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5 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Further still, if such a person were to do such a thing; build a duplicate cash register and use it in some duplicated franchise, where they could have the opportunity to run things; to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps - could that be some strange form of evil, that stems from the identification and emulation of all things good?

This reminds me of Communism, where capitalists prevent an individual's livelihood through controlling the means of production. You are literally complaining about another man controlling the means of production. You aren't denied or exploited, just get out and pay or trade! If you want to argue against IP, this line of reasoning is very anti-capitalist.

Then again, I barely understand your sentence.

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No, we want them because property is created by men. And the men who create it are entitled to it.

I don't know where I've been talking about "trade." It flummoxes me to see these replies to what I've said that... do not appear to speak to what I've written. Or maybe they do in some sidling fashion

First of all, I write this just having read your "obnoxiously long anecdote," so I wanted to remark that I quite enjoyed it, and certainly I find it interesting as a commentary on copying. Thanks for

* In response to dream_weaver's last comments *

Discovery is a key element of what is being contested here, and I am glad to see you pointing to it.  A relevant question that arises is, "Is the pursuit of discovery impeded by a lack of being able to monopolize whatever marketable products are found?"

I say no, and I think history supports that it does not.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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11 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I agree with Rand's phrasing here in part and disagree in part, as well. I can parse this fully if you'd like, though I believe that my commentary would be somewhat reiterative of the arguments I've already made throughout the thread and below. Yet if you believe it would help your understanding of my arguments, or if you think I will discover something meaningful in the exercise, please say so, and I'll attempt to come back to it soon.

Don, I don't think we've identified the what over which we disagree yet. Between thought and action, the action of a human being cannot operate independent of thought. The right to the product of one's labor, where the "labor" is an immaterial substance, relies on the the material of both the material being reshaped, and the material that does the forming. Both are separate from the mind. The mental activity which guides the body in the motions required in the shaping of a material substance, and the mental activity which conceives of the motions which can bring about the reshaping of the materials into the desired form, are two separate considerations. 

Do you find any merit in this articulation of the matter?

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29 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

* In response to dream_weaver's last comments *

Discovery is a key element of what is being contested here, and I am glad to see you pointing to it.  A relevant question that arises is, "Is the pursuit of discovery impeded by a lack of being able to monopolize whatever marketable products are found?"

I say no, and I think history supports that it does not.

Discovery is the key element of what is being contested here. Christopher Columbus' discovery of the 'new worlds' rests on a similar distinction. History contests Christopher's discovery on the grounds that Eric the Viking and/or the Chinese discovered the America's earlier. Of the three, which recorded their discovery in such a way as it was officially recognized at the time? Should the America's be delegated to the Viking via a log entry, or Chinese by inclusion on an obscure map in retrospect? In these cases the discovery wasn't monopolized, rather it was acted upon and accredited to Columbus in accordance with the governance of the time. As Rand indicated in CUI,

The government does not "grant" a patent or copyright, in the sense of a gift, privilege, or favor; the government merely secures it—i.e., the government certifies the origination of an idea and protects its owner's exclusive right of use and disposal.

In other words, the government does not "grant" a patent or copyright, or other type of discovery, in the sense of a gift, privilege, favor or monopoly; the government merely secures it—i.e. the government certifies the [verifiable] origination of an idea and protects its owner's exclusive right of use and disposal.

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Had the Chinese or Vikings disputed Chris's claim we might be using a different dialect today, let alone that of the natives who were already here.  The point is, the America we find so very useful today was discovered at least 4 different times without the supposed benefit of IP, i.e. discovery was not impeded.

And we must be ever mindful that security is a use of force.  As a advocate of IP, your claim is that government "merely" uses force to secure it... against what act of aggression??

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I'll probably enter this debate in the next 2 days. (no promises) For now I just wanted to point out a side issue that may change the perspective of some

 

Don Anthos said:

Quote

 Am I seeking to learn what someone else believes in order to disprove it? Or am I open to the possibility that my "opponent" may be right, and if so, am I taking the steps (internal and external) necessary to be able to understand that, should it turn out to be the case?

It does not follow that a person seeking to disprove what they believe is a false premise will be precluded from doing so in an intellectually honest manner. An honest person will recognize a valid challenge to their premises even if they intended to disprove anothers with assurance prior to the rational argument against their own false premise is presented.

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5 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Had the Chinese or Vikings disputed Chris's claim we might be using a different dialect today, let alone that of the natives who were already here.  The point is, the America we find so very useful today was discovered at least 4 different times without the supposed benefit of IP, i.e. discovery was not impeded.

And we must be ever mindful that security is a use of force.  As a advocate of IP, your claim is that government "merely" uses force to secure it... against what act of aggression??

In terms of property, it would be akin to the dealing with an act of trespassing on a tract of land outside of the delineated egress zone(s).

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15 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I'll grant (and I believe DA will, as well) that respecting IP "rights" is praiseworthy; what we're disputing is that it's mandatory.

Whether respecting what otherwise might be covered by patent or copyright law, depending on the specifics of that law--whether this is "praiseworthy" or not--equally depends on the specifics.

The overarching issue of "justice" demands that we treat things as they are, and this might entail some level of deference or reverence to an innovator or a creator, but it also might not.

As an example: a farmer in the field observes his neighbor plowing (or whatever it is that farmers do) via some ingenious method. He judges that it would be best for him to do likewise and takes pain to adopt the method, insofar as he understands it. While the farmer may well hold his neighbor in high esteem--and might invite the neighbor over for dinner, or share some portion of his increased harvest, again, in the name of justice--I do not believe that it would be praiseworthy for the farmer to "seek permission" to make these changes to his own field, which is what we would demand per IP law, on pain of penalty.

That any of this would be mandatory is an outrage.

14 hours ago, Craig24 said:

He doesn't need to reverse engineer and build a duplicate cash register.  Someone has already invented the thing and so you can BUY the ones already being manufactured.  It's much cheaper that way.

Absolutely. For those who decry that inventors would not be able to recoup their investments without some guarantee of monopoly, there are several "natural" economic protections such as these that can often (but not always) be relied upon to help do this very thing.

After all, this is how nearly all business works anyways. When you open up a pizza joint, truly, others may go into competition against you or even make their own pizzas at home. Given that, how can opening a pizza joint (assuming that nothing about doing this is "proprietary" with respect to IP) ever be worth the risk? How can a pizza maker ever recoup his investment, unless the government shuts his competitors down and force those who desire pizza to his doors? In part, it is because for many or most people it is cheaper (and offers other advantage) to buy a pizza from the pizza maker rather than open up their own shop.

10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

This reminds me of Communism, where capitalists prevent an individual's livelihood through controlling the means of production. You are literally complaining about another man controlling the means of production. You aren't denied or exploited, just get out and pay or trade! If you want to argue against IP, this line of reasoning is very anti-capitalist.

Then again, I barely understand your sentence.

It may be that you do not understand Harrison, but what he's describing is a shop clerk who decides to open his own shop, emulating the example of the shop in which he started out, to find his own fortune in the world. It is not anti-capitalist, let alone "communist," to go into business for yourself.

Whether one may rightly build a cash register in the manner of a cash register you've seen before, is, of course, the substance of the debate. Yet if you find that "communist," it may also be that you do not understand communism.

10 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Rand indicates that the issue of morality cannot disregarded on a desert island. Instead, this is where man needs it most. Mark Scott found it fruitful to put things in that setting to help clarify things. I'm going to try that here.

A man on a desert island, in this regard, has to originate any ideas for any improvements or inventions in his tools first hand. In the industrial society we enjoy, the originator of an invention has done so in a first-hand manner.

A man on a desert island cannot survive in a secondhand manner. He either originates, or goes without.

Robinson Crusoe or The Professor of Gilligan's Isle must certainly originate/invent in order to survive, and yes, any improvements or inventions must come from him alone. But the knowledge he brings with him to the desert island, which he is going to use to survive--a goodly amount of that will have come from learning from the examples of others. And he would be a fool to refuse to use any bit of that knowledge in the cause of his own survival (or flourishing, if we can think of a man on a desert island as flourishing), because he did not "originate" it.

10 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Your opening paragraph hits home. I find in my conversation in general, that full clear communication is one of my biggest challenges.

Take heart. It is one of nearly everybody's biggest challenges (and I submit this forum and the various discussions within as my proof).

10 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Property rights, which stem from the tangible stuff in my grocery cart which I intend to make mine on purchase, to the picnic table I build from plans I developed to minimize waste on the materials purchased to build it, and the automobile I drive which has a unique VIN recorded with the state, backed by a document which authenticates my claim to the right to that particular vehicle—gets extended to the more abstract property deed, which relies on surveys to demarcate a chunk of land, subject to being recognized by others as being owned, which I did not create, but purchased via another complex system of bartering which gave rise to the concept of money used to purchase it with. IP is an extension of property, much like extending the idea of entity to the concept of a concept being a mental entity. It is this extended sense that is either recognized, or not, by others. Codifying such recognition into law allows the reference to the social contract referred to as copyright in the beginning of a book, or embossing or recessing a patent number into a mold that produces a part referencing the part on file at a patent-house.

Though property may be referred to in the abstract (in that a "pink slip" establishes the ownership of a car, or money representing wealth as was referenced earlier in the thread), I believe that we should take pains to distinguish between this and "intellectual property," which deals with patents, copyright, trademark, and etc. (In short, the subject of Rand's essay "Patents and Copyrights.")

On the subject of "copyright" or "patent" which may just be a commonly recognized contractual agreement--a shorthand--we've already agreed that this is fine, acceptable, or even good. But a good test as for whether we're dealing with "patent" as a possible contractual agreement versus patent as a matter of IP law, is the case of the independent inventor. The independent inventor enters into no contractual obligation not to build his invention. If he is disallowed from doing so by governmental fiat, that is IP; that is the patent against which I argue.

10 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

The question, with regard to IP is: What is it? Can it be regarded as property, serving as a cornerstone to upholding the material manifestation of property rights, or is the product of the intellect free to any and all that lay claim to an idea by being able to replicate the physical motions without having to go thru the effort of discovering them first-hand?

There are many questions with regard to IP. (Or at least, I have many questions.)

To clarify/parse your language here a bit, the better to conform to my meaning and understanding:

The product of the intellect is "free" to any and all that lay claim to an idea, so long as we understand that this "free" is not actually free; no one comes any idea except that they earn it through their own, individual mental effort. We do not download ideas directly into our brains, after all, but there is a process involved, which may be described as "learning," which is self-generated, never automatic, and not always easy.

Yet it is "free" in the sense that knowledge is not itself proprietary (though it may be kept secret, or it may be "traded," via teaching, materials, etc., and thereby subject to contractual stipulation in the manner of all trade). I may pop popcorn. I may own some discrete amount of popcorn--the popcorn that I have popped, for instance. I cannot own "popcorn," per se.

Material wealth is not alone "the product of the intellect," but equally the product of physical effort. The resultant material wealth belongs to the man who has applied the knowledge and effort required to make that material wealth of use/value; the man who has created the value has the right to its use and disposal. "Replicating the physical motions" is a mindful activity despite the connotation of your phrasing, but the salient matter of creating wealth is not whether you've discovered these particular physical motions first-hand*, it is whether you have applied them--whether you have performed the necessary effort--and whether you are then free to dispose of the fruits of your effort. Thus, I own the popcorn I have popped, but I cannot tell you that you may not pop your own. And if you do pop your own popcorn, you are free to eat it.

________________________________________________________

*Save to say that every man has "discovered first-hand" in his own experience, even if he is not the first human being on planet earth to have done so, and even if he has learned by example. You may watch a person climb a tree and decide to attempt it yourself, yet there is still what I believe sensibly described as "first-hand discovery" in the actual attempt.

9 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Don, I don't think we've identified the what over which we disagree yet.

Thus in part my interest in establishing concrete examples to discuss and evaluate. For a time, you agreed with me that a man who observes his neighbor's SteakSabre 2k (or whatever example we're currently using) could build likewise for himself, for his own use. But then later you decided that perhaps you did not agree after all. Whether we agree or disagree on that specific example is not the whole story, and most of the conversation would entail digging beneath the surface in search of underlying matters, but I believe that our opinions on such concrete matters can help to clarify our initial positions... rather than drifting too far, too fast into the abstract.

With regards to the SteakSabre 2k, I know where I currently stand. It would take a bit of convincing for me to regard building such a thing for one's own personal use as being some violation of the inventor's rights, yet that appears to me to be the case that IP makes.

9 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Between thought and action, the action of a human being cannot operate independent of thought. The right to the product of one's labor, where the "labor" is an immaterial substance, relies on the the material of both the material being reshaped, and the material that does the forming. Both are separate from the mind. The mental activity which guides the body in the motions required in the shaping of a material substance, and the mental activity which conceives of the motions which can bring about the reshaping of the materials into the desired form, are two separate considerations. 

Do you find any merit in this articulation of the matter?

I agree that the action of a human being cannot operate independent of thought. I believe that people have the right to the product(s) of their labor. To be honest, I'm not certain I understand "labor" as "an immaterial substance," or the further relationship of mind and material as discussed here, but I trust that we can work this out.

2 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

Don Anthos said:

It does not follow that a person seeking to disprove what they believe is a false premise will be precluded from doing so in an intellectually honest manner. An honest person will recognize a valid challenge to their premises even if they intended to disprove anothers with assurance prior to the rational argument against their own false premise is presented.

I agree. My use of "or" suggested a false alternative, and you're correct that entering a discussion with an intent to disprove some argument will not necessarily preclude that person from engaging in that discussion in an intellectually honest manner, or checking their own premises. Thank you for the correction.

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"In terms of property, it would be akin to the dealing with an act of trespassing on a tract of land outside of the delineated egress zone(s)." ~ dream_weaver

Property is the only relevant term and what you are proposing, as an advocate of IP, is that the process to create property is property too.  You are extending the act of trespass onto property that doesn't yet exist, which is why you describe it as incorporeal and imagine invisible fences surrounding it.  The problem is that by doing so you place a lien against the process everyone else uses in creating their own property.

"Your thoughts are my thoughts," says the evil Vulcan, "and your labor too, because you wouldn't have gone there except that I discovered it."  And yet, as we just demonstrated, discovery isn't impeded by not pressing a claim to being first.  So, what we're left with is a dressed up moral claim without foundation.

I am disinclined to acquiesce to your attempts to force my patronage because I'm morally entitled to pursue my own happiness without relying on aggression; mine or yours.

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6 hours ago, DonAthos said:

On the subject of "copyright" or "patent" which may just be a commonly recognized contractual agreement--a shorthand--we've already agreed that this is fine, acceptable, or even good. But a good test as for whether we're dealing with "patent" as a possible contractual agreement versus patent as a matter of IP law, is the case of the independent inventor. The independent inventor enters into no contractual obligation not to build his invention. If he is disallowed from doing so by governmental fiat, that is IP; that is the patent against which I argue.

Ok. I must have missed your concurrence on your first sentence here earlier. So an author or an inventor, drawing up his own contractual agreement regarding what may be done with the material form of the book or invention is fine, acceptable, and may even be good..

If this is the case, the dispute may not be over the nature of what IP applies to, but in how it has been codified into law.

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5 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:

"In terms of property, it would be akin to the dealing with an act of trespassing on a tract of land outside of the delineated egress zone(s)." ~ dream_weaver

Property is the only relevant term and what you are proposing, as an advocate of IP, is that the process to create property is property too.  You are extending the act of trespass onto property that doesn't yet exist, which is why you describe it as incorporeal and imagine invisible fences surrounding it.  The problem is that by doing so you place a lien against the process everyone else uses in creating their own property.

This ignores the fact an inventor has to submit the physical manifestation for what the patent is being applied for.

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On 12/9/2015, 2:54:05, Harrison Danneskjold said:

If it is mandatory then it doesn't follow that those who violate IP rights should be fined, and forced to pay off the originators; what follows is that we destroy them with fire, like any other thug who wants to violate our rights.

 

I enthusiastically dispute that.

 

On 12/9/2015, 3:45:09, Craig24 said:

Why does it follow that a rights violator must be destroyed with fire?  What does that even mean?

23 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

 I should clarify. I know most of the people advocating for IP rights would likely punish it similarly to acts of fraud; I'm not disputing such punishments, per se, but the moral evaluation they imply.

To treat a great man like a scoundrel is no better than sanctioning your own destroyers.

 

I'm sorry about my last post or two; I was short on time and, in my haste, I spewed forth a jumble of half-digested ideas.

 

Craig24 - I'd like to properly respond to your questions in due time.

 

On 12/9/2015, 2:30:04, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Further still, if such a person were to do such a thing; build a duplicate cash register and use it in some duplicated franchise, where they could have the opportunity to run things; to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps - could that be some strange form of evil, that stems from the identification and emulation of all things good?

22 hours ago, Eiuol said:

This reminds me of Communism, where capitalists prevent an individual's livelihood through controlling the means of production. You are literally complaining about another man controlling the means of production. You aren't denied or exploited, just get out and pay or trade! If you want to argue against IP, this line of reasoning is very anti-capitalist.

Then again, I barely understand your sentence.

Let me clarify.

 

If I were to personally reverse-engineer some piece of software (let's say, Skype), build a better one and sell it for a bazillion dollars, would I deserve praise or condemnation?

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

This ignores the fact an inventor has to submit the physical manifestation for what the patent is being applied for.

I wouldn't say, "ignores"; it's that physical manifestation everyone recognizes as his property to dispose of as he pleases. His mental and physical effort brought it into being and he's certainly got the right to profit from everything he makes,  no matter how many duplications he brings to market.  He's free to contract with investors, define terms of use, agreements of nondisclosure, etc., and to have the security of recovery for whatever is taken from him by force.  I'll even call the popo for him if I see someone breaking and entering into his home/lab/warehouse/store.

What isn't apparent to me, is how my mental and physical effort to reproduce his product by simply being aware of it, are ceded to him prior to any contractual agreement with me.  Where is my act of aggression that justifies his retaliation?  Let me put it to you another way...

How does the creation of a first product place a moral lien against every product that follows??

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15 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Ok. I must have missed your concurrence on your first sentence here earlier. So an author or an inventor, drawing up his own contractual agreement regarding what may be done with the material form of the book or invention is fine, acceptable, and may even be good..

It happens. It has been a long conversation. :)

Here is where you asked me about this subject, and here is where I responded. If you have any further question on this score, please do not hesitate to ask.

15 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

If this is the case, the dispute may not be over the nature of what IP applies to, but in how it has been codified into law.

I can't rightly say what the precise dispute is between us, except that when I've advanced arguments, I've meant them. So if you disagree with aught I've said... then that remains a point of contention! :) I can say with confidence that I continue to disagree with Rand and the essay in question, which does not discuss this "contractual agreement" form of IP (which I would argue is not sensibly IP at all, and to consider it such only muddies the waters), but IP as a separate individual right with separate justification and consequence. I take issue with her justification (for the reasons given, and repeated, throughout the thread) and therefore deny her consequence.

As I've said, a good test for whether we're discussing the former or latter is the case of the independent inventor. If you believe that the independent inventor has the right to the fruit of his labor, then you and I probably have much in common on this subject. Yet you should recognize (if it matters to you, though it probably should not much) that this would put us both in opposition to Ayn Rand's essay.

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On 12/9/2015, 8:01:16, Craig24 said:

Then he shouldn't.  

OK.

 

Firstly, I'd like to drop the wild tangent about "destroying IP violators with fire". It's something I'll probably elaborate on, at some point, but it's nowhere near essential to this.

Secondly, you're right; if our cashier wanted a duplicate cash register, it'd make much more sense to simply buy one.

 

The real question is this. What if, having reverse-engineered it and coming to understand how it works, our cashier realized that there was some better way to build it; to duplicate large portions of it, with several key improvements of his own?

Would that, by its nature, be an act of good or evil?

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On 12/10/2015, 8:34:46, DonAthos said:

Whether respecting what otherwise might be covered by patent or copyright law, depending on the specifics of that law--whether this is "praiseworthy" or not--equally depends on the specifics.

The overarching issue of "justice" demands that we treat things as they are, and this might entail some level of deference or reverence to an innovator or a creator, but it also might not.

As an example: a farmer in the field observes his neighbor plowing (or whatever it is that farmers do) via some ingenious method. He judges that it would be best for him to do likewise and takes pain to adopt the method, insofar as he understands it. While the farmer may well hold his neighbor in high esteem--and might invite the neighbor over for dinner, or share some portion of his increased harvest, again, in the name of justice--I do not believe that it would be praiseworthy for the farmer to "seek permission" to make these changes to his own field, which is what we would demand per IP law, on pain of penalty.

That any of this would be mandatory is an outrage.

 

As I understand the pro-IP side of this, I don't believe anyone would demand that potential imitators seek the innovator's permission, before using whatever innovations they've found (and I certainly don't). What they are demanding is that tribute - the esteem; a share of the material rewards; etc.

 

I think that paying such tribute, in such circumstances, is admirable; it is to act on the knowledge of what you've gained from the originator, and ultimately boils down to the virtue of behaving Rationally.

 

However, how much tribute to pay; of what kind; at what time; these are questions that each individual has to decide, for themselves, according to the context of their own lives. For our farmer to share a portion of his harvest with his neighbor, at the price of his own welfare (such as during a drought, or some other time of shortage) would be to act in direct opposition to a rational set of priorities.

 

Because such tribute should only come after one has actually profited from any given idea, and because of the intensely personal and subjective nature of it (which is inherent in the very concept of "profit"), to legally prescribe thus-and-such a financial tribute, to be paid in thus-and-such amounts and times, makes about as much sense as outlining a legally-enforced diet for everybody.

 

Furthermore, whether or not any idea I use (of whatever kind) resembles anyone else's idea does not necessarily mean that I owe them anything, at all.

At one point, when I was in Middle School, I sat down to determine why it's easier to stop a baseball than a car, even if the baseball is moving considerably faster. I eventually figured out that "how hard it is to stop a thing" depends on its speed times its weight. Several years later, when I learned that this was first articulated by Newton as "F=MA", my first thought was that he had stolen my idea. Now, that's clearly absurd - we both reached the same conclusion, because we were both looking at the same thing; F is F. There's nothing wrong or even strange, really, about it; history is littered with people who've had the same ideas, completely independently of each other.

However, in the same way and for the same reasons that it's good to remember the people whose ideas have helped you, it's evil to pay off people who happened to have the same idea that you figured out for yourself. And how does one determine, in a court of law, exactly how an idea got into someone else's brain (short of an fMRI, anyway)?

 

I know it's a point that's been made before, but I see it as an integral part of my primary point: it's something that every individual has to decide, for themselves.

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2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

... What they are demanding is that tribute - the esteem; a share of the material rewards; etc.

I think that paying such tribute, in such circumstances, is admirable; it is to act on the knowledge of what you've gained from the originator, and ultimately boils down to the virtue of behaving Rationally.

However, how much tribute to pay; of what kind; at what time; these are questions that each individual has to decide, for themselves, according to the context of their own lives...

...to legally prescribe thus-and-such a financial tribute, to be paid in thus-and-such amounts and times, makes about as much sense as outlining a legally-enforced diet for everybody...

I know it's a point that's been made before, but I see it as an integral part of my primary point: it's something that every individual has to decide, for themselves.

I boiled this down a bit to highlight what I see as a crucial counterpoint to IP;  a voluntary tribute demonstrates an exchange of value between traders, but forcing that exchange is just another tax.

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On 12/9/2015, 9:28:28, dream_weaver said:

Between thought and action, the action of a human being cannot operate independent of thought. The right to the product of one's labor, where the "labor" is an immaterial substance, relies on the the material of both the material being reshaped, and the material that does the forming. Both are separate from the mind.

I disagree that the material that does the forming (my body) is truly separate from my mind.

 

If my fingers touch something, I feel it in my mind. The border that divides the "in here" from the "out there" isn't across my neck or surrounding my brain (or some ethereal cloud of mind-stuff that isn't my brain); it's my skin, my eyelids, my eardrums; every innervated part of my body is a part of my "me".

Granted, not every part of me is equally important; I can flex my hands all day long, and they won't invent anything. However, without the sensations such body parts provide, I never could have formed the idea of "invention" in the first place (and without the muscles to actually do it, there never could've been a reason to think it).

 

So, as convenient as it is to think of myself as a mind in a meat-vat, in a much more fundamental sense the material that does the forming is part of the same material that does the thinking.

On 12/9/2015, 9:28:28, dream_weaver said:

The mental activity which guides the body in the motions required in the shaping of a material substance, and the mental activity which conceives of the motions which can bring about the reshaping of the materials into the desired form, are two separate considerations.

Again, I disagree.

 

I've worked some medical assembly jobs where they thought that. They had these documents, called Manufacturing Instructions, which were supposed to specify all of the steps required to build a pacemaker battery or laser-bond catheter tips; if you ever had any questions, at all, you were supposed to check your MI (and if there was absolutely anything left out of your MI, you'd let your supervisor know and they'd revise it). The idea, of course, being that they'd do all of the thinking so that anyone who could read plain English would be able to do this job.

The thing about it was that the MI's never had enough information. They'd go for page after page, detailing every conceivable method for doing something and then say something like "recalibrate laser bonder as necessary" or "put parts in chemical bath - CAUTION: use appropriate PPE" and say absolutely nothing about how to recalibrate a laser, or where the chemical bath was, or what kind of Personal Protective Equipment would be appropriate for whatever chemicals were in this bath. And every time anyone asked about something the MI didn't explain, they'd have to spend several months compiling every conceivable question and answer there could ever be for that subject. Every MI I've seen before has had several hundreds-to-thousands of pages, none of which were intelligible, and yet some of these processes were so simple that any third-grader could've done them - as long as they were never asked to look at the MI.

 

I don't think there's any good way to write an MI, either (I've tried); the problem was with the system, itself. It was based on the idea that an engineer can figure out how to do something and then teach anybody to perform the same motions, without their understanding or mental participation. The MI's will never work because that isn't how the human mind works.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Obnoxiously long anecdote.
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3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

As I understand the pro-IP side of this, I don't believe anyone would demand that potential imitators seek the innovator's permission, before using whatever innovations they've found (and I certainly don't).

First of all, I write this just having read your "obnoxiously long anecdote," so I wanted to remark that I quite enjoyed it, and certainly I find it interesting as a commentary on copying. Thanks for sharing.

Apropos of not very much, I'd like to share a brief anecdote of my own before responding to your post. Recently, I dropped my child off at preschool. Before I left, she wanted to slide down the slide, so I helped her out to do that... and then another kid who had seen my daughter go down the slide wanted to take a turn, too. The preschool teacher had observed this, and I don't know what motivated her to say anything at all, but she said to my daughter, "Look, he liked your idea so much he wants to do the same thing."

I doubt many people in this thread (or outside of it) would find very much of interest in that little story, such as it is, but in reflecting on IP over (what is now truly) the years, I've come to believe that there's something of an emotional or an... attitudinal divide between those who would interpret sliding down the slide second as "copying" (i.e. "being a copycat") and the attitude the teacher conveyed, which is perhaps closer to "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," or more generous still.

I know that in my life, I have been unabashed in copying people whenever I believe I stand to benefit. If I see another person reading a book that looks interesting, I may well opt to read that book, too (and in another, earlier thread on IP, I shared a story where I was labeled a vile copycat for doing just this). If a coworker demonstrates a superior method of performing some task, I will adopt it immediately (and improve upon it, if I can). If I find that someone successful employs some habit, or methodology, that stands to help me to succeed, I would count myself a dumbass not to try it myself.

I have also known people who scorn following anyone else's lead, who do not solicit or welcome advice, who insist on doing something in some particular fashion because it is "their way," even if "their way" is demonstrably inferior to some other possibility. I further know what the results of these two approaches tend to look like, and I believe that I am far better off for my own disposition.

Well, anyways, back to your post...

3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

As I understand the pro-IP side of this, I don't believe anyone would demand that potential imitators seek the innovator's permission, before using whatever innovations they've found (and I certainly don't).

There isn't necessarily only one "pro-IP side," just as there isn't necessarily only one "anti-IP side," and though they might defend what they consider to be IP, I do not take it for granted that everyone on that "side" in this thread share agreement as to what IP is, or what it entails, or why they support it, or what (if anything) is wrong with the arguments you or I or anyone else presents.

While I try to respond to individual arguments as they're raised, in general my own arguments are pitched against Ayn Rand's, insofar as I understand them, for what I suspect will be obvious reasons. Would Ayn Rand demand that potential imitators seek the innovator's permission? I dare say so (emphasis added):

Quote

 

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.

[...]

...the government certifies the origination of an idea and protects its owner’s exclusive right of use and disposal.

 


The bolded sections certainly suggest to me that to use an innovator's invention without permission is a violation of right. A farmer who sees his neighbor employing some superior method of farming thus has no right to do likewise, unless he acquires explicit license to do so.

 

 

3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Furthermore, whether or not any idea I use (of whatever kind) resembles anyone else's idea does not necessarily mean that I owe them anything, at all.

True. And I agree with the rest of what you've said, in that it might be moral to share a harvest... or it might not, circumstances depending, and so forth.

3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

However, in the same way and for the same reasons that it's good to remember the people whose ideas have helped you, it's evil to pay off people who happened to have the same idea that you figured out for yourself. And how does one determine, in a court of law, exactly how an idea got into someone else's brain (short of an fMRI, anyway)?

I agree. I would only quibble with the... somewhat poetic description of ideas getting into people's brains (I'm picturing the worm-creature-thing from Wrath of Khan), which I think lends some bit of rhetorical/emotional support to the errant idea that some humans (the innovators) shoot out ideas, and the rest of humanity are mere puppets or empty vessels (or zombies), blithely receptive but unable to earn any of this largess. It casts what I regard as "learning" as an inert process. But as to the actual origination of an idea within any individual's brain, I think it is self-generated activity that is centrally responsible. Even when a person casts his eye over Newton's equation, in order to truly understand the thing and not see something like F=MA as meaningless squiggles on a page, he must perform the "mental labor" to parse, and relate, and question, and integrate, and in short, think.

Thus every idea is earned.

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Every idea is earned, but would acting on knowledge made apparent by advertising, for example, involve a form of smuggling in the sense that whatever mental labor is used to figure out how to profit from doing it yourself, the originator's idea remains embedded in whatever is produced by someone else?

I'm thinking in terms of say, Peter makes a car and Paul figures out how to make his own car. Someone else would be correct to observe that Paul's car looks like Peter's and therefore used Peter's idea.

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10 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Every idea is earned, but would acting on knowledge made apparent by advertising, for example, involve a form of smuggling in the sense that whatever mental labor is used to figure out how to profit from doing it yourself, the originator's idea remains embedded in whatever is produced by someone else?

I'm thinking in terms of say, Peter makes a car and Paul figures out how to make his own car. Someone else would be correct to observe that Paul's car looks like Peter's and therefore used Peter's idea.

I'm not entirely certain about language like "smuggling" or that an idea is "embedded," but yes, absolutely someone would be correct to observe that Paul's car looks like Peter's, and to thereby understand the factual relationship (in this case, that Paul had come to the idea of building his own car via observation of Peter's car).

As to whether Paul used "Peter's idea," it is true in a certain sense. Yet Paul also had the idea to build a car (and more specifically, this car), so it's also true that Paul used Paul's idea.

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I think it's fair to say that Paul used Peter's design which accounts for the resulting visible similarity.  That being the case, it would also be fair to say that Paul valued Peter's design, which accounts for the effort he took to reproduce it.  So, does Paul's effort effectively rob Peter to the degree that restitution for use without compensation is justified?

Advocates of IP would say that Peter was harmed in that Paul's car represents a loss of material wealth for Peter.  I'm more comfortable with the notion of IP as shareware, where Paul voluntarily rewards Peter for the use of something valuable.  My sense is that that would satisfy the Trader Principle.  So I guess what I'm saying is that while Peter isn't morally justified to prohibit Paul's use of his design, Paul remains somewhat indebted to Peter by using it.

I'm not sure that makes sense, but that's what I'm working with...

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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5 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

I think it's fair to say that Paul used Peter's design which accounts for the resulting visible similarity.  That being the case, it would also be fair to say that Paul valued Peter's design, which accounts for the effort he took to reproduce it.  So, does Paul's effort effectively rob Peter to the degree that restitution for use without compensation is justified?

Paul does not rob Peter by building his own car in any sense, unless IP is already conceded. Creating your own wealth does not take another man's wealth away, and one man getting richer does not make another man poorer.

If you believe that Peter owns some design, meaning that Paul's use of it may rightly be restricted and/or is subject to penalty/mandatory compensation or confiscation or etc., then I suppose you're welcome to that belief, but that's just a restatement of the general pro-IP stance, and I think that it is unwarranted by the facts of reality, for the reasons given and discussed throughout the thread.

5 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Advocates of IP would say that Peter was harmed in that Paul's car represents a loss of material wealth for Peter.

If they would say this, they would be wrong. Peter yet has all of the material wealth he is entitled to: that which he has created. He has not lost an iota. The same for Paul.

5 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

So I guess what I'm saying is that while Peter isn't morally justified to prohibit Paul's use of his design, Paul remains somewhat indebted to Peter by using it.

If you review the recent conversation between Harrison and myself (starting here), I think you'll find us discussing this very matter.

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I did follow your and Harrison's discussion on the matter; that's what led me to review my own opinion.  We are agreed, I think, that Peter isn't robbed to the degree that anything he earned as property was taken from him.

However I remain troubled by the fact that Paul did receive some benefit from seeing Peter's design, which later becomes incorporated into Paul's car, and that Paul's car is the materialization of wealth that Peter's design contributed to.  My question is, how much has Peter's design undermined Paul's claim to ownership based exclusively on his own mental and physical efforts?  I think that Paul offering some tribute is appropriate, but if he chooses not to does that conflict with the Trader Principle??

I recognize that I'm rehashing this a bit, so probably I should work this out on my own some more...

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