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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10029/how-the-creative-process-works/

How the Creative Process Works

May 27, 2009 by

Robert Nathan’s piece below has direct bearing on the raging debate on the effects of “intellectual property” (IP) law, such as patent and copyright. An underlying presumption of IP is the notion that innovation takes place in the form individual bursts of creative genius, such as we see in movies or filiopietistic treatments of Alexander Graham Bell and the like. Innovation is seen as singular, completely new, wholly functioning, and obviously marketable. Real life, however, offers a different picture of innovation as a trial-and-error process of competitive imitation, a gradual, hit-and-miss continuum of on-going discovery, with many people at all stages of production drawing deeply on existing knowledge and contributing technological and marketing improvements within the ever-present framework of the economic restraints. Mr. Nathan’s piece below presents a realistic portrait of the creative process, and it is a world that makes the legislative constraints of IP looks ridiculously simplistic by comparison. FULL ARTICLE


Art Carden May 27, 2009 at 8:43 am

I got some interesting comments on my recent piece on intellectual property posted at L.A. Progressive:


Sasha Radeta May 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

We have ourselves a straw-man article.

The presumption of IP is not the notion that “innovation takes place in the form individual bursts of creative genius.” The correct presumption of IP proponents is taken directly from law of demand and supply: if you abolish the market for “limited use” of works of authorship — you’re going to see the lower supply of these works. Why? Because authors, just like any other producer, choose to supply less when their profits are taken away… By robbing them from their property right to sell only a limited use of their works, you would only abolish the market for mass production of these works. In such medieval world, only much more expensive, full-ownership rights would get traded and the knowledge would again be the privilege of aristocracy.

And if public domain is such a great thing for authors — why don’t they all voluntarily relinquish their copyright protection? Since we libertarians believe in private property rights, we should advocate the rights of authors to restrict unwanted use of their own property. Alas, Nathan suggests the following:

Through “perceptive assimilation,” the creative ideas that emerge from our experiential “bulk” are not necessarily the sum of their components…. there is a partnership between the artist and the public domain — the owner of the “bulk.” If this is the case, then the ownership of intellectual property cannot be assigned wholly to the individual. And because of the relative difference in value between the artist’s contribution and the “bulk” that is drawn on to deliver the contribution, one could further infer that the artist’s ownership position is a minor one.

This just demonstrates how nonsensical anti-IP advocates often get. How can you even claim that “bulk” of ideas are “owned” by “public” (whoever that dude named “public” is)??? Ideas cannot be owned — only the real property can!

If an artist (say the music artist) uses certain tangible inputs for his production (like music instruments of technical devices), he has to pay for these inputs to their rightful owners. Within the market process, these input owners provide their consent for use of their property — without claiming a stake in final good — or a CD in this case. How does some architect like Mr. Nathan, who never participated in this production process, get the ownership stake over this real tangible good produced by somebody else????

Many thanks to Mr. Tucker for allowing Mr. Nathan to demonstrate that anti-IP arguments are based on pure socialist ideology of “public ownership” of inputs of production (even when these inputs are in reality owned by real people, not some “public” mob).

Ben Ranson May 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

Musicians have a more rigorous tradition of analysis than practitioners of any other art form. I use Schoenberg’s “Theory of Harmony” as a reference constantly, and regard it as the best work on music theory.

Schoenberg believed that most harmonic techniques had been developed by using earlier techniques in new ways which were similar or related to their original uses.

At first, the simple chord progressions of early tonal music were used with the addition of a few accidentals (out of key notes) to lead to chords other than the tonic triad. Later on, as the chords produced by the addition of these accidentals became acceptable to the ears of composers, the use of these chords in their own right became acceptable. The process continued as older harmonic techniques were applied to newer sonorities again and again until all chords and tones became acceptable at all times.

Understanding of how new musical techniques developed has not led me to the conclusion that all musicians are of the same merit, or that these techniques would have developed regardless of the existence of any particular composer.

Some composers and improvisers are more worthy of imitation than others.

All students learn counterpoint by imitating Bach. Harmony generally begins with the imitation of Mozart and ends with the imitation of Schoenberg.

Charles Mingus poked fun Charlie Parker’s many imitators with a song titled, “If Charlie Parker were a Gunslinger, There’d be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats.”

A special term, “Stevie Ray Vaughn-nabe” is current among guitarists. It is used to describe Vaughn’s many imitators.

In “Theory of Harmony,” Schoenberg explains that music theory is not a science, but a body of technique. It is a fact that some musicians have made substantial contributions to this body of technique, while others have not.

Out of the millions of musicians who have lived in the last four hundred years, only a few have left a permanent mark on musical technique. As a criticism of creativity, Mr. Nathan’s article does not explain why the great composers and improvisers have made their huge strides, while others become mired in stagnant imitation.

Gil May 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

Another anti-I.P. take may as well of an inventor who didn’t know what to do with an invention (e.g. Coca Cola) and let others who have business skills deliver the product to the masses. Which, in turn, reminds of a woman in Australia a long time ago who had the rights to land loaded with gold but had no knowledge of what to do next so she gave away the lease to first guy she came across and he made all the money. But I s’pose back to the argument that it’s all about production not ‘discovery’ or ‘invention’. After all, did Ayn Rand believe the Arabs had no right to oil money because the oil companies did all the work converting the underground black slop to that which the world wanted. (She would have probably said the same thing about Jed Clampett.)

Sasha Radeta May 27, 2009 at 10:41 am

Good point Gil!

Authors or inventors don’t necessarily have to be successful entrepreneurs… Just like owners of any asset, authors can choose to sell the full ownership right over their goods (works of authorship) — and these more capable individuals can perhaps do a better job of supplying the market with these goods (or their limited use, if good is copyrighted). Basic point, however, is that “public” or socialist mob should not interfere with this normal marketing process. Markets (individuals with willingness and ability to buy) will decide who should provide these services.

It is natural that people would love to get the full ownership over expensive works of authorship (such as books or CDs) at virtually zero-price and without any restrictions from rightful owners. There is, however, the supply side that must be considered — we can’t just nationalize any good that masses would love to have for free or at small cost… Suppliers would not like this idea and less goods and services would get produced. That’s why communism fails in any of its forms.

EnEm May 27, 2009 at 11:05 am

After reading the following in Mr. Nathan’s article, I felt he should read The Fountainhead.

It’s enough to make Roarke and Steven Mallory stand on their heads. Here goes….
“…there is a partnership between the artist and the public domain — the owner of the “bulk.” If this is the case, then the ownership of intellectual property cannot be assigned wholly to the individual. And because of the relative difference in value between the artist’s contribution and the “bulk” that is drawn on to deliver the contribution, one could further infer that the artist’s ownership position is a minor one. The relative value to society may or may not increase over time, depending on the contribution”.

Sean W. Malone May 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm


I actually prefer the work of Heinrich Schenker in terms of musical analysis, but Schoenberg’s “Theory of Harmony” is really quite excellent, sort of shocking to me actually as my first introduction to Schoenberg was within the context of serialism… Which I must say, I’m not a huge fan of.

But… I digress…

I wanted to sort of respond to this statement: “As a criticism of creativity, Mr. Nathan’s article does not explain why the great composers and improvisers have made their huge strides, while others become mired in stagnant imitation.”

I didn’t really get the impression that Robert Nathan set out to explain why that is the case. But from a historical standpoint, I think to some degree we have to accept that a great deal of blind luck has been involved, and indeed when we’re dealing with art – subjective value judgments make even the very nature of qualifying greatness a little tricky.

You mention Bach, and of course in his own time he was not all that widely regarded and it wasn’t until Felix Mendelssohn revived his work 200 years later that we even really know about him. Bach’s inventions (double-entendre?) were and are brilliant and some of the jewels of music history but how would we have even known without someone else’s work? A lot of art, and everything else that involves creativity really isn’t ever the product of one mind at all, though each iteration of something new should certainly be recognized by the innovator. The problem is, suggesting that it’s *only* that one innovator who makes a difference isn’t really accurate, and also, sticking with Bach as the example for a second, if Bach’s works were licensed the way today’s music is, do you think it would be nearly as well known? Do you think Toccata & Fugue in Dmol would be on dozens of horror films & played relentlessly at Halloween? My guess is no.

Being a trained composer, and also working in the music industry (at work right now editing music for licensing in fact) has certainly shown me that mass media producers will take whatever is free far sooner than whatever they like the best in general. This isn’t exactly economic news, but the consequence is that with a glut of available art, the stuff we hear all the time is often in the public domain already.

I’m obviously not advocating an abandonment of IP – it’s crucial obviously, to my own life, to say nothing of keeping the ability of people to work full-time in arts as professionals… However, I do think a revamp is certainly in order.

Also, I really just enjoyed the article for his description of creativity as a process that takes serious effort and work. I’ve tried to explain that to people dozens of times, and many still walk away with the impression that there’s just some “magic” to it. I really believe everyone has the power to be creative, but it won’t always be expressed in music or painting. Too many people view it as just a “flash of genius” and discount the years we spend learning to do what we do and developing experience, style & technical proficiency.

filc May 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm


Why? Because authors, just like any other producer, choose to supply less when their profits are taken away…

Or is it the other way around? Strict IP laws stifle the encouragement of new innovation. Since innovators, or usually inheritors of the rights of those inventions, can sit on their IP laws for century’s without fear of competition. Without IP laws inventors are encouraged to stay on top of their game and more closely read the demands of the market. They are encouraged to more swiftly improve their products. Their efforts will be reflected in revenue. IP allows companies to be lazy and slows this progression. The whole argument comes back to whether new Technology is bad for the economy. If you believe this then I could see why you respect IP. Though if you believe newly created technology only benefits everyone then you probably do not like IP. I tend to believe that new technology helps all.

Seems to me that without IP laws you would see more inventions and compound inventions. As for my evidence I’ll point you to the Open-Source industry of software. Most newly provided features are built on top of old features or re-using coding technique’s of previous developers. They try as best as they can to avoid re-inventing the wheel. Because of this they have been successful even in hard economic times. The closed source market has also shown it’s true colors this last year. I don’t think I need to site how many employee’s Microsoft has laid off. Not to mention that every new feature coming out of redmond is just a copy of something that has probably already existed for a long time in the open-source community.

So you see, your argument is completely opinion based, probably out of fear and not being able to fathom something that you weren’t raised on. Seems to me that the best inventors in history were around when there wasn’t much in the way of IP laws. I don’t think Edison paid royalty’s to the Glass Company when he build his Light bulb. Since the idea of light behind glass has been around for century’s prior. It would seem silly to you for Edison to pay royalty’s to a ll of those company’s for stealing their idea. Yet here you are supporting IP.

In my opinion IP stifles innovation. It eliminates what I call compound invention. (Inventions derived from other inventions) Not to mention how it eliminates competition. Look at the medicine market. It’s so bad that they’ve had to pass laws which allow generic brand medicine after a certain period of time. Otherwise medicine would cost a fortune. So many medical company’s have monopolies over various medicine types. And we all complain about medicine costs….


a woman in Australia a long time ago who had the rights to land loaded with gold but had no knowledge of what to do next so she gave away the lease to first guy she came across and he made all the money.

I am shocked that you would use such a flawed example. Should the women get paid for her ignorance? Had the women not leased out her land that gold would never had entered the market. Did the euntrapaneur who harvested that land not do the world a service by providing those goods? How could you villainize him so? The people who KNOW what something is worth and make the effort to provide that object to the masses are the ones who MUST be paid. If it worked any other way that man would have never harvested that gold, and that gold would not be in the form of a necklace on your wife/GF.

I’m sure the lady get her money’s worth in the contract she signed for the lease. People do not get paid for ignorance, and should not.

Deefburger May 27, 2009 at 2:13 pm

I see a great deal of argument around the perceived value of the IP in question. I have many inventions, none of them patented or in production. I have published none of them, and so no other minds, as far as I know, are aware of those ideas.

I know that the vast majority of conceptual “material” that exists in my “IP” is prior art, the “bulk” of learning and invention that came before my ideas were hatched in my fertile mind.

What are these ideas worth to you, the reader? NOTHING. You don’t have any personal experience of them. You have no means of evaluating them. I would have to give you my ideas for you to consider in your mind, for you to have any means of evaluating their worth. Your evaluation would have to include the production costs and possible product pricing. I have to give you the idea, for you to even consider it. Who owns it then? It’s in your mind too, in fact, in your mind, only you can know what it is. No one else can climb into your brain and determine if you are thinking the same idea.

I too have a problem. I cannot know the potential value of the ideas without making them real, actual products, and then making them available to the market to evaluate and establish a worth.

IP must be applied to have value. There is simply no other way to evaluate it. The intrinsic value of any IP is in the application, not the IP itself.

There may be other minds out there in the big wide world, who in observing the same problems, and being aware of the same possible uses of prior art and with access to the same materials and techniques as me, have reasoned the same or similar solutions to those problems. I cannot claim, at any time, that their solutions are not theirs, simply because I thought of it first. I cannot know if or in what way, or when, any other mind thinks of the same thing as me. I don’t know if my ideas are temporally superior to theirs or not.

If my idea is music or literature, then I have more of a case, since the creation is one that takes time and consists of enough complexity of form, that it is unlikely that someone else had exactly the same experience of thought as I did.

But even then, the IP has no perceivable value until it is shared. It must be actualized in physical reality in some way, such as a book, or a recording, so that it can be experienced by other minds, and with that experience, evaluated.

It is actual production of product, not the IP, that have the property of “real property”, and as such, are the currency of the IP, the form that gives value to the IP.

The source of real production has value in and of itself, when the source is consistent in the production of valuable goods. For instance, artists, writers and musicians who produce and source their own production, gain from being the source of their work as opposed to an imitator, by the indisputable fact of their own ability to produce work of that style, form, quality and content. A book by Steven King has more value than the same story written by another author. It is his style, content, expression etc, that make his work “his work”.

So, for IP to have value, it must be actualized as a product. For the originator of the IP to have compensation, he must also be the producer of the product. For the product to have value greater than an imitation, the product must have qualities that can only be associated with the source of production, and the quality of materials and, in the case of the IP involved, the quality of the source of the IP.

If I put my ideas into production, and
If the market finds value in those products, and
If the products are superior to similar products or superior in design than imitators, then
My IP has value, but more to the point, My product has value.

Anyone reading this who wants to buy my ideas can contact me any time. I have ideas for power generating devices, fueled and wind. I have IP for a gamma type Stirling Engine. I have IP for a banking system that uses no currency or banks. I have papers written covering Metaphysics, Time and Conciousness. None of these ideas(except the banking system) have been disclosed to anyone, or published. All of these ideas have potential for profit making.

Not interested? WHY? Isn’t my IP worth something? How much would you pay?

I suspect that I will get no requests for more information. I suspect that none of you reading this right now have any interest whatsoever in the enormously valuable IP I’m holding. Not one. WHY?

What is it WORTH right now as IP?


Andras May 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I offer a cent for your “gamma type Stirling Engine”. I don’t know what is that but it sounds exciting. It surely a better deal than a Credit Default Swap for billions.
I have just established a price (bid) for your IP. What now when your IP is not worthless any longer?

Deefburger May 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I hear One Penny for my thought. Do I hear two?

If a penny is the best I can get, you have proven my point!

What good does it do to “protect” IP if the IP itself has no value in and of itself?

As far as the engine goes, it’s value is greatest if it is given away. It has only one moving part, can be built with off-the-shelf components and materials, and could be built in third-world countries to pump water or produce a little electricity, provided there are batteries and a charging circuit available to store the pulses of current it would produce. It oscillates, and so if the output shaft (the one moving part) is connected to a pump or crank, it could do useful work.

Knowing this, how much is it worth now?

filc May 27, 2009 at 4:43 pm

IP must be applied to have value. There is simply no other way to evaluate it. The intrinsic value of any IP is in the application, not the IP itself.

Most ridiculous thing I’ve read all day. IP Does not give any object value. It’s demand in the market is what gives it it’s value. You can invent garbage all day long and assign 100 patents to each object. That doesn’t mean they are valuable to anyone else other then you.

The market sets the value of objects. Not IP.

As far as the engine goes, it’s value is greatest if it is given away. It has only one moving part, can be built with off-the-shelf components and materials, and could be built in third-world countries to pump water or produce a little electricity, provided there are batteries and a charging circuit available to store the pulses of current it would produce. It oscillates, and so if the output shaft (the one moving part) is connected to a pump or crank, it could do useful work.

Worthless for the time being. It may be worth something to an entrepaneuer but to the masses it’s an un-assybmled idea and worthless.

I’ll give you 2 penny’s for it. When I own a monopoly over your idea I’ll exploit you till your dead and laugh at you for sacrificing and giving up your idea and mind to me. You will get a marginal return and I will make billions. Thanks!

Sean W. Malone May 27, 2009 at 4:53 pm


Your ideas are untested, unmarketed, and so far as you’ve claimed – unknown to anyone but yourself! Claiming that your IP is worthless in this scenario is a lot like lamenting that you have never won the Super Bowl without having ever picked up a football.

If your engine is best if given away, why haven’t you given it away yet? If you’re waiting for people to buy it and it’s the most miraculous invention of all time (helping millions of poor people acquire potable water for minimal costs would probably qualify, see the PlayPump), then it seems like it’s worth a lot.

The question of value however, as anyone with a basic grasp of economics should know – is subjective and requires two parties to establish. Questioning something’s value to humanity at large without ever actually exposing it to a market where said value could be determined is just silly. Here’s my recommendation. Draw up some specs, write a paper explaining the idea (leaving out anything crucial that would cause you to lose control over the design of course), and then see if you can’t get an investor on board to build a mock-up… Suddenly, your IP will go from something that’s unused, to something that is usable, and you will see exactly what the idea was worth.

If you don’t want to actually *produce* anything, ok… Just write up that paper, and reasonably prove that your idea is viable, if it is – people will probably buy it. Mostly, I encourage you to go take charge of your IP and use it meaningfully – that you can do without having so much as a patent.

S Andrews May 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I enjoyed most of the article. However, when I read the following paragraph, it gave me the impression that the writer is a collectivist:

This suggests, at the very least, that there is a partnership between the artist and the public domain — the owner of the “bulk.” If this is the case, then the ownership of intellectual property cannot be assigned wholly to the individual. And because of the relative difference in value between the artist’s contribution and the “bulk” that is drawn on to deliver the contribution, one could further infer that the artist’s ownership position is a minor one. The relative value to society may or may not increase over time, depending on the contribution.

Ben May 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm

With all due respect to mises.org and its editor, and with all due respect to the effort put in by the author, this article is fuzzy post-modern hogwash at its very best. Most of the article lacks any clear theme and instead zig-zags from one incoherent point to the next. There is no attempt to state clear questions or answers, or give any logical progression from one point to the next. In many places, the paragraphs literally appear to have been thrown together at random, with no logical connection between adjacent paragraphs. Instead we get a random string of fuzzy metaphysical conjectures, arbitrary academic references, book reviews, irrelevant personal anecdotes and random asides thrown in for no apparent reason. Possibly the only correct statement in the article is the author’s disclosure that “I started this article with only a loose understanding of where I was going with it.” Amen to that brother!

Like most post-modernist writing, the article is liberally salted with mathematical buzzwords that are used completely out of context and have no clear meaning in the article. We are told that scientists use “linear” thinking, and are “trapped in a Cartesian world,” whatever that is supposed to mean. (Perhaps it means that they are restricted by reality, reason, non-contradiction?) In fact, given the article’s diagram of linear thinking, this is clearly not how scientists think.

And of course, no post-modernist article would be complete without some asinine metaphysical arguments based on a distorted reading of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle or other principles of quantum physics. (Postmodernists just love talking about quantum physics, even though few of them ever seem to have actually studied either physics or probability theory.) Here the author does not disappoint, giving us the following zingers (Alan Sokal, eat your heart out!):

“Further, there is a new field called biocentrics that suggests sentient beings exist for perceptive assimilation of their environment. Reality is probabilistic without observation. The phantom probabilistic cloud particles speculated by particle physicists remain undefined without sentient beings to observe their entangled matrix. Perspective assimilation becomes the key to unlocking the EM database.”

“Physicists use the term “bulk” to describe a hypothetical macro multidimensional universe that is interconnected in ways that we are only beginning to understand. The collective consciousness of the human experience can be modeled in a similar way. The “bulk” of human knowledge is similarly connected, and as such, is owned collectively.”

There is only one point that emerges clearly from this postmodernist haze, and that is the collectivist view of the creative process under which “the public” is to be assigned ownership to “the bulk”. In case you didn’t quite understand the reasoning behind this, let me break it down for you:
1. Physicists describe a hypothetical macro-universe beyond the actual universe (by definition, this is unobservable) that they “…are only beginning to understand…” (how they could possibly understand that which is unobservable and hypothetical is not stated);
2. The “bulk” of human knowledge is connected similarly to this hypothetical macro-universe which we don’t understand and can’t observe (how we could possibly know that it is similarly connected is also not explained);
3. Therefore, (insert miracle here) human knowledge is collectively owned. (Huh?)

Despite the author’s reservations “…that some will interpret [his public ownership statement] to be a socialistic notion…” his statements are clearly pregnant with implications of socialism. If the creative process is collective then this surely applies every bit as much to the creation of physical goods as to ideas. The result: socialism, here we come!

And this is an attempt by mises.org to undermine IP law? Old Ludwig must be rolling over in his grave.

Andras May 27, 2009 at 11:59 pm

“Knowing this, how much is it worth now?”
So you are willing to open it to the market.
However, it sounds unbelievable so I need due diligence. Since you have no background experience to show any precedent in inventions I doubt your abilities and want to see the device myself and probably want it to be evaluated by my experts. So you will need to present it. The more the better. Its value depends on the stage it is in this order: just the principle (worthless), draft, blueprint, prototype (that is what you can patent). The value will jump from here.
I also let you know that I will evaluate your competition as well and my bid will consider my competition, too. I can also offer you a confidentiality agreement so I can guarantee that I and my expert will keep it confidential but no more.
If you want to market it you’d rather protect and patent it. I do not see any other way to enter the market and keep the proceeds. But you can try though anyone might introduce a minor improvement and claim it whole. Good Luck!

Andras May 28, 2009 at 12:10 am

Don’t take away the fun, you have just mercilessly busted the communist cell in mises.org .

Ben Ranson May 28, 2009 at 12:30 am

Mr, Malone,

You are correct in pointing out that public esteem for the works of Bach tapered off for a period after his death and returned in the early nineteenth century. Also, I should have made it clear that, while Bach’s work is the primary material used in counterpoint classes today, species counterpoint predates Bach.

As I see it, Mr. Nathan addresses only a portion of the creative process. His analysis ignores the role that artists play in producing what he refers to as the “problem” when he breaks down the creative process in this manner:

“Perception is the research phase. Information obtained about the problem is gathered and stored… Conception involves comparing the known facets of the problem with all past experience… The resulting ideas …are then externalized in the representation phase.”

Nathan does not explain why such problems exist, or what these problems might be. In music, these problems are not at all obvious. Some artists feel a strong need to produce new musical techniques, while others do not. One composer’s problem may not be regarded as such by other composers.

Even when problems in musical technique seem obvious to many, particular composers can produce unique and dominant (no pun intended) solutions.

At the turn of the twentieth century, many composers believed that the techniques of Romantic music had been fully explored, and worked to develop a new vocabulary. Some solutions to this problem, such as polytonality and the use of tone clusters, were invented simultaneously by multiple composers.

The most influential solution, the twelve-tone system, and the subsequent development of the serial genera, are entirely attributable to Schoenberg. The nature of this solution makes it clear that Schoenberg’s conception of the problem was superior to that of his contemporaries.

The problem was that tonal harmonic techniques had been taken to an extreme, and that all sonorities were beginning to sound acceptable at all times. The suspense initially produced by the use of old chord progressions in ever more elaborate modulations had developed into a general feeling of nebulousness. A byproduct of the new harmonic combinations was intense chromaticism.

Most solutions which were produced at that time are dissonant combinations of or variations on tonal musical techniques which result in even more intense chromaticism. Polytonality uses multiple scales in different voices. Tone clusters expand on the idea of the chord and can occur as un-analyzed passing chords in tonal music. Dissonant counterpoint excludes all sonorities which would be technically correct under the traditional rules of counterpoint.

Schoenberg’s solution is not a combination of or variation on tonal musical techniques. It is a combination of non-musical techniques and musical techniques. Unlike other solutions, it allows for endless variation without reference to any tonal technique. Although twelve-tone music is, by definition, chromatic, it can be used to produce consonant diatonic passages.

Schoenberg saw that the attempt to produce new sonorities by recombining tonal musical techniques was a dead end. Rather than produce esoteric new combinations of tonal techniques, he looked for a new method of producing and analyzing combinations of notes. Essentially, Schoenberg set himself apart from all other composers by choosing to solve a different problem.

In music, solutions are dependent on the existence of problems. The conceptualization of problems is as dependent on the artist as the production of solutions. This is why I believe Mr. Nathan’s description of the creative process is incomplete.

Deefburger May 28, 2009 at 9:14 am

Well, there you go.
Any IP, such as the engine, must be known to be evaluated by the market.
Case in point: I produced two paragraphs describing the engine, and got two bids.

IP protection is the only means by which the idea can be “stollen” or the originator can be denied access to the market.

Case in point: I recieved one “threat” of exploitation by one of the bidders, who, taking advantage of IP law:

“I’ll give you 2 penny’s for it. When I own a monopoly over your idea I’ll exploit you till your dead and laugh at you for sacrificing and giving up your idea and mind to me. You will get a marginal return and I will make billions. Thanks!”

The market evaluation was swift and decisive. With such a small amount of the idea presented, it generated two bids of one cent and two cents right away. With more information produced, a better understanding of the concept will yield higher bids. There are three phases to product development, Paperwork, Prototype, Product.
We are in the Paperwork phase, with two paragraphs describing the engine.

For the IP, it’s still worthless. Until it is a prototype, or a product, it has no intrinsic value. If I produce more paperwork, such as plans, or a full description of the design theory and materials needs, then the market will have more to evaluate and consequently, more capital will be bid for its production. I may sell the plans, or I may give them away, but in either case, if a product is to be produced, capital must be raised as either time or money or both to produce it.

In our world of IP “protectionism”, this would be to the exclusion of everyone in the market who values it, but does not own the patent. Once patented, it becomes less valuable to the market as a potential product. Only the patent holder can evaluate it’s possible entry into the market as a product. In an anti-IP world, no such restrictions apply. Anyone who sees value in the IP can begin raising capital and time to get to phase two, Prototype, and then to phase three, production.

But until someone evaluates it, there is no capital to raise. In order to evaluate the IP, it must be made real, as plans, prototype, or product. (Again, so far, the capital bid is up to two cents for two paragraphs of product)

Thanks for participating in my experiment. You have made my case for me!

Paragraph three:

The engine is a Stirling engine, and so uses external sources of heat and cold to operate. Unlike most Stirling engine designs, it does not use a mechanical movement or gearing to accomplish the delay needed to build pressure. Instead, it uses magnets at each end of the cylinder to hold the displacement piston in position while the air displaced changes it’s volume, either greater volume if it’s on the hot side, or lower volume if it’s on the cold side. A diaphram connected directly to the shaft that the displacement piston is on, is responsible for transmitting the force created by the expanding or contracting air inside the engine. The air pressuree on the diaphram must excede the magnetic force holding the diaphram-piston-shaft assembly in place, andd once that pressure is high enough, the assembly moves rapidly away from the magnet it was stuck to, and forcefully towards the magnet on the other side of the cylinder. Once there, it remains stuck until the air pressure reverses, and the cycle begins again.

I call this the Magnetdyne Gama-type Stirling Engine. It is self-starting and always comes to rest on the cold side of the cylinder, so that when heat is applied to the hot side, the cycle can begin.

I hear two cents, do I hear 10? LOL!

Andras May 28, 2009 at 11:17 am

I offer 2.1 cent though you are about to loose any offer from me. Disclosing your idea to the public make it worthless to me.
You have to decide what you want. Profit from it or offer it to the commons. You can do both under IP regimes but can do only the second without it.
There are multiple meanings of IP. Which one do you refer to? According to the current law you have no IP. Not because you don’t want one but because your invention is not ready to be patented. Just an idea can not be patented. (Anti-IP folks are fighting a straw-man). There is a reason for that. So your invention is truly worthless right now from any point of view.
Consider also that you are not the only participant of the market. If you were, you are right, there is no point of IP but, by definition, you are not. The IP valuation what will rank you and the other participant on both sides of the market. It is not the invention what is ranked but you and how you manage your invention. Without an IP regime there is no way to have an invention market.
That is another question if the title of the invention (patent) has to be managed by the state.

Sean W. Malone May 28, 2009 at 11:59 am

Ben (Ranson):

I honestly think that the artist as problem discoverer and solver is an implied case for Nathan’s article. In general I think it’s implied period, and also probably able to be expressed in a dozen different ways. Besides which, the perception of 19th Century Romanticism as “dead” was just that, perception. There are thousands, millions of ways to combine tonal techniques into new forms of music even within the Romantic style – I think the answer of why we don’t is a lot more simple than some artists might like to believe… that is: we get bored. We also have the very human tendency to reject what our “fathers” did.

The problems and solutions in art are entirely fabricated obviously, as there is no real consequence to doing any particular thing indefinitely – other than that it’s simply not creative anymore and we don’t view repetition as particularly valid or useful art. I mean, clearly the art “problem” is always the problem of how to create something new… So I guess I don’t see what you want Nathan to explain. If he didn’t express directly that the purpose of art is fundamentally to provide a purely creative outlet, I had assumed that that was merely implied – and to not cover the part of the artistic process where an artist decides what “problems” he intends to solve is a lot like omitting that the reason a chef puts a steak in the pan is because he is solving the endlessly solvable “problem” of: What’s for dinner?, or even more broadly, how do we stay alive?

But you’re right, Schoenberg was answering a different question all together, which is cool and all, but I don’t think it accomplishes what he *thought* it was going to do, but that’s another discussion entirely. A third discussion to have is my personal contention that Schoenberg, along with many of the other modernists of different schools – Babbit, Stockhausen, Crumb, etc. – were more or less directly responsible for the comparative “death” of classical music in the 20th Century, largely because they went about answering the musical “problem” in ways that became mechanical, difficult to listen to and unable to express the emotional content that music needs to convey to reach the majority of humanity.

Deefburger May 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

@Andras “Disclosing your idea to the public make it worthless to me. ”

Why? Because you are afraid of the consequences of IP protectionism. If there were no possibility of patent protection, then full disclosure to the public would not be of any concern. The idea would either be capable of raising capital investment, followed by prototyping and production or not. It could be done by you, your friends, or anyone else who reads these blogs.

Because we have the threat of Patent Law looming over our heads, I cannot publicly disclose my idea without running the risk of excluding myself from it because some one patents all or part of the idea instead of me. This condition dramatically lessens the potential size of the capital market I need access to in order to sell it in the first place, as an idea.

In a world of no Patent Law, I can spread it around and fish for investors who, like me, see promise in the concept. All others who see no promise, will fail to invest time, effort or capital.

Some may see value, and after considering the idea, form one of their own, perhaps better, perhaps not. They may get as far as a prototype or product, and having done so, if the costs are low enough, may be able to make that same product available to me, which I buy, evaluate, and perhaps re-design.

“You have to decide what you want. Profit from it or offer it to the commons.”

I prefer to offer it to the commons. I have no investors, and I have no means to pay the legal fees and other associated fees of filing for a patent. In this case you could say I’m a “starving inventor”, who would not have a problem finding investment, if I could disclose the IP without fear of losing it myself.

“According to the current law you have no IP. Not because you don’t want one but because your invention is not ready to be patented.”

Precisely the point. The IP must be made real, either in the paperwork phase, the prototype phase, or the product phase to be patentable. Paperwork is often used to “seize” a concept at the patent office BEFORE the prototype or product phases have been realized. This is called patent trolling. I or you or anybody else who is interested in creating this engine, or one like it, is going to have to pay a patent attorney to do a patent search for various aspects of the IP that are already owned by someone else.

2.1 cents is not enough capital to even begin the process in the Patents are Protection world.

My point is that patents don’t protect IP. They protect the patent owner from competition, and they protect the public from innovation.

Paragraph Four:

The cylinder material must be a rigid material capable of withstanding mechanical shock along its length, and be a decent thermal insulator. The most critical component is the diaphragm. It must be constructed of a flexible material that has a high tensile strength. It’s throw, or the distance it can travel from one extreme to the other determines the limits of the movement of the shaft, and it carries all of the forces applied all the time. With the diaphragm extended in the high pressure phase, the piston is in a position just off of but close to the magnets at the hot end of the cylinder. When it moves to the other end, the diaphragms limits will stop the piston just off but close to the magnets at the cold end of the cylinder. It is the closeness of the piston to the hot and cold surfaces alternately, that allows the majority of the gas to come into contact with the opposite side, and thus increase or decrease volume. Hot gas raises the pressure and causes the diaphragm to pull the piston away from the cold side, where the gas exposure has been minimal. The movement of the shaft moves the piston with it, to the other end of the cylinder, the gas moves around the piston to the opposite side, where it is now away from the source of heat, and instead exposed to the cold surface where it releases the heat it has just accumulated at the other end. The volume of the gas decreases and the pressure drops inside the cylinder and on the internal surface of the diaphragm. Now the external air pressure overcomes the magnets at the hot end, and the shaft-piston-diaphragm assembly jumps to the cold side, moving the cooled gas back to the hot end of the cylinder.

Is anybody getting what I’m doing here?
I hear 2.1 cents. Do I hear 10?

“Without an IP regime there is no way to have an invention market”

Really? No way? How about Design, Prototyping, and Production? Where is the value? Is it in the IP itself or is it in the created products? Is a set of plans more valuable than the thought they express? Is the prototype more valuable than the thought it actualizes? Is the product more valuable than the thought that inspired it? YES!!!.

It is the realization of the IP that has value. Four paragraphs of production later I have a re-bid of 2.1 cents!!! Don’t you get it?

Andras, you are calling it worthless yet you are the highest bidder. How do you justify this conflict?

At the same time, the more I disclose, the further from the Patent office YOU get! Yet the value increases! Why?

Ben Ranson May 28, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Mr. Malone,

I agree that the mechanical methods of the modernists failed at producing conventionally appealing music. This can be attributed the relative lack of consonance which robbed the music of the sensation of resolution. Just as the ear rapidly becomes accustomed to constant key changes, it becomes accustomed to constant “atonal” dissonance.

The “death” of classical music was accompanied by the rise of jazz. Jazz musicians were able to make rapid progress while maintaining the use of diatonic harmony because the contrapuntal and harmonic rules of jazz are quite different that those of classical music. When confronted with the limits of conventional jazz harmony in the mid-nineteenth century, its practitioners followed the path of the classical composers by first taking jazz harmony to an extreme, creating bebop, and then abandoning the traditional harmonic rules altogether in free-jazz.

Like the development of modern classical techniques, bebop and free-jazz were too dissonant for the public. Their development marks the end of jazz as a popular art form.

I enjoy modernist music, bebop and free jazz. I see the failure of subsequent musicians to revitalize these art forms as testament to the remarkable conceptual abilities of the musicians involved. It is worth noting that very little advancement in the field of counterpoint has taken place since the time of Bach.

I think we will have to consider the significance of the artist’s role in formulating problems and the scope of these problems to be a matter of opinion. I do not see a similarity between “the part of the artistic process where an artist decides what ‘problems’ he intends to solve” and “solving the endlessly solvable ‘problem’ of: What’s for dinner?, or even more broadly, how do we stay alive?”

In Human Action, Mises’ analysis of the work of “The Creative Genius” touches on this subject. I find this passage, with its uncharacteristic introspection, to be particularly moving.


Ben Ranson May 28, 2009 at 1:56 pm

P.S. To see the portion I referred to, scroll three-quarters of the way down the page.

Andras May 28, 2009 at 4:09 pm

As I said before, by disclosing it your invention lost its value to me. Hereby I withdraw my offer.
It is not because of any IP law scare. This is simply because I have lost the time advantage I had before the disclosure. Now anybody can build it without any investment to the inventor. If I paid you I’d loose 2.1 cent and my profit margin currently does not allow for charitable donations.
It is not only your invention that is worthless to me but you as an inventor as well since you stated that you are offering your inventions to the commons.
Now on, anyone including me can introduce a minor improvement and “your” invention will loose any connection to you. It will never be called “The Deefburgerizer”. I guess it will not bother you as you “service” the collective. You can still do it under the IP regime but please do not force others by abolishing the system to do the same.

Peter Surda May 29, 2009 at 4:31 am

You are basically claiming that monopoly (absolute exclusion of competition) is a prerequisite for the profitability of production. It is undeniable that (ceteris paribus) a monopolist has higher income than non-monopolist. But that does not prove the necessity. The same argument is often used by socialists to promote government interference with markets. What makes you think that it’s sometimes good and sometimes bad?

As I pointed out several times, an explanation more fitting a free market economic theory is that the inability to make profit without a monopoly is a sign of a poor business model, and the inability to come up with an alternative is a sign of lack of imagination. Reminds me of an article I read on this site when someone was recollecting explaining free market principles to people in charge of planning in a communist country. Their response was that they can’t imagine people moving to get a job and therefore central planning is superiour.

Deefburger May 29, 2009 at 10:39 am


So, you also think that the amount of information you got was worth 2 cents to see more, but when I disclosed more information for free, the added information made the idea more tangible to your mind, and so you figured it was more tangible to other minds as well. So what? Do you think you could build one? Or do you eschew the building because someone else might be able to build one as well? Is the market for the idea so small, that the mere possibility of competition is enough to reduce the value of a complete design from 2.1 cents to nothing? Isn’t the IP itself worth something to you?

If the threat of competition is so great, why build anything at all? Ford’s model A must have been a hell of a deterrent to people. Look at the lack of competitive designs we have today.

And if I continue to divulge the details of the design to the commons, as it should be, what is it that is preventing you from using it? What is preventing you from creating a design of your own? Not me. Not the potential of competition. It is your inability to create this particular design with your own abilities. It is your failing. Or did you forget that I too, could still build one? Or were you looking to deny me my mind for your 2.1 cents? What were you going to do? Patent it?

IP alone is not enough to have anything of value. Skill, knowledge and Will are requirements that must be met to bring IP to market. Without the means to create, you could know the details of any machine, and still have no product and therefore no value in the IP.

Only an entreprenure and an engineer could take what I have disclosed so far and turn it into something real, a real working prototype, or marketable product. The real value lies in the production, the part that takes skill and work. The IP, at least for me, was simply a way of passing time contemplating a problem, and developing a design with promise.

Personally, I don’t have any more time available to me to build it than most other people. I could make one, but I have no use for one at the moment. But if I sit on the idea, it never gets built. If I give it up to the commons, then perhaps someone who has the time and materials could make one and I could buy it from them. I wouldn’t buy the IP, I would buy the product! Then I would would have something I could use.

Nobody could build it without investment! Nobody. Machines don’t build themselves. Materials suitable to the various parts have to be aquired, shaped and assembled. Skill and knowledge in building machines must be employed. Time and effort must be invested in the creation. This is what makes a product worth something. An idea is simply a theoretical solution to a problem. A product is an actual solution to a problem. Only the investment of the entreprenure creates a real solution.

Here’s another tidbit for you:

The sidewall of a tire is a perfect diaphram for this machine. It is durable, heat and UV resistant, and has a very high tensile stregnth. The body of the machine can be made from any air-tight material that is rigid and non compressable. Plywood painted with house paint would due. Cut a hole in the middle for the piston to sit in and stack a few up with wet paint and viola! Cylinder!

The piston is a milk jug. Or coffee can. Or paint can that is drilled in the center at both ends and bolted onto one end of the shaft. The piston does not touch the sides of the cylinder or the ends of the cylinder, it just displaces the air in the cylinder and moves it from end to end. So the lighter and stiffer the material used, the better. The Piston does have magnets attached to it at both ends, if it is a non-ferrous material. If it is ferrous, then the magnets can be attached to the cylinder ends instead.

Two rounds of stiff material are similarly drilled and bolted to the other end of the shaft with the bead of the sidewall sandwiched between them. This forms the diaphram.

Too much information for you Andras? Feeling a little threatened by all the competitive minds out there scrambling to build this thing?

If just one person out there builds one it will be a miracle of creation!!!

Without that creativity, IP is worthless.

Without the threat of patent law and all the costly ramifications thereof, I could be buying one of these next year, and for less than it would cost me to build it myself. I would gladly give over any of my IP to someone who could build the things and make them available to me.

You can have it Andras, for FREE! Just make one for me too buddy!

Andras May 29, 2009 at 10:52 am

Peter Surda,
You are right, your way can be one. It could even work though I doubt that it would be even close to optimal. As in there were “economies” before capitalism.
I think my objection to non-IP is more fundamental.
My vision of ideal IP regime follows the transition of ownership of ideas from the unique to the infinitely abundant. As external ideas enter the economic domain and become internal their ownership expires. The time scale is arbitrary, it reflects the perception of society on new ideas. It is a compromise as it should be and I don’t pretend to have any “scientific” reasoning like other social engineers. The early ownership of “ideas” allows for economic calculations at the introductory phase. In a stable system even expiry is calculable.
I think arbitrariness is true for all internalization or “homesteading” of property independent whether it is physical or not. The only difference is that physical properties have no expiration of ownership.

Deefburger May 29, 2009 at 12:29 pm

“The only difference is that physical properties have no expiration of ownership. ”

Neither do Ideas. The difference is that Ideas are not exclusive. Real Property, by the nature of it’s being, is exclusive. Ideas are not like that. Your idea of the engine is not the same as my idea of it, or the idea of it that anyone else has of it right now. However, all of us have an idea that is exclusive in our minds. That is the limit of our ownership of an idea, our own minds. To create a exclusion by fiat in law, for a year or ten or more is to create a barrier to further innovation.

Furthermore, the innovation is in the creation of product, not in the thought itself. Which innovation has success should not be determined by law, but by the market for the product, not the market for the idea. Patent law does nothing for innovation. It does nothing for anyone except force a value on to an otherwise worthless thought. It places an added cost on to the creation of innovative technology that would otherwise not exist. It raises the price on an innovative product and limits the scope of expression of an idea to only one product. It places the expression of similar solutions on hold, or puts them out of reach by virtue of their similarity of purpose or design.

Patent Law is a hinderance, not a solution. It is the solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. In a way, it is a self fulfilling prophesy. If patent law didn’t exist, the only thing preventing you from creating a product is your access to skill, materials, time, and capital. Competition is not a barrier to product creation or marketing. Patent Law is the only barrier not associated with true market forces, and the only thing that can prevent you from developing an innovative product. Competition and market forces are a bonus. Competitive dueling in the market drives innovation. Patent lawsuits stifle it. Patent law creates problems for innovation that wouldn’t exist without patent law.

Andras May 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I haven’t said that the current patent law is perfect (and the copyright law is even worse).
You should have observed that I used the term ownership of “ideas” as ideas can not be patented even under the current patent law. You are fighting a straw-man. Please understand the patent law first. Only non-IP folks try to present the patent law as if it was about ideas. Ideas are only part of it as of there are ideas behind every product. Patents are about offering practical new solutions to existing problems. Every word is important in this definition. The idea is only in the word solution but the rest is also necessary for a patent issuance. I think a temporay monopoly is a good compromise. I can not see why waiting a few years is so big a problem.
I concur that “Patent law does nothing for innovation.” It gives stability at least, in absence of which there is no room for economic calculations.
Show me that your regime offers the same but not just at the buzzword level of “market always win”. What market? I don’t see any in your system. It is by definition external (Mises).
Your previous example, the “deefburgerizer” went down in flames.

Peter Surda May 30, 2009 at 10:57 am

I’ll divide my reply to two parts:

First of all, you are trying to argue that free market produces suboptimal results and a therefore requires some non-zero level of meddling with. I would like to point out that this is a normative claim.

Second of all, once again I see the problem frequent by IP proponents here: not understanding IP. You seem to think that you cannot own immaterial goods without IP. To you, without IP there are no contracts, no homesteading, no market and no legal support for immaterial goods. This is at best a confusing, and at worst simply incorrect claim. As I explained several times, when people say “ownership” they can mean several things (there are two basic prototypes that I elaborated upon before, see the accompanying picture http://shurdeek.shurdix.org/tmp/ip.png ), so if you are dealing with IP you should specify what exactly you mean. Even if only talking about immaterial goods, IP is only a subset of property rights. Other property rights apply to those goods regardless of IP laws.

Deefburger May 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

“I concur that “Patent law does nothing for innovation.” It gives stability at least, in absence of which there is no room for economic calculations.”

Stability to what? What does patent law stabilize? How does it accomplish this great feat of “stability”.

It gives nothing, and forces limits and costs that wouldn’t exist otherwise. You mistake the effects of the existing law and system for stability and What I’m trying to show you is that those effects are unnecessary!

I don’t want false stability at the threat of a law suit. I don’t want to sell ideas as though they were real property. I want to sell material goods, ideas made real.

I do know something of patents, ideas, and the law. I own a patent. It cost more than it’s worth. It’s “stability” unchallenged for several years now. I don’t feel “safer” having it. It get’s in the way of marketing and it must be updated all the time if I change the design and try to improve it!!

I understand what it means to Patent something and to continue to hold the foul beast! Do you?
IP law is make believe monopoly on thought.

It is a Positive Rights Law, which is un-enforceable, un-fair to many, and wholly unnessesary except to those who fear entering a market without a monopoly in their hands.

Cowards, afraid of their own limits and limitations.
Cowards, looking for a quick fix to their mundane market outlook.
Greedy Cowards afraid that anyone might better their design, and “steal” their one precious thought.

In a “Free Market”, monopoly by Fiat is NOT FREE.

“Patents are about offering practical new solutions to existing problems”

Patents are about restricting the market to one solution to an existing problem, and only one source for that solution for an unnaturally extended period of time.

Is this the comforting stability you speak of? How safe does it make you feel to have the hands of the State coddling your thoughts? Hmm? How innovative is it, how beneficial is it, to the market calculations that there is only One solution allowed? What rampant tempest of innovation is this coddling creating? Oh wait! It’s STABLE!!! (STAGNANT)

Andras May 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm

@Peter Surda
For the first:
I don’t see how you can have the claim that non-IP is Free Market. It is a perfect invitation for rule by might. The fact that the state monopolized it does not mean that it can not be done without it. It shows only that it is important for the state to control it. As it was shown for other monopolies.
I can not see why patent offices be like private title offices.
From the beginning I have stated that I don’t believe that the existing system is perfect or good. I have just said that non-IP is not better but rather worse.
For the second:
I agree with your objections against old IP. I am only uncertain how it would work at the entry phase. Similar question is how you prevent overfishing of public seas and deforestation of public land. By privatization. But how you distribute the entry rights. I claim that the way to do that, homesteading, is as arbitrary as the IP laws. Once rights are sorted out the rest is easy. The only difference is that in IP, the rights disappear by time. But even this diminishing rights is scheduled so you can plan for it and the afterward.
Show me your non-IP alternative approach with details. Focus on the introduction of a new idea and if I can ask, stay with pharmaceutical examples, say a drug for curing a so far lethal disease, as it is my main worry and there are many.
Stay with consistent rules and do not modify them on the fly.

Andras May 30, 2009 at 3:35 pm

You are an angry man and you are fighting a straw-man. My guess is that you misapplied the patent laws and this is part of your frustration. You got what you asked for. Why do you blame the law? Time will solve your problem. Meanwhile you can abandon your existing patent, start working on the improvement and learn from your mistakes. That is not a bad starting point. It may give you consolation that you can plan all this process ahead.
Please read my reply to Peter Surda, it might help to clarify my position.

Peter Surda June 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I think you still do not understand IP, because you are also using the term to describe rights that follow from the (classical) property rights and have nothing to do with IP. In this regard it is irrelevant whether IP is centralised or decentralised. I’ve tried to be cautious and avoid criticism of a specific IP implementation, in fact I recall a comment from a couple of weeks back where I agreed with an IP proponent (I think it was Silas) that it is an invalid argument.

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it is obvious that if a right exists and is enforceable on immaterial goods without IP, calling that right IP is confusing and superfluous.

> I don’t see how you can have the claim that
> non-IP is Free Market.
The requirements for the existence of markets on immaterial goods follow from (classical) property rights (right to use) rather the from IP (right to exclude third parties).

> It is a perfect invitation for rule by might.
This is a biased argument. I do not see how trespass of non-rival goods (most reasonable econo/legal interpretation of IP I was able to come up with) can be labeled “rule by might”. Rule of the quicker maybe?

> From the beginning I have stated that I don’t
> believe that the existing system is perfect or good.
While I am not sure I explicitely stated it before this comment, my criticism is not implementation-specific.

> Similar question is how you prevent overfishing of
> public seas and deforestation of public land.
Because the good in question is non-rival, there can be no overfishing in immaterial goods. As soon as the good is rival, the good old (classical) property rights kick in in the case of trespass.

> Show me your non-IP alternative approach with
> details.
“My approach” is obvious, you use good old contracts to lay restrictions onto your partners (e.g. require them to pay a price). You just need to make sure that they need to agree to a contract in order to get something important from you. Whether this is the “immaterial good” directly or something related. Just use imagination.

Some time ago I posted a comment on Slashdot of an example business model of how music industry can work without IP. It addressed how it can work without government. At that time, I was doing the same mistake as you now, using the term “IP” for any right applied to immaterial goods. Sans this small error, the post is still valid.


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