On Mon, Jul 24, 2000 at 02:58:11AM -0400, Sourav K. Mandal wrote:
> one has the unenviable task of proving a negative
> in order to make a definition stand on its own legs.
Uh? On the contrary, one has to prove a _positive_ in
order to make a definition stand on its own legs.
That's a well-known property of definitions, as studied in proof theory.
Actually, many mathematicians are firstly interested in constructive proofs,
where no single step is a negative proof.
> Rather, you
> provide a statement that is self-consistent and consistent with
> everything else accepted to be true, then hope to convince everyone
> that there is merit in the concept proferred.
Well, in as much as I accept your definition of IP as consistent,
I reject its merit as unapplicable to anything.
>>> 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).
> Um, sure, if other tea import companies tried to use Company of the
> Indies maps or something w/o their permission. If competitors
> derive and generate the knowledge to get to India and transport tea
> by themselves, then they surely are in the clear ethically.
You're subtly moving the debate.
The original Company of the Indies (or Companies, since France and England
each had one) did have a monopoly, granted by privilege of the king,
on all trade with the Indies, regardless of any details in the use of maps,
etc. They did consider this monopoly their property, to be kept and
transmitted, or sold to new partners, etc.
My point is that not all "property" is justified.
Every human being has the natural right to trade with the Indies;
to confer an exclusive right to some looter would be to deprive every
other human being and human being to be born from his natural right.
Now, you indeed feel compelled to justify this "property" with IP arguments;
because you indeed saw that this "property" is of the same nature as IP.
And it has also the same backing: the King's guns.
As for the maps, it is the Company of the Indies' responsibility towards
itself to keep its own maps secrets, if it thinks they must stay so.
Government guns should not at any moment support this secret,
or force people to act as if the secret had been kept even when it hasn't.
If for some reason, the secret isn't keepable (for instance, because
ships can be followed), then so be it: that was the very proof that
said information wasn't naturally hoardable, and couldn't naturally be owned.
Homesteading theory: the land is owned by the one who not only claims it,
but can also successfully hoard it, physically. Just saying "everything
west to the mississipi is mine" doesn't count unless you can back your
claim with facts.
>> 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!
> I won't dignify this with a response.
That's funny: I do dignify IP "arguments" with a response,
even though they are the mostest insult to my mind: a gun pointed at it.
Let me rephrase it, and re-quote the fragment of Bastiat that you quote below:
"Property does not exist because there are laws,
but laws exist because there is property."
IP is an artefact of law. No one can naturally hoard an idea,
but by secret (which is his own responsibility to preserve),
or violence (which he is not entitled to, but by corrupt governments).
Hence IP isn't property.
>>> 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.
> I say, "can be property", you say "will be your property." Again,
> refer to the delineated argument in defense of (intellectual)
> property for the demarcations of rights here.
Ok, so in as much as the "right for X to do Y" can be owned,
I contend that naturally, every X owns his own right to do Y.
To confer to a given looter L the right of X to do Y for every X,
would be to deprive every X (except L) from a right that was naturally his.
If you pretend that X would have to claim his own right before L,
then I claim that the claim is implicit in the claim of Liberty.
Or else, I will contend that I claim your right to live in 2001,
and since you didn't make that claim before, this right is mine,
and I will withhold it from you, so you must die by December 31, 2000.
BTW, I claim everyone's right to life on tuesday July 25, 2000,
and will demand that my wishes be granted, least I withhold it from you.
Muhahahah! I'm the King of the World!
> My sentence has typo. "If someone else has it, I can't have it, so
> it's mind."
Must still have a typo, for I still do not understand.
> I was trying to express your principle of exclusion,
Let me restate my position then:
* your first principle (work) justifies ownership of the result of the work.
* your second principle (exclusion principle) justifies
the exclusive character of ownership.
If you achieve some information through work,
the information is yours to use, by the first principle.
But since the second principle doesn't hold for information,
you do not own it exclusively.
Ownership and exclusion are independent.
When you have both at the same time, you have Property.
When you have ownership but not exclusion, you have Knowledge.
I claim ownership on my toothbrush. It is in my bathroom.
You my take it away from me, but
Don't you enter my bathroom and take and use it, because it's mine.
BTW, I claim ownership on the fact that I am wearing black trousers.
Hey! You're thinking about my wearing black trousers!
But this idea is mine! You must pay me royalties for thinking about it!
>>> 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.
> Actually, I am expressing my understanding of your abhorrence toward
> IP. You believe that the linchpin of property rights is the
> exclusion principle, hence you cannot support IP.
>>> 1. I postulate abstract entities (non-concrete entities), i.e. that
>>> they can be well-defined (mathematically, ethically, legally, all
>> 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.
> That would invalidate 20 years worth of excellent data my research
> group has gathered.
I admit I don't know about your group.
You seem to have vested interest in IP and
a particular notion of "non-exclusive patent".
> If you are not understanding reality, then what
> are you understanding?
Understanding is a bridge between a concrete physical phenomenon
and an abstract mental model.
The more the model is precise and abstract, the less it is reality.
The more it is real, the less it is precise and abstract.
An atom may be real, but by the time you consider an abstract model of it,
it's no more an atom, but only a model that doesn't correspond to reality.
If you say "the atoms in this chunk of metal", then it's concrete,
you can physically delimit them, and you can physically own them.
If you say "the things that satisfy such or such equation",
then it's abstract, but doesn't map to reality, and (unless you're god
and your know your equations are correct), you can't delimit them,
nor can you physically own them.
Consider copyrights: they are meant to hoard the "expression" of an idea.
In as much as this expression is physical (a particular copy of a book),
then indeed, the expression can be owned (I own this and that books),
although understanding the (physical) nature of the book
is an exercise reserved to God alone.
In as much as this expression is non-physical (an idea), then indeed,
the expression cannot be owned, and claims to that effects are robbery,
all the more since the idea is precisely understandable and encodable
into a sequence of bits.
Well, claims in the middle "we own less than the full idea,
but more than just a copy" are just intermediate between full robbery
and lack of robbery: they are just partial robbery, that extends to every
single unearned penny claimed and every unjust interdiction enforced.
> How can "understandibility" and "reality" be
> complementary, when in fact one is the object of the other?
They are distinct. And they are mutually exclusive.
You never fully understand nature.
The more you understand something, the more you can be sure it isn't nature.
Of course, there is STILL a finite amount of achievable correspondance
between nature objects and mental objects that can be achieved
(just like the \hbar Planck constant allows for _some_ simultaneous
knowledge of energy and time). And this is the subject of study of Sciences.
> Metaphysics is the object of epistemology, not its competing effect.
Epistemology teaches its own limits.
> That fact the we can have discourse concerning IP
> means that it does indeed exist, that's its facticity is solid.
No, it means that the idea of IP exists.
The fact that we can talk about God, or about the gold coin in my pocket,
prove that the idea of God, or the idea of the gold coin in my pocket,
do exist. Not that God or the gold coin in my pocket themselves exist.
In fact, there is no gold coin in my pocket (what a shame!), and
the question of the existence of God is left as an exercise to the reader.
>>> 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.
> Very well, if an object must be physical, then information must at
> least be *something*, lest we can't tell what information is when we
> see it. If information weren't at least something, then
> thermodynamics would be in dire straits.
Information isn't a _thing_. It's information.
It isn't material, and cannot be owned.
You can own specific implementations of it,
just like you own your copy of a book and I own mine,
just like you own your copy of this e-mail and I own mine,
just like you own the copy of Beethoven's 9th symphony in your mind,
and I own the one in my mind.
Every single physical copy of a given piece of information can be owned.
But to claim all these copies as yours is preposterous,
for they already have a natural owner who may disagree.
>>> 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.
> I would defend my property with a gun, or Armani, whichever is most
> effective (aesthetically, it depends on which make and model of gun
> is at hand). Enforcement comes after rights have been justified.
Except that you don't defend, you attack.
For IP is born in human law, not in natural law.
I will defend my right with a gun, and shoot the first lawyer that
come seize my computer or my brain because of the information it contains.
>> I'll go one step further. If IP were truly natural property,
>> then it should be forever.
> I support this.
At least you are coherent in your error.
What about copyrights. Are they to hold forever?
> Let patents be concurrent, then let individual
> patents stand into perpetuity.
Concurrent patents are a contradiction in terms.
>> Pythagoras would rightly demand a fee for use of his theorem
> Mathematical theorems are not creative works -- they are statements
> about reality.
Hahaha! Of course theorems are creative works.
I know mathematicians, computer engineers, and other kinds of inventors,
and can tell you that research is research is research in all cases:
it demands a lot of imagination and hard work.
Mathematical statements do describe reality, sure enough;
but so do statements of the form "by building a device in such
and such ways, you achieve such and such effects".
Don't you diss mathematicians.
> I will use Pythoagoras' theorem, and if he gives me
> crap about licensing, then I will rederive it (a relatively easy
> proof) and call it the "Mandal Theorem of Half-Rectangles." A
> concurrent patent!
Only the proofs are reducible one to the other, so if your patents
are valid, you're going to require every single mathematician to
basically introduce long enough random white noise in every proof,
nay, every part of every proof, so as to avoid being "the same" as
previous proofs. So much for enhanced public welfare -- just annoyance
Or else, when you build a device, I'll just copy your patent,
add random things that don't matter, a resubmit a concurrent patent.
In the end, the winner will be the one with the biggest gun,
or rather, the one whose lawyers can summon the biggest government guns.
>> IP is no natural property, it's just an evil
>> government-granted privilege,
> Exclusive patents are evil. All else is fair game.
Only non-exclusive patents are an oxymoron.
>> I argue that your english teacher should receive a license everytime
>> you speak english, nay, everytime you even _think_ in english.
> She can demand, and I will turn to my parents for that particular
> bit of IP. And then, I would have them ask the school to fire her,
> since she is hijacking the product of her employer, i.e. an
Only if the government universally supports the claim of teachers,
then the employing schools would be the first to claim royalties,
and not to fire teachers; very soon, teaching corporations would
claim royalties on all knowledge on the planet, and teachers who
would refuse the system would be sued, least they manage to convince
everyone to use a new, incompatible language.
Mind you, that's exactly what's happening with Free Software:
monopolists claimed royalties on software; with time, the monopolies
built up and one particular software monopoly covered the whole planet.
In the meantime, some people chose to challenge the monopoly,
but they had to build their own, incompatible, system.
>>> 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.
> Here goes --
> Jefferson: In this letter he argues against exlusive patents, as
> have I;
No. It argues for exclusive patents
(there is no such thing as non-exclusive patent),
but limited in time and in scope, as a way
to buy a bit of public welfare by sacrificing a bit of public liberty.
Only, he didn't realize that whomever the power to delimit time and scope
would be given to would become a new tyrant.
> but, he was the primary proponent of the US exclusive patent
> system based on empirical arguments. He did, thankfully, design his
> empirical system with great thought and care, including time limits.
Precisely, he did design the system, justifying it on grounds
of public welfare, not of natural property.
Your account of IP as natural property is not supported
by history, philosophy, law, or anything.
Poor Thomas Jefferson didn't realize how "public welfare" was
but the justification of legal plunder, and that any such hole in the law
was to be enlarged so as to become gaping by all the looters on Earth.
> Benjamin Tucker:
> "Discovery can give no right of
> ownership... No man can discover anything which, so to speak, was not
> put there to be discovered, and which some one else might not in
> time have
> discovered. If he finds it, it was not lost. It, or its
> potentiality, existed before he came."
> Tucker discards the possibility that one can toil without creating
> something tangible.
No he doesn't, quite on the contrary. He only discards the possibility
that use of this intangible thing may be naturally hoarded from other people,
but by aggressive use of force, which he doesn't admits as valid.
> So, musicians are not doing any work unless
> they write down all their guitar tabs?
Uh? What do you mean? Musicians work when they work,
and they are the own judge of it. I trade whatever I want
against whatever they want, and you're no judge of it.
If I hear their music and reproduce it, it's _my_ subsequent work,
not theirs, and I am the sole owner of its results.
> Tucker mistakenly equates abstractness with self-evidence.
No, he doesn't.
> Then, is art not creative, since
> there must exist a potentiality for a form an artist has concretized
> for our enjoyment?
I reject both the meaning and the relevance of your adjective "creative".
Law doesn't care if the work was creative or not; it only cares
if you initiate use of force against other people.
By discovering something that was there to be potentially discovered,
they may not "create" in a god-like sense, but they still do some work,
which they were free not to do.
Of course musicians are doing work; let them be paid for that work.
If people will not pay them, they are free not to write or perform music.
They needn't intellectual property to force people into paying them
even when they do not render any service;
all they need is convince other people that they render a service,
and withhold the service if the other people do not pay.
Then if people want new music to be performed or written,
they will pay musicians to write or perform it;
if they won't pay out of free consent for some music,
maybe said music wasn't that important after all
(and I can see whole categories of things that claim
to bear the name "music" that will indeed disappear
without IP, which will be a good riddance).
Music isn't superior to any other art, be it motorcycle maintenance,
plumbing, taxi-driving, teaching, or anything.
Teachers, taxi-drivers, plumbers, motorcycle repairmen,
live by selling their services on a free market,
without relying on royalties.
So will musicians (and so do most musicians,
except for a happy few who benefit from IP legal plunder).
> Roderick Long: The "thought control" argument. I have read his
> essay before, and thereby came to carefully consider the thesis
> about infringement on the right to thought.
You seem not to have considered it enough,
for you have failed to see the very same point in every other paper,
under different forms. And of course it will always be the same point,
because Nature is One and Harmonic (Universe Singularity, you call it),
and whatever the point, it is ultimately the same.
> Eben Moglen: This person discards theoretical arguments by calling
> IP philosophers "droids," then "concludes" the theoretical arguments
> by making an empirical statement about legal implementation:
He doesn't call all IP philosophers "droids", but he does denounce
a class of lawyers and consultants who feed on the contradictions
and ensueing complexity of these iniquitous IP laws.
I've met such parasites, so I too know they exist.
> "But that wasn't what I was arguing about. I wanted to point out
> something else: that our world consists increasingly of nothing but
> large numbers (also known as bitstreams), and that - for reasons
> having nothing to do with emergent properties of the numbers
> themselves - the legal system is presently committed to treating
> similar numbers radically differently."
> That's like saying we shouldn't have physical property rights,
> because it's impossible to tell all the quarks and leptons apart
> from one another.
We cannot indeed tell electrons apart, and no one will ever be sued
for using someone else's electrons. There is no property of them,
nor will there ever be.
However, hadrons can be told apart, and especially so when they come
in big enough chunks together with a gas of leptons, which is why there
IS property of such big chunks hadrons in gas of leptons.
And that we call _matter_.
> Structure matters;
Indeed. Maybe _you_ fail to take the consequence.
> again, the mere fact that IP
> semantics are being used in the argument means that they have some
> distinguishable form.
No, you're begging the question.
The mere fact that semantics of Free Information as a natural right
is being used in the argument means that it exists as a such.
> Jess Walker: I am more important to me than "popular culture;"
Sure, and I am more important to me than your claims of IP.
> his arguments are shamefully collectivist.
I fail to see how they are. Or then, Bastiat is a collectivist
when he argues that free trade enriches the consumers.
See "Abundance and Scarcity" in
Collectivism has to see with the way decisions are taken,
not with the moral values of individual decision-makers.
I may value popular culture, that's my individual choice.
Should I force some idea of popular culture unto others,
that would be a collectivist choice.
> I have mixed feelings on the
> publication, Reason: They are great at breaking down BS, but seem
> to fall flat when it comes to philosophical argumentation.
I don't read Reason often enough to tell.
Anyway, such an a priori authority argument doesn't hold
when we have plenty opportunity to judge argumentation a posteriori.
>> I believe that we ultimately have the same ethical principle,
>> but that you don't have a clear idea of what information is.
> This is ad hominem.
This isn't an argument, this is a statement.
Feel whatever you may about it, it isn't meant to convince, but to inform.
I expect that you think something similar about me, and my feeling about it
is that I don't give a damn.
> I do indeed know what information is;
Of course you think you do! I'm not saying you're crazy,
I'm just saying that you're confused.
> if you firmly believe I am completey mistaken on the nature of information
> and abstract structure, please teach me.
I'm trying. Maybe I should write this book on Ethics and Information,
> We disagree on the rights people should have to it, that's all.
No, the rights that people have to it is deeply related to its very nature.
If we disagree about the rights, it's because we disagree about the nature.
And thus at least one of us is completely mistaken.
(It could have been because we disagree on the nature of rights,
but we seemingly do agree.)
> I agree with you. If you accidentally see top secret information,
> then you should be able to worry more about your nation's poor
> security than prosecution.
No, you don't get the point (or at least don't express it right).
You shouldn't have to worry about prosecution _at all_.
Whether you worry about the nation's security is a personal matter.
For instance, I couldn't care less about "nation's security",
or nation's anything at all to begin with.
I question the very notion of nation; but that's another debate.
The point was that whoever wishes to keep something secret is
the sole responsible of successfully hoarding it; he has no right
to initiate force against anyone who knows and uses the secret.
> However, the government or its
> subcontractors should be permitted to own non-exclusive patents on,
> say, a new ultra-quiet submarine propeller.
I continue to reject the very notion of non-exclusive patent.
A patent is exclusion, by definition.
Its scope, extent, etc, may be limited,
but it exists only if it serves to exclude.
The worst you can do is to make the scope, extent, etc,
subject to arbitrary acceptance by an all-mighty office.
> I think you succuessfully recount your thoughts on the matter of IP;
> though, you do not seem to address any of the fundamental principles
> that are more far-reaching. To wit, here are my personal
> principles, and I ask you if they are any different:
In as much as I can guess what these principles mean
from so short a sentences, I tend to agree with them.
And these are the very principles that make me reject IP.
> * Metaphysics: Universal singularity.
That's why all the proofs that IP is what it is are equivalent:
whether you consider natural rights, enforcement issues,
economic effects, attempts to liberty, or whatever point of view
on the One Universe.
> * Epistemology: Reason, i.e. science.
You have up to now given no argument for IP.
All your "arguments" were but assertions in different forms.
> * Ethics: Me, myself and I, provided I don't trample you.
You have an idea, I have it too. Don't you come and prevent me from using it.
> * Aesthetics: Rational eloquence.
I'm sorry not to be more eloquent than I am,
but I bear my rationality with pride.
>> 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"
> How so? Bastiat rights, "I would say: Property does not exist
> because there are laws, but laws exist because there is property."
> Do you disagree with this?
Not only do I agree with this, but this is the reason why IP is null:
because IP is completely an artefact of human law, a privilege granted
by state. I know no government hypocrite enough to have called IP a
natural right instead of an welfare-state privilege instituted
"to promote the arts and sciences". That's how it is in the US constitution,
that's how it is in Oceania.org, that's how it is in any sensible text.
Of course, there recently have been lobbies claiming that copyrights and
patents were natural rights. But this claim is unsupported by fact,
by history, by tradition, etc. If governments were to back that claim,
it would be a great attempt to liberty worldwide.
I annotated (in french) the only text by Bastiat about copyrights;
he argues that either it is natural property and should be preserved forever,
or it isn't and shouldn't be defended by government at all;
he then blindly accepts that it is, and blanks out accusations
of IP being protectionism.
As for his take on patents, I couldn't find (yet) a text where he directly
utters the word "patent", but his chapter X of his Economic Harmonies about
Competition is clearly against any kind industrial monopolies (only french
version available online for the time being).
> PS: I was annoyingly prescient about the "white-hot rhetoric."
Sorry for the annoyance.
Be assured that the fact that most people believe in such an evil thing
(as I think it is) as IP, or otherwise blank out their knowledge of
its evil, makes me generally much more annoyed than you are by this topic.
Considering this, maybe you will understand, if not forgive, my tone.
> A friendly word: In future correspondence, please make sure I am not
> the Armchair list's Tiresias -- SKM.
I'm not sure what you mean by Tiresias.
If you think I'm contradicting my principles and you are showing it to me,
I may return the compliment to you, once again.
What was the conclusion of the previous discussion
about inflexible people, already?
Another URL with food for thought:
Or even my whole collection of quotes at:
Sorry for such a long response.
[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | http://fare.tunes.org ]
[ TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System | http://tunes.org ]
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits
drawn around us by equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of
the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it
violates the rights of the individual.
-- Thomas Jefferson