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Merge: Rights, Property

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1) What facts of reality give rise to the concept of property? (I want to exhaust this question before moving on to the second question)

Man needs right to his own life to live. It is necessary that his rights be protected if we don't want a barbaric society.

An essential component of protecting a man's right to his own life is protecting property rights.

If property rights are not protected, we would have a barbaric society, as anyone would be able to do anything with any object or land -- even another man's food and water.

In other words, man needs property rights to live a life.

2) Within the broader category of property, what subdivisions are there and what is their basis, i.e. intellectual vs. physical.

Physical: - I assume that that is obvious.

Intellectual: - As pointed out in the "Intellectual property" thread, a man's needs to benefit from the product of his own mind if he wants to be happy.

But why can't a person benefit from his innovation without protecting the product of his own mind from copying by force?

As history has demonstrated, if this protection is not implemented, it almost always leads to copying of work. As a result, the original innovator is unable to derive any substantial benefit from his innovation.

Hence arises the concept of "Intellectual Property Rights".

As far as a fixed term for patents is concerned, I think that patents should be protected as long as the original inventor holds the ability to improve them and/or derive any benefit from them.

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I see the argument for intellectual property rights as follows: I have a right to the product of my actions + Ideas are a product of my actions = I have a right to my ideas.
You may choose to "see" the argument any way you wish. However, all you are doing here is evading the actual case for intellectual property -- as I outlined it above -- and instead attacking a straw man.

An "idea" per se is not an invention and cannot be patented.

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If intellectual property is *property* then the rights protection is attached to this concept as well.

That depends on the conceptual relationship between 'property' and 'rights'.  You are correct that any property has a rights protection, but that doesn't make my point invalid.  An idea can be called property in the sense of possession.

Both 'property' and 'rights' are concepts that depend on a social context; there would be no need of either concept for someone living in isolation on a desert island. Further, the concept property means that a thing is mine and not yours, or yours and not mine; person A's and not person B's.

The conceptual relationship between property and property rights is that the former is the recognition that value X is the product of person X's mind, the latter is the recognition by government that value X is the product of person X's mind and the government acts to maintain person X's possession of value X.

Your attempt to reduce the concept of *property* to *possession* strikes me as an attempt to maintian an indefensible package deal. If I hand you my laptop, to hold, you are in possession of it but it remains my property. If I write a novel and print a copy and give it to you, you are in possession of the paper and ink, but the intellectual content remains my property, even after you read and digest that content.

You go on to say:

So You have a right to any idea you hold and you have a right to act on every idea you hold, that is why I don’t mind using the concept intellectual property, rights are still involved.
If by idea you merely mean that person's identification of the facts of reality, then OF COURSE they have a right to act on that knowledge. If this is what you mean, then this is simply a DISCOVERY. Again, no one here is arguing about this, since we have repeated many times that the concept of property does not apply to discoveries and therefore neither does rights protection.

I find myself continuously guessing which meaning you intend when you use the word 'idea'. I ask that you be more clear about its usage.

A discovery is not a value until it is manifested itself into some material form (I would like some feedback from some veteran Objectivists regarding this statement. Is it accurate?). This is why in theory the rule for patents (although often broken) is that the invention needs to be demonstrated to actually work. It has to be more than just fantasy. It has to be more than just a discovery or series of discoveries, they have to actally be manifested in material form.

However the rights I am referring to are not the full sense of the term used when applied to physical property.  For the two fundamentally different types of property I think two different applications of rights are appropriate.

I agree that a different implimentation of rights protection is perhaps applicable for each type of property, physical and intellectual. But this difference in the form of implimentation will stem from the difference in the the form of property, a difference which we seem to still be trying to pinpoint. Lets continue trying to understand the difference in the forms of property FIRST, and come back to the way to impliment rights protection AFTER.

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You may choose to "see" the argument any way you wish.  However, all you are doing here is evading the actual case for intellectual property -- as I outlined it above -- and instead attacking a straw man.

An "idea" per se is not an invention and cannot be patented.

The fundamental issue is the ownership of an idea. You might think this is a straw man, I think it is the essential. I don't see why you want to ignore this issue then jump into the pragmatic problem of deciding what kind of ideas can be patented.

Gold, air, electromagnetic radiation and satellite orbits can all be property. Anything that exists physically can be property and claimed. But with ideas not so, no pragmatist is silly enough to claim that ideas should be owned indefinitely by their inventors (the rights could be passed down), no pragmatist is smart enough to consider not trying to own ideas at all (which would hurt all the inventors)... the result is the usual pragmatist compromise.

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Your attempt to reduce the concept of *property* to *possession* strikes me as an attempt to maintian an indefensible package deal.

I am not going to defend it because it was not a package deal. I am not reducing to whole concept of property to possession, stop equivocating my context (which I defined) with your own - and then basing your criticism off of that.

I agree that a different implimentation of rights protection is perhaps applicable for each type of property, physical and intellectual.  But this difference in the form of implimentation will stem from the difference in the the form of property, a difference which we seem to still be trying to pinpoint.  Lets continue trying to understand the difference in the forms of property FIRST, and come back to the way to impliment rights protection AFTER.

Then maybe I should let you think of your own way to implement intellectual property rights before I continue defending my way.

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There is no ownership of an abstract idea. One can own an application of such an idea to a specific problem by a particular method, and such ownership is what patents protect.

Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea? Is a particular method not an application of a collection of abstract ideas?

The fundamental issue is the ownership of an idea.

If you think you can own a combination of 100 ideas, then obviously you are presupposing you can own one. Application, method, etcetera - are all ideas themselves. If you think you can own the physical products of your ideas or if you think you can own the equipment that performs the process, I would agree with you. Since you think you can own the ideas that shaped the equipment however (to the point that you can practice you method in plain sight and lawfully prohibit people copying your process), I do not.

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The fundamental issue is the ownership of an idea.
No, the fundamental issue is the ownership of a creation, and whether or not the law distinguishes between the creator and the parasite that wishes to copy him.

The Wright Brothers spent a decade and a small fortune creating the design and construction of a successful flying machine. By your view, the minute the first Wright Flyer was put up for sale, the Wright's notorious rival Glenn Curtis should have been free to purchase a Flyer, roll it into his shop and tell his workers, "Okay, boys, start building copies of this." And presto, Curtis is in the airplane business without spending a dime of his money or a minute of his time, with zero intellectual contribution.

It is obvious who would benefit from such a monstrous injustice, just as it is obvious who would advocate it.

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Your attempt to reduce the concept of *property* to *possession* strikes me as an attempt to maintian an indefensible package deal.

I am not going to defend it because it was not a package deal.  I am not reducing to whole concept of property to possession, stop equivocating my context (which I defined) with your own - and then basing your criticism off of that.

What was your context, what was mine, how are they different, and how was I equivocating between the two?

You said that an "An idea can be called property in the sense of possession." And I disagreed. My point was that it is not possession that makes property what it is, it is creation.

Also, you did not acknowledge the rest of my post, why not?

I agree that a different implimentation of rights protection is perhaps applicable for each type of property, physical and intellectual.  But this difference in the form of implimentation will stem from the difference in the the form of property, a difference which we seem to still be trying to pinpoint.  Lets continue trying to understand the difference in the forms of property FIRST, and come back to the way to impliment rights protection AFTER.

Then maybe I should let you think of your own way to implement intellectual property rights before I continue defending my way.

I think everyone should turn away from the question of how to impliment intellectual property rights until we establish what intellectual property is or whether it is a valid concept at all.

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Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?  Is a particular method not an application of a collection of abstract ideas?

The fundamental issue is the ownership of an idea.

If you think you can own a combination of 100 ideas, then obviously you are presupposing you can own one.  Application, method, etcetera - are all ideas themselves.  If you think you can own the physical products of your ideas or if you think you can own the equipment that performs the process, I would agree with you.  Since you think you can own the ideas that shaped the equipment however (to the point that you can practice you method in plain sight and lawfully prohibit people copying your process), I do not.

"Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?" = super equivocation. Translation: Is how to apply an abstract *discovery* not a *creation*?" Your first usage of idea was discovery, the second usage is a creation. We have repeatedly mentioned your faulty and confusing usage of 'idea', yet you continue to use it faultily, thus causing more confusion.

The *discovery* usage of *idea* is like a snapshot of reality. It is a fact that can just be seen. It is a metaphysical fact.

Contrast this to the *creation* usage of *idea*, which is a recombination of discoveries, not found in nature (not a simply metaphysical), requiring a human mind to lay out the *snapshots* and combine them in such a way so that the result is a *creation*. It is a man-made fact.

(my above comments use material from Rand's essay,the metaphyscal vs. the man-made, in PWNI)

Someone can 'discover' someone elses creation, but it remains true that that discovery would be impossible if the orginator of that creation didn't exist.

If you think you can own a combination of 100 ideas, then obviously you are presupposing you can own one. ...

y_feldblum doesn't claim that you can own a combination of 100 ideas, or 1, i.e. a hundred snap shots of reality or 1, because these ideas are DISCOVERIES.

... Application, method, etcetera - are all ideas themselves

These ideas are CREATIONS.

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There is no ownership of an abstract idea. One can own an application of such an idea to a specific problem by a particular method, and such ownership is what patents protect.

Right, becuase the application of the idea to a specific problem by a particular method requires the participation of a mind that recombines those abstract ideas/discoveries. The result is a creation. It is this creation that is protected by all property rights, inculding intellectual property rights.

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"Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?" = super equivocation.  Translation: Is how to apply an abstract *discovery* not a *creation*?"  Your first usage of idea was discovery, the second usage is a creation.  We have repeatedly mentioned your faulty and confusing usage of 'idea', yet you continue to use it faultily, thus causing more confusion.

Who said my first usage of the term was discovery? 50 of the ideas could be creations and other 50 could be discoveries for all I care... you assume too much and are just leading people away from what I am trying to say. When I say “ideas” I mean ‘ideas’, unless I specify an idea as a *discovery* or a *creation* then as far as you are concerned it could be either. You are right that a method or application implies a *creation* but I never disagreed with that now did I? *creation* vs. *discovery * seems to be your favorite thing to talk about, but it isn’t anything that I haven’t considered.

How is, ‘Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?’ a super equivocation? Do you think you can apply abstract ideas without thinking? The problem is your assumptions not my statement.

Also, you did not acknowledge the rest of my post, why not?

I am not acknowledging your posts in whole because either I have already answered the question or I don’t think what you said was important. If you think I missed something essential then please point it out directly.

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No, the fundamental issue is the ownership of a creation, and whether or not the law distinguishes between the creator and the parasite that wishes to copy him.

If you think the law should enforce monopolies on ideas, then they better distinguish between the creators and the parasites... or else it would defeat the purpose would it not? We agree that a person has a right to whatever they create; we disagree how ‘rights’ are applied to ideas. That is why our disagreement/issue/whatever is ownership of an idea, not of ownership of a creation. As I have said you have a right to your ideas as far as you keep them to yourself, you cannot shout out an idea then claim no one else can use it (even if you have a working model of your idea in the basement and a patent in the office).

The Wright Brothers spent a decade and a small fortune creating the design and construction of a successful flying machine.  By your view, the minute the first Wright Flyer was put up for sale, the Wright's notorious rival Glenn Curtis should have been free to purchase a Flyer, roll it into his shop and tell his workers, "Okay, boys, start building copies of this."  And presto, Curtis is in the airplane business without spending a dime of his money or a minute of his time, with zero intellectual contribution.
If you think a bunch of idiots that didn’t understand a thing about aerodynamics or planes would be able to produce wonderful copies of one, that is your opinion. If you think Glen Curtis would have produced replicas of the Wright brothers’ plane if he was allowed to, that is your opinion. Curtis... is that the same Curtis that designed the Curtis Piper Cub? If so I wouldn’t call him a second hander. You think it would be possible for anyone to make a fortune providing copies of airplanes without any intellectual contribution? I keep hearing about the Wright brothers, but no one is proving anything, so enough already.

It is obvious who would benefit from such a monstrous injustice, just as it is obvious who would advocate it.

As far as advocating goes that is more divided then you might think, when patents were first introduced the main advocate was Alexander Hamilton (for the system as you would have it), James Madison was for a government system that would proved rewards and prizes for inventions, Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were opposed to limited monopolies to inventors (source). Let me state again that there are tons of monstrous injustices that the government can not do anything about, the question is whether or not the government should provide legal monopolies for inventors, aka: the ownership of an idea.

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"Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?" = super equivocation.  Translation: Is how to apply an abstract *discovery* not a *creation*?"  Your first usage of idea was discovery, the second usage is a creation.

Who said my first usage of the term was discovery?

...

When I say “ideas” I mean ‘ideas’, unless I specify an idea as a *discovery* or a *creation* then as far as you are concerned it could be either.

You say that when you say, 'ideas', it could mean either 'discovery' or 'creation', and that I should guess which one. Two sentences earlier you repremanded me for not guessing right.

Which is it? Either you want me to guess, in which case you are required to accept my guess, or you don't in which case it is YOUR job to specify which one you mean.

How is, ‘Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?’ a super equivocation?

Well, whether or not it is an equivocation depends what my guess is of your usage of the word 'idea'. 'idea' is a concept that means 'mental entity', something that you hold in your head. This is not specific enough. The concept has subcategories. In the context of this discussion about property, the two relevent subcategories are 'discovery'(mere identification of facts) and 'creation'(recombination of facts into something that has never existed before).

The following represents the different interpretations of your sentence, "Is how to apply an abstract idea not an idea?", varying dependant on different guesses of the word 'idea'. I'm sure you won't object since you granted that as far as I am concerned it could be either.

1) Is how to apply an abstract 'discovery'(in contrast to creation) not a 'discovery'(in contrast to creation)?

If this was the result of my guessing, then this is NOT an equivocation, but the answer its obvious. You already agreed that the an application of the identifcation of facts(discovery) is a creation and not simply a mere discovery. Thus intellectual property status would apply, since this is a creation.

2) Is how to apply an abstract 'creation'(in contrast to discovery) not a 'creation(in contrast to discovery)?

If this was the result of my guessing, then this too is NOT an equivocation, but the answer to this is also obvious. A combination of inventions is itself an invention, i.e. a creation. Thus intellectual property status would apply.

3) Is how to apply an abstract 'creation'(in contrast to discovery) not a 'discovery'(in contrast to creation)?

If this is the result of my guessing, then this IS an equivocation because you used the same word twice with two different meanings. But, if this was their meaning, the answer is obvious. The answer is: Yes, this is NOT a mere discovery, because it is the appication, i.e. recombination of knowledge. It is a creation, and thus intellectual property status would apply.

4) Is how to apply an abstract 'discovery'(in contrast to creation) not a 'creation'(in contrast to discovery)?

This WAS the usage combination that I guessed. And with this usage, the answer is obvious. Application of a discovery is a creation (you already agreed to this), thus intellectual property status would apply.

Do you think you can apply abstract ideas without thinking?

Well, that depends on which type of thinking you mean. Is the thinking merely an identification of a fact, or does it involve a recombination of facts into something new, i.e. creation.

This time I refuse to play the guessing game.

*creation* vs. *discovery * seems to be your favorite thing to talk about, but it isn’t anything that I haven’t considered.

It IS my 'favorite' thing to talk about because I see it as the essential here. It is the difference between property(creation) and non-property(mere discovery).

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We agree that a person has a right to whatever they create; we disagree how ‘rights’ are applied to ideas.

Why? If the idea IS a creation, i.e. a recombination, then the person has a right to it. If its not, then they don't.

That is why our disagreement/issue/whatever is ownership of an idea, not of ownership of a creation.  As I have said you have a right to your ideas as far as you keep them to yourself, you cannot shout out an idea then claim no one else can use it (even if you have a working model of your idea in the basement and a patent in the office).

A proper government maintains your sovereignty over the products of your mind. It protects your right to set the 'terms of use' for the products of your mind.

If you go throught the trouble of first studying investigating your surroundings, then taking your knowledge and creating a value by recombining that knowledge, then the product is your property.

If someone then takes the blueprints for your invention and then manufactures it. What they have in front of them is the product of their muscle, combined with the product of your mind. The government should acknowledge that they are in possession of YOUR property (the product of your mind) and classify this as theft.

It is irrelevent that they had to study your blueprint to understand it, they didn't create anything.

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You say that when you say, 'ideas', it could mean either 'discovery' or 'creation', and that I should guess which one.  Two sentences earlier you repremanded me for not guessing right.

Which is it?  Either you want me to guess, in which case you are required to accept my guess, or you don't in which case it is YOUR job to specify which one you mean.

You still don't get it. You don't have to guess because it doesn't matter. I can use a concept generally without specifying more specific instances of it. If it mattered which instance I was referring to then I would specify it, but since it doesn't matter I have no reason to. It is not my job to provide you with extraneous information. If you accepted that I know that I am saying you will have a better chance of understanding my position - even if you still disagree with me. You are spending too much time attacking the specifics that you add to my view yourself, the result of which is that you don’t understand my position. The rest of your post is a good example. It might matter to you, but it doesn’t matter to me. If you ask yourself “why?” you might get somewhere.

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It is irrelevent that they had to study your blueprint to understand it, they didn't create anything.

This is a good point, however... I am not arguing that stealing a blueprint isn't theft and I don’t see how anyone else someone is going to get it if it’s worth anything. I will return to this after I return from Team America. :)

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But it does matter to you becuase you repremanded me for guessing wrong. It does matter because my answers to your questions are different depending on which meaning you are using.

How can I accept that you know what your saying when I don't know what your saying. But all you need to do to help me to know is to be more specific.

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But it does matter to you becuase you repremanded me for guessing wrong.  It does matter because my answers to your questions are different depending on which meaning you are using.

No, I reprimanded you because you guessed and you didn't have to. My position does not depend on the specifics that you want me to provide. In other words you could have it either way, if you only want to argue only for legal monopolies of 'created' ideas (as opposed to 'discovered' ideas) that is fine by me; I am arguing that no legal monopoly is proper for any idea (to save you from guessing I mean - discovered and created). If you have two answers depending on which meaning I might be using why don’t you have a third answer for the meaning I am using?

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Proper governments provide legal monopolies for every seller. They - and only they - may sell what they own.

Yes, but this sort of monopoly is more a fact of physical reality. I cannot have it if he has it (someone said they could share my girlfriend :) ). The proper government recognizes that people survive by production and creation, by changing the world around them as opposed to changed themselves to the world, the fact that we need our products and our creations is rationally derived from knowledge of our nature and of physical reality. Having a right to act on your best judgment is also a fact in terms of survival, you have a right to your ideas as far as they are yours which means you must be able to act on your ideas to survive. Ideas do not fall into the monopoly category however because you can not have an idea at the expense of another person.

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you have a right to your ideas

You have changed your position here.

Before you said that we have a moral claim on our own ideas but that we specifically don't have a right to them.

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If you think a bunch of idiots that didn’t understand a thing about aerodynamics or planes would be able to produce wonderful copies of one, that is your opinion. If you think Glen Curtis would have produced replicas of the Wright brothers’ plane if he was allowed to, that is your opinion.
It is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of historical record. Curtiss did attempt to copy parts of the Wright's invention -- they had to fight him (and others) in the courts for years. Their patent was their only protection.

Patent attorneys will tell you that a patent is not worth getting unless you are prepared to defend it in court -- because commercially successful patents almost always attract copiers. Today, it is easier than ever to copy someone's invention. We call it "reverse engineering".

I am the holder of three U.S. patents, and every one of them was copied within weeks of hitting the market. I had to fight them in court. One battle lasted 18 months before I finally prevailed. Believe me, the parasites are out there.

I keep hearing about the Wright brothers, but no one is proving anything, so enough already.
You keep hearing about it because you have no answer for it. Please clarify where you stand. Should the law permit people like Curtis to copy people like the Wright Brothers?

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