would require working out well what is meant by emergency situations, so that's probably something you should hold off on for later once you work out the general principle behind property in the first place.

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you had no potential control over *in totality* don't really fall under the type of action that takes place in writing stories, making songs, etc.

That makes sense.

About fashion styles, I'd say enforceability is an irrelevant point. I'd say it falls under discoveries.

You mean it's copyright/patent worthy? If so, that interests me, because someone else here said they shouldn't count.

there's no reason air cannot be property.

I said "the air" as in the "air on Earth". Otherwise, someone could suck up all the air.

To get into that would require working out well what is meant by emergency situations, so that's probably something you should hold off on for later once you work out the general principle behind property in the first place.

Yeah, but we can agree there are emergency circumstances where patents are void, right?

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However, for copyrights, I've still got a couple issues with it:

1. How is making songs/books/paintings a part of human nature?

Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments. Man’s profound need of art lies in the fact that his cognitive faculty is conceptual' date=' i.e., that he acquires knowledge by means of abstractions, and needs the power to bring his widest metaphysical abstractions into his immediate, perceptual awareness. Art fulfills this need: by means of a selective re-creation, it concretizes man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence. It tells man, in effect, which aspects of his experience are to be regarded as essential, significant, important. In this sense, art teaches man how to use his consciousness. It conditions or stylizes man’s consciousness by conveying to him a certain way of looking at existence.[/quote']

Art is a need and a part of human nature, that is why aesthetics is a sub-category of philosophy.

That's an odd thing to say, of course you can. You can create these things, record them in some concrete form and sell it or trade them. Or, as you stated, you can perform them in exchange for something like money.

Edited by Brian S.

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Do we need art to survive? I don't see why. Are all abstractions art? Would it be impossible for people to know how to live and understand metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics without songs/books/films? You can just as easily argue people have a need to have kids, and that having kids conditions or stylizes a person’s consciousness by conveying to them a certain way of looking at existence.

Edited by Mnrchst

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Do we need art to survive? I don't see why. Are all abstractions art? Would it be impossible for people to know how to live and understand metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics without songs/books/films? You can just as easily argue people have a need to have kids, and that having kids conditions or stylizes a person’s consciousness by conveying to them a certain way of looking at existence.

Living is not about mere survival and Objectivism isn't about how to best survive. It's about how to achieve the best life for man qua man.

Again I refer to Ayn Rand herself:

Metaphysics—the science that deals with the fundamental nature of reality—involves man’s widest abstractions. It includes every concrete he has ever perceived, it involves such a vast sum of knowledge and such a long chain of concepts that no man could hold it all in the focus of his immediate conscious awareness. Yet he needs that sum and that awareness to guide him—he needs the power to summon them into full, conscious focus.

That power is given to him by art.

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Yes, Objectivism isn't just about survival, it's about living well. But this doesn't necessarily mean property should be about living well. You can argue that having kids is a natural/great part of being human as well. And then this brings up the whole question of what art is worthy of being property and what isn't, and when there's a copyright violation.

I've read a lot of Rand's stuff, but not her opinions on art. I'll go ahead and read it (I've got OPAR). Right now I have no idea how art could somehow be a requisite for understanding reality/having property. This is the essential argument for copyrights, right?

Edited by Mnrchst

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Yes, Objectivism isn't just about survival, it's about living well. But this doesn't necessarily mean property should be about living well.

Property is ALL about living well - it's about the ability to produce for the long term, as opposed to simple sustenance farming/gathering.

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You mean it's copyright/patent worthy? If so, that interests me, because someone else here said they shouldn't count.

I'm saying it's not copyright or patent worthy. I explained what I meant by how fashion styles are more like a discovery in a previous post. If it is proper to classify fashion styles as discoveries as I think they are, then they're not property, in the same way that E=MC^2 as an idea of Einstein's couldn't be considered property. A style isn't usually about specific clothing selections as much as it is about developing some principles of thought.

Yeah, but we can agree there are emergency circumstances where patents are void, right?

Yeah, really ethics wouldn't apply either; I wouldn't want to dwell too much on this point, as it is kind of tangential.

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I'm saying it's not copyright or patent worthy. I explained what I meant by how fashion styles are more like a discovery in a previous post. If it is proper to classify fashion styles as discoveries as I think they are, then they're not property, in the same way that E=MC^2 as an idea of Einstein's couldn't be considered property. A style isn't usually about specific clothing selections as much as it is about developing some principles of thought.

Because they're concepts instead of concretes?

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Right, but produce what?

In the case of an artist, author, musician or software developer, a deliberately constructed unique or reasonably unique pattern of stimulus intended to convey a contextual meaning to the person observing the outcome.

If you spend days, weeks, months, even years working on a book, a piece of art, a symphony, or an application - you have devoted deliberate constructive mental effort to forming these patterns of information.

If we indulge your absolutely stupid comparison to making a baby, the difference between a book and a baby is the baby is the product of sex, the outcome itself is completely random based on the genetic material of two partners neither of whom have any control over their specific contribution.

A book, however, is a constructed pattern of deliberately chosen linguistic terms which are intended to convey a specific, well formulated meaning. A painting is a constructed pattern of visually differentiable medium which again, are intended to convey a particular visual image. Music is not a randomly constructed mass of notes, it has rhythm, tempo, theme, harmony, melody, etc and is intended to evoke specific auditory responses in the listener. Software, even, is also deliberately, meticulously, line by line written out with the express purpose of causing a specific response by the computer.

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