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Why should there be patents and copyrights?

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Honestly, It cannot matter. It is first come, first serve, not first to think of it, first served. If you are thinking of buying a piece of land 10 days before someone else but he buys it before you, isn't that the same principle?

It can't matter if we have patents/copyrights, yes. My point is that his/her argument "But if all ideas were property, it'd be impossible to tell who came up with what idea." is itself a pragmatic argument. Also, we could totally copyright every idea--it would work on a first come first serve basis.

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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

Again, the argument "I made it, therefore it's mine" is incomplete.

Are you suggesting that because I made it, it's yours? No, if I make it, and do so for myself not for someone else (ie on the job), then it is mine. That isn't the issue.

This is...

You're assuming that if someone invents something, no one else would've ever invented it if you hadn't told anyone about it.

No I'm flat out stating that if you possess my invention, and then you declare that you thought of the exact same thing already, that your assertion cannot be believed, and that only if you come up with the idea and can demonstrate that you did so with no access to my invention can we believe your claim that you came up with it first/on your own.

Which is when it really comes back to, "What counts as property? What doesn't? Why?"

No, it doesn't - it comes down to the voluntary agreement you keep dodging - the one where if I say, "I'll sell you my invention if you promise not to reproduce it without my permission" and you say "Ok I'll buy it under those terms", why the Government shouldn't enforce such a contract?

You've claimed such a contract deprives you of your right - equivocating it to slavery - which you have subsequently refuted in the miner argument - so why shouldn't YOUR PROMISE not to duplicate it be upheld? I can sell you land with a promise on your part not to divide it. I can sell you a car with a promise for you to pay me over time. Why can't I sell you a book with a promise not to copy it?

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Greebo, I think I understand what you're saying: You're saying that we can't copyright all ideas because there are ideas so old that we don't know who to attribute them to. That's a great point.

What I meant when I said "all ideas" was "all new ideas". In other words, yes, there's no way to figure out who invented the wheel, and, yes, holding patents/copyrights in perpetuity would be terrible, but, among new ideas, where do we draw the line between what's worthy of copyright and what isn't?

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It can't matter if we have patents/copyrights, yes. My point is that his/her argument "But if all ideas were property, it'd be impossible to tell who came up with what idea." is itself a pragmatic argument. Also, we could totally copyright every idea--it would work on a first come first serve basis.

You're dropping the important concept of justice here.

Justice demands that one gets what one deserves and only what one deserves.

A person attempting to patent the wheel does not deserve exclusive ownership of the wheel because they absolutely cannot claim to have been the first person ever to have invented the wheel.

A person attempting to copyright "Pride and Prejudice", likewise, cannot prove that they wrote it - especially since the book itself tells you who did.

But the person who wrote "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" absolutely can prove that they wrote it first - they have original manuscripts on record, histories with publishers, and so forth, and anyone claiming to have written it first would be very hard pressed to prove such a dubious claim. Morally, the author of P&P&Z DESERVES the title of "creator of this book". Maybe someone else COULD have written it - but HE DID.

So come back again to the question for which I keep trying to get a straight answer from you - if he has the only copy in the world of P&P&Z, and he says, "I'll sell it to you if you promise never to copy it without my permission", and you say "OK" - why shouldn't that agreement be enforced? Why should you be able to make a promise you're not required to keep with regard to something you would not have had if it had not been sold to you? (And by the way, if you could have written it to, why buy it at all?)

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Greebo, I think I understand what you're saying: You're saying that we can't copyright all ideas because there are ideas so old that we don't know who to attribute them to. That's a great point.

What I meant when I said "all ideas" was "all new ideas". In other words, yes, there's no way to figure out who invented the wheel, and, yes, holding patents/copyrights in perpetuity would be terrible, but, among new ideas, where do we draw the line between what's worthy of copyright and what isn't?

We can come back to that, but we need to get past the contract question first.

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First involving your idea of a standard for property violations, which begs the question as I have shown.

How so?

Second involving your attempt at a reductio ad absurdum on the Randian standard, which I think also fails.

You mean my saying that if all ideas were copyrightable, that would suck? Well, Rand never clearly explained (to my knowledge, and certainly not in her essay on the subject) where we draw the line between ideas worthy of property and ideas not worthy of property. Where do you draw the line?

Your standard assumes "that we all agree that non-human non-oxygen physical stuff = property," but this is precisely the subject that we don't agree on.

I didn't say "we all agree that property is limited to non-human non-oxygen physical stuff"

So to retort, "but there isn't any invasion of physical property because that's the standard" is circular because it assumes that which it needs to prove what constitutes an invasion of property rights, and it is therefore invalid.

That's true. I should've reiterated my standard for what property should be and to be. If you want to know my standard for what property can and can't be, read my post where I explain it and respond to it.

So, as soon as the constituent elements of human-production are combined to result in another moral agent, then ownership changes.

Then the fetus develops further into a physically separate human being. But what happens at this point? Not merely a material object has been produced, but another human (i.e. another moral agent with its own rights) has been produced.

That's true. Which is why the argument "You own what you produce" is incomplete.

But what the couple has is not ownership of a material property, but the ownership of guardianship over a developing moral agent.

That's true. I haven't disputed that, but I guess you're just covering the various aspects of the topic to be comprehensive about the rights of parents/kids.

Edited by Mnrchst
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Are you suggesting that because I made it, it's yours? No, if I make it, and do so for myself not for someone else (ie on the job), then it is mine.

No, I'm suggesting that people don't own there kids.

I said that in response to you saying "If I am the first person to bring this new entity into existence...it would not exist without my effort, as surely as if I make an axe like every other axe."

Parents bring their kids into existence. You see my point?

No I'm flat out stating that if you possess my invention, and then you declare that you thought of the exact same thing already, that your assertion cannot be believed, and that only if you come up with the idea and can demonstrate that you did so with no access to my invention can we believe your claim that you came up with it first/on your own.

That's true. How is it relevant to this debate?

No, it doesn't - it comes down to the voluntary agreement you keep dodging - the one where if I say, "I'll sell you my invention if you promise not to reproduce it without my permission" and you say "Ok I'll buy it under those terms", why the Government shouldn't enforce such a contract?

Again, people don't have the right to give up their rights. You were like "Interesting - so you're saying a person isn't free to choose to stop being free... that'd be a good side thread." in post #133

So, again, the issue is what people have a right to and what they don't have a right to.

which you have subsequently refuted in the miner argument

In post #141 I said "I meant without their consent."

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No, I'm suggesting that people don't own there kids.

I said that in response to you saying "If I am the first person to bring this new entity into existence...it would not exist without my effort, as surely as if I make an axe like every other axe."

Parents bring their kids into existence. You see my point?

Children are human beings, and are endowed with free will and rights of their own. Now please tell me how that in any way is relevant to intellectual property?

You're comparing apples and ducks. I mean you're not even in fruit to fruit land here.

That's true. How is it relevant to this debate?

You have repeatedly argued that "someone else could have done it too". My point is that while *someone* could have, THIS person *did*, and as soon as you've been exposed to their productive creative effort, you cannot make a reliable claim that you had the same exact idea, but they can. Since they are now the only person able to make that claim and can back it up with proof, they *can* claim ownership of the idea.

Again, people don't have the right to give up their rights. You were like "Interesting - so you're saying a person isn't free to choose to stop being free... that'd be a good side thread." in post #133

So, again, the issue is what people have a right to and what they don't have a right to.

You've done it again - you simply ignored what I said in the second paragraph which exactly demonstrated that people CAN give up their rights.

"You've claimed such a contract deprives you of your right - equivocating it to slavery - which you have subsequently refuted in the miner argument - so why shouldn't YOUR PROMISE not to duplicate it be upheld? I can sell you land with a promise on your part not to divide it. I can sell you a car with a promise for you to pay me over time. Why can't I sell you a book with a promise not to copy it?"

If I sell you something, I give up my right to call that thing mine. If I buy land from you in a contract stipulating that the land won't be broken up, I give up the right as owner to break up that land. If I borrow money from you, I give up my right to not give you the money. If I enlist in the military, I give up my right to refuse legal orders and the right to just up and quit if I don't like it. (Voice of experience there, USN-R GMG2)

You give up rights to specific property voluntarily with every trade you engage in, and simultaneously gain new ones. Otherwise you've just rendered trade itself impossible because nobody would REALLY give up the right of ownership of whatever they just sold.

In post #141 I said "I meant without their consent."

Yes, exactly, you said:

I'm saying people should be able to use their [physical] property in any way they want that doesn't harm another person's body or their [physical] property or expose either to unreasonable risk (determined by courts, i.e. zoning).

and I said,

Well there goes coal mining

and you said

I meant without their consent

So you've agreed that with someone's consent they can be exposed to risks, potential harm, etc that they otherwise would not have. And right there is your own admission that a person CAN give up their rights, without being slaves.

Likewise, with someone's consent, the right to have total control over some piece of property you purchase can be limited.

So lets try again - if I sell you a book or a song or software contingent upon your promise that you will not reproduce that thing without my consent, and you agree, why should that commitment on your part not be enforceable?

Edited by Greebo
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It can't matter if we have patents/copyrights, yes. My point is that his/her argument "But if all ideas were property, it'd be impossible to tell who came up with what idea." is itself a pragmatic argument. Also, we could totally copyright every idea--it would work on a first come first serve basis.

You are stuck on "ideas". Copyrights and patents don't protect ideas, they protect actual products. Not every product is copyrightable but you seem intent on eliminating copyrights and patents altogether. Is this correct? What you seem to want (what you rationalize) is the right to download free music or movies. "It is unjust to require payment for every copy that I want!" is your implicit battle cry. What is your justification for removing all and any PRODUCTS of the intellect and their copies from the catagory 'property'?

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You're comparing apples and ducks. I mean you're not even in fruit to fruit land here.

You said "it would not exist without my effort". Kids don't exist without your effort. The argument is incomplete.

You have repeatedly argued that "someone else could have done it too".

That was to argue that patents+copyrights aren’t necessarily good in a utilitarian sense. It was not an argument applying to the moral debate on the question. Obviously, the "but, someone else could've made it too" argument could apply to physical property as well.

If I sell you something, I give up my right to call that thing mine.

I’m saying that if people don’t have the right to an idea in and of itself, then no one should be able to sign a contract that says “I won’t reproduce the idea” because they have the right to do so. A person who sells a car has given up their right to the car, but they haven’t given up their right to own cars. All adults of sound mind have the right to own cars, and they can’t give up that right. Again, the essential issue is what is worthy of property, what’s isn’t, and why. I have a standard and I would like to hear another.

Edited by Mnrchst
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What is your justification for removing all and any PRODUCTS of the intellect and their copies from the catagory 'property'?

Read post #98. Keep in mind that at a certain point I say "On the utilitarian end" and that at that point I'm refuting the utilitarian case for patents+copyrights.

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See post 150 by me.

Post #150 was by Greebo. If you mean post #148, you say "people don't MAKE kids, they are only involved in one step of the whole automatic biological process. It's not like you grab parts and BUILD a kid."

That's ridiculous. People choose to conceive a kid, which makes the formation of the kid possible. Furthermore, the mother is also choosing not to have abortion, as well.

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Yes, children don't present a "problem for IP". My entire point is just that the argument "You make it so you own it" is incomplete.

But you don't "make" kids like you make a house, or a book, or a computer. I already addressed what *kind* of creation we're speaking of, and that's the kind of thing that is referred to when we are speaking of property here. "You make it, you own it" is part of the idea behind IP, but the "make" refers to something where you are present in the whole process, guiding it, all that. It's frankly bizarre that I have to even point out the distinction with different processes of creation. It's really just argumentative to pick apart the phrase "you make it so you own it," I don't think in any post here anyone was vague at all about what kind of creation processes they're referring to. I probably don't have anything to add here unless there is a substantive response regarding about what it means to create something with the efforts of one's mind.

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So what if I push a button that makes a car in a factory I own? I'm not making the car every step of the way, am I?

Think about all the other steps involved. You, as a producer, don't merely press a button, ever. If that were the case, Marxists would be right; laborers are the producers and the producers are just exploiting the laborers. However, that is very concrete-bound, there's a lot more to creation then even just putting parts together. There's division of labor to consider, so the producer is indirectly involved in every step. There's mental effort to figure out how to even setup a factory so all you have to do is hit a button. If you sell your factory, likely you'd trade over that same button, but the new owner owns those cars produced because you literally transfer your right to that piece of property (keep in mind I said sell; I didn't say lease or anything like that). In a biological process, you may be able to make decisions along the way about what happens to your body, but there is no kind of creative process involved. A creative process is something you directly or indirectly participate in in its entirety, guided by mental effort, and can only be brought to completion by my own efforts. You are in no way involved when the eyeball of a fetus is formed, since that's the result of an automatic, non-creative, biological process. On top of that, a baby can be born with no effort on your part beyond the initial decision to have sex and can still be brought to completion.

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You said "it would not exist without my effort". Kids don't exist without your effort. The argument is incomplete.

The effort of my mind. Stop equivocating. Children are not ideas, they are human beings, and one cannot (without a lab at least) consciously create a child. One can have sex which may or may not result in offspring - that is not an effort in any sense comparable on a creative level with the creation of a book or software or music or the wheel.

I’m saying that if people don’t have the right to an idea in and of itself, then no one should be able to sign a contract that says “I won’t reproduce the idea” because they have the right to do so.

Ok I will grant, this is a fine point.

But now you still need to prove that people don't have the right to an idea. I assert that if I'm the only person who's created a thing, and I refuse to share any knowledge of that thing with you, and having no knowledge of that idea, you are unable to reproduce that idea, then ipso facto I *do* have the right to control that idea because I am the only one with it and you cannot take that idea from me without my consent, any more than you can take my freedom to chose from me without my consent.

If you cannot take it from me, then it is *rightfully* mine.

Now when we talk books and music - its even more concrete - because what I create with a book or music or software is a specific pattern of information. It's a CONSTRUCT - just as much as a car or a computer is a construct. It's a construct of a different material, to be sure, but a construct just the same. In such a case, since I created the construct, and it can only be copied by gaining access to my own original, then how can I *not* have the right to control who gains access to that original?

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Post #150 was by Greebo. If you mean post #148, you say "people don't MAKE kids, they are only involved in one step of the whole automatic biological process. It's not like you grab parts and BUILD a kid."

That's ridiculous. People choose to conceive a kid, which makes the formation of the kid possible. Furthermore, the mother is also choosing not to have abortion, as well.

If you really believe this, you are an absolute fool.

My wife and I have tried to have kids for years, unsuccessfully.

You can TRY to have a child - but by no means does having sex guarantee having a child - and oh yeah, by the way, apples and cars comparison again - CHILDREN ARE HUMAN BEINGS

If you persist in this absolutely stupid analogy I can only wash my hands of this discussion because you'll say any damn fool think to rationalize your claim to have a right to what you can't produce yourself.

Edited by Greebo
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I know the answer to your third objection:

3. Rand said a mathematical or philosophical discovery is about the nature of reality, but a new machine isn't. Therefore, mathematical and philosophical discoveries aren't copyright-worthy, but machines are patent-worthy. But doesn't the machine also concern the nature of reality (i.e. if you put these things in this arrangement you get this result)? I'm not sure how we draw the line between what's copyright/patent-worthy and what isn't. Is a new style of clothing copyright-worthy? If not, how is it fundamentally different from a song?

The reason is that a mathematical or philosophical discovery is not manmade, at least it shouldn't be. If these are created by man, they are not valid and thus are not applicable to mathematics or philosophy. Math, for example is concete. A is A. 2 is 2. You do not create 2 is 2 or the idea that 2 is 2, but identify it. Just as it is not your job to create reality, but to understand and interpret it, so it is with philosophy and mathematics.

Machines are not found in nature, they're manmade, though they must necessarily follow the nature and laws of reality. A is A is to be acknowledged, but now you're applying the principle (is that the right word?) that A is A, and 2 is 2 instead of identifying it. You cannot copywright something that is found in nature (imagine trying to copyright a tree), but you can copyright something that you create with your own reasoning mind based on the laws of nature.

If it helps you to understand, it's the difference between metaphysics and epistemology. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy pertaining to the nature of existence. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy pertaining to what we know and how we know it from reality.

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a baby can be born with no effort on your part beyond the initial decision to have sex and can still be brought to completion.

The mother has to feed herself and drink water for 9 months for the fetus to survive. That takes effort. That's how she's there every step of the way.

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I assert that if I'm the only person who's created a thing, and I refuse to share any knowledge of that thing with you, and having no knowledge of that idea, you are unable to reproduce that idea, then ipso facto I *do* have the right to control that idea because I am the only one with it and you cannot take that idea from me without my consent, any more than you can take my freedom to chose from me without my consent.

If you cannot take it from me, then it is *rightfully* mine.

I agree with you and I've already covered this point. No one has the right to read your mind without your permission.

In such a case, since I created the construct, and it can only be copied by gaining access to my own original, then how can I *not* have the right to control who gains access to that original?

What do you mean when you say copy? Someone else could come up with the same idea, so you won't be the only person who controls it any more. You have the right to not tell anyone your idea if you choose not to.

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