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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13527/iphone-therefore-i-am/

iPhone, therefore I am

August 10, 2010 by

After much thought and after twitching back and forth between different options, we decided to take the plunge and get iPhones. These things are amazing, to say the least. I used to say that the iconic gizmo of the early twentieth century would be the iPod. I was wrong. It’s the iPhone. It’s one thing to be able to carry a few thousand songs in your pocket. It’s something else to be able to carry songs and other media on a device from which you can also surf the web and record hi-def video. Or blog, as I just finished doing.

8/11 update: D’oh. I meant “21st century.” The iconic gizmo of the 20th century was the 1040.


DD5 August 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I think you meant 21st century. Not 20th.

Ben Ranson August 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

This sort of error in this sort of post proves that the i-Phone really is the technological wonder of the early twentieth century. Whoops! Make that the twenty-first.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 11:18 am

Well, it shows why I prefer a smartphone with a real keyboard. But to each his own.

iamse7en August 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

iPhone 4 is an amazing device.

Lee Mills August 10, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Welcome, sir, to the iPhone club. The iPhone is amazing for sure.

Darcy August 10, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Also, it sends and receives phone calls.

Josh August 11, 2010 at 7:21 am

Fone…Kaall? What’s that? lol

HL August 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I gave my wife one. As for me, I like the old-fashioned Blackberry with its stable platform and great email. My IT guy raves about the Droid, but I think it’s because he worships Google like many worship Apple.

On the other hand, the i-Pad is like way cool and the perfect toy.

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 5:27 am

I had the 2G iPhone for almost 3 years before switching to the HTC Droid Incredible. It’s nothing to do with some Google worship, it’s truly a superior phone…assuming that’s what you’re going for.

The iPhone is basically an amusement park. Everything is heavily tailored around the experience. If you want to do something that the park doesn’t have, you’re out of luck. But if you want to do what the park has, it’s great.

The problem with the iPhone, and why IT people really don’t like it, is it’s a closed system. If you want to do something with it, you had better hope there’s an app for that on the store because you’re SOL if it doesn’t have it. It doesn’t have an operating system, it’s just a simplified file folder for programs. The iPhone is basically a handheld video game that can make calls.

The Droid is a customizable platform, an actual operating system in a phone. You can create programs and use them without going through the Apple approval process and putting it out for everyone to download and use. The iPhone is not a platform you want if you’d like to keep your internal networking private as everything needs to go onto the public store before you can install it on your employee’s phones. The Droid just plugs into a PC and you can upload it right there, no strings attached. As such, the Droid based phones are far more popular among businesses and why Droid based phones are selling some three times faster than the iPhone, it’s the business community eating them up.

I love the Droid. It lets me log into my computer at home from work. It lets me read a large variety of spreadsheets, engineering drawings, can tie into the accounting system, and more (cost accountant, I really need to know more than just the money side). I’m in the process of setting them up as a field platform for engineers to enter and engage in reports. The iPhone can’t do this.

Droids basically made reality the term smartphone. Before this thing, the platforms were either difficult to use from an IT standpoint (Blackberry, etc), or just a toy masquerading as a smartphone (iPhone).

I’m not stoked about Droid because of the Google name. I’m stoked about Droid because it’s letting me do things no phone OS before it could pull off. I’m sure your IT guy is thinking the same thing.

Michael McLees August 11, 2010 at 9:01 am

For someone who claims high knowledge in this area, one would think you would know the OS is called Android, not Droid.

Renegade Division August 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Unless he is too knowledgable in that area and years before HTC Droid stole it, he had been calling Android as droid.

Tim L August 12, 2010 at 6:04 am

You need to understand the psycological steps you are undertaking in your post. You are subconsciously or consciously negating the content of J. Murray’s post by focussing on a semantic error, this enables your ego to put aside any contrary argument to your beliefs without really challenging them. This is extremely limiting your personal development and something you should address if you wish to learn and grow.

I deliberately mis-spelt some words above so you can do the same to this post if you wish.

J. Murray August 12, 2010 at 6:09 am

Wow, Michael, this is incredibly sad of you. Droid is the colloquial term. Welcome to the club of Michaels on this site that can’t argue their way out of a paper bag. Attempting to argue the official name tells me your knowledge stops at the Wikipedia entry.

I could also call my home PC processor the Intel Core i7 980x, but I refer to it as the Gulftown even though there is more than one chip using the Gulftown design. It’s just easier that way.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 9:17 am

I was going to just let it go, but since you insist…

Droid isn’t a colloquial term. It’s specific term for a specific line of phones, like the iPhone is a line of phones. People with Nexus Ones, Desires, and Heroes (3 of many Android phones) don’t go around showing people their Droids, because they know that they don’t have a Droid; they have Nexus Ones, Desires, and Heroes. Many of them might say, “Check out my Android,” but this only confirms what I already said. I can say that I have a Droid because I actually have a Motorola Droid. If I told you that I owned a Blackberry and then showed you my Droid, you would correct me and I wouldn’t be able to retort, “Well, Blackberry is a colloquial term…”

And if you call your processor a Gulftown, you do so because that’s what it actually is. It’s part of a group of processors using a common Gulftown design. Sort of like how the 20 or so Android phones all use the common Android operating system, yet only a couple of them are called Droids. You wouldn’t buy a base level Corvette and then go around telling people you own a ZR-1 for the same reason.

Your Droid does not run on the Droid OS; it runs on the Android OS.

Jon Leckie August 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

Well I for one am glad that we’ve got that cleared up! Now, back to battling tyranny and injustice…

Tim L August 12, 2010 at 9:58 am

Yeah mate we all got that, his comments were interesting and we are all big enough to overlook the droid / android naming whatever. No one cares and no one needed it pointed out. But if you feel a little more intelligent and special now that you’ve spelt out the obvious then I’m really happy for you. Delusion is great.

What is interesting is that Droid devices (oh noes I got it wrong, or did I?) are activating at the rate of 200,000 per day or 1m per working week. If you combine all i-pods/phones etc you don’t get this level of sign up. Android is killing them. Look up reggie middleton’s blog on this for more details. Suck it up Apple, you’re falling way behind the curve.

In fact i’m going to refer to the OS as Droid from now on, just to win the interweb.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 10:41 am


The guy accused me of being one in a line of Michaels who can’t argue my way out of a paper bag. Them’s fightin’ words.

J. Murray August 12, 2010 at 11:02 am

Again, whoopie. If you’re confused by my leaving out an entire two letters out of the thing, just tell me and I can adjust for your benefit.

And, no, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of you showing me an “AN”droid phone and call it a Blackberry any more than I would bitch at you for handing me a store-brand nose tissue when I ask for a Kleenex. It’s common for a product brand name to become the defining name of the product itself, even if produced by different manufacturers. People Xerox on HP photocopiers and I’m not about to waste any time correcting them on the official term no one uses.

The ZR-1 comparison doesn’t fly because I’m not being heavily specific, like just saying you have a Corvette. Now, if I said I had the Motorola Droid and showed you the HTC Incredible, then you may be onto something.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 11:04 am

It isn’t about adjusting; it’s about you deciding to engage me in a losing argument.

J. Murray August 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

Losing what? There wasn’t ever an argument. Go out in your driveway, toss a few balls in your basket, and then claim victory over me in basketball if it makes you feel any better. You came here with meaningless semantics, unilaterally decided it an argument, then claimed victory.

Better yet, go to your local supermarket and scream at people buying store-brand flavored gellatin deserts for calling it Jell-O. I’m sure that’s more to your speed than a serious economics blog.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm

There was actually. You said that Droid is a colloquial term for the Andoid OS, a statement I would be unable to counter because I’m incapable of arguing my way out of a paper bag. I then said Droid wasn’t a colloquial term and proved my case through logic and example. You lost the argument.

Whether or not you’d jump down anyone’s throat for calling their Blackberry a Droid has nothing to do with whether or not the term Blackberry is really just a colloquial for “smartphone”. The reality is, a long post about the superiority of Blackberries to iPhones would lose credibility if the author insisted on calling the device a Blueberry. You did just that. You wrote a long post (in which you imply that you have some sort of enterprise knowledge) about the superiority of the Android OS and then lost credibility when you called it the Droid OS.

I don’t know how you could have forgotten all this. It just happened a little while ago.

J. Murray August 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Uh huh…right. Back to semantics again. It seems you just don’t get it. At no point did you counter-argue any points I made. The entire “argument” was based on the broad assumption that becuase I chose not to add two letters to a word means I know zilch on the subject. And that, my friend, is why you’re coming off as a jackass. Your capability of actually debating the substance of the argument is so lacking you have to pick out the most meaningless aspect and attack it as if your life depended on it. Thanks for the not all that intellectually rousing discussion on whether the existence of two letters or not matters. Pat yourself on the back for claiming victory where there is no victory to claim.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I didn’t say you know “zilch”. I said you didn’t know what the OS was called and that it caused your post (full of otherwise good points) to lose credibility.

Dantiumpro August 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Actually, “Droid” is just a label Verizon pays Lucasfilm for use of – Motorola and HTC call them other things on different networks:


So it’s network-specific, not that it makes any difference to the fact I understood what J. Murray meant in the first place, or to the credibility of what was posted.

The article is a good read though (amazing what you find thinking like a pedant) and the banter has been amusing.

Peter Surda August 14, 2010 at 6:06 am

You could also argue that Android is not an operating system but a linux distribution. The whole debate is an exercise in nitpicking on the irrelevant.

jerry August 12, 2010 at 6:33 am

What a snarky little (ginger bearded) pissant you are Mclees.

( http://blog.mises.org/13327/l-neith-smith-on-ip/#comment-703207 )

Jim Raynor August 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Gingers have no souls. Let us disregard what this cattle has to say to us.

Daniel August 11, 2010 at 2:37 am

Is it an ad for iPhone?

Peter August 11, 2010 at 3:06 am

So…does anyone know where you can just buy an iPhone 4 on-line without signing up for a connection plan?

Baten August 11, 2010 at 5:40 am

I really dont understand this “cramming” fetishism.
For me, a phone is something you make calls. If I want to play games, I use a Playstation or a DS or something. If I need to perform some work, I use my computer. If I choose to listen to music, I pop a disk into my CD player. If I want to take some pictures, I use a camera.
I really dont have any need to cram all these machines in into one that performs the function of each at a quality level that is at best unsatisfactory.

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 5:49 am

Well, it’s more along the lines of do you keep all those things on your person at a time? People don’t really like carrying more than one device with them. Do you carry a DS, portable CD player (wow, those still exist?), camera, and cellphone all at the same time? It’s a matter of convenience. The other products still exist for their specialized function (though a separate MP3 player from the phone doesn’t offer any real benefits as they’re basically on-par with one another) for planned use, but the multi-use phone allows you to use those functions without loading yourself down with hardware and do so in daily use.

Baten August 11, 2010 at 6:00 am

No, I only carry my phone with me, and the only function I perform with it is making calls.
I am a huge videogame fan – but I rarely play “on the run”, and when I plan to, I bring my DS along. At home I play on a Playstation, on the TV – never on the computer, which is for work.

I also dont listen music on the run – it’s a complete nonsense. Music has to be enjoyed, and you have to pay attention. If you listen on the run, then it’s not music, it’s just background noise (precisely what contemporary music has become). So I dont need an MP3 player or a portable CD.

Also, why to I need to take a camera with my all the time? So that I make hundreds of photos that nobody, not even myself, ever looks at?

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 6:18 am

We’re living in a Facebook culture now. That’s who is using those low-quality cameras. It’s also a useful thing to have in case of emergency. The cellphone camera and video recorder is becoming the new social changer. The sheer volume of videos showing police corruption and violence since the advent of the cellphone camera has skyrocketed. It’s a great device that captures things we never heard about 15 years ago. It’s a device that puts politicians in their place.

You may not personally see the use, but it has extensive value.

Baten August 11, 2010 at 7:45 am

“Police corruption videos” are just unintended consequences. It just so happened that the miniature camera in the phone was found to be of some value here – but of course, no phone manufacturer is goint to market the benefit of “putting politicians in their place” (and no phone buyer for that matter will look for this benefit in his phone).

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 7:48 am

Of course, but when did intentions ever matter? Readers here should know that well enough, intentions are meaningless.

bob August 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I have a Blackberry, but I don’t pay for web service, rendering most of its advanced features useless. One of the attractive features to me was the video camera, whose only purpose in my mind is to document police abuse.

Ryan August 11, 2010 at 6:28 am

Hi Art. Glad you like your iPhone.

Think how many more features it would have if other products were allowed to compete on the market. Think how much money you would have saved – or how much earlier you could have afforded one – or how many of your friends you could call on their own iPhones – if the iPhone’s price weren’t fixed by the exploitation of the court system, the intellectual property infrastructure, and the state of international trade agreements.

I understand that technology is impressive, and it’s always nice to get the best product on the market. It’s one thing to buy an iPhone and privately enjoy it. But when a company is so brazenly anti-competitive and statist, it seems pretty offensive to go singing their praises on a free market, libertarian blog.

The deadweight loss to all of us is real. iPhones would be even more impressive if they were produced in a competitive environment. This blog post is a real disappointment.

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 6:35 am

Also, the operation of the iPhone itself is very much anti-market. Anything and everything that is done on the platform must be approved by Apple. No third party applications are allowed. Apple even goes as far as disabling the device if you deviate in its operation in any manner. I had mine intentionally disabled because I dared to bypass Apple’s policy of buying ringtones for $2 ($1 for the Apple-approved song and $1 to turn it into a ringtone) by using my own and messing with the file extension, which worked great until the next round of updating. It’s also hard to fathom why anyone would even consider this ownership as Apple treats you as renting the hardware, considering the extensive level of control exerted over its operation by Apple.

Such a brazenly statist product appearing here is confusing.

Slim934 August 11, 2010 at 7:15 am

Oh come now, even I don’t look at the iPhone in such a fashion.

So it is a closed platform, big deal. I think however that calling it a “statist” product is (in Stephan Kinsella’s terms) just a wee bit thickish form a libertarian standpoint. I mean, if they want to give people a very closed platform that is way overpriced, and people are willing to pay for it because they perceive it to have a superior experience then so what?

I would concur that in reality it is not TRULY ownership. And I tell this to my friends who have iPhones all the time. They don’t really care. They want a phone which also provides numerous toy functions, and the iPhone does exactly that. I see no reason to begrudge them their preferences.

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 7:45 am

The point being is that Apple would never have managed to sell the thing without the 500 or so patents blocking competition. The closed system would have rapidly failed as it did with companies like AOL and why Apple is still a bit nobody when it comes to desktop computing.

Ryan August 11, 2010 at 7:59 am

We’re not just talking about enjoying one’s iPhone, we’re talking about using the LvMI blog to rave about a company that engages in a lot of anticompetitive practices in nearly full cooperation of the world’s largest governments.

iPhone might very well be the best product of its kind on the market right now, so I begrudge no one for owning one and enjoying it. But something’s not right about the LvMI’s blog being a forum for Apple praise.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

Yet strangely … people seem to enjoy it! Hm … this can’t be right, can it?

Ryan August 11, 2010 at 11:28 am

Of course it can. If you want another example, many people still like baking corn bread despite the fact that corn’s market attributes are the product of a government subsidy program.

Just because there exists some utility doesn’t mean there doesn’t also exist deadweight loss. I am in favor of utility and opposed to deadweight loss. Aren’t you? :)

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

And think about whether anyone would have made an iPhone at all if not for IP rights. People would just give away ultra-high quality ideas out of the goodness of their hearts? Just like they’d give away food worth eating?

Ryan August 11, 2010 at 11:32 am

Even if you take the IP argument out of the issue, Apple is still well-known for price-fixing, single-supplier agreements, and exploitation of international trade barriers. We can argue in theory about the efficacy of such market practices in hypothetical free market conditions, but at the end of the day, we are talking about a company that routinely undermine’s the will of the consumers.

Such a company might be many things to many people, but that it should be advertised on the pages of the LvMI is – in my view – disappointing.

Beefcake the Mighty August 11, 2010 at 12:13 pm

“And think about whether anyone would have made an iPhone at all if not for IP rights. People would just give away ultra-high quality ideas out of the goodness of their hearts?”

iPhone = ideas, is this what you’re claiming?

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

The Android is open source, so yes, people have made something with iPhone quality (superior in many ways) without a lick of IP protection.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Okay, perhaps that wasn’t clear.

Have people given away a free OS good enough for any cellphone user? No.

People should stop bringing up this strawman. Of *course* people will produce intellectual works without IP! No one’s ever disputed that! Just like people give away apples they’ve grown and harvested, and will do so whatever the property rights regime.

But what *exactly* does such an observation prove, and how is that relevant to the question of whether a certain property rights system should exist? Communists always tell me people will produce stuff for free and that’ll satisfy everyone, so we don’t need property rights. It’s different here (on the specific issue of what quality works produced in the absence of property rights in those works) because ____?

Beefcake the Mighty August 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

“Have people given away a free OS good enough for any cellphone user? No.”

How is this relevant in any way?

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

How is this relevant that communist societies haven’t found people who’d give enough food/cars/jeans (out of the goodness of their hearts) to everyone who wants one?

Beefcake the Mighty August 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Given your incomprehensible response, it appears that there is no relevance. Thanks for clearing that up.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Beefcake_the_Mighty, you’re not trying. My claim has long been that, even though many intellectual works are produced irrespective of IP’s status, some of them would not exist but for IP. The expenditure of resources to produce these works, and they’re enjoyment by the end users, is Pareto-superior alternatives, and can only happen

Will there be inferior, latecomer, IP-free intellectual works? Always. It’s just that if we had to make do with *only* those, we’d be worse off.

Exactly like we’d be worse off if the only way to get food were to grow it ourselves or be given it, under a system where property rights in produce “that you’re not using” weren’t recognized.

Does that argument make sense?

Peter Surda August 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Dear Silas,

My claim has long been that, even though many intellectual works are produced irrespective of IP’s status, some of them would not exist but for IP.

So, you’re a utilitarian then? This part of your claim is, of course, possible, although it is more likely that some might just be produced later, once sufficient productivity is reached. However, as a utilitarian you forget the second edge of the sword: just like IP makes some product more likely to happen and increases some revenues, it also makes other product less likely to happen and increases some costs.

Your argument is akin to saying that the moon landing or the Hoover dam would not have happened without government, and therefore government is desirable.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

@Peter_Surda: Are you being a utilitarian when you say that property rights enable production that wouldn’t otherwise happen? That’s the same sense in which I’m making the argument when I talk about intellectual works.

Peter Surda August 12, 2010 at 3:49 am

Are you being a utilitarian when you say that property rights enable production that wouldn’t otherwise happen?

You use imprecise language again. The question is not about property rights versus no property rights, it is about comparing two different assignments of property rights. Preferring a specific property rights definition due to its redistributive effects is utilitarian.

That’s the same sense in which I’m making the argument when I talk about intellectual works.

I already pointed out the errors in the claim. The non-rival goods being made up constructs. The impossibility to use non-rival goods without using rival goods. The issue that IP only covers some intellectual works but not others.

Let me ask you in a language you might understand. Can you store, use, transmit, sell or trade a pattern without instantiating it? If the answer is yes, how? If the answer is no, then IP is only a redistributive policy, rather than extension of property rights into areas previously uncovered.

Peter Surda August 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Dear Silas,

again and again you attempt to provide analogies which have been proved inadequate. Apple does not sell iOS licenses, they bundle it with their hardware and provide upgrades free of charge. Your analogy would only make sense if Apple was selling licenses, which they don’t. It does not fit into their business plan. Coincidentally, this part of their business plan is identical to one of the examples that I presented to you earlier as a refutation of the “IP economic calculation argument”. Symbian and Android are as far as I know, free. Microsoft, on the other hand, sells licenses for their Windows Mobile, and it costs around 3 dollars per device, last time I checked. I don’t know exactly how much WebOS costs, but I found a figure 7 dollars on the net. All are insignificant compared to the cost of the phone.

Furthermore, as I tried to explain but apparently you are unable to comprehend it, IP does not introduce property rights to goods which would be uncovered without it, it rearranges property rights to goods that are already covered by it. That’s a reason why the analogy with communism fails, and also why the “IP economic calculation argument” fails. What remains is the utilitarian argument, but you don’t like utilitarianism, do you?

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Why should the OSes cost anything? When I see that I have to pay $3 just to use Windows Mobile — which isn’t even scarce! — that’s like 9/11 happened all over again.

Beefcake the Mighty August 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm

“Why should the OSes cost anything? ”

They don’t, it’s the licenses that cost money. You’re paying to use the software, contigent on not doing certain things with it (eg, unauthorized copying).

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

That’s even worse! How dare they charge you for something you should just be allowed to download for free! Fraudsters!

Peter Surda August 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Silas, you contradict yourself.

First you write:

Have people given away a free OS good enough for any cellphone user? No.

And then when I point out that Apple does not charge for the OS, you say:

Why should the OSes cost anything?

Although it is doubtful one can defeat religious fundamentalism with logical reasoning, I will nevertheless continue to point out at least the most obvious illogic in my opponents’ posts.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm

That’s not contradicting myself, Peter_Surda; it’s just not-specifically-addressing a point when I gave a sufficient general response. The iPhone OS is just another case of a bundled good that sheepishly attempts to correct for the inability to price the ideas themselves.

In any case, there are at least some phone OSes people are paying for, which is all I need to make my point. Those prove that people were made better off by the existence of intellectual property — which, of course, was a right Apple also needs for its iPhone business model (i.e. including the apps) to work.

Try again.

Beefcake the Mighty August 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I guess I’m in the mood for amusement here, as otherwise this debate would be pretty painful.

“How dare they charge you for something you should just be allowed to download for free! ”

Can you please show me an example of an IP opponent saying that creators of software should be compelled to make that software available to others for free? That seems to be what you’re saying here, although honestly I can never tell with you.

Peter Surda August 12, 2010 at 3:58 am

Silas, you mix together completely unrelated things and try to wiggle out of the errors you made and then you suddenly jump to utilitarianism again, and build a strawman. I cannot recall any IP opponent saying that without IP, the exact same benefits that we have now will remain. That would be stupid. Of course some cannot remain. They are a bubble created by protectionism and it would burst.

Those prove that people were made better off by the existence of intellectual property…

Have you given any thought whatsoever to this claim? Of course there are people who are better off by the existence of intellectual property. Any redistributive policy is beneficial for someone. If it made noone better off, why would anyone want it in the first place?

So, now it turned out that you don’t actually have an argument based on natural rights, you have attempted utilitarianism, but regrettably are oblivious to the fact that any redistributive policy has beneficial as well as detrimental effects to someone.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

Does every blog post need to break down into an IP debate?

bob August 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

are you really arguing that anything the iphone does is innovative? seems to me that it’s only innovative aspect was taking commonly available ideas and implementing them in a single, pocket-sized device.

North August 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

I chose Android: Sony Xperia X10

This thing is more than half as powerful as my desktop computer…and it fits in my pocket!

J. Murray August 11, 2010 at 11:13 am

“The iconic gizmo of the 20th century was the 1040.”

As in the income tax form?

Walt D. August 11, 2010 at 11:52 am

Silas wrote “People would just give away ultra-high quality ideas out of the goodness of their hearts?”
Silas, once again, you identify the Achilles heel on the anti-IP argument. However, the libertarian anti-IP philosophy is intended to apply to an idealized society where there is no coercive government, people respect the right to (physical) property, and appreciate the value of the creative members of society. Think of a Hans Hoppe “Fantasy Island”. The libertarian anti_IP philosophy is not meant to be applied to the real world, any more than the homesteading concept can be applied to a country where every piece of land has been stolen from someone else at some time in the past and there is no clear provenance.
Besides, why would you need an iPhone on a desert island? :-)

Scott D August 11, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Silas, once again, you identify the Achilles heel on the anti-IP argument.

Yep, file that one along with these utilitarian gems:

“And people will preserve nature out of the goodness of their hearts?”
“And people will take care of the poor and disabled out of the goodness of their hearts?

Screw libertarianism. We need the state to keep people writing and inventing, just like we need it to save mother Gaia and those who can’t help themselves.

Franklin August 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Indeed. I wonder which Paleolithic man had IP on the wheel.
‘course the response to that would be something along the lines of, “Oh, fine, so you want to regress to the Stone Age?!”

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Yep, people will grow food out of the goodness of their hearts too, that’s why communism is such a great idea … right?

mpolzkill August 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

1 loaf of bread minus 1 loaf of bread = 0 loaves of bread.

1 song minus…wait, this doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t know about other subjects, and it sounds corny in this crypto-statist’s words, but great musicians literally release music out of the goodness of their hearts.

Silas Barta August 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

What does that have to do with the *specific* argument I made? What does the ease of reproducing songs have to do *that* argument? It’s great that you’ve found one disanalogy, but you need to relate it to the argument you’re replying to.

mpolzkill August 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

I know your theory is not true in this field, I imagine it’s not true in most others. No sale, State salesman.

Scott D August 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Yep, people will grow food out of the goodness of their hearts too, that’s why communism is such a great idea … right?

If food could be reproduced as cheaply and easily as digital files and could be consumed without ever using it up, what need would anyone have for property rights in it? What purpose would it serve?

Ah, I see. We would use the government to restrict people from copying food, to keep farmers in business. Thanks for clearing that up!

Walt D. August 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

” We would use the government to restrict people from copying food, to keep farmers in business.”
Is this not the same as “Atlas Shrugged”? In order to copy the food the farmer has to grow it. If the farmer did not grow it, there would be nothing to copy. It would not matter whether you could reproduce it cheaply or not. John Galt is not going to work for nothing. In the same way, if someone could copy something like Avatar immediately it is released and make it available for free on the internet, the only reason for going to the movie theater to watch it is would be to see it on IMAX. Hollywood would go out of business. Then there is nothing to copy. As much as Stephan and Jeffrey hate coercive state intervention, without it there would be no viagra, and they would be as limp as some of their IP arguments.

J. Murray August 12, 2010 at 5:27 am

Arguing pro-IP ignores the fact that the vast majority of inventions over human history were produced in the absence of IP.

Michael McLees August 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

Easy to build up a list of inventions in the absence of things like lightbulbs, t-shirts, rubber, etc…

The thing stopping you from inventing a new mousetrap now is not the IP system (I won’t argue that here), its the fact that 99% of your ideas will have already been thought of by someone else years ago. 1,000 years ago, you didn’t have that 1,000 years of competition.

Dantiumpro August 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

“Ah, I see. We would use the government to restrict people from copying food, to keep farmers in business. Thanks for clearing that up!”

The commercial growers would use the government to restrict people from copying useful hybrid foods they develop. Hang on a second…

Plant breeders rights @ Wikipedia

The world we live in.

Could it be that the information rights we want to protect are not property rights, but rights all the same?

Could it be that falsificationist arguments against intellectual Property are useful to highlight what’s currently wrong but not intended to show us what appropriate rights are, only what they are not?

Could it be that the law, *without IP laws*, can protect an information originator’s exclusive right to sell but not exclude anothers’ rights to use their property (beyond selling it where the information is the reason for purchase)?

I think it could be:


Sorry for the rhetorical format, just exasperated that being anti-IP but not anti-Information Rights is perceived as being either a demand for a free for all, or even a pro-IP argument in disguise. It isn’t.

If another source of rights exists that aren’t *property* rights and don’t import property-based claims inappropriately, maybe we can find common ground. I’ll stop the ‘could it be?’ now :p

T. Kelly August 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Personally, what amazes me about smartphone technology is the ability to have information wherever and whenever I want. And not just information but the latest information. I’ll make or receive a few phone calls a day and send a few text messages; occasionally I’ll play a game. But far and away the feature I utilize the most is the web browser. The fact that I now have the ability to look up anything that piques my interest anytime and anywhere on a device that I can carry in my pocket is nothing short of life changing. Confucius observed that humans never stop learning from birth to death; knowledge is infinite. My phone has economized my acquisition of knowledge to the point that my head hurts just thinking about it. Btw I have an iphone 3gs.

Elric August 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

This page is the first thing I thought of when reading the title (disregard Che)

pimpernel August 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

So, has Apple enabled the use of other service providers than AT&T, who are pretty much guaranteed to let the NSA listen in?

Dina Ruth - personal development courses August 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

every day there are new technologies that leave the last new technology behind. the new technologies are coming so fast now that we wont even notice that there are newer technologies.this new technology is so powerful! every day i learn something new about computer tech. that is mindblowing!it is my decision to develop in this area and i guess that i have to decide to learn this one too!

Mr Mobile July 29, 2011 at 6:19 am

I would not turn down an iPhone 4 if the office gave me one, but I am happy with the Android Samsung Nexus S and everything it can do!

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