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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13977/benjamin-franklin-was-an-open-source-advocate/

Benjamin Franklin was an Open-Source Advocate

September 21, 2010 by

He published books on inventions with information that the guilds tried to suppress. He declined patents on his own inventions. He loved “pirated” editions of books. His Almanac was essentially the Google of its time. He opposed every attempt to close off information flows. Full treatment here.

{ 45 comments }

Ohhh Henry September 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm

He gets a pounding in Rothbard’s “Conceived in Liberty” for political opportunism and rentseeking, it’s nice to see him get credit for something.

Juraj September 22, 2010 at 12:39 am

Ironically, Rothbard thought copyright was OK within libertarian framework.

Kerem Tibuk September 22, 2010 at 2:24 am

It is not ironic at all. It just shows the sad state of Mises Inst. after Rothbard passed away.

Shay September 22, 2010 at 6:52 am

Or perhaps it shows that Rothbard didn’t examine the issue closely and made an error, that the current Mises people understand that humans are fallible and don’t deify those before them.

Juraj September 23, 2010 at 11:18 am

Precisely.

Nathan K September 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I read his autobiography a few months ago and was pleasantly surprised to find out he was against IP – in terms of rejecting his patents and publishing pamphlets of how to make his inventions.

He also organized a library and fire-figher association… and guess what, they were all voluntary, private associations!

Alexander S. Peak September 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Dear Mr. K.,

I liked those aspects of his autobiography as well. And the library he created is still around.

What I disliked was the fact that he was not against the state making “internal improvements” and unbacked, centrally-created fiat money.

With Franklin, it seems you get a mix, some good with some bad.

I would quite like, when I find the opportunity, to read Mark Skousen’s Compleated Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

Yours,
Alex Peak

Kerem Tibuk September 22, 2010 at 2:21 am

Let’s appeal to authority.

For God knows we have tried every other logical fallacy there is, to defend the Marxist theory of property in seemingly libertarian website.

boniek September 22, 2010 at 3:13 am

Don’t be so stiff man. It’s not appeal to authority because this is not an argument – it is just funny historical anecdote.
What do you mean by IP? Do you defend current implementation of IP enforced by governments and methods they use?

Matthew Swaringen September 22, 2010 at 6:44 am

Kerem defined IP for me. He said: “By product, I mean anything that would not exist if it wasn’t for the specific individual who is the producer.”

And on clarification on whether he was ok with dual production of the same ideas, he said: “If Leibniz didnt copy from Newton, if he didnt interact with that specific product that is “Calculus discovered by Newton”, this means he independently discovered calculus and he produced “Calculus discovered by Leibniz” which is another identity.”

Our current state doesn’t allow for what he allows for here, however, our current state doesn’t define IP nearly so broadly as he has defined it here. Indeed, his definition would include the words we speak and even this sentence. His definition would allow for ownership by people who wanted to prevent parody, and it would allow for even plot-concept ownership, so if you came up with the “Zombie Apocalypse” idea you get exclusive rights to write about it over everyone else (except others who came up with it entirely independently. However, good luck proving who you got it from. This creates an extremely murky environment for future authors who very likely developed their own plots from various different influences).

Of course, I think I’ve only touched the surface of the problems with the view, given that it could go as far as to stretch down to the use of language itself. And if he truly believes this, he can’t provide a term-limit on this kind of IP, so unlike the current state he believes this IP he has described lasts forever.

I think I called his notions “clearly insane” and I stick by that.

nate-m September 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm

To talk about ‘IP’ as if ‘IP’ exists in any legal framework just confuses the issues. It makes it difficult to have a rational discussion about the subject.

IP you have:
Copyright Law
Patent Law
Trademark Law
Contracts surround trade secrets.

These are all very distinct and are unrelated in terms of how they are applied, the scope of what they affect, and how they are enforced.

If your a firm believer of ‘private property’ rights above all else then your going to be logically opposed to copyright law and patent law. There just is no way around it. There is no logical or rational defense of those laws from a person who thinks that private property and personal freedom are primary since they are, by design, give control of your private property to third parties and are enforced entirely through the threat of force from the government.

_THAT_IS_IT_. Without a government standing over everybody with a gun to their head then most forms of ‘IP’ expressed above would be entirely impractical.

———————————————————-

My personal opinion goes like this:

As your probably aware of… Star Treck fictional story was a mixture of fantasy and science fiction genres. They had these things called ‘Replicators’ that would produce any sort of food or general item you could think off.

Lets imagine that we had food replicators. That all you needed was one person to make one loaf of bread and then that loaf of bread could simply be copied infinitely to meet the hunger needs of all of humanity with minimal expense.

That is what we have with ‘computers’. We have information replicators.

One person writes a program and that program can be made available to everyone at minimal cost. Same thing with any digital media. And eventually we will have sophisticated enough 3D printers, within our life time, that most mechanical and electronic parts can be reproduced at home or in small shops (Although efficiencies provided by manufacturing plants will ensure their continued existence and profitability and complex items like automobiles and integrated circuits probably won’t be made by small shops any time within our lifetime.) .

Since now that knowledge and information is infinitely copyable at minimal cost it makes as little sense to restrict that as restricting food from hungry people if that food was no longer a scarce resource and was infinitely and trivially copyable.

Matthew Swaringen September 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I use to be a huge subscriber to the separation of them like that myself, but it’s really got little relevance to my current position which is why I don’t bother. Also, caveats like that can’t just make it harder to communicate. If we were discussing the particulars with someone who cares about them it makes sense, but it doesn’t make much sensel with someone like Kerem, who says that anything you’ve produced intellectually is something you own.

Trade secrets are as you say really a contract issue, and thus explicit laws about trade secret are unnecessary in my view. This should be handled in the same way as any contract violations.

The other 3 are really in my view all illegitimate, at least in any current configuration.

Copyright & Patent will not in my view exist in any form in a free market arbitration system. We might see that many people believe that their communities shouldn’t allow selling or buying bootleg merchandise (unauthorized copies that are sold rather than given away freely) as I think there may be sufficient people against it at least in some industries. The enforcement costs to everyone of monitoring/tracking/providing info/etc. make p2p impossible to really affect in a free society, even when it has a state.

Trademark law is illegitimate right now because it’s based on the producer suing another producer. The damage is in fact done to the customer, who may believe he purchased a product from one producer when he in fact did not. I think this is really covered by the general fraud category, so I don’t know that there is really a reason for a separate body of law specifically for it.

Peter Surda September 23, 2010 at 2:33 am

… Kerem, who says that anything you’ve produced intellectually is something you own.

The funny thing is that he also vehemently explicitly denies that externalities are property, thereby contradicting himself. He also claims that IP is “obvious” to everyone including his young kid. Yet, despite complaining for years on this site about “IP socialism”, he is unable to define it.

The Kid Salami September 23, 2010 at 3:21 am

“Trade secrets are as you say really a contract issue, and thus explicit laws about trade secret are unnecessary in my view. This should be handled in the same way as any contract violations.”

Could you explain what you mean by this please?

nate-m September 23, 2010 at 10:52 am

“”"Could you explain what you mean by this please?”"”It’s pretty easy to understand. If your a business and you create a idea that will impact your trade in a significant way, but you keep it secret then it’s a ‘trade secret’.

The idea is that if your working with somebody else you’ll probably have to divulge your secret to them.However before you do that you have them sign a contract (typically called a NDA nowadays) that they agree to keep your secrets prior to you revealing them.

So therefore if your able to establish a workable contractual system based on voluntary agreements without a government (which most libertarians think is possible) then you do not need a government to keep trade secrets.

However with copyrights and patents then you do need government no matter what since those forms of IPs depend on controls on property in ways that other people never agreed with.

Any copy of a copyrighted work caries the restrictions no matter whether or not you agree to those restrictions in the first place. So if I make a copy of a copy and give it to my brother he is still restricted by copyrights even though by making him a copy I never denied a single thing to anybody else.

Patents are even worse then that and apply to you and your private property even if you had no knowledge of the patent, the inventor, or any other related products. You can have a totally independent creation and still can be sued by a patent holder. There are very significant barriers to the enforcement of patents that do not cover independent inventions, so much so that this is the only way patents can possibly work.

Personally I think that trademarks are very valuable and are needed in a society and can exist in a voluntary system due to the effects of reputation and peer review and whatnot. Although they would be much weaker then they are now.

The Kid Salami September 24, 2010 at 6:07 am

“The idea is that if your working with somebody else you’ll probably have to divulge your secret to them.However before you do that you have them sign a contract (typically called a NDA nowadays) that they agree to keep your secrets prior to you revealing them. So therefore if your able to establish a workable contractual system based on voluntary agreements without a government (which most libertarians think is possible) then you do not need a government to keep trade secrets.”

Yes ok – but you haven’t discussed the key problem of how this system fails. That is, what constraints are there (are there any?) on the behaviour of someone who is told a trade secret?

That the employee who tells him has broken his contract and will pay whatever penalty is detailed therein is not in dispute. What obligations/contraints are there on the third party – who made no contract with anyone – and who enforces these?

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 4:34 am

“(except others who came up with it entirely independently. However, good luck proving who you got it from. This creates an extremely murky environment for future authors who very likely developed their own plots from various different influences).”

Who says the burden of proof is on the accused?

Shay September 22, 2010 at 6:58 am

If anything, this blog posting is directed at those who use appeals to the authority of the founding fathers, so that they will have to acknowledge that at least one of them stronly was in favor of sharing ideas. Kerem Tibuk, your postings consistently try to side-step discussion with flawed attempts to discredit people and misconstrue their purpose. Please stop. I know you think that everyone here cannot think straight (except you), but please leave us alone.

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 4:36 am

“If anything, this blog posting is directed at those who use appeals to the authority of the founding fathers, so that they will have to acknowledge that at least one of them stronly was in favor of sharing ideas.”

Who are these people?

Dan September 22, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Wow, what a weak argument. You really want to equate the Mises Institute with Marxists? And who created IP rights Kerem? Did the private sector or was it the State?

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 4:22 am

I equate the “theory of property” that is defended by Hoppe, Kinsella and Tucker with the Marxist theory of property because they are the same.

Marx thought, just as Hoppe and his followers, that property was a necessary evil that arises from the problem of scarcity and when capitalism deals with the issue of scarcity with its high productivity, there would be no need for private property and communism would follow.

This view is also known as the materialistic view that analyzes only the outcome, the property and disregards how that property came to being. Nowhere in this theory of Marx and Hoppe is the individual who is responsible for the existence of property. He has no natural and inherent rights. Only the nature of the outcome, mostly regarding rivalry, is what justifies the rights of individuals over the products.

Person A produces a chair. If he wasn’t for him the chair wouldn’t exist. The outcome, the chair is deemed as having the quality required for property thus it is acknowledged as property

Person B produces a poem. If he wasn’t for him that poem wouldn’t exist. The outcome, the poem is deemed as not having the quality required for property thus it is not acknowledged as property.

In other words if the output, the product is rivalrous it can be property but if it is deemed that it isn’t then it can not be property.

Lockean/Rothbardian theory of property is just the opposite of this Marxist/Hoppean theory.

The individual is at the center of the Lockean/Rothbardian theory of property and individual and the process in which the outcome comes into being, is the only justification of private property in this theory. Because homesteading (making something property) is the extension of self ownership of the individual.

Since individuals own themselves and since they are not puppet,s what ever they produce is theirs. There is no arbitrary requirements regarding scarcity, which is a concept of economics and not ethics, any way.

Therefore Lockean/Rothbardian theory of property is the basis for individualism and libertarianism and the Marxist/Hoppean theory is the basis of an arbitrary positivistic view of ethics and law.

Peter Surda September 23, 2010 at 5:45 am

Kerem, the logical errors, contradictions and dependency on vague formulations in your claims have been lambasted for a long time, yet you continue to preach your nonsense in complete ignorance of them.

You claim that the combination of labour and causality is a method of homesteading, but deny that externalities are property. You claim that property exists without society, yet do not explain what it means. You do not even explain what the concept of property within a society means. You claim that conflict can exist without mutually exclusive options. You continue to hide behind metaphors. You avoid answering questions that unmask your fraud.

It is pointless to debate your “theory”, because you do not even have one. All you is your anger and an unfounded feeling of moral superiourity.

But please, do continue to humour us.

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 6:17 am

Peter,

You intellectual adequacy is not enough for you to be in this debate. Your inability to grasp relatively complex abstract concepts disqualifies you to be in this debate and puts an unreasonable burden on me.

I suggest you realize this and do not waste anyones time.

Peter Surda September 23, 2010 at 7:11 am

Addressing contradictions is below your intellectual level, I see. Well, that’s how you end up with when you’re a religious nut.

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 6:30 am

Also I should add one more point to make things clearer.

This Marxian/Hoppean materialistic view of property, leads to different conclusions and different arbitrary conclusions regarding, what can be property and what can not.

One conclusion is the Marxist/Leninist conclusion where “factors of production” are deemed not “private property worthy”. Again the premise is the same. Only the outcome is analyzed and decided that in this case land, labor and capital can not be private property. It doesn’t matter how land becomes usable, or how capital is formed or who owns the labor, but the result is important.

One other conclusion is Georgism. Henry George, who was otherwise libertarian, thought anything, other than land could be private property but land couldn’t. He didn’t care about how nature given land could be transformed into something useful, and thought land is always god given and it can not be homesteaded.

And of course there is the IP socialists. Who think ideas can not be property although they come to being exactly the same way as tangible stuff that is deemed property. Yes, an individual creates it, yes ihe even uses scarce resources in production but since the end result doesn’t fit some arbitrary qualification it can not be property.

Al these conclusions arise from the same premise, which has nothing to do with the individual with out whom not one of these things that are not private property worthy can exist. And that is why all these conclusion lead to aggression against individuals.

Matthew Swaringen September 23, 2010 at 6:43 am

Except that it’s not arbitrary at all. Scarcity/rivalry is a very real thing. If I take your land you don’t have it. If I take your car you don’t have it. I can’t even take your idea ,I can only copy it.If this distinction is arbitrary everything is arbitrary.

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 8:11 am

Picking “scarcity” as a defining quality is arbitrary.

Just as picking “factors of production” as a defining quality, or picking “land” as a defining quality is arbitrary.

Peter Surda September 23, 2010 at 9:11 am

This post shows the lack of understanding of the actual issue. Picking scarcity as defining factor for conflicts is not arbitrary, it is a tautology. You have been explained to, and evidently not understood, that any definition of property is merely an enumeration of criteria that lead to the conclusion which uses of scarce goods are legitimate and which are illegitimate. It is impossible for a definition of property to do anything else. Using vague words for the criteria and shifting the boundaries does not change this.

Non-scarce goods are features of scarce goods, not the other way around. We conclude, metaphorically, by observing activities that happen with scarce goods, that non-scarce goods are used, created, traded, and so on. Without any use, creation and trade of scarce goods, non-scarce goods cannot be used, created or traded either.

Just like by printing fiat money you do not increase wealth, only redistributes commodities, IP does not increase the scope of property, but redistributes it.

But, you already have been explained this, only you chose to ignore it.

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

I am saying “picking scarcity or rivalry as a defining quality of property is arbitrary” and you think I mean “picking scarcity as a defining factor for conflicts”?

You are more obsessed and deluded than I thought. It seems you are the religious nut and just reflecting.

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

Also

“You have been explained to, and evidently not understood, that any definition of property is merely an enumeration of criteria that lead to the conclusion which uses of scarce goods are legitimate and which are illegitimate.”

Exactly what Marx thought. He thought private ownership of factors of production was illegitimate.

Listen kid.

This happens when you dive into arguments eventhough you are ilequipped. You have no understanding of the concepts you are dealing with. I spent enough time on your to no avail. I suggest you study a bit more and then come back.

Peter Surda September 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

Kerem,

I am saying “picking scarcity or rivalry as a defining quality of property is arbitrary” and you think I mean “picking scarcity as a defining factor for conflicts”?

Yes, I see how that confuses you, since you several times proclaimed that property can exist without conflicts, although you have not explained what it actually means. It’s an oxymoron, like a square circle or wooden iron.

Exactly what Marx thought. He thought private ownership of factors of production was illegitimate.

You are demonstrating the incomprehension of the issue, as explained on the example I brought up with fiat money. No matter how you define property, the only thing it can do is to explain who can do what with scarce goods. It cannot do anything else. Without scarce goods, there is no change, no options and no human action. Even if you define property boundaries via “IP”, none of the above changes. Invoking or rejecting Marxism doesn’t change it either.

You continue to insist that contradictions exist. Property without conflicts, economics without scarce goods, the existence of attributes without the existence of physical objects, homesteading of immaterial goods but not of externalities, and so on. Your refusal to deal with this demonstrates the level of sophistication of your arguments.

This happens when you dive into arguments eventhough you are ilequipped.

Look who’s talking.

You have no understanding of the concepts you are dealing with. I spent enough time on your to no avail. I suggest you study a bit more and then come back.

It is very strange that you accuse me of being illequipped although all the evidence is against you. You are the one who hides behind metaphors, you are the one who retorts with ad hominems, you are the one who is not answering questions, you are the one contradicting himself, you are the one who thinks one can build ethics based on illogic.

You have not provided a single coherent argument. On the contrary, you do everything you can to avoid providing one. In other words, you’re a fraud.

Peter Surda September 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

Maybe I should rephrase it, then you might react with some more nonsense.

Exactly what Marx thought. He thought private ownership of factors of production was illegitimate.

With your reference to marxism, you seem to think that I am making a normative statement, whereas I am making a positive (value-free) statement. My argument is not that a specific definition of property is “better” than other, but that the only difference between different definitions of property is which activities with regard to scarce goods are considered legitimate and which are not. Whether one defines property through marxism, pro-IP, anti-IP stance or anything else, even your oxymorons, the validity of the statement is unaffected.

Actually, there’s a bit of redundancy here: there is no action without scarce goods. Non-scarce goods are an aspect of scarce goods, without them, they do not exist. People conclude metaphoricly that non-scarce goods are being used by interpreting use of scarce goods.

Just like marxism advocates arranging control of scarce goods based on the vague concepts of “means of production” and “class”, IP proponents advocate arranging control of scarce goods based on the vague concept of “creation”. The reason why an economist must reject those theories is not due to ethical considerations, not even due to the intellectual fraud perpertrated by the proponents of them, but because they are not scientific theories. They are religions.

Peter Surda September 23, 2010 at 7:20 am

All your conclusions arise from logical errors, mixed with metaphors, backed by religious dogmas. You cannot properly argue, because doing so exposes the contradictions and causes you cognitive dissonance. You cling to your claims not because of their scientific validity, but because of personal prejudices.

Your error is evident at the very start of the argument. You have been asked to provide a theory of property and homesteading, and have not done so. Instead, you provided self-contradictory convoluted gobbledygook, and when these contradictions are shown to you, you get emotional and retort with ad hominems.

Thinker September 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Kerem,

Supposing that it is indeed possible to own ideas, there are still problems with your position. One is, how do you determine if someone is using someone else’s idea or their own? For example, suppose Gauss reads Newton’s Principia and then uses calculus. How can you determine if he is using “calculus created by Newton” or “calculus created by Gauss?” Also, utilization of an idea, even with the permission and active assistance of the “owner,” involves the application of mental labor to the idea. That is, a potential user of an idea must alter it from its original form so that it necessarily become takes on a new identity. So suppose Gauss reads the Principia and is introduced to the idea “calculus created by Newton.” He cannot make use of this idea, but only some new idea, “calculus created by Gauss,” which is identical to “calculus created by Newton,” but nonetheless has a different identity. Thus, it is impossible to “steal” an idea, as the process of “stealing” it necessarily creates a new idea, which is the one actually “stolen.”

For clarity, I’ve raised two objections: that it is impossible to identify a person’s intellectual property, and so even if we accept the idea of intellectual property, it is useless; and that in order for a person to “steal” an idea with a given identity, he must create an idea with a different identity, which is the one that he uses, and he thus does not “steal” the original idea. I would be very curious to know your response to these two issues, both of which must be answered for your position to be tenable.

Kerem Tibuk September 24, 2010 at 3:52 am

“Supposing that it is indeed possible to own ideas, there are still problems with your position. One is, how do you determine if someone is using someone else’s idea or their own? ”

That is not an ethical problem but only an enforcement issue. It is akin to saying, “how can you say murder is wrong when under some circumstances it is impossible to find out who the murderer is”.

The fact of the matter is this. Either Newtons idea was copied or it wasn’t. There is no third option. Since the subject of ethics is the individual that acts, ethics can and does say to that individual whether his action is right or wrong.

“Also, utilization of an idea, even with the permission and active assistance of the “owner,” involves the application of mental labor to the idea. That is, a potential user of an idea must alter it from its original form so that it necessarily become takes on a new identity. So suppose Gauss reads the Principia and is introduced to the idea “calculus created by Newton.” He cannot make use of this idea, but only some new idea, “calculus created by Gauss,” which is identical to “calculus created by Newton,” but nonetheless has a different identity. Thus, it is impossible to “steal” an idea, as the process of “stealing” it necessarily creates a new idea, which is the one actually “stolen.””

How is this situation a separating quality of IP that disqualifies it as property? If you believe IP is inherently different than tangible when it comes to the property issue, you should point out differences between the tangible and the intangible.

One individual can take an idea, and by using it can produce something new. Now, when he takes the idea, and if the idea has an identifiable creator, he can either get his consent or he doesn’t. This is an ethical dilemma.

Similarly, a sculptor can use the stone from a miner and creates a statue. He can either get the consent of the miner, or he doesn’t. This is the same ethical dilemma as above.

Many IP socialist claim, if IP rights are recognized there would be no interaction regarding the said properties. This is in essence another Marxist paradigm, where it claims property rights generally create atomized individuals where no social cooperation is possible. In fact socialism gets its name from this claim. The claim that where there is no property humans would be more social.

Many examples are given. Like using a song and remaking it. Or sampling as it is called. But nobody is claiming this can not be done in a situation where IP rights are recognized. Of course one can take a song and by using it and some other ingredients create something new. But what is being said is he should get the consent of the owner of the property that is being used as raw material, just as every one in the chain of production gets the consent of the rawer materials they use. Is it more difficult this way? Of course, but buying any raw material is more difficult than just taking it.

“that it is impossible to identify a person’s intellectual property, and so even if we accept the idea of intellectual property, it is useless”

This is totally wrong. It may not be possible in some cases but it is possible in many cases thus we have identities like authors, composers etc. If your claim was accurate there would be no identifiable creators of IP.

And if an ideas creator can not be identified it is a non issue. It is also a non issue regarding property when the creator is identifiable but he gave up his property right.

“and that in order for a person to “steal” an idea with a given identity, he must create an idea with a different identity, which is the one that he uses, and he thus does not “steal” the original idea. ”

He uses the idea he copied as raw material. So it is important. If you insist on this claim, you can not condemn a sculptor stealing stones from a stone owner since the sculpture has a different identity than the stone. Or any chain of production where way materials are changed and made into new products with new identities.

Peter Surda September 24, 2010 at 4:34 am

Kerem,

you’re so predictable Same long refuted errors. You use causality to define property, yet when I ask you if externalities are property too, you say that they are not but you are unable to explain the difference.

Peter Surda September 24, 2010 at 4:46 am

And, oh, by the way, you have not explained any of the other core concepts in your argument: “taking an idea”, “using an idea”, “remaking a song”, “copying an idea” and so on. You know, without referring to causality. Of course, since your argument is fraudulent, I know you won’t provide any definition. But, as demonstrated in the past, when I push you, you sometimes produce more nonsense, thereby exposing the fraud to a more broader spectrum of readers.

Thinker September 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Kerem,

“That is not an ethical problem but only an enforcement issue.”

It is an epistemological issue that has implications for enforcement. The point is that it is impossible in any conceivable case for a third party to distinguish between an original idea and a copied one. With a murder, an observer can, in principle, determine guilt or innocence. To do so in specific cases may involve things like time travel, but that is a problem with the particular case, not with the ethical principle. IP requires that such an observer be able to observe a person’s thoughts and determine the origin of each idea as it appears in that person’s mind. It is not even clear what a “thought” is in physical terms, so what would the observer would be observing and how could that be of any use to him? In order to answer this, you need to call on science that doesn’t exist. This means that IP cannot go beyond the soapbox, as it is impossible to enforce in any case.

“How is this situation a separating quality of IP that disqualifies it as property?”

I’m not arguing that ideas cannot be property (I don’t think they can be, but I’m assuming your position for the sake of argument). I’m simply pointing out that if ideas can be owned, there are insurmountable epistemological and metaphysical barriers to claiming ownership to ideas outside of your own mind.

“One individual can take an idea, and by using it can produce something new. Now, when he takes the idea, and if the idea has an identifiable creator, he can either get his consent or he doesn’t. This is an ethical dilemma.

Similarly, a sculptor can use the stone from a miner and creates a statue. He can either get the consent of the miner, or he doesn’t. This is the same ethical dilemma as above.”

My point is that if a person uses an idea, he necessarily uses one of his own origination. To use a concrete example, if Person A creates Lamp(a), then Person B examines Lamp(a) and creates Lamp(b), which is identical to Lamp(a), who owns Lamp(b)? I assume we would agree that Person B owns Lamp(b), but if I substitute “idea created by Person A” for Lamp(a) and “idea created by Person B” for Lamp(b), you would claim that Person A is the rightful owner. If you have an answer to this apparent contradiction, I’d be interested to hear it.

“If your claim was accurate there would be no identifiable creators of IP.”

No; if my claim were correct,a third party could never distinguish between a piece of intellectual property owned by Person A and an identical one owned by Person B…which is true. If only one person has ever made use of an idea, then identifying the creator is fairly simple…unless someone else claims to have actually originated it. Then you have an irresolvable conflict if you suppose that it is possible to own ideas outside of one’s own mind.

“If you insist on this claim, you can not condemn a sculptor stealing stones from a stone owner since the sculpture has a different identity than the stone.”

No; I could still condemn a sculptor who takes another person’s property, but could not condemn him for examining the stones owned by a stone owner and using his own property to create an identical one. Property still exists–the issue is, whose property is X? Is it the original creator and possessor of X or someone who created something different but essentially identical to X some time before?

Peter Surda September 24, 2010 at 3:53 am

I’ve been down this road with Kerem in the past. I explained to him that immaterial goods cannot have boundaries other than those of people interpreting them (i.e. are subjective). His answer is that either you are using someone’s property or not. Which is a tautology, but does not explain how to determine boundaries (or identity) of immaterial goods in the first place.

J. Murray September 23, 2010 at 7:00 am

Marxism is a system where the power of the State is used to forcibly take property and redistribute it. Where, exactly, is the State force in this supposedly “Marxist” view of IP?

Gene Berman September 22, 2010 at 6:39 am

Franklin was a proponent of paper money (and got contracts for its printing).

Matthew Swaringen September 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Is that just to be informative or are you making a point with this statement?

Kerem Tibuk September 23, 2010 at 4:38 am

Don’t get angry I am sure you get the point.

It is common for people who use the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority” to get burned.

Matthew Swaringen September 23, 2010 at 6:49 am

Ehh, you read too much into what was only a question, a question asked to determine the reason behind the statement. It was not intended to be hostile. I might be amused if Gene thought a fact against Franklin was a reason we should reject him on everything else. I wouldn’t be angry though.

J. Murray September 23, 2010 at 6:57 am

The official definition of what Gene just did is called the Straw Man Fallcy.

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