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Intellectual Property: A Thought Experiment

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Moving on... (He said she said doesn't help anything and I want to keep this on topic. Post in that other thread if you find it necessary.) I'm using this thought experiment to ask specific question

Property rights, like all rights, are a right to action, not objects, materials, etc. Seems like everyone is ignoring this, and treating property rights as the right to materials and objects. The i

Not virgin land, without inhabitants or signs of civilization; no.  But anything you do TO the land or WITH the land will allow you to define it ostensibly.   I would argue that land-ownership is no

I don't know what that means and will wait for you to point to some quote of mine before responding further.

Here is you snidely illustrating through the Donkey Kong analogy someone stealing someone else's idea for use in the market.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27246&p=323192

Please don't post that Diddy lost no value.

While I was searching for this and reading through posts directed to you, and your responses, I was surprised to find your explanations even more empty than I'd remembered, and the explanations provided for you more thorough than I'd assumed, given your most recent posts on this topic. You repeatedly say you've covered this or that retort to your vague position, yet, where? A statement is not an argument.

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Here is you snidely illustrating through the Donkey Kong analogy someone stealing someone else's idea for use in the market.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27246&p=323192

Please don't post that Diddy lost no value.

While I was searching for this and reading through posts directed to you, and your responses, I was surprised to find your explanations even more empty than I'd remembered, and the explanations provided for you more thorough than I'd assumed, given your most recent posts on this topic. You repeatedly say you've covered this or that retort to your vague position, yet, where? A statement is not an argument.

Diddy lost no value. Ideas cannot be stolen. He could not lose what he did not own, as I've said many times in my empty vague posts. I still don't know what Donkey Kong refers to, but I bet it doesn't matter. Bye now.

Edited by howardofski
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Bye now.

:fool:

Diddy lost no value. Ideas cannot be stolen. He could not lose what he did not own, as I've said many times in my empty vague posts.

Well if you say so, it must be true.

 

I still don't know what Donkey Kong refers to, but I bet it doesn't matter.

You're the one who made a big deal about this. It was simply the analogy presented.

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By forbidding an unauthorized reproduction of the object, the law declares, in effect, that the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object’s value, that that value is created by the originator of the idea and may not be used without his consent; thus the law establishes the property right of a mind to that which it has brought into existence.

I agree with the reasoning behind this, as well as its logical conclusion (that IP rights are proper), for any being which engages in mindless duplication.

A robot, which has been programmed to assemble some product reflexively, would be applicable. Human beings are not.

And anyone who fits that description, if an empirical example is ever found, is not human and has no rights (for the same reason that machines and animals don't).

I agree with all of Rand's statement except for that.

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Diddy lost no value. Ideas cannot be stolen.

You forget that this is not the theft of learning, in Jaskn's mind; it's mindless and involuntary imitation.

If that were the case then he would be right. The real question is how in the blazes he's convinced himself that it's actually the case for human beings, on Earth.

There's something very strange at work here and I don't know what it is, yet.

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That you have been misrepresenting the human mind, and that I've taken you seriously. The logical inference is that you do not understand it.

For elaboration on that, see everything else I've already said.

This doesn't clarify, and you had to know I'm not going back and reading every one of your posts.
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Jaskn:

The problem is not that ideas are not physical; neither are contracts. If this was your point then it is correct.

---

The problem is in denying a causal connection between one person's mind and their actions (which IP does by asserting the causal relationship between an innovator and every single product they enable).

If you are not responsible for your own ideas, even those ideas which were formed by reading Ayn Rand, then you are responsible for nothing whatsoever.

---

That is what makes this issue so important. Ownership, consent, guilt and innocence; all of it rises or falls on "responsibility".

And if you are not responsible for your own mind then you cannot be responsible for your own thoughts, words or actions; you cannot own anything at all or give any consent.

"Man is a being of self-made soul" or else he is a slave, point-blank.

Your words and actions are caused by your mind.

IP claims that whoever invents a new idea is its cause, in every mind which holds it. The inventor, instead of the individual.

You have said as much.

If this is true then, since everything you do stems from your conceptual faculty (and most of our concepts are learned from other people), you have caused nothing.

Unless you are an inventor, in which case you've caused next to nothing.

If so then you are not responsible for anything (or nearly anything) you have ever said or done before.

---

As before, I will respond to anything principled you have to say. I am officially not dealing with "specificity" again.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Of course it takes effort to form any new idea (new to you, anyway) in your own head. What does this have to do with IP? IP says that creators of brand new, specific ideas should be the ones to benefit from those ideas. It's not a moratorium on all action, nor on *any* thinking.

And why don't you just respond to what you want? I'm not going to worry about guessing what you think is principled or not.

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Okay DonAthos, responding to your post #217! http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=25840&p=324003

Long delay because I was finishing up schoolwork for the semester. Interestingly, one paper I wrote is about creation/creativity for a philosophy class, which is at least indirectly related to IP.

I'll backtrack my posts a bit, since I misunderstood the second example you used. You started mentioning core points that I was aiming towards in my thought experiment. We don't want to talk about what is merely property, but what it in fact the relation is between creation. You acknowledge a relation too, otherwise you wouldn't be talking about Wolfgang building a piano with his own materials. I'm only mentioning the second example for clarification about what I was saying.

Anyway, on the first example, I think we agree. Well both of them probably, since if a piano design is in public domain and you said that all piano designs conceivable were in public domain (separate from what makes it public domain), there are no *IP* rights to apply for anyone's piano designs. As far as piano designs are concerned in your example, IP effectively does not exist.

Now, if I understand you properly this time, the second example asks how piano ownership would work in Franz's piano factory. Labor contracts are permissible, since as far as designs, no one has a valid claim on the designs, except for the medium the designs are printed on (paper, website, etc). Strictly for this example, a contract is the perhaps rational thing to do and leave property aside - Franz would probably add a clause to say he will have sole right to sell the pianos for his profit.

On the other hand, I want to emphasize that Franz owns the factory (is this fair to assume) and means of Wolfgang to make anything. Is it actually the most rational policy to leave all rights pertaining to property and piano sales up to negotiation. We need to reference some principle of rights which to premise a basis for Franz's labor contracts. Franz can't make slave contracts, so we don't want to assume setting a  negotiable sales price is permissible, at least until we establish the contract does not contradict rights to live. Contracts cannot be used to sign your rights away. Like you said, our concern is the rationale for Franz to have the right to dictate how the pianos are sold.

As far as I can tell, your position is that supposing Franz owns the factory, he is in a position to develop contracts for his laborers to accept or not. As a result, his contracts may specify how pianos will be distributed. My position is that supposing Franz owns the factory, he is in a position to develop *labor* contracts for his laborers to accept or not. Specifying how the pianos will be distributed is a separate concern, and neither Wolfgang nor Franz can or even need to contract that Franz is sole owner of the factory pianos. In the a similar way, I don't need a contract with you to say that the car you borrowed from me is still mine. That is, contracts delimit a person's permissible actions with property you already own or have established control over. It doesn't make sense to me that a contract can properly establish who will own the produced pianos. Basically, I'm saying an argument about labor contracts is different.

"Wolfgang did not make the piano in a "weak" sense. He made the piano, full stop. "
Let me be clearer. This is also an answer to your question of Wolfgang doing "little". Wolfgang put the pieces together on his own. He did not create/buy/develop the factory, so in the Franz factory, he did comparatively little. The factory owner (i.e. Franz) does and did more to get that piano made than Wolfgang, even if Wolfgang did the final step. There are further degrees Wolfgang probably did contribute, but he's still not the prime mover of the factory. Franz is the prime mover, so that established him as sole decider of piano seller (assuming he isn't a liar, etc).

Keep in mind that by prime mover, I mean the primary person who enables the whole piano production, along the lines of how Rearden is the prime mover of Rearden Steel. Again, there are degrees, especially here since Franz used designs he downloaded. So I'll call Franz a "big mover" to just suggest he gets the factory working and producing pianos. Wolfgang is like a worker bee - worthy of respect (I don't want to imply he is mindless), but he is simply not a big mover like the queen bee similar to Franz. Part of the whole premise of Atlas Shrugged is this point, where some people are in fact better at some particular role, and some people "do more" with respect to certain activities.

"Franz has "greater mindful awareness"? "
In the sense he runs a factory. Originally though I thought you were supposing Franz made the designs. So, I will only say Franz needs to do more at the factory than Wolfgang. Without Wolfgang, the factory will be okay (unless Wolfgang is doing something we haven't specified yet). Perhaps worse without Wolfgang's craftsmanship, but still surviving. We can argue about how much Wolfgang provides to the factory, Franz put together the entire operation. Without Franz, well, hopefully Wolfgang will be able to take over after being a dedicated employee. If Franz is a buffoon, his factory will fail (again, like Atlas Shrugged - if Franz is a James, the factory will fail. If Franz is a Dagny, he'd do a damn good job). Maybe Wolfgang is an Eddie, or a petty man, so has his own virtues, too.

Basically, Franz is a heroic mind of the factory world, and maybe Wolfgang is a heroic man in other domains like writing perhaps. That's my stance so far.
 

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Long delay because I was finishing up schoolwork for the semester. Interestingly, one paper I wrote is about creation/creativity for a philosophy class, which is at least indirectly related to IP.

Well, I appreciate your coming back to it. I hope school's going well for you.

 

We don't want to talk about what is merely property...

Actually, I *do* want to talk about what is merely property! :) At least at first.

I think it's important that we have a common understanding on the basics before we take on what are potentially more complicated matters. Pinning down simple scenarios like man builds piano, or man hires other man to build piano, are important, imo.

 

Anyway, on the first example, I think we agree. Well both of them probably...

I think we agree on the legal status of the piano -- it is Franz's piano in either scenario. There may be some ancillary topics that need to be clarified before I'll feel comfortable moving forward.

 

Strictly for this example [i.e. the second scenario], a contract is the perhaps rational thing to do and leave property aside - Franz would probably add a clause to say he will have sole right to sell the pianos for his profit.

I disagree. I don't think that we can leave property aside. We wind up with a piano, which is property, and we need to have an understanding as to why that piano belongs to Franz and not Wolfgang. (If in fact it does, as I contend.) We still need to understand this example in terms of property and property rights -- how we come to own something, and what that means.

My answer is that the piano belongs to Franz -- it is his property -- because that is the nature of the initial agreement between Franz and Wolfgang. (We can sensibly call that agreement a "contract," but it does not have to be some formal legal document.) When their transaction concludes, Wolfgang is entitled to the wage they have agreed upon, and Franz owns the piano that Wolfgang has built, because that was what they agreed upon at first. Those are the terms of their deal. (And if their terms were otherwise, so too would be my conclusions.)

Thus in the end, Franz needs no clause to specify that he has "sole right to sell the pianos for his profit." All that we need to know is that Franz owns the piano. The meaning of that "ownership" entails the sole right to sell the pianos, or give them away, or play them, or burn them for warmth. That's what it means to own a piano.

Are we agreed on all of this? Or is there some discrepancy here?

 

In the a similar way, I don't need a contract with you to say that the car you borrowed from me is still mine. That is, contracts delimit a person's permissible actions with property you already own or have established control over. It doesn't make sense to me that a contract can properly establish who will own the produced pianos. Basically, I'm saying an argument about labor contracts is different.

If you loan me your car, we have an implied agreement that I will return it to you (among other things) -- that's the "contract" at play in that arrangement.

 

Wolfgang is like a worker bee - worthy of respect (I don't want to imply he is mindless), but he is simply not a big mover like the queen bee similar to Franz.

[...]

Basically, Franz is a heroic mind of the factory world, and maybe Wolfgang is a heroic man in other domains like writing perhaps.

Franz owns the piano. Scenario one, scenario two, it is never in doubt, in my mind, that Franz owns the piano. But that does not lead me to believe that Franz is necessarily "heroic" (apart from one thing we'll discuss shortly). He could be a James Taggart, as you cite. I'm certain that James Taggart could have had one or a hundred pianos built for him -- and I wouldn't contend his ownership of any of them -- but that does not make him a hero, of the piano world or any other.

Furthermore, and this is key, we can now agree that Wolfgang is not "mindless." The actions he takes are also not mindless. When men take action, they do so as mind and body together -- not as minds acting without bodies, nor as bodies acting without minds. You're right that Wolfgang is worthy of at least this amount of respect.

But there's more than that. Insofar as Franz is "heroic," so, too, is Wolfgang.

Now, Wolfgang could also be a slimeball. So I don't mean to say anything more about Wolfgang than I'm about to say about Franz. But what about any of these kinds of activities is "heroic"?

I would say that it is heroic to act in pursuit of one's (rationally selected) values. That is, to be productive.

We don't know why Wolfgang is building a piano for Franz any more than we know why Franz would pay to have a piano built. But assuming that Wolfgang is doing this rationally, we have no cause to slight him for agreeing to this trade. Keep in mind that he is producing wealth. The wealth that he creates is reflected in his wage. That is the property that he subsequently owns.

When we speak of "prime movers," I balk, because I see every party to a contract as being on equal standing, with respect to that contract. We all have the uncoerced choice -- the freedom of association -- to deal or not to deal with one another. To trade or not to trade. Wolfgang is the hero of his own life and his own prime mover. It is his choice to work with Franz, or not, according to their mutually agreed upon terms, for the purpose of his own life and happiness (just as Franz has the same choice where Wolfgang is concerned). Their arrangement is as a marriage; as neither the husband nor the wife could be said to be "more essential" than the other, when both are absolutely required, neither can one party of a contract sensibly be deemed more essential than the other. Traders are equal players with respect to their trades.

And so, we have no reason to put Franz above Wolfgang in our esteem or in any sense, absent a greater knowledge of who these men are and why they do what they do. That Franz owns the piano is a legal and moral fact, on account of the arrangement that they have each willingly entered into, but that does not tell us anything more about either man. That they both act "mindfully" is a given, as humans are not zombies, and do not act without mind. Insofar as they act in service of their own lives and happiness, doing harm to no one, but being productive, they are equally "heroic" to that degree, and equally worthy of our respect.

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Now that the fact of Franz's ownership has been demonstrated both legally and morally, we can assume that this relationship between Franz and the piano pertains not only to Wolfgang but to the society at large, yes? Wolfgang's and Franz's interactions as regards the piano are not separate from or operate under different legal or moral stictures than Franz's and anyone else in society, correct? Just trying to stay up to speed and not jump ahead.

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Now that the fact of Franz's ownership has been demonstrated both legally and morally, we can assume that this relationship between Franz and the piano pertains not only to Wolfgang but to the society at large, yes? Wolfgang's and Franz's interactions as regards the piano are not separate from or operate under different legal or moral stictures than Franz's and anyone else in society, correct? Just trying to stay up to speed and not jump ahead.

If I understand your questions right, my answer is: yes, absolutely. Franz has a unique relationship with that piano on account of its factual origin. "Property" or "ownership" is how we describe that relationship, and we thus describe objects like pianos as being property. This particular piano is Franz's property; he owns it. That relationship exists, whether Franz is on a deserted island or in the middle of NYC. We depend upon Wolfgang, and other members of society, to recognize that relationship and act accordingly. When they do not, we account that as injustice and an initiation of the use of force, inviting the use of force in reprisal.

What does it mean that property rights are rights to action, not to "an object"? It means that it is senseless to say that Franz owns the piano... but he cannot legally play it (for instance). Or that he cannot sell it for a million dollars. Or that he cannot sell it for a penny. Or that he cannot sleep upon it as a bed. (The only actions that Franz cannot perform with his piano are those which initiate the use of force against others -- which means to violate their rights, in turn. One does not have the "right" to violate the rights of others; Franz cannot drop the piano out of his window upon the heads of passers-by.)

What "ownership" means, and what it entails, are all of those actions or any potential others, and we cannot separate them out without violating Franz's property rights. It is important to understand this, because otherwise a person might lead himself to believe that it's okay to pass a law preventing Franz from, say, selling his piano at the marketplace. He might convince himself that, because Franz still retains physical possession of the piano, his property rights have not been violated. But in truth, to limit Franz's use of the piano in this manner is to violate his property rights. If Franz does not have the sole right to dispose of the piano (which includes selling it at the marketplace, if Franz so chooses), then he does not truly own the piano.

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If I understand your questions right, my answer is: yes, absolutely. Franz has a unique relationship with that piano on account of its factual origin. "Property" or "ownership" is how we describe that relationship, and we thus describe objects like pianos as being property. This particular piano is Franz's property; he owns it. That relationship exists, whether Franz is on a deserted island or in the middle of NYC. We depend upon Wolfgang, and other members of society, to recognize that relationship and act accordingly. When they do not, we account that as injustice and an initiation of the use of force, inviting the use of force in reprisal.

LOL,I'm not sure if NYC represents the best example of society functioning on reasonable application of property rights visa vis LFC, ie transfats, big gulps, handguns , ecigs, horses ect. :)

Agan thank you for controlling the pace of the discussion and efforts to keep it on track and relatively tangent free.

We have I think arrived at the idea that ownership and property refer to relationships between entities. People own things, it is morally right to 'see' this relationship and societies can make laws to reflect and protect that relationship. Is it now where/when we discuss what the abstraction 'property' can/should or can not/should not apply to ? Is it only applicable to physicality? I ask because I think the anti/pro IP debate hinges on the implementation of law as it applies to objects and not intrusions on the principle of ownership per se.

By that I mean, the design of the widget I invent is my property and I want to protect that ownership, in the same way I want my ownership of my bicycle protected. But the protection of that ownership is obviously going to be dependent on the identity of the thing owned. Physically taking my bicycle is possible , but not permissible, adherence to principle by others is my first recourse to secure my rights and appealing to government for restitution my last.

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