Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Intellectual Property: A Thought Experiment

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

In any event, Rand cites that these materials/resources undergo an initial transformation from unowned to owned, into property, by an application of human knowledge and effort. That "effort" I understand as physical action.

There isn't a mind-body split at work here; it's thought-action. One directly affects reality while the other does not (but the effacious one results from the other).

I'll have to return later, but both are simply different sorts of choices.

Objects+knowledge+effort may be a far more difficult conceptualization of property than objects+choice. More on that tomorrow.

---

And by the way, SL, intellectual property concerns ACTING on certain concepts, while talking about "intellectual property" is one such action. The only essential distinction one could make would be to say that patterns [novels, symphonies or individual words] cannot be owned. . . .

"Intellectual property" is a self-referencial concept.

If Eiuol is right then he cannot say so.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 341
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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

There isn't a mind-body split at work here; it's thought-action. One directly affects reality while the other does not (but the effacious one results from the other).

I'll have to return later, but both are simply different sorts of choices.

Objects+knowledge+effort may be a far more difficult conceptualization of property than objects+choice. More on that tomorrow.

Hi Harrison.

I don't know whether you meant your reply as a critique of the quoted portion of my post? But for clarity's sake, I'd like to point out that I'm not talking about a mind-body split there either.

I do speak of "mind-body splits" elsewhere... but by then, I'm talking about other things (as I believe that the context of my post suggests).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Harrison.

I don't know whether you meant your reply as a critique of the quoted portion of my post? But for clarity's sake, I'd like to point out that I'm not talking about a mind-body split there either.

I do speak of "mind-body splits" elsewhere... but by then, I'm talking about other things (as I believe that the context of my post suggests).

Some kind of dichotomy is at play , if true, it is hard to pin down. Noumenal/phenomenal, principled action/what is 'physically' possible, legal/moral(amoral) , immaterial/material?

Arguments or comments that make a point and then refer to 'in reality' or in 'real life' seem to suggest that there is some dichotomy that either needs to be bridged or is impossible to bridge. I'm still chewing.

 

Lest I be accused, the quote was not in direct reference to any patricular poster, just a subtheme running through the debate, as it were.

Edited by tadmjones
Link to post
Share on other sites

@howard,

 

If an recording artist produces an album, in your opinion, there is nothing that should prevent you from making multiple copies and selling them a fraction of the price?

 

If an author (JK Rowling) writes a novel, there is nothing that should prevent you from making copies and selling at a reduced price?

Edited by New Buddha
Link to post
Share on other sites

@howard,

 

If an recording artist produces an album, in your opinion, there is nothing that should prevent you from making multiple copies and selling them a fraction of the price?

 

If an author (JK Rowling) writes a novel, there is nothing that should prevent you from making copies and selling at a reduced price?

Correct. To prevent me would be a violation of NAP. Force is only justified in self defense, yes?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct. To prevent me would be a violation of NAP. Force is only justified in self defense, yes?

This is more of a libertarian spin on NAP. Varying degrees of force would be justified in the application of the executive branch with regards to individual rights violations.

 

Stealing a material object from its owner does not necessarily put the owner in the position of requiring self-defense. While the civilian may not be suited to halt the theft, a police officer, on his behalf, is justified in doing so.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is more of a libertarian spin on NAP...

  

Stealing a material object from its owner does not necessarily put the owner in the position of requiring self-defense.

You are interpreting my terms in the narrowest sense. By self defense, I include the defense of property, property rights being essential to self sustenance.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Harrison.

I don't know whether you meant your reply as a critique of the quoted portion of my post? But for clarity's sake, I'd like to point out that I'm not talking about a mind-body split there either.

No; sorry for any ambiguity. It simply occurred to me that there may be a simpler way to chew this problem. I have yet to analyze it fully but I may elaborate further in a moment (if it's a worthwhile line of reasoning).

Link to post
Share on other sites

1: Ownership is (properly) dependent on causality. You own whatever you create.

2: Intellectual property means conceptual property.

3: Conceptual property MEANS that to act on a certain idea allows only one possible action; that of mindless duplication.

If Wolfgang had been inspired BY Franz's design, to build a bigger and better (and original) type of piano, then by Rand's logic Franz cannot own it. He can only own what is copied without thought or intention.

---

The argument for IP is that you do not own those concepts which you did not invent, because you did not cause them.

By physical analogy, if I take someone else's car and paint a beautiful picture on it, I still cannot own that picture (regardless of the fact that I created it) because I created it on someone else's property; I had no right to do so without permission.

This means that you are not the cause of your own actions, if they originated with other people's ideas (which means that you are not responsible for the content of your own mind).

There are two primary problems with this.

---

The first problem is that "intellectual property" is itself a concept which its proponents did not invent. As I have mentioned, this makes any advocacy of IP self contradictory, unless you have Rand's explicit permission to act on (verbally) her idea.

The second problem is that this conception of human action implicitly asserts that for each idea there can be only one action, which MEANS that it is an implicit negation of volition.

To concretize:

---

If Franz owns Wolfgang's piano then he must own whatever benefits it provides, just like the car art analogy (which is the reasoning behind royalties).

So if Wolfgang uses the piano to make music and earns a large some of money, some of that must belong to Franz.

And if Wolfgang drops the piano on an innocent bystander's head, the Franz must share the blame.

Alfred Nobel, and particularly his sense of responsibility, is a precise example of such reasoning.

It contradicts reality (because one object, and one idea, have potentially infinite uses) and if applied consistently, we must accept the logic of those who blame the NRA for school shootings; the logic behind the persecution of fast food and cigarette companies, as well as Nobel prizes.

---

This reasoning has best been expressed as "you didn't build that- because you received public education" which MEANS "you didn't build that because I built you".

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to post
Share on other sites

While I don't agree with you, I appreciate that you answered this is a very straight forward way.

Thank you very much. But you did not answer my question: Do you agree that force is only justified for self-defense (in which I include defense of property)? If not, might you outline any additional justification?

Edited by howardofski
Link to post
Share on other sites

This reasoning has best been expressed as "you didn't build that- because you received public education" which MEANS "you didn't build that because I built you".

I think this is exactly right. IP says to the second man who builds a piano "you didn't build that," when, of course, he did.

It is a variant of mysticism, rooted in a mind-body split. It pretends that the innovator of the piano someone magically creates other pianos throughout the world, throughout the ages. A mind acting through other peoples' bodies. It acts as though the people who actually build those pianos are mindless. Magicked automatons who therefore do not deserve the property that they build, the wealth that they create.

In truth, of course, the second man is not mindless. He is acting completely mindfully, even in "copying" the piano (which we would normally describe as "learning"). He does not have someone else's mind acting through him, somehow. He is creating wealth, creating property, and thereby owns his piano. The advocate of IP seeks to take away the wealth that this man has created and give it to someone else who has not earned it. IP is a desire for the unearned.

IP is not a variant of property; it is anti-property.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this is exactly right. IP says to the second man who builds a piano "you didn't build that," when, of course, he did.

 

This was the exact phrase used:

 

 

Wolfgang didn't make the piano in any sense because he didn't even reverse engineer the piano. No thought past following directions happened. All that work was Franz.

 
 
Wolfgang was not only a mindless automaton, he seems to have not deserved the payment Franz supposedly made. Because all that work was Franz's.
 
 

 

IP is not a variant of property; it is anti-property.

 

Unless you happen to think:
 

"intellectual entities" *are* "physical" entities.

 

 

-----

 

I don't have a lot to add to the debate right now. But I'd like say that I anticipate; either the subject will start to drift towards the practical applications of IP or there will be a brand new hypothetical scenario where the same pro-IP arguments will be presented.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep in mind my arguments still apply to this: “if I build something with materials I own, then I own whatever the resulting artifact is – even if the inventor wants to prevent me from doing so”. I'm arguing against that. If you have other arguments, state it clearly, but often they boil down to the "I own the materials" argument. The key is that I am saying owning individual "parts" therefore you own the "whole" is a fallacy of composition in the sense design and object cannot be treated identically, any more than you own an island because you own a house on the island. If IP is to be invalidated, other arguments are needed. At least, if you want a robust argument. I emphasize that IP should instead be called "design property"!

"Seeing how your invention works is a mental state which is not applicable to property because it is wholly internal. "
No disagreement here - seeing the process of something is not applicable to property. On it's own it means nothing.

"There has to be more to it than "Franz violates no one else's rights," doesn't there? There has to be some sort of positive process by which we come to recognize the piano as being Franz's, such that if Wolfgang came by and took the piano for himself"
Yes. Point is, since you are explicitly saying no designs are owned anymore, it is sufficient to say you built the piano to say you own the piano in the sense of being allowed to do anything you want with the piano except violate rights, if the materials were not acquired through rights violation. If I understand where you are going, if there are owned designs, then the more abstract stages of production like mass production need to be considered differently.

"I apologize, but I'm having a hard time understanding this paragraph (and particularly the portion I've italicized). Perhaps you can clarify your meaning?"
(The contract pertains to the labor both parties agreed on), not (to make an agreement to tell Wolfgang that he'll only get paid if he lets Franz determine how to use the pianos.) That help? The second clause is being negated.

"Are you certain that it's correct to say that "Wolfgang didn't make the piano in any sense"? "
Well, he did in a weak sense. I acknowledge that I said it wrong. For better or worse, laborers in factories are drones because all the work they do is just follow rules. The labor can be contracted, that's why wages exist, but contracts shouldn't be required to claim ownership of how to determine the application of piano designs.

 

***

"* Do you believe that Franz is the only person in this scenario who has performed work? Or has Wolfgang also performed work?"
Franz did the most work. Wolfgang did little, but he labored. Wolfgang is not the "prime mover".

"Do you believe that Wolfgang, in whatever labor you might concede to him, has acted mindfully? Or mindlessly? "
Mindfully to the extent he has been trained to properly build the piano. Franz is still the one guiding the very piano production, which requires greater mindful awareness than Wolfgang. Generally, you'd determine that by figuring out who invented the piano.

"Or could Franz's selection of his piano design from the Internet, and even his entire decision to pursue a piano and hire Wolfgang to build it, be some whim-borne act?"
Yup, he could, in which case there would be different considerations to make to determine how to deal with questions of rights. Contracts help, but contracts are insufficient to say what you have or don't have a right to. For example, even if someone contracted themselves as a slave, the contract is invalid in a court of law.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't give a line by line response to you, I'll respond later to your main idea. I was confused about one line, though.

 

"I can't imagine the planned application where he's concerned, three hundred years or so after his passing, but it suggests all kinds of wonderful things about IP to me."

I haven't suggested that any IP claim can last that long after the designer's death, or even the designer's whole life. I'm not sure what you mean here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't give a line by line response to you, I'll respond later to your main idea.

I'll have to trust you to do this, if that's your choice. But honestly I feel apprehensive at the idea, because too often I believe that people give themselves license to ignore specific cases, examples, and points -- those things that constitute the case I'm actually making, and over which I have labored -- in the name of "responding to the main idea," which winds up being a mere recapitulation of their own original views (and/or a strawman of my own), seemingly untouched by anything I've actually had to say.

I sometimes suspect in such cases that the real reason they're not responding to any of the specifics I've set forward is because they cannot do so, while simultaneously holding to the original positions that they have staked out for themselves.

I'll ask you to please try to ensure that your post actually responds to my post -- so that when I read it, I feel as though you have troubled yourself to understand what I am saying, and are responding in kind.

 

I was confused about one line, though.

 

"I can't imagine the planned application where he's concerned, three hundred years or so after his passing, but it suggests all kinds of wonderful things about IP to me."

I haven't suggested that any IP claim can last that long after the designer's death, or even the designer's whole life. I'm not sure what you mean here.

I am responding to this:

 

"Do you believe that Wolfgang, in whatever labor you might concede to him, has acted mindfully? Or mindlessly? "

Mindfully to the extent he has been trained to properly build the piano. Franz is still the one guiding the very piano production, which requires greater mindful awareness than Wolfgang. Generally, you'd determine that by figuring out who invented the piano.

Emphasis added.

I don't know what it matters to our scenario "who invented the piano" -- why we should ever need to figure that out to suss out a modern day example of one or two guys building a piano between them. The piano was invented 300 years ago, per Wikipedia.

And yes, I'd stipulated that these scenarios are not running afoul of IP, because I wanted to look at a case of property unburdened by such things... but beyond that it's not for me to say whether you believe that an IP claim should normally last for a day, a lifetime, or forever. Proponents of IP make all kinds of claims as to how such things ought to be administered, and while you maybe believe some certain period is reasonable, another reader might have some other opinion on the matter. I don't know how those things can be argued, one way or the other -- if there's an objective principle behind the length of IP assignment, I don't know it. (Personally, arguing over matters like whether author's life + 65 years or + 70 years is "more reasonable" is a bit to me like arguing over the average life expectancy of a goblin. That it all has the whiff of the arbitrary is to be expected, given what I believe IP is at heart.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

DonAthos, in Post #217, offers a highly detailed explanation of why it makes no sense for the Pro-IP debaters to continually present inventors as great thinkers and imitators as mindless parasites, so as to "morally" justify a coercive market monopoly. I wish everyone following this debate would take some time to study what he has written there.

In another IP thread I made a related point: the pro-IP argument is based entirely on psychobabble - on the implied assumption that the pro-IP debaters have the magical ability to look inside the minds of all the players in their little just-so stories and see who "really" thought hard and who didn't and then divvy up the rewards accordingly. Since mind-reading is a fraudulent game to begin with, assigning rewards with reference to mental exertion is a fraud as well.

Psychobabble works fine in a work of fiction where we can look into the innocent, inventive and long-suffering mind of Hank Readen (who has a neat name) and into the shameful and parasitic mind of Wesley Mouch (whose name reminds us of 'mooch'), but out here in the real world, measuring mental effort remains a fiction.

Edited by howardofski
Link to post
Share on other sites

Further up in the thread DonAthos provided an eloquent description of why bicycle theft is immoral.

 

I do not steal bicycles because there is a law against it, I refrain from theft on moral grounds.

 

I would not use a widget design , a song, or a novel without the owner's permission on moral grounds. I recognize the creation of those things as being attributable to a functioning mind and treat them as property.

 

Leaving aside the legal implementation of IP, is IP differrent at heart from this?

Link to post
Share on other sites

howardofski

 

 

There are those that would argue that there simply are no "rights to property" of ANY kind, that any talk of "ownership" or "exclusion" of others to anything, i.e. excluding others from borrowing your car, or your pen, or crossing your yard without your consent, or of labelling anything whatever as "yours", is simply nonsense.  A hippie of that particular persuasion may say, "As long as you aint using it and I aint hurtin no one no how, you cant touch me man."

 

How would you respond?  What is your principled argument for "rights to property" as against "no rights to property"?  What is the validation of property rights?

 

Recall a right to property implies the right to enforcing exclusion of others from certain behaviors which includes the right to take measures to prevent those acts and if an act has already been performed, the right of coercion as necessary: but this is only the consequence of its being a right and does not play any role of informing the right, giving weight or detracting from the fact that it is a right.

Link to post
Share on other sites

[...]but out here in the real world, measuring mental effort remains a fiction.

And yet, all businesses do this on a daily basis. Is this your view from another thread that no contents of anyone's mind can be known by anyone, in any way, ever?
Link to post
Share on other sites

And yet, all businesses do this on a daily basis. Is this your view from another thread that no contents of anyone's mind can be known by anyone, in any way, ever?

No, all businesses do not measure mental effort on a daily basis, since that is not possible.  Yes, this is consistent with my previous posts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...