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I've been thinking about IP and I think I've hit on something...

 

We exist in an environment of scarce and non-scarce resources. As a means to reduce conflict over scarce resources, humans instinctively, naturally value property norms. When more than one person can't control a resource without conflict, it is scarce, and we recognize that not everyone can have property in that resource. This has been solved with the homestead principle—the first person to own a scarce resource has the property right.

 

But as there's no possibility for conflict over non-scarce resources, property norms regarding them didn't arise naturally. Rather they arose artificially, requiring a the modern state to invent and impose them. Recognizing the inherent human tendency to respect the language of property, people who support government grants of monopoly privilege over non-scarce resources refer to them as intellectual "property" rights. Since they apply to non-scarce resources, they're fundamentally unlike anything humans have considered property throughout history—and that's not to mention their artificial nature.

 

So my realization is that concepts like theft don't apply to non-scarce resources. Therefore to evoke emotion, supporters of such government grants of monopoly privilege never acknowledge the scarcity issue.

 

Sometimes they retreat to untenable, incoherent arguments like "something becomes your property when you create it". But of course property stems from scarcity and the homestead principle, so even if I steal something from you (a gold bar) and create something from it (a figuring), then that figuring doesn't become my property.

 

Other times they throw out doubly confounding red herrings like, "you just think ideas can't be owned because you want to steal". But obviously, ideas are data and electricity in brains, and are necessarily owned. Further, patterns of information (the specific arrangement of non-scarce information that IP applies to) aren't scarce, and therefore can't be stolen.

 

Without going on too long, I wanted to see if anyone was interested in a discussion about this.