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Mnrchst

Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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What I mean is why we include those things in the property category. The art argument seems to be that people need art in order to think.

No, we put it in the Property category because it is the product of the mind.

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No, we put it in the Property category because it is the product of the mind.

Do you mean every concrete deliberately constructed product of the mind? This makes me wonder (1) Are there exceptions (like a very short story, or a simple phrase, or a simple drawing) and (2) How do we determine when a copyright violation has occurred?

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Do you mean every concrete deliberately constructed product of the mind?

You've already had this answered through the thread.

This makes me wonder (1) Are there exceptions (like a very short story, or a simple phrase, or a simple drawing) and (2) How do we determine when a copyright violation has occurred?

These are leaving the realm of philosophy and moving into law.

What philosophy can tell us is that there are products of the mind which are new and unique constructs of meaning (literature, art, music, software), as opposed to more physical constructs (buildings, crops, circuit boards, lawn mowers), and that those constructs have existence by deliberate creation, that the responsible party for that creation is identifiable, and thus that ownership of the construct belongs to the identified creator of that construct.

Where exactly ownership begins and ends, and when it's no longer viable to maintain ownership rights, and even the specifics of what building blocks of the finished product CAN be owned (a word, a phrase, a paragraph, or a note, a theme, a composition, etc) - those are specifics that must be addressed as a matter of law.

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If philosophy tells us that there are some ideas [concrete deliberately constructed products of the mind] worthy of being property, but not anything about which ideas should qualify and which shouldn't, then how is it wrong to argue that there should be patents, but not copyrights (or vice versa)? Also, assuming we decide copyrights are legit, why should we decide there's a copyright violation if someone makes something that is similar, but not the same (as with any patent violation)?

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On another note, I read the "art" section of OPAR.

First off, Peikoff says we need art because "Art is a need of the mind...that is why...art has always existed among men." Well, we've always had a lot of things among men which are terrible. Is this evidence of the fact that we need those things, too? Furthermore, there are things we need which we've never had. Is this evidence of us not actually needing them?

Rand was aware that she had to argue art was necessary for humans to live (morally) in order for it to make sense that there be copyrights, because her argument for any ideas-as-property is essentially that the value of property comes from a person's mind, not the materials, and that humans survive by the use of their mind.

The art argument is that you need it in order to have "metaphysical value judgments" because "no one can hold...[the] complexity of experiences and abstractions within the focus of his awareness as a sum." and "yet a sum is precisely what a man needs." Therefore, art allows you to have this awareness, so that you can make metaphysical value judgments.

This makes no sense to me. How does one figure out what to make art of? Isn't that based off of their metaphysical value judgments? But Rand is saying we need art in order to understand metaphysical value judgments. So how do we come up with it? I don't think she wrote Atlas Shrugged without knowing what she was doing and then say "Oh, I get it now." Would she have forgotten her beliefs without the book (art)?

Peikoff says "an art work does not formulate the metaphysics it represents; it does not (or at least need not) articulate definitions and principles)." So what relevance is it that someone hold all the complexity of philosophy "within the focus of his awareness"? Just because Rand couldn't think of the answer to every philosophical question at once doesn't mean she didn't have an answer to every one. Why do we need the "sense perception" of art in order to be moral? Why can't we just believe the things Rand believed in (except for this)?

Says Peikoff, "Without [Howard Roark and John Galt], the Objectivist theory of ethics could not be clearly grasped by a man." Having read the entire art section of OPAR, I see no plausible reason for this to be true. Didn't Rand need to grasp Objectivist ethics to write the character? Are we to believe it would be impossible for most/all people to accept Objectivist ethics without Atlas Shrugged? How is this the case? How did Rand convince herself of it before she wrote it? Did she not accept it until she saw it demonstrated in a story she was in complete control of?

Peikoff says a rational man needs art in order to get the "indispensable emotional fuel" necessary to live morally because it is a "moment of love for existence." I agree that people should periodically have such moments, but there are countless other ways to have that moment. I don't see how people need art specifically in order to love existence. Also, doesn't this apply to a scientific/philosophical discovery? Rand was opposed to having those patented.

I'm also amused by the example of a painting of a woman with a cold sole in her lips means the artist is mocking humanity. Maybe I'm missing the context (I haven't read the Romantic Manifesto) of Rand talking about an example of someone painting something out of the blue, but what if it's a portrait painting? Wouldn't painting something contrary to what is actually there be an example of evading reality? What if you just want to make a painting of someone with a cold sore? Perhaps you want to challenge yourself by painting something different.

Edited by Mnrchst

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Rand was aware that she had to argue art was necessary for humans to live (morally) in order for it to make sense that there be copyrights, because her argument for any ideas-as-property is essentially that the value of property comes from a person's mind, not the materials, and that humans survive by the use of their mind.

The argument is not for 'any ideas-as-property' but for the products (the result of action) as property. The mere thought of notes and lyrics in a mind isn't copyrightable until recorded or performed. Ayn Rand says:

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. The subject of patents and copyrights is intellectual property.

An idea as such cannot be protected until it has been given a material form. .....

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First off, Peikoff says we need art because "Art is a need of the mind...that is why...art has always existed among men." Well, we've always had a lot of things among men which are terrible. Is this evidence of the fact that we need those things, too? Furthermore, there are things we need which we've never had. Is this evidence of us not actually needing them?

The argument that need is the standard by which something qualifies as property is incorrect. Are we now arguing that if a thing isn't needed, it is not property? The fact that property rights are necessary is not the same as saying all products, both physical and intellectual, are property because they are needed (needed for what is the question which remains unclear). Food is a basic necessity. Water is a basic necessity. Those polk audio speakers in your car are NOT a basic necessity but they are property (or is this wrong?). I think this argument needs to be shelved.

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Are we now arguing that if a thing isn't needed, it is not property?

To say property rights are necessary is to say they are needed, though. Anything that is property is needed, although not all needs are property. The reason scientific discoveries - which are needed - aren't property is because they are not being realized in any particular form, amongst other reasons as explained on page one I believe. If art isn't needed, there is no reason to assign any right to any artistic creation. The reason property should be protected at all is because it is needed by an individual. Otherwise, there is nothing to gain or even lose by having some particular object. Keep in mind that life-furtherance is a standard in this context, so bare necessities are just as needed as higher needs like art.

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To say property rights are necessary is to say they are needed, though. Anything that is property is needed, although not all needs are property.

Yes, the right to property is needed but there are products that are not basic necessities (such as the car speakers). I was trying to ascertain if Mnrchst is making 'need' the standard for what is property since he seems to be suggesting that recorded songs, books, movies are not necessities and are, therefore, not really property. Maybe I misunderstood him but if I did, I have no idea what his arguing.

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The reason property should be protected at all is because it is needed by an individual.

I think this could be kind of confusing. If I have 100 spoons already, more than I need, how many of them are my property if I don't need all of them? I think Craig was inquiring on a similar point. I think it needs to be understood if everyone here is operating on the same definition of the concept "need".

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Yes, the right to property is needed but there are products that are not basic necessities (such as the car speakers). I was trying to ascertain if Mnrchst is making 'need' the standard for what is property since he seems to be suggesting that recorded songs, books, movies are not necessities and are, therefore, not really property.

My point is, basic necessities aside, anything that is property is needed. I get the idea that if I have 100 spoons already, I'm not going to drop dead as soon as I'm denied another spoon, but another one absolutely is needed when the standard is life rather than survival. My meaning of "need" here is in the context of long-term existence, the stuff that are required in order to pursue the best kind of life. Art is needed, food is needed, entertainment is needed, technology is needed; all of these things are required for existence in the long-term. Why there is individual right to property rather than collective is a bit tricky at this point. If we all need these things, why not just share them if we don't have any immediate deprivation? Why claim a right to a song when it's not needed for anything in particular besides some means of reaching an end of entertainment? Because property is an individual need, and as a matter of rights, its respect leads to societies that you can benefit from yet also allow you to keep furthering your own life. This means being able to decide how your own products are used according to your reasoning, being able to plan ahead through your own creations whether it be for money, promotion of ideas, enjoying creative efforts, or all three, or whatever else. Planning ahead is the important idea, and it can only be performed by an individual. Any aspect of property is about need. Hopefully that should clear up any confusion I presented. I'm talking about need in a wider context of rights, not in a context of what is needed for *immediate* sustenance.

If art provided for no kind of need whatsoever, I'd say it wouldn't be up for being considered property. No need means no one is either harmed or benefited from the possession of something. This gets into wants and needs, but I don't use that distinction. All wants are needs (whether those wants are rational is another questions).

Edited by Eiuol

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Just a comment on this; I don't think that this line of argument is a valid approach to determining whether or not intellectual property rights are valid. After all, if a thief put hundreds of man-hours into planning and executing an elaborate heist, we would not then say that he is entitled to "reap the rewards" of his effort. This is because his efforts have been geared towards an activity that violates someone else's rights.

So the question is whether the patent-breaker is violating someone else's rights through his labor, like the thief, or engaging in valid production, like the original inventor. Obviously, this hinges on whether or not the original inventor has a property right in the idea that is being copied. In either case, it is begging the question to say, "Well the patent-breaker exerted effort, so he's entitled to the copy," because it assumes that his efforts were not violating the rights of the inventor.

All right, agreed. We'll start with something more fundamental.

From Ayn Rand's "Man's Rights":

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self- sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action-which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life.

Allow me, if you would, to now construct a stupid example in order to highlight my persistent (and annoying*) reservations with IP.

Suppose we're in some frontier-ish society where there is no formal government upon which a man can rely. His rights are the same as those of men in any other society, are they not?

This man must be free to grow food for his consumption on his land -- it is required by the nature of his life -- and the food so grown is his. It is his property. Should a robber come to steal his food, our man would be justified in defending his property against incursion. In doing that, he is acting to preserve and further his own life. Thus far, I'm sure we're agreed.

Suppose our man invented and built... an automated salt shaker. This salt shaker would be his property as much as his crops. Again, I'm sure we're agreed on this point. And again, were a robber to come take the salt shaker, our man would be justified in using force to prevent the theft. Theft is an initiation of force, and it is just to use force in response. So far, so good?

Now suppose our Inventor had his neighbor, Patent-Breaker, over for supper. Patent-Breaker sees the salt shaker in action and thinks it a good idea. The next day, Patent-Breaker takes it upon himself to build an automated salt shaker of his very own.

It seems to me -- and maybe I'm confused on this point (or possibly many others!) -- that we would say that this action, Patent-Breaker's building of his own automated salt shaker, is violating the Inventor's rights of Intellectual Property and is therefore an initiation of force against the Inventor. That, because the Inventor hit upon the idea for the automated salt shaker prior to Patent-Breaker's having done so, the Inventor owns the very idea of an "automated salt shaker," and thus is justified in deciding who else could build it, and under what terms.

But... would it follow, then, that the Inventor would be justified in using force to prevent Patent-Breaker from building and/or using that salt shaker? Would we support the Inventor busting down Patent-Breaker's door, seizing and disposing of Patent-Breaker's salt shaker? And why? Because the Inventor could claim (rightly) "I thought of it first!"...? How can that fact entitle him to limit what Patent-Breaker does in this context?

I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it, but this just... doesn't seem right to me. It occurs to me that, given IP, it's possible that Patent-Breaker -- or a host of Patent-Breakers -- could all be violating Inventor's "rights" without Inventor ever being aware of it; they could all just be using salt shakers in the privacy of their own homes. Given that rights are those "actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life," I'm struggling to see how the Inventor's life, as such, or its furtherance, fulfillment, or enjoyment, requires him to hunt out Patent-Breaker and stop him from salting his food in a more efficient manner, regardless of whence Patent-Breaker's inspiration, or who struck upon the idea initially. But on the other hand, I could see how Patent-Breaker's life would be furthered by taking inspiration from the world around him -- such as in this salt shaker -- and then constructing something to make his life better in this fashion. This strikes me as "right" of him to do.

When Inventor comes tearing through the door, ready to fight over the salt shaker, I'm not sure how I can see that as anything other than the actual initiation of force.

***

* I say "annoying" for a couple of reasons: 1) IP is one of the few issues that have always remained unsettled for me -- one of the few bits of Rand's writings where I've thus far remained unconvinced. Given that she's so brilliant so consistently, I've always feared that I'm simply missing the boat here... and, as with all truth, I'd rather be on the right side. 2) Writing is one of my professional ambitions. I'd rather not feel ambivalent on issues of IP since I will (hopefully) need to deal with those issues professionally one day.

And so, I'd be extremely grateful for an argument for IP that satisfies my concerns. I'm sorry if I just... don't get it. I'll continue to make effort.

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Yes, the right to property is needed but there are products that are not basic necessities (such as the car speakers). I was trying to ascertain if Mnrchst is making 'need' the standard for what is property since he seems to be suggesting that recorded songs, books, movies are not necessities and are, therefore, not really property. Maybe I misunderstood him but if I did, I have no idea what his arguing.

Yes, I'm saying that we need the right to property, and that anything physical can potentially help us survive, but not that we need every physical thing to survive in any context. Even if you have a bunch of "unwanted crap", you can still throw it into an incinerator and produce electricity, which might help you address an existential threat.

My point is that it sounds like Peikoff is saying we need art and, therefore, it is property. But that's very different than saying we need the right to make art. Rand said we need property rights because we live by our minds to survive. So isn't the logical conclusion to make from that that we should only have property rights to things which necessarily relate to survival? And isn't Peikoff saying that applies to art because we need it to make metaphysical value judgments?

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If philosophy tells us that there are some ideas [concrete deliberately constructed products of the mind] worthy of being property, but not anything about which ideas should qualify and which shouldn't, then how is it wrong to argue that there should be patents, but not copyrights (or vice versa)? Also, assuming we decide copyrights are legit, why should we decide there's a copyright violation if someone makes something that is similar, but not the same (as with any patent violation)?

Who said it was "wrong to argue"? Argument, when done properly, is a very important method of premise checking.

What's wrong is that when presented with perfectly sound reasons why there are materials such as books, art, music, software, etc., which should be considered property, and why, you seem to agree with the specific points but you don't seem to like the conclusion so you ignore it and try to obfuscate the points with false premises, straw men, equivocation, context dropping, and other fallacies.

Arguing isn't wrong - how YOU argue is. You WANT the conclusion to line up with what you wish to be true, so you say whatever you can to make the conclusion work.

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When Inventor comes tearing through the door, ready to fight over the salt shaker, I'm not sure how I can see that as anything other than the actual initiation of force.

Well, that's more of a conclusion that follows from IP being illegitimate. If it is legitimate, then it is perfectly proper to use force against the violator, in the same way that it is proper to use force against a person who has stolen a car. You seem to have the right idea here, I would say the part you thus far disagree on or don't quite understand is how there is any furtherance of life going on by respecting IP.

Really, it's not any different than how all rights derive from a right to life and the stuff of existence that makes it possible to the furthest extent. There isn't any obligation to prevent other people from using your ideas - I'd say it'd be totally irrational to keep any application of an idea locked up in a vault without any effort to trade. By being able to control the fruits of one's labor, one is able to plan ahead in life, a planning process which is a very fundamental in the existence of humans and a big part of Objectivist ethics. A rational producer will likely ask how to best distribute his ideas and turn a profit, or how to spread their really awesome idea of a salt shaker (maybe yours is automatic, and is also able to measure if your food is salted enough) so that further benefit can come out of inspiration in other inventors. Technology is a great way to benefit oneself beyond bare sustenance, and certainly a great reason why thet people around here would praise almost everything about the industrial revolution. Of course, if we're speaking of an irrational inventor, they may make little to no effort at trade. But that's still okay, because the only way to benefit from others and to let them pursue their own ends is their process of reasoning, even if poorly done. *Protecting* rights is a matter of ensuring that people are able to think and pursue their own ends as they see fit.

If I were you, I'd follow this line of reasoning further:

"But on the other hand, I could see how Patent-Breaker's life would be furthered by taking inspiration from the world around him -- such as in this salt shaker -- and then constructing something to make his life better in this fashion. This strikes me as "right" of him to do."

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Well, that's more of a conclusion that follows from IP being illegitimate. If it is legitimate, then it is perfectly proper to use force against the violator, in the same way that it is proper to use force against a person who has stolen a car. You seem to have the right idea here, I would say the part you thus far disagree on or don't quite understand is how there is any furtherance of life going on by respecting IP.

Except of course that the monopoly on using retaliatory force belongs to Government - vigilantism isn't acceptable.

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It seems to me -- and maybe I'm confused on this point (or possibly many others!) -- that we would say that this action, Patent-Breaker's building of his own automated salt shaker, is violating the Inventor's rights of Intellectual Property and is therefore an initiation of force against the Inventor. That, because the Inventor hit upon the idea for the automated salt shaker prior to Patent-Breaker's having done so, the Inventor owns the very idea of an "automated salt shaker," and thus is justified in deciding who else could build it, and under what terms.

But... would it follow, then, that the Inventor would be justified in using force to prevent Patent-Breaker from building and/or using that salt shaker? Would we support the Inventor busting down Patent-Breaker's door, seizing and disposing of Patent-Breaker's salt shaker? And why? Because the Inventor could claim (rightly) "I thought of it first!"...? How can that fact entitle him to limit what Patent-Breaker does in this context?

This is, in fact, exactly why patents are necessary. When you patent an idea, or copyright a book, or trademark a logo, what you're doing is obtaining recognition from Government (or in the case of Copyrights, where registration is optional, at least publicly declaring) that you are claiming your right to be the sole owner of that intellectual concept. This is why inventions have patent numbers, logos have ® symbols and books/music/software has © symbols - because it's a clear, public, recognized declaration that you are reserving your rights.

Inventor didn't in your example actually specify to Patent-Breaker that the salt shaker was not to be copied - so he shared his idea without protecting his rights - thus he gave the idea away. But if I DID make P-B aware that he was retaining his right, then P-B should have been made to agree not to copy it BEFORE he saw it, thus I would be claiming his right clearly.

Patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc are simply official recognition that you've claimed ownership of a concept which has a traceable ownership and which *is* a product, not just a concept, and that you're unwilling to sell that thing to anyone w/o their agreement not to reproduce it. It's a shortcut, nothing more, just like recording a deed or a marriage license, only with a bit more paperwork to ensure nobody else actually claimed it first.

Edited by Greebo

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Who said it was "wrong to argue"? Argument, when done properly, is a very important method of premise checking.

I mean "the argument is wrong".

What's wrong is that when presented with perfectly sound reasons why there are materials such as books, art, music, software, etc., which should be considered property, and why, you seem to agree with the specific points but you don't seem to like the conclusion so you ignore it and try to obfuscate the points with false premises, straw men, equivocation, context dropping, and other fallacies.

I've argued that property should only apply to things that necessarily relate to survival.

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I've argued that property should only apply to things that necessarily relate to survival.

Yeah?

Got any video game consoles? I'll take those, thanks. They're not property, after all - they don't relate to your survival.

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Got any video game consoles? I'll take those, thanks. They're not property, after all - they don't relate to your survival.

Even if you have a bunch of "unwanted crap", you can still throw it into an incinerator and produce electricity, which might help you address an existential threat.

Would you care to actually read my posts?

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Even if you have a bunch of "unwanted crap", you can still throw it into an incinerator and produce electricity, which might help you address an existential threat.

No, actually, you can't, because that would pollute the air which would harm others and you don't have the right to do that.

And no, I'm not really taking you seriously anymore because of the reasons stated previously. You WANT the conclusion to be X, and you'll say whatever it takes to get X to come out the end.

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No, actually, you can't, because that would pollute the air which would harm others and you don't have the right to do that.

Isn't the logical conclusion of that statement that there should be no air pollution from factories/incinerators?

And no, I'm not really taking you seriously anymore because of the reasons stated previously. You WANT the conclusion to be X, and you'll say whatever it takes to get X to come out the end.

You mean I attempt to justify a conclusion with whatever arguments I can think of to justify it? What a statement. How does this compare to saying "Got any video game consoles?...they don't relate to your survival." And then saying "No, actually, you can't, because that would pollute the air which would harm others" So, you dispute the idea that any physical property can necessarily help you survive, and then you abandon that assertion and move on to a different argument (attacking all industrial air pollution). Isn't that an example of "saying whatever it takes to get X to come out the end"? (I'm not saying that's a bad thing, mind you).

Edited by Mnrchst

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Oh, I'm sorry, do you object to inane comparisons that are absolutely irrelevant being used as if they were serious?

Cause, you know, I thought that was the way you presented a case - pull in absolutely absurd irrelevant concepts and treat them as if they were equivalent to the subject at hand. You know - like trying to suggest that fucking to make a baby = the kind of constructive effort involved in creating a new concept.

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Well, that's more of a conclusion that follows from IP being illegitimate. If it is legitimate, then it is perfectly proper to use force against the violator, in the same way that it is proper to use force against a person who has stolen a car.

Indeed. If IP is a right, then force in defense of it is absolutely justified. And while I'm not claiming this to be an argument, per se, I simply want to report that there's something about the scenario I'd presented -- where Inventor assaults Patent Breaker's home to take the salt shaker that Patent Breaker had built -- which seems off to me. I feel differently here than I would if Patent Breaker had stolen Inventor's prototype.

I don't mean to say that my feelings on the matter constitute proof for anything at all, other than an internal ambivalence I hope to solve through this discussion.

You seem to have the right idea here, I would say the part you thus far disagree on or don't quite understand is how there is any furtherance of life going on by respecting IP.

Really, it's not any different than how all rights derive from a right to life and the stuff of existence that makes it possible to the furthest extent.

If I'm ultimately to accept IP, I'd hope not. :) This, then, is the connection I seek to grasp.

There isn't any obligation to prevent other people from using your ideas - I'd say it'd be totally irrational to keep any application of an idea locked up in a vault without any effort to trade.

While there might not be any obligation to prevent others from using your ideas, I'd say that we generally do want to stop others from violating our rights. If Patent Breaker builds his own salt shaker, and if this is a violation of Inventor's rights (that is: if it is an initiation of force against Inventor's life), then surely Inventor would want to take action against Patent Breaker (so long as he could do so safely).

But how exactly does it further Inventor's life to stop Patent Breaker from building his own salt shaker? Or to possibly put this another way, what damage does Patent Breaker do to Inventor by building this salt shaker?

Is it possible to violate a person's rights and do them no harm? I wouldn't think so. So if IP are rights, then their violation must result in some sort of damage... yes? Given my scenario: Inventor builds a salt shaker and Patent Breaker copy-cats, what is the damage done? Since the violation of IP must be an initiation of force, then to understand the damage done, perhaps we should look again at "force."

From Galt's Speech (via the Ayn Rand Lexicon):

To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight.

And so we must conclude that Patent Breaker has "interpose[d] the threat of physical destruction between [inventor] and his perception of reality" by building this salt shaker. But how? In what way is Inventor threatened by physical destruction here, at all? In what way is Inventor being forced to act against his own judgment?

The same Lexicon page has this, from "The Objectivist Ethics":

No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man.

In order to establish IP, we must show that Patent Breaker's building a salt shaker, though in his own home, though with his own materials, though through his own labor and directed by his own mind, and without Inventor ever needing be aware of it, is Patent Breaker initiating the use of physical compulsion against Inventor.

Can we do that?

By being able to control the fruits of one's labor, one is able to plan ahead in life, a planning process which is a very fundamental in the existence of humans and a big part of Objectivist ethics.

Absolutely agreed.

I wonder, though: the salt shaker in Patent Breaker's home... is that the fruit of Inventor's labor more than the fruit of Patent Breaker's? We can say in this case that Inventor inspired Patent Breaker, and even that, without that inspiration, Patent Breaker would not have built the salt shaker. Patent Breaker obviously owes Inventor in some respect, according to justice. But we do not "control" the "fruits of our labor" in the sense of owning everything that results from that labor, do we? If I dress in such a way as to inspire those around me to happiness, I own my clothing, certainly, but I'm not given the right to decide that some have the right to be happy at my sight... and others do not. I don't get to decide that some may be inspired of me, and others can't. And if someone is inspired at my sight, and goes home and creates something wonderful through that inspiration, whatever they create is theirs and not mine. I get no general claim over anything they subsequently do, simply because they "couldn't have done it without me," right?

How is this different than what Patent Breaker does in building the salt shaker? How does Inventor own the fruit of Patent Breaker's labor?

A rational producer will likely ask how to best distribute his ideas and turn a profit, or how to spread their really awesome idea of a salt shaker (maybe yours is automatic, and is also able to measure if your food is salted enough) so that further benefit can come out of inspiration in other inventors.

Well, I grant distribution as certainly being a possibility, but I can also envision a person "inventing" simply for his own purposes. He still "profits" in that his life is better than it was before.

Technology is a great way to benefit oneself beyond bare sustenance, and certainly a great reason why thet people around here would praise almost everything about the industrial revolution.

Agreed -- technology is wonderful.

Of course, if we're speaking of an irrational inventor, they may make little to no effort at trade. But that's still okay, because the only way to benefit from others and to let them pursue their own ends is their process of reasoning, even if poorly done. *Protecting* rights is a matter of ensuring that people are able to think and pursue their own ends as they see fit.

I don't know that I'm supposing an irrational inventor. I'd rather my Inventor be rational, for the purposes of our discussion. And I certainly want rights to be protected, and if IP are rights indeed, then I'll be all in favor of their full protection. Does Patent Breaker's building the salt shaker prevent Inventor from pursuing his own ends?

Since you've mentioned "distribution" and implied that Inventor must be irrational if that's not his end, perhaps we should suppose that Inventor wishes to build and take his salt shaker to market. Can we say that Inventor has potentially lost a sale in Patent Breaker, because Patent Breaker has built his own salt shaker? Is it in this way that Patent Breaker has initiated the use of force and done "harm" to Inventor?

But at what point was Inventor ever entitled to sell anything to Patent Breaker? If Patent Breaker had simply refused to buy from Inventor for X given reason (Inventor charges too much? the market is too far to travel?), has he similarly done Inventor harm? If Competitor has developed a different product which serves Patent Breaker's needs better than Inventor's, has Competitor thus done Inventor harm?

If that which dissuades Patent Breaker from buying Inventor's salt shaker is thus stopping Inventor from pursuing his own ends, then... but no, no, that's nonsensical.

Inventor never had the right to sell to Patent Breaker. Inventor is free to bring his salt shakers to market, certainly. And if he and Patent Breaker agree on terms for a trade, then that's their right as well. In this way, Inventor is free to exchange values with Patent Breaker... if they agree to the exchange. But if Patent Breaker doesn't agree to such an exchange, then Inventor is entitled to nothing of Patent Breaker's. So to suggest* that Patent Breaker is doing harm to Inventor in building a salt shaker by robbing Inventor of the money he'd get in selling Patent Breaker that salt shaker does not seem to hold. You can't rob something from someone if they were never entitled to it in the first place.

*(Not to say that you've suggested any such thing; I'm just trying to work things out here. :) )

If I were you, I'd follow this line of reasoning further:

"But on the other hand, I could see how Patent-Breaker's life would be furthered by taking inspiration from the world around him -- such as in this salt shaker -- and then constructing something to make his life better in this fashion. This strikes me as "right" of him to do."

If we are to say that Patent Breaker should want to reward that which "inspires" him, I agree. That inspiration doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from Inventor's mind and effort, and that's way, way valuable. I'd even go so far as to say that, in my example, Patent Breaker "owes" Inventor.

But there are certain benefits we convey onto others where we don't get to set the terms, aren't there? For instance, if this post I'm writing now were to spark some sort of frenzied "Objectivist" reformulation of property rights, ultimately leading to bestselling monographs, and etc., I'd expect that those who've benefited from my probing and efforts would "owe" me in some sense. They'd likely be aware of that, and who knows but I might get an acknowledgement or two? But I wouldn't have legal recourse to dictate the terms of their efforts, would I? Should I? I wouldn't have any ownership stake in their creations.

In building his salt shaker, in having Patent Breaker over for supper, Inventor clearly has provided a great benefit to Patent Breaker. This cannot be denied.

But it similarly cannot be denied that Patent Breaker must use his own mind and labor to construct a salt shaker of his very own. And to this point, I still do not understand how Inventor acquired the "right" to tell Patent Breaker that he cannot use his mind and labor in this specific fashion.

***

Note: I had intended, and wished, to also respond to Greebo here and now. Unfortunately it's past 3 in the morning, and tomorrow I set off for some on-the-road vacation and then an intrastate move. It'll be a while before I'm able to respond regularly, and I apologize for that, but I look forward to our future discussion(s)! -- DA

Edited by DonAthos

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