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Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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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.

Your statement amounts to the advocacy of barenaked deception.

If I think the artist's terms unreasonable, I can try to find a different performer. If I say I agree to his terms and then violate them later, that's called fraud. It's immoral and it directly and negatively impacts the performer's ability to sell his labor. The law should hold me accountable for violating the performer's professional confidence, including reparations, up to possible imprisonment, depending on my ability to repay the debt I incurred while lying during contract negotiations.

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.

That law is moral because it enforces honesty during contract negotiations. Confidence that a contracts will be followed is a requirement for commerce of any sort.

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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

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.

I was talking about new songs.

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.

My point was there's no clear answer to the question of whether a new song violates copyright or not.

Property doesn't arise from what you define to be property.

I didn't say that. My point was that there's no way to define what constitutes a copyright violation and what doesn't objectively, and, therefore, objectively defining it is required for it to be property, but it doesn't arise from that (as if it's the only requisite).

I mentioned this originally as an explanation for why copyrights are bad legally even if you make a moral case for ideas as property. I said in my original post, "Even if patents are legitimate, I'm not sure how copyrights could possibly be legitimate because there's no way (I can think of) where you can demonstrate a copyright violation."

In other words, if ideas should be property, then patents are OK, but copyrights aren't necessarily (because people shouldn't be penalized for creating). This issue isn't critical to my (moral) case. I'm not saying "Ideas (including inventions) shouldn't be property because there's no way to know when your song is original or not."

Example of this type of thing: Rand said people deserve death if they kill someone (morality), but they don't deserve the death penalty (politics) because there's a chance that people might put someone to death who's innocent. So even if there's a moral case for why songs should be property (which I doubt), there's not necessarily a political case for it.

By what standard is a new song "too similar" to another? Think of all the variables involved.

If I couldn't get in touch, well, too bad for me.

Yep.

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

Which post?

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depending on my ability to repay the debt I incurred while lying during contract negotiations.

You never mentioned a contract. You said "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". Obviously, if he makes a contract with you to that effect, you'd be obligated to adhere to it if the government recognizes it. But you'd be unable to use a recording of the concert for commercial purposes, not necessarily the song itself (like playing a concert with your own rendition of it). You could only be prevented from doing that if copyright exists.

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I have a complaint. Instead of separating like every other sentence into a quote and responding to each one with comments, can you guys write like a short paragraph or narrative summarizing your opponent's point and your problems with whatever parts of it? Because otherwise it's annoying and makes it seem like you are not interested in understanding the other position.

Instead of like:

"I think XYZ."

Nuh uh. That's wrong.

"Therefore ABC."

Nuh uh. That's wrong.

"And because of DEF."

Nuh uh. That's wrong.

"Thus I conclude QRS."

Nuh uh. That's wrong.

Can we go something like:

"I think XYZ. Therefore ABC. And because of DEF. Thus I conclude QRS."

XYZ has not been proven, thus we don't know if ABC is valid. DEF may be true, but QRS does not follow from it. Therefore we must conclude that this is wrong.

Like that? Like basically, can we respond in brief, pithy narrative form, rather than lame excessive quoting internet debate form. Please? And please attribute quotes. It makes it hard to follow and a complete pain if you are trying to respond to such a mess.

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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.

The distinction makes no sense to me. What does that mean, "the idea itself" if it does not refer to the form in which brains hold ideas? What other form is possible?

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.

What is the basis of your assertion?

The contrary proposition, that labor is property, follows from the right to live and the need to be productive to live. Therefore there is a right to be productive, to labor and to keep the results of one's labors. Have you got an objection to this justification?

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.

Actually, yes it does. That something cannot come from nothing is elementary logic. The only reason the productive effects of labor can be property is because it inherits that attribute from its cause. If you want to deny that, then you also have the burden of proposing some other cause of property. What is your theory justifying the rights of property that you are willing to acknowledge?

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?
It would be your property just as the plants and animals on your land can come to be there without labor on your part.

More Spooner (pasting it in saves me re-explaining it):

SECTION VI.

How is the Right of Property acquired.

The right of property, in material wealth, is acquired, in the first instance, in one of these two ways, viz.: first, by simply taking possession of natural wealth, or the productions of nature; and, secondly, by the artificial production of other wealth. Each of these ways will be considered separately.

1. The natural wealth of the world belongs to those who first take possession of it. The right of property, in’ any article of natural wealth, is first acquired by simply taking possession of it.

Thus a man, walking in the wilderness, picks up a nut, a stick, or a diamond, which he sees lying on the ground before him. He thereby makes it his property - his own. It is thenceforth his, against all the world. No other human being, nor any number of human beings, have any right , on the ground of prop­erty, to take it from him, without his consent. They are all bound to acknowledge it to his, and not theirs.

It is in this way that all natural wealth is first made property. And any, and all natural wealth whatsoever, that can be pos­sessed, becomes property in consequence, and solely in conse­quence, of one’s simply taking possession of it.

There is no limit, fixed by the law of nature, to the amount of property one may acquire by simply taking possession of natural wealth, not already possessed, except the limit fixed by his power [*22] or ability to take such possession, without doing violence to the person or property of others. So much natural wealth, remain­ing unposessed, as any one can take possession of first, becomes absolutely his property.

This mode of acquiring property, by taking possession of the productions of nature, is a just mode. Nobody is wronged -that is, nobody is deprived of any thing that is his own-when one man takes possession of a production of nature, which lies exposed, and unpossessed by any one. The first comer has the same right , and all the right , to take possession of it, and make it his own, that any subsequent comer can have. No subsequent comer can show any right to it, different in its nature, from that, which the first comer exercises, in taking the possession. The wealth of nature, thus taken, and made property, was provided for the use of mankind. The only way, in which it can be made useful to mankind, is by their taking possession of it individually, and thus making it private property. Until is made property, no one can have the right to apply it to the satisfaction of his own, or any other person’s, wants, or desires. The first comer’s wants and desires are as sacred in their nature, and the presump­tion is that they are as necessary to he supplied, as those of the second corner will be. They, therefore, furnish to him as good [*23] an authority for taking possession of the wealth of nature, as those of the second corner will furnish to him. They may chance to be either less, or more, violent, in degree; but whether less, or more, (if that were important to his comparative right ,) the first corner cannot know. It is enough for him, that his own wants and desires have their origin in his own human nature, in the same way that those of the second corner will have theirs. And such wants and desires are a sufficient warrant for him to take whatever nature has spread before him for their gratification, unless it have been already appropriated by some other person.

After he has taken possession of it, it is his, by an additional right , such as no other person can have, he has bestowed his labor upon it - the labor, at least, of taking it into his posses­sion; and this labor will be lost to him if he be deprived of the commodity he has taken possession of. It is of no importance how slight that labor may have been, though it be but the labor of a moment, as in picking up a pebble from the ground, or plucking a fruit from a tree. Even that labor, trifling as it is, is more than any other one has bestowed upon it. And it is enough for him, that that was his labor, and not another man’s. He can now show a better right to the thing he has taken possession of; than any other man can. He had an equal right with any other man before; now he has a superior one, for he has expended his labor upon it, and no other person has done the like.

It cannot be said that the first comer is bound to leave some­thing to supply the wants of the second. This argument would be just as good against the right of the second consumer, the third, the fourth, and so on indefinitely, as it is against the right of the first; for it might, with the same reason, be said of each of these, that he was bound to leave something for those who should come after him. The rule, therefore, is, that each one may take enough to supply his own wants, if he can find the wherewith unappropriated. And the history of the race proves that under this rule, the last man’s wants are better supplied than were those of the first, owimng to the fact of the last man’s having the [*24] skill and means of creating more wealth for himself; than the first one bad. He has also the benefit of all the accumulations, which his predecessors have left him. The first man is a hungry, shivering savage, with all the wealth of nature around him. The last man revels in all the luxuries, which art, science, and nature, working in concert, can furnish him.

Moreover, the wealth of nature is inexhaustible. The first corner can, at best, take possession of but an infinitesimal portion of the whole; not even so much, probably, as would fall to his share, if the whole were equally divided among the inhabitants of the globe. And this is another reason why a second comer cannot complain of the portion taken by the first.

There are still two other reasons why the first corner does no wrong to his successors, by taking possession of whatever natural wealth he can find, for the gratification of his wants. One of these reasons is, that when the wealth taken is of a perishable nature, as the fruit of a vine or tree, for example, it is liable to perish without ministering to the wants of any one, unless the first comer appropriate it to the satisfaction of his own. The other reason is, that when the wealth taken, is of a permanent nature, as land, for example, then the first comer, by taking pos­session of it-that is, by bestowing useful labor upon it - makes it more capable of contributing to the wants of mankind, than it would have been if left in its natural state. It is of course right that he should enjoy, during his life, the fruits of his own labor, in the increased value of the land he has improved; and when he dies, he leaves the land in a better condition for those who come after him, than it would have been in, if he had not expended his labor upon it.

Finally, the wealth of nature can be made available for the supply of men’s wants, only by men’s taking possession of por­tions of it individually, and making such portions their own. A man must take possession of the natural fruits of the earth, and thus make them his property, before he can apply them to the sustenance of his body. He must take possession of land, and [*25] thus make it his property, before he can raise a crop from it, or fit it for his residence. If the first comer have no right to take possession of the earth, or its fruits, for the supply of his wants, the second corner certainly can have no such right . The doc­trine, therefore, that the first comer has no natural right to take possession of the wealth of nature, make it his property, and apply to his uses, is a doctrine that would doom the entire race to starvation, while all the wealth of nature remained unused, and unenjoyed around them.

For all these reasons, and probably for still others that might he given, the simple taking possession of the wealth of nature, is a just and natural, as it is a necessary, mode of acquiring the right of property in such wealth.

2. The other mode, in which the right of property is ac­quired, is by the creation, or production, of wealth, by labor.

The wealth created by labor, is the rightful property of the creator, or producer. This proposition is so self-evident as hardly to admit of being made more clear; for if the creator, or pro­ducer, of wealth, be not its rightful proprietor, surely no one else can be; and such wealth must perish unused.

The material wealth, created by labor, is created by bestowing labor upon the productions of nature, and thus adding to their value. For example - a man bestows his 1abor upon a block of marble, and converts it into a statue; or upon a piece of wood and iron, and converts them into a plough; or upon wool, or cotton, and converts it into a garment. The additional value thus given to the stone, wood, iron, wool, and cotton, is a creation of new wealth, by labor. And if the laborer own the stone, wood, iron, wool, and cotton, on which he bestows his labor, he is the rightful owner of the additional value which his labor gives to those articles. But if he be not the owner of the articles, on which he bestows his labor, he is not the owner of the additional value he has given to them; but gives or sells his labor to the owner of the articles on which he labors.

Having thus seen the principles, on which the right of prop- [*26] erty is acquired in material wealth, let us now take the same principles, and see how they will apply to the acquisition of the right of property in ideas, or intellectual wealth.

1. If ideas be considered us productions of nature, or as things existing in nature, and which men merely discover, or take possession of; then he who does discover, or first take pos­session of, an idea, thereby becomes its lawful and rightful proprietor; on the same principle that he, who first takes possession of any material production of nature, thereby makes himself its rightful owner. And the first possessor of the idea has the same right , either to keep that idea solely for his own use, or enjoyment, or to give, or sell it to other men, that the first pos­sessor of any material commodity has, to keep it for his own use, or to give, or sell it, to other men.

2. If ideas be considered, not as productions of nature, or as things existing in nature, and merely discovered by man, but as entirely new wealth, created by his labor — the labor of his mind — then the right of property in them belongs to him, whose labor created them; on the same principle that any other wealth, created by human labor, belongs right fully, as property, to its creator, or producer.

It cannot be truly said that there is any intrinsic difference in the two cases; that material wealth is created by physical labor, and ideas only by intellectual labor; and that this difference, in the mode of creation, or production, makes a difference in the rights of the creators, or producers, to the products of their respective labors. Any article of wealth, which a man creates or produces, by the exercise of any one portion of his wealth-producing faculties, is as clearly his right ful property, as is any other article of wealth, which he creates or produces, by any other portion of his wealth-producing faculties. If his mind [*27] produces wealth, that wealth is as right fully his property, as is the wealth that is produced by his hands. This proposition is self-evident, if the fact of creation, or production, by labor, be what gives the creator or producer right to the wealth he creates, or produces.

But, secondly, there is no real foundation for the assertion, or rather for the distinction assumed, that material wealth is pro­duced by physical labor, and that ideas are produced by intellectual labor. All that labor, which we are in the habit of calling physical labor, is in reality performed wholly by the mind, will, or spirit, which uses the bones and muscles merely as tools. Bones and muscles perform no labor of themselves; they move, in labor, only as they are moved by the mind, will, or spirit. It is, therefore, as much the mind, will, or spirit, that lifts a stone, or fells a tree, or digs a field, as it is the mind, will, or spirit, that produces an idea. There is, therefore, no such thing as the physical labor of men, independently of their intellectual labor. Their intellectual powers merely use their physical organs as tools, in performing what we call physical labor. And the physical organs have no more merit in the production of material wealth, than have the saws, hammers, axes, hoes, spades, or any other tools, which the mind of man uses in the production of wealth.

All wealth, therefore, whether material or intellectual, which men produce, or create, by their labor, is, in reality, produced or created by the labor of their minds, wills, or spirits, and by them alone. A man’s rights, therefore, to the intellectual products of his labor, necessarily stand on the same basis with his rights to the material products of his labor. If he have the right to the latter, on the ground of production, he has the same right to the former, for the same reason; since both kinds of wealth are alike the productions of his intellectual or spiritual powers.

The fact, that the mind uses the physical organs in the pro­duction of material wealth, can make no distinction between such wealth, and ideas — for the mind also uses a material organ, (the [*28] brain,) in the production of ideas; just as, in the production of material wealth, it uses both brain and bone.

So far, therefore, as a man’s right to wealth, has its origin in his production or creation of that wealth by his labor, it is impossible to establish a distinction between his right to material, and his right to intellectual, wealth; between his right to a house that he has erected, and his right to an idea that he has produced.

If there be any possible ground of distinction, his right is even stronger to the idea, than to the house; for the house was con­structed out of that general stock of materials, which nature had provided for, and offered to, the whole human race, and which some human being had as much natural right to lake possession of, as another; while the idea is a pure creation of his own faculties, accomplished without abstracting, from any common stock of natural wealth, any thing whatever, which the rest of the world could, in any way, claim, as belonging to them, in common with him.

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.

And if they don't exist physically, then how do they exist at all? It is not the case that if ideas exist physically then it follows that they are also capable of existing "in and of themselves" apart from a knowing subject.

The problem with Plato was his metaphysical dualism, his postulating an alternate dimension besides the world we know where the perfect forms of ideas existed apart from and without requiring any knower. The truth is that knowledge cannot exist without a knower, and that knowers are physical and therefore so is their knowledge. A single idea as a unit of knowledge is both physical and never found existing "in and of itself" apart from a possessor. There is no form of an idea other than the form in which it is known within the brains of those who know it, and denying this truth is to think like Plato. The opposite of Plato on this point is Aristotle and his principle that only particulars exist.

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You never mentioned a contract.

What did you think stipulations amounted to other than a verbal contract? Verbal contracts are only less legally binding because they are harder to prove - people who break them are just as much in the wrong as people who break written and notorized contracts.

You said "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". Obviously, if he makes a contract with you to that effect, you'd be obligated to adhere to it if the government recognizes it. But you'd be unable to use a recording of the concert for commercial purposes, not necessarily the song itself (like playing a concert with your own rendition of it). You could only be prevented from doing that if copyright exists.

Actually, you'd be obligated to adhere to the contract (by standards of justice, honesty and integrity) regardless of whether or not the government recognized it. But musicians don't have to rely solely on the integrity of their patrons, because the courts do recognize these types of agreements. They are so common, in fact, that they've been streamlined into the body of law known as copyrights. Thanks to that body of law, you don't need to read three pages of dense legalese and have a notary present every time Raffi plays Bananaphone at your kid's expensive party.

Edited by FeatherFall
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The distinction makes no sense to me. What does that mean, "the idea itself" if it does not refer to the form in which brains hold ideas? What other form is possible?

And if they don't exist physically, then how do they exist at all? It is not the case that if ideas exist physically then it follows that they are also capable of existing "in and of themselves" apart from a knowing subject.

An idea is a concept which exists in a consciousness's mind. It refers to something physical behaving in a particular way. There's a distinction between physical matter behaving in a particular way (the concept) and a particular collection of matter that happens to be behaving that way (a brain containing concept.) Me having an idea in my head isn't the exact same thing as the idea itself because it's not impossible for the idea to exist in someone else's head. Just because I own all my thoughts (because I own my body) doesn't mean the own the thoughts themselves.

Ideas are like a sequence. But the sequence itself doesn't exist--it's a way matter behaves. In other words, you can say sex occurs with two people, but not that sex can occur by itself. Does love exist by itself, or is it a way of describing what a person feels? Can laughter walk around and give you a hug?

If you own an idea (a sequence of matter behaving in a certain way), then you're owning someone else's property if they use the sequence you came up with. But only one person can own property. So you can't own an idea without owning property that isn't really yours.

And if you can own a song, why not a particular style of clothing?

The contrary proposition, that labor is property, follows from the right to live and the need to be productive to live. Therefore there is a right to be productive, to labor and to keep the results of one's labors. Have you got an objection to this justification?

Property is something possessed by someone with legal sanction. A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a person’s freedom of action in a social context. Is voting your "property"? Is having sex your "property"? Is walking down the street your "property"?

The only reason the productive effects of labor can be property is because it inherits that attribute from its cause.

Your argument is incomplete. It seems to me to be:

a - You need X to get Y.

b - Someone should own Y.

c - Therefore, someone should own this other thing which is similar to X.

In other words, you need labor to get a car, and labor in incorporeal, and someone should own the car. Therefore, you should also own an idea, because it's also incorporeal. But should someone own a particular form of labor?

Or, you need an idea to get a car ("I'm gonna make a car"), and ideas are incorporeal, and someone should own the car. Therefore, you should also own a different kind of idea (a song). But should someone own the thought "I'm gonna make a car"?

What is your theory justifying the rights of property that you are willing to acknowledge?

The non-aggression principle.

It would be your property just as the plants and animals on your land can come to be there without labor on your part.

I know. My point was that Spooner's argument was:

All property comes from labor. Therefore, if you say labor doesn't necessary mean the fruits of it are property, then you're saying there should be no property.

And I'm pointing out that the idea that "all property comes from labor" is false.

The right of property, in material wealth, is acquired, in the first instance, in one of these two ways, viz.: first, by simply taking possession of natural wealth, or the productions of nature; and, secondly, by the artificial production of other wealth.

True.

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Verbal contracts are only less legally binding because they are harder to prove - people who break them are just as much in the wrong as people who break written and notorized contracts.

Morally? Sure. Legally? No. If you don't bother to get the government to recognize it, you've got no legal recourse. I'm talking about whether or not there should be patents and copyrights, which is the law. If someone says to you "I'll let you have a copy of my song if you promise not to make a copy of it in exchange for me such and such" and you make a copy of it, you did something bad (betraying their trust), but I wouldn't say you did anything that should be illegal. The essential issue here is whether or not songs/inventions should be property, not if it's a bad thing if someone betrays another person's trust. Should cheating on your spouse be illegal?

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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.

I don't?

So if you want to buy it, and I say, "you can buy it but only on those terms" - you're actually saying that I DON'T have the right to offer those terms. By which you're saying that YOU have the right to force me to sell it to you on YOUR terms alone?

Or are you confusing the *right* to require those terms with your unwillingness to accept those terms?

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

Yes.

See now you've just contradicted yourself. You've told me that I *DO* have the right not to sell my invention to you - which means I *DO* have the right to set terms on that sale. I think what you really meant by "no" above is, "YOU aren't required to accept my terms", but that isn't the same as me not having the right to say "these are my terms, take it or leave it".

If you DID mean the latter then you've just said that I do and don't have the right to sell the product to you, and that's impossible.

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.

And again, same contradiction.

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By what standard is a new song "too similar" to another? Think of all the variables involved.

"Too similar" is indeed a bad standard. I provided my reasoning on the link you posted and why I think there is not a case against it. I also admit I wasn't sure about it, but I still gave reasoning why it might be a property use violation, which had nothing at all to do with "too similiar." The reasoning was that the person provably used a resource created and designed by someone absent of permission. An *indicator* of a copyright violation may be similarity, but that's not enough. I don't have much else to say on this, because you disagree on what property fundamentally is anyway. That people can own cars is agreed upon, but the justification for that is not.

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And again, same contradiction.

To be fair, it's not really a contradiction. It would mean you can choose not to sell, that ownership transfer of a widget is fine, but not any conditions about use of the widget. Probably something like: "I should be allowed to reverse engineer the product regardless of what you would like, but if you don't sell me the widget, that's fine. I can't reverse engineer without the product. Protect your idea and no one will reverse engineer the widget."

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Morally? Sure. Legally? No. If you don't bother to get the government to recognize it, you've got no legal recourse. I'm talking about whether or not there should be patents and copyrights, which is the law. If someone says to you "I'll let you have a copy of my song if you promise not to make a copy of it in exchange for me such and such" and you make a copy of it, you did something bad (betraying their trust), but I wouldn't say you did anything that should be illegal.

But copyright law makes it illegal; It is near universally and correctly understood that violating the agreement injures the artist. Because commerce requires honesty, government intervention to punish dishonesty in commerce is just.

The essential issue here is whether or not songs/inventions should be property, not if it's a bad thing if someone betrays another person's trust. Should cheating on your spouse be illegal?

Actually, when the discussion is framed as the "service argument," all I need to rely on is contract law. Framed this way, the burden is on YOU to provide a compelling reason for the government to allow fraud in some areas of contract negotiation. Under many marriage contracts, cheating brings with it the loss of certain rights during divorce. We don't throw adulterers in jail. Likewise we wouldn't throw most copyright violators in jail; the law is aimed at protecting the producer's value and restoring that value when it is damaged.

At this point you have a clear opportunity to change my mind if you demonstrate 2 things:

1) That IP is not property. I am not yet convinced. But even if you are correct in your position you still haven't justified fraudulent contracts. I suggest you first focus on demonstrating...

2)That, assuming IP is not P, fraud is OK in the situations you want to exclude from contract law. As Greebo pointed out, we'll need to understand why patrons have the right to force (some of) their terms on performers. While I regard this position as untenable, it is my hope that in trying to justify it you check your premise that intellectual creations are not property.

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To be fair, it's not really a contradiction. It would mean you can choose not to sell, that ownership transfer of a widget is fine, but not any conditions about use of the widget. Probably something like: "I should be allowed to reverse engineer the product regardless of what you would like, but if you don't sell me the widget, that's fine. I can't reverse engineer without the product. Protect your idea and no one will reverse engineer the widget."

It *is* a contradiction, because what he is saying is that I cannot (or specifically, have no right to) stipulate my conditions as a term of the sale, BUT I can refuse to sell the product IF he doesn't agree to those terms.

If "You will not reverse engineer my product" is a stipulation, I cannot both be prohibited from exercising it AND be allowed to exercise it.

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you can choose not to sell, that ownership transfer of a widget is fine, but not any conditions about use of the widget. Probably something like: "I should be allowed to reverse engineer the product regardless of what you would like, but if you don't sell me the widget, that's fine. I can't reverse engineer without the product. Protect your idea and no one will reverse engineer the widget."

Yep.

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So if you want to buy it, and I say, "you can buy it but only on those terms" - you're actually saying that I DON'T have the right to offer those terms.

Not legally, because the idea isn't your property.

By which you're saying that YOU have the right to force me to sell it to you on YOUR terms alone?

No. Where on Earth are you getting that from?

You've told me that I *DO* have the right not to sell my invention to you - which means I *DO* have the right to set terms on that sale.

You can sell the invention itself, but not the idea. In other words, you can't have the legal right to set certain conditions on selling something, while you can on others.

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It *is* a contradiction, because what he is saying is that I cannot (or specifically, have no right to) stipulate my conditions as a term of the sale, BUT I can refuse to sell the product IF he doesn't agree to those terms.

You have the right to make certain stipulations and have the government enforce them.

Also, if I'm allowing you to refuse to sell a product on your terms, then how does it follow that I'm saying you should be able to sell it on the "you can't reverse engineer it" stipulation?

If "You will not reverse engineer my product" is a stipulation, I cannot both be prohibited from exercising it AND be allowed to exercise it.

I'm saying you can be allowed to exercise the sale an invention (in terms of the government enforcing it). There are certain stipulations you can make and have the government enforce, and certain stipulations that you can't. For example, someone can't sign a contract that says "I'm this person's slave now" and expect the government to enforce it, even if they want to be someone's slave.

Edited by Mnrchst
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I still gave reasoning why it might be a property use violation, which had nothing at all to do with "too similiar." The reasoning was that the person provably used a resource created and designed by someone absent of permission.

You mean something physical?

An *indicator* of a copyright violation may be similarity, but that's not enough.

So this is where we get into "fair use" and "well, it's basically the same thing, but it's the context that's important here." And what are the standards for "fair use" and mitigating context? And how are those standards good? Why are other standards bad? Why should we even have "fair use" but also copyrights?

Edited by Mnrchst
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But copyright law makes it illegal.

I'm saying copyright shouldn't be the law.

It is near universally and correctly understood that violating the agreement injures the artist.

Does the fact that support for copyrights/patents are "near universal" mean it's good? I'm debating whether or not it is, not whether or not it's popular. Also, I don't even think support is "near universal" anymore. It certainly isn't with western countries' citizens born after 1980ish.

Because commerce requires honesty, government intervention to punish dishonesty in commerce is just.

And the issue here is what qualifies as moral commerce. The government shouldn't "uphold honesty" when someone was sold a slave under false pretenses (they were told it was in good health when it was really is wasn't)--it should ban slavery.

Under many marriage contracts, cheating brings with it the loss of certain rights during divorce.

The legal marriage system is a sick joke. Consenting adults should be able to use the rights of legal marriage if they want without getting them all at once. If two adults want hospital visitation, but don't want a 50/50 ownership of an asset (where, conceptually, they each literally own half of it), fine. If they want a 50/50 ownership of an asset and no hospital visitation fine.

Why adultery should play into all of this, I have no idea.

Also, as a tangent, I think it's ridiculous that married couples can't testify against each other in court. What if you see your husband/wife kill someone?

We don't throw adulterers in jail. Likewise we wouldn't throw most copyright violators in jail.

And I don't think there should ever be any legal penalty for committing adultery. But I guess your point is "Well, just because you do something illegal doesn't mean you go to prison." Okay, but you're still punished by the government. I'm arguing about where we do that and where we don't.

the law is aimed at protecting the producer's value and restoring that value when it is damaged.

The critical word here is "aimed" (just because it's aimed at something good doesn't mean it's good) and I've already addressed this point about "restoring value".

1) That IP is not property. I am not yet convinced. But even if you are correct in your position you still haven't justified fraudulent contracts. I suggest you first focus on demonstrating...

2)Assuming IP is not P, fraud is OK in the situations you want to exclude from contract law. As Greebo pointed out, we'll need to understand why patrons have the right to force (some of) their terms on performers. While I regard this position as untenable, it is my hope that in trying to justify it you check your premise that intellectual creations are not property.

They can force terms that would violate their rights if ignored and they can't force terms that don't violate their rights if ignored. I think people have the right to their thoughts (whether they came up with them or not), period. For example, rape is illegal, but we wouldn't want to erase the memory of the criminal's crime because it's a part of their mind. So we punish someone for reading another's person's mind without their permission because they violated their body (this is similar to rape, for the purposes of this conversation), but we don't punish them for the use of the idea they learned immorally.

And I think adultery is legally A-OK.

Edited by Mnrchst
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I'll probably write up "my case" tomorrow or 2 days from now. Keep in mind that I started this thread thinking more or less this: "Copyrights and patents seem like a bad idea to me and I'm not sure why, but I'm not going to say I'm neutral on the issue because I'm definitely leaning against them--I have a lot of problems with the standard justifications for them."

Edited by Mnrchst
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First, I'm going off on a tangent with you, Mnrchst, because I think it's interesting and fun. The reason that husbands and wives can't be forced testify against each other is probably related to the 5th amendment coupled with the law's assesment of two spouses as one entity. I don't think its right either, but I think that's why they do it. Marriage law is in a sorry state, but provisions affecting the outcome of a divorce if infidelity occurs are often legitimate. Many pre-nuptual agreements explicitly state the penalties for adultery (they usually amount to a lower portion of the shared wealth after the marriage disolves). These contracts should be updheld, with legal penalties (civil, not criminal). I prefer to remain unmarried so I don't have to deal with that nonsense, but I'll probably have to tie the knot for those visitation rights you mentioned. Regardless, there remains a need for people who want marriage to have a host of legal guarantees that codify how their romantic and financial relationships fit together.

Now back to the issue at hand. Of course consensus does not dictate what's good or bad, that wasn't what I was trying to say. My point was that you don't have to sign anything to offer consent. I mentioned a "near universal" understanding so you wouldn't claim that people are ignorant of existing law, haven't consented and therefore are not bound by the obligations of accessing the copyrighted material. When you access copyrighted materials you implicitly consent to the terms of the copyright. This is "near universally understood" by people in business, who actually create the value. It's also available in writing on CD backs and in the Terms Of Use of any legitimate website. But you are right on one point: People my age (born after 1980) often don't recognize copyright. I suspect that they suffer from a concrete-bound way of thinking about this issue, which makes it difficult for them to understand how an idea can be property and which ideas actually are.

Sure, your brain is your property, just as a blank CD could be your property. Before imprinting someone else's information on either, you're free to deny his terms and reverse course. But if you choose to tell him that you agree while secretly harboring intentions to violate his professional trust, then you've bypassed his consent just as surely as if you telepathically mind-raped him. The reason you should be held to account legally is because you committed fraud in order to access his property that transmitted the data (the sound waves, database, verbal labor, etc, - not to mention the IP itself), without his consent. I regard the government enforcing consent in this way as much different than upholding slave-penalties in contracts, and you haven't yet explained to my how the two are alike... lately I've just been reading your replies to me, so direct me to one of your posts if you've already made your case.

Also, I've got a question that will help me get a better sense of who you are. Is this merely an academic question for you? In other words, do you now access, or do you have a desire to access, copyrighted or patented materials without following the terms of the copyright?

Edited by FeatherFall
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These contracts should be updheld, with legal penalties (civil, not criminal)...there remains a need for people who want marriage to have a host of legal guarantees that codify how their romantic and financial relationships fit together.

I guess people should be able to make a "I won't have sex with someone else" contract as long as they can end it at any time. But what about a contract that says "I wont have sex with someone else for the rest of my life"? So what if your spouse ends up being a total jerk? I'm sure what to make of all that.

And I get the thing about the "single legal entity thing" and the 5th amendment. So ridiculous. I asked Peikoff "Is it moral for married couples to not have to testify against each other in court?" on his site and he wrote back that it's strictly a legal issue and not a philosophical one. I'm not sure why he thinks that. I should probably ask.

Edited by Mnrchst
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When you access copyrighted materials you implicitly consent to the terms of the copyright.

That's definitely true. No one can say "But I didn't know I was breaking the law."

I suspect that they suffer from a concrete-bound way of thinking about this issue, which makes it difficult for them to understand how an idea can be property and which ideas actually are.

I'd say most of them are either generally parasitic in their philosophical views ("but it's awesome!") or use wacky justifications (anarchism) or just say "But I'm broke", but I think there's a decent number who can offer justifications more or less are good as I can.

But if you choose to tell him that you agree while secretly harboring intentions to violate his professional trust, then you've bypassed his consent just as surely as if you telepathically mind-raped him.

Legally speaking, today, you're doing something bad insofar as you're breaking law, yes. Also, mind-rape, heh. But, again, the issue is what stipulations people should be able to make. There's the slavery argument I made (fraud doesn't apply to selling slaves), and also "Don't ever say 'fo shizzle dizzle' without my consent, because I'm Snoop Dogg, ya feel me?"

The reason you should be held to account legally is because you committed fraud in order to access his property

Are we talking about the law today, or morality? If the law, yes, it's illegal. If morality, you can't say "It's property because it's property."

do you now access copyrighted or patented materials without following the terms of the copyright?

I will exercise my 5th amendment rights at this time.

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lately I've just been reading your replies to me, so direct me to one of your posts if you've already made your case.

This is a compilation of previous posts with more included. This is my case right now, but I think I'd have to really think about this for a while to make it comprehensive. Here's what I have so far. Feedback is appreciated:

An idea is a concept which exists in a consciousness's mind. It refers to something physical behaving in a particular way. There's a distinction between physical matter behaving in a particular way (the concept) and a particular collection of matter that happens to be behaving that way (a brain containing the concept.) Me having an idea in my head isn't the exact same thing as the idea itself because it's not impossible for the idea to exist in someone else's head. Just because I own all my thoughts (because I own my body) doesn't mean I necessarily should own the thoughts themselves.

Ideas are a sequence. But the sequence doesn't exist by itself--it's merely a way matter behaves. In other words, you can say sex occurs with two people, but not that sex exists by itself. It's a way of describing how two people act, but sex can't walk down the street.

Property is something possessed by someone with legal sanction and it absolutely must be possessable. And in order for you to possess something, there must be only one possessor. How can two people both possess the same thing? This is why there should be no such thing as public property; if you can't sell it, you don't own it. Ultimately, we need to own that which exists as matter, as long as it's consistent with the non-aggression principle. We shouldn't be able to own the air, because the nature of our species is we don't have to work for it. Therefore, everyone is entitled to air by the nature of their being human. However, we've got to work for food and fresh water, therefore it's property.

Two people can live on the same piece of land, but ultimately, there's still one owner--one owner of half of each part of the land. If they each own a 50% share of the property, and they can sell their share (or, perhaps, parts of it, like shares of a corporation), then the rules pertaining to the land would be determined by whoever has a controlling interest of the land (50% + 1). If two people have exactly a 50% share of the land, then they would decide what to do with it on a consensus basis. We can say that each person owns literally half of the land, or half of each part of the land, or they alternate with who owns which atom.

A rock is this rock sitting right over there. But an idea is just a way of describing how matter behaves; you can't carry it around in your pocket. Therefore, you can't own an idea because it can't be possessed. Matter is possessed. A gun is possessed. The "shooting" of a gun can't be possessed. Perhaps you are the only possessor of the matter containing a new sequence, but you are just the only person who knows the idea, not the only possessor of the idea itself, because sequences can't be possessed--they are merely a way of describing matter.

If you own an idea (a sequence of matter behaving in a certain way), then you're owning someone else's property if they use the sequence you came up with. But only one person can own property. You can't own an idea that's getting used by someone else (whether this applies to their "belongings" or not, as their body is also their property) without controlling (and therefore owning) the property that isn't yours.

Owning someone's use of their property, but not the property itself, is a contradiction. Owning their computer playing your song isn't the same as owning 50% of the computer, or 5%, or 95%. They own 100% of it, and yet you control it's behavior. But why should you if it's their property? I have the right to refuse to serve any prospective customer at my restaurant for any reason if the restaurant is my property. Therefore, I control the use of my property because it's my property.

This view of the notion that ideas should be property doesn't mean a person should be deprived of an idea they shouldn't know. People have the right to their thoughts because they are contained in their mind, which is their property. For example, violating a person's privacy is illegal, but we shouldn't use a yet-to-be-invented technology to erase a criminal's knowledge of the privacy violation, because their thoughts are contained in their mind, which is their property.

This view of the notion that ideas should be property doesn't mean a person's property should never be controlled against their will. This is because all rights are contextual: if someone is prevented from building a dynamite factory in a crowded area, they are prevented from using their property to threaten people--an initiation of force. This is because there's an increase in the risk of harm to those people. And so we have some areas (with few people) where there are no such zoning restrictions. The creator of a song is not harmed in any way if someone listens to their song--they have been deprived of nothing and are subject to new risk to their life. This is a safety issue.

This view of the notion that ideas should be property doesn't mean the use of all ideas shouldn't restricted. If someone invents the nuclear bomb, the method of constructing it should be kept secret by the government (which is in charge of keeping people safe) because of the risks associated with too many people knowing it. Again, this is a safety issue.

If the notion that ideas should be property were actually put into practice with respect to all ideas, imagine how terrible the world would be even if it were somehow able to be enforced? Every new idea couldn't be used without the permission of either the creator or the first to file. Think about not being able to tell a great joke. Think about the lack of competition in the private sector if you couldn't imitate the practices of the adjacent town's grocery store. This would be incredibly immoral.

So, of course, standards are created to decide what ideas are worthy of being property and what ideas aren't. These standards shouldn't be created in the first place because ideas shouldn't be property. However, it's amusing to observe people attempt to define something as property when it shouldn't be, because the only way to enforce the notion is to restrict the use of ideas similar to others. Otherwise, we could change one tiny detail about an idea and correctly say that we aren't using the same idea.

By what standard do we tell the difference? Why is that standard good? Why are others bad? It's easy to look at existing court cases and construct examples of songs which would be virtually impossible to know ahead of time if they'd violate copyrights or not. If one song is similar to another in chord structure, but not in lyrics, is that more or less likely to be a copyright violation than a song with similar lyrics, but not similar chord structure? What about the same lyrics in a different language? What about tempo? What about the arrangements? What if sections of it are periodically played backwards for a brief period of time. And how do we weigh all these out? What about "fair use"? Where does the line between satire end and begin?

On the utilitarian end, yes, a lack of patents/copyrights might result in a decrease in financial compensation for inventors and artists, and that might result in a decrease in the pace/quality of new inventions/art. But there are other potential costs. You can have people who are punished for violating a copyright when they had virtually no chance of knowing with confidence ahead of time if they'd violate the law or not. You can have people who are discouraged from creating a new song and playing it at a concert where they get paid for doing so, because it is too similar to an existing one.

And, perhaps most importantly, you can get someone who invents something which can lead to incredibly more cost-efficient electric cars being built, and then they sell the patent to oil companies who make sure no one uses it so they don't have to compete with such cars for the next 20 years, and this occurs while another inventor is months away from discovering the same invention, and this leads to a retardation of both economic efficiency as a result of the lack of the invention's implementation as well as the lack of subsequent technological innovation, as the use of the invention may be necessary to discovering another, far more productive invention. And the invention that can lead to incredibly more cost-efficient electric cars could be critical to dealing with an OPEC embargo on the US, or unexpectedly early peak oil (which perhaps occurs for artificial reasons, like a coordinated terrorist attack on many oil wells in the middle east), or a run on the US dollar (which would lead to pretty much the same scenario as the previous two examples).

Or you might get someone discovering the cure for cancer, and perhaps there isn't an alternative cure, or perhaps the alternative cure can't be invented for at least another 100 years, and the inventor decides "You know what, I'm gonna not let anyone use this cure for as long as my patent lasts because I'm super crazy" while another inventor was months away from the same discovery and wanted to sell it at a price to maximize profit.

Even if you argue on the utilitarian end, how can you know the costs won't outweigh the benefits?

Edited by Mnrchst
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You have the right to make certain stipulations and have the government enforce them.

I'm sorry? What in your opinion is the origin of rights? The Government?

Also, if I'm allowing you to refuse to sell a product on your terms, then how does it follow that I'm saying you should be able to sell it on the "you can't reverse engineer it" stipulation?

You're refusing me the right to set the terms. You're saying that I cannot rightfully require that you agree to the only terms under which I would agree to the sale.

You claim I do not own the idea - but I'm the one who has it, not you, but if I sell you the product, you'll be able to figure out how the idea works NOT by figuring out the idea but by figuring out what I did and working backwards. You'll be taking my work and reverse engineering it, not coming up with something original.

If you had the idea yourself, you wouldn't need my product. I want to sell my product but not w/o the promise from you NOT reverse engineer the idea (or at least not to profit from doing so).

By what right do you tell me that I CAN NOT ask you to voluntarily agree to my terms?

And if the basis for your standard of a contract is purely legal enforceability, and my requirement can't be enforced, then what, you'll agree to my terms under false pretense, then say, "Oh well you can't really enforce that anyway" and so then violate our contract and there will be nothing I can do about it? Hence - you'll force me to sell you my product by deception and legal technicalities.

EITHER I can ask you to respect my wishes wrt reverse engineering or I can't. If I can't, then I can't refuse to sell you my product BASED on those terms (just like I by LAW can't refuse to rent my apartments to a black man because he's black (not that I would mind you but thats the perfect analogy to what you've set up here)). So if a black man wants to rent my apartment, and I don't want ot rent it to him because he's black, but only because he's black, I have no choice under law, I MUST rent it to him. Likewise if patent enforcment isn't legal, I CAN'T REFUSE to sell to you simply because you won't promise not to steal my idea.

Hence, force.

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I asked Peikoff "Is it moral for married couples to not have to testify against each other in court?" on his site and he wrote back that it's strictly a legal issue and not a philosophical one. I'm not sure why he thinks that. I should probably ask.

I'm no legal scholar. I think it's right not to require testimony when your own testimony could condemn you. In legal procedings against one part of a married couple, joint wealth is often at risk. A spouse who had no knowledge of the other's infraction doesn't know if his or her testimony will lead to the loss of his or her life's savings. So in some cases it might be okay, I'm really not sure.

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