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Remaining Principled with 3D Printing

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Howardofski, I'm also interested to hear what you think about my question. Here's the hypothetical:

You want a great writer's new novel. He tells you he'll give you access to a digital copy if you promise not to copy or distribute it. You tell him you agree, but later you copy and/or distribute it anyway. Have you initiated force?

Of course.  I have broken a contract, which Objectivists and Libertarians generally agree is an initiation of force.

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Data isn't material but sending data changes the state of my computer. Before you raise this important issue; the state of my computer isn't material either. But it is created by the material state, ie. electrons, of my computer. Sorry, I thought this was easy to deduce. I hope it's clear to you now.

This what being Socratic entails: I know nothing. I may ask you to state the obvious frequently The purpose is to draw out what your argument is so the discussion provides us with more. If you're concerned about electrons, then this is getting weird fast. You are saying, I gather, that property in some sense must interface with reality. Okay. (So does IP, one reason scientific discoveries are not validly IP). But why should I care if the electrons respond to me and my actions (i.e. why is it bad)? If I called you on the phone without permission, that alters electrons. I am using the phone. This, too, is therefore bad. Spell it out for me - what is wrong about hacking in my example?

 

Summation: The electrons moved!

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We don't have to gamble. I'm waiting for his answer.

Edit: Ok, then. There's your case for IP.

No, it isn't a case for IP.  It is a case for contract law, an extremely important feature of a civilized world.  A contract is an agreement between two people.  IP law is a coercive monopoly - just the opposite of agreement.

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If I take your intellectual property. How can I give it back? Again, I am not talking about the value I gained by applying it. My question is how can I pay back the principal?

You can't give back the period of time you took tangible property. Wanted to dig a hole yesterday with your shovel? That time of use has been wholly denied.  Or... what if I took the shovel when you were asleep then returned it... wait, how can I be taking what you couldn't use or create value from? Augh capitalists, without my manual labor, they can't operate machinery, how is it theirs? Oh, I think I've become confused. I meant to say that without my manual labor, this 3D-printed machine wouldn't exist, how is it theirs? Sorry, the arguments are almost identical.

 

(Lots of sarcasm, yes, it is not intended to be personal to you or insult you, I just like humor sometimes to make a point)

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What in the hell are you talking about?  I mean seriously?

 

I never once said anything about owning something that belongs to someone else. I never said anything abut taking anything.   

 

Are you even referring to my post because I dare you to site it.

 

The only thing I said is if I have an idea it is mine and others do not have a right to steal a moment of my life. 

 

It's a pretty simple concept.  There is a whole book written on it which is likely the number one reason everyone is here:  Atlas Shrugged.

 

Or did you cheer when the looters stole Rearden Metal since they owned it too? 

 

YOU are the only one talking about claiming ownership over something that is not yours. 

Obviously, to own means the right to possess and control. You said that if you have an idea, it is yours. I say that if that idea is in my mind (because you revealed it to me), then it is also mine, because it is an attribute of my mind. For you to suggest that you own an idea which is in my mind is too silly for words. I have not stolen a moment of your life - more silliness. What are you talking about? You claim the right to use threats of violence to stop me from using that idea with MY own materials. Now if you are going to claim the right to control me and MY materials, you are claiming ownership, and that IS a taking. If you claim that I do not have a right to use that idea that you gave me to trade with other people, you are claiming the right to control the market - to have a right to deprive them of the choice to trade with me instead of you - to control them - to own them. 

 

If you reveal a new truth to me, it is a lie to claim I stole the truth from you - you still have it, do you not?.  If you then threaten me with violence to stop me from acting on the truth,  what on earth are you up to? 

 

It is false to say that I claim ownership over something that is not mine. The contents of my mind are most certainly mine - in the most profound sense of the word MINE. If I know something, I know it. For you to pull a gun and demand that I act as if I don't know it would be evil.

 

That's what the hell I seriously am talking about.

Edited by howardofski
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Contract law involves agreements.  IP law involves coercion, the opposite of agreements.

Why can't the patent process be seen as a hyper-expedited contract law scheme? Patented widgets are sold with the understanding of a boilerplate agreement to the effect that the buyer agrees to sellers conditions of no replication and or sales of replicated widgets.

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There never was a logically sound argument to support the claim that ideas can be property. Now that all the contradictory statements are refuted, it seems time has come to launch ad hominems. I predicted this, but I did my best to keep my responses civilized and thorough. I hope real objectivists will read this thread and make up their own mind.

 

I registered this forum hoping that I would find objectivist thinkers. Not to engage endless debates with mystics who call themselves objectivists. So I concede.

 

Ideas are objects. Hypotheticals can be equated with facts. And anyone who is anti-IP is a commie. Happy?

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There never was a logically sound argument to support the claim that ideas can be property. Now that all the contradictory statements are refuted

??? Being convinced or not doesn't mean "there never was a logically sound argument".

 

You didn't even follow through with my posts.

 

Ideas are not "objects", it's about implementation of ideas. I've said this 3 times. Last time I talked about this, the person left in a huff and all angry. It is contentious as a topic. But there's no need to get upset at saying anti-IP belief is a sort of intellectual communism. That isn't ad-hominem about *you*, it's what anti-IP entails. If you want to argue with that, bear with what seems to be a mystic's argument. I feel that way too arguing against anti-IP. But I don't get anywhere if I don't try to ask more questions to reveal things, premises we both hold. It is not a death match here in the forum aiming at complete convincing right away.

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Contract law involves agreements.  IP law involves coercion, the opposite of agreements.

Good. You've established a clear position. Understood. Now, can you give some concrete examples about how these two things differ to illustrate your point? I'll start. I said they were similar, so I have to give two concrete examples with matching traits.

First, contract law: To establish consent, you must first inform the other party of the terms. For the contract to be binding on point of resale, there must be a clause mandating that future resales first involve informing each new buyer of the terms. 

Second, IP law: For a copyright to completely hold up in court, you must adhere to what are called "copyright notices." They can come in the form of a c or p with a circle around it, or the phrase, "all rights reserved." This is to ensure that others are aware of the copyright, including those who might wish to "purchase" (license) your product.

Now it's your turn. Bear in mind I am by no means making the argument that there are NO differences. I am genuinely interested to see what kind of concrete examples you can think of.

Edited by FeatherFall
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I registered this forum hoping that I would find objectivist thinkers. Not to engage endless debates with mystics who call themselves objectivists. So I concede.

 

I'm disappointed to hear that you've decided to leave before weighing in on my hypothetical:

 

"You want a great writer's new novel. He tells you he'll give you access to a digital copy if you promise not to copy or distribute it. You tell him you agree, but later you copy and/or distribute it anyway. Have you initiated force?

 

For the record, IP is part and parcel of Objectivism. If you want to talk to Objectivists, you want to talk to people who believe in IP. If you don't think IP is a real thing, then you can't be an Objectivist. Which isn't to say you're wrong. If you don't believe in the pervasiveness of weird child/parent sexual urges, you can't be a Freudian, but that doesn't mean Freud was right and you are wrong either. 

Edited by FeatherFall
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Why can't the patent process be seen as a hyper-expedited contract law scheme? Patented widgets are sold with the understanding of a boilerplate agreement to the effect that the buyer agrees to sellers conditions of no replication and or sales of replicated widgets.

If there is a purchase agreement not to copy, then for the purchaser to copy would be a violation of that contract. But someone who simply finds the material, but did not purchase it, would not be obligated under that contract. Also, many things can be copied without first being purchased - inventions, methods, designs, etc., so purchase agreements offer limited IP 'protections'.

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I'm disappointed to hear that you've decided to leave before weighing in on my hypothetical:

 

"You want a great writer's new novel. He tells you he'll give you access to a digital copy if you promise not to copy or distribute it. You tell him you agree, but later you copy and/or distribute it anyway. Have you initiated force?

 

For the record, IP is part and parcel of Objectivism. If you want to talk to Objectivists, you want to talk to people who believe in IP. If you don't think IP is a real thing, then you can't be an Objectivist. Which isn't to say you're wrong. If you don't believe in the pervasiveness of weird child/parent sexual urges, you can't be a Freudian, but that doesn't mean Freud was right and you are wrong either. 

If we define Objectivism as "whatever Ayn Rand believed" we have a problem if Ayn held any contradictions.  If IP is "part & parcel", the same problem remains.  I think Objectivism should instead be defined by its epistemological foundations - after which it is named.  That way, if contradictions are found and removed, Objectivism improves.  In the eyes of many, IP and minarchy are both examples of the initiation of force and therefore Objectivism would be improved by their removal.

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There is a premise woven into all the pro-IP arguments that I might name the "just deserts" premise.  This says that if I work hard and long to produce something, I 'deserve' to be rewarded for my long hard work - it's only fair.  Therefore whoever benefits from my long, hard work 'owes' me.

 

But this is not a valid argument.  If you give to me a benefit that I did not request and did not contract for, I don't owe you anything.  Ethically you can not decide what something is worth to me and then demand that I pay you according to YOUR evaluations.  If you improve my view by mowing your lawn, you do not have a right to demand that I reward you. 

 

When you reveal to me a great new idea, I may be grateful to you;  I may even choose to reward you, but I am not obligated to you.  How hard you worked to create this new idea is irrelevant - surely Objectivists understand the invalidity of Marx's labor theory of value (the "just deserts" premise in action).  

 

The "just deserts" premise is false because values are subjective, not objective - meaning that they are personal, not inherent in the object being valued.  You may not decide for others what the value of something is.  For me, the value of something made by you may be small compared to the same thing made by my friend.  That you originated the idea behind the item may be of little consequence to me.  It is not your place to decide for others what and how they should value anything and it is presumptuous to insist on doing so. 

 

This false presumption, along with the nonsense that you can own an idea in someone else's mind, is at the root of IP.  IP is based on a false metaphor (my idea = my property) to excuse a real violation of property rights (you can't use your property the way I use mine).    

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howardofski

 

 

What in your opinion is it about property rights regarding material things: land, objects etc. which makes it valid to use force to exclude others from acting freely in connection with them?

It is the quality that economists refer to as "scarcity".  You and I cannot drive the same car or occupy the same space at the same time.  But we can use the same idea at the same time.   

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There is a premise woven into all the pro-IP arguments that I might name the "just deserts" premise.  This says that if I work hard and long to produce something, I 'deserve' to be rewarded for my long hard work - it's only fair.  Therefore whoever benefits from my long, hard work 'owes' me.

Yeah, which is Rand's premise for all property... At least on this forum, you have a lot to say before rejecting that hard work is sufficient for someone to deserve ownership.

 

"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."

“The Property Status of the Airwaves,”

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 122

 

"Ethically you can not decide what something is worth to me and then demand that I pay you according to YOUR evaluations."

Well, it's more like demanding you pay the worth something is to me, and you pay according to my evaluation. That's all trade. This sounds like you are saying that: "Ethically, you cannot decide a book is worth $10 to me and then demand that I pay according to YOUR evaluation of $10" entailing that you, Howard, should be allowed to pay $5 if you only think it's worth $5. But pricing at $10 doesn't mean I'm deciding the value for you... IF it is worth $10 to you, THEN you should buy it; if not, then don't buy it. But I still won't sell for less than $10.

 

"Marx's labor theory of value"

LTV is about labor exclusively, where the mind is irrelevant. The problem isn't "deserving", it's mindlessness.

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Yeah, which is Rand's premise for all property... At least on this forum, you have a lot to say before rejecting that hard work is sufficient for someone to deserve ownership.

 

"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."

“The Property Status of the Airwaves,”

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 122

 

"Ethically you can not decide what something is worth to me and then demand that I pay you according to YOUR evaluations."

Well, it's more like demanding you pay the worth something is to me, and you pay according to my evaluation. That's all trade. This sounds like you are saying that: "Ethically, you cannot decide a book is worth $10 to me and then demand that I pay according to YOUR evaluation of $10" entailing that you, Howard, should be allowed to pay $5 if you only think it's worth $5. But pricing at $10 doesn't mean I'm deciding the value for you... IF it is worth $10 to you, THEN you should buy it; if not, then don't buy it. But I still won't sell for less than $10.

 

"Marx's labor theory of value"

LTV is about labor exclusively, where the mind is irrelevant. The problem isn't "deserving", it's mindlessness.

Your entire post here is about material elements, such as books, and thus is irrelevant to this thread. You have dropped the context of my post, which was about unrequested intellectual benefits.

Edited by howardofski
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Obviously, to own means the right to possess and control. You said that if you have an idea, it is yours. I say that if that idea is in my mind (because you revealed it to me), then it is also mine, because it is an attribute of my mind. For you to suggest that you own an idea which is in my mind is too silly for words. I have not stolen a moment of your life - more silliness. What are you talking about? You claim the right to use threats of violence to stop me from using that idea with MY own materials. Now if you are going to claim the right to control me and MY materials, you are claiming ownership, and that IS a taking. If you claim that I do not have a right to use that idea that you gave me to trade with other people, you are claiming the right to control the market - to have a right to deprive them of the choice to trade with me instead of you - to control them - to own them. 

 

If you reveal a new truth to me, it is a lie to claim I stole the truth from you - you still have it, do you not?.  If you then threaten me with violence to stop me from acting on the truth,  what on earth are you up to? 

 

It is false to say that I claim ownership over something that is not mine. The contents of my mind are most certainly mine - in the most profound sense of the word MINE. If I know something, I know it. For you to pull a gun and demand that I act as if I don't know it would be evil.

 

That's what the hell I seriously am talking about.

 

So you put words in my mouth and assume that is what I meant. 

 

So bascially inventors should not spend years of their life inventing something because they will never regain the value they lost in time since it belongs to the village.  Good to know.  My life just got easier. 

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I'm going to address this point again to those that are against IP:

 

Reardon Steel was taken by the looters in Atlas Shrugged and it became Miracle Metal because of the princliple put forth here -  Rearden did not have the right to an idea and it belonged to the public.  Everyone got to make Miracle Metal because they had the right to the idea.

 

Do you support that?

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I'm going to address this point again to those that are against IP:

 

Reardon Steel was taken by the looters in Atlas Shrugged and it became Miracle Metal because of the princliple put forth here -  Rearden did not have the right to an idea and it belonged to the public.  Everyone got to make Miracle Metal because they had the right to the idea.

 

Do you support that?

Reardon developed his product in a context of IP law, and this context was suddenly changed - the rules of the game were changed.  This was obviously wrong - unfair to him.  Had there been no IP law, Reardon would have operated differently to pursue his happiness - how, we do not know, in his particular case. 

 

The real question should be:  is IP law necessary for justice?  Setting up the issue as you have done - an example of political thugs changing the rules in the middle of the game - is useless as an exercise in political philosophy. 

 

Also, you misstate the anti-IP position.  No one is claiming the right to an idea.  They are claiming the right to act on what they know.  If you reveal a valuable idea to me, I have the right to act on that truth.  I am not claiming a right to know what you know.  I am claiming the right to act on what I now know.

 

*******************************

I may be wrong, but didn't the political thugs force Reardon to reveal some of his secrets?  Ayn discussed that happening in the case of Alcoa, I recall, in one of her articles ("Notes on the history of Big Business"?)

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