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Intellectual Property: A Thought Experiment

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howardofski, I believe you'd mentioned that the question of government is being discussed in another thread -- could you provide a link so that anyone interested could raise their objection there? (I disagree with you, for instance, and I'd like the opportunity to examine our views.)

DonAthos,

The thread is Anarchy / Minarchy / Competing Governments

I entered the discussion with Post #127

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=228&page=6

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No. This is certainly true of how we use language (it was HIS idea), but that expresses the origins of the idea, not a property right. Treated as property, an idea objectively "belongs" to whoever is thinking it, since it is an activity of their property - their brain.

But you do agree that some conditions could be satisfied to attest to the fact the 'idea' was created by (would not exist without)  the individual that created it, yes?

This seems , to me, to be the 'thing' that gives rise to applying ownership to the idea and given a societal context this should be recognized and i believe tis is the purpose of IP.

Edited by tadmjones
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But you do agree that some conditions could be satisfied to attest to the fact the 'idea' was created by (would not exist without)  the individual that created it, yes?

Of course. Ideas are created by one or more individuals.

The problem is that "deserving" and having a right to something are not the same. That I deserve to be thanked by my neighbor for improving his view with my beautiful garden does not give me the right to point a gun at him and charge him for the pleasure of viewing it.

You do agree with that, yes?

Edited by howardofski
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Of course. Ideas are created by one or more individuals.

The problem is that "deserving" and having a right to something are not the same. That I deserve to be thanked by my neighbor for improving his view with my beautiful garden does not give me the right to point a gun at him and charge him for the pleasure of viewing it.

You do agree with that, yes?

Your user profile says you have over 50 yrs experience with O'ism , is that true?

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Much of the discussion of IP in this thread seems to be along the lines of "Life Boat Rules" in which questions of ownership are unclear or in dispute.  We do live in a society which has enacted fairly objective laws which govern such things as trademarks, patents, copyright, etc.  Real life disputes, which do happen, are the exception and not the norm.  There are some outliers, but these are (just a wild ass guess) far less than 1%?  But for the most part, issues of IP ownership are resolved fairly equitably. 

 

Here's an example from everyday life.  In my profession, architecture, it's not uncommon for a company (say Nike) to approach and architectural firm to develop a new concept for a store design.  The copyright of the design and drawings is negotiated by the two parties and reflected in the fees.  If the design is to be used one-time then the fee is 'X', if the design is to be used multiple times by the client, then the fee is 'Y'.  The ownership of the design and the drawings is negotiated upfront.  I have been in a dispute where the client did not realize that he did not own the design, and after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in design fees, woke up to that reality when he requested that the CAD files be sent to another company.  The issue was resolved, in part by the long-term relationship that existed with the client and with the expectation of further work.  It was a sticky situation, but it was resolved.

 

Howardofsky, do you have specific examples where the law should be changed?  Where people are demonstrably incurring a disadvantage by the present rules?

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The problem is that "deserving" and having a right to something are not the same. That I deserve to be thanked by my neighbor for improving his view with my beautiful garden does not give me the right to point a gun at him and charge him for the pleasure of viewing it.

All property is deserved, and if not, there's a problem. All rights are deserved as well. Not all senses of deserved apply to property or rights, especially not mere feelings or thoughts. An improved view is a mental state, which is not applicable to property because it is wholly internal - and if that's your point, great, no one said otherwise!

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howardofski said

"The problem is that "deserving" and having a right to something are not the same"

 

Do you not realize that this obliterates your pal Ayn's moral justification of capitalism?

Ayn is not my pal and I don't realize that.

Edited by howardofski
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All property is deserved, and if not, there's a problem. All rights are deserved as well. Not all senses of deserved apply to property or rights, especially not mere feelings or thoughts. An improved view is a mental state, which is not applicable to property because it is wholly internal - and if that's your point, great, no one said otherwise!

Seeing how your invention works is a mental state which is not applicable to property because it is wholly internal.

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You asked a question. I answered it. I asked a question. You ignore it and ask another question, an irrelevant one.

If it is true , it demonstrates an almost incomprehensible lack of integration of O'ist principles, and leads me to believe any comments I offer will be met with nothing but a hodgepodge of contextless assertions. If on the other hand you are fibbing about the length of time you have been thinking about things O'ist my quote line could help.

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Much of the discussion of IP in this thread seems to be along the lines of "Life Boat Rules" in which questions of ownership are unclear or in dispute.  We do live in a society which has enacted fairly objective laws which govern such things as trademarks, patents, copyright, etc.  Real life disputes, which do happen, are the exception and not the norm.  There are some outliers, but these are (just a wild ass guess) far less than 1%?  But for the most part, issues of IP ownership are resolved fairly equitably. 

 

Here's an example from everyday life.  In my profession, architecture, it's not uncommon for a company (say Nike) to approach and architectural firm to develop a new concept for a store design.  The copyright of the design and drawings is negotiated by the two parties and reflected in the fees.  If the design is to be used one-time then the fee is 'X', if the design is to be used multiple times by the client, then the fee is 'Y'.  The ownership of the design and the drawings is negotiated upfront.  I have been in a dispute where the client did not realize that he did not own the design, and after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in design fees, woke up to that reality when he requested that the CAD files be sent to another company.  The issue was resolved, in part by the long-term relationship that existed with the client and with the expectation of further work.  It was a sticky situation, but it was resolved.

 

Howardofsky, do you have specific examples where the law should be changed?  Where people are demonstrably incurring a disadvantage by the present rules?

You raise a question of current law and the failure of the client to understand a contract. My anti-IP position is that a design may not be owned. You and the client might have a contract with a non-disclosure clause preventing them from revealing the design. I might pay you to come up with a new design (kept secret between us), but after I have created the building, I do not believe I should have the legal power to prevent someone from copying that design in their own building.

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If it is true , it demonstrates an almost incomprehensible lack of integration of O'ist principles, and leads me to believe any comments I offer will be met with nothing but a hodgepodge of contextless assertions. If on the other hand you are fibbing about the length of time you have been thinking about things O'ist my quote line could help.

This seems to me to be an attempt to turn the conversation away from the subject matter and towards the people discussing it -- "ad hominem." Could we please discuss IP instead?

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You raise a question of current law and the failure of the client to understand a contract. My anti-IP position is that a design may not be owned. You and the client might have a contract with a non-disclosure clause preventing them from revealing the design. I might pay you to come up with a new design (kept secret between us), but after I have created the building, I do not believe I should have the legal power to prevent someone from copying that design in their own building.

The issue of secrecy has nothing to do with the argument (not sure where that came in).  The issue is Ownership of a design/drawing.  Suppose I spend $600,000 dollars developing a complete set of drawings and specifications for a building.  The whole ball of wax.  Architectural, Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical.  In your world, there would be nothing that could prevent someone making a copy of the drawings/specifications and building from it without compensating me?  My company and my consultants would have no protection under the law?

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The issue of secrecy has nothing to do with the argument (not sure where that came in).  The issue is Ownership of a design/drawing.  Suppose I spend $600,000 dollars developing a complete set of drawings and specifications for a building.  The whole ball of wax.  Architectural, Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical.  In your world, there would be nothing that could prevent someone making a copy of the drawings/specifications and building from it without compensating me?  My company and my consultants would have no protection under the law?

Well obviously, secrecy does have something to do with the argument since they would have no way to copy drawings which you have kept secret. The issue is indeed ownership of drawings, but I reject ownership of designs and I don't care how big a dollar figure you place on your drawings, nor how many years you spent drawing them, nor how difficult it was to think them up. If, by observing the building, someone can learn how to build such a building, or if you make the drawings public, and they learn that way, I reject any violence on your part to prevent them from building their building with their materials as they see fit.

I do not understand why you (and other debaters) behave as if you believe that if you cook up yet another example you will somehow change the principles of the two sides of the debate. It does not matter how ingenious and original your invention, design, juggling act, hairdo, or mousetrap, you do not have a right to violently suppress imitation. To do so violates the NAP. You speak of being protected. You are not being attacked. You are advocating attacking. What you want "protection" from is competition. And you are applying to the right party. Government is a protection racket.

Do not argue that you deserve to be free of competition. What you deserve is your property and your liberty to use it as you choose, so long as you do no harm. You do not deserve to prevent others from using their property as you have used yours, simply because you claim to own ideas, patterns, styles, or any other abstractions. Being the first to do something does not give you the right to attack whoever is second. Being first to take an action does not make you the owner of an action.

Your plan to make money by means of a coercive monopoly is a philosophical error. Ayn Rand made it. You make it. Statists love it.

Edited by howardofski
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But you do agree that some conditions could be satisfied to attest to the fact the 'idea' was created by (would not exist without)  the individual that created it, yes?

This seems , to me, to be the 'thing' that gives rise to applying ownership to the idea and given a societal context this should be recognized and i believe tis is the purpose of IP.

A piano -- an actual physical piano -- must be built in order to exist, which is both a mental and physical labor. This is the nature of material wealth. For some (unowned) material resource to become "property," a man must have an idea to put that resource to some use, and then he must perform the actions required to effect his design in reality.

The resultant property belongs (and should belong) to the man who performs that labor. The man who does what is required (by reality) to create that property.

Given two men, one who has the idea for a piano, and another who learns of this idea from the first man and then sets about doing the work to build a piano -- gathering unowned materials from the common wood, or whatever, constructing a workshop on his land, actually building the thing, and etc. -- which one of them owns the piano that has been built?

The innovator of the idea? Or the man who has done those things which are actually necessary to create this material wealth?

The first man came up with an idea. Perhaps the piano would not exist at all without that effort. (Nor would it exist without his parents and their efforts, and nor would it exist without the inventor(s) of the harpsichord, and nor would it exist without his educators, and so on, extending surely to millions of antecedents and contemporaries.) But he has -- with respect to this scenario -- created not one iota of material wealth. He owns nothing. For he has made nothing.

The second man understood the idea (which is the mental labor required of him to build a piano) and then he performed the actual tasks necessary to create a piano in real life. Of everyone in the universe, he is the one who can lay claim to having done the things that are necessary for this particular piano to exist. Whether "the piano" would exist without the first man or not, this piano would not exist without the man who has built it. Of the two of them, he is the one who has made this material wealth. It is his by right. It is his property.

This is my argument against IP.

 

So 'my' idea is very scarce and then seems to be nonexistent when it becomes everyone's idea. 'My' idea is consumed, the idea still exists , but my ownership of it has ceased, somehow.

Your ideas, whatever they are, do not become "nonexistent" when others share them, or hold them as well. If you have an idea to build a piano, you do not have less of that idea if someone else has the same idea in their own minds, whether you are the first person to think of it or the last.

Your idea is not "consumed" by someone else having the same idea. Your "ownership" of that idea, in whatever way such an idea is sensible in the first place, has not ceased. You own it as much as you ever have.

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@tadmjones

 

I won't try to respond the entirety of your post, because it has too many embellishments and implicit assumptions. But I will respond one clear statement I can find in it, I hope that's OK:

 

if someone uses my idea and it becomes then our idea , does this not disallow ownership in the first place.

 

If you make children, you do not own them. But you are the originator, the creator if you will. Well, co-creator.

 

If you come up with an idea, it is your idea, you are the originator, (maybe) the creator. But you do not own the idea in the same sense you own a car.

 

 

But you do agree that some conditions could be satisfied to attest to the fact the 'idea' was created by (would not exist without)  the individual that created it, yes?

 

 

If you owned your children, you'd have the right to kill them. But thank FSM you do not own children or people in general.

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Your user profile says you have over 50 yrs experience with O'ism , is that true?

 

What difference does it make if someone says they have been an Oist for 50 years or 5000 years in my profile? I makes absolutely not difference in the validity of their arguments. This is clearly an ad hominem. You just want to imply they're dishonest. 

 

 

If it is true , it demonstrates an almost incomprehensible lack of integration of O'ist principles, and leads me to believe any comments I offer will be met with nothing but a hodgepodge of contextless assertions. If on the other hand you are fibbing about the length of time you have been thinking about things O'ist my quote line could help.

 

You can believe anything you like. But where did you offer an actual argument in this thread? All I can find is questions and more questions.

 

If someone is making assertions and you don't agree with them, instead of asking questions that will lead nowhere, perhaps you can offer counter-arguments and demonstrate that their assertions are false.

 

 

This seems to me to be an attempt to turn the conversation away from the subject matter and towards the people discussing it -- "ad hominem." Could we please discuss IP instead?

 
Agreed. I was hoping someone would respond to this:
 
 

 

  1. People against IP do not deny that Ayn Rand had said things in favor of IP.
  2. Ayn Rand defined property rights exclusively over material entities. (See #91)
  3. Given 1 and 2, Ayn Rand contradicts with herself.
  4. IP enables the initiation of force against people exercising their (material) property rights.
  5. 4 is a contratiction.
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 Company X is guilty of theft (regular, old-fashioned theft) and liable for any and all damages incurred by its meddling.

 

 

Company X resides in country C, while company A and B reside in country U. Some more digging would be required to discover how company X's component ended up on company B's assembly. Both company A and B have manufacturing agreements with  company A1 and B1 in country C. With a global market place, comes global issues. If IP is out, then issues such as these become caveot emptor. In this sense, IP can provide a level of assuredness to a buyer. If country C does not recognize IP and country U does, then company A and B have to come to an agreement how to proceed if such an issue arises. Given the structure of global trade, this issue is probably going to continue to be swept under the political rug until it reaches an impasse, that is, company X, residing in country C, is guilty of theft, per country U's laws, but not country C's.

 

Given this is extracted from an actual case, and the details are not always forthcoming, it will have to suffice to allude to the tangled webs that are being woven.

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Muhuk

I don't post in the manner you would prefer I did, noted. I read comments post questions, leading questions which really aren't questions, that kind of thing. I don't really do the position paper thing. If the mods/owners deem this behavior to be not to their liking they will probably restrict my posting privileges on their site. In my defense , I try and respond to what I think are pertinent points in a discussion. At times humorous and or snarky, but I don't think disruptive for the most part. In response to Howard I wasn't referring to his honesty, I was questioning or commenting on his understanding of O'ism in general and it's moral justification of capitalism in particular, this is an Objectivist site.

Ownership in human beings and the right to kill them, seriously?

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I was questioning ... his understanding of O'ism in general ... this is an Objectivist site.

 

I am in no position to tell you (or anyone else) how to behave. But I believe I have the right to point out that judgements about persons do not pass as valid arguments in a debate on principles.

 

 

Ownership in human beings and the right to kill them, seriously?

 

"Seriously?" is not a counter argument. I can respond to pretty much everything you write with that. But instead I do my best to explain my position. I can't do much if you are not seeing the point of that analogy. It seems you realize it's outrageous. It's outrageous because I intended it to be so. I wish you could also understand the underlying principle.

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I don't have a fancy philosophical term to explain the principle here. But I approach this like an accountant, you credit something into an account it has to be debited from some other account.

The principle you're looking for is "mutual consent". =]

And for the record, your audience can distinguish between valid criticism and Nicky.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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