On Sun, Jul 23, 2000 at 05:37:30PM -0400, Sourav K. Mandal wrote:
> So, at your request, I will now dive into a wretched morass of
> conflicting ethical principles and white-hot rhetoric.

> Definition of Property (two parts):
> 1. Something that some sentient entity (individual or collective) 
> has complete rights over (to sell, modify, destroy, throw up in the 
> air or sleep with).
Let me quote what Bastiat says in "Property and Law":
        [The romans, and other looters after them]
        had to have recourse to a purely empirical definition of property
        -- jus utendi et abutendi [The right to use and abuse.] -- a
        definition that refers only to effects and not to causes or origins,
        for they were indeed forced to conceal the latter from view.

> 2. Something to which nobody has any rights of action a priori.  By
> right of action, I mean that if photons bounce off the object and
> enter your eye, you are not acting unethically; however, you cannot
> in any way manipulate the object by volition, unless its diposition
> is violating your rights (e.g., a gun at your head).
I suppose you mean "nobody else than the owner".
Now this is but elaboration of the "complete" aspect of property
in your above jus utendi et abutendi.

> Definition of Intellectual Property:  Property that is not concrete,
> i.e. without tangible form.
Just because you give a definition doesn't mean anything exists
that fits the definition. Take for example, the following definition of God:
"a lonely bearded old chap who one day created man
likewise to himself (penis included) to escape his own bore."
In as much as the concept of "Intellectual Property" is meaningful,
the set of lawful things it describes is empty.

> A CD would be property, the data on the
> CD would be intellectual property.
In a robber's dream, indeed!
A ship of tea from the Indies would be property;
the Exclusive Right to send ship to the Indies would be the
industrial property of the Company of the Indies (by privilege of the King).
Also, land would be property, and the right to levy taxes on it would be
the property of the King of England, Duke of Normandy (by right of conquest),
or that of the People's Congress (by the Holy principle of Democracy)
-- at least the King wasn't defrauding his subjects, only robbing them.
The fruit of a negro's work would be property, and the negro itself
would be human property (by divine right of the "superior race" and its
superior religion).

Yeah, right. As long as you are the one holding the gun,
you may get away with it. As long as you also hold the media,
you may blank out your utter evil from the minds of most people.
But don't you ever put down the gun, and don't you stop your propaganda,
for the oppressed and the slaves will make you regret it!

> Ethical Justification of Property:  That which itself does not have
> rights, can be property.
No. That which naturally has the property of exclusion,
and is yet unclaimed, can be claimed by homesteading it,
i.e. by being first to use the thing.

> At its creation, a piece of something becomes a piece of property.
No. At least not until you clarify "creation" and "something" quite a lot.

> Traditionally, this started with land. [Description of Homesteading]
Land is material; it has a natural property of mutual exclusion:
no two people can stand on the same spot of land at the same time;
no two people can harvest the same field at the same time;
they can divide the land into shares, but whatever one has, the other hasn't.
THAT is "natural exclusion". Every material thing has it.
At most one person can use a given pencil at the same time,
therefore the pencil can naturally be owned, and can be claimed.
But this e-mail, infinitely many people can read it at the same time,
without depriving anyone from anything; it doesn't have a natural
property of exclusion, and therefore cannot be naturally claimed
as exclusive property.

Maybe you may want to read my criticism to Eric S. Raymond's
Homesteading the Noosphere:

> Most people agree with concrete objects as property.
Yes, people agree that concrete objects can be owned,
although they often disagree as to _who_ owns a particular concrete object.

> The conflict over IP comes down to ethical principles.  Two
> principles which have the same real-world result for concrete
> entities are:
> * Usufruct of Labors --  I bought it, or added value to it, so it's
> mine.
Yeah, right. "My company built the trade of tea with the Indies,
therefore its owns the exclusive right to trade with the Indies
(that is, until dangerous rebels have a tea party in Boston)."
Or is it only true of physical things, as in
"My company traded physical goods with the Indies, therefore has
exclusive rights to these particular goods (and none else)",
whereas anyone else can also trade with the Indies and compete with me?
<ironic>Why, that free competition would make industry impossible,
for no one would ever dare to innovate and open new markets!
Yes, let's fight for the "right to innovate" without copycats
slicing your margins by providing customers with same or better products
at lower price.</ironic>

> * Sub-ideal Sharing -- If someone else has, I can't have it, so it's
> mine.
Sounds like socialist plunder to me.
Just because it would be your interest for you
to have something doesn't entitle you to that thing. If someone else has
gold bullions, I can't have them, so they're mine. Yeah, right.
Or maybe you mean "since other people and I cannot both eat _my_ cake,
I'd rather eat it myself"? But this begs the question
that the cake be _mine_ to begin with! Circular definition of property:
"it's mine because it's mine".

> Obviously, holders of the latter cannot support IP, since data can
> be reproduced very well, and discrete (digital) data can be
> replicated flawlessly.
I think you're completely confused on this issue,
so let's focus on the first principle.

> My task is to show that persons subscribing
> to Principle #1 should support IP:
And you're bound to fail, since not only it doesn't,
but it is opposite to IP.

> 1. I postulate abstract entities (non-concrete entities), i.e. that
> they can be well-defined (mathematically, ethically, legally, all
> that).
That postulate itself is dubious, at least depending on what you require
of these entities. Remember that reality is understandability are quantum
dual concepts, and that the more an entity is abstractly well-definable,
the less it is physically identifiable and ownable.

> 2. I assert as an axiom that all sentient, i.e volitional, beings
> have complete right and responsibility to their own life, and the
> actions therewith.  The "right to life" is complete freedom of
> action (mental and physical), provided that actions do not interfere
> with the preemptive actions of others; this restriction constitutes
> responsibility.

> 3. IP is abstract, and is indeed created *materially* out of thin
> air.  However, some sentient entity had to generate this object,
> lest it not be well-defined.  In other words, IP is in it's totality
> value-added.
Grammatically, this is circular reasoning: you posit the very existence
of IP so as to justify its existence.
Semantically, it is a double oxymoron, since
in as much as information is abstract, it isn't material,
and in as much something is material, it cannot be created out of thin air.
Finally, this value creation would have to be much discussed before any
conclusion is taken; indeed, we'd end up treating in detail the
more general question of positive externalities.

> 4. Since a sentient entity created an object, it can claim it as
> property by right, as the value-added product is a direct result of
> their own actions, and none others.
Information is NOT an object, and you cannot claim its property.

> Hence, IP, like regular ol' property, is a derivative of the
> fundamental right to life.
Postulates 1, 3, 4 are wrong, to me.

> A preemptive assault on the most common counter-argument:
> Q: If someone claims IP, is that not infringing on my right to
> thought?

I support this argument. My mind, my right.

> A: Say you hear a (copyrighted) song on the radio -- the tune is now
> somewhat in your mind.  The mp3 for this track was encoded by some
> guy, and you say you have a write to download it using Napster and
> store it on your hard disk, because you claim rights to the tune.

> But, this is just a licensing.
Who says so? The proof that it isn't lawful is that you won't be able
to enforce such a view but at the point of a gun,
even though nowadays, guns are hidden behind lawyers in expensive suits.
Oh, yeah, you may trade with the Indies, but only with a proper license
from the Company of the Indies.

Yours is not an argument, only an unbacked assertion;
or rather, one backed but by guns.

I'll go one step further. If IP were truly natural property,
then it should be forever. If it truly were an exclusive benefit
earned by its creator, then it should never end, not after 14 years,
not 70 or 90 after the death of the author, but never. The heirs
of Plato would have the rights to control who's able to read his works;
the heirs of Pythagoras would rightly demand a fee for use of his theorem;
the heirs of the first man to speak would be paid for every word uttered;
the heirs of the first man to map the sky would pay everytime they look
up the sky. And it would be rightly so. For if truly ideas were private
property, no amount of "public welfare" would _ever_ entitle anyone to
any single bit of it.

But it isn't so. IP is no natural property, it's just an evil
government-granted privilege, just like the monopoly on trade with the Indies,
just like government-guaranteed slave-ownership, just like all other
kinds of direct and indirect government subsidies.

> A band could release its music with
> the license that it also claims the tune in your head upon hearing
> the CD track, and you are not permitted to strum it, hum it, or even
> think it.

> I argue that this is their prerogative, because they
> created the abstract entity, the song, and hence it is theirs;
I argue that your english teacher should receive a license everytime
you speak english, nay, everytime you even _think_ in english.
They created _their_ music. I created the one in my mind.
It may "sound the same" to you, but theirs was written down their atoms,
mine is written down mine; the constituting atoms are distinct;
how could the two musics be the same? Somehow they are distinct,
and they are distinct enough to justify distinct ownership.
Come claim the atoms in my brain, and see how I welcome you!

> you are free to ignore bands that proffer such ridiculous terms.
I am free to ignore ridiculous terms.
These people have no right to the music in my mind, no matter what they say.
These people could as well require a license from me before I mow my garden.
Let them go to hell with their unfounded claims.

Of course, if they make me sign a non-disclosure contract before to make
me hear the music, so be it. But then, if I get to hear the music without
signing the contract, so bad for them; if anyone who signed their music
likes it so much as to whistle it or to broadcast it on air, and I hear
it without having signed their damn contract, so bad for them; they may
sue the people responsible for the leak of information, according to the
terms of the contracts; but they may not sue me, because I breached no

> Howver, most bands and recording companies only restrict
> redistribution of the data on the CD.  The person who encoded the
> mp3 violated the license, and you would be remiss in downloading
> something that was created by unethical means, like buying a gun or
> car you know is stolen.
Once again, you beg the question.
This is no argument, only an assertion disguised as an argument.

> There are other counter-arguments, but all that I've seen are lame
> and do not withstand a minute's scrutiny.
Well, try read the articles listed on my page:
Particularly the ones by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Tucker,
Roderick T. Long, Eben Moglen, Jesse Walker, etc.
Of course, if you can read french, read the whole page.
Please repeat to me that you find these people's arguments lame
and incapable to withstand a minute's scrutiny after having read them.

> To Mr. Francois-Rene Rideau:
> I'm sure you will disagree vehemently to my line of reasoning, but I
> believe I am correct given my fundamental axioms.
If your axioms are the 4 postulates above, then I fear that three of
them are so wrong that their consequences don't matter.

> A critique of my
> argumentation that accepts my ethical principle is welcome.
I believe that we ultimately have the same ethical principle,
but that you don't have a clear idea of what information is.

> If you wish to argue about axioms, you may also want to check out a similar
> dogfight I had previously:
> http://www.technocrat.net/944262508/944338271/944345191/944358944/944
> 372178/944374844/index_html

Well, I can return the compliment to you:

As for the basic libertarian assumptions about Liberty and Property,
I think we agree. But as for Intellectual Property being natural
or government-granted, I think that you, like Ayn Rand, like Bastiat,
are misled by the word "Property"; but words can be misused.
"Collective Liberty" is not Liberty, but Oppression.
"Social Justice" is not Justice, but Injustice.
"Intellectual Property" is not Property, but Robbery.

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | http://fare.tunes.org ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  | http://tunes.org  ]
I do agree that I have to pay for the *opportunity* to read a book or to use
a program; I do not agree that I have to pay for the *right* to do so.
        -- Faré

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