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several kilobytes of argumentation, scroll to the bottom for my 
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"Francois-Rene Rideau <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>" wrote:

> 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 proo=

Definitions map a word or term to a concept.  The reason it is 
negative is because you must justify that it is precisely that one 
concept, and no others.

> Well, in as much as I accept your definition of IP as consistent,
> I reject its merit as unapplicable to anything.

That's why we are arguing justification.

> My point is that not all "property" is justified.

That is obvious.  If I steal your computer, it is not my justifiable 
property.  If a monarch provides exclusive rights to trade with 
India to one company, that is unjustifiable exclusivity.

> 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.

Again, you assert the exclusion principle; I am saying the exclusion 
principle is a poor standard for property rights.

> >> 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 propagand=
> a,
> >> 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.

Well, then I shall give you the benefit of the doubt, and hope that 
you were being sarcastic.  You would agree that ethics has a 
universal component, and so as ugly as enforcement is, I would have 
no feelings of guilt if I could point a gun at a thief's head to 
safeguard my property rights.  For every conceivable instance of IP 
theft this is overkill, but the principle of enforcement is 

> Let me rephrase it, and re-quote the fragment of Bastiat that you quote b=
> elow:
>       "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.

I am arguing that IP is as much property as your toaster, and so 
Bastiat's laws are protocols of enforcement for IP.  You must 
re-quote Bastiat *after* you have completed you argument that IP is 

> >>> 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 hi=
> s.
> 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.

Your response is a rehash of Tucker's argument against IP.  How can 
every X have a right to a *creative work* Y, without his mistaken 
notion of "potentiality?"  I must have the same potentiality as 
Grisham (we are both Xes, after all), I could claim all his writings 
as mine.

> 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!

Since when is breathing, eating, sleeping and defecating creative 
work?  Oh, I forgot about that "art" exhibition in New York :-)

> 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.

Again, you assert the exclusion principle, which is wrong.

> >>> 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 requi=
> re
> >> of these entities. Remember that reality is understandability are quan=
> tum
> >> dual concepts, and that the more an entity is abstractly well-definabl=
> e,
> >> the less it is physically identifiable and ownable.
> >=20
> > 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".

I am an undergraduate in the Ultra-cold Hydrogen Group at MIT.  We 
study Bose-Einstein Condensates in atom hydrogen at near absolute 
zero.  We would be elated if there were any practical applications 
to our research, but there are none as of this writing.

> > 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.

"Doesn't correspond to reality"!?!?! Niels Bohr would be pissed!

> 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.

Again, proving the negative.  Equations have always been correct in 
every experiment, but can never be *proven* correct unless every 
metaphysically possible situation is tested.

> 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.

Again, exclusivity.  By the way, I am an atheist, so I will accept 
your usage of God in an argumentative sense.

> > Metaphysics is the object of epistemology, not its competing effect.
> Epistemology teaches its own limits.

No.  The metaphysical fact of the Heisenberg Principle is our only 
limit to the acquiring of information.

> > 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.

A concept exists in its facticity, so the concept of a "gold coin in 
your pocket" exists, irrespective if you have one.

> >>> 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_. 

EveryTHING is a thing.

It's information.

> It isn't material, and cannot be owned.

Based on your hoarding/exclusivity principle?

> > 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.

Yes, this is the point of our discussion of the natural 
justice/injustice of IP.  The difference between assault and defense 
is justification.

> >> 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?

As long as the owning entity exists.  Human or coporation.

> > Let patents be concurrent, then let individual
> > patents stand into perpetuity.
> Concurrent patents are a contradiction in terms.

I am using "patent" to mean "claim of ownership of an invention, 
method or other practically useful creative work."  I agree that 
"patent" connotes exclusivity in the current lexicon.  Perhaps, you 
could suggest a different word for the sake of argument.

> >> 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.

Theorems require creativity, but do not in themselves represent new 

> Don't you diss mathematicians.

Given the math classes I have taken, I fancy myself a (future) 
mathematician as well, so I'll take care to no diss myself.

> > 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
> for everyone.

My ethics could't care less about "public welfare" per se.  If I can 
rederive a theorem by myself, and it happens to follow the same 
method as the original creator, then so be it -- I can easily show 
that it is my own work, and there is no need for "white-noise."

Again, theorems do not meet the bar of original, creative work; the 
proofs might, but no one will come to its defense if the author 
would not allow liberal reproduction rights.  This is a practical 

> >> IP is no natural property, it's just an evil
> >> government-granted privilege,
> > Exclusive patents are evil.  All else is fair game.
> Agreed.
> Only non-exclusive patents are an oxymoron.

Semantics (see above).

> >> 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
> > education.
> >
> 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.

Again, simple, self-evident knowledge does not consitute that which 
can be owned.

> 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.

I can share my files with my Windows and Mac friends (I use Linux).  
I use Linux because it is technically superior, more cost-effective, 
and has a better development and support infrastructure.  I would 
like to meet Bill Gates, chastise him for his horrible platform on 
public policy, then offer my condolenscences for the great crime the 
US Govt. has committed against him and othe MS shareholders.

> > 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.

This reflects Jefferson's idiosyncracy.  He kept slaves, and was 
willing on this one front to sacrifice individual liberty for the 
"public good."  Jefferson did indeed support IP, as helped codify 
the US's relatively author-friendly rules on copyright.

> 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.

The law does care if a product is "creative"; "aesthetic pleasure" 
is left to the court of public opinion.

> > 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.

I came to disagree with Long's argument because he presents the 
exclusivity principle, albeit in a wonderfully cogent fashion.

> We cannot indeed tell electrons apart, and no one will ever be sued
> for using someone else's electrons. 

But why not?  They have mass, they are tangible, they can fall under 
exclusion.  Can you tell bricks from the same quarry apart?  If not, 
then would I not be justifiably incensed if you chose to "use" the 
bricks that compose the facade of my house?

> 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_.

Unfortunately, electrons are fermions (fractional spin), so that are 
distinguishable.  Hydrogen atoms are indistinguishable, because they 
are bosons (integral spin), though they can broken down into 
distinguishable components.

Distinguishable or not, exclusion holds for tangible matter.  Even 
with photons, which have momentum (angular and linear) and 

> > Jess Walker:  I am more important to me than "popular culture;"
> Sure, and I am more important to me than your claims of IP.

And I am trying to convince you that IP has bearing on your 
conscience, which is important to you.

> I fail to see how they are. Or then, Bastiat is a collectivist
> when he argues that free trade enriches the consumers.

Yes.  I don't care if laissez-faire capitalism is nice for 
consumers; all I care is that it is right.

> > 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.

Absolutely.  I was simply providing some trend info about Reason.

> >> 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.

If you wish to question the intellectual base of a debate opponent, 
lead with the correction, not with the denigration.

> I'm trying. Maybe I should write this book on Ethics and Information,
> some day.

> > 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 natur=
> e.
> If we disagree about the rights, it's because we disagree about the natur=
> e.
> 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.)

No, I think we in fact do disagree about the nature of rights, 
specifically property rights:  exclusion v. value-addition/creation.

> 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 constituti=
> on,
> that's how it is in Oceania.org, that's how it is in any sensible text.\

Well, I am arguing irrespective of public welfare, and for the 
recognition of IP as a natural right -- so be it.  Quoteth the 
Oceania Constitution:

"Property is the material and intellectual belongings of an 
Oceanian. Material belongings include Land, Contracts, and personal 
effects. Intellectual
belongings include patents and copyrights."

Given this, they still impose a 10 year term limit on patents and 
copyrights.  And, they permit the ostensibly oxymoronic notion of 
"concurrent patent."  I disagree with the term limit.

> > 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.

This list is an academic forum.  As much I think your opinion is 
utterly insane, I will still treat you with utmost respect as a 
matter of etiquette, for your benefit and for our neighbors who also 
subscribe to the list.

> > 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.

Tiresias is Oedipus' soothsayer.

> Another URL with food for thought:
>       http://lpf.ai.mit.edu/Patents/quotes.html

More discussion of the empirical impact of exclusive patents.

> Sorry for such a long response.

Doesn't bother me; hopefully others are not annoyed.

Anyway, in summary:

We have not resolved our dichotomy on the general concept of 
property, let alone IP.  You continue to assert the 
hoarding/exclusion principle, and I continue to assert 
value-addition/first-right.  If we continue our discussion, it 
should be on this particular philosophical disagreement.


Sourav Mandal

Sourav K. Mandal

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Physics

"In enforcing a truth we need severity rather than
efflorescence of language. We must be simple, 
precise, terse."

                      -- Edgar Allan Poe, 
                        "The Poetic Principle"

Sourav K. Mandal

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Physics

"In enforcing a truth we need severity rather than
efflorescence of language. We must be simple, 
precise, terse."

                      -- Edgar Allan Poe, 
                         "The Poetic Principle"


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