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post #81 of 90
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

Again, if I steal your gold bar, and carve a figurine out of it, I've created a figurine. But that doesn't mean I have property right to it—it's your gold. The fact of property right doesn't stem from creation, or you can justify theft. That's a reductio ad absurdum. Case closed. The end. Stop bringing it up. Nor does the fact of property right stem from government dictate, or literally anything goes as long as it comes from the government—another reductio ad absurdum.

 

 

Look, all that matters is everything you've said is either wrong or completely irrelevant.

 

 

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
Never mind the parts where you ignore half of my posts

I was so confused for a second, then I realized you're referring to when you ignore half of my posts.

 

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
Never mind the parts...where none of it applies.

No you're absolutely right. Your opinion is totally relevant, and logic doesn't apply. Again, it was a pleasure arguing with someone of your caliber, with your distinguished intellect. Good day :)

post #82 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

 

Property is a concept born from scarcity. We value the concept of property as a means to reduce conflict over scarce resources. If something isn't scarce (information, for example), and therefore X can make use of it without infringing on Y's capacity to do the same, then Y can't just ask the government to point a gun at X and call that a solution. In any event, the fact of having the gun pointed doesn't cause non-scarce information to be "property".

 

I disagree that the concept "property" only makes sense in a world of scarcity. 
 
The idea of property comes from the observation that 99% of the stuff around us (with the exception of really basic things like grass or air) is all made by someone or other. In a sense it "came from" someone, or was "of" someone. 
 
And note: the other meaning of the word "property" in English, the scientific usage: "This object has the property of being solid at room temperature." Scientists talk about a property *of* something, and property as discussed here is the general recognition that 99% of stuff is *of* someone (caused to be by their work). 
 
And even in a world where we could blink our eyes and bring our every wish in to existence (total non-scarcity) it would still be true that every object that existed was blinked by someone in particular. 
 
So property does not depend on scarcity but only the observation that we live in a "created" world. Now do you think people should be compensated for their creativity? I do. What a wonderful world where people can survive just by singing or writing computer software, instead of everyone having to be a self-sufficient hunter.
post #83 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I disagree that the concept "property" only makes sense in a world of scarcity.

Fair enough, but that's just a red herring... I wasn't arguing that "property only makes sense in a world of scarcity." The fault is mine for assuming it was self-evident that this is a discussion about property as it pertains to social norms. Obviously things, scarce or not, have specific attributes...

 

In regards to your etymology, it seems you're partially right and the rest you just imagined.

 

The root of property seems to revolve around association. For example a blue ball is associated with being blue, and being a ball, and it has those two properties. My cell phone is associated with me, and it is my property. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with ideas about creation, which as far as I can tell is purely something you invented.

 

But people have norms about property because of the fact of scarcity. In order to coexist in an environment of scarce resources, we reduce the potential for conflict over scarce resources by making exclusive claims over them. People don't make exclusive claim over patterns of information, because patterns of information, once public, are non-scarce and therefore not subject to conflict (in other words, exclusive claims aren't needed because several parties can make use of the same information and the same patterns without reducing the capacity of others to do the same). To this point, exclusive claims over patterns of information are something very new in history, imposed upon societies by artificial means (specifically, the State, aka "government"), as strictly contrasted to how the tendency toward exclusive claims over scarce resources is instinctive in humans.

 

And any discussion that involves government and IP is also a discussion about justice—particularly: when is violence justified.

 

Living organisms instinctively—by nature (as oppose to by artificial dictate from a government)—rely on violence or threats of violence to maintain social norms regarding scarce resources. With humans particularly, the most prolific property norm is based on the homestead principle—an unowned scarce resource becomes the property of whomever uses it first. Naturally therefore, almost universally human justice system are propertarian; property rules regarding exclusive claims over scarce resources are the foundation of law, and aggressive violence is just when property is violated.

 

Thus theft, trespass, and assault are unjust because they violate the property of the owner (assault is violation of a person's body, which is his property, see self ownership principle).

 

It should be clear now that IP is a system where the government grants permission to use a pattern of information to one party, and threatens violence against people who (even peacefully) use the pattern without permission. This to me seems manifestly silly, and essentially evil.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Now do you think people should be compensated for their creativity?

I think people deserve what they earn. The notion that "creation" is somehow at the root of it leads to absurd possibilities, for example: I can steal your gold bar and carve a figurine out of it; I have therefore created a figurine, but that doesn't mean it's mine, and I don't deserve any profit if I sell it, because it's your gold.

 

I think such inconsistent systems are inherent when they're imposed by an institution as outrageous as the State. The barbarism of a system that relies on threats of violence against people for peacefully using a pattern of information needs to be exposed. Something is horribly wrong with a society where people think a business model is that it relies threats of violence against peaceful people is morally sound.

 

I think the idea that IP enforcement is somehow morally superior to the alternative is demonstrative of the utter intellectual bankruptcy bred by reliance on an institution as violent and incoherent as the State.


Edited by ngrlvr - 4/24/13 at 2:23pm
post #84 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

Fair enough, but that's just a red herring... I wasn't arguing that "property only makes sense in a world of scarcity." The fault is mine for assuming it was self-evident that this is a discussion about property as it pertains to social norms. Obviously things, scarce or not, have specific attributes...

 

In regards to your etymology, it seems you're partially right and the rest you just imagined.

 

The root of property seems to revolve around association. For example a blue ball is associated with being blue, and being a ball, and it has those two properties. My cell phone is associated with me, and it is my property. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with ideas about creation, which as far as I can tell is purely something you invented.

 

But people have norms about property because of the fact of scarcity. In order to coexist in an environment of scarce resources, we reduce the potential for conflict over scarce resources by making exclusive claims over them. People don't make exclusive claim over patterns of information, because patterns of information, once public, are non-scarce and therefore not subject to conflict (in other words, exclusive claims aren't needed because several parties can make use of the same information and the same patterns without reducing the capacity of others to do the same). To this point, exclusive claims over patterns of information are something very new in history, imposed upon societies by artificial means (specifically, the State, aka "government"), as strictly contrasted to how the tendency toward exclusive claims over scarce resources is instinctive in humans.

 

And any discussion that involves government and IP is also a discussion about justice—particularly: when is violence justified.

 

Living organisms instinctively—by nature (as oppose to by artificial dictate from a government)—rely on violence or threats of violence to maintain social norms regarding scarce resources. With humans particularly, the most prolific property norm is based on the homestead principle—an unowned scarce resource becomes the property of whomever uses it first. Naturally therefore, almost universally human justice system are propertarian; property rules regarding exclusive claims over scarce resources are the foundation of law, and aggressive violence is just when property is violated.

 

Thus theft, trespass, and assault are unjust because they violate the property of the owner (assault is violation of a person's body, which is his property, see self ownership principle).

 

It should be clear now that IP is a system where the government grants permission to use a pattern of information to one party, and threatens violence against people who (even peacefully) use the pattern without permission. This to me seems manifestly silly, and essentially evil.

 

 

I think people deserve what they earn. The notion that "creation" is somehow at the root of it leads to absurd possibilities, for example: I can steal your gold bar and carve a figurine out of it; I have therefore created a figurine, but that doesn't mean it's mine, and I don't deserve any profit if I sell it, because it's your gold.

 

I think such inconsistent systems are inherent when they're imposed by an institution as outrageous as the State. The barbarism of a system that relies on threats of violence against people for peacefully using a pattern of information needs to be exposed. Something is horribly wrong with a society where people think a business model is that it relies threats of violence against peaceful people is morally sound.

 

I think the idea that IP enforcement is somehow morally superior to the alternative is demonstrative of the utter intellectual bankruptcy bred by reliance on an institution as violent and incoherent as the State.

 

You seem to agree that people have property rights over their body, but surely the world inside our head (as entirely our own creation) is more purely "us" than our bodies (which have aspects caused by genetics outside our control)? People are "bigger on the inside" to make a Doctor Who reference. 
 
So things that come *out* of that internal world (songs, sentences, equations): you would grant rights over our bodies but not over those? Why are both of those things not "us," and given protection under individual rights? I guess it follows logically if you regard property as purely to do with scarcity and not to do with things being "of" individuals.
 
You say you think people deserve what they earn. Ok, it takes effort to build a house, your arm will not move automatically, you have to get up off your bum and make yourself do it. The same applies to mental work. A sentence will not write itself, an equation will not solve itself. You have to make the effort to "move" your mind. Your mind is powered by effort and gets tired just like your muscles. It's all just effort and it should all be rewarded.
 
The fact that people can make 10,000 copies of your work in 5s flat just means you need better legal protection, not that the concept of property is inapplicable. I know you will disagree but that is my position.
post #85 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

 

You seem to agree that people have property rights over their body, but [what about things inside our brains?]

Yes, I clarified earlier that ideas in a person's brain are his property. Necessarily therefore, they aren't someone else's property. So if Michael Jackson has an idea about a song Thriller, the idea in his head is his property. And if I have an idea about the song Thriller, that idea in my head is my property.

 

Again, as I clarified previously, IP isn't about ideas in brains. It's about patterns of information outside of the brain.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

So things that come *out* of that internal world (songs, sentences, equations): you would grant rights over our bodies but not over those? Why are both of those things not "us," and given protection under individual rights? I guess it follows logically if you regard property as purely to do with scarcity and not to do with things being "of" individuals.

 

 

Your error is in conflating ideas in a brain with A) ideas not in a brain, or B) ideas in a different brain. This has nothing to do with scarcity. And to your point, yes, as I pointed out above, ideas in a brain are obviously associated with or "of" (or just simply use the common language property of) the person whose brain they reside in.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

You say you think people deserve what they earn. [Insert argument about creation = earned]

 

Much of my commentary in this thread has been to debunk that argument. How can I make it more clear? Whether you deserve something does not stem from the fact that you created it. For example, I can steal your gold bar and create a figurine from it, but that doesn't mean the figurine is mine, or that I deserve profit if I sell it.

 

Whether you deserve profit depends on whether someone voluntarily offers you profit in exchange for your goods/services. Your error is, as I pointed out above, in assuming that non-scarce resources (e.g. ideas not in your brain) are your property. But you already agreed that ideas in your brain are your property, so which is it? Are you suggesting that ideas in one person's brain may be the property of another person?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

The fact that people can make 10,000 copies of your work

And so we come to the root of your flawed reasoning: define "your work" in this sentence. Do you see where I'm going with this? Your reasoning is untenable...

 

If Bob has an idea, and works to express that idea as a song (a pattern of information in the form of a series of musical sounds), then according to you the idea and the song are his. But also according to you, the song and the idea are Michael Jackson's, because the government has granted him a monopoly privilege in the form of a copyright. You can't have it both ways, and so again we see property rights don't stem from the fact of creation!

 

The only consistent answer is, not by any small coincidence, the one that humans have always underst00d, and tend to respect instinctively, naturally: the principle of property in scarce resources. With this principle, both Bob and MJ own the idea in their individual brains, which are scarce. MJ's idea is only in his brain; Bob's idea is only in his brain. And neither of them owns the arrangement of sounds, because the pattern isn't scarce—everyone can use it simultaneously without restricting the capacity of anyone else to use it. They both own their individual physical copies of Thriller, which are scarce, but they can't consistently argue that they own the pattern of sounds (non-scarce information) that can be employed by anyone, peacefully, simultaneously, to produce the song Thriller.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

better legal protection

This is what makes me most passionate about IP. What you mean by "better legal protection" is "the government can threaten violence against peaceful people" and it's completely insane and immoral. You can't threaten violence against peaceful people just because they're using a pattern of non-scarce information peacefully!


Edited by ngrlvr - 4/24/13 at 10:16pm
post #86 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

Yes, I clarified earlier that ideas in a person's brain are his property. Necessarily therefore, they aren't someone else's property. So if Michael Jackson has an idea about a song Thriller, the idea in his head is his property. And if I have an idea about the song Thriller, that idea in my head is my property.

 

Again, as I clarified previously, IP isn't about ideas in brains. It's about patterns of information outside of the brain.

 

 

I think I see where you're coming from now, you are working from the premise that nothing exists except the physical. From that point of view, an idea in someone's head is theirs because it *is* their brain's electrical impulses, and someone else's copy on their hard drive is theirs because it *is* the bytes on their hard drive.
 
But I would say ideas don't have a location. What is the location of Integer? What is the location of Green? You can point to individual instances of those things, but the abstract idea itself does not have a location. It exists though, and it has other properties. Properties like subject, field, intensity, abstractness, originality, relationship to other ideas... And there was a time before it existed. Somebody caused it to exist and that act of causality is what makes it theirs. 
 
Mathematicians and other intellectuals have traditionally been very good at recognising this point. They talk about The Riemann Hypothesis or Galois Fields or Nash Equilibrium. All ideas start with someone, and if you use Galois Fields in your mathematical proof you give him credit. You don't say "Oh I don't have to give him credit because this is my hard drive not his." Now, intellectuals deal in recognition as a form of payment (as against cash) but they still recognise the need for payment.
 
Quote:
Much of my commentary in this thread has been to debunk that argument. How can I make it more clear? Whether you deserve something does not stem from the fact that you created it. For example, I can steal your gold bar and create a figurine from it, but that doesn't mean the figurine is mine, or that I deserve profit if I sell it. Whether you deserve profit depends on whether someone voluntarily offers you profit in exchange for your goods/services. Your error is, as I pointed out above, in assuming that non-scarce resources (e.g. ideas not in your brain) are your property. But you already agreed that ideas in your brain are your property, so which is it? Are you suggesting that ideas in one person's brain may be the property of another person?

 

 

I agree that the mere fact that you create something does not give you a right to compensation. Only if someone wants to buy it should you get compensation. But if they don't want to buy it they should not go ahead and use it anyway. To answer your question, yes ideas in one person's brain can be the property of another person: the originator. 
 
And if someone is trying to figure out a design, and they have to get from A to D, and they use someone else's idea to get from B to C and don't compensate that person on that person's terms (whether it be money or recognition), they are stealing intellectual property. They either need to pay or not pay and think up their own way to solve the problem. There is always more than one way to skin a cat.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

And so we come to the root of your flawed reasoning: define "your work" in this sentence. Do you see where I'm going with this? Your reasoning is untenable...

 

If Bob has an idea, and works to express that idea as a song (a pattern of information in the form of a series of musical sounds), then according to you the idea and the song are his. But also according to you, the song and the idea are Michael Jackson's, because the government has granted him a monopoly privilege in the form of a copyright. You can't have it both ways, and so again we see property rights don't stem from the fact of creation!

 

The only consistent answer is, not by any small coincidence, the one that humans have always underst00d, and tend to respect instinctively, naturally: the principle of property in scarce resources. With this principle, both Bob and MJ own the idea in their individual brains, which are scarce. MJ's idea is only in his brain; Bob's idea is only in his brain. And neither of them owns the arrangement of sounds, because the pattern isn't scarce—everyone can use it simultaneously without restricting the capacity of anyone else to use it. They both own their individual physical copies of Thriller, which are scarce, but they can't consistently argue that they own the pattern of sounds (non-scarce information) that can be employed by anyone, peacefully, simultaneously, to produce the song Thriller.

 

 
 
By "your work" I mean an idea that you originated. Are you talking about independent discovery here? Yes, that happens once in a while and that's what the court system is for. It doesn't invalidate the whole concept of intellectual property that once in a while two people make the same discovery. They just have to come to some understanding such as sharing the royalties (ultimately it's up to a judge).
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

This is what makes me most passionate about IP. What you mean by "better legal protection" is "the government can threaten violence against peaceful people" and it's completely insane and immoral. You can't threaten violence against peaceful people just because they're using a pattern of non-scarce information peacefully!

 

 

What about fraud then? Someone steals your life savings through trickery but they never actually physically hit you. By your standard the government shouldn't do anything about it because they didn't use violence. No, there are things that are wrong without being violent, and fraud and plagiarism are two of them.
post #87 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I think I see where you're coming from now, you are working from the premise that nothing exists except the physical....But I would say ideas don't have a location.

Well if you're saying that things exist which don't exist then I'm gonna have a hard time taking you seriously... I think part of your misunderstanding stems from your emotions about what you feel like an idea should be. But an idea has physical existence in a brain. Unless you're advocating slavery then I'm wondering why you're trying to suggest that I can own parts of another human being...

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

By "your work" I mean an idea that you originated.

An idea that you originated can only exist in your brain. You can't transfer your idea to someone else, lol. Again, your confusion here stems from a misunderstanding about what an idea is.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

What about fraud then? By your standard the government shouldn't do anything about it because they didn't use violence.

In fraud, two parties may make an exchange and only one party delivers. Fraud is therefore theft, and I have no clue where you get the idea that I'm suggesting "the government shouldn't do anything about it because they didn't use violence."

post #88 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

Well if you're saying that things exist which don't exist then I'm gonna have a hard time taking you seriously... I think part of your misunderstanding stems from your emotions about what you feel like an idea should be. But an idea has physical existence in a brain. Unless you're advocating slavery then I'm wondering why you're trying to suggest that I can own parts of another human being...

 

 

An idea that you originated can only exist in your brain. You can't transfer your idea to someone else, lol. Again, your confusion here stems from a misunderstanding about what an idea is.

 

No, I don't think I'm being particularly mystical or wishful, just talking about what people usually mean by an idea.
 
Take F=ma, Newton's Second Law. Regardless of whether it's written down mathematically, spoken in French, thought in German, implemented in a computer program or drawn in a diagram - people would say in all cases, "Oh, that's Newton. Those are all the same Idea."
 
I say we can recognise the same Idea in different forms because we "abstract away" things like the language we are hearing it in, or the place we are hearing it, and only keep the essential (F=ma), and only regard *that* as the Idea. That's what I mean by ideas not having a location: it is one of the things abstracted away. 
 
But however we do it mentally is frankly irrelevant, one only needs to make the observation that we do do it. That culturally we have a notion of an Idea not being the same as the medium. And as long as that is culturally accepted one can talk about ownership of that abstract Idea.
 
You might say that any *particular* usage requires a medium, and at that moment the idea is the medium, in a particular configuration/holding a particular pattern, and that Newton does not own that medium. But to most people that's an unnecessary step. Human beings are capable of thinking/dealing in abstractions. They can recognise, "Hey, that's Newton's idea you're using there, better give him credit!" without even mentioning the medium. 
 
And I personally have no problem with a market in abstract ideas. Markets have done wonders to increase the quality and lower the price of concrete objects, and they can do the same for abstract objects like ideas. We already have a history of trading in abstract things, since the 1600s you have been able to buy an Option, an option to engage in a future transaction at a particular price, that's a pretty abstract thing to own.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

In fraud, two parties may make an exchange and only one party delivers. Fraud is therefore theft, and I have no clue where you get the idea that I'm suggesting "the government shouldn't do anything about it because they didn't use violence."

You said you felt passionate about IP because the government was using force against peaceful people. Well a fraudster is peaceful, in the sense that he only tricks you, he does not punch and kick you. So I naturally concluded you would be passionate about the use of force against this peaceful person also. I happen to think it's the job of the government to use force against crooks, in all forms.

post #89 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

 

No, I don't think I'm being particularly mystical or wishful, just talking about what people usually mean by an idea.
 
Take F=ma, Newton's Second Law. Regardless of whether it's written down mathematically, spoken in French, thought in German, implemented in a computer program or drawn in a diagram - people would say in all cases, "Oh, that's Newton. Those are all the same Idea."
 
I say we can recognise the same Idea in different forms because we "abstract away" things like the language we are hearing it in, or the place we are hearing it, and only keep the essential (F=ma), and only regard *that* as the Idea. That's what I mean by ideas not having a location: it is one of the things abstracted away. 
 
But however we do it mentally is frankly irrelevant, one only needs to make the observation that we do do it. That culturally we have a notion of an Idea not being the same as the medium. And as long as that is culturally accepted one can talk about ownership of that abstract Idea.
 
You might say that any *particular* usage requires a medium, and at that moment the idea is the medium, in a particular configuration/holding a particular pattern, and that Newton does not own that medium. But to most people that's an unnecessary step. Human beings are capable of thinking/dealing in abstractions. They can recognise, "Hey, that's Newton's idea you're using there, better give him credit!" without even mentioning the medium. 
 
And I personally have no problem with a market in abstract ideas. Markets have done wonders to increase the quality and lower the price of concrete objects, and they can do the same for abstract objects like ideas. We already have a history of trading in abstract things, since the 1600s you have been able to buy an Option, an option to engage in a future transaction at a particular price, that's a pretty abstract thing to own.

 

You said you felt passionate about IP because the government was using force against peaceful people. Well a fraudster is peaceful, in the sense that he only tricks you, he does not punch and kick you. So I naturally concluded you would be passionate about the use of force against this peaceful person also. I happen to think it's the job of the government to use force against crooks, in all forms.

Regarding abstraction, you're making my point. Humans tend to communicate figuratively instead of literally, and we employ idioms. This is effective and efficient, even appropriate, but it is by definition not accurate. What matters isn't that we use language literally, but, like you acknowledged, that we convey the intended information.

 

The problem is when people start to use abstract language to justify violence in objective, specific circumstances. The solution is simple: don't use abstract language in regards to justifying violence. To a certain extent, this concept is already understood, and people would be surprised to learn that legal language has different meanings for ordinary language.

 

So again, an idea has physical existence in a brain. The rest of your argument seems you be you saying that people can own things which don't exist, which is just silly. I would urge you to think about what you actually mean because it's probably very different. Obviously, you can't own or have property in something that doesn't exist. Obviously, if the government says whales are orange, that doesn't actually mean whales are orange.

post #90 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrlvr View Post

Regarding abstraction, you're making my point. Humans tend to communicate figuratively instead of literally, and we employ idioms. This is effective and efficient, even appropriate, but it is by definition not accurate. What matters isn't that we use language literally, but, like you acknowledged, that we convey the intended information.

 

The problem is when people start to use abstract language to justify violence in objective, specific circumstances. The solution is simple: don't use abstract language in regards to justifying violence. To a certain extent, this concept is already understood, and people would be surprised to learn that legal language has different meanings for ordinary language.

 

So again, an idea has physical existence in a brain. The rest of your argument seems you be you saying that people can own things which don't exist, which is just silly. I would urge you to think about what you actually mean because it's probably very different. Obviously, you can't own or have property in something that doesn't exist. Obviously, if the government says whales are orange, that doesn't actually mean whales are orange.

 

Not all abstractions are wishy washy idiomatic ones though. There are objective as well as subjective ones. Subjective abstractions are more or less what you stated. An objective abstraction starts with the observation that concrete objects have objective similarities and differences, that can be measured with scientific instruments, and then forming an abstraction strictly on the basis of those. To the extent the objects are real and the measurements are accurate, the similarities are objective, and an Idea formed only by reference to such similarities is itself objective.
 
The government can't say whales are orange, but they can take measurements of Minke whales and of Humpback whales, and abstract away objective differences and keep objective similarities, and correctly say "They are both whales." And likewise they can look at an idea expressed in an Apple design document in English and a Samsung design document in Korean and say that despite the differences in language and presentation it is essentially the same Idea.
 
As to the potential for government abuse, as long as objectivity is insisted upon by all parties, there should be no room for a bureaucrat to use their subjectivity, and therefore to exercise their capricious whims even if they have them. And in the case where there's a grey area it can be taken to court and argued and debated in an open forum.
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