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My thinking is that if the isolated society and the larger world society consist of reasonable people, they will work something out, on the premise that both societies agree on IP.

 

If you've been following the thread, then you'll recognize that my reply to Dante's initially proposed scenario (Individual B innocently working a plot of land that does not/will not ultimately belong to him) was that there must be something like a "compromise" where we recognize that Individual B does still have some sort of property right, on the basis of his honest effort, in the name of justice. So I think I was proposing something very similar to your response here -- let's be reasonable, recognize that this second society has something of an actual claim (on the same basis that we would recognize a claim by the first party; one works to create something, and thus one deserves to reap the fruit thereof), and "work something out."

But Dante wanted a scenario in which it is simply "winner take all," because anyone who isn't "first to file" at the patent office has no right to those ideas he does not own, and therefore no right to any of the profits or rewards of his labor incorporating those ideas, even if he has acted innocently (i.e. without knowledge that those ideas were somehow off limits to him). Dante claims that this is fully just. ("[W]e don't need to be concerned about the innocent inventor from a justice standpoint.")

My purpose in constructing this example is to put such an idea to as extreme a form as I can manage and ask "is this truly what we mean by 'just'"?

 

I want to add that one has to define the extent in which a right applies. Putting your foot on Mars and creating a martian home doesn't make all of Mars yours. Some reasonable standard must be set, like Dante's example of 160 acres being reasonable of the extent that a family can farm. IP isn't identical, to be sure, but you'd need to limit that too. Inventing a pencil sharpener won't mean that with IP, you will own all pencil sharpeners. You could (and should) explicitly limit the extent which this applies, by considering just to what extent you developed methods and ideas to implement *this* type of pencil sharpener. Your arguments seem to be about realistic implementation, not exactly the legitimacy of intellectual property.

 

Well, yes and no. I think that my arguments throughout this thread do absolutely question the legitimacy of intellectual property -- not with this scenario, per se, but this scenario was developed to probe Dante's position on a specific aspect of the discussion. And I also want to know how such a thing may be objectively implemented. Even if IP of some sort may be justified in theory, if we do not implement it in an objective fashion then we are still talking about injustice, and every attempt I've seen to discuss implementation strikes me as nebulous at the least. When Mossoff talks about protecting "all values created by all types of productive labors," well damn, there's a lot of possible implication there. I'd like to know exactly we're talking about, and I'd like to see the reasoning, and work out scenarios to test these claims.

Earlier I referenced a case that was brought up in the Sandefur essay where Peikoff apparently sought to stop someone from selling, among other things, items marked with a "No Kant" sign. I asked the thread whether this actually happened -- and maybe it did not, so perhaps this is moot -- but if it did happen, I think it would be a great test case to try to define what we're actually talking about, because it strikes me as so very foreign to anything I would instinctively proclaim defensible. So if I'm wrong here, I figure there's a lot for me to learn by those who claim to believe in IP and know what they're talking about (which should be everyone who claims to believe in IP, frankly). What would be the specific nature of such a claim? What is the "property" being stolen in that case, and in what way?

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I remember addressing those points . What in my replies do you find inadequate? I'll address them one more time: Straw man. Here's what's really at the heart of IP:http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/

It is very important to realize that the action of filing for or declaring a copyright or a patent is NOT a declaration that one cannot think about the ideas behind the products nor can prevent you fr

Oh, that's fine! If you mean that you weren't attempting to make an actual argument, I'll agree, and then we can say that it was "unsubstantiated assertion" or something, rather than "begging the ques

If you've been following the thread, then you'll recognize that my reply to Dante's initially proposed scenario (Individual B innocently working a plot of land that does not/will not ultimately belong to him) was that there must be something like a "compromise" where we recognize that Individual B does still have some sort of property right, on the basis of his honest effort, in the name of justice. So I think I was proposing something very similar to your response here -- let's be reasonable, recognize that this second society has something of an actual claim (on the same basis that we would recognize a claim by the first party; one works to create something, and thus one deserves to reap the fruit thereof), and "work something out."

But Dante wanted a scenario in which it is simply "winner take all," because anyone who isn't "first to file" at the patent office has no right to those ideas he does not own, and therefore no right to any of the profits or rewards of his labor incorporating those ideas, even if he has acted innocently (i.e. without knowledge that those ideas were somehow off limits to him). Dante claims that this is fully just. ("[W]e don't need to be concerned about the innocent inventor from a justice standpoint.")

My purpose in constructing this example is to put such an idea to as extreme a form as I can manage and ask "is this truly what we mean by 'just'"?

 

 

Well, yes and no. I think that my arguments throughout this thread do absolutely question the legitimacy of intellectual property -- not with this scenario, per se, but this scenario was developed to probe Dante's position on a specific aspect of the discussion. And I also want to know how such a thing may be objectively implemented. Even if IP of some sort may be justified in theory, if we do not implement it in an objective fashion then we are still talking about injustice, and every attempt I've seen to discuss implementation strikes me as nebulous at the least. When Mossoff talks about protecting "all values created by all types of productive labors," well damn, there's a lot of possible implication there. I'd like to know exactly we're talking about, and I'd like to see the reasoning, and work out scenarios to test these claims.

Earlier I referenced a case that was brought up in the Sandefur essay where Peikoff apparently sought to stop someone from selling, among other things, items marked with a "No Kant" sign. I asked the thread whether this actually happened -- and maybe it did not, so perhaps this is moot -- but if it did happen, I think it would be a great test case to try to define what we're actually talking about, because it strikes me as so very foreign to anything I would instinctively proclaim defensible. So if I'm wrong here, I figure there's a lot for me to learn by those who claim to believe in IP and know what they're talking about (which should be everyone who claims to believe in IP, frankly). What would be the specific nature of such a claim? What is the "property" being stolen in that case, and in what way?

It it that your objection to IP stems from seeing its proponents using a position similar to the Millsian-esque flawed moral defense of capitalism a la 'to the greater good'?Mixed with a smattering of property only exists in physical matter,  since force is the only way to violate rights, property rights can only apply to physical matter?

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It it that your objection to IP stems from seeing its proponents using a position similar to the Millsian-esque flawed moral defense of capitalism a la 'to the greater good'?Mixed with a smattering of property only exists in physical matter,  since force is the only way to violate rights, property rights can only apply to physical matter?

 

No...

Though I do take note of the arguments that are typically advanced, not only in favor of IP generally, but also in favor of specific details with regard to implementation, and I find that those arguments often seem (to me at least) to be... questionable. I cannot source all of those arguments in any particular philosophical tradition, and I suspect they don't come from just one source, but I do describe many of them as seeming "pragmatic" or "utilitarian." (So maybe it does relate to Mill? Though I don't know that I use those terms with great precision, and I have not personally read any Mill.)

Anyways, rather than restate my primary objection to IP, let me point you to the post in which I endeavored to spell out that case. You will find it here. (And please note that this post is divided into two sections: the first is my case against IP; the second are questions pertaining to IP's objective implementation. I should ultimately like to be satisfied on both counts, and I don't know that I could support IP in honesty otherwise.)

Edited by DonAthos
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Earlier I referenced a case that was brought up in the Sandefur essay where Peikoff apparently sought to stop someone from selling, among other things, items marked with a "No Kant" sign. I asked the thread whether this actually happened -- and maybe it did not, so perhaps this is moot -- but if it did happen, I think it would be a great test case to try to define what we're actually talking about, because it strikes me as so very foreign to anything I would instinctively proclaim defensible. So if I'm wrong here, I figure there's a lot for me to learn by those who claim to believe in IP and know what they're talking about (which should be everyone who claims to believe in IP, frankly). What would be the specific nature of such a claim? What is the "property" being stolen in that case, and in what way?

 

So... I don't know whether to anticipate anyone taking up this "challenge." In truth? I do not expect it, though I hope that I'm not writing these posts completely in vain, and that others are at least contemplating the topics and questions I raise, even if they do not feel composed sufficiently to attempt to deliver an answer in this forum. I hope it's understood that I'm not looking to play "gotcha," though I guess that's an understandable fear (as I do believe that there do exist some [or many] people who play those sorts of unfortunate games). Consequently, I don't mind sharing any number of my thoughts, half-baked though they sometimes may be, because if I am errant in my thinking, the unpolished-yet-direct nature of my delivery might help others to grasp my essential errors even more quickly and bring them to my attention, which cannot be accounted but as a good.

Anyways, I'm rambling. My purpose here and now is to attempt to make a case for this scenario, so that it does not go completely to waste. As I do so, I will almost certainly build a straw man, which... isn't my intention, exactly? But I think it nearly unavoidable, because I really do not understand the genuine rationale here, and my attempts to express what I think it might be are bound to be blind and groping. Like I say, maybe at least a fuller presentation of my flawed reasoning on this subject will help others to grasp the mistake(s) I'm making.

I will be taking as my base that snippet of Mossoff's that I find so intriguing and controversial -- that through property rights we seek to protect "all values created by all types of productive labors" -- because I think its apparent permissiveness will give me the necessary latitude to come to my desired conclusion.

Here goes.

Ayn Rand, through her incredible labors, was unspeakably productive. In turn, she created enormous value -- yes, in terms of material wealth, but also other types of values which may be regarded as "intellectual property."

Clearly, one of those values is an animosity towards Immanuel Kant, or a rejection of him and his philosophy. Without writing as she did on the subject of Kant, and the awful influence of his philosophy (which is unarguably one of Rand's productive labors), is there any question whether these "other Objectivists" (for simplicity's sake) would seek to sell an anti-Kant t-shirt? Obviously, they find value there. But whence comes that value? Doesn't it come -- perhaps entirely -- from Rand's writings, and the enormous depth of thought behind them? To suggest that Rand perform that incredible labor (most of which being intellectual, but not all) while these other Objectivists stand to reap the profits from it, on the strength of mere sloganizing and mindless copying (even their "no" sign is borrowed and cliche), is not only deeply immoral, but criminal.

There is value here, borne of labor, and that is thus property ("all values created by all types of productive labors"). The property in question rightly belongs to Rand, or her estate.

Well... do I have this right?  If not, where do I go wrong, and what is the better formulation?

Edited by DonAthos
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I for one can't wrap my head around the particular example of tshirt sloganeering(printing) as falling into the realm of IP, until I have a better handle on the issue. I do not want to play gotcha either.

 

I am trying to understand the idea of IP(which I think , as far as I understand it, I agree IP is a value that in a division of labor society should be protected by property rights). I am not sure if I have a good handle on what particular ideas would fall under such protection. The example I come to in my mind is that of a novel. I think it can be a example to help flush out the principles eg the actual printing and distribution of the physical copies in conjunction with 'what' a novel is.

 

Aside from a physical copy, I think a novel can or should be legally defined as the actual sequence of words, the idea taken as the complete creative work of the author. Would this be a suitable example, to start with?

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Thomas Edison made a pertinent point in his famous "1% inspiration / 99% perspiration" comment. He was saying that coming up with an idea is one thing, but packaging it in a useful way--useful to other people, useful to the government trying to secure your rights, etc.--is another task entirely (clearly the ratio he spoke of is not always valid--and could even be reversed--but you get the point).

 

It's perfectly valid to say that your idea not packaged may still be your idea, but it is not your right, automatically, to make money off of it.

 

Perhaps the issue here is using two forms of the idea of "ownership". I might have a great idea, and by the undisputed "owner" of it. However, if I tell the idea to a lot of people (informally) and they in turn package the idea for sale (and registration with the government etc.) then they "own" the idea in the commercial sense. Ideally they'd say, "we got this great idea from Crow Epistemologist and we make it available to you for only 49.95". That way they'd nicely attribute the idea even as they profit from their own ideas about packaging, marketing, etc.

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I for one can't wrap my head around the particular example of tshirt sloganeering(printing) as falling into the realm of IP, until I have a better handle on the issue.

 

That's fair. But what do you think of the argument I attempted to provide for it -- that, if we recognize "all values created by all types of productive labors" as property, and if we're agreed that the animosity against Kantian philosophy expressed by the t-shirt is capitalizing on a value created by Rand's productive labors in her writing, that therefore the creation of such a t-shirt is an appropriation of Rand's property (or that of her estate)?

 

I do not want to play gotcha either.

 

I wish it were the standard for everyone! :)

 

I am trying to understand the idea of IP(which I think , as far as I understand it, I agree IP is a value that in a division of labor society should be protected by property rights). I am not sure if I have a good handle on what particular ideas would fall under such protection. The example I come to in my mind is that of a novel. I think it can be a example to help flush out the principles eg the actual printing and distribution of the physical copies in conjunction with 'what' a novel is.

 

Aside from a physical copy, I think a novel can or should be legally defined as the actual sequence of words, the idea taken as the complete creative work of the author. Would this be a suitable example, to start with?

 

Certainly we can look at a novel.

Let me start with what I think must be conceded: the greatest value of a novel (probably especially of all art) is not in its physical copies, per se, but is in the wealth of ideas contained, the artistry of its style, its characters, and etc.

But if we decide against the idea that "all values created by all types of productive labors" are property, then I think that we have to come to the conclusion that not all values created by productive labor are property (which means, especially for our purpose here, the right to prevent others from making use of these values). And at this point we must ask which values may be property, and on what basis?

Rand's answer to this, at least as far as I understand it, seems to be that material values may be property on the basis of a man having performed both the mental and physical labor necessary to have created that value. And I believe that this would mean that a man could own a book (i.e. the physical copy), and rightfully prevent others from making use of this, but not prevent others from writing derivative works, or etc., apart from freely entered contractual agreements.

At least, I find that to be her answer apart from the essay on patents and copyrights, where I think she speaks differently on the topic, and ultimately in conflict with her other developed positions. I believe that she there reintroduces a mind-body split she otherwise worked diligently to debunk.

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For the record, I don't think that the anti-Kant T-shirt is a legitimate exercise of intellectual property. Furthermore, I think people here have been mislead by Timothy Sandefur's statement concerning the anti-Kant T-shirt in his essay.  It essentially functions as a hook for the essay, to draw in the reader's interest by pointing to a particular case of IP abuse that is also specifically related to Objectivism.  However, although Sandefur implies that the anti-Kant shirt was part of the reason that the cease and desist letter was sent, he doesn't actually say that, and I suspect he can't.  The facts are that this person was producing a number of shirts with slogans from Rand's work, and he was sent a cease and desist letter on the strength of at least one of those shirts (not necessarily including the Kant one).  We don't know whether the anti-Kant shirt was specifically targeted by the letter, and I suspect it wasn't.  If it was, Sandefur would have used that to strengthen his hook.  This seems to me to be simply Sandefur motivating his essay and providing the reader with an example so ridiculous that it sticks in one's mind.  That said, I don't think I would agree that any of the T-shirt examples cited in the essay, even the ones specific to John Galt, are examples of IP violation.  I don't know where I'd draw the line, but mine almost certainly wouldn't include that stuff.

 

However, the text of the novel itself certainly should be protected by IP, in my view.  I'm glad this example was just brought up, because that would be the concrete case that I would point to as to why I accept the legitimacy of IP, even though IP is certainly abused in our current legal system, and I'm not even sure where I would draw the lines if you put me in charge.  It's clear to me that to reproduce the complete text of a novel in a physical book form and then sell that for a cheaper price is a violation of the rights of the author.  Their product is not just the physical copies of the books that they themselves print, but the text of the novel itself, and they have the right to stop others from printing copies of the book and selling them.  Furthermore, changing one word of the novel when reproducing it would not make a difference.  It is still substantively the same novel, and changing one word does not mean that it would be legitimate to print and sell copies of this alteration.  Obviously, as you keep making changes, at some point the reproduction becomes a derivative work or an homage, and thus legitimate.  I don't know where this line should be, but it's clear to me it must exist.

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For the record, I don't think that the anti-Kant T-shirt is a legitimate exercise of intellectual property.

 

Even if we ultimately agree that there is some valid form of intellectual property somewhere, this is my sense as well. But I'm not satisfied in stopping there (and I'm sure you're not either). I would like to know the reasons why one thing is deemed "legitimate" but another thing is not. I expect that some discernible principle lies at the heart of these applications, if we're responding to some objective truth. Without such a principle that we may examine and test, I fear that we may just be pitting one intuition against another, and I can't swear in my case that I know where such an intuition on these matters comes from (though I will still prefer my own to anyone else's).

 

Furthermore, I think people here have been mislead by Timothy Sandefur's statement concerning the anti-Kant T-shirt in his essay.  It essentially functions as a hook for the essay, to draw in the reader's interest by pointing to a particular case of IP abuse that is also specifically related to Objectivism.

 

It may be that Sandefur is being deceptive in using that example. I haven't yet found any confirmation that it even took place, for instance. But I wouldn't hold him to be misleading (intentionally or otherwise) for 1) using it as a hook (writers are smart to try to engage a reader's interest) or 2) using an example that is specifically related to Objectivism, when his entire essay means to deal with the Objectivist argument for IP. In other words, he made an apt choice -- one that relates directly to his subject, and engages the reader's interest precisely because it is so challenging and provocative. That is not misleading in itself, and if we ultimately find that it is an improper application of whatever we deem real IP to be, then it is also an illuminating one.

 

However, although Sandefur implies that the anti-Kant shirt was part of the reason that the cease and desist letter was sent, he doesn't actually say that, and I suspect he can't.  The facts are that this person was producing a number of shirts with slogans from Rand's work, and he was sent a cease and desist letter on the strength of at least one of those shirts (not necessarily including the Kant one).  We don't know whether the anti-Kant shirt was specifically targeted by the letter, and I suspect it wasn't.  If it was, Sandefur would have used that to strengthen his hook.  This seems to me to be simply Sandefur motivating his essay and providing the reader with an example so ridiculous that it sticks in one's mind.

 

If it turns out that the cease-and-desist simply targeted the use of John Galt's name (let's say), or even just referred obliquely to something like "certain products on your website" without mentioning the Kant stuff specifically, then I would agree with you that Sandefur is being deceptive (and I would be sorely pissed). But... your suspicions notwithstanding, I don't believe I yet have any real reason to proceed as though that's the case, or even to seriously entertain it. I would certainly hope that Peikoff, et al., wouldn't construe intellectual property in that manner, but I don't see what my hoping has anything to do with what he does or doesn't do, and I obviously don't understand the case for IP as is. Thus, I don't trust that my "intuition" on IP conforms to whatever principled stance Peikoff might endorse, or the specific actions he might therefore be led to take.

Regardless of how this letter was worded, or whether Sandefur is being straightforward generally, we may still use this possible claim as a way of ferreting out our positions. After all, I have attempted to make an argument for such an anti-Kant shirt as being a case of intellectual property theft, on the basis of the principles that are apparently used to defend IP generally. If you wanted to argue against me on that point, and establish that the anti-Kant thing isn't proper IP, how would you do so? What arguments would you make? Would you conclude that I was wrong in saying that "'all values created by all types of productive labors' are property"? I suspect that your manner of showing how and why such a thing isn't property would finally come very close to my general case against IP... though perhaps I am mistaken to say so, and would happily be corrected.

 

However, the text of the novel itself certainly should be protected by IP, in my view.  I'm glad this example was just brought up, because that would be the concrete case that I would point to as to why I accept the legitimacy of IP, even though IP is certainly abused in our current legal system, and I'm not even sure where I would draw the lines if you put me in charge.  It's clear to me that to reproduce the complete text of a novel in a physical book form and then sell that for a cheaper price is a violation of the rights of the author.

 

Personally I agree with you that novels are a deeply compelling claim. But then... it occurs to me that I also find the example of the "independent inventor" very compelling, yet I think you were taking the position that if we set up the rules of the game such that five minutes too late to the patent office is five minutes too late, and utterly disqualifies a person from the fruit of their efforts, then no further consideration of "justice" is necessary or warranted.

If that's so, and if I'm able to make the case that property properly applies to material values but not ideas, then shouldn't we be guided by such principles in assessing even the case of the author?

What I mean is... on the one hand, it's as though we're saying "we know absolutely what property is, and what it means, so if we find that IP is property, and is a right, then the 'independent inventor' is out of luck with no moral claim, however it might strike one as an injustice in any given example." While on the other hand, "even if we don't know what property is strictly, or how to define IP, we strongly feel that the novelist has a moral claim, so however we come to regard such property, the novelist must yet be protected."

Argh. Reading this back to myself, I don't think I'm being very clear to express what I regard here as a potential double standard, but... oughtn't we be consistent... in advocating consistency? If it's just a matter of hitting the right definition of "property," with independent inventors being otherwise "screwed" if you're right, and novelists being "screwed" if I'm right (or that they both must come to view the system as being somehow in their own ultimate best interest, and adapt to the marketplace it creates, regardless of which definition we finally accept), then let's agree to find that definition. If, however, it is very clear to you that the novelist has property beyond the physical copy of the books he writes, then it is very clear to me that the independent inventor has the right to the fruits of his effort regardless of losing the race to the patent office. So what now?

 

Their product is not just the physical copies of the books that they themselves print, but the text of the novel itself, and they have the right to stop others from printing copies of the book and selling them.  Furthermore, changing one word of the novel when reproducing it would not make a difference.  It is still substantively the same novel, and changing one word does not mean that it would be legitimate to print and sell copies of this alteration.  Obviously, as you keep making changes, at some point the reproduction becomes a derivative work or an homage, and thus legitimate.  I don't know where this line should be, but it's clear to me it must exist.

 

May I ask? When we speak of the "line," are we agreed that to misdraw this line is to put the law on the side of some people and their rights (if in fact IP is valid in any case), and against others? What is a law apart from its application, and how can we advocate for a law if that law cannot (yet) be applied objectively and according to principles upon which we're agreed are sound?

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The reason I wanted to use a novel as an example was precisely because there is a very discernible difference between a physical copy of a text, and the text(the sequence of words) in itself. i wanted to explore if there could exist a principled way to treat these distinctions. It seems almost as if you want to avoid this context.

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DA

 

While I appreciate your diction and so forth, I may hazzard a guess that you would be a poor fruit merchant. It seems at times the apples and the oranges are almost purposefuly comingled.

 

Clever and possibly upsetting. If you're going to start throwing around insults, or accusations of dishonestly, perhaps you should cut out trying to be clever and simply make your case.

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The reason I wanted to use a novel as an example was precisely because there is a very discernible difference between a physical copy of a text, and the text(the sequence of words) in itself. i wanted to explore if there could exist a principled way to treat these distinctions. It seems almost as if you want to avoid this context.

 

You brought up a novel and we've been discussing it ever since, so why don't you explain how you think I'm avoiding it ("almost")?

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Argh. Reading this back to myself, I don't think I'm being very clear to express what I regard here as a potential double standard, but... oughtn't we be consistent... in advocating consistency? If it's just a matter of hitting the right definition of "property," with independent inventors being otherwise "screwed" if you're right, and novelists being "screwed" if I'm right (or that they both must come to view the system as being somehow in their own ultimate best interest, and adapt to the marketplace it creates, regardless of which definition we finally accept), then let's agree to find that definition. If, however, it is very clear to you that the novelist has property beyond the physical copy of the books he writes, then it is very clear to me that the independent inventor has the right to the fruits of his effort regardless of losing the race to the patent office. So what now?

 

 

Well I think part of what makes the example of the novel so compelling is that the amount of specificity in the product is very high. So much so that there's practically no chance of an "independent writer" who hasn't already read some published novel replicating the exact same novel with enough detail to infringe on the copyright.  Perhaps most of the conflicts between independent inventors vs novelists being 'screwed' would be resolved by having very high requirements for the specificity of some patent or copyright.  Certainly our current system, where Apple can sue Samsung for making products that 'look' too much like their own, has much too generous an interpretation of intellectual property.  Being able to patent a highly specific formula for a new complex chemical compound seems highly unlikely to conflict with an independent inventor's product; being able to patent the shape of a curve at the corner of a smartphone almost certainly will.  Certainly we still need some procedure for dealing with the very few independent inventors in such a system, but by and large this issue would not arise.

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Well I think part of what makes the example of the novel so compelling is that the amount of specificity in the product is very high.

 

Agreed.

 

So much so that there's practically no chance of an "independent writer" who hasn't already read some published novel replicating the exact same novel with enough detail to infringe on the copyright.

 

I think this would depend on how we look at such copyrights and the proper scope and permissibility of "derivative works." I mean, you're right, I do not expect that any "independent writer" would ever innocently recreate another's work verbatim, and we can regard that as impossible. But such a writer might well explore the same sorts of themes, treat on the same subjects, incorporate the same general plot elements, and etc. The very fact of "genre" indicates, I believe, that there are often many striking similarities between works, whether "innocent" or not.

 

Perhaps most of the conflicts between independent inventors vs novelists being 'screwed' would be resolved by having very high requirements for the specificity of some patent or copyright.

 

Perhaps. Although I must reiterate that until we formulate an objective way of framing these requirements, I don't know that I can fully grasp what we're talking about, or agree that we would apply such IP correctly. I am loathe to simply leave it up to other peoples' opinions (where the pertinent standards are, again, obscured). Furthermore, I would eventually like to discuss what this would mean for our theory of rights more generally, as I don't think it would rightly stem from Rand's discussion(s) of property (for the reasons I've given; I do not like pretending as though she did not use the word "material" where she did, time and again, and obviously with both meaning and intention), and I don't believe her argument in "Patents and Copyrights" is correct either, or consistent with her other, more fundamental arguments elsewhere (again, for reasons given).

Mossoff's arguments are simply wrong, and I think there's a great deal of harm promised should we take them as true. I do not believe we can pretend them to be true on an ad hoc basis, when we happen to feel like there's "something there" (as in the case of the novel), and expect to get away with it.  I hope I'm not overstating it to say that if we do not have a proper philosophical position articulated, then we do not have a proper philosophical position.

 

Certainly our current system, where Apple can sue Samsung for making products that 'look' too much like their own, has much too generous an interpretation of intellectual property.

 

It seems to me that nearly every IP case I hear about strikes me as ridiculous, though the cases that I hear about are doubtless unusually apt to be ridiculous, as if they were not, why would anybody be discussing them in the spaces I'd find them?

I've often given thought to starting up something like a Horror File here, but that's typically not the sort of "argument" I enjoy, or find fair.

 

Being able to patent a highly specific formula for a new complex chemical compound seems highly unlikely to conflict with an independent inventor's product; being able to patent the shape of a curve at the corner of a smartphone almost certainly will.  Certainly we still need some procedure for dealing with the very few independent inventors in such a system, but by and large this issue would not arise.

 

Well...

It seems to me like we're now searching for a way to protect the "independent inventor" from (what certainly seems to me to be) injustice, and I appreciate that. But I will now prove ungrateful (though hopefully not rude), because I have to say that it seems to me that this is something like a tacit admission that the independent inventor... has a valid claim to that which he invents. (Or at least that you find it compelling in the same way that I find the novel to be a compelling example, whether such feelings have anything to do with actual concessions, or our eventual conclusions.)

So, rather than simply approach this pragmatically by trying to make the scope of IP so specific that we reduce the probability of independent inventors to next-to-nothing (though that might be well anyways), why can't we protect everyone's actual rights by recognizing the right of independent inventors to their own creations without reservation?

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In reading over some of the last several posts, I began to think again about the idea of an IP "horror file," and it occurred to me that someone must have already done something like that (and actually thereby owns the concept, and therefore to do that would be highly immoral of me... or something).  So I did a little looking around and came upon a horrible discovery:

 

It seems as though I am guilty of the theft of another person's property.  Yes, I have initiated the use of force, just as surely as a con-artist, a burglar, a rapist, or a murderer.  And now, since I have real skin in this game, I think I should own up to my crime so that others here can be aware of any potential "conflict of interest."

 

Consider U.S. Patent 5,443,036.

 

Granted in 1995 and expired in 2007, I can confirm that I violated this very patent several times during those very years.  In my "defense" I would claim ignorance?  I did not conduct a thorough patent search before my violations... nor did I employ a lawyer to do the same... but I suppose that this is no excuse.  Every human being is responsible to ensure that their actions do not infringe on the valid, natural rights of any other, as is clearly the case here.

 

And, I... can't really keep this up.  I'm not much disposed to satire, or good at it.  But seriously, the more I think about IP, the more I investigate it, the more upset I become.  I just want to take some IP defender by the collar and scream into their face to defend themselves and their ideas -- put up or shut up -- because it all looks increasingly arbitrary and senseless, driven by nothing but gut instinct, faulty (dangerous) argument, ad hoc and inconsistent reasoning, and laughable implementation.  It looks like sanctioning the initiation of force... and I'm just a touch sensitive on the defense of such by those who I otherwise expect to defend rights, and more importantly, to be guided by reason.  To follow reason wherever it goes.  And there is no reason here, or at least none that I can see.

 

I guess Thomas was correct?  If this is what we're talking about, even a little bit, then I really have "no conception of rights."

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Granted in 1995 and expired in 2007, I can confirm that I violated this very patent several times during those very years.

How is this relevant to the legitimacy of IP? No one has argued that examples like this are proper application of IP. Your satire is of a strawman. Citing an example of a poor application of IP is like citing North Korea as evidence that government is evil by nature. Investigation of only the USSR, Cambodia, China, and Iran would be very biased. Your investigation seems to be of terrible applications of IP, not any investigation into the thousands of other applications of IP. Even then, finding bad application is no different than finding bad application of rights in the US. I won't suddenly be arguing that tangible property is evil every time the government uses eminent domain. The problem is that property is being treated improperly by the government.

 

The very fact of "genre" indicates, I believe, that there are often many striking similarities between works, whether "innocent" or not.

Okay, and? No one said anything about genre.

 

It seems to me that nearly every IP case I hear about strikes me as ridiculous, though the cases that I hear about are doubtless unusually apt to be ridiculous, as if they were not, why would anybody be discussing them in the spaces I'd find them?

Because the ridiculous ones get publicized. The sensible ones don't.

 

It seems to me like we're now searching for a way to protect the "independent inventor" from (what certainly seems to me to be) injustice, and I appreciate that. But I will now prove ungrateful (though hopefully not rude), because I have to say that it seems to me that this is something like a tacit admission that the independent inventor... has a valid claim to that which he invents.

You admit that it is good to protect an independent inventor from injustice. What injustice, then? I think you are also tacitly admitting the independent inventor has a valid claim to what he invents.

 

So, rather than simply approach this pragmatically by trying to make the scope of IP so specific that we reduce the probability of independent inventors to next-to-nothing (though that might be well anyways), why can't we protect everyone's actual rights by recognizing the right of independent inventors to their own creations without reservation?

Do you mean making the scope of IP too broad? Increasing specificity would only increase the probability of independent inventors.

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 DA I apologize if my poor attempt at humor came across as an insinuation of dishonesty , I certainly did not mean that.

 

 

In your subsequent posts you have likened copyright/patent infringement to rape and murder. I am not a legal expert, but I believe there is a distinction between laws as it concerns the prosecutorial nature of the state. Meaning the murderers and rapists are charged by the state( acting as an agent for the whole of society against the criminal), while other violations of law have to have the victim come to the state in order for prosecution take place. The state is the ultimate authority in both types , but does not have sole prosecutorial discretion in both types.

 

Prosecution of IP infringement would originate from the novelist/inventor proving their property was stolen, and then only if they wanted to bring suit. Violent crime is prosecuted regardless of the victims desires.

 

If a novelist had their work copyrighted, or a pencil sharpener inventor had the devise patented, they would then decide whether or not they wanted to protect their rights in property that claim someone has infringed on. Their right to property would be enforceable at their sole discretion. The copyright/patent is their claim to a specific idea(as their property) they could then seek restitution if their rights were violated, or they may even not seek such protection in the first place, just simply write a novel/ invent a devise and not care if someone else used their idea.

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How is this relevant to the legitimacy of IP? No one has argued that examples like this are proper application of IP. Your satire is of a strawman.

 

And of course that's the very response I expected, and you're right and you're wrong (though fortunately for our epistemology, not in the same sense). Allow me to explain:

It is a strawman in this way: I didn't expect that you would find this proper, or that anyone here would either. I strongly suspected that you would say, "That's not what I'm talking about!" But honestly? I don't know for sure. I don't know which specific applications you would believe are proper, or Dante, or Thomas, or tad, or anyone, because nobody can spell out their methodology (or at least, nobody seems willing to try). There is no argument to put to the test.* It's all (apparently) left to officials like the one who decided this patent is valid, on the basis of his equally unknown/unknowable standards.

So if you know why this patent oughtn't exist, and you know why the anti-Kant thing doesn't work either (if, in fact, that's what you believe), but you know why other cases are rock solid, then please do us the great service of formulating the objective case that must underlie these particular applications. Don't just leave it to looking at random cases and saying "yes" or "no" as the mood strikes, hoping for agreement. Spell out your beliefs that we might put them to the test.

It isn't a strawman in this way: this is an actual patent. Whether this is what you mean when you conceive of proper IP or not, it's obviously what someone means by it. So at worst you may take me as arguing against that someone's case, even if it is not your own. Moreover, that someone sits (or did sit) in a position to effect real, actual policy, and presumably after being trained in doing this kind of thing; they weren't just theorizing on a discussion board. So while to talk about IP as though it's some sort of Ideal situated in a Platonic world of forms or something is a pleasant enough pastime, there's some value in discussing... actual things that happen, too. Isn't there? Oughtn't we consider real world examples for the purpose of creating/elucidating/refining our abstract principles?

* Acutally, there is an argument to put to the test that might inform this example. It's Mossoff's. And by his standard (or at least my interpretation of it; if someone wishes to argue that I misread him, I'm open to that) -- "all values created by all types of productive labors" -- I think we'd have to say that... yes, there is a value here, and yes, it was created by a productive labor... so yes, it ought to be protected. After all, someone was the first to use a laser pointer in this fashion. Shouldn't that genius reap the rewards of his efforts? :)

But again -- for clarity's sake -- this isn't my argument, either.  I don't believe that "all values created by all types of productive labors" are or ought to be considered property.  It just seems to be the argument that some people make when it suits the particular end that they feel is right, for yet-unelucidated reasons, and only (coincidentally?) also seems to result in absurdities like the present patent under discussion. But as long as all of the real arguments stay hidden, I guess anything can be a "strawman" if it strikes us funny enough (or otherwise makes us uncomfortable).

 

Citing an example of a poor application of IP is like citing North Korea as evidence that government is evil by nature. Investigation of only the USSR, Cambodia, China, and Iran would be very biased.

 

Therefore people ought not bring up those cases when discussing their beliefs about government and its nature? It would be wrong to cite examples that purport to demonstrate their claims? To decide what we believe about government, it would be inappropriate to look at... governments?

My case that IP is wrong of its nature has already been made in other posts in this thread; I'd love to discuss that reasoning -- I posted it for the very purpose of discussion -- but very little of it has yet garnered any rational response (or actually, any response at all). Are you saying that every single post, and every single point I raise, needs to contain and restate my full argument? I'm expecting the people participating in this thread to follow along and keep that context in mind as they encounter new posts.

 

Your investigation seems to be of terrible applications of IP, not any investigation into the thousands of other applications of IP. Even then, finding bad application is no different than finding bad application of rights in the US. I won't suddenly be arguing that tangible property is evil every time the government uses eminent domain. The problem is that property is being treated improperly by the government.

 

No. I have already told you directly what my investigation is about:

 

I think that my arguments throughout this thread do absolutely question the legitimacy of intellectual property... And I also want to know how such a thing may be objectively implemented.

 

Here's the central post where I state my case.

You're telling me that I'm not actually questioning IP, but only its crummy implementation, in the face of my explicit assertions (directly to you, no less) that I'm questioning both? That's frustrating.  But if this confusion is actually somehow my fault, here's what I'm after:

I want to know what it is in your mind that leads you to pronounce some applications of IP "terrible." I want to know what makes one given case of IP valid and another not. I want to know the general case for IP, and also the specific case against this patent or against the anti-Kant shirt.  I want to understand this both in terms of principles and application.

 

 

Okay, and? No one said anything about genre.

 

That's not correct. I said something about genre, in the very passage you've quoted. I raised the topic for a reason. And "genre" was also raised in the Sandefur essay that was linked to earlier, and which provides some of the material being discussed in this thread.

What's more, the sense you're looking for ("Okay, and?") is contained in that sentence, the paragraph from which you've yanked it, and the material (initially quoted, for your convenience) to which I was responding (or in other words, the context):

Dante was arguing that the specificity of a novel makes for "practically no chance" that it will be "independently" and "innocently" written by another. I agreed with him ("we can regard that as impossible") but then took issue with the idea that a novel therefore is inapt to suffer from copyright infringement. Because it would depend (as it does depend) on "the proper scope and permissibility of 'derivative works,'" where something similar in several details (as is often the case within a genre) might be taken to be "too close to the original."

For instance (though this is a film/novel comparison, and not at all "innocent" in the sense we've been employing), is the film Nosferatu too much of Dracula, or sufficiently its own thing? Should that be considered a case of copyright infringement? Do we have any answers to such questions, or any objective means of determining those answers? I understand we can point to law-as-it-is, or cases as they've been decided, but I'd like to understand what "ought to be," and the rationale thereof.

 

Because the ridiculous ones get publicized. The sensible ones don't.

 

Agreed.

But then, do you recognize that I said that very thing in the quote to which you're (apparently) responding?

 

...though the cases that I hear about are doubtless unusually apt to be ridiculous, as if they were not, why would anybody be discussing them in the spaces I'd find them?

 

Are you quite sure you're trying to understand what I'm saying before composing your replies?

 

 

You admit that it is good to protect an independent inventor from injustice. What injustice, then? I think you are also tacitly admitting the independent inventor has a valid claim to what he invents.

 

"Admit"?

But that's what I've been saying. I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but you may not yet understand what's being contended here. Let's try to get this as simple as possible:

Man 1 invents and builds pencil sharpener X. He rightly owns X. Man 2 thereafter invents and builds pencil sharpener Y. I am saying that the same rationale for accounting X to 1 as property, holds (or ought to hold) Y to 2 as property, regardless of how we otherwise construe IP. That to proclaim that 1 owns both X and Y is not just, and neither is any formulation of IP that would have it so.

I am not saying that, therefore, 2 has the same "rights" as 1 to prevent Man 3 from inventing and building Z. I am saying that there are no such "rights."

 

 

Do you mean making the scope of IP too broad? Increasing specificity would only increase the probability of independent inventors.

 

I don't know what to do other to again point your attention to the conversation in which this you'll originally find this quote. Dante had indicated that he believed that the "compelling" nature of the novel as an example of valid IP is largely accountable to its "specificity." He thought that some of my concerns would be allayed by having "very high requirements for the specificity of some patent or copyright." He compared it to "our current system," which he contended has "much too generous [or: broad; non-specific] an interpretation of intellectual property." And again, to clarify his meaning, he compared two examples of IP, one being "specific" and one being "too generous/broad/non-specific": "Being able to patent a highly specific formula for a new complex chemical compound seems highly unlikely to conflict with an independent inventor's product; being able to patent the shape of a curve at the corner of a smartphone almost certainly will."

That accounts for my use of those terms and the meaning I had intended, especially as I was responding directly to Dante's post. If my specific phrasing was unclear, misleading, or says the contrary to what I had meant to say, I apologize... but I'm again led to wonder whether you're trying to understand my comments in context (which is ultimately how they must be understood).

 

DA I apologize if my poor attempt at humor came across as an insinuation of dishonesty , I certainly did not mean that.

 

I disagree that the humor was poor. I meant it when I said that it was clever. But I certainly thought that the content of the humor implied dishonesty, though I'll take you at your word that you didn't mean it that way. Thank you.

 

In your subsequent posts you have likened copyright/patent infringement to rape and murder.

 

Yes, in that we're contending that this is criminal behavior; that IP is as property, and is a right, and thus to violate it is the initiation of force, morally wrong, and criminally liable.

 

I am not a legal expert, but I believe there is a distinction between laws as it concerns the prosecutorial nature of the state. Meaning the murderers and rapists are charged by the state( acting as an agent for the whole of society against the criminal), while other violations of law have to have the victim come to the state in order for prosecution take place. The state is the ultimate authority in both types , but does not have sole prosecutorial discretion in both types.

 

This may well be. I don't know one way or the other except that I've seen shows where people choose not to "press charges" over cases of battery or theft or etc. I don't know the specifics of how it works with murder or rape, or whether Law & Order (for instance) ever knows what it's talking about.  (I hate Law & Order.)

 

Prosecution of IP infringement would originate from the novelist/inventor proving their property was stolen, and then only if they wanted to bring suit. Violent crime is prosecuted regardless of the victims desires.

 

If a novelist had their work copyrighted, or a pencil sharpener inventor had the devise patented, they would then decide whether or not they wanted to protect their rights in property that claim someone has infringed on.

 

Well... strictly, a novelist wouldn't have to have his work technically copyrighted to then "protect his rights." His rights are established with the creation of the property.

 

Their right to property would be enforceable at their sole discretion. The copyright/patent is their claim to a specific idea(as their property) they could then seek restitution if their rights were violated, or they may even not seek such protection in the first place, just simply write a novel/ invent a devise and not care if someone else used their idea.

 

Except that violating a right is an initiation of the use of force. In "The Nature of Government," Ayn Rand said:

 

The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.

 

So what you're proposing -- someone has an idea which is properly property (whatever formula we finally decide upon to sort out the genuine claims from the false ones) but he doesn't seek to retaliate against those who usurp that property? That "encourages and rewards" evil. It is a "moral imperative" to track down those who violate our IP and make them pay.

We may well be wise to look at the rise of "fan fiction," and those cases where authors encourage their fans to partake in such activities. Now, on the one hand, once official sanction is given, I think all legal bets are off. (Moral considerations might be another discussion.) But what of the case where an author doesn't say anything on the subject until his rights have already been violated?

For instance, I'll assume (and maybe wrongly) that the first (several thousand) fan fictions written about Harry Potter were written, and likely shared in online communities, well before J.K. Rowling made any kind of statement as to how she felt about that, and without her explicit authorization. (Actually, now that I look, here's a story about this very thing for your review.) So... is this a case where Rowling failed in her "moral imperative"? Or maybe society should intervene, contra her stated wishes, so that we do not "encourage and reward" evil?  What do you think?  When teenage girls write their own stories about Ron and Hermione, are we witness to some sort of evil?  Is it a moral outrage that needs to be stopped?

I think that... the reason why IP often seems such a poor fit when applied to those things that Rand generally has to say about force, morality, rights, and property, is because: it does not fit.

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DA

 

I think that... the reason why IP often seems such a poor fit when applied to those things that Rand generally has to say about force, morality, rights, and property, is because: it does not fit.
 

 

 

So Rand would have been ambivalent to Atlas Shrugged by Norman Mailer?

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DA

 

I think that... the reason why IP often seems such a poor fit when applied to those things that Rand generally has to say about force, morality, rights, and property, is because: it does not fit.

 

 

 

So Rand would have been ambivalent to Atlas Shrugged by Norman Mailer?

 

No, I'm sure not. But at present I am more interested in arguments (and preferably good ones) rather than what Rand, or anyone else, may or may not have felt.

Rand argued for IP in "Patents and Copyrights." I hold that her arguments there do not stand on their own merits, and moreover that they "do not fit" generally with her other arguments regarding force, morality, rights, and property. That is, I believe that there is an inconsistency, and it is to that inconsistency that I have been directing my arguments.

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No, I'm sure not. But at present I am more interested in arguments (and preferably good ones) rather than what Rand, or anyone else, may or may not have felt.

Rand argued for IP in "Patents and Copyrights." I hold that her arguments there do not stand on their own merits, and moreover that they "do not fit" generally with her other arguments regarding force, morality, rights, and property. That is, I believe that there is an inconsistency, and it is to that inconsistency that I have been directing my arguments.

 

 

In the context of this discussion of IP in this thread , I gather you do not believe an idea should be recognized as property. That suggests to me that you think only physical entities should be considered as property.

 

If that assumption on my part is correct, why is a novel( the specific text of a creative work) not to be considered an entity that could be owned?

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In the context of this discussion of IP in this thread , I gather you do not believe an idea should be recognized as property. That suggests to me that you think only physical entities should be considered as property.

 

Thus far, yes, this is my position. I believe that the right to property is "the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values." I believe that "property" applies exclusively to material values, and is not sensible otherwise.

 

If that assumption on my part is correct, why is a novel( the specific text of a creative work) not to be considered an entity that could be owned?

 

It depends on what you mean. Can you own your family bible by this rationale? Certainly. Can you own every bible by somehow owning the "pattern of text," as opposed to a specific, given incarnation of it? No -- that's just another way of "owning the idea."

It does not help to say that one simply, mystically happens to own every physical copy (now and to come) without recognizing that the rationale to one's claim is ultimately that one owns the ideas at play. I find Rand's conclusions wrong in "Patents and Copyrights," but she was yet correct when she said that "what the patent or copyright protects is not the physical object as such, but the idea which it embodies."

If we want a person to be able to own every copy of a book through owning the idea of that book, that's fine, but making that case will require an argument (and one that finally rewrites "Man's Rights," as Mossoff partially and surreptitiously did by neglecting Rand's repeated use of the term "material values"). I expect that such an argument will ultimately conflict with several of Rand's statements on property beyond that which I've already quoted above, such as the following:

 

Any material element or resource which, in order to become of use or value to men, requires the application of human knowledge and effort, should be private property—by the right of those who apply the knowledge and effort.

 

This attributes an instance of property to its owner on the basis of the application of the knowledge and effort (i.e. both mental and physical labor) required to create/develop/make useful that particular piece of property. But IP divorces this mental and physical labor, awarding all relevant property to the person who performed the mental labor initially (but not necessarily in the specific case of any subsequent act of creation), while dismissing the question of physical labor almost entirely. With IP, property is no longer recognized "by the right of those who apply the knowledge and effort," but "by the right of those who have innovated the knowledge."

So... to answer your question directly as to why is a novel (meaning: the pattern of text as opposed to a specific copy) "not to be considered an entity that could be owned?" I guess I'd say that it could be considered an entity that could be owned, and many do, but to do so would at least put one into conflict with the view of property and property rights that Rand advocated in "Man's Rights" and elsewhere, and thus far I do not see a good argument for considering it an entity that could be owned, in reason.

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Therefore people ought not bring up those cases when discussing their beliefs about government and its nature? It would be wrong to cite examples that purport to demonstrate their claims? To decide what we believe about government, it would be inappropriate to look at... governments?

You said earlier that you are on the fence. You brought up some examples of IP that you think are absurd applications. That's good. Since you're researching it, what about some positive and just applications of IP? Otherwise, you'd just be biased here. It's not inappropriate to look at governments when discussing government, but you wouldn't want to stick to discussing ONLY totalitarian governments. I believe that would be an example of the frozen abstraction fallacy.

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You said earlier that you are on the fence.

 

I am "on the fence," albeit less and less so. Every time I ask those who purport to believe in IP to lay out their reasoning (not just here, but in general, and over what is now quite a length of time), to explain what seems to me to be contradictory between IP and rights and etc., and to explain how this is supposed to be implemented objectively, I seem to be met with some combination of 1) I don't know personally, but I'm sure someone must; or 2) "you just don't understand!"/insults/rage quitting; or 3) a lack of engagement altogether (do you know how many specific points I've attempted to raise throughout this thread that have drawn literally no comment? Compare it with how I deal with those who argue against me; I respond to as much as I can, as fully as I'm able). I'm missing out on the kind of rational discussion that seems to come from a patient, cool, confident command of the facts and principles at play.

It has begun to feel reminiscent of experiences I had over many years in struggling to come to terms with other peoples' beliefs in God. I feel as though I am being told that "IP works in mysterious ways." The objections that I've attempted to raise in earnest -- the contradictions of IP as I see them -- sit inside of me like a stone, and I cannot remain an agnostic forever.

 

You brought up some examples of IP that you think are absurd applications. That's good. Since you're researching it, what about some positive and just applications of IP? Otherwise, you'd just be biased here. It's not inappropriate to look at governments when discussing government, but you wouldn't want to stick to discussing ONLY totalitarian governments. I believe that would be an example of the frozen abstraction fallacy.

 

At the same time that I'm on the fence, in this particular thread I am also presenting a particular case anti-IP, based on my personal understanding and objections. I came in expecting Thomas to provide the pro-IP case, but that didn't work out very well. Still, I laid out my reasoning -- and continue to do so -- and I regard it as my role to communicate what I'm trying to say -- the specific objections that I have to IP, as I understand it. That involves invoking those examples which serve that purpose.

I feel almost as though you're accusing the defense attorney of not introducing the smoking gun as evidence. But in the name of truth, you're right, of course (and I could never be a defense attorney for this reason): if I knew of the smoking gun that answered my objections, I'd say so. I wouldn't be here, typing this post; instead, I'd be typing out the post that laid out the clear argument for IP once and for all, set the objective scope of "derivatives" and the proper length of terms, and etc. I'd happily be the man to do that. But I don't yet know how, or even if it's possible. I'm still at the stage of relying on those who tell me that I'm wrong to provide the evidence that I lack (or at least to explain how and why they think I'm wrong), and to help me to integrate that material.

So really, I'm open to whatever "positive and just applications of IP" you have in mind -- they are more than welcome to this party. But the one thing I ask is that you not simply dump the examples, but to provide your reasoning as to what makes them "positive and just" as opposed to those examples which I've provided, which do not meet those same standards. I don't need Wonka's "good egg/bad egg" machine; I need to know what makes it tick.

Finally, I think you're wrong to respond to one example of a (wait for it...) patently absurd patent and say that it is therefore the only material under discussion. Though maybe you would hold the anti-Kant example as equally absurd? I mean, I do, but remember: I'm the guy who has "no conception of rights," or whatever. So why would I trust my own judgement on these matters? After all, unless Dante is correct, and Sandefur is being deceptive by referencing that example, we should note that Peikoff or someone else at the AR estate thought that this was a perfectly good example of IP, not absurd at all. That should therefore comprise a "positive and just application of IP," should it not? But really, and again, if I knew what made for a "positive and just application of IP," I wouldn't have to ask around! :)

Now then, instead of continuing to critique the particular examples I've introduced to try to probe the issues here, would it be wrong of me to ask you to comment on them (or even your own examples) such that we could return to those issues?

You'd described the laser pointer patent as being a "terrible application of IP," and I think that's therefore a wonderful place to start. What about it makes it "terrible"? In light of Mossoff's claim that property is "all values created by all types of productive labors," how does this particular example fail to attain to that standard?  What is the better/proper standard that will not admit this, and other "terrible applications," but will only allow for "positive and just applications"?

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