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Intellectual property

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1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

We are agreed, I think, that Peter isn't robbed to the degree that anything he earned as property was taken from him.

Yes, Peter isn't robbed to the degree that anything he earned as property was taken from him... just as he isn't murdered to the degree that his life was taken, which is to say that he isn't murdered (or robbed) at all. But this just takes the discussion full circle to the beginning, and were this my "reasoning," it would amount to begging the question (just as to assert the opposite--that Peter is robbed of something--is to beg the question for IP).

But I think if you look at what might approximate the roots of such concepts as "theft," you'll begin to see the reasons for drawing this distinction where I do. Even earliest peoples would understand what it means to take another man's spear from him, and I suspect you should expect a fight if you were to try. But to make a spear of your own? In what way could that be "theft"? What cause would one man have for preventing his neighbor from building a spear? (Spear control arguments aside, lol.) If no material property was ever taken from others, I believe that we would not even have a concept of theft.

1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

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.

Let's agree that Paul received benefit from seeing Peter's design. The "materialization of wealth," which is Paul's car (i.e. the car that Paul built and, I argue, consequently has property rights thereto) springs directly from Paul's idea and Paul's actions, which is to say his mental and physical labor. Certainly we can recognize that the benefit Paul received from seeing Peter's design (and thus from Peter, and his actions) contributed to Paul coming to the idea he did (of building the car, and all of the associated mental labor involved)... but why should this trouble you?

Men learn from and are inspired by a myriad of others throughout our entire lives, and we gain great benefit from our mutual associations (at least insofar as force is barred). I find nothing about that troubling, and indeed, it's quite magnificent. If you believe that Peter suffers (in reason) from Paul's building a car, then demonstrate that, and perhaps we shall agree that there's something here to find troubling. But absent that, if we're simply saying that Peter stands to benefit by Paul's activity, then I don't understand the source of your angst.

1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

My question is, how much has Peter's design undermined Paul's claim to ownership based exclusively on his own mental and physical efforts?

My answer is: none.

Peter's design could exist and Paul could do nothing with it (or even understand it), and thus "Paul's car" would never come to exist. The existence of Paul's car is based upon the applied effort (both mental and physical) of Paul, and we account ownership on the basis of such application of effort.

"Application," which is not to say "innovation," or that Paul must somehow have created something of literally nothing, out of nowhere, never having learned from anyone else, never having been inspired from anyone else. Were that the case, we might well question the origin of Peter's design; did it truly have no recognizable forebears? Did Peter have no teachers? Did he have no parents, rising out of the dust like Adam? But if we recognize that all of these things were necessary for Peter to come to his design (and that Peter took "benefit" from these sources and a legion more), does it undermine Peter's claim to have come up with his design, or whatever property he may have created subsequently? I think not.

1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

I think that Paul offering some tribute is appropriate, but if he chooses not to does that conflict with the Trader Principle??

Whether the "tribute" be spiritual or material, we ought, in justice, treat people for who and what they are, what they've done, and pay them what we owe. Yet we may love without being loved in kind (which may or may not be an injustice), and yet this isn't a matter of property or property rights, which deals with the creation and disposal of material wealth. If you treat someone well, and deserve (in justice) to be treated well in return, but are treated poorly instead, that's not right... but it isn't a matter of theft. If you are inspired by someone--and maybe even to the point of gaining great wealth according to that inspiration, however it manifests--but do not perform the proper homage (whether internally/spiritually/emotionally, or in action/deed, including the payment of some kind of "tribute," which could be material or otherwise), then you are ungrateful, and maybe worse. But it does not mean that we should take your property from you, which is still rightly yours accounting to your efforts in creating it, robbing Paul to pay Peter. (And oh man, have I waited all post long to use that.)

If we are to have any hope of sorting through these difficult and oft-contentious issues, we must resolve to try to keep these kinds of ideas distinct in our minds. I think that IP (along with a host of other flawed, but sometimes well-seeming concepts) flourishes amid fuzzy, "almost" thinking.

1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

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

I considered myself "agnostic" on this question for more than a decade. I think it's worthy of chewing over time (and with growing experience).

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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

4 hours ago, Devil's Advocate said:

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??

Look at it this way.

 

If you made a beautiful statue; something that inspired the highest and best in anyone who saw it, and you put it in the middle of town, it could help countless people; it could give them the emotional fuel required to go out and slay whatever dragons they faced in their own, private lives. And if you put a jar beside it, for voluntary donations, you might be well-compensated for it. Then, if someone stood to admire your statue every morning, but never once made a donation, should you charge them with robbery? Or with breach of some contract they never signed?

No.

 

We may be able to draw some sort of inference about their moral character, from such actions - or maybe not. Maybe the greatest payment they can afford is nothing more than their admiration, itself (isn't that the highest sort of wage an artist can earn?).

And if they failed to pay even their respect for your artistic genius, through whatever sordid sorts of evasions - what sort of crime could you charge them with? While evasion is the root of all evil, we must never try to outlaw it; the very next step would be a bloody dictatorship.

 

So, while Paul's actions might violate the trader principle, the very worst verdict one could pronounce (if, indeed, he was violating it) would be: "you're an asshole".

 

---

 

In technical terms, you're asking about the "free rider problem": how do you keep someone from taking unearned benefits from other people's work?

The answer is that you shouldn't try, because ultimately (if we tried to force every person to pay for every kind of "benefit" they've ever gotten from anyone else) you end up in very dark places.

The problem with the "free rider problem" is that, when one person robs another, the robber's benefit is not what makes that evil; the victim's loss, is.

 

The alternative is not compatible with Capitalism.

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

...

"Application," which is not to say "innovation," or that Paul must somehow have created something of literally nothing, out of nowhere, never having learned from anyone else, never having been inspired from anyone else. Were that the case, we might well question the origin of Peter's design; did it truly have no recognizable forebears? Did Peter have no teachers? Did he have no parents, rising out of the dust like Adam? But if we recognize that all of these things were necessary for Peter to come to his design (and that Peter took "benefit" from these sources and a legion more), does it undermine Peter's claim to have come up with his design, or whatever property he may have created subsequently? I think not...

Thankee sai, this addresses what was bothering me.  I thoroughly reject the, "You didn't build that" argument, and in this case you'd have to go through Peter in order to get at Paul anyway.

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

... But it does not mean that we should take your property from you, which is still rightly yours accounting to your efforts in creating it, robbing Paul to pay Peter. (And oh man, have I waited all post long to use that.)

...

:thumbsup:

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21 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

...

In technical terms, you're asking about the "free rider problem": how do you keep someone from taking unearned benefits from other people's work?

The answer is that you shouldn't try, because ultimately (if we tried to force every person to pay for every kind of "benefit" they've ever gotten from anyone else) you end up in very dark places...

Yes, that was bothering me too.  In terms of IP, free riders are primarily created by forcing a contract on unwilling parties.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is an excerpt from Adam Mossoff's Intellectual Property Rights: Securing the values of the mind which seems to tie in most closely with the gist of much of this thread.

Given the new Utilitarian basis for protecting property, people quickly realized there are no conflicts over ideas. One man’s use of an idea does not prevent another man from using that same idea. Ideas can be copied endlessly and used simultaneously. Ideas can be replicated without any degradation. Ideas are not “used up” when they’re thought about.

Galt built a copy of his motor in Galt’s Gultch. This in no way interfered with Quentin Daniels from working on the mostly destroyed copy of the exact same motor found in the ruins of the 20th Century Motor Company. (partially paraphrased)

With land, we can perceive this point, as a judge observed in the early 20th century, “two men cannot plow the same furrow.” In utilitarian inspired economic terms, land is a scarce resource, but ideas are not.

Land and tangible goods are naturally exclusive and exhaustible. They get used up in their use.

Many people today exploit this fact and engage in acts of piracy of songs, books and movies over the internet. And they rationalize it in exactly these terms. Illegally downloading a movie or a song is different from taking a bicycle. Taking the bicycle natural conflicts, while the illegal copy of the song does not prevent the recording artist or legal purchaser of the same song from using their respective copies.

As Rand explains so many times, philosophical ideas always filter down into the culture and are put into action by people who may never have heard of the name of Bentham, studied the philosophy of Utilitarianism, or learned the economic concept of scarcity.

There's more that gets into how economics and capitalism are used as stolen concepts, and economic scarcity as being used as a package deal. This excerpt is addressed after going thru a thumbnail history of IP, some of the flaws in Locke's intrinsicism that gave "traction" to Bentham's Utilitarianism based on the moral premise of "The greatest good for the greatest number." as well as tying into Rand's moral basis for values being the product (labor) of the mind.

Mossoff's Term Limits for Patents and Copyrights also looks like another good listen.

I also ran across a tidbit in Atlas Shrugged that sort of concertizes the "invisible fence" I alluded to earlier.

The door was not locked, thought Dagny; she felt an unreasoning desire to tear it open and walk in—it was only a few wooden boards and a brass knob, it would require only a small muscular contraction of her arm—but she looked away, knowing that the power of a civilized order and of Ken Danagger's right was more impregnable a barrier than any lock.

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An act of piracy implies an illegal action, and not one that I (or I believe the original DA) have been advocating.  If I work on an invention in an unlocked garage, that doesn't relieve you from a claim of breaking and entering to see what I've been up to.  But once my invention becomes marketable on public display you are free to buy it, or figure out how to make one on your own.  However, you remain constrained from receiving it as a stolen good.

Dagny was morally correct to look away from an unguarded barrier she knew existed, and so was Quentin for pursuing his own interest in continuing the abandoned work of someone else.

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Dagny did send two engineers to search the patent records on the motor, and found none. Quentin does not have a complete working motor to base his study on. While John Galt had built another motor in Mulligan's Valley, he essentially stopped Quentin Daniel's work on it when he brought him to the valley and added him as a student. (Imagine an inventor being willing to explain the theory behind his invention to you in detail. You can't get that by trying to build something similar on your own.)

I am somewhat up in the air about building a patented object for your own, for research or study is, as I understand it, not held legally culpable, but putting it into practical use is what steps it currently across the line. The act of "piracy" akin to downloading a song, movie, or book without paying for it, is not paying the inventor for what in 1824 Danial Webster stated on the house floor:

"The right of an inventor is a high property, it is the fruit of his mind, it belongs to him more than any other property, and he ought to be protected in the enjoyment of it."

Back to the power of a civilized order, and of an Inventors right, the desire to build one for yourself is not permission of the rightful owner to open the gate. I realize this presupposes you agreeing with Mossoff's take that Rand held at the root — all property is fundamentally intellectual property.

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If all property were intellectual, every claim would be subject to debate.  No, I’m willing to imagine invisible fences for certain intangibles, but an individual knows who the owner of physical property is.  To paraphrase the Russian view of détente, “What is mine is obviously mine. What is yours we can negotiate.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

The concept of intellectual property is self-contradictory. It means coercing an individual to not copy the ideas of others, except under certain conditions. The classical concept of property doesn't mean that. Therefore, the concept of intellectual property, by copying the conventional concept of property, at least the name, and applying it differently, does the opposite of what it says by its mere existence as a concept copying another.

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The classical concept of property is that of a physical product produced by the combination of a natural resource and Man's labor, as described by Locke et al, whose influence is noted in Objectivism.  Ayn Rand's philosophy adds an additional claim that all property is intellectual which I disagree with, however I don't dispute that mental effort is equivalent to physical labor (please note that I am only representing what I understand about Objectivism).

Are you suggesting that copying a concept of property is self-contradictory?

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5 hours ago, gio said:

The concept of intellectual property is self-contradictory. It means coercing an individual to not copy the ideas of others,  - snip -

IP is entirely creator dependent which is to say that a song, for example, only exists because the musician created it.  You cannot copy what an artist doesn't create.  Starting with that reality, explain to me why the musician has no right to copyright the song?  Put it another way.  Why doesn't the musician have the right to make the song public only under the condition that people must buy the copy or get the musician's permission to have it for free?  

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1 hour ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Are you suggesting that copying a concept of property is self-contradictory?

Yes. Especially when you copying while changing its purpose.
To be more specific, you can copy an idea, but you can not copy an idea and implementing into it that you shouldn't copy the ideas. This is self-contradictory.

Intellectual property involves the condemnation of "stolen concept". But according to its own vision, it is a stolen concept itself.

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37 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

IP is entirely creator dependent which is to say that a song, for example, only exists because the musician created it.  You cannot copy what an artist doesn't create.

Did you ask permission to the author of this argument before using it?

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37 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

IP is entirely creator dependent which is to say that a song, for example, only exists because the musician created it.  You cannot copy what an artist doesn't create.

Did you ask permission to the author of this argument before using it?

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3 hours ago, gio said:

Yes. Especially when you copying while changing its purpose.
To be more specific, you can copy an idea, but you can not copy an idea and implementing into it that you shouldn't copy the ideas. This is self-contradictory.

Intellectual property involves the condemnation of "stolen concept". But according to its own vision, it is a stolen concept itself.

Interesting...  Do you then dismiss "original" ideas as such, meaning that one individual's idea generates from a prior pool of knowledge?  Is this what you mean when you say, "you can copy an idea"?

Perhaps you're familiar with the, "You didn't build that" argument; that individual success depends on a certain amount of collaboration.  Is that something you agree with?

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3 hours ago, gio said:

Did you ask permission to the author of this argument before using it?

Did you apply for copyright protection for what you wrote?  Furthermore, are you not aware that when you write posts on this forum, it's owner is providing the space on the internet you are using and the rules that permit the copying?  Go ahead and write an original work, present it to the proper authorities and obtain your copyright and then you will have all the authority in the world to charge me for copying your work.  

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19 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Interesting...  Do you then dismiss "original" ideas as such, meaning that one individual's idea generates from a prior pool of knowledge?  Is this what you mean when you say, "you can copy an idea"?

No, I just meant you can't copy and in the same time say that you shouldn't copy. A is A. The concept of intellectual property is a bad copy of the concept of property. And in the same time it suggests that copying is wrong. This is self-contradictory.

34 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Perhaps you're familiar with the, "You didn't build that" argument; that individual success depends on a certain amount of collaboration.  Is that something you agree with?

You can not create anything out of nothing. Of course, the way you mix things is personnal. But basically, human life and human progress is based on copy.

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19 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Interesting...  Do you then dismiss "original" ideas as such, meaning that one individual's idea generates from a prior pool of knowledge?  Is this what you mean when you say, "you can copy an idea"?

No, I just meant you can't copy and in the same time say that you shouldn't copy. A is A. The concept of intellectual property is a bad copy of the concept of property. And in the same time it suggests that copying is wrong. This is self-contradictory.

34 minutes ago, Devil's Advocate said:

Perhaps you're familiar with the, "You didn't build that" argument; that individual success depends on a certain amount of collaboration.  Is that something you agree with?

You can not create anything out of nothing. Of course, the way you mix things is personnal. But basically, human life and human progress is based on copy.

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38 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

Did you apply for copyright protection for what you wrote?

No I was talking about the argument you used. Did you asked the permission to the author of the argument before using it ?

Edited by gio
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5 minutes ago, gio said:

No I was talking about the argument you used. Did you asked the permission to the author of the argument before using it ?

I don't understand your question.  Did I copy an argument that was protected by IP law and simply wasn't aware of it?  

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5 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

I don't understand your question.  Did I copy an argument that was protected by IP law and simply wasn't aware of it?  

Did you created the language and words that you are using? The structure of the sentence ? Did you ask the permission to use them ? Be careful, or I'll call the cops.

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28 minutes ago, gio said:

Did you created the language and words that you are using? The structure of the sentence ? Did you ask the permission to use them ? Be careful, or I'll call the cops.

My question STILL stands and few more come to mind: Are the words and language I use copyrighted?  Can they even BE copyrighted?  On behalf of who?  The creator?  Who is that?  Is he still alive?  How long ago did he pass away?  These are the questions that float to the top of my idle brain.  

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17 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

My question STILL stands and few more come to mind: Are the words and language I use copyrighted?  Can they even BE copyrighted?  On behalf of who?  The creator?  Who is that?  Is he still alive?  How long ago did he pass away?  These are the questions that float to the top of my idle brain.  

Arguments, words, language, structure of the sentence, etc. All those things are human creations, aren't they?
As such, and according to the logic of intellectual property, they are necessarely the intellectual property of someone. You have to get the permission of the owner to use it.

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