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Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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Yes. Gifts are given not taken/illicitly downloaded so why even bring this up?

How do I “take” the song from someone if they can still play it? If it’s because they didn’t consent to me hearing it, why should they be able to determine who uses their idea in such a way? It’s not because it’s impossible for them to keep their idea a secret. If it’s because it’s property, why is that? Why does a restaurant not have to pay royalties to Snoop Dogg if they say “Fo shizzle dizzle” in their birthday song?

If it is kept secret then he can't trade it for money or make a living as an artist.

That’s true. My point is I don’t think it’s theft if the creator can still use the idea (again, this is different from the car). I think you’re implying “The creator should make money off the use of their idea if people like it.” I agree. Isn’t it possible that people can donate to the creator? And if the creator doesn’t think they’ll get enough for the invention, they can just not tell people about and/or never create in the first place. I think if people are selfish, they’ll donate to the creator in the same way they’ll donate to a government. But if the user of idea isn’t preventing the creator from using their creation, why should we use force to prevent them from using the idea? Why not throw people who don’t pay the government in prison?

No, I said that.

You said

“What does "use the idea" mean in relation to copyright? It means selling that particular sequence of words or notes, or performing it for compensation”

and I pointed out that a copyright violation can include NOT SELLING the song but still listening to it. Therefore it means "using the idea without the explicit permission of the creator on a case by case basis" and not "selling that particular sequence of words or notes, or performing it for compensation”

Furthermore, the importance of that phrase is that it describes how the author uses his property. The same actions by others can constitute copyright violation because they diminish the author's ability to use his property.

You mean, “We shouldn’t let people listen to a song without the permission of the creator because it’s his property.” So why is it his property? And, again, the creator has the ability to use the property and determine whether others will use it or not.

If I drive my car onto your land and I refuse to leave and the government uses force to get it off, the ability to use my property has been diminished, but your’s has as well (there’s a car on your land now). ) I shouldn’t be allowed to keep it there because I initiated the act which put the car on your land (putting it there. If I initiate the act which puts a song on your headphones (giving a copy to someone else, who can then give the idea to others) and you listen to it and I don’t want you to, the ability for me to control the use of the idea hasn’t diminished because I could’ve not told anyone about it. If I use the government to control the use of the idea (by preventing you from listening to it), then I’ve diminished your ability to use your property (the headphones).

The exact part that applies to this portion of the sentence you want to nitpick is "... or does not buy it because he already has it". Assuming you understand nothing, I will spell out that the reason this is so: because a thief has stolen it already the thief has to need to buy it, and is enjoying the benefit of possessing it without compensating the creator.

This applies to government as well: Once a citizen is enjoying the government’s services, they have no “need” to donate to it. But, of course, they do, because they need it. People need creators to enjoy life (music) and take care of existential threats (a cure for cancer, renewable technologies to use after the oil’s gone, getting off of Earth before the sun cools down too much, ect.). They also need government.

Objectivists don’t want to force people to pay for the government which enriches their lives (who have “no need to buy it”). If someone enjoys the art they listen to or the invention which makes their business more productive, and they think rationally, they’ll voluntarily donate to the creator. Otherwise, creators might stop creating, and we’ll descend into total chaos when oil becomes scarce enough, and there’ll be no now films to go see. The same applies to government. If enough people don’t pay for the government, there’s no government, and we got anarchy. If people don’t want anarchy, they pay for government; if people want to enjoy art and inventions, they pay for them.

Read up on design patents and trade dress. Crudeness doesn't matter, originality does.

What do you think is the standard for originality? And why? Do you agree with the existing standards? Are they bad in some respects? If so, how? Also, when I said “crude” I meant “very simple, but still unique from all other copyrighted drawings”. If I make a simple drawing, it could be original. Should that be copyrighted? If not, what about a more complex one? Where do you draw the line? What about a unique combination of 50 words? If not, what about 100? Is a somewhat original combination of 100 words more copyright-worthy than a very original combination of 50 words? What’s the standard?

You merely equate property with possession. The truth is that property rights are not rights to things, they are rights to actions with those things as objects of the those actions.

No, if someone possesses my idea by reading my mind without my permission, I regard that as immoral.

The right to act to use, sell, dispose of a song is impaired when others unrightfully reproduce it.

Use? No, the creator can still use it.

Sell? Yes. And only property can be sold. Why do songs and inventions (as such) qualify as property?

Dispose? No. The creator can dispose of the song before anyone else hears of it, or their only copy of the song while others have their own copies.

I take an unrightful reproduce it to mean you read my mind without my permission and then use it. If I tell people about my idea, I can’t control what they do with it unless I control them—and they have the right to use themselves (their property) how they want to as long as they don’t violate other’s property rights. So why are songs and inventions property?

And since neither action is remotely possible, then taking an idea is impossible.

Just because it isn’t possible right now doesn’t mean it never will be. Someone could just as easily have asked Rand in the 1960s “Do property rights apply to a spaceship capable of traveling at .9 the speed of light?” And she says “Yes” and then you say “But there’s no such thing! Therefore, it’s not remotely possible. Therefore, property rights don’t apply to spaceships that go that fast (or the moon because no one’s colonizing it, etc), or, at least, we won’t be able to figure that out until it becomes possible.” You’re saying, in effect, there’s no property rights violation if someone reads your mind without your permission because it’s not currently possible. But what if it becomes possible? Is it not a property rights violation because it used to not be possible? And how do you know it will never be possible anyway?

What is taken is one's ability to put a protected work to use. Using a song means selling it or performing it.

Or listening to it.

When others reproduce the song without authorization then sales and the value of a performance is diminished.

And why does the creator deserve the value of the performance in a selling sense? Is it because a song is property? If so, why? I certainly think they deserved to be rewarded for their work and I don't think we should force people to pay for their work if the creator tells people about it, just as I don't think people should be forced to pay for their government.

You didn't have control when the car was stolen.

Ah, I see. My bad.

So since this is a reference to the car which was stolen (“It’s only your property if you control it, control includes consent”) then you’re saying “You should be able to control your own property.” But why are songs/inventions property?

See post #42 above for a review of the criteria in the paragraphs starting with the words "Objectivity in intellectual property is established by ..."

"Objectivity in intellectual property is established by only protecting particular expressions"

Which ones? By what standard? Why is it good? Why are other standards bad?

"Copyrightable works must be original."

By what standard? Why is it good? Why are other standards of originality bad?

"The question of what is copyrightable and patentable is a solved problem."

What's the (correct) solution? Why is it good? Why are other standards bad?

try to inform the police that your valuable secret invention was stolen, and see what they can do for you when you refuse to tell them what it looks like or does.

Gotcha.

They have every right to do so because songs and inventions are property, and property necessarily comes along with a right to exclude.

Why are they property?

When you claim things like songs and inventions are not property you are claiming they cannot be used and disposed of. That makes no sense, because they obviously can be used and disposed of. That is what also makes them property.

There are things which aren’t property which can be disposed of (like people or the oxygen in the air). The only way your statement makes sense is if only property can be disposed of, which I never said.

Yeah, they can be disposed of if other things get disposed of. But they can’t be disposed of by themselves. It’s not like an idea is some floating cloud that follows me around. The materials which make up the invention can be disposed of. The manuscript which explains the invention can be disposed of. A digital copy of a song can be disposed of. The pages with the notes can be disposed of. My car can be crushed into a cube. The part of my brain which contains the information about the song or the invention can be disposed of/altered. The song/invention can’t be disposed of without disposing something else (which is someone's property).

"If you can use it, it's your property" and "If you can dispose of it, it's your property."

"Hey, guess what? Even though you can hardly believe it, that is the argument. I would add "If you created it, it's your property."

Parents create their children, yet children aren't their property. And children can be disposed of. Also, a person could dispose of your car. Does that mean it’s their property?

There are limits, see post #42.

It said “Here’s the limits” but not a justification for those limits (or even a little specificity about them).

If artists and inventors have to hide their works they may as well not even be any artists and inventors.

That’s true. If they want to benefit from the invention, people have to know about it. So why does that make it their property? There’s nothing preventing people from donating to them.

The concrete, tangible items within arms reach. That is what your understanding of property as possession instead of a right to action would reduce us to.

A backpack may be within by “arms reach” but that doesn’t mean I should take it. I don’t think of leaving the backpack there as an endorsement of people taking it because once it’s taken, the original possessor can’t have it anymore. If someone puts a song online, I’d say that’s an endorsement of people using it because it doesn’t deprive the originator of anything.

By destroying a critical source of wealth in a capitalist society

How so?

and by being an attack on the same principle underlying all property rights to even tangible, physical property.

How so?

Citizens voluntaily donate to artists and inventors by paying the price asked for them or not buying the products offered.

You’re conflating “buy” with “donate”

Not buying but still taking against the consent of the artist or inventor is theft.

Again, I take this to mean unpermitted mind reading. We don’t know that that’s “impossible”. Even if it is, it has nothing to do with whether or not using an idea without explicit permission by the originator on a case by case basis is theft.

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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

This thread is about PROPERTY. You already acknowledged that people are not property.

Now you are being deliberately obtuse.

I'm done here.

I'm pointing out that just because you create something of value doesn't necessarily mean you own it. Do people have value? If yes, then the argument "You own what you create that has value" is incomplete. I think this is a pretty simple point.

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You clearly miss the point that I was making about what constitutes permission in terms of communication.

If I upload a song onto the internet, I’ve told you about it AND you have it and can listen to it without tangibly harming me. If I tell you about my hot wife, I’ve told you about her AND you’re not fucking necessarily able to consentally fuck her.

Perhaps, but this isn't just about you, it's about all creators of products.

Really dude? I’m trying to be concise and not write in a cumbersome way.

Look at it this way: “If ANYONE voluntarily uploads a song they created onto the internet, someone else can have it on their computer without tangibly harming the person who created the song, like how someone is tangibly harming someone else by using that person’s car by taking it away from them so they don’t have it.”

Creating a new idea and making money from that does not restore the value lost from the original idea.

I’m not talking about new ideas restoring lost value of a previous one.

This is like saying that if your car is stolen, you can always get a new car to restore the value lost.

Huh? If someone steals my car, I no longer have it. If someone listens to my song, I can still listen to the song.

Non-sequitur to the point I've made.

So you’re saying “They lose sales even if they make the same money in donations.” Okay, I agree. But how are they harmed if they make the same amount of money off the idea regardless of whether it comes from donations or not?

I see. Rather than acknowledging a person's right to the fruits of their labor, you would rather not have them produce their work in digital form because it becomes easy to steal. If they make it easy to steal, it must therefore be moral to steal it. Gotcha. This principle carries over to material products as well. If I leave the keys in my car, it is now moral to steal my car.

No. I’m saying that the issue is whether or not songs/inventions are property. If a song is property, no one should play it without the creator’s explicit consent on a case by case basis regardless of whether or not they make it only on vinyl or put it in digital from. Furthermore, if a song isn’t property, people should be able to listen to it without the creator’s explicit consent on a case by case basis regardless of whether or not it’s in a digital form.

I never said something isn’t property if it’s “easy for someone else to use.” I’m pointing out that if a creator chooses to give a copy of their song to someone else, they’re enabling everyone else in the world to hear that song, because whether or not that happens depends on what the other person does, and they can only prevent that person from telling the whole world AFTER they voluntarily gave them the copy by controlling them with the use of force. If they don’t want the possibility to exist that somewhat-wealthy people listen to their song and don’t pay them, then they can decide to not tell anyone else about the song. If people are selfish, they voluntarily donate to the creators just as they would voluntarily donate to their government.

More non-sequitur.

How so? You were saying, in effect: “People shouldn’t download a song without paying the creator even if they would’ve never listened to it if they could only listen to it if they paid the creator money.” So I’m pointing out why not also say “People shouldn’t be allowed to benefit from a government without paying for it even if they could only benefit from it if they would’ve never benefited from it if they could only do so by paying taxes”? It’s like saying “People should pay taxes because there are taxes.”

The issue here is whether or not songs/inventions are property or not. Just because a society says “You shouldn’t download a song without paying the creator.” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong to do so. The fact that there are taxes doesn’t make them moral.

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I'd also like to point out that (so far) no one has responded to this point:

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

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

That's not why anti-trust is wrong, but that is often a consequence of anti-trust laws with their almost impossible to define boundaries between breaking the law and acting legally. There is a way to know actually if you violate a copyright, you said so yourself. Yes, it really is fair, the same way it is fair to get sued for using a mine someone else discovered and uses. Perhaps there is no sign, maybe the owner is on vacation for a week, there are many reasons why you might not know who owns what, but the point is that any property-holder has a moral right to use the fruits of his labor that he has literal control over. You can be legally and forcibly reprimanded for having not taken the precaution of checking if someone owned it. You might say it's "unfair" because you didn't get to use the mine to use your too-late discovery to sell minerals, and maybe you'd do it better, but, well, you'd have to deal with it.

If you really want to get into what property is, can you explain why you think mines can be property? While the specifics of how to deal with copyrights differ from cars, cars also differ from mines, which also differ from a Netflix subscription.

As an aside, anyone can CLAIM that a slave is property, but since there is some amount of volition and self-directed action, the nature of people are different enough that there's no reason to claim they are validly and appropriately property.

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Dante, is there another source besides those Mossoff papers which deals with the philosophic foundations of the production theory of property rights, or does a reduction of the concept?

Lysander Spooner's The Law of Intellectual Property

Ayn Rand must have known of Spooner through Rose Wilder Lane or Isabel Paterson or somebody. The reasoning tracks very closely.

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Lysander Spooner for you too, buddy.

In particular the two objections he addresses that sound like yours are

SECTION II.

Objection Second

The second objection, that is urged against the right of prop­erty in ideas, is, that, admitting, (what cannot with the least-reason be denied,) that a man is the sole proprietor of an idea, [*42] so long as he retains it in his exclusive possession, he neverthe­less loses all exclusive right of property in it the moment he communicates the idea to another person, because that other per­son thereby acquires as complete possession of the idea, as the original proprietor.

The remainder of his refutation of the second objection:

This is a very shallow objection, since it is founded ‘wholly on the assumption, that if a man once in trust his property in another man’s keeping, he thereby loses his own right of prop­erty iii it; whereas men are constantly intrusting their property in other men’s hands, in many different ways, and for many different purposes, as for inspection, for hire, for sale, for safe keeping, for tile purpose of having labor performed upon it, and for purposes of kindness and accommodation, without their right of property being in the least affected by it. Possession has nothing to do with a man’s right of property, after that right has once been acquired. He can then lose his right of property, only by his own consent to part with it.

This impossibility of losing one’s right of property, otherwise than by his own consent, is involved in the very nature of the right of property, which is a right of dominion - that is, a right to have a thing subject to one’s will. - It is an absurdity, a con­tradiction, to say that a man’s right to have a thing subject to his will, can be lost against his will; or can be separated from him by any other process than his own -will that it shall be separated from him. Hence a man can never sell, or give away, any thing that is his, by any other process than an act of his will, namely, his consent to part with his right of property in it. Otherwise a man would lose his right of property in a thing, every the he suffered another to take possession of that thing. He could not intrust an article of property in another man’s hand for a moment, for any purpose whatever, without losing his right to it forever. Yet men habitually intrust their property in each other’s keeping, with perfect freedom, without their ownership, or right of property, being in the least impaired thereby.

No assertion could be more utterly absurd, in regard to any [*43] corporeal thing, than that a man loses his right of property in it, by simply parting with his possession of it; for every day’s and every hours experience, both in business and in law, would give the lie to it. And yet the assertion is equally absurd, when made in respect to incorporeal things, as when made in respect to corporeal things. There is not so much as an infinitesimal dif­ference between the two cases.

The admission, therefore, that a man owns an idea, as property, while it is in his exclusive possession, is an admission that he owns it forever after, in whosesoever possession it may be, until he has consented to part, not merely with his exclusive possession, but also with iris right of property in it.

The only question, then, on this point, is, whether it is to be presumed, simply from the fact that a man voluntarily parts with the exclusive possession of his idea, that lie therefore consents to part also with his exclusive right of property in it? In other. words, whether it is to be presumed that a man consents to part with his exclusive right of property in his idea, simply from the fact that he makes that idea known to another person?

To answer this question requires a little analysis of the nature of the act, on which the presumption, if it exist at all, is founded.

In the case of a corporeal commodity, the act of making it known, and the act of giving possession of it, are distinct acts- the first not at all implying the last. But in the case of an idea, the act of making it known, and the act of giving possession of it, are necessarily one and the same act; or at least one necessarily involves the other. Yet, although the act of making an idea known, and the act of giving possession of it, are, in reality, one and the same act, still the act has two distinct aspects, in which it may be viewed, viz.: first, that of sinm1ily making the idea known (as in the case of making known a corporeal commodity); - and, secondly, that of giving possession of it. And the question proposed will be simplified, and more easily and conclusively [*44] answered, by considering the act in each of these aspects separ­ately.

The first question, then, is, whether it is to be presumed that a man intends to part with his exclusive right of property in an idea, simply because, he makes the idea known to another person?

Obviously there is no more ground, in nature, or in reason, for presuming that a man intends to part with his right of property, in an idea, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person, than there is for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property, in any corporeal commodity, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person. If a man describe his horse to another person, nobody presumes therefrom that he intends to part with his right of property in his horse. And it is the same of every other cor­poreal commodity. What more reason is there for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property in an idea, simply from the fact that he describes the idea, or makes it known, to his neighbor? Certainly there is none whatever, if we but regard the act, (as we are now attempting to do,) simply as making known the idea, and not as giving possession of it. On any other principle than this, men could not talk about their property to their neighbors, without losing their exclusive right to it.

Nothing, therefore, could be more entirely farcical, than the notion, that a man loses his exclusive right of property, in an idea, simply by making the idea known to other persons - provi­ded, always, that the act of making the idea known, be regarded simply as such, and not as giving possession of it.

Let us now boll at the act of making known an idea, in its other aspect, viz. : that of giving possession of it.

Here the question is, whether it is to be presumed that a man intends to part with his right of property in an idea, simply because he puts the idea into the possession of another person?

Here, too, there is manifestly no more ground, in nature,, or in reason, for presuming that a man intends to part with his right [*45] of property, in a valuable idea - that is, an idea. having an im­portant market value - simply because he gives it into the possession of another person, (without receiving any equivalent, or otherwise indicating any intention to part with his right of prop­erty in it,) than there is for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property, in any corporeal commodity, of the same market value’ with the idea, simply because he gives such commodity into the possession of another person (without receiv­ing any equivalent, or otherwise indicating any intention to part with his right of property in it). It is just as improbable, in reason, and in nature, that a man would gratuitously part with his right of property in an idea, that was worth in the market a hundred, a thousand, or a hundred thousand dollars, as it is that’ he would gratuitously part with his right of property, in a cor­poreal commodity, of the same market value.

The legal presumption, therefore, as to whether a man does, or does not, intend to part with his right of property in an idea, when he puts that idea into the possession of another person, will depend very much upon the market value of the idea. In short, the legal presumption will be governed by precisely the same principles, as in the case of a corporeal commodity.

To illustrate these principles. If one man give to another the possession of. a corporeal commodity, of so small value as a nut, an apple, or a cup of water, for example, without saying whether he also gives the right of property in it, the legal presumption clearly is that he does intend to give the right of property. Such is the legal presumption, because such is clearly the moral probability, as derived from the general practice of mankind. ­But if a man were to give to another the possession of a corporeal commodity, of so large value, as a horse, a house, ,r a farm, with­out receiving any equivalent, and without specially making known that he also gave the right of property in it, the legal presump­tion clearly would be, that he did not intend to give the right of property. Such would clearly be the legal presumption, solely because such would clearly be the moral probability, as derived [*46] from the general practice of mankind. But ‘where the value of a corporeal commodity is neither so great, on the one band, nor so small, on the other, as to furnish any clear rule of probability, as to whether the owner intended to reserve his right of property in it. or not, no absolute legal presumption, as to his intentions, can be derived solely from the fact of his giving possession of the thing itself; and consequently his intention, as to parting with his right of property, or not, may need to be proved by other evidence.

In the case of intellectual property, the legal presumption would follow the same rules of moral probability, as in the case of material property - that is, it would follow the rule of probability, where the probability, as derived from the general practice of mankind, was clear. But where the probability was not clear, the intention of the owner would be a fact to be proved by circumstances. If, for example, one man gave possession to another of an idea, that either had a merely trivial market value, or no market value at all, (like the ideas which men usually give freely to each other in conversation,) without otherwise indicating any intention as to parting with his right of property in it, the legal presumption, like the moral probability, would be, that he did intend to part with his exclusive right of property in it. But if, on the other hand, he gave possession of an idea, that had a large market value, without otherwise indicating his intention as to parting with his right of property in it, the legal presumption, like the moral probability, would he that he did not intend to part with his right of property. But where the value of the idea was neither so small, on the one hand, nor so large, on the other, as to furnish a clear rule of probability as to the owner’s intentions, the fact of his intention would he open to be proved by circumstances.

Of course a man could always reserve his right of property, in ideas of the smallest value, or part with his right of property, in ideas of the largest value, by specially making known that such were his intentions. [*47]

Whether, therefore, the act of making known an idea, be re­garded simply as making it known, (as in the case of making known a corporeal commodity,) or as also giving possession of it, it affords no ground for presuming that the owner intended to part with his exclusive right of property in it, provided the idea be a valuable one for the market; because it is naturally as improbable, that a man would gratuitously part with his right of property, in an idea, that would bring him an important sum in the market, as it is that he would gratuitously part with his right of property, in a corporeal commodity, that would bring the same sum in the market.

If it were possible for the law to regard the act of making an idea known, simply as making it known, (as in the case of making known a corporeal commodity,) and not also as giving possession of it, it would clearly be the duty of tile law so to regard it, when ever the idea was one that had an important value in the market. And any should the law so regard it? First, because such would clearly be the intention of the owner of the idea. When he describes his idea to his - neighbor, he no more intends to convey to him any valuable property right in the idea itself, beyond a mere knowledge of it, than he intends to convey a valuable property right in a corporeal commodity, beyond a mere knowledge of it, when he describes such commodity to his neighbor. his intention, in either case, is simply to convey a bare knowledge of the idea, or of the corporeal commodity, and nothing more. And his intention should be taken for ‘what it really is, and for nothing else, if that be possible.

A second reason to the same point is this. The one, to whom the owner communicates an idea, had no claim to it. He did not produce it. lie pays nothing for it. he had no claim upon the owner to furnish it to him. The owner did him a kindness, by giving him a simple knowledge of the idea, without any other right. These are sufficient reasons why, after the idea is made known to him, lie should claim no further rights in it, than the owner intended to convey to him. They arc also sufficient rea- [*48] sons why the law should, if it be possible, give such a construc­tion, and only such a construction, to the act making known the idea, as the owner intended.

But since the act of making an idea known, necessarily involves the giving possession of it, the law must, perhaps, necessarily regard it as giving possession of it. If so, the owner, when he makes an idea known, must take all the consequences that necessarily flow from giving possession of it. We have seen what those consequences are, to wit. Where the idea has a merely trivial market value, the presumption clearly is, that the owner intends to part with his exclusive right of property in it. Where the idea has a large market value, the presumption clearly is, that he does not intend to part with his exclusive right of prop­erty in it. But where the market value of the idea is neither very important, nor really unimportant, no very strong presump­tion either way can arise from the simple fact of giving posses­sion; and the owner’s intention will be open to he determined by other circumstances.

But there are very weighty reasons of policy, as well as of justice, why the fact, that a m5n makes known an idea, or gives possession of it, should, in no case, where his intentions are at all doubtful, be construed unfavorably to his retaining his right of property in it; and why the rule should at least be as strin­gent, in favor of tile owner, in the case of ideas, as in the case of material commodities of the same market value. These reasons are as follows.

First. Because it is manifestly contrary to reason and justice to presume that a man intends any thing, adverse to his own rights are his own interests, where no cause is shown for his doing so. This reason is as strong in the case of an idea, as in the case of a material commodity.

Secondly. Because men will be thereby discouraged from producing valuable ideas; from making them known; from offer­ing them for sale ; and from thereby enabling mankind to pur­chase, and have the benefit of them, The law should as much [*49] encourage men to produce and make known valuable ideas, and offer them for sale, as it does to produce and make known valuable mate­rial commodities, and offer them for sale. It should therefore as much protect a man’s right of property in a valuable idea, after he has produced it, and made it known to the public, mind offered it for sale, as it should his right of property in a valuable material commodity, after he has produced it, and advertised it to the public. It would be no more absurd or atrocious, in policy, or in law, to deprive a man of his right of property in a valuable material commodity, as a penalty for exhibiting or offer­ing ~1mat commodity to the public, than it is to deprive a man of his right of property in a valuable idea, as a penalty for bringing that idea to the knowledge of the public. If men cannot be protected in bringing their valuable ideas into the market, they will either not produce them, or will keep them concealed as far as possible, and strive to realize some profit by using them as far as they can, in private. In short, they will do just as men would do with their material commodities, if they were not protected in making them known to the public - that is, either not produce them, or keep them concealed, and use them in private, instead of offering them for sale to those ‘who would purchase and use them, for their own benefit, and the benefit of the public. The law cannot compel men to produce valuable ideas, and disclose them to the world; it can only induce them to do it. And it can induce them to do it, only by protecting their right of prop­erty in them, or by making some other compensation for them.

Thirdly. The law ought riot only to encourage mankind to trade with each other, but it ought to encourage them to trade honestly, intelligently, and therefore beneficially; and not knavishly, blindly, or injuriously. It ought, therefore, to encourage them to exhibit their commodities, and make known their true qualities in the fullest manner, to those who propose to become purchasers. If, therefore, a man have an idea to sell, he should be encouraged to make its true character and value fully known to the intended purchaser. But this time can do only by putting [*50] the idea into the possession of the proposed purchaser. This act, then, which the interests of the proposed purchaser require, and which the owner consents to for the satisfaction, safety, and benefit of the proposed purchaser, certainly ought not to be con­strued against the rights of the owner; any more than the fact, that the owner of any material commodity gives it into the hands of a proposed purchaser, in order that the latter may inspect it, and judge whether it be for his interest to purchase it, ought to be construed unfavorably to the rights of the owner.

No law could be more absurd in itself, or hardly more fatal to honesty in trade, or even more destructive to trade itself than a law, that should forbid the owner of a commodity to exhibit it, submit it freely to inspection, or even give it into the possession of a proposed purchaser, for examination and trial, except under penalty of thereby forfeiting his right of property in it. Com­mercial society could not exist a moment under such a principle. In fact, neither civil, social, nor commercial society could exist under it. And the principle is just as absurd, fatal, and destruc­tive, when applied t9 ideas, as it would be if applied to material commodities.

In the traffic in material commodities, tile law encourages hon­esty, confidence, disclosure, examination, inspection, and intelli­gence, by protecting the rights of the true owner, even though he surrender the commodity into the exclusive possession of a man, who proposes to purchase it. This is more than is ever necessary in the case of an idea; for there the owner always retains an equal possession, with the individual to whom he com­municates the idea. How absurd and inconsistent, then, is it to say that the owner of the idea, loses his right of property in it, by allowing another simply to participate with himself self in its possession., while the owner of a material commodity retains his right of property, notwithstanding he surrender to another the exclusive possession.

If the owner of a house admit a person into his house, either on business, or as a friend, or for inspection as a proposed pur­- [*51] chaser, he thereby as much admits such person to an equal pos­session with himself of the house, as the owner of an idea, admits a man to an equal possession of it, when he admits a friend, neighbor, or proposed purchaser, to a knowledge of that idea. And there is as much foundation, in justice, and in reason, for saying that the owner of the house thereby loses his exclusive right of property in his house, as there is for saying that the owner of the idea thereby loses his exclusive right of property in his idea.

So also, if the owner of a farm admit a man upon his farm, in company with himself, for any purpose whatever, he as much admits such person to an equal possession of it, for the time being, as the owner of an idea admits a man to an equal possession with himself, when he admits such person to a knowledge of that idea. And there is as much foundation, in justice, and in reason, for saying that the owner of the farm thereby loses his exclusive right of property in his farm, as there is for saying that the owner of the idea thereby loses his right of property in his idea.

It cannot be said that there is any want of analogy between these cases of ~he house and the farm, on the one hand, and of the idea on the other, for the reason that, in the cases of the house and the farm, the joint possession is temporary, but that, in the case of the idea, the joint possession is necessarily per­petual - (inasmuch as a man cannot at will be dispossessed, or dispossess himself, of an idea, after he has once become possessed of it). This difference in the cases is wholly immaterial to the principle, for the reason that, if equal possession were to give equal right of property, it would give it on the first moment of possession; and the one, who should thus acquire an equal right of property, would have thenceforth as much right to make his possession perpetual, as would the original owner.

This conclusion is so obvious and inevitable, and would be so fatal to all rights of property, that where one man thus admits another upon his premises, the law does not even consider it a [*52] case of joint possession, for any legal purpose whatever, except to protect the person admitted from violence during, and on account of, such occupation as he has been voluntarily admitted to. But for any purposes of property, control, use, ownership, or dominion, against the will of the true owner, it is not, in law, a case even of joint possession. And if this be a sound principle, in the case of the house, or the farm - as it unquestionably is - and one indispensable to the co-existence of social life and the rights of property - it is an equally sound principle, when applied to an idea.

On this principle, then, a person admitted, by its owner, to the knowledge or possession of an idea, without any intention, on the part of the owner, to part with any right of property in it, is not entitled even to be considered a joint possessor of the idea, for any legal purpose whatever, beyond the intention of the owner, except for the simple purpose of giving him a lawful protection from violence during, and on account of, such a possession as the owner has voluntarily admitted him to. For any of the purposes of property, control, use, or dominion, against the will of the true owner, he is no more in the legal possession of the idea, than, in the cases before supposed, the man admitted by the owner into a house, or upon a farm, is in legal possession of such house or farm. [*53]

In short, the general principle of law is, that where one man intrusts his property in another man’s possession, the latter has no right whatever to use it, otherwise than as the owner consents that he may use it. Not being the owner of it, he can exercise no kind of dominion over it, except such as the owner has given him permission to exercise. If he do use it, without the owner’s permission, and any inconvenience be occasioned to the owner thereby, or the property come to any harm in consequence, he becomes legally liable to pay the damages. Or if he use the property for purposes of profit, without the owner’s permission, the profits belong to the owner of the property, and not to the one having possession of it.

These are the general principles of the law of nature in regard to property intrusted by one man to the keeping of another. And they are as applicable to incorporeal property - ideas, for example - as they are to corporeal property.

The only exception to these principles, that is of sufficient importance to be noticed here, is where the keeping of another’s property is attended with expense, as a horse, for example, which must be fed. In such a case, if the owner have made no pro­vision for the support of the horse, the man having possession of him may use him enough to pay for his keep. But the principle of this exception would not apply at all to intellectual property -an ideas for example - which one man had intrusted to another; because the keeping of it would be attended with no expense. The man having it in his possession, therefore, would have no right to use it, without the owner’s consent.

The conclusion, therefore, is, that when one man communicates a valuable idea to another, without any intention of parting with his exclusive right of property in it, - the latter receives a simple knowledge, or naked possession, of the idea, without any right of property, use, control, or dominion whatever, beyond what the true owner intended he should have.

To conclude the argument on this point. There is one mon­strous inconsistency, or more properly one monstrous absurdity, in the laws, as at present administered, relative to intellectual property. It is this - that unknown ideas are legitimate object of property and sale; but that known ideas are not.

Thus the law, as now administered, holds, that if a man can makes a contract, for the sale of his ideas, without fir8t snaking them known, or enabling the purchaser to judge of their value, or of their adaptation to his use, they are a sufficient consideration for the contract, and consequently legitimate objects of property and sale; and the contract is binding upon the purchaser; and the seller, upon the delivery of the ideas, can compel the payment of the price agreed upon for them. But if he first make hi~ ideas known, so as to enable the proposed purchaser to see what [*54] he is buying, and judge of their value, and their adaptation to his uses, they are no longer legitimate objects of property or sale; are an insufficient consideration for a contract; and the owner thereby loses his power of making any binding contract for the sale of them; and loses his exclusive property in them altogether.

Thus the principle of the law, as now administered, clearly is, that if a man buy ideas, without any knowledge of them, he is bound to pay for them. But if he buy them, after full inspec­tion, and proof of their value, he is not bound to pay for them. They are then no longer merchandise. In short, the principle acted upon is, that unknown ideas are objects of property and sale; but known ideas are not.

To illustrate. If a man contract with the publisher of a newspaper, to furnish him a sheet of ideas, daily or weekly, for a year, for a given sum - the ideas themselves being of course unknown at the time of the contract, and their intrinsic value being necessarily taken on trust - such ideas are legal objects of property and sale, and a sufficient consideration, for the contract; and the contract is therefore binding upon the purchaser, even though the ideas, when they come to be delivered, should prove not to be worth hail the price agreed upon. So, too, if a man contract with a lawyer to furnish him legal ideas; or with a preacher to furnish him religious ideas; or with a physician to furnish him medical ideas - the ideas themselves being unknown at the time of the contract, and their value therefore necessarily taken on trust - such ideas are a sufficient consideration for a contract; and consequently legitimate objects of property and sale; and must be paid for, on delivery, even though they should prove to be not half so valuable as the purchaser had anticipated they would be. But if a man have a mechanical idea to sell, and for the satisfaction of the proposed purchaser, exhibit it to him, and demonstrate its value, and its adaptation to his purposes, before asking him to purchase it, the law, as now administered, holds that it is no longer the exclusive property of the original [*55] owner; no longer an object of sale between these parties; but has already become the joint property of both, without any con­sideration for it having passed between them.

Now, it is plain that this principle is as false in policy, as false in ethics, and as false in reason, as would be the same principle, if applied to corporeal commodities - making them lawful objects of property and sale, provided contracts for them be entered into before the purchaser sees them, or knows what they are ; but no longer objects of property or sale, after those, who wish to pur­chase and use them, shall have inspected them, and become satis­fied of their value, and adaptation to their purposes.

It cannot be said that there is a difference between the two classes of cases - that in the case of the lawyer, the preacher, and the physician, they sell not their ideas, but the labor of producing them, and of making them known, or delivering them; whereas in the case of the inventor, he seeks to sell, not the labor of producing, or making known, or delivering his idea, (for that labor has already been performed on his own responsibility,) but the idea itself. This cannot consistently be said, because it is really the idea only that is paid for, or for which pay is claimed in either case. The labor, neither of producing, nor of making known, or delivering ideas, has any intrinsic value, independently of its products - that is, independently of the ideas produced, made known, or delivered, by it. We pay for labor, whether intellectual or physical, only for the sake of its products. We do indeed call it paying for labor, instead of paying for its pro­ducts. And, in one sense, we do pay for the labor, rather than for its products; because we pay for the labor, taking our risk whether its products will be of any value. ret, in reality, it is only the products of the labor, that we have in view, when we buy the labor. No one buys labor for its own sake; nor for any other reason than that he ~ay thereby become the owner of its products. By buying the labor, one makes himself the owner of its products; and. this is the whole object of buying the labor itself. The difference, therefore, between buying labor, and buy- [*56] ing the products of labor, is a difference of form merely, and not of substance. The products of labor are all that make labor of any value, and all that are really had in view when the labor is purchased.

This difference in the two cases - that is, between selling ideas themselves, and selling the labor of producing, and making known, or delivering, ideas - is immaterial for still another reason, viz.: that it would be absurd to say that the intellectual labor of producing ideas, or the physical labor .of speaking, printing, or otherwise delivering them, was a legitimate object of property or sale, unless the ideas themselves, thus produced and delivered, were also legitimate objects of property and sale. To say this would be as absurd as to say that the labor of producing or delivering corporeal commodities, was a proper object of prop­erty and sale; but that those commodities themselves were not proper objects of property or sale.

To be consistent, therefore, the law should’ either hold, that the labor of producing, and making known, or delivering, ideas, is not an object of property and sale; or else it should hold that the ideas themselves are objects of property and sale.

The object of buying known ideas, and of buying the labor that produces, and makes known, or delivers unknown ideas, is the same, viz.: to get ideas for use. And to say that an idea is not as legitimate an object of property and sale, as is the labor of producing or delivering it, is just as absurd as it would be to say that wheat is not itself a legitimate object of property or sale, but that the labor of producing and delivering wheat is a legitimate object of property and sale.

All intellectual labor, therefore, that is employed in producing ideas, and all physical labor, (including manuscript writing, and printing, as well as speaking,) that is employed in making known ideas, should be held to be no subjects of property or sale, and no sufficient considerations for n contract; or else all the ideas produced by intellectual labor, or delivered or made known by physical labor, should also be held to be legitimate subjects of [*57] property and sale, and sufficient considerations for contracts. And if they are legitimate subjects of property and sale, and sufficient considerations for contracts, before they are made known to a proposed purchaser, and before he can see what they are, or judge of their value, or of their adaptation to his use, it is absurd and inconsistent to say that they are not at least equally legitimate subjects of property and sale, and quite as valid con­siderations for contracts, after they have been made known to a proposed purchaser, and he has examined them, seen what they are, and ascertained their value, and their adaptation to his use.

The argument of possession is of no force against this view of the case, because, as we have seen, the possession given, is simply the knowledge, or naked possession, of the idea, without any right of use, property, contract, or dominion, beyond what the true owner intended to convey, when he made the idea known.

SECTION XI.

Objection Eleventh.

It is said that ideas are unlike corporeal commodities in this respect, namely, that a corporeal commodity cannot be completely and fully possessed and used by two persons at once, without [*76] collision between them; and that it must therefore necessarily be recognized as the property of one only, in order that it may be possessed and used in peace; but that an idea may be completely and fully possessed and used by many persons at once, without collision with each other; and therefore no one should be allowed to monopolize it.

The remainder of the refutation of the eleventh objection:

SECTION XI.

This objection lays wholly out of consideration the fact, that the idea has been produced by one man’s labor, and not by the labor of all men; as if that were a fact of no legal consequence; whereas it is of decisive consequence; else there can be no exclu­sive right of property, in any of the productions or acquisitions of human labor. If one commodity, the product of one man’s labor, can be made free to all mankind, without his consent, then, by the same rule, every other commodity, the product of individ­ual labor, may be made free to all mankind, without the consent of the producers. And this is equivalent to a denial of all indi­vidual property whatsoever, in commodities produced or acquired by human labor.

In truth, the objection plainly denies that any exclusive rights of property whatsoever, can be acquired by labor or production; because it says that a man, who produces an idea - (and the same principle would apply equally well to any other commodity) - has no better right of property in it, or of dominion over it, than any and all the rest of mankind. That is, that he has no rights in it at all, by virtue of having produced it; but has only equal rights in it wit/i men who did not produce it. This cer­tainly is equivalent to denying, that any exclusive right of prop­erty, can, be acquired by labor or production. It is equivalent to asserting, that all our rights, to the use of’ commodities, depend simply upon the fact that we are men; because it asserts that all men have equal rights to use a particular commodity, no matter who may have been the producer.

This doctrine, therefore, goes fully to the extent of denying all rights of property whatsoever, even in material things (exte­rior to one’s person); because all rights of property in such [*77] material things, have their origin in labor; (that is, either in the labor of production, or the labor of taking possession of the products of nature;) not necessarily in the labor of the present possessor; but either in his labor, or the labor of some one from whom he has, mediately or immediately, derived it, by gift, pur­chase, or inheritance.

The doctrine of the objection, therefore, by denying that any right of property can originate in labor or production, virtually denies all rights of property whatsoever, not merely in ideas, but in all material things, exterior to one’s body; because if no rights of’ property in such things can be derived from labor or produc­tion, there can be no rights of property in them at all.

The ground, on ‘which a man is entitled to the products and acquisitions of his labor, is, that otherwise he would lose the benefit of his own labor. lie is therefore entitled to hold these products and acquisitions, in order to, hold the labor, or the bene­fit of the labor, ho has expended in producing and acquiring them.

The right of property, therefore, originates in the natural right of every man to the benefit of his own labor. If this prin­ciple be a sound one, it necessarily follows that every man has a natural right to all the productions and acquisitions of his own labor, be they intellectual or material. If the principle be not a sound one, then it follows, necessarily, that there arc no rights of property at all in the productions or acquisitions of human labor.

The principle of the objection, therefore, goes fully and plainly to the destruction of all rights of property whatsoever, in the productions or acquisitions of .human labor.

The right of property, then, being destroyed, what principle does the objection offer, as a substitute, by which to regulate the conduct of men, in their possession and use of all those commodi­ties, which are now subjects of property? It substitutes only this, viz. : that men must not come in collision with each other, in the actual possession and use of things.

Now, since this actual possession and use of things, can be [*78] exercised, only by men’s bringing their bodies in immediate con­tact with the things to be possessed or used, it follows that the principle laid down, of men’s avoiding collision in the possession and use of things, amounts to but this, viz.: that men’s bodies are sacred, and must not be jostled; but nothing else is sacred. In other words, men own their bodies; but they own nothing else. Every thing else belongs, of right , as much to one person as to another. And the only way, in which one man can possess or use any thing, in preference to other men, is by keeping his hands constantly upon it, or otherwise interposing his body between it and other men. These are the only grounds, on which he can hold any thing. If he take his hands off a commodity, and also withdraw his body from it, so as to interpose no obstacle to the commodity’s being taken possession of by others, they have a right to take possession of it, and hold it against him, by the same process, by which he had before held it against them. This is the legitimate and necessary result of the doctrine of the objection.

On this principle a man has a right to take possession of, and freely use, any thing and every thing he sees and desires, which other men may have produced by their labor - provided he can do it without coming in collision with, or committing any violence upon, the persons of other men.

This is the principle, and the only principle, ‘which the objec­tion offers, as a rule for the government of the conduct of man­kind towards each other, in the possession and use of material commodities. And it seriously does offer this principle, as a sub­stitute for the right of individual and exclusive property, in the products and acquisitions of individual labor. The principle, thus offered, is really communism, and nothing else.

If this principle be a sound one, in regard to material commodities, it is undoubtedly equally sound in relation to ideas. But if it be preposterous and monstrous, in reference to material commodities, it is equally preposterous and monstrous in relation to ideas for, if applied to ideas, it as effectually denies the right [*79] of exclusive property in the products of one’s labor, as it would if applied to material commodities.

It is plain that the principle of the objection would apply, just as strongly, against any right of exclusive property in corporeal commodities, as it does against a right of exclusive property in ideas; because, 1st, many corporeal commodities, as roads, canals, railroad cars, bathing places, churches, theatres, &c., can be used by many persons at once, without collision ‘with each other; and, 2nd, all those commodities - as axes and hammers, for exam­ple - which can be used only by one person at a the ‘without collision, may nevertheless be used by different persons at differ­ent times without collision. Now, if it be a true principle, that labor and production give’ no exclusive right of property, and that every commodity, by whomsoever produced, should, without the consent of the producer, be made to serve as many persons as it can, without bringing them in collision with each other, that principle as clearly requires that a hammer should be free to different persons at different times, and that a road, or canal should be free to as many persons at once, as can use it without collision, as it does that an idea should be free to as many per­sons at once as choose to use it.

On the other hand, if it be acknowledged that a man have an exclusive right of property in the products of his labor, because they are the products of his labor, it clearly makes no difference to this right , whether the commodity he has produced be, in its nature, capable of being possessed and used by a thousand per­sons at once, or only by one at a the. That is a wholly imma­terial matter, so far as his right of property is concerned; because his right of property is derived from his labor in producing the commodity; and not from the nature of the commodity when pro­duced. If there could be any difference in, the two cases, his right would be stronger, in the case of a commodity, that could be used by a thousand persons at once, than in the case of a com­modity, that could be used only by one person at a the; because man is entitled to be rewarded for his labor, according to the [*80] intrinsic value of its products; and, other things being equal, a commodity, that call be used by many persons at once, is intrinsically more valuable, than a commodity, that can be used only by one person at a the.

Again. The principle of the objection is, that all things should be free to all men, so far as they can be, without men’s coming in collision with each other, in the actual possession and use of them and, consequently, that no one person can have any rightful control over a thing, any longer than he retains it in his actual possession; that he has no right to forbid others to possess and use it, whenever they can do so without personal collision with himself; and that he has no right to demand any equivalent for such possession and use of it by others. From these proposi­tions it would seem to follow further, that for a man to withhold the possession or use of a thing from others, for the purpose of inducing them, or making it necessary for them, to buy it, or rent it, and pay him an equivalent, is an infringement upon their rights.

The principle of property is directly the reverse of this. The principle of property is, that the owner of a thing has absolute dominion over it, whether he have it in actual possession or not, and whether he himself wish to use it or not; that no one has a right to take possession of it, or use it, without his consent; and that he has a perfect right to withhold both the possession and use of it from others, from no other motive than to induce them, or make it necessary for them, to buy it, or rent it, and pay him an equivalent for it, or for its use.

Now it is plain that the question, whether a thing be susceptible of being used by one only, or by more persons, at once, without collision, has nothing to do with the principle of property; nor with the owner’s right of dominion over it; nor with his right to forbid others to take possession of it, or use it. If he have a right to forbid one man to take possession of or use, a certain commodity, he has the same right to forbid a thousand, or the whole world. And if lie have a right to forbid a man to take [*81] possession of, or use, a commodity, that is susceptible of being possessed and used by one person only at a the, he has the same right to forbid him to take possession of, or use, a commodity, that is susceptible of being possessed and used by a hundred, or a thousand, persons at once. The fact that men would, or would not, come in collision with each other, in their attempts to possess and use a commodity, if he were to surrender his dominion over it, and leave all equally free to possess and use it, is clearly a matter which does not at all concern his present. right of dominion over it; nor in any way affect his present right to forbid any and all of them to possess or use it.

It is, therefore, wholly impossible that the circumstance, that one commodity - as a hammer, for example - is in its nature susceptible of being possessed and used by but one person at a the without collision, and that, another commodity - as a road, a canal, a railroad car, a ship, a bathing place, a church, a theatre, or an idea - is susceptible of being possessed (i.e. occupied), and used by many persons at once without collision, can affect a man’s right to have complete dominion over the fruits of his labor. A man’s exclusive right of property in - or, in other words, his right of absolute dominion over - any one of these various commodities, depends entirely upon the fact, that such commodity was either a product or acquisition of his own labor, (or of the labor of some one, from whom, either mediately, or immediately, lie has derived it, by purchase, gift, or inheritance;) and not at all upon the fact, that such commodity-can, or cannot, be possessed and used by more than one person at a the, without collision.

The right of property, or dominion, does not depend, as the objection supposes, upon either the political or moral necessity of men’s avoiding collision with each other, in the possession and use of commodities; for if it did, it would be lawful, as has already been shown, for men to seize and use all manner of cor­poreal commodities, whenever it could be done without coming in personal collision with the persons of other men. But the right [*82] of property, or dominion, depends upon the necessity and right of each mans providing for his own subsistence and happiness; and upon the consequent necessity and right of every man’s exer­cising exclusive and absolute dominion over the fruits of his labor.

Now, this right of exercising exclusive and absolute dominion over the fruits of one’s labor, is not, as the objection assumes, a mere right of possessing and using them, in peace, and without collision with other men; but it includes also the right of making them subservient to his happiness in every other possible way, (not inconsistent with the equal right of other men, to a like dominion over whatever is theirs,) as well as by possessing and using them.

Now a man may make a commodity subservient to his welfare, in a variety of ways, other than that of himself possessing and using it provided always his absolute dominion over it be first established. For example, if his absolute dominion over it be first established, so that he can forbid other men to use it, except with his consent, he can then sell it, or rent it, to those who wish to use it, and thus obtain from them, in exchange, other com­modities which he desires; or he can confer it, or its use, as a favor, upon some one whose happiness be wishes to promote. But unless he be first secured in his absolute dominion over it, so as to be able to forbid other men using it, except with his consent, he is deprived of all power to make it subservient to his happi­ness, by selling it, or renting it, in exchange for other commodi­ties; because, if other men can use it without his consent, they will have no motive to buy it, or rent it, paying him any thing valuable in exchange. He cannot even give it, as a favor, to any one, because it is no favor, on his part to give to another a commodity, which that other already has without his consent.

The right of property, therefore, is a right of absolute domin­ion over a commodity, whether the owner wish to retain it in his own actual possession and use, or not. It is a right to forbid others to use it, without his consent. If it were not so, men could never sell, rent, or give away those commodities, which [*83] they do not themselves wish to keep or use but would lose their right of property in them - that is, their right of dominion over them - the moment they suspended their personal possession and use of them.

It is because a man has this right of absolute dominion over the fruits of his labor, and can forbid other men to use them without his consent, whether he himself retain his actual posses­sion and use of them or not, that nearly all men are engaged in the production of commodities, which they themselves have no use for, and cannot retain any actual possession of, and which they produce solely for purposes of sale, or rent. In fact, there is no article of corporeal property whatever, exterior to one’s person, which owners are in the habit of keeping in such actual and constant possession or use, as would be necessary in order to secure it to themselves, if the right of property, originally de­rived from labor, did not remain in the absence of possession.

But further. The question, whether a particular commodity can be used by two or more persons at once, without collision with each other, is obviously wholly immaterial to that right of absolute dominion, which the producer of the commodity has over it by virtue o1 his having produced it; and to his consequent right to forbid any and all other men to use it, without his consent.

A man’s right of property in the fruits of his labor, is -an absolute right of controlling them - so far as the nature of things will admit of it - so as to make them subservient to his welfare in every possible way that he can do it, without obstructing other men in the equally free and absolute control of every thing that is theirs. Now, the nature of things offers no more obstacles, to a man’s exclusive proprietorship and control of a commodity, which is, in its nature, capable of being possessed and used by many at once without collision, than it does to his exclusive pro­prietorship and control of a commodity, which is, in its nature, capable of being possessed and used by more than one at a the without collision. his right of property, therefore, is [*84] just as good, in the case of one commodity, as in the case of the other.

The absurdity of any other doctrine than this is so nearly apparent, as hardly to deserve to be seriously reasoned against. One man produces a commodity - a hammer, for example -which can be used but by one person at a the without collision; and this commodity is his exclusively, because he produced it by his labor. Another man produces another commodity-as a road, a canal, or an idea, for example - which can be used by thousands at once without collision; and this commodity, forsooth, is not his exclusively, although he produced it solely by his. own labor! Of what possible consequence is this difference, in the nature of the two commodities, that it should affect the producer’s exclusive right of property in either one or the other? Mani­festly it is not of the least conceivable importance.

As a matter of abstract natural justice, there is no difference whatever, in a mans demanding and receiving pay for a com­modity, or the use of a commodity, which can be used by thou­sands at once without collision, and his demanding and receiving pay for a commodity, or the use of a commodity, which can be used by but one person a the. In the first case, he as much gives an equivalent for what he receives, as he does in the latter; an equivalent too, that is as purely a product of labor, as is the commodity he receives in exchange.

As a matter of abstract natural justice too, a man is as much entitled to be paid for his labor in producing commodities, that can be used by many persons at once without collision, as he is to be paid for producing commodities, that can be used by but one at a the. For example, one man produces an idea, which is worth, for use, a dollar to each one of a thousand different men. Another man produces a thousand axes, worth a dollar each for the use of a thousand different men. Is there any dif­ference in the intrinsic merit or value of the labor of these two producers? Or is there any difference, in their abstract right to demand pay of those who use the products of their labor? Is [*85] not the producer of the idea as honestly entitled to demand a thousand dollars for the use of his single idea, as the other is to demand a thousand dollars for his thousand axes? The producer of the idea supplies a thousand different men with as valuable a tool to work with, as does the producer of the axes. Why, then, is he not entitled to demand the same price for his ideas, as the other does for his axes? Does the fact that, in the one case, a thousand different men use the same commodity, (the idea,) and that, in the other, a thousand different men use a thousand differ­ent commodities, (axes,) all of one kind, make the least difference in the merits of the respective producers? Other things being equal, is not one single commodity, that can be used by a thou­sand men at once without collision, just as valuable, for all practical purposes, as a thousand other commodities,, that can each be used only by one person at a the? Are not a thousand men as effectually supplied with the commodity they want, in the first case, as in the latter? Certainly they arc. Why, then, should they not pay as much for it? And why should not the producer receive as much in the first case, as in the last? No reason whatever, in equity, can be assigned.

If there be no difference in the justice of these two cases, is there any way, in which the producer of the idea can get his thousand dollars for it, other than that, by which the producer of the axes gets his thousand dollars. for them, to wit, by first secur­ing to him his absolute dominion over it, or absolute property in it, and thus enabling him to forbid others to use it except on the condition of their paying him his price for it? If there be no other way, by which he can get pay for his idea, then he is as well entitled to an absolute property in it, and dominion over it, as the producer of the axes is entitled to an absolute property in, or dominion over, them.

Still further. A thousand separate individuals, can as well afford to pay a thousand dollars, (one dollar each,) for the use of a single commodity, that can be used by them all at once without collision, as they can to pay a thousand dollars, (one [*86] dollar each,) for the use of a thousand different commodities, each of which can be used only by one person at a the. A man can just as well afford to pay a dollar for an idea, that is worth a dollar to him, for use, though it be used also by others, as he can to pay a dollar for an axe, that is worth but a dollar to him for use, though it be not used by others. Its being used by others, or not, makes no difference at all in his capacity to pay for what­ever value it is really of to himself.

A thousand different men can also as well afford to pay a dollar each, for the use of a commodity, which they can all use at once without collision, as they can to pay a dollar each for the use of a single commodity, which can be used only by one person at a the, and which can therefore be used by them all, only by their using it singly, successively, and at different times. For exam­ple. A thousand men can as well afford to pay a thousand dol­lars, (one dollar each,) for the use of a vessel, which will carry them all at once, as they can to pay a thousand dollars, (one dol­lar each,) for the use of a boat so small as to carry but one person at a the, and which must therefore make a thousand dif­ferent trips to carry them all. how absurd it would be to say that the owner of the large boat had no right to charge a dollar each for his thousand passengers, merely because his vessel was so large that it could carry them all at once, without collision with each other, or with himself; and yet that the owner of the small boat had a right to charge a dollar each, to a thousand successive passengers, merely because his boat was so small that it could carry but one at a the.

The same principle clearly applies to an idea. Because it can be used by thousands and millions at a the, without collision, it is none the less the exclusive. property of the producer; and lie has none the less right to charge pay for the use of it, than if it could lie used by hut one person at a time

There is, therefore, no ground whatever, of justice or reason, on which, the producer of the idea can lie denied the right to dominated pay for it, according to its market value, any more than [*87] the producer of any other commodity can be denied the right to demand pay for it, according to its market value. And the market value of every commodity is that price, which men will pay for it, rather than not have it, when it is forbidden to them by one who has an absolute property in it, and dominion over it.

The objection, now under consideration, is based solely upon the absurd idea, that the producer of a commodity has no right of property in it, nor of dominion over it, beyond the simple right of using it himself without molestation; that he has there­fore no right to forbid others to use it, whenever they can get possession of and use it, without collision with himself; that he must depend solely upon his own use of it to get compensated for his labor in producing it; that he can never be entitled to demand or receive any compensation whatever front others, for the use of it, or for his labor in producing it, however much they may use it, or enrich themselves by so doing; and that he therefore has no right to withhold its use from others, with any view to induce or compel them to buy it, or rent it, or make him any compensation for, the labor it cost him to produce it. In short, the principle of the objection is, that when a man has produced a commodity by his own sole labor, he has no right of dominion over it whatever, except the naked right to use it; and that all other men have a perfect right to use it, without his consent, and without rendering him any compensation, whenever he is not using it, or whenever the nature of the thing is such as to enable both him and them to use it at the same the, without collision.

The objection clearly goes to this extent, because the whole principle of it consists in this single idea, viz. : that men must avoid collision with each other in the possession and use of commodities.

Tim is principle would not allow the producer so much even as a preference over other men, in the possession and use of a commodity, unless he preserved his first actual possession unbroken. To illustrate. If, when he was not using it, lie should let go his [*88] hold of it, and thus suffer another to get possession of it, he could not reclaim it, even when he should want it for actual use. To allow him thus to demand it of another, for actual use, on the ground that he was the producer of it, would be acknowledging that labor and production did give him at least some rights to it over other man. And if it be once conceded, that labor and production do give him any rights to it, over other men, then it must be conceded, that they give him all rights to it, over other men; for if he have any rights to it, over other men,, then no limit can be fixed to his rights, and they are of necessity absolute. And these absolute rights to it, as against all other men, are what constitute the right of exclusive property and dominion. So that there is no middle ground between the principle, that labor and production give the producer no rights at all, over other men, in the commodity he produces; and the principle, that they give him absolute rights over all other men, to wit, the right of ex­clusive property or dominion. There is, therefore, no middle ground between absolute communism, on the one hand, which holds that a man has a right to lay his hands on any thing, which has no other man’s hands upon it, no matter who may have been the producer; and the principle of individual property, on the other hand, which says that each man has an absolute dominion, as against all other men, over the products and acquisitions of his own labor, whether he retain them in his actual possession, or not.

Finally. The objection we have now been considering, seems to have had its origin in some loose notion or other, that the works of man should be, like certain works of nature - as the ocean, the atmosphere, and the light, for example - free to be used by all, so far as they can be used by all without collision..

There is no analogy between the two cases. The ocean, the atmosphere, and the light, so far as they are free to all mankind, are free simply because the author of nature, their maker and owner, is not, like man, dependent upon the products of his labor for his subsistence and happiness; lie therefore offers them freely to all mankind: neither asking nor needing any compensation for [*89] the use of them, nor for his labor in creating them. But if the ocean, the atmosphere, and the light had been the productions of men - of beings dependent upon their labor for the means of sub­sistence and happiness - the producers would have had absolute dominion over them, to make them subservient to their happiness; and would have had a right to forbid other men either to use them at all, or use them only on the condition of paying for the use of them. And it would have been no answer to this argu­ment, to say, that mankind at large could use these commodities, without coming in collision with the owners; that there were enough for all; and that therefore they should be free to all. The answer to such an argument would be, that those, who had created these commodities, had the natural right to supreme dominion over them, as products of their labor; that they had a right to make them subservient to their own happiness in every possible way, not inconsistent with the equal right of other men, to a like dominion over whatever was theirs; that they could get: no adequate compensation for their labor in creating them, unless they could control them, forbid other men to use them, and thus induce, or make it necessary for, other men to pay for the use of them; that they had created them principally, if not solely, for the purpose of selling or renting them to others, and not merely for their own use; and that to allow others to use them freely, and against the will of the owners, on the simple condition of avoiding personal collision with them, would be virtually robbing the owners of their property, and depriving them of the benefits of their labor, and of their right to get paid for it, by demanding pay of all who used its products for their own benefit. This would have been the legal answer; and it would have been all-sufficient to justify the owners of these commodities, in forbidding other men to use them, except with their consent, and on paying such toll or rent as they saw fit to demand.

The principle is the same in the case of an idea. An idea, produced by one man, is enough for the use of all mankind (for the purposes for which it is to be used). It is as sufficient for [*90] the actual use of all mankind, as for the actual use of the producer. It may be used by all mankind at once, without collision with each’ other. But all that is no argument against the right of the producer to absolute dominion over an idea, which he has produced by his own labor; nor, consequently, is it any argument against his right to forbid any and all other men to use that idea, except on the condition of first obtaining his consent, by paying him such price for the use of it as he demands.

But for this principle, the builders of roads and canals, which may be passed over by thousands of persons at once, without col­lision, could maintain no control over them, nor get any pay for their labor in constructing them, otherwise than by simply passing over them themselves. Every other person would be free to pass over them, without the consent of the owners, and without paying any equivalent for the use of them, provided only they did not come in personal collision with the owners, or each other.

Do those, who say that an idea should be free to all who can use it, without collision with the producer, say that the builders of roads and canals have rights of property in them, nor any right of dominion over them, except the simple’ right of them­selves passing over them unmolested? That they have no right to forbid others to pass over them, without first purchasing their (the owners’) consent, by the payment of toll, or otherwise? No one, who acknowledges the right of property at all, will say this. Yet, to be consistent, he should say it.

But the analogy, which the objector would draw, between the works of nature and the works of man, in order to prove that the latter-should be as free to all mankind as the former, is defective, not only in disregarding the essential difference between the works of man and the works of nature, to wit, that the former are produced by a being who labors for himself, and not for others; and who needs the fruits of his labor as a means of sub­sistence and happiness; while the latter are produced by a Being, who neither needs nor asks any compensation for his labor; but it is defective in still another particular, to wit, that it disregards [*91] the fact, that the works of nature themselves are no longer free to all mankind, after they have once been taken possession of by an individual. It is not necessary that he should retain his actual possession of them, in order to retain his right of property in them, and his right of dominion over them; but it is sufficient that he has once taken possession of them. They are then for­ever 1mi~ against all the world, unless he consent to part, not merely with his possession, but with his right of property, or dominion, also. They are his, on the principle, and for the reason, that otherwise he would lose the labor he had expended in taking possession of them. Even this labor, however slight it may be, in proportion to the value of the commodity, is sufficient to give him an absolute title to the commodity, against all the world. And he may then part with his possession of it at pleasure, without at all impairing his right of dominion over it.

If, then, a man’s labor, in simply taking possession of those works of nature, which no man had produced, and which were therefore free to all mankind, be sufficient to give him such an absolute dominion over them, against all the world ; who can pretend that his labor, in actually creating commodities - as ideas, for example - which before had no existence, does not give him at least an equal, if not a superior, right to an absolute dominion over them?

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There is a way to know actually if you violate a copyright, you said so yourself.

Yes, if I sell a CD with an exact copy of a copyrighted song. But what if I sell a CD with a song I made that's very similar to a copyrighted song? What if I make another song that's more similar to the copyrighted song than the other song I made in some respects, but more different in others?

Example: How pixelated does Miles Davis have to get before it's original?

http://waxy.org/2011/06/kind_of_screwed/

If you really want to get into what property is, can you explain why you think mines can be property?

I did.

The nature of people are different enough that there's no reason to claim they are validly and appropriately property.

I also think the nature of songs/inventions are different enough from a car or a piece of land to be considered property.

* * *

Seriously, do I really have to just hope my new song/book isn't too similar to another copyrighted song out of all the copyrighted songs/books? There's no sense in me playing/reading each individual song/book to 1,000 different music/book aficionados before I try to copyright it. What if there's an obscure/unpopular song out there that few people knows about? Do I have to take the risk of losing $50,000 for each song/book?

Edited by Mnrchst
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Not buying but still taking against the consent of the artist or inventor is theft.

Again, I take this to mean unpermitted mind reading. We don’t know that that’s “impossible”. Even if it is, it has nothing to do with whether or not using an idea without explicit permission by the originator on a case by case basis is theft.

Why do you take this to mean "umpermitted mind reading" when he obviously meant unauthorized copying and downloading of an original recording that an artist intended to sell?

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Response to Spooner's arguments:

This is a very shallow objection, since it is founded ‘wholly on the assumption, that if a man once in trust his property in another man’s keeping, he thereby loses his own right of prop­erty to it; whereas men are constantly intrusting their property in other men’s hands, in many different ways, and for many different purposes.

I'm saying I don't think a song/invention is property.

Obviously there is no more ground, in nature, or in reason, for presuming that a man intends to part with his right of property, in an idea, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person, than there is for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property, in any corporeal commodity, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person.

Again, I'm saying I don't think a song/invention is property. And I'm not parting with my use of my idea if I tell someone else.

Basically, Spooner is saying "If X is your property, then it's still your property if you tell someone about it, because it's your property." But I'm saying it isn't their property. And the fact that you can tell someone about something certainly doesn't make whatever you're telling them about your property just because you're telling them about it.

This objection [#11] lays wholly out of consideration the fact, that the idea has been produced by one man’s labor, and not by the labor of all men.

Nope. Things that are produced by people includes children as well, so saying "It's not necessarily your property if you made it" isn't the same as saying "Nothing you make is your property."

the objection [#11] plainly denies that any exclusive rights of property whatsoever, can be acquired by labor or production

The doctrine of the objection, therefore, by denying that any right of property can originate in labor or production, virtually denies all rights of property whatsoever, not merely in ideas, but in all material things

Nope. You can still say "A physical thing that isn't a person and isn't necessary for general human survival (i.e. the air) is property, but an idea isn't." It's not the same as saying "Hey, anything that anyone creates isn't property."

It is plain that the principle of the objection would apply, just as strongly, against any right of exclusive property in corporeal commodities, as it does against a right of exclusive property in ideas; because, 1st, many corporeal commodities, as roads, canals, railroad cars, bathing places, churches, theatres, &c., can be used by many persons at once

This is a misrepresentation of the argument. If someone else is standing on my property, I've been denied my right to have no one (or no one besides me) standing there. In other words, there can be someone else on my road while I'm also on the road, but we can't both occupy the same space on the road at the same time. However, two people can have the same idea at the same time.

It's my land, so I get to decide who's there and who's not--I can invite people over or not. I also get to decide what to do with my idea, which is contained in my brain (which is my property)--I can tell people about it or not.

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Seriously, do I really have to just hope my new song/book isn't too similar to another copyrighted song out of all the copyrighted songs/books? There's no sense in me playing/reading each individual song/book to 1,000 different music/book aficionados before I try to copyright it. What if there's an obscure/unpopular song out there that few people knows about? Do I have to take the risk of losing $50,000 for each song/book?

I'm not sure why you're going to such hyperbole. If YOU know you wrote a song with your own effort alone (albeit with ideas you've probably heard before and integrated in a new way), likely you will have no copyright conflict. If you have good reason to believe your idea was already figured out AND still under copyright, then you should check, like if you see dropped wallet in the middle of a crowded concert. If SOMEHOW out of some miraculous chance there was an identical copyright before, you just deal with it, just like what happens if you use someone's mine without realizing it was their mine.

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Why do you take this to mean "umpermitted mind reading" when he obviously meant unauthorized copying and downloading of an original recording that an artist intended to sell?

What I meant is that I think the phrase "steal an idea" (objectively) means to read someone's mind without your permission and find out about one of their ideas (regardless of whether or not anyone else has the idea is their mind). I didn't mean "Oh, so you mean mind reading and not copyright violation when you talk about stealing an idea."

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If SOMEHOW out of some miraculous chance there was an identical copyright before, you just deal with it, just like what happens if you use someone's mine without realizing it was their mine.

I can call up the local government office and ask "So who owns that mine?" I can't call someone up, play the song, and get an immediate answer about whether or not it will violate a copyright.

And someone releasing a song that's very similar to another and getting sued really isn't all that rare. Why should I "deal with it" when there's no non-incredibly time consuming way of covering my ass?

Also, all I have to work with for whether or not there will be a copyright violation is previous court decisions. But (1) All the different factors at work with comparing songs/stories are insanely complex and (2) the judge could always break precedent. That's why I see it as analogous with antitrust.

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Response to Spooner's arguments:

This is a very shallow objection, since it is founded ‘wholly on the assumption, that if a man once in trust his property in another man’s keeping, he thereby loses his own right of prop­erty to it; whereas men are constantly intrusting their property in other men’s hands, in many different ways, and for many different purposes.

I'm saying I don't think a song/invention is property.

Obviously there is no more ground, in nature, or in reason, for presuming that a man intends to part with his right of property, in an idea, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person, than there is for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property, in any corporeal commodity, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person.

Again, I'm saying I don't think a song/invention is property. And I'm not parting with my use of my idea if I tell someone else.

Basically, Spooner is saying "If X is your property, then it's still your property if you tell someone about it, because it's your property." But I'm saying it isn't their property. And the fact that you can tell someone about something certainly doesn't make whatever you're telling them about your property just because you're telling them about it.

I would agree that telling someone about your property can neither make a property right nor negate a property right.

But if you are falling back on "but its not property to begin with", that is progress. I take it that you concede that the 'telling someone' objection fails.

This objection [#11] lays wholly out of consideration the fact, that the idea has been produced by one man’s labor, and not by the labor of all men.

Nope. Things that are produced by people includes children as well, so saying "It's not necessarily your property if you made it" isn't the same as saying "Nothing you make is your property."

But even with respect to children it is not the case that parents are indistinguishable from all other persons in their relation to their children.

the objection [#11] plainly denies that any exclusive rights of property whatsoever, can be acquired by labor or production

The doctrine of the objection, therefore, by denying that any right of property can originate in labor or production, virtually denies all rights of property whatsoever, not merely in ideas, but in all material things

Nope. You can still say "A physical thing that isn't a person and isn't necessary for general human survival (i.e. the air) is property, but an idea isn't." It's not the same as saying "Hey, anything that anyone creates isn't property."

It is plain that the principle of the objection would apply, just as strongly, against any right of exclusive property in corporeal commodities, as it does against a right of exclusive property in ideas; because, 1st, many corporeal commodities, as roads, canals, railroad cars, bathing places, churches, theatres, &c., can be used by many persons at once

This is a misrepresentation of the argument. If someone else is standing on my property, I've been denied my right to have no one (or no one besides me) standing there. In other words, there can be someone else on my road while I'm also on the road, but we can't both occupy the same space on the road at the same time. However, two people can have the same idea at the same time.

This cannot be an argument for or against property because it is always true that two people or objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time whether there be any property involved or not. It is an attribute of material objects (corporeal in Spooner's vocabulary) that two things cannot occupy the same place at the same time. To connect those two propositions logically, you can only be assuming that property must be corporeal.

It's my land, so I get to decide who's there and who's not--I can invite people over or not. I also get to decide what to do with my idea, which is contained in my brain (which is my property)--I can tell people about it or not.

Now that is interesting. You accept your brain is your property but not the contents of it. The distinction can only validly rest on a presumption that these are entirely different orders of things to which apply different sets of rules. I take your meaning to be that the brain is corporeal and the contents are not.

Now there are two divergent ways to argue here. Spooner argues that incorporeality does not matter at all. Property cannot be restricted to only corporeal things, because the labor which rearranges the matter of corporeal things is itself incorporeal, so if the incorporeal labor itself had no rights attached to it then it could not spawn any rights to the product of that labor because something cannot come from nothing. This is in other words an attack which takes on too much and destroys all property even in corporeal things.

The more modern argument I would make relies on an entirely materialist theory of mind. There are no "ghosts in the machine" so to speak, meaning the contents of your mind must be made of the same stuff as your brain. If you own your brain because you possess it as a physical organ, then you own the contents of your brain because you possess them equally physically in whatever form the brain's neurons holds its thoughts and memories. Ideas ultimately are physical, and so there is no reason to treat them differently from the other things physical that can be property.

(note to self and Objectivists: ca-ching! A fully materialist theory of mind cashes-in as direct support for property rights for intellectual products. Binswanger's dualism fails here.)

Lysander Spooner addresses the corporeality objection in full below:

SECTION I.

Objection First.

It will be said there can be no right of property in ideas, for the reason that an idea has no corporeal substance.

This is an ancient argument, but it obviously has no intrinsic weight or soundness; for corporeal substances are not the only things that have value; they are not the only things that con­tribute to the welfare of man; they are not the only things that can he possessed by one man, and not by another; they are not the only things that can be imparted by one man to another; nor are they the only things that are the products of labor. Indeed, correctly speaking, corporeal substances are never the products, (that is, the creations,) of human labor. Human labor cannot create corporeal substances. It can only change their forms, qualities, adaptations, and values. These forms, qualities, adap­tations, and values are all incorporeal things. Hence, as will be more fully shown hereafter, all the products - that is, all the creations - of human labor, are incorporeal.

To deny the right of property in incorporeal things, is equivalent to denying the right of property in labor itself; in the products of labor ; and even. in those corporeal substances, that are acquired by labor ; as will now be shown. [*32]

1. To deny the right of property in incorporeal things, is equivalent to denying the right of property in labor, because labor itself is incorporeal. It is simply motion; an action merely of the faculties. It has no corporeal substance. To deny, there­fore, that there can be any right of property in incorporeal things, is denying that a man can have any right of property in his labor; and, of course, that he can have any right to demand pay for it, when he labors for another. Yet we all know that labor is a subject of property. A man’s labor is his own. It also has value. It is the great dependence of the human race for subsistence. It is of ten thousand thousand kinds. Each of these kinds, too, has its well understood market price; as much so as any corporeal substance whatever. And each of these various kinds of labor is constantly bought and sold as merchan­dise.

Labor, therefore, being incorporeal, and yet, by universal con­fession, a subject of property, the principle of the right of property in incorporeal things is established.

2. To deny the right of property in incorporeal things, is equivalent to denying the right of property in the products, (that is, in the creations,) of human labor: for these products, or cre­ations, are all incorporeal. Human labor, as has already been said, cannot create corporeal substances. It can only create, and give to corporeal substances, new forms, qualities, adaptations, and values. These new forms, qualities, adaptations, and values are all incorporeal things. For example - The new forms, and new beauties, which a sculptor, by his labor, creates, and imparts to a block of marble, are not corporeal substances. They are mere qualities, that have been imparted to a corporeal substance. They are qualities, that can neither be weighed nor measured, like corporeal substances. Scales will not weigh them, nor yard sticks measure them, as they will weigh and measure corporeal substances. They can be perceived and estimated only by the mind; in the same manner that the mind perceives and estimates aim idea. In short, these new forms and new beauties, which [*33] human labor has created. and imparted to the marble, are incor­poreal, and not corporeal things. Yet they have value; are the products of labor; are subjects of property; and are constantly bought and sold in the market.

So also it is with all the new forms, qualities, adaptations, and values, which labor creates, and imparts to the materials, of which a house, for example, is composed. These new forums, qualities, adaptations, and values, are all incorporeal. They can neither be weighed, nor measured, as corporeal substances. Yet without them, the corporeal substances, out of which the house is constructed, would have failed to become a house. They, therefore, have value. They are also the products of labor; are subjects of property; and are constantly bought and sold in the market.

The same principle holds good in regard to all corporeal sub­stances whatsoever, to which labor gives new forms, or qualities, adapted to satisfy the wants, gratify the eye, or promote the happiness of man - whether the substances be articles of food, clothing, utensils for labor, books, pictures, or whatever else may minister to the desires of men. The new forms and qualities, given to each and all these corporeal substances, to adapt them to use, are themselves incorporeal. Yet they have value; are the products of labor; and are as much subjects of property, as are the substances themselves. And the destruction or injury of these forms and qualities, by any person not the owner, is as clearly a crime, as is the theft or destruction of the substances themselves. In fact, correctly speaking, it is only the incorporeal forums, qualities, and adaptations of corporeal substances, that can be destroyed. The substances themselves are incapable of des­truction. To destroy or injure the incorporeal forms, qualities, and adaptations, that have been given to corporeal substances by labor, destroys or injures the market value of the substances themselves; because it destroys or impairs their utility, for the purposes for ‘which they are desired. How absurd then to say that incorporeal things are not subjects of property. [*34]

The examples already given, of labor, the products, or crea­tions of labor, (by which is now meant those forms, qualities, adaptations, and values, imparted by labor to corporeal sub­stances,) would be sufficient to prove that incorporeal things are subjects of property. But, saying nothing as yet of ideas, there arc still other kinds of incorporeal things, that are subjects of property. For example. A man’s pecuniary credit, or reputa­tion for pecuniary responsibility, has value; is the product of labor; and is a subject of property. Various other kinds of reputation are also subjects of property. A magistrate’s reputation for integrity; a soldier’s reputation for courage; a woman’s reputation for chastity; a physician’s reputation for skill; a preacher’s reputation for sincerity, &c., &c., are all subjects of property. They have value; and they arc the products of labor. Yet they are not corporeal substances.

Health is incorporeal. Strength is incorporeal. So also the senses, or faculties, of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and feeling are incorporeal. A person might lose them all without the loss of any corporeal substance. Yet they are all valuable possess­ions, and subjects of property. To impair or destroy them, through carelessness or design, is an injury to be compensated by damages, or punished as a crime.

Melody is incorporeal. Yet it has value; is the product of labor; is a subject of property; and a common article of mer­chandise.

Beauty is incorporeal. Yet it is a subject of property. It is a property, too, that is very highly prized-whether it be beauty of person, or beauty in those animals or inanimate objects, which are subjects of property. And to impair or destroy such beauty, is acknowledged by all to be a wrong, to be compensated in dam­ages, - or a crime, to he visited with penalties.

A ride, and the right or privilege of riding, or of being carried, as, for example, on railroads, in steamboats, and public convey­ances of all kinds, are incorporeal things. They cannot be seen by the eye, nor touched by the hand. They can only be per- [*35] ceived by the mind. Yet they have value; are Subjects of prop­erty; and are constantly bought and sold in the market.

The right of going into a hotel, or a place of public amuse­ment, is not a corporeal substance. It nevertheless has value, and is a subject of property, and is constantly bought and sold.

Liberty is incorporeal. Yet it has value; and if it be not sold, it is because no corporeal substance is sufficiently valuable to be received in exchange for it.

Life itself is incorporeal. Yet it is property; and to take it from its owner is usually reckoned the highest crime that can be committed against him.

Many other kinds of property are incorporeal.

Thus it will be seen that thoughts are by no means the only incorporeal things that have value, and are subjects of property. Civilized society could hot exist without recognizing incorporeal things as property.

3: To deny the right of property in incorporeal things, is equivalent to denying the right of property even in corporeal things.

What is the foundation of the right of property in corporeal things? It is not that they are the products, or creations, of human labor; for, as has already been said, human labor never produces - that is, it never creates - corporeal substances. But it is simply this - that human labor has been expended upon them - that is, in taking possession of them. The right of property, therefore, in corporeal things, has its foundation solely in human labor, which is itself incorporeal. Now it is clear that if labor, which is incorporeal, ‘were not itself a subject of prop­erty, it could give the laborer no right of property in those cor­poreal substances, upon which he bestows his labor. A right cannot arise out-of no right . It is absurd, therefore, to say that a man has no right of property in his labor, for the reason that labor is incorporeal, and yet to say that that same labor, (which is not his,) can give him a right to a corporeal substance, to which he confessedly Las no other might, than that he has [*36] expended labor upon it. If labor itself be not a subject of prop­erty, it follows, of necessity, that it can give the laborer no right of property in any thing else.

The necessary consequence, therefore, of denying the right of

property in incorporeal things, as labor, for example, is to deny the right of property in corporeal things; because the right to the latter is only a result, or consequence, of a right to the for­mer. If, therefore, we deny the right of property in incorporeal things, we must deny all rights of property whatsoever.

The idea, therefore, that incorporeal things cannot be subjects of property, is simply absurd, since it goes necessarily to the denial of all property; and since also it is itself denied by the common sense, the constant practice, and, above all, by the universal necessities, of mankind at large. On the other hand, if ‘we admit a right of property in incorporeal things at all, then ideas arc as clearly legitimate subjects of property, as any other incorporeal things that can be named. They are, in their nature, necessarily personal possessions; they have value; they are the products of labor; they are indispensable to the happiness, well being, and even subsistence of man; they can be possessed by one man, and not by another; they can be imparted by one man to another; yet no one can demand them of another as a right ; and, as has before been said and shown, they are continually bought and sold as merchandise.

The doctrine, however, that corporeal substances only could be subjects of property, was a somewhat natural one in the infancy of thought; when men’s theories about property were superficial and imperfect, partaking more of the character of instinct, than of reason, and when things visible by the eye, and tangible by the hand, would naturally be regarded, by unreasoning minds, as of a very different character, in respect of susceptibility of ownership, from such incorporeal things as ideas, of which few men had any worth setting a price upon. The distinction, however, between corporeal and incorporeal things, as subjects of property, is one entirely groundless in itself, and entirely unworthy of the [*37] advanced reason of the present day; or even of any modern day; although modern days have seen the argument urged.

Mankind have doubtless never consistently adhered to the theory that only corporeal things could be subjects of property. Probably in the darkest barbarism - certainly since the earliest history of civilization - incorporeal things, of various kinds, have been subjects of purchase and sale. The illiterate have sold their labor, which is incorporeal; and the learned, powerful, and artful, as, for example, the law-givers, magistrates, priests, physicians, astrologers, and necromancers, have sold their ideas. And the nature of men assures us, that there was never a the known among them, when the injury or destruction of various kinds of incorporeal property, as, for example, strength, sight, health, beauty, liberty, and life, was not considered and treated as a wrong to be avenged.

In modern times, with the advance of civilization, incorporeal things in a thousand forms, ideas included, have come to be among the most common articles of traffic; and contracts, based solely upon the ground of property in incorporeal things - as, for example, contracts to pay lawyers, physicians, preachers, teachers, editors, &c., for their ideas - are continually enforced by courts of justice, with the same uniformity as are contracts for corporeal things; while at the same the, the very tribunals, who enforce these contracts - tribunals composed, too, of men, who earn their official salaries only by giving their ideas in ex­change for them - deny the principle of property in ideas. Such has been, and still is, the inconsistency of men’s opinions on this subject - an inconsistency that strikingly illustrates the immaturity of reason, the low state of legal science, and the imperfection of political and judicial institutions.

One obstacle to the universal acknowledgment of property in ideas, has been this. Mankind freely give away so large portion of their ideas, and so few of their ideas are of sufficient [*38] value to bring anything in the market, (except in the market of common conversation, where men mutually exchange their ideas,) that persons, who have not reasoned on the subject, have natu­rally fallen into the habit of thinking, that ideas were not subjects of property; and have consequently been slow to admit that, as a matter of sound theory or law, men had a strict right of prop­erty in any of their ideas. And yet these same doubters have themselves been, and now are, in the constant practice of buying ideas, in various ways, of magistrates, lawyers, physicians, preachers, teachers, editors, &c., and paying their money for them, without once dreaming that there was any more hardship or injustice in their being necessitated to do so, than in their being necessitated to buy their food or clothing.

Another reason, why the absolute right of property in ideas, has not been, earlier, more consistently, and universally acknowl­edged, has been that, in the infancy of civil society, and even until a comparatively recent date, owing to the general ignorance of letters, and the want of records for that purpose, there has been a nearly or quite insuperable difficulty in maintaining that right in practice, by reason of there being, to means of proving one’s property in an idea, after the idea itself had gone out among men. But that difficulty is now removed by the invention of records, by which a man may have his idea registered, and his right to it established, before it is disclosed to the public.

But what must settle, absolutely and forever, this question of the right of property in incorporeal things, is this - that the right of property itself is an in corporeality. The right of prop­erty is a mere incorporeal right of dominion, or control, over a thing. It is neither tangible by the hand, nor visible by the eye. It is a mere abstraction, existing only in contemplation of the mind. Yet this incorporeal right of dominion or control over a thing, is itself a subject of property - of ownership, one that is continually bought and sold in the market, independently of possession of the thing to which it relates.

To make this point clear to the unprofessional reader. There [*39] are two kinds of property, which pertain to every corporeal thing that is owned. One is the right of property, or ownership, in the thing owned - that is, the right of dominion or control over the thing. The other is the possession of the thing owned. These two kinds of property are the only kinds of property, that any man can have in any corporeal thing. Yet these two kinds of property can exist, and often do exist, separately from each other. This one man may own a thing - that is, have the right of property in a thing - as a house, for example and another man have the possession of it. One man has the abstract incor­poreal right of dominion, or control, over the house; the other has, for the time being, the actual dominion - that is, the pos­session - which he holds, either with, or without, the consent of the owner, as the case may be.

Now, any one can see that this incorporeal right of the true owner, is itself a subject of property. It is a thing that may be owned, bought, and sold, independently of the other kind of property, viz. : possession. It often is owned, bought, and sold, independently of possession. For example, a man often buys, pays for, and owns, a house to-day, which he is not to have pos­session of until next week, next month, or next year. Yet, though out of possession of the house, his incorporeal right of. property in it, is itself a legal and bona fide property, of which he is possessed. It is a property, which he himself may sell, if he so choose.

This incorporeal right of property is the property, that is prin­cipally regarded by the laws. Possession is comparatively of little importance. It is comparatively of little- importance, be­cause if a man own the right of property in a thing, he can then claim the possession, solely by virtue of that right , and the law will give it to him. On the other hand, if a man have possession of a thing, without the right of property in it, the law will compel him to surrender the possession to the one who owns the right of property. Hence, in nearly all controversies, in law, about property, the question is, Who has the right of property? [*40]

Not, Who has the possession? These facts show that the right of property, in any corporeal thing, is itself a subject of property, of ownership, independently of possession; and is so re­garded by the laws. Yet it is but an incorporeality.

This incorporeal right of property is also the property, which is of chief consideration in the minds of men, in all their dealings with each other. It is ‘what one man buys, and the other sells. They care little for possession; because they know that the right will, sooner or later, give them the possession. On the other hand, they know that possession, without the right , will be inse­cure, and of little value. For these reasons, in all legitimate traffic, the purchaser is careful to know that he buys the right of property - that is, that he buys of one, who really owns the property - has the abstract incorporeal right to it; and not of one who merely has the possession of it. This fact, too, shows that the right of property is itself a subject of property - of ownership - independently of possession of the commodity to which it relates; and is universally so recognized by mankind, in their every day dealings. Yet it is but an incorporeality.

To accumulate evidence on this point. That this right of property is itself a subject of property, and an incorporeality, is proved by the fact, that it is transferred from one man to another, simply by consent - by a mere operation of the mind - without any corporeal delivery of the thing, to which the right attaches. Thus two men, in New York, may exchange their respective rights of property, in two ships, that are, at the time, in the Pacific ocean. And this incorporeal transfer, of the incorporeal right of property, in the ships, enables each purchaser afterwards to claim the possession, dominion, and control of the ship itself; that be has purchased. Here it is clear that the incorporeal right of property, or dominion, is a legal entity, and a subject of property, of ownership; one, which is transferred, from one man to another, by an incorporeal act, a simple operation of the mind, viz.: the act of consent. Manifestly this incorporeal right of property, or dominion, is, of itself, independently of possession [*41] of the commodity to which it relates, a subject of property, of owndership.

Again. This incorporeal right of property, being, of itself, a subject of property, it follows that no man can assert that he has a right of property even in a corporeal thing, without, at the same the, asserting, that an in corporeality is a subject of prop­erty, of ownership.

To conclude. The right of property being incorporeal, and being itself a subject of property, it demonstrates that the right of property may attach to still other incorporeal things; for it would be plainly absurd to say, that there could be an incorporeal right of property to a corporeal thing, but could be no incor­poreal right of property to an incorporeal thing. Clearly an incorporeal right of property could attach to an incorporeal thing - a thing of its own nature - as easily as to a corporeal thing, a thing of a different nature from its own. The attach­ment of this incorporeal right of property, to a corporeal thing, is not a phenomenon visible by the eye, nor tangible by the hand. It is perceptible only by the mind. And the mind can as easily perceive the same attachment to an incorporeal thing, as to a corporeal one.

It will now be token for granted, that this point is established, namely, that on principles of natural law, incorporeal things are subjects of property. If that point be established, it is self-evident that ideas are naturally subjects of property; that their incorporeality is no objection whatever to their being owned as property.

Edited by Grames
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* <Greebo> made a post that I don't know what to make of. S/he asked 4 questions and provided no answers to them.

He asked you 4 questions. They weren't rhetorical, and you have not answered.

I want to know whether you would say yes or no to those questions.

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Post #42 was by Grames.

It appears so. I looked looked at the post numbers and discovered shenanigans. The thread skips from post #37 to post #41. The next post is Rational Biker's, which should show up as #39 but is instead #42. My settings show 20 posts at a time. When I load page three the posts reset to #41. Weird.

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I can call up the local government office and ask "So who owns that mine?" I can't call someone up, play the song, and get an immediate answer about whether or not it will violate a copyright.

I don't see why you couldn't. Call up the government and ask "does anyone own this particular song?" If there is no kind of copyright, then you're good to go. I do not work in a field of law nor do I study law, but you are able to tell what violates copyright if you read the law. You haven't quoted any laws which are defined in such a way that there is no way to judge if you are out of bounds in what is legally permitted.

And someone releasing a song that's very similar to another and getting sued really isn't all that rare. Why should I "deal with it" when there's no non-incredibly time consuming way of covering my ass?

Because it's not your property. All you could say is "I wish I was more careful." Assuming there is a legitimate case against you, of course. I know you're asking about what property is in the first place, though. (I hope you looked at the video Mark posted on the first page. I only say so because I think it is a very good explanation of why IP is legitimate.)

Also, all I have to work with for whether or not there will be a copyright violation is previous court decisions. But (1) All the different factors at work with comparing songs/stories are insanely complex and (2) the judge could always break precedent. That's why I see it as analogous with antitrust.

You have copyright laws, not just previous court decisions. After all, court decisions are based on the law. There ARE complex factors, that's why law is such a large field. That is the same with law about land ownership. Sure, a judge could break precedent, as a judge can do with many laws, but I don't see how that's relevant. The judge could be right to do so because the law is THAT bad, or wrong because they made an arbitrary decision to do so.

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I hate to jump back into this thread, because I think others are much better suited to defend IP. But as a courtesy, I will offer a last set of responses to your post, Mnrchst.

I said "<Featherfall> made the argument that inventors would make less money without patents and copyrights, ignoring the fact that people have free will and can donate money to inventors."

because you said:

"Not only does the original inventor make less on the inventions he sells..."

[...]

I took that to mean that without patents they'd necessarily make less money. I don't see why that's necessarily the case.

[...]

I know it's not because the creator loses value without patents/copyrights because people have free will and can donate to the creator.

There are two facts we both seem to agree with. 1) an inventor/artist does not necessarily optimize reward through sales, just as he does not necessarily optimize reward through donations. 2) The process that best optimizes monetary reward should not determine if IP is, in fact, P.

I brought up monetary compensation to demonstrate how inventors/artists are indeed harmed by IP theft if they choose to sell. The creator of IP should be able to do either. You don't magic away that harm of IP theft by forcing every artist/inventor to beg for donations - that's like bringing down murder rates by legalizing some forms of killing. Anyway, I'd like to discard this point for now.

What do you mean by transfer?

Specifically: a transfer of ownership. Someone should be able to sell something, (say, a puppy), with the stipulation that the buyer neither breeds nor abuses it, as well as the stipulation that if he sells it (or gives it away) he similarly limits the new recipient. As with all contract law, this would be agreed upon prior to exchange of property or service. RationalBiker addressed this topic in (what should be) post #39. I would be surprised to find that you object to such arrangements with regard to physical property. Assuming you agree with that sort of limitation on future use, we can explore how it applies to IP.

Why are inventions property?

I call the following argument the "service" argument. It isn't as direct or complete as others, but I think it has a better chance of reaching you.

I think you'd agree that people have a right to negotiate to be compensated for the services they provide. Part of the negotiating process also might involve restrictions on the customer. If I invited a musician to play at a birthday party he could set the condition that I not reproduce his work for commercial purposes or videotape him while he is performing. If I asked an inventor to create a device for me (using my materials) he could set the condition that I not reproduce it, and that I require any potential buyer to follow the same conditions. Similar conditions could be set if the service is rendered by way of a blueprint or computer file. The body of law that protects such limitations on use functions much like the body of law that governs material property. We add "intellectual" to the term to distinguish it from regular, run-of-the-mill, physical property.It comes down to contract law.

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But why are songs property?

A better question: "Why are origninal recordings of a song the property of the artist?"

Answer: Because the artist created it.

That's very simple but it is the right answer.

The next logical question might be: "Why are all copies of that original recording the property of the artist until he sells them?"

Because a right to property means the right to exclude.

That's very simple but it is the right answer.

How did I do?

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But even with respect to children it is not the case that parents are indistinguishable from all other persons in their relation to their children.

Fo sho (DNA testing). I’m not sure what your point is.

To connect those two propositions logically, you can only be assuming that property must be corporeal.

Yep.

I take your meaning to be that the brain is corporeal and the contents are not.

No, I accept that the contents of my brain are my property and that the contents of everyone else’s brain are their property. In other words, my knowledge of an idea is my property, but not the idea itself. The contents are corporeal because the brain itself is corporeal. An idea, however, isn’t corporeal.

If someone reads my mind without my permission, they should be in trouble because they used my property without my permission, but not just because they know my idea without my explicit permission granted on a case by case basis.

Property cannot be restricted to only corporeal things, because the labor which rearranges the matter of corporeal things is itself incorporeal.

Labor isn’t property. There are rights to actions (working, smoking meth, voting, etc.) as well as property. In other words, just because you need incorporeal things (labor) to make [physical] property doesn't mean that there's an incorporeal thing that can be property.

Also (this is a tangent, it's not critical to my case), I don't actually have to do any labor for a meteor to fall onto my land. Wouldn't that be my property?

Ideas ultimately are physical, and so there is no reason to treat them differently from the other things physical that can be property.

Their expression is, but not the ideas themselves. To say ideas exist physically in and of themselves reminds me of Plato honestly.

Edited by Mnrchst
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I want to know whether you would say yes or no to those questions.

You said "Lets approach the question from another direction" so I assumed you were trying to make an argument. My bad.

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

No.

And if you refuse to my terms, do I have the right NOT to sell my invention to you?

Yes.

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

No.

And again, if you refuse to those terms, do I have the right not to sell the product of my creative effort to you?

Yes.

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I don't see why you couldn't. Call up the government and ask "does anyone own this particular song?" If there is no kind of copyright, then you're good to go. I do not work in a field of law nor do I study law, but you are able to tell what violates copyright if you read the law. You haven't quoted any laws which are defined in such a way that there is no way to judge if you are out of bounds in what is legally permitted.

If I play a song to a government person, they're going to know if it's copyrighted? Only if they can recall every copyrighted song in existence. Anyway, I'm talking about if I make a new song. I can't call up someone and ask "Would this NEW song violate a copyright even if you can recall every copyrighted song in existence?" and get a for sure answer.

Because it's not your property. All you could say is "I wish I was more careful."

I think something is only your property if you can make an objective law to define it (including whatever is similar enough to violate the copyright).

There ARE complex factors, that's why law is such a large field.

My point is, I don't see how there can be any objective standard for what violates copyright and what doesn't. I don't mean a foolproof system for determining every case, but standards which are specific enough that you can read them and make a clear distinction between a copyright violation and something "original".

Edited by Mnrchst
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I brought up monetary compensation to demonstrate how inventors/artists are indeed harmed by IP theft if they choose to sell.

I agree with this point in this respect: If an artist puts an album online and says "Donate if you want, if not, it's cool." then some guy might say, "You know, I'll donate $7." And if an artist has their album copyrighted, that same guy might say, "Man, he didn't donate it to the world? I'm gonna torrent it. Too bad he wasn't cool enough to donate it, because I would've totally donated $7 if that was the case."

I would be surprised to find that you object to such arrangements with regard to physical property.

I definitely don't.

If I invited a musician to play at a birthday party he could set the condition that I not reproduce his work for commercial purposes

He could. Do I think you should be legally obligated to obey? No.

or videotape him while he is performing.

That I think you could be legally obligated to not do, provided it's not taking place in "public property" (which shouldn't exist, but I don't see how we could morally prevent people from videotaping in such areas since it's supposed to be everyone's). I think you could require by law that cameras be present in certain locations that are sensitive to national security though, like airports. I also think we should be able to videotape police officers in certain situations.

If I asked an inventor to create a device for me (using my materials) he could set the condition that I not reproduce it, and that I require any potential buyer to follow the same conditions. Similar conditions could be set if the service is rendered by way of a blueprint or computer file.

Again, I don't see how it would be moral to have that be the law.

We add "intellectual" to the term to distinguish it from regular, run-of-the-mill, physical property.

Yeah, but all property is fundamentally intellectual because you have no property without government, and a government is an intellectual construction. Come to think of it, any possession could be considered intellectual in the sense that you've got to think about what to do to continue to possess it in order to do so.

Edited by Mnrchst
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A better question: "Why are original recordings of a song the property of the artist?"

Answer: Because the artist created it.

The next logical question might be: "Why are all copies of that original recording the property of the artist until he sells them?"

Because a right to property means the right to exclude.

The original thought(n) are the artists property because they're a part of their brain. The original recording is in a physical form comprised of property owned by the artist (in this case). But this doesn't necessarily mean the song in and of itself is anyone's property.

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If I play a song to a government person, they're going to know if it's copyrighted? Only if they can recall every copyrighted song in existence. Anyway, I'm talking about if I make a new song. I can't call up someone and ask "Would this NEW song violate a copyright even if you can recall every copyrighted song in existence?" an get a for sure answer.

If there is a song that has a copyright, it would make sense that all anyone has to do is look it up, the same way any property titles are stored in some kind of database or information storage system. Whether or not there is anyone who knows how to use that database or if there even is a database is whole other question, but it is reasonable to expect as much in today's day and age, as you expect someone to able look up who owns a particular piece of property, too. If there is no means for anyone to have this information accessible to anyone, yeah, that's a big problem, but that's a big problem for any and all law or property issues.

I think something is only your property if you can make an objective law define it (including whatever is similar enough to violate the copyright).

That's all kinds of backwards. Property doesn't arise from what you define to be property, it arises from the fruits of someone's labor, and you then write objective laws about it. Well, unless you mean if being unable to make an objective law indicates that the law is about something non-objective or not real. Still, all you pointed out is that it's not easy to make intellectual property laws. The blog post you linked, my initial thinking the image discussed does not violate a copyright law because it is in fact something new, albeit a knockoff (which is legal). It is inspired by the thing it looks like for sure, but it applies different techniques than what the original is of. As long as the original image was acquired legitimately, that's all fine. Although, I'm a bit unsure. That image was clearly derivative (and provably so by the materials the modifier used), so if I do further research about IP, I may change my mind on that example. If it is properly a violation of property rights, all they'd have to do about cases like these is ask the creator of the original that they're modifying to give you permission. If I was into doing that sort of work of modifying existing works, I wouldn't mind asking for permission. If I couldn't get in touch, well, too bad for me.

My point is, I don't see how there can be any objective standard for what violates copyright and what doesn't. I don't mean a foolproof system for determining every case, but standards which are specific enough that you can read them and make a clear distinction between a copyright violation and something "original".

I thought Grames gave a pretty good idea of what such standards could be/are.

Edited by Eiuol
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