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Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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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?

So you're saying that you're deliberately making arguments that you know make no sense out of spite? Whether you believe it or not, I've been doing my best to figure this issue out. Is this attitude of yours supposed to persuade people?

like trying to suggest that fucking to make a baby = the kind of constructive effort involved in creating a new concept.

Are you saying that it took the same amount of effort (I never said that)? If not, I'll point out that it took a while before someone made the point that making a baby doesn't completely consist of volitional thought. Before that, someone saying "You should have the product of volitional thought" seemed to me to imply "You should have the product of a process which includes volitional thought" more than "You should have the product of only your volitional thought." Someone could've made the necessary distinction early, but instead all I got for a couple pages was "But they have rights!"

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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 th

I will be more exact and precise in my expression. Please be literal in trying to understand what I write. You claimed it was possible to download a copyrighted song and then not make money

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.

It wouldn't be the inventor, but a cop. Also, you can just as easily say that it's a property right violation when you take my saw from me when I try to cut down a tree on your land. If a patented idea=property, it doesn't matter if someone uses force to protect it. The relevant issue is what should and should not be property.

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?

If it's his property, he can have whatever reason he wants to stop someone from using it. If it isn't, it doesn't matter what he thinks about its use. You can just as easily say "What damage does the homeless person do to the property owner by living in a forest on a large plot owned by the property owner?" In a sense, nothing, but it doesn't matter, because it's his property.

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?

This is like asking why someone should own something when someone else could use it to create more value.

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?

He doesn't--he owns the idea. This is like asking "How can the marble owner own the fruit of the sculptors labor...when the sculptor sculpted on the marble owner's marble without his permission?"

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An issue that I thought was interesting came up in another thread, and although it's off-topic a bit there, it's quite on topic here, so I thought I'd call attention to it:

...For starters, if inventions and writings in the abstract are property, then they would all be owned in a capitalist system. But even Rand acknowledged a need for them to have limited duration, and thus have the 'owner' be the public. This appears to be a contradiction.

Here, iamthatis is referencing Ayn Rand's definition of capitalism: "Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned." - Ayn Rand.

According to Ayn Rand, all property is privately owned under capitalism. However, after a certain time period patents expire, and the idea becomes part of the 'public domain.' Does this mean that the idea is no longer property? That it is property, but that it is publicly owned? Or unowned? How can her support for time limits on patents be reconciled with her view that all property should be privately owned under capitalism?

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Is it perhaps because of the open-ended nature of concepts?

What I mean is, if all concepts (according to O'ism) are open-ended then wouldn't permanent patent rights essentially close-off the concept? Seems to me that if we were to close of an entire class of knowledge to further consideration (by anyone other than the owner) that this would be devastating to individuals as well as civilization as a whole.

This isn't something that I've studied or considered much, but the relationship between open-ended concepts and patents jumped out at me.

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if all concepts (according to O'ism) are open-ended then wouldn't permanent patent rights essentially close-off the concept?

Are you saying that they aren't open ended if they have a limited time span? I think they still would be, because the time span wouldn't be "open ended" but instead "X years".

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Before making my argument, I would like to note that I have not read the entirety of these fifteen pages, and am therefore somewhat misinformed on what has and has not been said. Normally I would not attempt to make a point under these circumstances, but I would like to offer my opinions to the original poster (as opposed to continuing this debate as a whole.)

Much of this thread has strayed far off point, so I will attempt to stay as concise as possible.

"Why should ideas be considered property?" (paraphrased, referring specifically to songs, books, etc, but also to ideas as a whole.)

To begin, the most basic definition of property, by its root, proprius: One's own. Now I have read it asked (in some form or another) "Yes, but how do you define 'own' or 'belong?'", which has been correctly answered: "To own is for a volitional being to have created a thing (an original thing to be specific)." Ownership also includes ownership by trade, which is simply a way of exchanging items of equal value (I may come back to this, but it remains a tangent for now.) The only rebuttal to this answer has been "but you create a child, is it not now your property?" (admitting that children are not property, but used in an attempt to invalidate the opposing argument.) This argument by the original poster does not invalidate the definition of ownership, and this is why: if the "child" the parents created were not a human being, but nothing more than a lump of matter, then yes, the parents would own it. However, because the child is, in fact, a being a volitional consciousness, ownership does not and can not apply to him/her. The child makes his/her own decisions and lives his/her own life, and the parents have no claim on the child's life. If humans in matter and humans in consciousness were divisible, then it could be said that the parents own the child's body, but this is not the way a human functions, and because a human is an indivisible being of matter and consciousness (taken directly from Rand), the parents can't own the human.

So (unless to OP would like to refute any of the above arguments), it is undeniable that any tangible thing a human creates by a process of volitional thought and action is that human's property. The OP, however, seems to believe, or at least wants to hear a strong argument against, that an abstract creation, such as a song, does not fall under this category of "property." The main (and unrefuted, from what I have read) argument the OP made was that pirating a song from the internet does no harm to the creator of the song. There is direct, immediate harm that the thief has done to the creator, and it is the same harm that would have been done were the object more tangible. The thief is benefiting, while the creator is not. This is exactly the same as stealing a car, as the owner is no longer benefiting, while the thief is benefiting. When a rational human creates a song and publishes the song, he/she put time and work into the creation of that song, and intends to make it accessible to others in exchange for their money (the amount spent being an amount agreed to be equal to the profit of enjoyment experienced by the listener.) If someones steals this creation and gives it out for free, the benefits the creator would have reaped are now gone.

"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?"

The initiation of force was when someone else claimed the right to use something he/she does not own. Willingly telling someone about an invention does not give that person the right to use it. Using or reproducing an invention without the approval of the inventor is an act of force against the inventor, as you are claiming the right to someone else's property (see def of property above, and if you disagree, please give a valid argument against it).

Referring to point number 4, as it is too long to quote: Yes, it is an issue for the courts, but yes, philosophy does also have guidelines to how the subject should be approached. What are those guidelines? The system of judgment itself. To attempt to determine whether or not copyright infringement has taken place or not, the human judging must synthesize all the facts at hand and make a rational decision about whether or not infringement has indeed taken place. According to you, "there's no way (I can think of) where you can demonstrate a copyright violation." Let me set up a few parallel scenarios, dealing with murder instead of copyright laws, as they are approached in the same manner, being matters of judgment. There are obvious cases of guilt in both scenarios; if the murderer's fingerprints are on the weapon, blood was found on his clothes matching the victim, etc, the evidence is just as incriminating as if there are sections of a copy-written book that are exactly identical to the book suspected to be the copy. Then there are less obvious cases, such as if the murderer can only be placed in the general area, or if only the plot elements of a book are identical. In either case, it is the judge's job (whether the actual judge or any other human judging the case) to rationally determine whether the evidence is strong enough to all but eliminate the element of "chance" and incriminate the person being judged.

If, by dramatic coincidence, you somehow happen to create a book nearly identical to another and are sued, then the error is not in the copy-write system, but in the judgment of whoever oversaw the case. If your situation were all it took to make a law invalid, then it would be wrong to accuse anyone of murder, because what if, by dramatic coincidence, you touched a knife that was later used to kill someone and soon after walked through the future scene of the crime, leaving your shoe prints at the scene?

This post actually ended up being fairly long winded, didn't cover half of what I had wanted to cover, and didn't go deep enough in what I did cover, but I think I'll wait for any response before continuing.

Actually, one last thing I would like to address: your hypothetical of a man who invents something that will save the entire world but decides not to share it. No rational man (who valued his/her own life) would do this. If the world were about to end, this would mean his life would also be coming to an end and not using his invention to save himself would essentially be an act of suicide. If, in a more likely situation, a man invents something that could possibly save a nation, but chooses not to save it, that nation has no right to take it from him if he chooses not to share his invention. This situation is actually seen today. The inventor of a water filter does not produce at a loss and give away every one of his filters for free, does he? However, if someone is able to exchange his/her own production for that water filter, the inventor would be glad to make the trade. Just because someone needs something does not give them the right to it, even if that person needs it to survive. In your hypothetical situation, just because the people need something, they should have the right to seize it. The same principle you apply here would be applicable to any other case of need in the world, and those who produced would receive nothing while those in need would receive everything: the less you sow, the more you reap. Need is not a claim.

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That's a good post, especially about point 4. I've decided patents are good, but I'm not convinced about copyrights (please read page 12 onwards). In a nutshell, if Rand's argument is that all property is fundamentally intellectual because we survive by using our minds, then doesn't that imply property should be limited to things which can directly help us survive? In other words, just because some ideas should be property, that doesn't necessarily mean all (or X, Y, but not Z) ideas should be property. If I draw a simple drawing on a piece of paper, is the design my property? What about a 2 page story? A fashion design? Etc.

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There is an interesting line between what can and cannot be considered property. I haven't fully explored this line yet, but from what I have thought through, I think I have established where I think this line should be (though I'd have to refine it for any legal situation.) One point I would like to make is that when Rand argued that all property is intellectual because we survive by using our minds, I don't believe that she implied property should be limited to things related to survival only (and if she did, I would not agree with her). What makes all property intellectual is that anything created or manipulated requires a process of thought, which also is our differentiating survival mechanism. Without this way of survival, the concept of property would be akin to property in an animal's world, in which whoever has the most brute force controls the most land. She was making a point that property is not acquired by brute force among men when rational, thinking minds are involved, not commenting at all on what is or is not property. Our tool of survival is how we acquire property, but this does not mean all property deals with survival. It's similar to how a circle is an ellipse but something being an ellipse does not mean it's a circle, and that sort of paradox can lead to slight errors in a train of thought.

On to defining property a little more clearly. To put my opinion simply, if you make a simple design on a piece of paper, it is your property. As is a two page story. Fashion design is...well... I began to type out my opinion, then retracted it because I honestly have not put enough thought into this to discuss it, though my general conclusion was that mixing and matching clothes can not fall under the legal definition of property (as in, not protected, though whether or not it is property in the literal sense is something I might come back to), because you cannot and should not be able to prevent someone from buying others' products and matching them in the same fashion, while a new dress being created should be legally considered property.

After looking back a few pages as you suggested, "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. " I don't think this is necessarily true. I think you may be looking a bit too specifically at these individual situations, and it's hindering your ability to see the whole picture. A song is clearly not a concept (and should, therefore, not be treated as such. We do not fake reality.) A song is a very specific arrangement of music and/or lyrics produced by a thinking mind. This does not, however, imply that someone else can change a few words and claim it to now be a new product and attempt to leech off of the products of the song's creator, in the same way that an aircraft producer copying another producer's plane but adding a stripe down the side does not make it a new product. Patents and copyrights should be approached in the same manner of judgment I discussed before. This was not what I had intended on discussing. I digress.

Next piece to address...

"just because some ideas should be property, that doesn't necessarily mean all (or X, Y, but not Z) ideas should be property"

Why not? All ideas are property. Allow me to use a very common, but effective method to attempt to prove this to you.

Imagine a man on a deserted, completely untouched and unknown island. What does this man own? He does not own the island unless he alters it; it is simply there. The one thing that is his property, in the entirety of the word, is whatever he creates, including ideas. If he did not own the ideas, they would have had to come from some other source and have already existed (and...there's no need to say how ridiculous that is.) When there is no one to take away the man's property, it is very difficult to attempt to define it as anything except creation.

So now, after both of these posts, I have a somewhat firm foundation of the definition of property and can address what I think is the issue at hand. You are having difficulty recognizing some things as property because it is legally difficult to enforce, or entirely unenforceable. Why does this exclude some things from the definition? Because someone can easily steal a song from me, it is no longer mine? What about a two page story? Or a simple drawing? Anything a human being creates by a process of volitional thought is that human's property. Some of your property cannot be stolen; like you said, nothing stops someone from creating a song and never sharing it with anyone. For the property that can be stolen, we have copyrights and patents to protect the true creators of whatever the property may be. Some property, like your two page story, falls in an interesting category; it is still your property, but the simpler the property is, the harder it is to prove it is your own design, and the harder it is to protect. And, in fact, most of these simple things do not need protecting; if anyone can, and many people have, come up with the same idea as you, no harm is done if someone else happens to create the same thing.

Remember that patents and copyrights are something someone can voluntarily use. You spoke about how some products may be just as successful by using donations as their financial support; many products do this already. The software industry comes to mind, in which many designers choose to include the source code of their product, encouraging others to improve on it and still turn a profit. There are many, many people in the world who would rather kill an inventor for his product than to create for themselves or pay for the product, and that is why we have patents and copyrights. The problem with copyrights and why they are so difficult to enforce isn't that property is debatable, it's that those people who would rather kill are not only common, but their behavior is encouraged.

Edited by Eyesandhands
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I don't believe that she implied property should be limited to things related to survival only.

That's true. But it seems to me that that is the logical conclusion to make from her essay. It seems to me that she is saying "survival is good, and you need ideas to survive, therefore, ideas are property (because you need ideas to survive)." But what about the ideas that don't help you survive?

I don't think this is necessarily true...A song is clearly not a concept (and should, therefore, not be treated as such. This does not, however, imply that someone else can change a few words and claim it to now be a new product).

Why not? It is a new product--it's different. You might say "Without the original, the other person (probably) wouldn't have come up with the other idea." But you could also say "Inventor A (probably) wouldn't have thought of invention X without the inspiration s/he drew from inventor B's recent invention Y."

All ideas are property.

Fashion design...I honestly have not put enough thought into this to discuss it.

?

Edited by Mnrchst
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Is it perhaps because of the open-ended nature of concepts?

There is a distant connection there, but more relevant is the legal doctrine against perpetual property. See Mortmain and Rule against perpetuities, both having to do with preventing the "dead hands" of the past from ruling over the living forever. The common law time limit was 20 years from "the time of the instrument", about the same as the original patent and copyright terms. In other words, I'm saying that the legal instrument in question whether it be a patent, copyright, will, or whatever must have a definite time limit on its terms. Wills, patents and copyrights are not contracts (or perhaps they are "borderline cases" of the class 'contract') so they are treated the same in this respect: a standard upper time limit is imposed.

Note in the article on the rule against perpetuities the explanation for the modern lengthening and abolishing of the rule. A loophole in the 1986 Tax Act has led to the formation of "dynasty trusts." Basically, if you are super-rich you don't have to worry about your estates being taxed as inheritance. This is bullshit. Either everyone should pay death taxes, or no one should pay death taxes. This is corrupt. edit: It is just as corrupt as the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act.

Edited by Grames
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Why not? It is a new product--it's different. You might say "Without the original, the other person (probably) wouldn't have come up with the other idea." But you could also say "Inventor A (probably) wouldn't have thought of invention X without the inspiration s/he drew from inventor B's recent invention Y."

"an aircraft producer copying another producer's plane but adding a stripe down the side does not make it a new product"

If you believe what you just said, then patents are just as invalid as you believe copyrights to be.

I understand that you may disagree with me, but did you read what I had to say? It's beginning to look like you're arguing for the sake of arguing, not to have your questions answered.

And to answer your "inspiration" point, this is again a matter for a judge to decide. Inspiration is not a violation of property rights, but it also does not give the original person (the one who inspired) any rights to the new invention. If I inspire someone to build a skyscraper by drawing a tall building, I have done nothing with my own mind to create that skyscraper, and can therefore claim no credit. If I complete an entire design for a skyscraper and someone else builds it without my permission, they are attempting to benefit off of the product of my mind. Anyone judging the situation can try to figure out if it was mere inspiration or if it was a copy. (Again, refer to my post on judgment and why patents and copyrights fall in that category.)

Edit:

As an answer to "?" :

"can not fall under the legal definition of property (as in, not protected, though whether or not it is property in the literal sense is something I might come back to)"

"Some of your property cannot be stolen; like you said, nothing stops someone from creating a song and never sharing it with anyone. For the property that can be stolen, we have copyrights and patents to protect the true creators of whatever the property may be. Some property, like your two page story, falls in an interesting category; it is still your property, but the simpler the property is, the harder it is to prove it is your own design, and the harder it is to protect. And, in fact, most of these simple things do not need protecting; if anyone can, and many people have, come up with the same idea as you, no harm is done if someone else happens to create the same thing."

Any and every idea you have is your property, but some do not need protection or simply cannot be protected.

The fact that you intentionally try to find errors in the arguments of those arguing against you is good. But when you take pieces out of context, you only weaken your own argument.

Please, before responding, make sure you aren't asking questions such as "why not?" when I give the answer only a sentence later. Instead, if you disagree, say "Point A is wrong because ____" or concede; don't use circular logic, especially among those in this forum. (This is not meant to be an insult: just advice in hopes that we can communicate more clearly.)

Edited by Eyesandhands
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I see your point, but you said "All ideas are property." Isn't property a purely political concept? In other words, isn't it fair to say that you believe something is property if and only if you think it should be protected by the state? In other words, believing something deserves to be property is different from believing it should legally be property, and therefore that it actually be property. Does this make sense? I see this as sort-of analogous with Rand believing murderers deserve death, but still opposing the death penalty.

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"an aircraft producer copying another producer's plane but adding a stripe down the side does not make it a new product"

If you believe what you just said, then patents are just as invalid as you believe copyrights to be.

No, because in the "stripe" example, nothing has been invented. However, if I make a rendition of a song with different arrangements than the original, I've still created something. Does you follow my reasoning (whether you agree or not)?

Anyway, my essential argument here has been that property should only apply to things which can relate to your survival, which you didn't comment on, but I'd still like to explore this other issue as well.

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Anyway, my essential argument here has been that property should only apply to things which can relate to your survival, which you didn't comment on, but I'd still like to explore this other issue as well.

I don't really recall your "argument" but I do remember its refutation in one devastating line by Greebo:

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

To this you retort:

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.

Which proves that you cannot be taken seriously. By this line of "reasoning" you have conceded the argument. After all, books can be incinerated, inventions can be incinerated, musical instruments can be incinerated. And actually we can negate Rights while we're at it since we can return to your original argument that people can be property which is now confirmed since they can be incinerated also.

You have denied that you think that people can be property but I am starting to wonder. It isn't so far fetched, there are actually many anarchists and libertarians who accept this premise, you know, the ones who call the Civil War the "War of Northern Aggression". Are you one of that stripe?

Beyond that, your incinerator argument holds no water since burning a video game console does not address an existential threat and it most certainly does not advance your survival since you would be much better off selling the console to buy much more fuel to burn than the console itself provides. You'd actually be hurting your survival by burning the console.

So why don't you try actually addressing Greebo's devastatingly simple refutation. You say "property should only apply to things that necessarily relate to survival" what about those things which don't necessarily relate to survival? What about things that are just meant for fun or even things which are frivolous? Are cookies, Lambourghinis, and movie tickets not actually property?

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No, because in the "stripe" example, nothing has been invented. However, if I make a rendition of a song with different arrangements than the original, I've still created something. Does you follow my reasoning (whether you agree or not)?

Anyway, my essential argument here has been that property should only apply to things which can relate to your survival, which you didn't comment on, but I'd still like to explore this other issue as well.

Then if I take an aircraft and build it out of a slightly different material and move the flap positioning, it should be considered a new creation? The stripe on the aircraft wasn't important, it was just my tool for the argument.

And again, it depends on the amount of changing that is done, which only matters in a legal sense, and is a matter of judgment. If you used identical lyrics and rearranged it, you are feeding off of the success of someone else. If you take the lyrics of a song but give it a different musical composition of your own, you can take credit for the music, but you may not take credit for the song as a whole and should ask permission to use the lyrics. Saying, as you did, that changing a few words around in a song makes it yours and that you created it is like changing the tires on your car and saying that you built an entirely new car.

Property is ownership. If I create something, what right does anyone else have to that thing? That is what makes it property; when you create something entirely original, it is entirely yours and no one can take it from you unless you willingly trade/give it up or it is taken by force. Force, in this case, includes taking without consent. Again, copyright is something one can voluntarily use. If I do not care if others use my creations, I do not need to protect myself. If I create something solely for private use, no one can even steal it. However, if I do not want a person taking my creation, most often because I intend to benefit financially, I can use copyright to protect it. Arguing that copyright should not exist is arguing that every product of my mind (until I make it into a physical form, since you're fine with patents) belongs to everyone else. The only difference between copyrights and patents is that patents deal with material objects while copyrights deal with less tangible ideas, but they are still products of one's mind. How can you even draw much of a line between the two? Both can be sold, and benefited from financially; both require time, thought, and effort to create; and both, being creations of one's mind, are automatically property of the creator. You say that less tangible ideas should not be protected by law. I've said this before (without response): why is it that something will absolutely belong to me when there is no one to take it away, but if someone has the ability to steal it, I should no longer own that object at all. It's like you've already done the thief's job for him.

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After all, books can be incinerated, inventions can be incinerated, musical instruments can be incinerated.

Yes, which is why I think they count as property.

And actually we can negate Rights while we're at it since we can return to your original argument that people can be property which is now confirmed since they can be incinerated also.

I never made that argument--all I said was that the argument "you own X because you made it" was incomplete.

Beyond that, your incinerator argument holds no water since burning a video game console does not address an existential threat.

What if doing so produces electricity and you use the electricity to address an existential threat? Can you do that with a song?

Are cookies, Lambourghinis, and movie tickets not actually property?

Can you burn those things? Would doing so produce electricity? Can electricity address an existential threat? Can you take the Lambourghini apart and use the materials to make something else which is more "practical"? Can you use the Lambourghini to travel somewhere much faster than you could get there using other methods of transportation? Can you get sustenance from cookies? Can you start a fire with movie tickets?

Edited by Mnrchst
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Then if I take an aircraft and build it out of a slightly different material and move the flap positioning, it should be considered a new creation?

I don't see either the materials used to make the plane or the flap positioning as important. What would be important would be if you came up with an idea which was fundamentally new--a new type of metal which could do things no other metal had been able to do before, a method for cold fusion, a faster computer processor, etc. In other words, I think what makes an invention an invention is that is does something which creates new values which were previously unavailable. Anyone could think "Gee, I'll move the flap position a little" with as much thinking as it takes to eat breakfast.

Saying, as you did, that changing a few words around in a song makes it yours and that you created it is like changing the tires on your car and saying that you built an entirely new car.

My entire point is that there should be no copyrights.

If I create something, what right does anyone else have to that thing?

This is where it gets tricky. What do you mean by creation? Don't I create a statue by carving it with marble I don't own? You need to be more precise.

That is what makes it property; when you create something entirely original

Again, this is tricky. When is something "entirely original"? Every book/song/film has similarities to other works to varying degrees.

Arguing that copyright should not exist is arguing that every product of my mind (until I make it into a physical form, since you're fine with patents) belongs to everyone else.

Should a very simple but unique drawing or a 3 page story get copyright protection?

and both, being creations of one's mind, are automatically property of the creator.

Why? Rand said, in essence, we survive by the use of our mind, therefore, the products of our mind are our property. This suggests to me, however, that only ideas which can necessarily relate to our survival should be property. Either (1) this isn't true (for reasons I'd like to know) or (2) Rand is correct that there should be copyrights, but her reasoning is a little off (again, for reasons I'd like to know).

why is it that something will absolutely belong to me when there is no one to take it away, but if someone has the ability to steal it, I should no longer own that object at all. It's like you've already done the thief's job for him.

I'm not (precisely) sure what you're saying here or where you're getting it from. I'd said (way) earlier something to the effect of "How is it theft if the musician doesn't have to make the song available?" and someone pointed out that I was begging the question because the critical issue is only whether or not it is property.

Edited by Mnrchst
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This suggests to me, however, that only ideas which can necessarily relate to our survival should be property.

So, do you disagree that the lyrics and/or the sequence of musical notes of a song are not neccesary to the surival of a song-writer/performer or that the words contained in a book are not necessary to the survival of an author?

Edit: I should add that I'm only asking this question, not that I'm agreeing with the inference you took from Rand's statement.

Edited by RationalBiker
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Can you do that with a song?

If you are allowed to trade it or the performance of it as property, yes. If people can just take your idea and use it, generally reducing it's value to your survival, it is less likely you could do that with a song.

Your whole argument continually seems to exclude the concept of "value" as a primary purpose for recognizing the concept "property" to begin with. The whole purpose for creating something "for your survival" is because it offers value to your life, either by it's use by you, or by its ability to be traded for other things that may be needed for your survival. In the case of words, songs, art, etc., those are the products by which the creators of those things trade for other items that are needed for their survival. That is why they "own" those things they create. If you bring up the "you create people" example again I'm just going to ignore it because everyone involved in this discussion has already recognized that people cannot be property and therefore do not apply to the statement, "you own what you create". That IS a complete argument for those who can connect the dots in acknowledging its inapplicability to people.

Edited by RationalBiker
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My only question doubt about IP is the barring of independent inventors/creators. People have a right to the values they create (i.e. entities themselves, not the exchange "value" of those entities--a system where one has rights to exchange values is impossible), and so of course if I build something I should own it, and even be able to get a patent on the design if I choose to (and I actually invented it). But what if someone else had already invented something, and I didn't know? Why shouldn't I be able to get a patent on it as well? After all, I can't be "stealing" from the other person, because the value of the thing I created is a result of my creating it (regardless of whether or not someone created something similar--or even indistinguishable). If I invented something, I created a value to which I should have a property right. It is irrelevant if someone else has a patent on a similar/identical design, as they were not the ones who produced the particular design in question (the one which I created, is on my computer, or on which my prototype is based).

One might object that land or any other material value would, under this case, be also able to be taken by a late-comer. But this is simply not the case. A physical object is a particular thing, to which only one person can have control at a time. Part of the identity of a thing is its history, and using someone else's property does not change the fact that it was originally their property. Ideas, including designs for an invention, can pass from person to person, or be created wholly out of a person's mind independently of all others. If I read a design for an invention and then go build it, I got my idea from someone else (from the other person's design), which would be akin to me using someone else's land or car. If I come up with a design myself, then it is like I tilled a new, previously unowned piece of land (as my idea originates from none other than my own mind). If someone else had the "same" idea, created the "same" design, then it would be analogous to my finding a piece of land that was remarkably similar to someone else's plot of land (to the point where we might not even be able to tell the difference, except geographic location).

This isn't to say that it would be easy to ever actually prove independent discovery. It took centuries before scholars finally decided that Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus independently of one another. However, if one can achieve whatever burden of proof is reasonable for independent discovery/creation, then I do not see any moral case for why one should be barred from getting a claim to one's creation. They didn't steal anyone's idea (they're an independent discoverer--they never came into contact with the other person's idea until after they already made their own), and they performed mental labor to create a value, so they should justly acquire a property right to their invention/creation. This would also apply, in principle, to copyrights, though I imagine that is far less of a concern than a patent, as copyrights are over things like books which are significantly longer and the odds of a truly independent creator of the same book is highly unlikely (far less so than one coming up with the same idea to solve a problem in industry, say).

It's also interesting to me that the case of independent discoverers is the only one which cannot be covered (it seems to me) by the selective sale of rights to physical entities--that is one in which one (broadly speaking) stipulates that one cannot reproduce the item in question nor sell it without stipulating the same (kind of like a Creative Commons license but restricting reproduction rather than allowing it).

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(i.e. entities themselves, not the exchange "value" of those en£tities--a system where one has rights to exchange values is impossible)

Can you explain this further? Doesn't barring force from the marketplace automatically secure the right to exchange value with other people?

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My only question doubt about IP is the barring of independent inventors/creators. People have a right to the values they create (i.e. entities themselves, not the exchange "value" of those entities--a system where one has rights to exchange values is impossible), and so of course if I build something I should own it, and even be able to get a patent on the design if I choose to (and I actually invented it). But what if someone else had already invented something, and I didn't know? Why shouldn't I be able to get a patent on it as well? After all, I can't be "stealing" from the other person, because the value of the thing I created is a result of my creating it (regardless of whether or not someone created something similar--or even indistinguishable). If I invented something, I created a value to which I should have a property right. It is irrelevant if someone else has a patent on a similar/identical design, as they were not the ones who produced the particular design in question (the one which I created, is on my computer, or on which my prototype is based).

It is not irrelevant if someone else already has a patent because you don't exist alone in the world as the only person who matters. This is a legal version of subjectivism you employ.

Objectivity applies to legal systems. Legal systems presuppose the existence of multiple persons. Objectivity is established between persons with rules and standards of proof. Two possible objective rules for priority in invention are 'first to invent' and 'first to file'. Proof will require reducing a conclusion back to the perceptual level. Whatever the rule is for establishing priority in an invention, someone will be first and can prove it to the satisfaction of the legal standard. First possession establishes a property claim in patents just as it does in filing a mineral claim for a new silver mine.

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