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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16319/the-origins-of-libertarian-ip-abolitionism/

The Origins of Libertarian IP Abolitionism

April 1, 2011 by

David Gordon has a great article up today on LewRockwell.com, Sam Konkin and Libertarian Theory, which devotes a good deal of space to discussing Konkin’s role in the anti-IP movement. David is absolutely correct here:

Konkin’s work on IP deserves at least equal recognition as his better-known defense of counter-economics and agorism; and, to the extent that anti-IP views come to prevail among libertarians, I predict that Sam Konkin will be a name we shall often hear.

It was great to see Konkin’s amazingly clear and perceptive thoughts on this issue, way back in 1986 before it seemed that relevant. I learned about Konkin’s views on IP a few months ago–from Lew Rockwell’s post Remembering Samuel Edward Konkin III, I think, where Lew wrote:

This weekend, … I was going over [Konkin's] Wikipedia articles, and realized I had never read what turned out to be a pioneer article mentioned there, Copywrongs, which I published today on LRC.

I noted this piece in my C4SIF blog post, Copywrongs. What’s ironic is that one of the strongest libertarian defenders of (a variation of) IP is J. Neil Schulman, ((See Schulman: Kinsella is “the foremost enemy of property rights” ; Query for Schulman on Patents and Logorights; Kinsella v. Schulman on Logorights and IP.)), who was a big fan of Konkin–he included an afterword to Schulman’s classic libertarian sci-fi novel Alongside Night. Schulman thinks it significant that the anti-IP Konkin “never successfully challenged” Schulman’s Rand-inspired, confused defense of IP, but this seems to me to be an odd negative appeal to authority.

Gordon is right to credit earlier libertarians such as Wendy McElroy, Murray Rothbard, and even Benjamin Tucker for their rejection of the basis of IP. I mention these, and other significant influence in my own thinking, including Tom Palmer, in notes 37-38 and accompanying text of my Against Intellectual Property (first published 2000). Leonard Read was also an early hero and pioneer on this topic (Leonard Read, “On Plagiarism” (1972), reprinted in Kinsella, “Leonard Read on Copyright and the Role of Ideas“). I myself did not firmly come out against IP in print until about 1995 (Roderick Long, too, who is also great on IP–and, in fact, is debating Schulman on IP in New Hampshire at PorcFest 2011 June 20-26 2011–wrote his first piece against IP, The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights, in the Autumn 1995 issue of formulations). These and others are also linked on the C4SIF Resources page, including Rothbard’s key anti-IP contributions, Knowledge, True and False and Man, Economy, and State and Power and Market, Scholars Edition, pp. liv, 745-54, 1133-38, 1181-86.

Earlier libertarians, like Tucker, basically had the right approach (though Tucker was weak on land); but to have a sound, coherent approach to IP you must be informed by libertarian and really Austrian insights.  (Spooner was out of his gourd on IP (I discuss him briefly in Against Intellectual Property, text at notes 32 and 48), as were Rand and Galambos; as was even Proudhon, who otherwise railed against “property” as “theft.”)) The austro-libertarian opposition to IP is already implied in Mises, Rothbard, and Hoppe’s political and economic writings. It is implied in Mises’s recognition that ideas and recipes are infinitely replicable, and in his understanding of the role of ideas and knowledge in action: that it is a guide to action, but not a scarce means of action. It is of course also present in both Rothbard’s rejection of state patent and copryight, and Hoppe’s views of property rights and scarcity. The anti-IP aspects of their ideas lay somewhat dormant or unappreciated  until the full brunt of the IP system started to be felt with force in the mid-90s as a result of the rise of digital copying and information, the Internet, file sharing, and so on. Tucker, Read, Mises, Rothbard, Konkin, Palmer, McElroy, et al.–they are true anti-IP pioneers. We should all be grateful to them for their intellectual leadership, which helps to clarify our understanding of yet another facet of the criminal state. [Update: for more on McElroy's role in developing the anti-IP case, see my article “The Great IP Debate of 1983,” Mises Daily (July 18, 2011).]

Update:

For a followup post, see The Four Historical Phases of IP Abolitionism.

{ 482 comments }

Nielsio April 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Wow, Copywrongs is a stellar article!

Anti-IP Libertarian April 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm

WOW!

What a fascinating article! 1986! Thank you for pointing to it!

Royalties are one side of the story. The other side is total suppression of information. If someone really had a true property right to every information he could demand that no information be exchanged anymore. After all property rights are exclusion rights.

This one is fantastic too:

Anti-IP Libertarian April 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Corrected version:

WOW!

What a fascinating article! 1986! Thank you for pointing to it!

Is not a producer entitled to the fruit of his labor? Sure, that’s why writers are paid. But if I make a copy of a shoe or a table or a fireplace log (with my little copied axe) does the cobbler or wood worker or woodchopper collect a royalty?

A. J. Galambos, bless his anarchoheart, attempted to take copyrights and patents to their logical conclusion. Every time we break a stick, Ug The First should collect a royalty. Ideas are property, he says; madness and chaos result.

Royalties are one side of the story. The other side is total suppression of information. If someone really had a true property right to every information he could demand that no information be exchanged anymore. After all property rights are exclusion rights.

This one is fantastic too:

Photons leap from the pages to our eyes and our hapless brain processes the information. Utterly innocent, having committed no volitional act, we are copyright violators. We have unintentionally embarked on a life of piracy.

Matthew Swaringen April 2, 2011 at 12:27 am

Only the copying of IP to non-human media is problematic for some reason. I’ve asked a few about what they thought about hypothetical memory-recall devices and the implications such machines would have for copyright (since you could experience yourself watching a movie/listening to a song/etc. that you had formerly seen/heard but for which you did not purchase a licensed copy).

It seems to me obvious that if you want to have IP law, and it’s to apply to copying that it should apply to people’s brains too. So we obviously need to develop the ability to erase people’s memories so that we can correct for this very horrible infringement device.

J. Neil Schulman April 2, 2011 at 4:33 am
J. Neil Schulman April 2, 2011 at 5:01 am

Every time Stephan Kinsella writes that my defense of logorights is drawn from Rand and Galambos, he’s being deceptive. Yes, I base my logorights case on the Law of Identity. Rand didn’t invent that. But my theory of logorights derives from a general theory of property rights that SEK3 and I discussed extensively, but one which he died never having written about. Logorights is drawn from SEK3′s own theory that all property rights are an extension of one’s Egosphere.It’s probably the reason he never got around to writing an answer to my Copywrong rebuttal. I was using SEK3′s own theory. (Victor Koman and John Fast also recall conversations with SEK3 about his theory of the “Egosphere.”)

Stephan Kinsella April 2, 2011 at 8:54 am

Neil, I’m not being deceptive–this is my opinion, and my interpretation of your theory. Like Rand’s it’s based on the idea that you are entitled to own “things” that you “create”, because they “have value” (or “are values,” whatever that means). The problem is that just because you can conceptually call something a “thing”–because “it” “has value”, say–just because you have concepts and words to identify things does not mean they “exist” “as ownable things”. Just because you have a concept that has a referent does not mean the referent is ownable. In fact, assigning property rights in scarce goods exhausts what property rights can be assigned in; if you assign other rights, then it necessarily takes away from existing rights, just as granting positive rights (to welfare, say) comes at the expense of existing property rights. Nothing is free.

“all property rights are an extension of one’s Egosphere” sounds like nonrigorous, overly metaphorical fluff to me, not a proper argument.

Rand recognized that we do not create things but we rearrange them. When we do, we make them more valuable–we create wealth. We do not create new things that we own because we created them; we own the resulting more-valuable rearranged thing because we owned it already before rearranging it! See http://blog.mises.org/14045/locke-on-ip-mises-rothbard-and-rand-on-creation-production-and-rearranging/

You seem to be implying here that SEK3 somehow sensed that you were right in your “extension” of his own theory, to reach your logorights views. This seems a stretch, from what you say above; but even if you are right, it only shows SEK3 was wrong too. But his Copywrongs piece is very good, IMO.

J. Neil Schulman April 2, 2011 at 5:09 am

For those of you not on Facebook my reply to Samuel Edward Konkin III’s “Copywrongs” is the last part of The Libertarian Case for IP at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2011/03/the-libertarian-case-for-ip/

Zorg April 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I don’t follow your argument. You say:

“So let’s look at the cases where you make copies of something I made and still keep my name on it. That is no longer plagiarism.

It’s now a different form of fraud, which in the art world is called ‘counterfeiting’ and in the world of other commercial products — such as designer clothing or luxury watches — is called ‘forgery’.”

This seems just a diversionary bait-and-switch, as is your mention of Sandra Bullock’s character in The Net being stripped of her property through an actual act of fraud. You just claim that copying is fraud by referencing “counterfeiting” and “forgery,” without arguing your way there. At best, it seems an attempt on your part to refer to existing positive law concerning these things as if it were natural law, and so it gives you an argument from authority – the authority of the state. The state created this system of privilege through legislation, so you can’t use a legal definition of counterfeiting and forgery to make your argument.

Forgery and counterfeit are words, however, that we would still use on a moral level to indicate fraud. This type of fraud is akin to plagiarism, as you mentioned. All these things are essentially misrepresentations. If someone claims that a knockoff of a Rolex is a Rolex, that is a fraudulent representation. That is entirely different from someone copying the design of a Rolex and making one just like it by themselves. A forgery in art is, likewise, a fraud perpetrated on the buyer. Some piece is represented as being created by a certain person when in fact it was not. Someone sells a print of a famous painting claiming it is the original, or a clever artist actually paints a representation of a famous rare work so as to pass it off as genuine.

Then you talk about how your identity is tied to your work, and commercial branding as a result. You mention how a famous person imparts value to something cheap by signing their name on it. But so what? You seem to miss the distinction that a copy of this thing or a book or a movie or a design is not any kind of fraud by misrepresentation merely because it is a copy. It only becomes fraud if you’re selling, say, baseballs “signed by Babe Ruth,” which he in fact did not sign. But if someone manufactures thousands of baseballs with merely a facsimile of his autograph on it, and it is not represented as an authentic autograph, then clearly there is no commercial fraud. Babe Ruth’s estate, for example, does not own the image of his autograph – at least that’s the default position from whence you must try to argue to your position that they do.

Your brand is a commercial phenomenon. Yes, people will buy Tiger Woods golf balls and Elizabeth Taylor perfume. Good for them. Obviously, people other than Tiger Woods and Elizabeth Taylor cannot legally or morally claim that they are selling those brands when they are not. But if they sell the same underlying product without the name (which is just window dressing anyway), there is no fraud if there is no misrepresentation. Heck, there would be no fraud if that stuff was sold as “the same golf balls that Tiger Woods sells” either, or “compare to Liz’s ‘Paradise Evening’.” That might stir up a hornet’s nest of salivating lawyers, but it wouldn’t necessarily be fraud on the consumer.

I only got as far as that on that linked page. I see no reason to read any further. Glancing at the rest, it seems like a lot of lawyering to me. IMHO, if some idea about property can’t pass a simple desert island test (meaning an imagined society starting fresh), then there is no substance to it. No IP regime is going to fly in the absence of this present immense institutional structure to enforce it and subsidize it through socializing its costs. Thus, IP arguments always seem to come off apologies for the status quo.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@Zorg April 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm

This seems just a diversionary bait-and-switch, as is your mention of Sandra Bullock’s character in The Net being stripped of her property through an actual act of fraud. You just claim that copying is fraud by referencing “counterfeiting” and “forgery,” without arguing your way there. At best, it seems an attempt on your part to refer to existing positive law concerning these things as if it were natural law, and so it gives you an argument from authority – the authority of the state. The state created this system of privilege through legislation, so you can’t use a legal definition of counterfeiting and forgery to make your argument.

According to both Rothbard and Hoppe, people are free to contract with others concerning only property they own. In addition, they both acknowledge that there is both property itself, and title to property. Finally, title to property or property itself cannot be claimed by another unless is it explicitly transferred by the owner, but each are independently alienable.

Also, most here, including Kinsella and other opponents of IP in the context of copyright, agree that an author has good and quiet title to his original manuscript. If we presume that title and the manuscript itself is comprised of both the tangible medium of fixation, (paper, ink) and the “intellectual content”, or the original work of authorship, then the owner would be capable of transferring only that title he wishes to transfer, and no transfer of title to the work can be implied simply because you have received an instantiation in tangible form (i.e. book) unless you have received title to that work by consent of the author.

Assuming the author transfers it to you under the presumption of copyrights (which is in fact the case in all such transfers at this moment), then the author is entitled to transfer subject to any limitations which are legal. If he transfers on the condition that title to the work is not transferred, to make a copy would be an assumption of title to property you do not hold.

What argument do you make that the “copier” has better title to the work than the oringal author, or alternatively, what severs the title that exited prior to transfer?

If you wish to presume the absence of IP, such that the transfer of the tangible copy is a complete and total transfer of all title to both the tangible medium and the intangible work, then you cannot also presume that the author would release it to you under the same conditions as under copyright. You would have to surmise how such an author would handle the problem of not wanting to be a producer for an external economy.

You may depend on contract theory. If so, then you must also presume that all such transfers would be only accomplished under contract. If only parties are subject to enforcement of contract, then the author must also consider this externality. Quite quickly, you arrive at a natural emergence of property rights. Coase was written the landmark paper on this problem of internalizing external costs and benefits.

If you argue that there cannot be property title to intangible goods, then how do you explain, say an easement? Is that not an intangible property right that limits private property rights (i.e. the right to exclude trespassers) in the donor land?

In other words, is the concept of property rights a human device, or do you think it is a “natural law” that lies beyond the limits of human experience? I’m sure you are aware that Mises wrote that there is no such thing as “natural law”, since nature is indifferent to the concerns of man. He called property a human device.

As an aside, fraud in my view is a completely separate issue. Fraud is an issue between a perpetrator and a victim. In the case of copyrights and trademarks (and patents), there is a third-party claim to property that is also being infringed upon, regardless of whether a particular copier and a particular buyer are engaged in a fraudulent transaction. In either case (with or without fraud), the infringement can exist independently.

IMHO, if some idea about property can’t pass a simple desert island test (meaning an imagined society starting fresh), then there is no substance to it.

As Kathleen Touchstone discusses in her book and the paper posted on this site, the very concept of society starting fresh from the Crusoe model is erroneous. She argues the Primary Social Unit is mother and child, and that the one universal truth concerning the origins of society is that we all begin as children, with dependence and obligations of mother/child establishing the foundations of natural rights theory, not “man alone” models of Crusoe.

Your assumption that society starts with Crusoe presumes that participation in society is voluntary. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that the apparent attraction for the Crusoe model is that it represents the ultimate state of ancap utopia, where Crusoe’s rights (although the concept of property for man alone is meaningless) are unlimited, only to the extent that he must conform to natural laws. Then along comes Friday, and suddenly Crusoe’s range of actions are limited on account of Friday’s natural rights.

This is how property works, universally. Therefore the argument that assigning rights in the intangible IP limits the rights of private property is mere tautology. All property rights are constrained by the limits of action imposed by the rights of others.

Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

“Also, most here, including Kinsella and other opponents of IP in the context of copyright, agree that an author has good and quiet title to his original manuscript. If we presume that title and the manuscript itself is comprised of both the tangible medium of fixation, (paper, ink) and the “intellectual content”, or the original work of authorship”

but that is the problem. you are assuming away the problem. You are question begging. there is not title to “intellectual content” as a separate thing.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Stephan,

I am not assuming it. First, that is the legal concept that already exists. I may refer to it as a data point for clarity of definition. As you know, I don’t mean ANY intangible good. I mean within the meaning of the IP laws, specifically copyright.

Second, that is the very essence of the issue we are contending. You agree the author has title to the manuscript, but can only transfer title as determined by the tangible good. You define away the view that there CAN be any such thing as title to an intangible good.

Our differing views on property is exactly the point of distinction between your position and mine.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

“As you know, I don’t mean ANY intangible good. I mean within the meaning of the IP laws, specifically copyright.”

Copyright is about intangible goods. About pattern rights. Nothing else.

“You define away the view that there CAN be any such thing as title to an intangible good.”

You are arguing backwards: “IP rights” do not have to be defined away because they do not exist. What does exist are statutory ip laws.

Zorg April 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

“What argument do you make that the “copier” has better title to the work than the oringal author, or alternatively, what severs the title that exited prior to transfer?”

I don’t argue that anyone has “title to the work” (the specific information) per se. That is something that you assume from the beginning. The copier doesn’t have title to the original work, which is the written manuscript (or digital file) because it is in the possession of the author. It would be wrong to steal the author’s manuscript from his house or computer. But the copier would not even know this work existed if the author had not published the work for the whole world to see. If the information then is placed into the public domain, it (the information) is clearly not anyone’s exclusive property by right. The idea is absurd because you chose to release the information and NOT keep it to yourself. The fact that you want the maximum profit from its dissemination is completely irrelevant to the property claim. That desire doesn’t create a right which is not otherwise there (except by contract).

“If you argue that there cannot be property title to intangible goods, then how do you explain, say an easement? Is that not an intangible property right that limits private property rights (i.e. the right to exclude trespassers) in the donor land?”

I didn’t argue that. I don’t think I mentioned “intangible goods.” Contracts can create titles to “intangible goods.” That is why an author can try to include a copyright provision with publisher/distributor, or end-user contracts if he wants. Maybe authors and publishers will want to form a group that blackballs copiers in the absence of IP laws. Who knows what they might try in a free market.

What IP proponents are talking about, though, is a supposed property right in “the work itself,” as you just said, meaning that the claim is rooted in natural law (or whatever substitute you want to call on), and not a contractual issue. That means that its a fundamental right prior to any specific agreements, just like claiming virgin land that you homestead or your right to your life, etc.

“the very concept of society starting fresh from the Crusoe model is erroneous. She argues the Primary Social Unit is mother and child,”

There’s nothing erroneous about the concept of society starting fresh. I didn’t claim that the family (or mother-and-child) was not the fundamental *social* unit, so I don’t see the relevance. If you are trying to say that individuals have no rights and that only “society” does, then I would disagree strongly. Other than that, I don’t know why you keep bringing this up.

Wildberry April 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

@Zorg April 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Contracts can create titles to “intangible goods.” That is why an author can try to include a copyright provision with publisher/distributor, or end-user contracts if he wants. Maybe authors and publishers will want to form a group that blackballs copiers in the absence of IP laws. Who knows what they might try in a free market.

Apparently, no one knows. Why don’t you try to make something up and we’ll see how it works. You have no IP rights, so you contract with a publisher, who does what? Blackballing copiers? What is the transaction cost for that? You cannot ignore the consequences of your proposal. Give me some of your ideas of how the impacts are mitigated in your IP-free world.

<blockquoteWhat IP proponents are talking about, though, is a supposed property right in “the work itself,” as you just said, meaning that the claim is rooted in natural law (or whatever substitute you want to call on), and not a contractual issue. That means that its a fundamental right prior to any specific agreements, just like claiming virgin land that you homestead or your right to your life, etc.

First, what is a “natural right”. Nature doesn’t care about human concerns. Second how do you derive your right to homestead? You just assume it as a right? Where do you derive your right to life in the face of someone who wants to take it? I think you will find that rights are a human device, as is property. In this regard, the nature of property rights in IP is no different than any other property right, as it fundamentally arises from a covenant regarding self-ownership and private property rights. You cannot make a distinct case for IP being excluded from the concept of property rights that is consistent with any other theory of property rights.

There’s nothing erroneous about the concept of society starting fresh. I didn’t claim that the family (or mother-and-child) was not the fundamental *social* unit, so I don’t see the relevance. If you are trying to say that individuals have no rights and that only “society” does, then I would disagree strongly. Other than that, I don’t know why you keep bringing this up.

Yes, I understand. You miss the point. It is not the concept of starting fresh. It is the idea that humans begin to define rights on the basis of “man alone”, the Crusoe model. Man does not begin or exist alone. Rights are a function of the need and desire for cooperation, and property rights exist for the purpose, among other things, to internalize externalities.

“Natural rights” do not find their beginning when Friday shows up; they find their beginning in the PSU. A theory of rights that proceeds from that assumption, rather the “man alone” arrives at different conclusions, because cooperation is not voluntary, in the sense that all humans are part of a social framework, and it is from this framework that rights arise. That is relevant.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 3:31 am

Simple questions for IP proponents:

Why limit copyright terms? Why limit patent terms?
After all if those both were property rights, than why should there be a time limit?

Why only an “IP right” to certain areas of information arrangements (eg “creating” a story)? Why shouldn’t someone who invests many hours in designing his garden in a special way have the same rights to this design as someone who invests many hours in designing a story or technical gadget?

Zorg April 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

There’s a time limit on IP rights because, over time, rights dissolve into their constituent parts due to the positronic quantum entropy inverting the space-time potential. Eventually, the rights-parts get so diluted that they melt into the background radiation, and so we must acknowledge that they have returned to the void from which they sprung. : )

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm

LOL

I overlooked your comment. The hilarious thing is that I am actually reading very much about quantum physics and nuclear physics as a hobby. Maybe those people at the LHC should ask if someone owns the “IP rights” to crashing hadrons… You never know! ;)

J. Neil Schulman April 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm

You see, Wildberry? It’s what I’ve been saying for close to three decades now. The people who demand unlimited right to copy deny that what they demand the unlimited right to copy even exists. By their reasoning — since all they believe exists are physical objects — two books with different words in them have no meaningful distinction. All that matters — all that exists as property — are the paper, binding, and ink. Their case breaks down at the metaphysical/ontological level far before questions of human action and the moral questions of property rights even arise.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Oh come on.

So you believe that every hairdresser has a right to the hairstyles he “creates”?

Every gardener has a right to the design of “his/her garden”?

How do you acquire a right to information ordering (“ip rights” are nothing more than “rights” to patterns)? What’s the exact path?

“All that matters — all that exists as property”
What else other than physical objects does exist that is scarce? Who is to decide what constitutes a pattern that falls under copyrights?

Where do “ip rights” stop? Why is someone infringing an “ip right”, if he tells a story created by another person to a third person or makes paper copies of it but not if he himself thinks about that story, imagines it in his brain? Which part in the information processing pipeline is exactly the copyright infringement?

Why should long established property rights be cut by new patents (a person excluded from using physical property he had for long time, just because someone gets a patent to the use of object classes)?

Zorg April 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Who said that information doesn’t exist? We’re saying that you don’t have a property right in the material in order to *exclude* others from using it once you release it to world. This is so because it is not a scarce thing anymore. Not only can two people use the same information, BILLIONS of people can use the same information at the same time while no one is deprived of it. It does not need to be economized. It is virtually free, so the reasons we acknowledge property rights in the first place don’t apply.

Obviously, it is NOT the so-called property you are interested in; it’s the money you can earn from a state-enforced monopoly privilege excluding others from using it. If it was the “property,” you wanted to keep and hold so that no one would ever get to see it or use it, then you would never release it to anyone, would you? : )

You presumably made an agreement with a publisher or consumers on compensation, so what is your beef with third parties who have nothing to do with those transactions? What you are saying is that you have a right to release information and keep it at the same time so that no one else can ever use it. I don’t know what that is, but it sure ain’t property. It’s a demand to control others. It can’t even be enforced without draconian measures. And suppose you find a “violator”. What is it they have stolen from you – the “right” to read your words without coughing up a few bucks? How can you even enforce this idea without sinking into a pit of ridiculousness?

Get over yourself.

Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Neil, in the IP version of Godwin’s law, has to drop the term “ontological”, though it adds nothing here.

If the IP advocates things physical things and force are so unimportant, let them enforce their IP rights in the ethereal realm. But no, instead, they always seek to enforce IP rights with PHYSICAL force against lowly PHYSICAL goods, like money, bodies, paper, ink, printing press.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm

@Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm

If the IP advocates things physical things and force are so unimportant, let them enforce their IP rights in the ethereal realm. But no, instead, they always seek to enforce IP rights with PHYSICAL force against lowly PHYSICAL goods, like money, bodies, paper, ink, printing press.

First, who said these things are unimportant? As you know, the copyright scheme, at least, is to enforce rights by way of the tangible fixation while recognizing property rights in the intangible work.

You seek to enforce your rights to the copy without showing how you came to own them, and deny the very existence of the information that is the true object of your desire to copy. You simply deny property in all but the tangible, which eliminate the possibility of internalizing the benefits of IP production.

What do you make of Demsetz’s treatment of property rights?

He says,

“A primary function of property rights is that of guiding incentives to achieve a greater internalization of externalities.”

And,

”Internalizing such effects referst to a process, usually a change in property rights, that enables these effects to bear (in greater degree) on all interacting persons.

If an author’s rights to the content of his work are externalized by denying rights to it, then how does your theory of property rights “internalize the externality” of the benefits of his work accruing to the copier rather than himself?

Yet you do not deny the property rights in other intangible goods, for example an easement? Why the specific denial for IP? Scarcity? You create non-scarcity through free duplication of something that you seem to agree was originally scarce. Like all scarce resources, title can only be claimed by one contender at a time, and title cannot be transferred merely by possession. Possession and title are independently alienable.

Denying any rights to the intangible work is simply a technique to justify your claimed rights to it without showing transfer of it by the owner, but simply by the act of disclosure. If disclosure was understood to be a release of all rights to it, how can you assume it would be disclosed under the conditions of existing copyright. Your access to the original to copy would be highly constrained, which would change the entire economic calculation of the cost of obtaining a copy. This cost must be borne by the producer and consumer as an internalization of the cost of production.

Your contention that the total cost of IP in terms of enforcement, administration, etc. would be lower appears to run counter to intuition. Those costs appear to be transferred to the process of production, under your theory, which the author will seek to recover in order to profit from the work.

If you take the total revenue of all books sold in a year, less current production costs, and compare that number to the total cost of all litigation resulting from infringement claims of all kinds, which number would be bigger?

If you add to the cost of production the cost of self-protection of the original rights of the author, how would that change the cost/benefit analysis result? If you know, (I suspect you don’t) then what is the basis for your claim that the cost of IP always outweighs the benefits?

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm

“since all they believe exists are physical objects”

This is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. To avoid an confusion, existence and property rights aren’t exactly the same thing.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

“Their case breaks down at the metaphysical/ontological level far before questions of human action and the moral questions of property rights even arise.”

You are the one that brought ontological considerations to the table. The anti-IP case has never involved questioning the existence of anything.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Of course, I agree.

Getting them in a corner to admit that is half the fun, though, don’t you think?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm

You are nowhere to state that you got anyone in a corner. But you may live in your self-created illusion.

You did not deliver any kind of consistent and profound ethically acceptable theory of IP that is NOT based on statutory law.

At least be honest enough to accept that.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

By which you mean putting words in our mouths so all of a sudden we are making metaphysical/existential claims, even though we never left the realm of ethics and economics.

I’m ready to call this a straw man.

J. Neil Schulman April 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Zorg wrote, “Who said that information doesn’t exist? We’re saying that you don’t have a property right in the material in order to *exclude* others from using it once you release it to world. This is so because it is not a scarce thing anymore. Not only can two people use the same information, BILLIONS of people can use the same information at the same time while no one is deprived of it. It does not need to be economized. It is virtually free, so the reasons we acknowledge property rights in the first place don’t apply. ”

So, in other words, if a woman sunbathes on a public beach you have the right to photograph her and publish the photographs on the Internet merely because she left the privacy of her home? And, by photographing her and publishing her photos without a release you’ve deprived her of nothing, right?

The exposure of private property does not transfer any property right — that is, the right to take an action with respect to a property — without the consent of the property owner.

“You presumably made an agreement with a publisher or consumers on compensation, so what is your beef with third parties who have nothing to do with those transactions? What you are saying is that you have a right to release information and keep it at the same time so that no one else can ever use it. I don’t know what that is, but it sure ain’t property. It’s a demand to control others. It can’t even be enforced without draconian measures. And suppose you find a “violator”. What is it they have stolen from you – the “right” to read your words without coughing up a few bucks? How can you even enforce this idea without sinking into a pit of ridiculousness?”

But, if there is no property right in the words I’ve written I commit fraud if I make a contract with anyone to publish it. I have no rights to make a subject of a contract. So the moment I expose what I’ve written to any second party — such as a publisher — the publisher has as much right to use what I’ve made as I do, since no private property exists. The publisher needs not make a contract with an author since the author has no property rights in the created work.

You know what? You’re a thief, a parasite, a communist. Up yours.

Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 9:49 pm

So, in other words, if a woman sunbathes on a public beach you have the right to photograph her and publish the photographs on the Internet merely because she left the privacy of her home? And, by photographing her and publishing her photos without a release you’ve deprived her of nothing, right?

I suppose this does not violate her rights. What does “depriving her of nothing” have to do with libertarianism? It’s not about “not depriving people” of things, but about aggression.

“You presumably made an agreement with a publisher or consumers on compensation, so what is your beef with third parties who have nothing to do with those transactions? What you are saying is that you have a right to release information and keep it at the same time so that no one else can ever use it. I don’t know what that is, but it sure ain’t property. It’s a demand to control others. It can’t even be enforced without draconian measures. And suppose you find a “violator”. What is it they have stolen from you – the “right” to read your words without coughing up a few bucks? How can you even enforce this idea without sinking into a pit of ridiculousness?”

But, if there is no property right in the words I’ve written I commit fraud if I make a contract with anyone to publish it.

another use loose of “fraud.”

I have no rights to make a subject of a contract.

Contracts are just transfers of title to property–often bilateral and contingent. I can give a gift; I can make a loan; I can bet on a race; I can pay you to paint my fence; I can pay you for your share of Exxon stock.

So the moment I expose what I’ve written to any second party — such as a publisher — the publisher has as much right to use what I’ve made as I do, since no private property exists.

You would think sci-fi authors would have more imagination! There are many ways to arrange these things. The publisher, here, can transfer money-damages to you if they fail to do xyz.

The publisher needs not make a contract with an author since the author has no property rights in the created work.

I can make a contract to paint your fence, and this does not mean I own my painting-labor either. The payment is the transfer: it is conditional on my performing a given action, service, labor. I own my body; this lets me control it and choose what actions to perform; this gives me the ability to paint your fence, or withhold this service. Knowing this, you induce me to paint by transferring money and making it conditional on my performing the action. It does not mean I own my action or my painting or my “labor.” You can say I am selling my service but this is sloppy — it’s just a shorthand way of describing that our contract used my ability to perform or withhold the service (which is based on my ownership of my body) to get you to agree to compensate me.

The point is: the ability to be creative and form contracts does not imply ownership of some “thing” sold on both sides of the contract.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

@Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Do you recall an ancient (i.e. 1950′s) performer known as Professor Irwin Corey?

The point is: the ability to be creative and form contracts does not imply ownership of some “thing” sold on both sides of the contract.

In the example you give, the painter “owns” his services and the other guy owns the money. Parties cannot enter a contract for goods or services that they do not own. Contracts doe not “imply” ownership, they require it.

Even unde the title theory of contracts, title cannot be transferred if it is not owned.

So I don’t know what you are saying here. Contracts can have something as their subject other than “goods” and “services”, using your example? There is nothing “sloppy” about the statement, “selling services” since it is done every day by contract or otherwise.

No rational person would trade money for services that the other party does not own, and more that a person would trade services for money a person doesn’t own.

Property rights are at the heart of contract theory.

I can make a contract to paint your fence, and this does not mean I own my painting-labor either.

If you don’t own your painting labor, how can you enter into a contract to transfer it for money?

Huh?

Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm

In the example you give, the painter “owns” his services and the other guy owns the money. Parties cannot enter a contract for goods or services that they do not own. Contracts doe not “imply” ownership, they require it.

Completely wrong. You have no basis for stating this.

Consider: I agree to pay you $100 tomorrow if it rains. You pay me $30 if it does not. Does this mean you or I own the rain?

If I give you $100 gift, do you need to give me something you “own” to receive it?

I can make it a gift. It can be unilateral. Or, I can condition it: I give you $100 IF you apply for college. See? Doesn’t mena you “own” “applying to college.”

If I want your candy bar, I want title to it so I can eat it. You want my money. So we exchange titles to owned things. But if I want you to give me a massage, it’s not such an exchagne. IN this case it’s more like the gift situation, except there’s an onerous and conditional aspect: I give you $50 IF you massage me. Does not mean you own the masage or the movement of your hands. you control it, because you own our body. but so what?

If you don’t own your painting labor, how can you enter into a contract to transfer it for money?

You’re not transferring it. You’re getting money by fulfilling a trigger for the transfer of property. This is not that hard.

Wildberry April 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

@Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Completely wrong. You have no basis for stating this.

Consider: I agree to pay you $100 tomorrow if it rains. You pay me $30 if it does not. Does this mean you or I own the rain?

Isn’t this your “sale of hope” example? By paying you $30, I own the future $100, provided it rains. Presumably you own the $100. Right to enforcement arises if the condition precedent of “rain” is met. It is not necessary to own the rain.

The painter may not own the paint, but he does own the ability to direct his own body to apply it to the fence. In the service of painting, he is agreeing to use his means of production for consideration.

Standard contract theory is the basis for my stating this.

Is there really a reason to go through the gift example? Let’s just say that in order for me to make a gift of something, I must own it. Your right to this gift is conditional on how the gift was conveyed, and perhaps whether you changed your position in reliance on it.

As for the massage, it is exactly the same as the example for the painter.

You’re not transferring it. You’re getting money by fulfilling a trigger for the transfer of property. This is not that hard.

Excuse me, but performance is in fact a transfer. When the labor has run its course, the payor has a painted fence. He is transferring his consideration for the purpose of getting an “unpainted fence” transformed into a “painted fence”. The painter used his own private means of production to affect this change. He can only do this because he and he alone owns his personal will to act, and agrees to do so (perform) in exchange for money.

If this is not so, then what is the meaning of “self-ownership”, which you clearly support in other contexts?

ESV April 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

The painter may not own the paint, but he does own the ability to direct his own body to apply it to the fence.

I would say that, abstractly, a contract between you and me is your promise to constrain your future behavior in some way in exchange for my promise to constrain my future behavior in some way. As a concrete example, I will scratch your back if you then scratch my back.

We are naturally completely free to act in any way. You start making contracts with other parties in order to gain the benefits of constraining their future actions in exchange for constraining your own future actions. I won’t take a walk or play solitaire, I’ll scratch your back. Although this may be the point on which we disagree, I think that behavior, not property, is the fundamental subject of contracts.

Perhaps the claim is that ownership of your self/body/person is a prerequisite. However, pragmatically speaking “you” appear to have more control over your body and behavior than any other intelligence. I believe that I’m speaking to the intelligence that controls the body because my own body is the thing in the universe over which I have the least lack of control. “You” seem like the most credible way to get your body’s future behavior constrained.

I’d say ownership of my body follows from this, rather than the reverse. Ownership of other things external to my body is the result of explicit and implicit contracts that constrain the future behavior of my body.

Wildberry April 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm

@ ESV April 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Behavior may involve acting with objects, and some objects may be property. The ownership of property affects the terms of the bargain.

If the painter owns the paint the price may be different than if he does not. Same behavior, howerver.

DixieFlatline April 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I will pay $50 for Wildberry to massage you.

Wildberry April 8, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Huh?

Zorg April 5, 2011 at 1:08 am

“The exposure of private property does not transfer any property right — that is, the right to take an action with respect to a property — without the consent of the property owner.”

Not sure how the picture-taking example relates to copyright, but in this statement here you are just assuming that you have a right in the material in the first place. That is the issue under debate.

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that you are talking about “property” that you have no control over and which is, in fact, impossible to have control over without leading to absurdity? It defies the very word you choose to represent it. You cannot control other people’s eyes and minds. You just can’t make far removed third parties pay you for the privilege of reading your words when you have no contract with them. Not only that, you don’t even have knowledge of them reading your work without your permission. You don’t even know if they exist! You can’t tell by any normal means whether your “right” was violated and someone “stole” something from you or not. This “right” of yours is practically unenforceable. This basic fact makes a mockery of the arguments put forward to defend the concept as property.

“The publisher needs not make a contract with an author since the author has no property rights in the created work.”

If there were no contract, you wouldn’t give them what you wrote. How can you be saying there is no way to make a contract regarding writing and publishing here?

Your rights are perfectly safe. It is in your ability to create something that people find worth paying for, that gives you the potential to make money at it. You own yourself, your body, your time, etc. And you have the ability to make agreements with others toward a particular end. In writing for a wide audience, you are performing a service which has a good potential for profit as the publisher just has to keep producing copies of the original work. Knowing all this, you can negotiate a contract in advance that pleases all parties.

But you simply cannot bind people with whom you do not have a contract. You can’t send something out into the world and then say, “Don’t look.” That doesn’t make any sense. If your real argument is that you want a contract with everyone in the world who might read what you wrote, you’ll just have to figure out a way to get everyone to agree with you. Otherwise, you are making an impossible demand on people you don’t know and never will know. There’s no connection between you of an economic nature. You *published* something and put it out there. At that point, it’s beyond your control in every way who sees it, reads it, loans it to a friend, or shares it with 10 friends or a 100 or a billion; so therefore in no way can it be called property. It’s completely beyond your grasp. And what’s more, you made it that way!

Suppose someone reads a copy of your work without permission, without paying. You find out. Now what? Are they given the chance to return the “stolen property” to you? How would they do that? Can someone un-read a book? Wipe their memory? What? I suppose you will want to punish them since it is not even possible for your “property” to be “returned.” So what are the “damages”? The price of the book? And what does it cost to hire enforcers to find this awful “thief” who has scandalously read your words without paying? More than the price of the book? That’s a safe bet, eh? So, again, you’re in the land of crazy when the ideas behind IP get exposed to reality.

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

So, in other words, if a woman sunbathes on a public beach you have the right to photograph her and publish the photographs on the Internet merely because she left the privacy of her home? And, by photographing her and publishing her photos without a release you’ve deprived her of nothing, right?

I presume that your argument is supposed to mean that such an action violates the lady’s rights. So, let me ask you:

What if instead of photographing her, I would draw a picture? What if I wrote about seeing her on my blog? What if I photographed someone photographing her? What if I wrote a poem describing her, and then sold the poem and someone photographed the poem? What if when her employer sees the photograph decides to fire her because she’s supposed to be in a hospital?

I presume that you would say that some of the above do not violate her rights. In the unlikely case you consider all of the above a violation of her rights, just say so and we can skip right to the next stage.

Assuming some of the above are a violation of her rights and some are not, that brings up the question how do you distinguish among them? It has been my observation that if IP proponents try to solve this puzzle, they will entangle themselves in more and more convoluted explanations and then at a later stage when they are unable to answer anything coherently, they stop answering. Can you do better?

matt470 April 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

I really liked this Peter, good work….

What if instead of photographing her, I would draw a picture? What if I wrote about seeing her on my blog? What if I photographed someone photographing her? What if I wrote a poem describing her, and then sold the poem and someone photographed the poem? What if when her employer sees the photograph decides to fire her because she’s supposed to be in a hospital?

Still chuckling.

J. Neil Schulman April 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I don’t need statist copyright to own what I make. I own it by natural right.

I don’t need the state to enforce my rights. That’s why God and Mr. Colt gave us guns.

The dishonesty of the communists in this forum is that they insist that an image of a thing is not a scarce thing, and that making copies deprives no one of anything. They further insist that exclusive use of a property only exists by state monopoly action.

Nonsense because every created thing starts out as unique and therefore scarce.

nate-m April 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm

The dishonesty of the communists

Labeling people AND incorrectly using a label simultaneously only serves to illustrate how little of a valid argument you actually have.

They further insist that exclusive use of a property only exists by state monopoly action.

No. By definition use of physical property requires exclusivity. That is I cannot use a spoon to eat if your using it to eat at the same time. It just doesn’t work. Property rights is the tool you use to determine who controls it.

This is very simple. It requires no sort of existential mental acrobatics. No grandiose abstractions or twisting of definitions. It requires no weird analogies and pained logic to understand or get the point across. A child can understand this. It’s a simple universal truth of existence:

To use a physical object means that you have to be in control of it.

You can have de facto property rights that exist entirely outside of a formal framework, or you can have property right laws that formalize it. Sometimes they even exist in conflict of one another. The state is a purely optional apparatus.

It’s the so-called “Intellectual Property” can only exist within a state. The reason for this is that there is no substance to ideas or stories or concepts. You have the physical objects that you create, like a book, but the story contained in the book and concepts are abstract. They have no physical properties at all. They only exist as abstractions… as concepts in the mind of the beholder. There is no such ‘exclusivity’ requirements to use a idea.

And since ideas and concepts have no substance to them, they only exist as abstractions, then the only way your ‘patent rights’ can be manifested is through violations of other people’s property rights.

Sure you can enter into agreements and do transfers of labor of title and all sorts of things like that. That happens all the time. You can sell me a painting you made and have me promise not to xerox it or scan it into a computer. All that stuff is perfectly and 100% valid and can exist without a state. If a person violates that agreement then they should compensate the other party based on whatever they agreed on prior to the exchange. All that stuff is perfectly fine and dandy.

But things like patents can only exist by forcing your agreements onto people that never actually agreed to it.

For example:

If you invent a new headlight and you sell that idea to a automobile manufacturer and demand that in exchange for letting see the idea that they pay royalties when they use it… that’s a perfectly valid exchange if they agree to it.

However, if I am walking down the street and see a headlight and then decide to use the same idea in my product. then it’s completely invalid to expect that your agreement with the manufacturer somehow allows you to control my behavior. That’s not how contracts work… that is now how agreements work.

It would be a violation of my rights for you to storm into my factories and force me to stop making headlights that copy your invention and to sue me for it. And that is _EXACTLY_ what patents are designed to allow you to do.

To enforce violation of private property rights in a widespread manner requires a state mechanism backed by force.

There is, very simply, no other way it can exist.

Nonsense because every created thing starts out as unique and therefore scarce.

That’s not really a logical defense of ‘IP’.

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 4:49 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

I don’t need statist copyright to own what I make. I own it by natural right.

Do you agree that IP always requires the theft of physical property (apart from the cases, of course, where IP and physical property rights result in the same outcome)? Do you agree that IP is contradictory to physical property? Do you agree that if you have a society that values physical property, it cannot have IP?

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 5:01 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

The dishonesty of the communists in this forum…

my claim is very simple: IP theories presented to me are self-contradictory and/or incoherent (i.e. it is impossible to determine what they mean). Since I attempt to make falsifiable arguments, if I was wrong, it would be trivial to refute me. As a falsificationist, I don’t particularly care if IP is correct or not. I’m interested in refuting theories.

I have debated many IP proponents, and the debates always end up with them running away from a debate. So I wonder why am I being labelled as being dishonest.

I would be willing to debate any IP proponent in a public online debate, with the only rule being that the one who does not answer questions loses. Would you be willing to take up the challenge?

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm

“I own it by natural right.”

A proof or any sort of support for this would be nice. You’re just insisting it.

“I don’t need the state to enforce my rights. That’s why God and Mr. Colt gave us guns.”

Something isn’t a right just because you call it that and shoot everyone that disagrees.

“The dishonesty of the communists in this forum”

Wow, I’m swimming in the irony. You call us dishonest at the same time you call us communists. No, you’re right, we really are all communists. It’s not dishonest or misleading at all for you to engage in some sort of red scare to bully people out of reconsidering this problem.

“they insist that an image of a thing is not a scarce thing, and that making copies deprives no one of anything”

Once again, putting words in our mouths. The anti-IP case never relies on claiming making copies “deprives no one of anything”. Illegalizing slavery deprives the slave masters of their jobs, so by your reasoning it must be unjust to do so.

“They further insist that exclusive use of a property only exists by state monopoly action.”

Oh right! I forgot we are attacking property, not arguing what is property and what is not!

You are literally assuming your conclusion, which is that ideas are a type of property. This is utter nonsense because no conflicts over the use of ideas can ever arise. Also, the anti-IP case never relies on saying the state is necessary to enforce IP. It would be equally unjust if carried out by a privately funded firm.

“Nonsense because every created thing starts out as unique and therefore scarce.”

You don’t know what scarce means, do you? Scarce has nothing to do with physical size of the supply, and so that at some point there is one copy of something is utterly irrelevant. What matters is one person’s use of an idea does not interfere with others’ use of that idea unless he trespasses on their physical property. Economic scarcity is not the physical size of the supply, it is an indication of rivalry and, thus, the potential for conflicts of use to arise. As should be obvious, ideas are never scarce and no conflicts over their use can ever arise. The conflicts addressed by IP are always over physical, scarce resources, as all conflicts are.

J. Neil Schulman April 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote, “How do you acquire a right to information ordering (“ip rights” are nothing more than “rights” to patterns)? What’s the exact path?”

From The Libertarian Case for IP at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2011/03/the-libertarian-case-for-ip/

—————————————————————–
Earlier in this discussion, I referred to the necessity of imposing a logos on material objects as a precondition to creating them as property.

That is not the question under discussion.

Having established that an object receiving an imprint from a Person’s logos becomes that Person’s property – has it been established as well that the logos which the Person is imposing also can be owned as a separate property?

The answer is yes.

Here’s how it happens.

When a logos is imposed on matter, creating a new property, the logos becomes a material quality of the property it is imposed upon. Simultaneous with the creation of a new property, the logos becomes the trait of that property to display the logos itself, which includes the possibility that the logos can be copied onto other matter and make that property as well.

Starting from the creation of a new property, the First Owner has total and exclusive ownership of that property and all its different parts, qualities, and traits: all its different properties.

One of the properties included in this total ownership of the created property is therefore the logos itself.

Consequently, if the First Owner – or any subsequent owner of the total property – decides to break the property into bundles of rights–and maintain ownership of some of those rights while selling others – this is perfectly within that owner’s prerogatives.

Now, this next point is crucial:

Placing any restrictions on how the owner may dispose of the property–or its constituent properties–would deprive that owner of the exclusive and total ownership which belongs to a first owner.

You cannot attack the rights of a total owner to divide up rights to that property without destroying the concept of property being exclusively that owner’s.

And, a property right not exclusively owned is not a property right at all.

Once the property is broken up into separate properties – each property requiring a separate right to exploit that quality or aspect–each property right from the original bundle of rights can be traded separately.

Remember: rights – being moral sanctions of what action a Person may take with respect to a property – adhere not to the property itself, but to the owner.

If you declare that property rights are inherent in the property rather than in the owner, then you are reduced to the absurdity of saying that property–apart from the actions of its owner–is capable of committing moral or immoral acts.

Thus, is is perfectly within the prerogatives of that owner to maintain ownership to the rights in the logos – the logorights–in that property, by valuing it, claiming it, defending its boundaries, and continuing to control it.
—————————————————————–

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

That does not explain anything regarding the supremacy of either pattern property or physical property:

A owns objects X, Y and Z for a long time.

B “creates” a “new combination of instances of the classes the objects X, Y and Z belong to”

Why should A lose ANY RIGHT to his physical property just because B mixed something?

Please answer this question as specific as possible.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Exactly. Why does the person who creates a certain logo on his property all of a sudden own all the other property that has that logo on it?

How does this not literally conflict with the homesteading principle?

J. Neil Schulman April 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote, “Neil, in the IP version of Godwin’s law, has to drop the term ‘ontological,’ though it adds nothing here. If the IP advocates things physical things and force are so unimportant, let them enforce their IP rights in the ethereal realm. But no, instead, they always seek to enforce IP rights with PHYSICAL force against lowly PHYSICAL goods, like money, bodies, paper, ink, printing press.”

There, in a nutshell, is the fallacy from which Stephan Kinsella’s anti-propertarian case arises. He doesn’t know what a property right is. He thinks a property right is something physical.

Rights are moral definitions. All rights are non-material. You can’t point to a right. All boundaries are “ethereal.” The referent of a “right” is a human action. All rights are non material — non physical — yet human beings exert force to maintain their rights.

Stephan Kinsella — like every dialectical materialist before him — only sees material objects as having any reality. Therefore he does not believe rights exist apart from physical objects. He believes property rights are physical things.

Insane.

Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

“Stephan Kinsella wrote, “Neil, in the IP version of Godwin’s law, has to drop the term ‘ontological,’ though it adds nothing here. If the IP advocates things physical things and force are so unimportant, let them enforce their IP rights in the ethereal realm. But no, instead, they always seek to enforce IP rights with PHYSICAL force against lowly PHYSICAL goods, like money, bodies, paper, ink, printing press.”

There, in a nutshell, is the fallacy from which Stephan Kinsella’s anti-propertarian case arises. He doesn’t know what a property right is. He thinks a property right is something physical.

This is nonsense. A property right itself is not a physical thing. It is a right to control a scarce resource. And yes, all rights are property rights, as Rothbard said, and all property rights are rights to scarce resources. You do the cute trick of saying “good ideas is purty scarce” but that is equivocation; you well know we mean rivalrous; would you say “good ideas are rivalrous”? What?

And I notice you dodged my point that you denigrate the importance of scarcity and physicality yet when you seek to enforce IP rights your side always always wants to enFORCE (hint hint) it in the physical, scarce realm: the IP extorter wants to take others physical money, to use the statist courts’ physical force to compel his victims to obey his dictates and not use their physical bodies or other resources in the physical, real world contrary to the IP dictator’s commands.

Rights are moral definitions. All rights are non-material. You can’t point to a right. All boundaries are “ethereal.” The referent of a “right” is a human action. All rights are non material — non physical — yet human beings exert force to maintain their rights.

Stephan Kinsella — like every dialectical materialist before him — only sees material objects as having any reality. Therefore he does not believe rights exist apart from physical objects. He believes property rights are physical things.

Insane.

None of this distraction shows that IP rights of any type–including “logorights”–make any sense at all.

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Dear J. Neil Shulman,

Stephan Kinsella — like every dialectical materialist before him — only sees material objects as having any reality.

This has been an oft-repeated misinterpretation of Stephan’s arguments. His argument is not that rights immaterial objects should be denied validity because they are somehow unworthy. His argument, just like mine, is that such an approach would contradict the rights in the material objects. So unless you denounce rights in material objects, you cannot have IP. That’s a contradiction that IP proponents need to resolve. Can you do that?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

You don’t get:

Rights to patterns means there a no physical property rights any more except those rights to patterns.

For example your “privacy rights” (woman sunbathing and so on): How far would you go regarding a “privacy/IP/pattern right” of that woman? Should nobody even be allowed to draw pictures of her? Should nobody even be allowed to THINK of her?

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Should nobody even be allowed to THINK of her?

That’s a V-Chip for you. Also, you’re not permitted to use her as an example. That is if the IP-proponents draw their arguments to their logical conclusion.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

“like every dialectical materialist before him”

Funniest moment of my day.

Give up on IP and you’re a full-blown Marxist, didn’t ya know!

Stephan Kinsella April 9, 2011 at 4:52 am

Haha.

yeah that was a bizarre accusation. Maybe he meant I am a materiailst in some physicalist-reductionist sense. But dialectical? OTOH Chris Sciabarra in Total Freedom, which provides an argument for “dialectical libertarianism,” does cite my estoppel argument for rights as some kind of complementary theory or something. Heh.

Wildberry April 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

@Stephan Kinsella April 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

This is nonsense. A property right itself is not a physical thing. It is a right to control a scarce resource. And yes, all rights are property rights, as Rothbard said, and all property rights are rights to scarce resources. You do the cute trick of saying “good ideas is purty scarce” but that is equivocation; you well know we mean rivalrous; would you say “good ideas are rivalrous”? What?

If “good ideas”, by which I mean “valued” original “works”, are not rivalrous, why do we have contention for ownership between the author and the copier? The copier is claiming title to a “right to act” which is also claimed by the author.

Isn’t that rivalrous?

nate-m April 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

If “good ideas”, by which I mean “valued” original “works”, are not rivalrous, why do we have contention for ownership between the author and the copier?

There is no contention on ownership.

The mythical author wants the right to prevent the “copier” from acting on the “copier’”s own property.. that is a book or recording under his control. Even if the copier entered into no prior agreement with the author and had no dealings with the author prior to this.

That’s copyright. That’s the contention.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

@Dear J. Neil Schulman,
“So, in other words, if a woman sunbathes on a public beach you have the right to photograph her and publish the photographs on the Internet merely because she left the privacy of her home? And, by photographing her and publishing her photos without a release you’ve deprived her of nothing, right? ”

Oh my.

That reminds me of the problems Google got with Streeview in some states:
“In 2010, Google announced that it might cancel Google Street View service in the European Union due to unmanageable requests of the European Commission”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Street_View#Privacy_issues

Ah the IP supporters and minarchists: Defenders of the state…

J. Neil Schulman April 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

nate-m,

All your questions and objections are answered in The Libertarian Case for IP. Click through to http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2011/03/the-libertarian-case-for-ip/ and read it. I’m not going to reprint the entire thing here.

Peter Surda,

“Do you agree that IP always requires the theft of physical property (apart from the cases, of course, where IP and physical property rights result in the same outcome)?”

No.

“Do you agree that IP is contradictory to physical property?”

No.

“Do you agree that if you have a society that values physical property, it cannot have IP?”

No.

“His argument is not that rights immaterial objects should be denied validity because they are somehow unworthy. His argument, just like mine, is that such an approach would contradict the rights in the material objects.”

A logos is not immaterial. The libertarian/propertarian case for IP is for ownership of information “objects” that possess material identity. They exist as material things independent of the things that carry them. Their value exists independent of the things that carry them and removing them removes that portion of the value of the carrier dependent on the logos.

“my claim is very simple: IP theories presented to me are self-contradictory and/or incoherent (i.e. it is impossible to determine what they mean). Since I attempt to make falsifiable arguments, if I was wrong, it would be trivial to refute me. As a falsificationist, I don’t particularly care if IP is correct or not. I’m interested in refuting theories.”

It was trivial to refute you.

“I have debated many IP proponents, and the debates always end up with them running away from a debate. So I wonder why am I being labelled as being dishonest.”

I’m not running away.

“I would be willing to debate any IP proponent in a public online debate, with the only rule being that the one who does not answer questions loses. Would you be willing to take up the challenge?”

I’ve been answering questions on this topic for thirty years. If you come up with a question I haven’t answered a million times before, and isn’t already answered within The Libertarian Case for IP, I’ll answer it.

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Wonderful, J. Neil Schulman, a reply,

It was trivial to refute you.

I see no refutation. You just answered some questions. There were preliminaries to determine how you approach the matter. Every IP proponent uses different arguments, so this is necessary to establish some basic claims so I know how to demonstrate that you’re contradicting yourself.

You said that you do not agree with my claim that IP is always theft of physical property (apart from the cases where IP and physical property rights are identical, i.e. IP is redundant). So, if you wouldn’t mind, could you provide such an example? I claim that such an example does not exist. This is a falsifiable argument so certainly it should be no problem if I was wrong.

You said you do not consider IP contradictory to physical property. So, if you wouldn’t mind, could you show me an example of a situation that involves IP but does not involve physical property?

A logos is not immaterial.

If that is your argument, then my argument is that in that case it only covers property that is already owned by someone as a consequence of physical property rights, i.e., back to my primary claim, is either redundant or contradictory to them.

They exist as material things independent of the things that carry them.

This is one of the core confusions of IP proponents. They are not independent, they are a different way of interpreting the same phenomenon. Sometimes, undoubtedly, a different interpretation can be helpful. But you cannot hold both interpretations to be simultaneously relevant. If they were independent, it would be (just like I said above) possible to show a situation where logos is present, but things that carry it are not. If you cannot show such an example, then the whole “logos theory” is just stealing things that carry logos from the person who owns them and giving them to another person (“creator of logos”). Can you resolve this contradiction? Do you deny rights in physical goods?

As an analogy, a hypothetical right to a job is not something that is independent of physical property rights. If someone claimed that there can simultaneously be a right to a job and physical property rights, they would be contradicting themselves. Or, to up the ante, if someone was claiming that racial purification was not killing. These are all rhetorical tricks and are easy to challenge.

It was trivial to refute you.

Again, you did not refute anything. You just answered some questions (for which I give you credit, because a lot of IP proponents don’t do that). However, you still have not established an argument that is clear enough and not self-contradictory.

If you come up with a question I haven’t answered a million times before, and isn’t already answered within The Libertarian Case for IP, I’ll answer it.

Once again: can you show an example of IP which does not involve theft of physical property (apart from the cases when it’s redundant, of course)? If you want, I can rephrase it: can you show a situation where IP does not have a redistributive effect? Can you show a situation where you interact with IP (or “logos”) in some way and it is not covered by IP-less property rights?

Also, in a previous thread where we handled the question regarding fair use, I asked you if it is is moral to violate people’s rights for educational or satirical purposes, you did not reply. But I assume you missed it.

Wildberry April 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

@ J. Neil Schulman April 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

You just have to love this one from Peter Surda:

Every IP proponent uses different arguments, so this is necessary to establish some basic claims so I know how to demonstrate that you’re contradicting yourself.

LOL!! First, he assumes his conclusion that you are contradicting yourself even before he knows what you are saying!! You have love when the truth sneaks out unintended.

Second, I have found that Peter can make incomprehensible nonsense out of anything that is said,and then formulates a personal challenge that you should have to try to straighten it all out. When you don’t bother, you are “running away”. He is modeling his behavior for Anti-IP Libertarian, who does the same, but with less skill and more venem to make up for his apprenticeship to Peter.

I tell you, sometimes it is a laugh a minute around here! The rest of his post merely illustrtes this point.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

@Wildberry: If you do not like this blog why stay here? Just to leave your dishonest nonsense?

“LOL!! First, he assumes his conclusion that you are contradicting yourself even before he knows what you are saying!! You have love when the truth sneaks out unintended.”

No, he just hasn’t been presented ANY logical IP theory yet. Therefore he assumes that Schulmans theory is like the others.
Schulman can try to show how consistent his theory is.

“Second, I have found that Peter can make incomprehensible nonsense out of anything that is said,and then formulates a personal challenge that you should have to try to straighten it all out. When you don’t bother, you are “running away”. He is modeling his behavior for Anti-IP Libertarian, who does the same, but with less skill and more venem to make up for his apprenticeship to Peter.”

Just because you are not able to comprehend logical statements and consequences does not mean these are wrong.

Your whole fuzziness on IP is the problem. Also you are not honest enough to answer questions. Instead you are running away.

Please answer this: Are statutory laws rightful?

and this:
A owns objects X, Y and Z for a long time.

B “creates” a “new combination of instances of the classes the objects X, Y and Z belong to”

Why should A lose ANY RIGHT to his physical property just because B mixed something?

Please answer this question as specific as possible.

Peter Surda April 5, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Wildberry,

First, he assumes his conclusion that you are contradicting yourself even before he knows what you are saying!!

My experience shows that the chance that an IP proponent is not contradicting himself is slim. Nevertheless, if I did not allow for the possibility, I would not participate in an exchange of arguments. Such an exchange would not be a debate, it would be preaching, and I have no interest in that.

If you think that I am wrong, feel free to prove it. I have repeatedly challenged you for that. You however, have apparently the exact opposite approach. You even refuse the acknowledge that a contradiction disproves an argument.

Second, I have found that Peter can make incomprehensible nonsense out of anything that is said…

No, Wildberry, you do that. I formulated my arguments using formal constructs such as set theory and propositional logic. You just babble nonsense and avoid confrontations. Where are the answers to my questions? Nowhere. You don’t have them and you’re not interested in them. You prefer to remain in error and brag about it.

When you don’t bother, you are “running away”.

Formulating questions and attempting to answer them is the cornerstone of scientific inquiry. Avoiding it is the cornerstone of demagoguery.

In other words, I’m curious and you have an inflated sense of ego.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:13 pm

“LOL!! First, he assumes his conclusion that you are contradicting yourself even before he knows what you are saying!!”

That is obviously not what he meant. He is saying it is impossible to refute a non-argument.

“You have love when the truth sneaks out unintended.”

Such as you being unable to comprehend Peter?

“Second, I have found that Peter can make incomprehensible nonsense out of anything that is said”

I don’t think you’re trying too hard to comprehend any of it.

“and then formulates a personal challenge that you should have to try to straighten it all out”

Yeah! I mean, how silly Peter expects you to support the viewpoint you express. Your viewpoint is not the “default” correct one. You have to support your case just as much as anyone else does. The failure of Peter or anyone else to support his case does not prove your own case.

“When you don’t bother, you are “running away”.”

Yep, that’s exactly right. No, you really do have to support your own position.

“He is modeling his behavior for Anti-IP Libertarian, who does the same, but with less skill and more venem to make up for his apprenticeship to Peter”

When someone has nothing relevant to say to the real intellectual matter, he changes the subject and starts to gossip about the people debating him.

“I tell you, sometimes it is a laugh a minute around here!”

Your posts are several laughs a second.

“The rest of his post merely illustrtes this point.”

Duhh, of course it does!

J. Neil Schulman April 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Wildberry,

Ideas can’t be owned. A material logos can be.

Neil

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Which can only actually mean that when a person creates a logo he instantly gains rights to everything else, both now and in the future, that has that logo on it, homesteaders be damned!

Wildberry April 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm

@ J. Neil Schulman April 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I’m not sure what post this refers to, but to clarify, I have been on a rant about conflating “ideas” as in “ideas are free” and “IP”, which specifically excludes idea from protection.

I think for all practical purposes, logos and “original works of authorship” are roughly equivalent in actual fact, although you have a unique system of reasoning your way to that conclusion.

Is that a fair representation?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm

@Wildberry:

You wrote:

“Natural rights” do not find their beginning when Friday shows up; they find their beginning in the PSU. A theory of rights that proceeds from that assumption, rather the “man alone” arrives at different conclusions, because cooperation is not voluntary, in the sense that all humans are part of a social framework, and it is from this framework that rights arise.

So you do not accept that individual rights are the basis of a free society and that cooperation is always voluntary (else there is no cooperation)? Ok, now I get why you have such confused ideas about IP.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote, “You do the cute trick of saying “good ideas is purty scarce” but that is equivocation; you well know we mean rivalrous; would you say “good ideas are rivalrous”? What? And I notice you dodged my point that you denigrate the importance of scarcity and physicality yet when you seek to enforce IP rights your side always always wants to enFORCE (hint hint) it in the physical, scarce realm: the IP extorter wants to take others physical money, to use the statist courts’ physical force to compel his victims to obey his dictates and not use their physical bodies or other resources in the physical, real world contrary to the IP dictator’s commands. ”

Another clear example where Stephan Kinsella lies about what I advocate then attacks the Straw Man he invented.

Kinsella attacks me for defending ownership rights in ideas; I have not done so.

He attacks “my side” for advocating use of the State to defend property rights. You won’t find me in print doing so.

He says that I ignore both the concepts of scarcity and rivalrousness in property rights; I have exhaustively shown how a logoright, to meet the qualifications as ownable property, is both scarce and use without permission is rivalrous.

So on and on and on he repeats the same crap without ever addressing my actual case.

Stephan Kinsella April 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Another clear example where Stephan Kinsella lies about what I advocate then attacks the Straw Man he invented.

an accusation of lying. Good thing, unlike Schulman, I do not believe in defamation law.

Kinsella attacks me for defending ownership rights in ideas; I have not done so.

It’s hard to know what you IP guys really support. It’s kaleidoscopic, man. Bait and switch. Property in ideas: yes! No! yes! no!

He attacks “my side” for advocating use of the State to defend property rights. You won’t find me in print doing so.

You say you are not ready to abandon state copyright and patent just yet. and you also say you will defend your “logorights” with Smith and Wesson. When someone is harmed it does not matter to them whether it is by state force or private criminality.

He says that I ignore both the concepts of scarcity and rivalrousness in property rights; I have exhaustively shown how a logoright, to meet the qualifications as ownable property, is both scarce and use without permission is rivalrous.

you have shown no such thing.

So on and on and on he repeats the same crap without ever addressing my actual case.

Neil, you have no case, but warmed over Randian confusion.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Peter Surda,

Why do people buy books? Admittedly some home decorators buy books without respect to the writings within them because bookshelves full of books make the homeowner look smart. But for the most part, it is the content of the book — not the paper, ink, and binding — that is the reason people buy books. Remove the words and the utility disappears and a book ceases to be a book.

The material identity of a book is dependent on the composition of words. The composition of words — the logos — is, in fact, the book. The paper, ink, and binding is the carrier of the book.

The book exists as a material object independent of the paper, ink, and binding.

And that is what is owned by the author, no matter how many copies are made.

It is a single, scarce thing no matter how many copies are made. Only the author, as owner, is entitled to make copies, unless the owner authorizes others to make copies.

It is owned by its author unless the author sells or licenses his property rights.

Unauthorized copies are rivalrous with the authorized copies. The authorized copies are non-rivalrous because they are authorized uses of the property.

The State is not required for this property to exist. The State’s copyright laws are a nationalization of private property for the purposes of diminishing the ownership of the property rights by restricting the owner’s property rights through regulation.

Eliminate copyrights and the natural property rights still exist.

Eliminate the State and such rights will be enforced in private arbitration among civilized people who respect the right to private property. In a free society murderers, robbers, rapists, pirates, thieves, and other scum will be defended against.

J. Murray April 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I don’t buy books for the content. I can read the content on a computer screen. I buy a book specifically for the paper, ink, and binding because it’s easier on the eyes than an electronic format.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Why do YOU and other people look at a garden? Ah, the garden design.

After you the designer of the garden should have a copyright (just because you give it another name doesn’t make it something else than a copyright) on that garden.

After you everybody should have a copyright on information patterns he/she designed.

Stephan Kinsella April 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Why do people buy books? Admittedly some home decorators buy books without respect to the writings within them because bookshelves full of books make the homeowner look smart. But for the most part, it is the content of the book — not the paper, ink, and binding — that is the reason people buy books. Remove the words and the utility disappears and a book ceases to be a book.

The material identity of a book is dependent on the composition of words. The composition of words — the logos — is, in fact, the book.

this is complete metaphysical nonsense. Information is useful. Arranging scarce things according to more useful patterns is valuable to people .So what? This has nothing do to with your bizarre mystical ideas of “material identity” and “logos.” Neil, you have lost. Everyone knows it.

Peter Surda April 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

kindly note that you have not answered to my questions. Instead, you switch to an entirely different flow of argumentation.

Why do people buy books?

For the argument’s sake, let’s agree that because they find them valuable.

The material identity of a book is dependent on the composition of words.

This is a non-sequitur. Merely because an object has value to someone and that value is derived from certain features, it does not follow that the features build an identity as something that’s independent of the object itself. It merely means that by re-interepreting the object through the features we gain a new, maybe more useful, insight, but you cannot have new rights without sacrificing the old ones, because both approaches cover the same area.

I may value that it does not rain. That does not mean that the absence of rain has an identity (like Thor or Zeus or whatever) that is separate from the water in the air.

The book exists as a material object independent of the paper, ink, and binding.

This is the same non-sequitur. The same argument could be used to “prove” that all kinds of imaginary concepts, like magic or god, exist. Let me go back to my example where I showed how inventing new words (“right to work”, “racial purification”) does not create new objects, merely reinterprets the existing ones. That is why right to work requires the violation of contractual relationships, that is why racial purification requires killing, and that is why IP requires theft. It’s a simple logical error where you assume that two different interpretations mean that there are two distinct phenomena being referred.

To put this into a formal argument, I’m going to use the set theory. We have set A, and set B. I claim that A is a subset of B, because all elements that are in A are also in B. If it was not correct, then it would be possible to show an element that is in A, but not in B. You claim that it’s not correct, but cannot produce an example of such an element. What is your response?

And that is what is owned by the author, no matter how many copies are made.

Another non-sequitur. This claim boils down to the formal construct that if X performs action A (creation of an original), and Y performs a causally related action B (creation of a copy) against X’s wishes, he is violating X’s rights. That claim is incoherent.

Unauthorized copies are rivalrous with the authorized copies.

Exactly. And economists call such a situation a mix of substitutes and externalities. Not a violation of rights. If it was, then all competition would be illegal.

I’m still expecting your reply with an example of a situation of IP which is neither redundant nor contradictory to physical property rights. That is a crucial point, because IP proponents that produce similar arguments typically also support physical property rights, and if my argument is right, they are contradicting themselves. So kindly explain how that contradiction is resolved, or show an example where the contradiction (or redundancy) does not occur.

Stephan Kinsella April 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Peter, you are truly superb here; but I have no expectation that all that Neil will engage you are I squarely. And I think all three of us really know the reason for this.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Peter Surda wrote,

“Dear J. Neil Schulman,

“kindly note that you have not answered to my questions. Instead, you switch to an entirely different flow of argumentation.”

I do not note that. I answered your questions. You don’t like the answers so you pretend I haven’t answered them. Intentional deafness is one of the oldest debating tricks. Not working.

“Why do people buy books?

“For the argument’s sake, let’s agree that because they find them valuable.”

No. You’re skipping over the essential point, in an attempt for those reading this not to notice your attempt at sleight of hand.

This is not a debate about value. It’s a debate about what things are. You and Kinsella are trying a reductionist argument, that the composition does not exist independently, and can not be observed and used, as a separate thing apart from the objects which carry them. It’s a stupid argument, but it’s all you have.

“‘The material identity of a book is dependent on the composition of words..’”

“This is a non-sequitur. Merely because an object has value to someone and that value is derived from certain features, it does not follow that the features build an identity as something that’s independent of the object itself. It merely means that by re-interepreting the object through the features we gain a new, maybe more useful, insight, but you cannot have new rights without sacrificing the old ones, because both approaches cover the same area.”

Aside from the murkiness of the above paragraph you’re again ignoring my actual argument — which isn’t a non-sequitur or disgression but is a direct answer to your badly asked question — and you’re shifting the discussion away from whether the composition is a real thing that determines the difference between one mass of paper, ink, and binding and another mass of paper, ink, and binding.

Long before we get to the question of why anyone wants a book is the question about what the book is.

You and Kinsella refuse to debate that question, instead shifting to questions of subjective value.

Let’s use your challenge that I’m “reinterpreting” what a thing is.

Let’s take two boxes. One is made of paper mache and the other is made of steel.

They are both boxes. Both have different physical qualities that give them different utility. For example, if someone who weights a few hundred pounds tries to sit on the paper mache box it collapses; the steel box does not collapse. Therefore the paper mache box is useless as a chair; the steel box is useful as a chair. The steel box has “chair” as one of its possible uses.

Someone who values a chair must first make the distinction between an object that can hold them up and an object that collapses under them. The reality of what the thing is and what it can be used for precede the question of anyone making a value judgment.

With a book, the composition is what makes the two masses of paper, ink, and glue different, and determines what it can be used for.

The composition is a different and separable property from the book.

You can’t separate the capability of a steel box to hold someone up from the steel box itself — so “holding-upedness” isn’t a property that can be owned separate from the steel box — but the composition in the book can be separated out.

The composition can be printed and bound within a mass of ink, paper, and glue.

The composition can be extracted from the mass of ink, paper, and glue and put into digital storage, where its words can be read aloud by software or displayed on a screen for reading.

If it’s a story the story can be transferred into other media, such as a stage play, an audio drama, a movie; continuing characters can be used in a TV series or even more written stories.

It takes a particularly stubborn ideologue to twist and ignore reality so as not to see the obvious: the common and primary purpose of binding paper and ink into books is to carry the composition so someone else can read it. Remove the composition you remove much of the utility — and yes, someone’s subjective value could be affected by the objective change in what the thing is.

“I may value that it does not rain. That does not mean that the absence of rain has an identity (like Thor or Zeus or whatever) that is separate from the water in the air.”

Answered above.

“‘The book exists as a material object independent of the paper, ink, and binding.’

“This is the same non-sequitur. The same argument could be used to “prove” that all kinds of imaginary concepts, like magic or god, exist. Let me go back to my example where I showed how inventing new words (“right to work”, “racial purification”) does not create new objects, merely reinterprets the existing ones. That is why right to work requires the violation of contractual relationships, that is why racial purification requires killing, and that is why IP requires theft. It’s a simple logical error where you assume that two different interpretations mean that there are two distinct phenomena being referred.”

This is just a repetition of your fallacy. Already answered above.

“To put this into a formal argument, I’m going to use the set theory. We have set A, and set B. I claim that A is a subset of B, because all elements that are in A are also in B. If it was not correct, then it would be possible to show an element that is in A, but not in B. You claim that it’s not correct, but cannot produce an example of such an element. What is your response?”

B can be removed from A as a separate thing. B remains intact. A is now something else without the inclusion of B. The removal of B removes much of the utility of A since A was dependent on B for much of its utility. B, however, retains all its utility. This is a proof that the utility of “B” is what’s being traded as a good.

“‘And that is what is owned by the author, no matter how many copies are made.’

“Another non-sequitur. This claim boils down to the formal construct that if X performs action A (creation of an original), and Y performs a causally related action B (creation of a copy) against X’s wishes, he is violating X’s rights. That claim is incoherent.”

Your repeated use of non-sequitur is imbecilic since you evidently don’t understand that a non-sequitur is a statement that doesn’t follow. The only thing that’s not following here is you.

“‘Unauthorized copies are rivalrous with the authorized copies.’”

“Exactly. And economists call such a situation a mix of substitutes and externalities. Not a violation of rights. If it was, then all competition would be illegal.”

Competition is a secondary issue. The primary issue is whether there is a violation of property rights. Counterfeit goods compete in a market with the real things. A forged Picasso competes fraudulently with a real Picasso. And an unauthorized copy of a novel competes fraudulently with a copy authorized by the author.

“I’m still expecting your reply with an example of a situation of IP which is neither redundant nor contradictory to physical property rights. That is a crucial point, because IP proponents that produce similar arguments typically also support physical property rights, and if my argument is right, they are contradicting themselves. So kindly explain how that contradiction is resolved, or show an example where the contradiction (or redundancy) does not occur.”

A logos is that which makes one physical object different from another. Add it to a physical object and it takes on the material identity and material utility of the logos. Remove it and the physical object loses the material identity and material utility of the logos.

Things do not just exist. They also have identity and utility. If I pulverize a car it can no longer be driven. The pile of dust has all the physicality of the original car but its logos — its identity — has been removed.

Understand this and you’ll understand why your question is nonsensical. There is no property to exist without the logos which gives it form and material identity. Property does not and can not exist without material identity. It is the material identity which creates a thing as distinct and ownable as property.

This is why I call you anti-IP advocates communists, thieves, and parasites. You hate and reject precisely what makes property distinct as property — then blinding yourselves to the difference, you claim the right to take that which you start by denying as existing.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Your whole theory sounds exactly what Ayn Rand thought about IP. You just gave this another name.

Let’s try again with the question-answer-thingy:

Imagine you were a “caveman” living with two other cavemen. One of you learned somehow how to start a fire (let us call him Firestarter).

One day one of the others sees Firestarter making a fire and learns that ability too.
This ones name is Learner.

The third one who has not done a thing until now is called Waiter.

So what happens according to your theory?
Is Learner now allowed to make fire without asking Firestarter?
Is he allowed to teach Waiter?
What if Learner had learned starting fire without watching Firestarter?

Please answer these questions as specific as possible.

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 5:59 am

You keep conflating ideas with material identity. All your questions are paralogical — beside the point, missing the point, and addressing your own straw man.

Wildberry April 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Neil,

Based on your response to Peter, the challenge from Kinsella is laughable. It is no contest!

Thank you for handling them both so deftly!

Peter Surda April 7, 2011 at 2:45 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

first, kindly note that again you avoided answering questions. You refer to superfluous aspects of the problem and ignore the core fallacies.

I do not note that. I answered your questions. You don’t like the answers so you pretend I haven’t answered them. Intentional deafness is one of the oldest debating tricks. Not working.

So where you have show an example of IP that is neither redundant nor contradicts property rights?

You’re skipping over the essential point, in an attempt for those reading this not to notice your attempt at sleight of hand.

I am not “skipping” over it, I’m just providing a different interpretation, because that’s what I thought you were getting at. Apologies, the mistake is mine. We can also agree on a different interpretation, for example that the reason for buying the book is a specific feature of that book and that feature is causally related to author’s activities. Now, here come the crucial questions, once again: why do causally related features create an identity that is separate from the carriers, why do they create rights, and why do these rights take precedence over rights in the carriers themselves? Also, which causally related activities and which features are relevant?

It’s a debate about what things are.

Not really. It is a debate what things can be and what they cannot be (logic). Whether they are is a different question (metaphysics).

You and Kinsella are trying a reductionist argument, that the composition does not exist independently, and can not be observed and used, as a separate thing apart from the objects which carry them. It’s a stupid argument, but it’s all you have.

This argument is the cornerstone of a scientific inquiry and argumentation itself. Without it no two assumptions can contradict each other, because you just say that if you interpret one assumption differently, it creates a new entity that does not contradict the other one. It would be impossible to refute any claim. Or, to paraphrase Ayn Rand, contradictions would exist.

Even if you disagree with the purely formal construct (and, apparently, also from the point of view of IP) at this moment, I can show how it demonstrates the burden of proof that lies on you. Yet again, I’ll refer to the example with “right to job”.

Let’s take a hypothetical proponent of a “right to job”. I would begin with asking him if he agrees that “right to a job” violates physical property rights. He would say “no”. He would then continue with saying that a right to “job” is a moral imperative (just like you say that IP is a moral imperative) just like physical property rights. My counterargument would be that it is just a reinterpretation of the contractual relationships, and therefore is either redundant (when it coincides with voluntary contracts) or violates physical property rights (where it does not conincide with voluntary contracts). So that means the two assumptions are contradictory. Also it is obvious that the moral aspect is irrelevant to the validity of my claim. I would also say that by showing an example where they do not contradict each other it is possible to disprove me. Then the hypothetical proponent would then continue by saying that my argument is stupid.

That about sums up our debate so far.

you’re again ignoring my actual argument — which isn’t a non-sequitur or disgression but is a direct answer to your badly asked question — and you’re shifting the discussion away from whether the composition is a real thing that determines the difference between one mass of paper, ink, and binding and another mass of paper, ink, and binding.

I am not ignoring your argument. I am challenging its relevance on double counts. The first count is that it has nothing to do with my claim of you contradicting yourself. You’re essentially saying that if your claim is morally justifiable, you can contradict yourself.

The second is that if I reformulate it into a formal claim, it results in “common features and a causal relationship create an identity, therefore they create rights, and the rights take precedence over other rights”. I asked you to take a stance to this claim.

You and Kinsella refuse to debate that question, instead shifting to questions of subjective value.

Again, we’re not refusing to debate the question. We wonder how it fixes the self-contradiction (which IP proponents ignore) and how can it be made into a coherent formal claim (which IP proponents also ignore).

You can’t separate the capability of a steel box to hold someone up from the steel box itself — so “holding-upedness” isn’t a property that can be owned separate from the steel box — but the composition in the book can be separated out.

Of course you can “separate” the “hold-upedness”, just like you can “separate” the book’s contents. You just learn from the old box and create a new piece of furniture that shares this feature with it. You create a new object that is causally related and shares the same feature (or at least one that’s similar enough). Admittedly, “hold-upedness” might not be as thrilling feature as a text, but that is an empirical issue. People have figured out how to propagate certain, maybe more valuable, features more efficiently than others.

None of this proves that what you’re doing is not a reinterpretation.

The composition can be printed and bound within a mass of ink, paper, and glue. The composition can be extracted from the mass of ink, paper, and glue and put into digital storage, where its words can be read aloud by software or displayed on a screen for reading.

Again, you can do this with any aspect of objects: you just create a formal standardised representation of the feature and a method of decoding and encoding it. The alleged difference between text and “hold upedness” is in the level of standardisation. If the language was not standardised, a text would be facing the same difficulties of propagating as “hold upedness”, or in other words, storytellers would be facing the same “difficulties” as
furniture manufacturers in propagating the essence of their work.

It takes a particularly stubborn ideologue to twist and ignore reality so as not to see the obvious: the common and primary purpose of binding paper and ink into books is to carry the composition so someone else can read it.

It takes an unbiased mind to realise the essence of assumptions and logical operations.

B can be removed from A as a separate thing. B remains intact. A is now something else without the inclusion of B. The removal of B removes much of the utility of A since A was dependent on B for much of its utility. B, however, retains all its utility. This is a proof that the utility of “B” is what’s being traded as a good.

This is not set theory. You are making a new claim instead, that utility is the essence of objects. First of all, that does not disprove my claim that even if you consider utility to be relevant from the point of view of rights, you would still always need to sacrifice physical property rights. Furthermore, it leaves the question unaddressed why is this in any way relevant from the perspective of property rights.

Your repeated use of non-sequitur is imbecilic since you evidently don’t understand that a non-sequitur is a statement that doesn’t follow. The only thing that’s not following here is you.

That is precisely my point. Your statements do not follow. It does not follow that “identity” is separate from the objects that carry it, or that this creates new rights, or that these rights would take precedence over physical property rights, or that there are situations where physical property rights are unaffected.

The primary issue is whether there is a violation of property rights.

Which you derive by a non-sequitur and fail to define in a coherent manner.

Counterfeit goods compete in a market with the real things. A forged Picasso competes fraudulently with a real Picasso.

This is a distinction that follows from what the the buyer of the Picasso (original or copy) wants, rather than from what Picasso (or his heirs) want.

And an unauthorized copy of a novel competes fraudulently with a copy authorized by the author.

Again, that is for the buyers to decide, not for the author.

A logos is that which makes one physical object different from another. Add it to a physical object and it takes on the material identity and material utility of the logos. Remove it and the physical object loses the material identity and material utility of the logos.

Can you add or remove it without altering the physical object? If not, then you’re just reinterpreting.

They also have identity and utility.

And this should be relevant from the point of view of property rights because?

Understand this and you’ll understand why your question is nonsensical.

Understand the self-contradictions and non-sequiturs in your claims and you’ll understand that you do not have a coherent claim.

Property does not and can not exist without material identity.

So, all objects have features, and some are causally related and similar from a certain perspective. Why does this in any way disprove my claims, and why is this relevant to our debate?

This is why I call you anti-IP advocates communists, thieves, and parasites.

Now you switched to the emotional perspective, claiming that if you take a specific moral stance, it fixes the logical errors you’re committing.

You hate and reject precisely what makes property distinct as property — then blinding yourselves to the difference, you claim the right to take that which you start by denying as existing.

Now you’re projecting. You’re making the assumption that because you’re the one being emotional, I’m the one being emotional too.

So, let us summarise your claims:
(1) objects have features
(2) sometimes, the features are useful, similar enough and causally related
(so far we are in agreement)
(3) this creates new rights
(this is a non-sequitur)
(4) these rights sometimes address situations that are not covered by physical property rights
(this is a self-contradiction)
(5) opposing these rights is akin to communism
(this would only follow if claim 4 was correct)

See? There’s no hate, there’s no “anti-IP advocacy”. There’s just cold hard logic.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 3:35 am

Things do not just exist. They also have identity and utility. If I pulverize a car it can no longer be driven. The pile of dust has all the physicality of the original car but its logos — its identity — has been removed.

Its “identity” has been “removed”? This is an overly metaphorical way of describing the situation. Scarce resources may be used by man as a means of action to achieve goals. As Rand herself explained, one cannot create anything metaphysically but rearranges owned things to make them more useful, more valuable to the actor. In this way man creates “wealth”–he transforms his property into more valuable configurations. Thus I take raw material that i own–glass, plastic, steel, rubber–and, using knowledge about causal laws rearrange this material into a more useful configuration: a car. It is my car. I own it not because I “created” or produced “it” but because I already owned the factors that I transformed. I transformed it because I prefer a certain configuration–because it is more valuable or useful to me. Because I regard it as wealth. If someone destroys the car they have made it less valuable to me. That is why I want a property right in the car, and for this right to be respected and defended: so that others cannot do things with or to my car that I do not want done to it.

I cannot say whether it is useful to try to use metaphors to describe what is wrong with destroying others property, metaphors like “you removed the logos from my car!’ or “you removed the identity from my car, you … you identity-sucker you!” If someone stabs me I do not shout “you removed some of my identity! Give it back!” If someone points a gun at me I do not say “Hey, don’t you dare take away my logos!” But maybe you do. Maybe it helps you to think of things in these odd ways. It is in any case irrelevant: the fact that you find it helpful to describe trespass as “identity removal” does not suffice to establish property rights in “logos”.

Understand this and you’ll understand why your question is nonsensical. There is no property to exist without the logos which gives it form and material identity.

Well in your car case: presumably the raw material I use to make the car are owned property, right?

If I want a sword I take some iron ore and using knowledge of causal laws to guide my action (which some people insist on calling “labor”, as if it’s anything more than human action) I rearrange the iron ore into a sword, I suppose you could say the sword “has” a logos, and that is what makes it valuable to me. Ho-kayyy. I guess you can think of it this way if it helps you. But it’s not necessary or especially enlightening. Of course the sword has a different configuration and utility to me than the raw iron ore did. That is why I transformed it. Hellooo. Above you say there is no property to exist without the logos. Well I had to own the iron ore before I made the sword out of it, do I not? So I did have property “without the logos,” and “adding a logos to” the iron-ore-property, or, as normal people would say, transforming the iron ore, adds no property rights. I already owned the ore. I own what I reshape it into, of course. I don’t own the sword because I breathed a logos into it. I couldn’t have the sword at all unless I already owned the stuff I used to make it.

Wildberry April 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

@Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 3:35 am

If I want a sword I take some iron ore and using knowledge of causal laws to guide my action (which some people insist on calling “labor”, as if it’s anything more than human action) I rearrange the iron ore into a sword, I suppose you could say the sword “has” a logos, and that is what makes it valuable to me. Ho-kayyy. I guess you can think of it this way if it helps you. But it’s not necessary or especially enlightening. Of course the sword has a different configuration and utility to me than the raw iron ore did. That is why I transformed it. Hellooo. Above you say there is no property to exist without the logos. Well I had to own the iron ore before I made the sword out of it, do I not? So I did have property “without the logos,” and “adding a logos to” the iron-ore-property, or, as normal people would say, transforming the iron ore, adds no property rights. I already owned the ore. I own what I reshape it into, of course. I don’t own the sword because I breathed a logos into it. I couldn’t have the sword at all unless I already owned the stuff I used to make it.

I think you agree, from this example alone, the property rights you describe arise from the right of self-ownership and the private ownership of the means of production. In your example, you are simply describing how you (self-owner) and your private means of production (property) are employed in a production process (production) to transform raw materials into some other useful good (product). You own the product of your own production because you used your privately owned means to produce it.

Using your example, what is actually happening here is that you are also using things which you don’t own, because they are un-ownable public domain. For example, the air needed to fire your forge, the “recipe” for forging metal objects, the skill to actually affect the desired change, and the “idea” of sword. You use these things, which you do not own, yet you claim this does not disturb your ownership of the property called “sword”. I agree.

When you transfer the sword to a buyer, you transfer rights to all of the tangible goods that compose the sword, which is consistent with the “title transfer theory”, i.e. once transferred, there is no longer any rights to it left with you; it is a complete and total title transfer of a tangible good.

By the same process, an author composes a book by combining things in the public domain (ideas, historical facts, recipe for composition, letters of the alphabet, etc.), with personal capabilities (cognition, experience, language skills, creativity, etc) and tangible goods (paper, ink, letters, words, grammatical sentences, and/or machine readable 1s and 0s resulting from keystrokes).

You have no dispute with the concept that the final product is an original manuscript, owned entirely by the author. The manuscript was produced by the means of production which combined self-ownership with the public domain. When the author makes a copy from the original manuscript, he owns that too, because the manuscript is the means of production for the copy.

If a copy is copied, that original copy is the means of production. There is no contention here, as I understand the issues. As long as the author does not transfer the originals of copies to anyone else, his complete ownership is undisputed.
If the author transfers the title to you as a book, your claim is that you own at that point, all rights to the book and its contents, in exactly the same way that when you transfer a sword, the producer retains no property interest in it. Your interest is severed when it is transferred.

Therefore according to you, when the author sells a book, his interests in his original work are also transferred. Isn’t this correct? Since you now own the book, it is your property, and you can use it as you see fit, without any residual obligations to the author. The act of copying your copy is legitimate, and has no impact on the author’s rights. Therefore, any enforcement of the author’s claim to “your” book is aggression.

So the question remains, is there anything about the comparison between “sword” and “book” that makes them distinguishable? If not, then a theory of property can simply assume that only tangible goods exist, and therefore any transfer of a tangible good is a complete and total transfer of title, with no “partial” transfer that distinguishes the tangible and intangible content. I believe your argument would be that there is nothing about the sword that implies a partial transfer of title. You own “all of the sword” and transfer that title without limitations.
If we assume your example of a hand-crafted sword, and also assume a praxeological framework of analysis, the buyer desires the sword because of the desire to have the “swordness”, presumably because of its utility as a weapon. No one would buy a hammer that wants a sword, even though much of the production process would be the same. Given the metal and forge, how did it come out a sword instead of a hammer?

The producer, through his own capabilities and means, developed a rational plan to produce swords and not hammers. “Sword” started as an idea, and then became a tangible good, in that order. The idea of sword is fundamental, but the process of actually transforming raw materials into a sword is complex, as I said above. This is one reason why most of us would buy a sword, rather than make it ourselves. We buy toasters for the same, reason.
We buy books, why? Because of the “bookness” in books. Describing “bookness” is the thrust of Shulman’s treatment of the concept of logos, as I understand him. I think of it, in the context of copyrights, as being equivalent to “an original work or authorship”.

I do not think you deny the existence of the intangible work. You are claiming that when a physical fixation of the “bookness” is transferred to you, that it severs any title the author may claim in the “bookness” part, by virtue of the fact that this work was fixed on a tangible good which you now own. This implies that all attributes of private property are bundled and inseparable from the tangible good (i.e the bound paper part of “book” and the “bookness” that made that fixation possible cannot be separated).

Of course, this leads to absurd conclusions, such as, you would presumably be equally willing to pay the same price for a blank book, or a book with random letters in it, as you would for a great literary work. After all, they are both indistinguishable from an analysis of the tangible goods; both have paper, glue, ink, and letters in them. Likewise, you would buy a hammer if I called it a sword, and you wouldn’t know the difference?

Hoppe said in his Against Fiduciary Media, to paraphrase, (https://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/Q11_2.PDF ) that title to property and property itself are separate, yet there must be a correlation between the two. His objection to fiduciary media amounts to what he calls the creation of “title in search of property”. He also said that transfer of title cannot be presumed without express consent by the original owner.

So the issue returns to exactly Shulman’s point. If the author owns the original manuscript, what is “it” that he owns? Whatever “that” is, he has title to it. It cannot be transferred without his consent.

Are titles to property a single thing, or can there be alienability of one aspect of a given property into distinguishable titles? For example, you can own a parcel of land, but sell mineral rights, or transfer your right to exclusive use through easement, etc.
The sword is composed of many elements, but the buyer acquires the entire sword. If the sword is copied, it is actually and physically necessary that the same process that the sword-maker went through to produce it is carried out. This makes the cost of copying the sword at least as high (assuming equal knowledge, skill, and access to raw materials) if not higher than the original. Therefore, the “make/buy” calculation of a buyer must take this into account. It is not necessary to protect the recipe for sword production (although it may be desirable) because the cost of copying makes the calculation favor “buying” over “making” for most people.

This is also true for land, but because land cannot be copied at any cost; it is naturally unique. Therefore there is no recipe for that. Tucker once wrote something like, it is the cost of copying which determines if a good is scarce or not. This is nonsense, of course, since the cost of copying is a function of technological advancement. Technology does not change the fundamental ethical basis of property rights. Once it was very expensive to copy a book, because it had to be hand-lettered. In that time, all books were scarce, according to Tucker’s logic. The low marginal cost of duplication today has nothing to do with the arrangements of fundamental property rights.

The corollary to the sword example for the author, would be the process of creating “bookness”. Shulman has produced a detailed analysis of what this “thing” is using a unique approach, but no matter what you call it, how you conceptualize its origins and existence, it is that “thing” which is the subject of copyright laws. He calls it logos, I call it “original works of authorship” in the copyright context.

Is it possible to alienate the title to the intangible “work” and the title to the tangible “book”, which combine to make “bookness”? We know they both exist, and we know that one precedes the other. The work must precede its fixation. How can we “prove” that the work can exist without the fixation? Imagine disappearing ink in a book you bought. In three days, the ink disappears to reveal random splotches of ink in their place. You still have the tangible good, and it still has all of the tangible elements, so what is missing? The “work” of course!

Why can’t you just replace it yourself, restore it to its prior state? Because it requires a means of production, which originally was owned by the author. If the “bookness” that you paid for was suddenly incomprehensible, would you have a problem with that? Of course! That is because what you want, what you calculated was worth your money, was the part that is now missing. The original work or authorship is missing, therefore it must exist.

It appears that there is something that is bundled into the “bookness” of the book beyond the paper and ink. If these things are bundled, they are separable, and they are therefore alienable, and the owner may transfer title to each as he sees fit. You cannot claim title to property without the consent of the author.

Yet when you copy the indelible ink of a book, and reproduce it in exactly the same pattern, which preserves the comprehensibility and meaning, and use it as you see fit, you are claiming to have severed the authors title to his own property. You have claimed better title to it than the author. You have obtained the “sword” without investing in the same means of production required to produce the original.
In any other context of property rights, this would be unethical, yet you seem to reason your way to an exception, and insist that the author should sever his rights and cede them to you without consent.

Your theory of property means that the author, once he distributes a fixation of his work, surrenders absolute title to both the good, and the means of production, because the copy cannot exist without an original to copy from. The original manuscript IS the means of production. What you are proposing is equivalent to the situation where when you buy the sword, you also buy the means of production or the next sword you desire.

This is unjustifiable from an ethical standpoint, and is a violation of Austrian economic theory of the private ownership of the means of production, so is economically unjustifiable, as it requires an author to produce, for the most part, for external economies. Given a choice, he will not do so, for producers to not voluntarily choose slavery.

Ethically and economically, your argument is bust.

nate-m April 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

with no “partial” transfer that distinguishes the tangible and intangible content. I believe your argument would be that there is nothing about the sword that implies a partial transfer of title. You own “all of the sword” and transfer that title without limitations.

Sure you can have a ‘partial’ transfer of ‘rights’. I can sell you a sword along with a contract saying that your forbidden to actually use it and if you do then you owe me 10x as much. It’s a insane contract, but I suppose it’s a valid one.

And just like that you can sell a book to me and make me agree to never copy it. If I agree to that and then copy it anyways then I am the one that is the asshole.

But none of that explains why any of these transfers and these agreements affect people that don’t agree to it. That is there is no logical way why our agreements between selling and buyer of goods actually has any bearing on anybody else’s behavior or goods.

Copyright says that if you broadcast a song over the radio then it’s illegal for me to record it and then play it back to a friend. That is a fact on how copyright works yet it does not fit into anything your describing above. Patent law says that if I discover how your radio broadcasts works on my own then I would still owe you patent fees if you had a patent registered with the government.

That is were your arguments break down. ‘Intellectual Property law’ does not just affect two parties transferring a deed or product. It affects everyone universally completely regardless of any sorts of agreements or transferring of anything.

Lets go back a bit:
Say I hired you as a painter to paint my fence. And you said ‘sure’, but I would have to agree to the fact that any fence painting resembling your unique aesthetics in the future must be done by you for the next 75 years. That’s rather insane, but say I agree to that and then hire you to paint the fence.

According to ‘Intellectual Property’ concepts then that would give you the ability to sue Stephan if he was walking by, saw my fence, and then decided to copy it for himself in his yard. According to how ‘Intellectual Property’ works then that gives you the full right to get a injunction against Stephan and, if a Judge agreed to it, then destroy his fence in order to ‘protect’ your original work.

THAT is why Intellectual Property is a violation of property rights and has nothing to do with protecting your property at all. The function provided by IP is to provide a legal mechanism which you can use to control the actions of people with their goods regardless of any previous dealings with you in the past.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

A purported nym called Wildberry says:

I think you agree, from this example alone, the property rights you describe arise from the right of self-ownership and the private ownership of the means of production. In your example, you are simply describing how you (self-owner) and your private means of production (property) are employed in a production process (production) to transform raw materials into some other useful good (product). You own the product of your own production because you used your privately owned means to produce it.

I don’t know what you are getting at. get on with it.

Using your example, what is actually happening here is that you are also using things which you don’t own, because they are un-ownable public domain.

yes, Austrians call this the general conditions of action or free goods. so what? This is a good thing.
http://www.libertarianstandard.com/articles/stephan-kinsella/intellectual-freedom-and-learning-versus-patent-and-copyright/#footnote_3_7796
see http://mises.org/daily/4630

For example, the air needed to fire your forge, the “recipe” for forging metal objects, the skill to actually affect the desired change, and the “idea” of sword. You use these things, which you do not own, yet you claim this does not disturb your ownership of the property called “sword”. I agree.

bravo

When you transfer the sword to a buyer, you transfer rights to all of the tangible

material. scarce. not “tangible.” but whatever.

goods that compose the sword, which is consistent with the “title transfer theory”, i.e. once transferred, there is no longer any rights to it left with you; it is a complete and total title transfer of a tangible good.

Unless it’s not. Anyway if rights are left they are rights to control this scarce good. They are part of property rights: rights to control a scarce good.

By the same process, an author composes a book by combining things in the public domain (ideas, historical facts, recipe for composition, letters of the alphabet, etc.), with personal capabilities (cognition, experience, language skills, creativity, etc) and tangible goods (paper, ink, letters, words, grammatical sentences, and/or machine readable 1s and 0s resulting from keystrokes).

not the same at all. this is metaphysical nonsense.

You have no dispute with the concept that the final product is an original manuscript, owned entirely by the author.

Wrong. I never call it “a product.” I talk about ownership of scarce resourcs. Fail.

The manuscript was produced by the means of production which combined self-ownership with the public domain. When the author makes a copy from the original manuscript, he owns that too, because the manuscript is the means of production for the copy.

what?

the rest of your post is compleat gibberish.

Wildberry April 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

@nate-m April 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

That is there is no logical way why our agreements between selling and buyer of goods actually has any bearing on anybody else’s behavior or goods.

You ignore the key difference between contracts and property rights. Property rights affect everyone within a “jurisdiction” whether that means legal or simply social boundaries. Whether property rights arise around a particular thing is dependent upon the transaction costs of reaching an agreement. In the case of copyrights, the transaction costs in terms of negotiation and enforcement would be high in the absence of property rights. Property, like contracts, are a human device.

Copyright says that if you broadcast a song over the radio then it’s illegal for me to record it and then play it back to a friend.

Wrong. That is why it does not fit. You are succumbing to the propaganda about what the law says and how it operates. Such a use is not prohibited, any more that recording a TV show on your VCR and playing it for a friend is prohibited. On the other hand, a public performance, especially if you collected money for it, would be prohibited. Do you see the difference?

Patent law says that if I discover how your radio broadcasts works on my own then I would still owe you patent fees if you had a patent registered with the government.

I don’t know whether you mean to raise the issue trade secret or simultaneous invention, but in either case, they are specific, very unlikely circumstances which don’t undermine the fundamental principle and concept of IP.

That is were your arguments break down. ‘Intellectual Property law’ does not just affect two parties transferring a deed or product. It affects everyone universally completely regardless of any sorts of agreements or transferring of anything.

See my distinction between contract agreements and property rights above. Universal applicability is exactly the purpose of property. Why would you criticize the concept on the basis of it fulfilling its purpose? As with all rights, conflicts are generally between two people, one who has rights, and one who has allegedly violated them.

THAT is why Intellectual Property is a violation of property rights and has nothing to do with protecting your property at all. The function provided by IP is to provide a legal mechanism which you can use to control the actions of people with their goods regardless of any previous dealings with you in the past.

Why construct such a convoluted example? First, IF I have established some property rights that were “legal” though insane, I have a right to enforce them, right?

The question you are begging is “what rights are legitimate?” If I got you to agree to be your exclusive painter for 75 years henceforth, you couldn’t hire another painter without compensating me for breach of our agreement.

Even if I try to make your example analogous to IP, it fails. I’m not sure if it would be worth it to either of us to try to show you why. The main point you seem to be making is that IP rights have effect without the need for a specific contract. That is correct, but it is simply an attribute of all property rights and all laws; they are applicable to everyone without the need to prior agreement with a potential violator. You don’t have a contract with everyone in your neighborhood to establish your right not to be murdered. That is the simply the way rights work.

The only way to completely get away from that fact is to live on a desert island, where the only thing you have to worry about is surviving against natural laws and forces. As soon as one other human shows up, you are limited in your range of absolute freedom by that person’s rights. The more people, the more limited. The more rights, the more limited. These are simple basic facts about rights and property and defense of them.

The fact that you seem to believe that rights in IP are not legitimate must be made on some grounds other than attacking the way all rights operate.

Wildberry April 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm

@Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I don’t know what you are getting at. get on with it.

I’m saying this: “You own the product of your own production because you used your privately owned means to produce it.

yes, Austrians call this the general conditions of action or free goods. so what? This is a good thing.

OK so far so good.

bravo

Progress.

material. scarce. not “tangible.” but whatever.

I am trying to distinguish “tangible” from “intangible” for a reason. Don’t blow it off. I don’t know what you exactly define as “material” or “scarce”, so I want to discuss property in terms of this distinction. You know why. This is particularly important in the context of copyright. Does “whatever” mean you follow, don’t want to bother mapping the terms, or what?

Unless it’s not. Anyway if rights are left they are rights to control this scarce good. They are part of property rights: rights to control a scarce good.

Why would it not?
If by scarce you mean rivalrous, and by rivalrous you mean contestable as to ownership (exclusive use/possession), are you saying that there is no possibility of rights to control intangible goods? I gave you two examples; easements and “works”. These appear to be both “scarce” and intangible. Any problem?

I said: By the same process, an author composes a book by combining things in the public domain (ideas, historical facts, recipe for composition, letters of the alphabet, etc.), with personal capabilities (cognition, experience, language skills, creativity, etc) and tangible goods (paper, ink, letters, words, grammatical sentences, and/or machine readable 1s and 0s resulting from keystrokes).

not the same at all. this is metaphysical nonsense.

Don’t blow me off. This is an exact corollary to your sword example. What’s the difference? You just agreed above, and even cited your own work, at least in part to show prior agreement that this is what is going on, yet here you want to now take exception? Why?

Wrong. I never call it “a product.” I talk about ownership of scarce resourcs. Fail.

I’m calling it “a product” for the same reasons you called “sword” a product. I am asserting that the author is the owner of his own production, which is in fact a scarce resource. If it is an original manuscript, there is only one in the entire universe. If it has upon its pages an “original work or authorship” it is as scarce a scarce can be. What’s your beef?
I said: The manuscript was produced by the means of production which combined self-ownership with the public domain. When the author makes a copy from the original manuscript, he owns that too, because the manuscript is the means of production for the copy.

what?

See above “metaphorical nonsense” for the decoder ring, if you can’t follow. It is in fact a production process that works like this: The author does everything every other producer does and makes an original manuscript, at some personal and capital cost. That manuscript is a producer good, not a consumer good. From this original producer good, consumer goods can be made inexpensively compared to the original. Like all production, the first product is very expensive. Mass production makes the marginal cost of each consumer product very low compared to the cost of that first original.
Think of it as a tool die. From this die, many other copies can be made inexpensively. When you get one of the copies, you do not also get the tool die. If you want that, at the very least you have to go through the trouble and capital expense of making one.
Copying an original work is assuming ownership of the “tool die” and competing on the basis of externalizing the cost of the producer goods in order to gain access to the consumer goods. How is such an arrangement consistent with any theory of Austrian economics?

the rest of your post is compleat gibberish.

I presume you got bored or didn’t want to deal with the conclusions and preferred to blow me off with your sarcasm and dismissals. That’s ok, here is the last paragraph:
“Your theory of property means that the author, once he distributes a fixation of his work, surrenders absolute title to both the good, and the means of production, because the copy cannot exist without an original to copy from. The original manuscript IS the means of production. What you are proposing is equivalent to the situation where when you buy the sword, you also buy the means of production or the next sword you desire.

You cannot homestead another’s property. It’s that simple.

nate-m April 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

@WildBerry

You ignore the key difference between contracts and property rights. Property rights affect everyone within a “jurisdiction” whether that means legal or simply social boundaries.

The jurisdiction and social boundaries for property rights… is the property. Is the physical property itself. That’s the jurisdiction. The physical item. Beyond that there is no affect my property rights have on other people. You can have conflicts and problems with property rights in the form of something like ‘water rights’ or what to do with radiation pollution or noise pollution… but that is still extremely limited to in that it is how physical property can affect another adjacent piece of physical property.

Are you arguing that since ideas have no physical boundaries then ownership of ideas should be universal? That your owned concepts have to be respected by every man, women, and child on planet earth and that is their job to make sure that they do not violate your IP?

That’s is so impractical a concept and contradicts physical property rights to such a extent that it boggles the mind.

Wrong. That is why it does not fit. You are succumbing to the propaganda about what the law says and how it operates. Such a use is not prohibited, any more that recording a TV show on your VCR and playing it for a friend is prohibited. On the other hand, a public performance, especially if you collected money for it, would be prohibited. Do you see the difference?

Yes. If I play back the music for one friend then that is legal. But if I play it back in a bar I own and then strangers dance to it then that’s illegal. If I play it back for 20 friends then that is illegal.

How does this make sense? How does copyright apply universally here… what is the natural boundaries here?

Is it morally correct to play recorded music for 2 friends? How about 4 friends? How about 10 friends? Is it ok if it’s inside, but not ok if it’s outside… or is it only illegal if I charge a cover and it’s outside with 20 or more friends.
Is it a violation of your property rights to play the music back in the park or on the bus? Is it morally justifiable to play back the music in a commercial establishment that I do not own, yet immoral to do it in a place that I do?

So far pro-IP-ists seem to say that is morally incorrect to play music back in a way that many, in a off chance, conflict with a author’s ability to make money from the playback, but it’s ok as long as it’s not done in a manner that the copyright owner can collect royalties under IP law and this is entirely natural state of affairs and people should be able to understand this. This is extremely arbitrary, however, and confusing. It seems odd that you would think that this is some sort of fundamental right here. It does not resemble natural or fundamental rights in any way. (‘natural rights’ being defined as rights that logically exist in a de facto manner universally outside of de jure law)

I said:

Patent law says that if I discover how your radio broadcasts works on my own then I would still owe you patent fees if you had a patent registered with the government.

To which you replied:

I don’t know whether you mean to raise the issue trade secret or simultaneous invention, but in either case, they are specific, very unlikely circumstances which don’t undermine the fundamental principle and concept of IP.

I raised the issue of patents. I gave a example of how patents work. If you have a patented mechanism for broadcasting radios signals and I try to use the same methods then it’s illegal for me to do so. This is completely regardless of whether or not I copied you or came up with it independently.

That is were your arguments break down. ‘Intellectual Property law’ does not just affect two parties transferring a deed or product. It affects everyone universally completely regardless of any sorts of agreements or transferring of anything.

Your bolstering my arguments. This is entirely unlike any sort of property rights in existence.

Why construct such a convoluted example? First, IF I have established some property rights that were “legal” though insane, I have a right to enforce them, right?

I assume this is in reference to the painter-of-the-fence example.

This is not convoluted at all. My example of your ability, under IP Law, to have a judge decide to give you the ability to destroy another person’s fence, or get a injunction against them, to protect your original work is a 100% valid application of current IP law and understanding.

If you painted a mural or some other artistic depiction on a fence that is legally recognized as original work and somebody else copied it for their own because they thought it looked cool then it’s a violation of your copyright.

The only convolution there is related to me attempting to flesh out how you would think that this sort of IP would function outside of a jurisdiction of a state government’s enforcement of IP.

It seemed to me that you were drawing close to the argument that IP is justifiable through contract law. This is a classical logical approach to forming a pro-libertarian viewpoint of IP. That is agreements between authors and purchasers form the basis of ethically justifiable IP-related restrictions.

I was wrong in thinking that you were choosing this logical path to defend IP. Obviously, the IP-exists-as-extension-of-contracts argument is one you 100% reject outright.

The question you are begging is “what rights are legitimate?” If I got you to agree to be your exclusive painter for 75 years henceforth, you couldn’t hire another painter without compensating me for breach of our agreement.

The question I am begging is:
How is IP like property rights when ‘Ideas and Concepts’ have no attributes that in anyway, shape, or form resemble physical goods. It is my contention that the nature of physical goods and their usage form the logic behind ‘property rights’. Since ‘ideas and concepts’ have no similar nature then it is illogical to apply property rights to ‘ideas and concepts’.

Even if I try to make your example analogous to IP, it fails.

Well the function I described 100% accurately depicts how copyrights can be applied, today, in a fence painting scenario. If you painted a mural on the fence or painting in a way that was considered ‘original work’ then you could get injunctions and other rulings against people that violate your copyrights.

What your rejecting, obviously, is that libertarian-friendly forms of copyright/patents can be made justifiable through the logical extension of contract law. Your arguments for the justification of IP is entirely based on your belief that IP is based on actual property rights. Which is something that I reject outright as being illogical.

That is you effectively saying that:
* IP rights are property rights because IP rights are property rights.
* Since IP is property rights, IP is therefore are applied universally because property rights are applied universally.
(Or at least ‘universally’ within some amorphous societal boundary concept.)

I am looking for some substantial argument on the legitimacy of IP under the scope libertarian dogma* and how IP can be achieved without the use of state force and the violation of property rights. You fail on the ‘legitimacy’ aspect** and I don’t understand how your arguments lend themselves to indicating how IP restrictions can be achievable without the state and violation of property rights.***

*(which stipulates that legitimate rights are based on extensions of property rights)
**(I reject IP-as-property-rights as being illogical)
** (IP restrictions cover accidental, unintentional, and independent (in the case of patents) duplication of ‘products of the intellect’ IN ADDITION to purposeful/intentional copying.)

Peter Surda April 11, 2011 at 5:42 am

Wildberry,

Such a use is not prohibited, any more that recording a TV show on your VCR and playing it for a friend is prohibited.

Even assuming this is completely correct, it was only clarified after this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Corp._of_America_v._Universal_City_Studios,_Inc Furthermore, this is something that is specific to US. In some other countries, time shifting and sharing with friends is still illegal, and there are also no fair use exceptions (albeit violations thereof are not prosecuted that much).

You are succumbing to the propaganda about what the law says and how it operates.

Liar. You misrepresent every argument that you allegedly address, avoid responding to questions, then when you can’t do anymore, you lie, and when your lies are exposed you just vanish from the thread and start the whole process elsewhere.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 3:17 am

I am not sure if Neil will read the following, but I suggest anyone wondering what exactly is wrong with Neil’s argument read the following comment.

Neil, you wrote:

This is not a debate about value. It’s a debate about what things are. You and Kinsella are trying a reductionist argument, that the composition does not exist independently, and can not be observed and used, as a separate thing apart from the objects which carry them. It’s a stupid argument, but it’s all you have.

You say it’s not “about value,” yet you continually say a thing “is” a thing if it “has value”. So it is a debate about the relevance of vale. Your argument is an ontological one: you want to say that there “are” different “types” of “things”. You basically argue that so long as we humans have come up with a concept (and a corresponding word in language denoting that concept) to usefully comprehend some aspect of life or reality, then that means that the “thing” the word refers to must “exist.” So however human consciousness arranges the evidence of the senses into concepts determines ontologically the “types” of “things” that exist. So in your view there is a universe consisting of “things” of a wide variety of types–not only physical objects and scarce goods, but other “things” like “novels” and “poems” and “recipes” and “ways of arranging one’s cape”.

You realize from your libertarianism that we have to have property rights in scarce resources: this is the classic non-aggression principle: do not initiate force (physical) against the property of others–that is, do not invade the borders of others’ bodies or justly acquired scarce resources; do not use these things without their permission.

Then, you realize that praxeologically, and catallactically, these scarce goods “have value”. Now the Austrian realizes this is a subjective phenomenon: value is not a substance, it is not intrinsic; it is relational, and it is demonstrated in action. Rand is crankish when she talks about man “creating values.” Values are not some “things” that “exist” or that man “creates”. Rather, man creates wealth by rearranging the scarce goods he owns–as Rand elsewhere recognized when she was thinking carefully. To do this he only needs to have a property right in his body, and in the scarce goods he transforms and makes more valuable.

Anyway, Neil, you then say: aha, well if scarce resources are ownable, what “other” “ontological types of things”? Apparently intuitively realizing it would be unworkable to make every “thing” you can come up with a linguistic or conceptual “name” for ownable, you attempt to find some kind of limitation. You see a universe of ontological types of “things”. You know one subset of things is ownable: scarce goods. You assume that not every type of thing is ownable. So you see the universe as divided into two sets of things: ownable things, and non-ownable things. The set of ownable things includes physical resources, human bodies, and so on. Hmmm, what other “types of things” might be included in the set of ownable things?

Well, you reason, scarce resources are “things”, and “have value.” Being a “thing” and “having value” must be sufficient for being “ownable”! Voila!

This is the key fallacy in your argument, in my view. This strange assertion just comes out of nowwhere. Why in the world would “thingness” be sufficient for ownability? Where does this even come from? Or “thingness” coupled with “having value”? Why is this sufficient for ownability? What does it even mean to “have value”? This is not an Austrian notion. Things do not “have value.” Things, rather, are valued, by some actor who demonstrates by or in his action that he does value them. The Randian re-working of this precise Austrian idea is her inferior, confused formulation that “values” are things man “acts to gain and/or keep”; apparently by this she means the goals or ends of action; she conflates values with goals, and then says you can own values–i.e., we own our goals, which is crankish and confused. Apparently you have been influenced by Rand’s confused ideas in this respect.

It is not “thingness” or “having value” that makes a thing ownable. Rather it is the fact that the thing is useful to or desired by some human actors as a means of action (it is a “good”), and that it is a type of thing over which there can be conflict (it is a scarce or rivalrous good). If it is such a type of good, then it is not possible for more than one actor to employ the good as a means of action. Libertarians believe in property rights assigning ownership rights in such goods precisely as a means of overcoming the problem of violent conflict that would otherwise arise in the contest to use such scarce goods as means of action.

It is therefore not “thingness” or “having value” that makes a thing ownable: it is its being a particular type of thing: a thing that can be a means of action; a thing that is scarce (rivalrous). Mises explains exactly why the means of action are necessarily scarce. This is basic Austrian economics. As for having value–the ownable things, the means of action, are necessarily valued by a given human actor when they are selected as means of action. It is not that they “have value” that makes them ownable but simply their scarcity and the fact that there can be conflict over the use thereof–and conflict is possibly only when at least two actors each desire to use the same particular scarce good.

So you are just wrong to say that scarce goods are ownable because they are “things” and “have value,” and “therefore” all other “things” that “have value” are included in the set of ownable things in the universe. You are leaving out the rivalrous characteristic of the scarce goods that is the very reason for the need for property rights in such things in the first place. Merely being “a thing” is not sufficient for ownership, whether or not the thing “has value” (whatever this un-Austrian notion means).

Wildberry April 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm

@Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 3:17 am

I am not sure if Neil will read the following, but I suggest anyone wondering what exactly is wrong with Neil’s argument read the following comment.

This is not a rebuttal of any substance. I can say that I HAVE read both Kinsella and Shulman, and there is in FACT something wrong here.

You realize from your libertarianism that we have to have property rights in scarce resources: this is the classic non-aggression principle: do not initiate force (physical) against the property of others–that is, do not invade the borders of others’ bodies or justly acquired scarce resources; do not use these things without their permission.

Using “these things” without permission is exactly the point. It begs the question as to whether these “things” are “ownable” as property.

Rand is crankish when she talks about man “creating values.” Values are not some “things” that “exist” or that man “creates”. Rather, man creates wealth by rearranging the scarce goods he owns–as Rand elsewhere recognized when she was thinking carefully. To do this he only needs to have a property right in his body, and in the scarce goods he transforms and makes more valuable.

It appears you are making a distinction without a difference. What is the difference between the concept of “creating values” and “scarce goods he transforms and makes more valuable”? If your distinction is “value(s)”, both seem to be implying wealth is created by the value created through private production. If it is “scarcity”, then you are assuming your conclusion that only “scarce” goods can be owned, and “scarce” means “tangible”.

Why can’t intangible goods be scarce? If rivalry is your criteria, then infringement is as much of conflict of claims in ownership as with any other property dispute. Two people cannot claim exclusive title to property at the same time. If that property is an intangible good, that good is rivalrous.

So you see the universe as divided into two sets of things: ownable things, and non-ownable things. The set of ownable things includes physical resources, human bodies, and so on. Hmmm, what other “types of things” might be included in the set of ownable things?

Isn’t that the issue? Air is tangible but not ownable. Ideas are intangible but not ownable. “Works” are intangible but ownable. Easements are intangible but ownable. If property is a human device, then one problem is determining what can be owned and what cannot.

Well, you reason, scarce resources are “things”, and “have value.” Being a “thing” and “having value” must be sufficient for being “ownable”! Voila!

The fact that something has value makes it potentially rivalrous. Air has value, is tangible, but cannot be owned. Why? If something has no value, it is not likely to incite competition for exclusive use. If it has value but cannot be owned, it is not rivalrous?

How is the conflict over a bubble of air resolved by two drowning men? Your concept of rivalry is no more definitive of property that what you argue against here.

Property is a human device, and can arise by contract or by assigning rights as property. The decision to justify some “thing” as property is a function of transaction costs. It is at least as economic in its foundations as legal or ethical. If transaction costs are low, rights tend to be defined by contract (negotiation between parties), if they are high, they tend to result in an assignment of property rights.

Recall, property is a human device, and is employed in the service of human cooperation. One aspect of this cooperation is economic exchange and assignment of liability. This is entirely consistent with your theory of property in every other context except IP, for which you attempt to make a special case based on an equivocation of the “public domain” and “private property”, otherwise known as the “ideas are free” line of reasoning.

Why in the world would “thingness” be sufficient for ownability?

It is not sufficient. Any honest reader can plainly see that you are creating your own fallacious argument, attributing it to Shulman, and then arguing against it. I believe this is called a “straw man”.

All agree that if the “product” is the result of self-ownership and private means of production, whatever “it” is, is “owned” by the producer. It is only when something is being transferred that the issue of property rights arise. Before it is transferred, it is subject to other standard rights to defense of property and self, which are not contended.

It is not “thingness” or “having value” that makes a thing ownable. Rather it is the fact that the thing is useful to or desired by some human actors as a means of action (it is a “good”), and that it is a type of thing over which there can be conflict (it is a scarce or rivalrous good). If it is such a type of good, then it is not possible for more than one actor to employ the good as a means of action Libertarians believe in property rights assigning ownership rights in such goods precisely as a means of overcoming the problem of violent conflict that would otherwise arise in the contest to use such scarce goods as means of action.

Nothing in this statement eliminates the possibility that this “useful thing” can also be an intangible good. A “work” possesses each of the attributes of property, by your own words. You are simply stating the quality of property, not resolving whether a “work” is also legitimately property.

Also, there is nothing that proves that property must be tangible to be scarce. “Original works” are scarce in every meaning of the word. Infringement itself is a conflict of ownership claims. That conflict cannot be resolved simply by waving away the possibility of the author’s rights to the work.

It is therefore not “thingness” or “having value” that makes a thing ownable: it is its being a particular type of thing: a thing that can be a means of action; a thing that is scarce (rivalrous). Mises explains exactly why the means of action are necessarily scarce.

I didn’t read Shulman to claim that “thingness” is sufficient to prove “ownership”, quite the contrary. This is, in my view, a restatement of “ideas are free”.

There are many things (air, letters) that are both things and non-ownable. They are part of the concept of “public domain” and are therefore categorically non-ownable. Yet some things are ownable. You define ownable property as tangible, that is all. I can define myself as rich, but I don’t stay at the Waldorff or buy Gucci shoes. A definition is not reality.

This is basic Austrian economics. As for having value–the ownable things, the means of action, are necessarily valued by a given human actor when they are selected as means of action. It is not that they “have value” that makes them ownable but simply their scarcity and the fact that there can be conflict over the use thereof–and conflict is possibly only when at least two actors each desire to use the same particular scarce good.

You are chasing your tail. Things are selected for their value to the selector. If you don’t have them because you don’t own them, then you attempt to trade something you do own for them. Presumbably you select them because you desire to act on the basis of your possession and use of them, as means to some other goal. You pay for them because you calculate that your life is improved by giving up something you do own for something you don’t own. If they are “unownable”, no need to pay.

You define “works” as unownable and claim your right to title to them as if they are “things” in the public domain. “Title” means exclusive use and possession, no title means universal use and possession. The fact that the author comes along and challenges your ownership rights makes them, by your own definition, rivalrous. The only way to avoid this is to simply define them into the public domain. “Ideas are free”.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Wildberry, you are just amateur and clueless and not worth replying to.

But I gave JNS a clear, coherent set of objections to respond to; he ducks and weaves and refuses to engage, as usual (and as expected). No wonder. I would too, if defending such obvious, unlibertarian nonsense.

Wildberry April 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

@Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Wildberry, you are just amateur and clueless and not worth replying to.

Gee, Stephan, no offense taken…

But I gave JNS a clear, coherent set of objections to respond to; he ducks and weaves and refuses to engage, as usual (and as expected). No wonder. I would too, if defending such obvious, unlibertarian nonsense.

Well, he doesn’t seem shy, and I find him forthright and articulate. You seem to insist in forcing the conversation continually back into your own construct. It is boring after awhile. You have no imagination or willingness to do anyting but defend your own ideology.

I may be an amateur, but you are simply an ideologue. You are more interested in “winning” than truth. You and Charlie Sheen share that endearing quality.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

“But for the most part, it is the content of the book — not the paper, ink, and binding — that is the reason people buy books. Remove the words and the utility disappears and a book ceases to be a book.”

This is your straw man. That you think you need to explain this to any of us is embarrassing.

We get it. Ideas are valuable. Value does not imply property rights. By your argument, since your neighbor keeping a disgusting and cluttered yard diminishes the value of your property, you are justified in using initiation of aggression to force him to clean his yard up.

“And that is what is owned by the author, no matter how many copies are made.”

Because…

“It is a single, scarce thing no matter how many copies are made. Only the author, as owner, is entitled to make copies, unless the owner authorizes others to make copies.

It is owned by its author unless the author sells or licenses his property rights.”

Stating your position does nothing to support it.

“Unauthorized copies are rivalrous with the authorized copies.”

Exactly. The conflict arises over physical copies holding the idea, not the idea itself. No one ever argued that copies are non-rivalrous.

“The authorized copies are non-rivalrous because they are authorized uses of the property.”

This makes no sense. If they are non-rivalrous why aren’t they free? Of course they’re rivalrous. If you are using an authorized copy I can’t be using it.

“Eliminate copyrights and the natural property rights still exist.”

Assuming of course that the natural right *ever* existed!

“murderers, robbers, rapists, pirates, thieves, and other scum”

Pirates are people that plunder ships, steal things that actually have property rights, and murder. If you are seriously likening them to a college kid sitting behind his laptop browsing torrent web sites, then you really have been brainwashed.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm

“Neil, you have lost. Everyone knows it.”

Nuts.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm

J. Murray wrote: “I don’t buy books for the content. I can read the content on a computer screen. I buy a book specifically for the paper, ink, and binding because it’s easier on the eyes than an electronic format.”

Proving my point that the book exists as a unique material object independent of the paper, ink, and binding, and has utility to J. Murray apart from the paper, ink, and binding that carry it.

Challenge to J. Murray: would you still buy the paper, ink, and binding if the authored content — what is really the book — wasn’t printed and bound within it?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

You are wrong: Value is subjective. If someone values a certain information pattern more than another that does not prove/mean that this information pattern itself is a property without its material instantiation. After all you buy the PHYSICAL book.

Peter Surda April 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

Proving my point that the book exists as a unique material object independent of the paper, ink, and binding, and has utility to J. Murray apart from the paper, ink, and binding that carry it.

This is still the same non-sequitur. That two objects are equally suitable (or just like in the case of a book versus monitor, one is slightly more suitable than other) for a specific purpose of a specific person and that they share a causal relationship does not mean that there is a third object, their “identity”, which they share, nor does that mean that such an identity would be ownable, nor that this ownership would take precedence over the ownership of the media that it’s embedded in. The argument it a compound of several unexplained and unfounded implications.

If it was true, then all objects that are simultaneously substitutes and exernalities (i.e. those that are similarly suitable for a specific purpose and are causally related) would be illegal. That includes all competition. A newcomer would be infringing on an encumbent’s rights.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm

“Proving my point that the book exists as a unique material object independent of the paper, ink, and binding”

Good for you. No one ever challenged that point, and it is irrelevant to the discussion.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

J. Murray wrote: “I don’t buy books for the content. I can read the content on a computer screen. I buy a book specifically for the paper, ink, and binding because it’s easier on the eyes than an electronic format.”

Or to put it another way, what is the “it’s” that’s “easier on the eyes”?

J. Murray April 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Reading off paper is more satisfying than reading from a directed light source like a computer monitor. I could also opt to purchase the information on a CD or via MP3 download.

To answer the above question (as I’m capable enough to find the reply button and use it), would I buy the book without the words? The answer is – it depends.

What purpose was I seeking to make the purchase? If I sought to purchase the book in which to read the story and found it was blank, I have cause to sue the author, publisher, or bookstore (depending on who engaged in the fraud) for fraud and obtain recompense for the cost of the book. The book was advertised and sold under the express claim of what it contained, by failing to provide the written story as I expected and was promised for return of my money. If the content was there as I expected, there would be no fraud, even if the content was sold by a party other than the original author and the original received no compensation as I received the goods promised. Now, fraud would be present if the retailer or publisher made public that the original author would obtain a royalty on the purchase, but not against the original author, but myself, as I had made the active choice to support the author (as I am apt to normally do) and included that in the value judgement. In this case, the retailer or publisher (again, whoever is the responsible party) is now required to recompense me for the full value of the book as I was defrauded of the expectations of the terms of the purchase. At no point is the original author due any relief as none of his property was in any way harmed during this transaction nor were any contracts made with him.

If you’re asking if I would buy binding and paper with nothing in it, then yes, I would, if I were seeking a journal I keep at my bedside I use to jot down dreams to flesh out for future stories if the previous one was filled. And I would even do so with the cover of a claimed work if I was aware of the contents being blank pages and made a voluntary purchase with that in mind as I may actually like the cover design.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm

J. Murray wrote, “The book was advertised and sold under the express claim of what it contained, by failing to provide the written story as I expected and was promised for return of my money. If the content was there as I expected, there would be no fraud.”

So the presence or absence of the content makes the book a different thing.

Very good. Now you know why it’s not just the paper, ink, and binding which are things. The content is a separate thing — and can be owned independent of the things that carry it.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm

You do not seem to understand what makes an object interesting for potential buyers: It is the object itself with all its attributes. Content is just an attribute that many people weigh very high. But that does neither make that attribute a type of property itself nor does it prove your theory.

If people buy a certain wooden desk they also buy it many times because the like its design. But that does not mean that someone owns that design (that information pattern).

Your “logorights” would mean, that EVERY DESIGN (information pattern) was owned by someone and that there could not be any kind of physical property anymore outside this “information pattern property rights”.

So let me ask you again: What about recipes? What about garden design? What about hairdos? What about clothes design (someone has to be the first person who wore trousers and a shirt – does that mean nobody could wear trousers and shirt anymore without asking that first trousers/shirt-combining person?)

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote, “Neil, you have no case, but warmed over Randian confusion.”

Ayn Rand never wrote the phrase, “Material identity.” That’s original J. Neil Schulman thinking there.

And, no, I don’t claim a logoright on the phrase, which is an IDEA and can’t be owned.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm

@J. Neil Schulman

Please define what exactly makes a certain information pattern property of the “designer” of this information pattern?

Where does the transformation from non-property idea to property information pattern start?

If a cook mixes ten ingredients together and “creates” a new recipe does he/she have a “logoright” to that recipe?

Who decides what could become a “logoright” and what not?

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Anti-IP Libertarian,

You’re asking for the entire case. Read The Libertarian Case for IP at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2011/03/the-libertarian-case-for-ip/

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

No, I asked you to answer my questions. You can do that here. Linking to an essay of yours is no answer to my specific questions.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Do you also want me to spoon feed you and tuck you in?

Or do you not know how to click?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Do not be a coward and run from questions asked HERE by pointing to somewhere else. Answer them here and not somewhere else. If you do not want to discuss HERE than stick to your blog. Else answer this:

Please define what exactly makes a certain information pattern property of the “designer” of this information pattern?

Where does the transformation from non-property idea to property information pattern start?

If a cook mixes ten ingredients together and “creates” a new recipe does he/she have a “logoright” to that recipe?

Who decides what could become a “logoright” and what not?

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote: “You are wrong: Value is subjective. If someone values a certain information pattern more than another that does not prove/mean that this information pattern itself is a property without its material instantiation. After all you buy the PHYSICAL book.”

I used the word utility, not value. The utility of paper, ink, and binding observably changes when you add or remove the information object which is the composed content. Yes, the subjective value decision that a user makes about the utility of a thing may change as well, but the change in the thing’s material properties by adding, subtracting, or changing the material content is what distinguishes one book package from another.

This is such an obvious point that I think it requires a self-imposed idiocy not to understand it.

If you see two physically identical books and open them up and can’t understand that it’s the words that make it a book — that the words of Atlas Shrugged make it a different physical object than the words of A Tale of Two Cities — then I have no further interest in continuing the discussion. A two-year-old child can tell the difference. An OCR scanning program can tell the difference. I don’t believe you can’t tell the difference.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 5:27 pm

So what? A book consists of physical substances ordered in a special way that means something to us. If one decides that a certain object (the book) is useful for him and values that usefulness then maybe he will buy the book.

But how does that prove in any way that one has a right to each and every instantiation of a certain information pattern?

Imagine you combined two objects A and B which are instantiations of classes Y and Z in a certain way.
How does your act of combining those objects A and B allow you to decide whether or not I am allowed to combine my objects M and N which are instantiations of class Y and Z.
How do you defend patents?

Peter Surda April 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

This is such an obvious point that I think it requires a self-imposed idiocy not to understand it.

What is obvious is that multiple different objects can be equally or similarly suitable for some purpose and that we can interpret the commonalities in a way that simplifies communication or the conduct of business.

What is not obvious however is that if there is a causal relationship between them, that somehow creates an “identity” and new rights that should take precedence over other rights. It’s a complete non-sequitur.

J. Neil Schulman April 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

If other things serve, and you can obtain them without violating someone else’s property rights, then do so. Otherwise, keep your bloody hands off.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 6, 2011 at 10:36 pm

As there does not exist a consistent and logical theory of “intellectual property rights” there can not be any violation of “intellectual property rights”.

A few questions for you:
If you look at objects (for example a book) you process them with your cognitive information processing system. In this process copies of information are stored in your memory. These copies are processed many times, information is changed, patterns formed and so on.
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?

What if we go a step further and include other types of human action in this information processing, eg writing information down (you read a book and write a summary about it).
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?

What if you exchange that information with other people (you tell them the content of the book)?
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?

Were does the infringment start?

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 3:17 am

“As there does not exist a consistent and logical theory of ‘intellectual property rights’ there can not be any violation of ‘intellectual property rights.’”

You’ve just proven that you’ve never read A Libertarian Case for IP. I do not argue in favor of “intellectual property rights” anywhere in it.

If you’d read it you’d discover the answers to all your other questions.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 4:17 am

“I do not argue in favor of “intellectual property rights” anywhere in it.”

Your argument is clearly in favor of a variant of IP that you call logorights; you would use logorights instead of copyright and patent to protect most of the subject matter currently protected by those laws. Of course you regard patent and copyright as some kind of imperfect, crude, state-run system similar to logorights, which is why you want to abolish patent and copyright only after we have achieved a free society.

Peter Surda April 7, 2011 at 4:25 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

You’ve just proven that you’ve never read A Libertarian Case for IP.

If you don’t mind me asking, where does it provide an example of IP that is neither redundant nor contradictory to physical property rights?

Peter Surda April 7, 2011 at 1:11 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

If other things serve, and you can obtain them without violating someone else’s property rights, then do so. Otherwise, keep your bloody hands off.

You are making a circular argument, othewise know as begging the question. Furthermore, you do not confront the argument.

If there is a causal relationship between two objects and they have a common feature, does that mean that the one who created the latter would require the permission of the one who created the former? Why? And if yes, how can one objectively determine which common features are relevant and which are not?

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 3:12 am

Peter Surda,

Your answer to everything is “That’s a non-sequitur.”

I don’t argue with computer programs. I want you to pass a Turing test before I answer you further.

Peter Surda April 7, 2011 at 3:28 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

Your answer to everything is “That’s a non-sequitur.”

Your answer, on the other hand, is to actually commit the non-sequitur. Just like now, instead of confronting my claims, you start to metaargue.

I don’t argue with computer programs.

So instead of arguing, you preach. I’m not interested in listening to preaches, I’m interested in science.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 4:14 am

Re Turing test:

okay, that’s pretty funny, even if it’s a dodge. ha. Neil, write a sequel to Alongside Night–use that skill and wit! :)

And don’t ask me if I’ll pay for it or whether I’ll “steal” it since I don’t believe in IP–I’ve already bought Alongside Night twice: once in paper, once in kindle, and since they both have the same logos, I think I should only have had to pay once, so I’m owed a free copy of the sequel. (Kidding. I’d buy it.)

Anti-IP Libertarian April 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

“I want you to pass a Turing test before I answer you further.”

ROFL!

Ok, there seems to be no sense in discussing with Mr. “just visit my website – everything’s there” Schulman.

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 4:10 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

I want you to pass a Turing test before I answer you further.

I could counter that I want you to pass a high school math test. But based on our conversation, I don’t think the cause of your reactions is in the incapability of logical thought, rather it is your emotional attachment to the issue that is preventing you from applying logic.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm

“I used the word utility, not value. The utility of paper, ink, and binding observably changes when you add or remove the information object which is the composed content”

So you’re making a utilitarian argument?

If utility is not equivalent to value, then you’re invoking an empty concept. I would be supremely amused if the person who called us “communists” and “dialectical materialists” is invoking a concept of objective value.

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 3:07 am

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote: “Do not be a coward and run from questions asked HERE by pointing to somewhere else. Answer them here and not somewhere else. If you do not want to discuss HERE than stick to your blog.”

It’s not cowardice to refuse to succumb to inane challenges by someone too lazy to click to another site and READ. You are demonstrating that you do not have the slightest interest in actually understanding the opposing viewpoint. If you had some interest you’d read the whole thing so a logical case, from first premises to evidence to conclusions, could impact upon your brain. But, no, you’re too interested in defending your ideology of grabbing freebies and fuck the people who make them so there’s something for you to grab.

“Else answer this: Please define what exactly makes a certain information pattern property of the ‘designer’ of this information pattern? Where does the transformation from non-property idea to property information pattern start? If a cook mixes ten ingredients together and ‘creates’ a new recipe does he/she have a “logoright” to that recipe? Who decides what could become a ‘logoright’ and what not?”

The answers to these questions are about six or seven thousand words which I’ve already written and given you the link so you can read it. Read it. Or don’t read it. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote, “You say it’s not “about value,” yet you continually say a thing “is” a thing if it “has value.”

Still making up quotes of things I never said and debating the straw man.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Surprise, you’re the one with the straw man.

IP opponents think only physical things exist!? They think a book is just the pen, ink and paper!? Give me a break!

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote, “As Rand herself explained, one cannot create anything metaphysically but rearranges owned things to make them more useful, more valuable to the actor.”

It’s nice that Rand said that. But it does you no good since I do not say that and disagree with it. You repeatedly claim that my logorights case is nothing “but warmed over Randian confusion.” The confusion is yours. You can’t understand the difference between Rand’s case for intellectual property rights and my case for property rights in a thing’s material identity.

One can indeed create new things metaphysically. That is the root of my case.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm

“One can indeed create new things metaphysically. That is the root of my case.”

Oh my. You should talk to famous physicists at once about your “ability” to create “entirely new things which are not part of the universe already”.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm

yes, this ability includes creating unlibertarian libertarian arguments, a Douglas Adamsian concoction.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

“One can indeed create new things metaphysically. That is the root of my case.” Are you sure it’s not “ontologically”? That sounds even more impressive.

But in any event: http://blog.mises.org/14045/locke-on-ip-mises-rothbard-and-rand-on-creation-production-and-rearranging/

As Rand wrote:

The power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements is the only creative power man possesses. It is an enormous and glorious power—and it is the only meaning of the concept “creative.” “Creation” does not (and metaphysically cannot) mean the power to bring something into existence out of nothing. “Creation” means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before.

She was not alone in this insight. In Man, Economy, and State, Rothbard wrote:

Men find themselves in a certain environment, or situation. It is this situation that the individual decides to change in some way in order to achieve his ends. But man can work only with the numerous elements that he finds in his environment, by rear­ranging them in order to bring about the satisfaction of his ends. With reference to any given act, the environment external to the individual may be divided into two parts: those elements which he believes he cannot control and must leave unchanged, and those which he can alter (or rather, thinks he can alter) to arrive at his ends. The former may be termed the general conditions of the action; the latter, the means used. Thus, the individual actor is faced with an environment that he would like to change in order to attain his ends. To act, he must have technological ideas about how to use some of the elements of the environment as means, as pathways, to arrive at his ends. Every act must therefore involve the employment of means by individual actors to attempt to ar­rive at certain desired ends. In the external environment, the gen­eral conditions cannot be the objects of any human action; only the means can be employed in action.

Lest Objectivists accuse Rothbard of “plagiarizing” from Rand, note the words of Mises in The Theory of Money and Credit (citing J.S. Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, sec. I.5.1-I.6.1):

It should never have been called in question that the transportation of persons, goods, and information is to be reckoned part of production, so far as it does not constitute an act of consumption, as do pleasure trips for example. All the same, two things have hindered recognition of this fact. The first is the widespread misconception of the nature of production. There is a naive view of production that regards it as the bringing into being of matter that did not previously exist, as creation in the true sense of the word. From this it is easy to derive a contrast between the creative work of production and the mere transportation of goods. This way of regarding the matter is entirely inadequate. In fact, the role played by man in production always consists solely in combining his personal forces with the forces of Nature in such a way that the cooperation leads to some particular desired arrangement of material. No human act of production amounts to more than altering the position of things in space and leaving the rest to Nature.

No offense, Schulman.

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 5:56 am

Rand understood what creation is but missed drawing the conclusion that since a thing’s identity — its nature — defines it as an entity, changing the nature and identity of a thing to give a previous existent new properties is, in fact, the creation of a new thing. It’s not creation ex nihilo but it is creation metaphysically and ontologically.

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 6:51 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

what you call a thing’s identity is merely an interpretation of some aspect of that thing through a human for a specific purpose and then analysing the interpretation based on some standard. The only way for it to exist is in people’s heads. You can twist your metaphors how you want, it’s not going to change it.

It’s also not going to change how you run away from debates. If it helps you, I would be willing to take a turing test but can’t find any that provides certifications. Would it be sufficient if I pass a series of captchas of your own choosing? Or was that just a cheap trick?

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm

“One can indeed create new things metaphysically. That is the root of my case”

Aha! So it is in fact the IP *proponent* that has to turn philosophy on its own head to make his case.

The opponents don’t need to reconsider the most fundamental questions of existence to save our case.

Maybe this is why you think we’re making ontological claims.

Stephan Kinsella April 9, 2011 at 4:56 am

“The opponents don’t need to reconsider the most fundamental questions of existence to save our case.”

Heh, good one.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 6:27 am

“The opponents don’t need to reconsider the most fundamental questions of existence to save our case.”

They must merely ignore the most fundamental questions of existence to make their case.

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 7:12 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

once again, the arguments that are brought to your attention are not about metaphysics. They are about logic. Metaphysics does not beat logic, it does not permit you to contradict yourself.

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

If I could nitpick a little, I would say that metaphysics has nothing to do with “creation”. All that could mean is that the total amount of something changes with respect to time (total mass, total number of particles, etc.), which hardly captures the meaning of creation. Creation proper has no meaning from a metaphysical point of view, there is only deterministic change and no way to separate changes into “creation” and some other type of change. One could either say that this particular piece of matter is moving around in time, or one could say that one piece of matter popped into and out of existence instantaneously, and then another peice of matter that is exactly the same except located at a slightly different place pops in and out of existence. One of those seems far more absurd than the other, but metaphysics makes no distinction.

I submit that creation is a concept of action, and the reason why the second interpretation is absurd is because we categorize that moving object as a singular means of action, and cateogorize it as the same means at each instant in time. Creation means the separation of physical reality into additional means to ends. Creation is not a metaphysical but a praxeological concept.

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm

“They must merely ignore the most fundamental questions of existence to make their case.”

I haven’t ignored them I’m just still convinced of the answers to those questions that are in line with common sense.

Questioning the nature of existence might be a useful thing to do, but if you’re going to do it the legitimacy of intellectual property is not exactly your biggest issue. I for one might start with asking why any conservation theorems in physics exist if creation is something different from rearranging. After all, such a claim seems to be in direct conflict with conservation theorems.

But frankly I think I’m admitting to much of a meaning to “create new things metaphysically”, which I suspect is just academic jargon. I do not know what this is supposed to really mean, or imply, especially in the context of ethics or economics. Even if you can “create new things metaphysically” it is still a non-sequitur to say you own the things you create.

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Nate-M wrote, “But none of that explains why any of these transfers and these agreements affect people that don’t agree to it. That is there is no logical way why our agreements between selling and buyer of goods actually has any bearing on anybody else’s behavior or goods. ”

Wildberry, pay attention here. This is why my logorights case is distinguishable from ordinary defense of intellectual property and statist copyrights.

Your argument about de-bundling of ownership is correct so far as it goes. I discuss this very point extensively in The Libertarian Case for IP.

But Kinsella and his fellow travelers — Nate-M being one of them — argue that parties who are not restricted by contract with the first owner have no obligation not to make copies.

IF the only property right for the author/first owner were one created by contract, they would be CORRECT.

The logorights case is for a property right existing by virtue of the creation of a new thing, and that property right is independent of — not based on — contracting with any second or third party. It binds all non owners to respect the property right by nature of it being someone else’s property.

One might make a case that the property needs to have a visible claim mark — equivalent to posting land with No Trespassing signs — to protect third parties from accidental infringement. That posting is what a “copyright notice” serves to function as in current copyright law.

But nonetheless, the posting notice is a mere courtesy, not a requirement. The assumption must be that the burden is on the copier to determine whether what they wish to copy is unowned before they attempt to stake their homestead claim on it by the act of copying.

Copying something which is unowned by you — unless it can be determined to be unowned by anyone — is an act of invasion. It is aggressive. It crosses the boundaries of someone else’s property. It violates the principle of private property. It is the essence of anti-libertarianism.

There is no case for anti-IP libertarianism, just as there is no case for anti-propertarian libertarianism.

Those who argue against the rights of property owners are negating their libertarianism.

nate-m April 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Copying something which is unowned by you — unless it can be determined to be unowned by anyone — is an act of invasion. It is aggressive. It crosses the boundaries of someone else’s property. It violates the principle of private property. It is the essence of anti-libertarianism.

H.C.

Copying and duplication of ideas is a fundamental requirement to existence in a modern society that has any hope of progress. Very simply put: you cannot function without it. If you think it’s evil to copy concepts and duplicate ideas freely then have fun going off and living naked in a cave somewhere, because that is pretty much the only way your going to avoid it.

Presumption of liability for a action that does not deprive anybody else of anything is idiotic.

Wildberry April 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm

@ J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I get your point. One of the problems here, given the diversity of backgrounds and adherence to any reasonable argumentation discipline, is the insistence that everything be translated into the particular logical framework with the approved Rothbardian labels. As I have said to you elsewhere, I believe your argument is consistent with a corollary put in legalistic terms.

In the case of Kinsella, et al., there is a strong defensive posture of only accepting the terms he uses, I think because his is a carefully constructed house of cards and is susceptible to any significant disturbance. For example, he insists on using the term “material” goods, which is completely ambiguous compared to the tangible/intangible concepts of the IP legal conceptual framework of copyright laws.

Your system works for me, with a very few exceptions.

One distinction I would make is that you seem to be arguing that property is a “natural phenomena” that arises as a result of certain actions, what you refer to as the creation of logos.

I hold that property is a human device, and can be defined just about any way we choose. The issue is one of which definitions are ethically justifiable, and economically sound?

From an ethical standpoint, there are a number of ways to frame the establishment and legitimacy of rights in one’s own production. Your logorights is a system of symbology that arrives at the same conclusion as a justification that departs from self-ownership and private ownership of the means of production. Without too much trouble, I believe, the concepts between the two pathways can be reconciled.

The thrust of the pro and anti IP debate here is not really about that, IMHO. It is really about disdain for anything other than the Ancap vision, and Kinsella’s generating a following based on his conclusion that IP is just another example of the State “dripping with evil”.

You cannot even get Kinsella to engage on the economics of law issues. He dismisses Mises himself regarding the issue of production for external economies, with a dismissive “he didn’t live long enough to arrive at the Rothbardian wisdom of Ancap”, in effect.

This is why when it comes to approaching the exact point of divergence, it gets emotional and personal. Kinsella has a good deal riding on his position of anti-IP, and he will never give that up, no matter how reasonable or logical arguments against his view are expressed.

One point of divergence is the acknowledgment that intangible property is legitimate. That really screws them up. Kinsella will avoid that issue like the plague.

Another is the external economies issue. He denies the effect based on a more fundamental denial of any rights to the products of personal production. As I have said, to some inflammatory effect, to advocate against IP is to favor slavery. You have made this point eloquently in our own terms.

As to your point about contracts and privity of parties being bound, I understand this point very well. What is not well understood is the distinction between rights established by contract and by property rights. Contracts are an operation of consent and intent of negotiating parties. Laws are rules of conduct, and interpretations of liability for acts. Contracts require privity, laws do not. Laws require jurisdiction. That is the critical distinction.

All of the authors most cited here agree that once property is established, brought into existence, or created by operation of law, it operates according to property law concepts. Nothing about Rothbardian property is really contrary to the existing legal structure, with a very few exceptions: the inalienability of will and transfer theory of contracts being ones where he takes a different road. But these are really minor, but perhaps important distinctions. Everything else is just ideological fluff, and a general attack of the “enemy” the State.

What I can say having read your article and reading your posts here, I agree with a very large percentage of your views. But I prefer to plant them in existing legal framework, which drives people nuts here. They would much rather make up what the law says and does, and then attack the phantoms of their own creation.

I worked for weeks to get Kinsella to admit that the “ideas are free” line of argument was a direct contradiction to what the law says and does. The best he would offer is an admission that yes, IP does not protect ALL ideas, thank God, but ideas are just a symbol for information, so I guess that means “information is free” too.

In summary, I don’t really adhere strongly to a theory of “natural rights”, unless you say that everything and anything mankind can come up with is “natural”. Therefore I hold not that intellectual property rights arise as the result of some natural condition or act, but that, having been created, for example, original works of authorship, and that work having economic value as a product of the means of private production, is a legitimate subject of property rights. There are many ways to arrive at that conclusion, and you have seemingly added one. It is from that point, however, that the real trouble begins.

My point of departure is best described by Mises’s ideas about property, production, and external economies, and Hayek’s ideas about the goal of economic policy and the law being as much a topic for economists as lawyers.

I believe I get your drift, and have enjoyed exposure to you thinking and writing. I strongly agree with your conclusions, for the most part. Kinsella’s criticisms are mostly empty, mean spirited, and ideological. You will not solve that here, and likely, never.

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

In this instance I agree with Rand, Rothbard, and Konkin, that there are indeed natural rights — rights that follow from natural laws — laws that are scientific or observably axiomatic in that their negation is self-negation. The specific case I’m making does follow from the Law of Identity so favored by Rand (and Rothbard and Konkin) but it’s an application of the Law of Identity that Rand, Rothbard, and Konkin never made … and I have.

All property rights stem from the nature of what a thing’s properties are — the properties defining its nature and identity.

This is the ontological case that removes property rights from the chaotic solipsism of replacing what things are objectively with what people desire subjectively.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Neil, this is really funny. It’s almost hard to believe you think you are serious with this utter nonsense.

nate-m April 9, 2011 at 2:51 am

Yeah. For a long time I was a strong advocate of copyright restrictions and their potential benefitial powers. Very specifically with software and technology, which I am most familiar with. Things like the GPL, copyleft, and the ‘dot communist manifesto’ (which I saw as partially ironic), were interesting. Seemed like a interesting way to establish rules of cooperation and a baseline of acceptable behavior that helped people establish the ability to trust one another’s actions in business dealings and cooperation on the internet.

I also saw the potential useful ‘necessary evil’ of things like patents. Were you trade a monopoly for a short term for long term societal benefit. Yeah sure it’s a sacrifice for people today, but by putting term limits on patents then your not only building a framework for financially rewarding innovative people, but giving them the economic need to re-invest their profits into more innovations so that they can continue to have useful income once their initial patents wore out.

All this made perfect sense. OF COURSE your a asshole if you deprive a author of his ability to make a living. I was even pretty much convinced on the need for patents with medication as a means to secure new finance for new drugs.

All this seemed like one of those sacrifices we all have to make in individual liberty in order to keep society safe. Like I cannot drive like a a-hole down the road naked and drunk while menacing people with my automobile by seeing how close I can come to them at 100mph before they fall down. We all make lots of sacrifices in our freedom to do as we please in order to exist in society. If a sacrifice is worth it then I can be convinced of this and and then it should be established.

I saw a lot of injustice and whatnot with IP laws, but that is something that probably can be reformed, not abolished.

All this stuff makes perfect sense. If I believed it a while ago, then I can believe it again.

But all this metaphysical mumbo jumbo with property rights to ideas and concepts is a joke. None of it makes sense. Ideas and concepts are not the same as physical goods and it is not only inappropriate to treat them as physical goods… IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. It’s a illogical and just not a good argument. It has far more in common with spirituality, pixie dust, and unicorn farts then it does with actual hard reality and flies in the face of basic natural rules human interaction and needs.. as well as flying in the face of historical evidence of real progress. People not only want to copy, they NEED too. Copying is good. Sharing is good. It’s a requirement to be able to have any progress at all.

Yeah sure IP Law is a violation of property rights. But we all must make compromises to live in the world all the time. Misunderstanding and conflicts abound. It’s just a question of if it is a good sacrifice or not. Not that people have natural right of ownership of ideas. Nobody is ever going to probably convince me with that line of reasoning. It just does not pass the smell test.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:45 pm

“I get your point. One of the problems here, given the diversity of backgrounds and adherence to any reasonable argumentation discipline, is the insistence that everything be translated into the particular logical framework with the approved Rothbardian labels”

So what, you’re gonna psychoanalyze us now?

I reached an anti-IP position at a time when all I knew about Rothbard was a few awesome quotes about anarchy. I have been making music my whole life and it was just too hard for me to take seriously the notion that I have any legitimate claim to control how people hear or play the notes I happen to stick together and release.

Then I made this simple realization: when you take someone’s car, they’re down a car. When you download a song off the internet, no one is down a song. That was the fundamental difference that first pushed me away from IP. This was long before I had ever heard the name “Kinsella” or even “Hoppe”, and I had yet to read even an article by Rothbard.

No we’re not sheepishly following libertarian writers, we are using our brains to think about this problem.

I possess no insistence so your diagnosis is dead wrong.

Stephan Kinsella April 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm

“One might make a case that the property needs to have a visible claim mark — equivalent to posting land with No Trespassing signs — to protect third parties from accidental infringement. That posting is what a “copyright notice” serves to function as in current copyright law. ”

actually, Neil, “current copyright law” does NOT have such a function for “copyright notice”. You don’t know what you are talking about, which is very typical of advocates of IP–they don’t even know what they are advocating. Copyright notice is in fact unnecessary. Copyrihght is AUTOMATIC. No registration is needed. No copyright notice is needed.

It would be nice if advocates of IP at least understood the nature of the system they support.

But nonetheless, the posting notice is a mere courtesy, not a requirement. The assumption must be that the burden is on the copier to determine whether what they wish to copy is unowned before they attempt to stake their homestead claim on it by the act of copying.

Exactly–the vision of the world of the IP advocates is one where we live by permission, not by right. You cannot do anything unless you first clear it with an IP–sorry, “logorights”–attorney. What utter totalitarian nonsense.

Copying something which is unowned by you — unless it can be determined to be unowned by anyone — is an act of invasion. It is aggressive. It crosses the boundaries of someone else’s property. It violates the principle of private property. It is the essence of anti-libertarianism.

Of course, copying means learning. The IP advocates are against learning, emulation, competition, progress. It is utterly evil and absurd. And yet another instance of legal ignorance: patent law has NOTHING TO DO with copying. The patentee need not show copying to show infringement and in most cases of patent infringement there is no copying at all. Neil will now say that well he is not in favor of patent–he is favor of “logorights,” whatever this weird notion is. Yet he is against abolishing patent law right now, since it is some kind of approximation of “logorights” for him and something is better than nothing.

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 6:07 am

Kinsella, I damn well know the current copyright law and nothing I wrote said a copyright notice was required under current law. Another of your straw-men rants meant to distract and deceive.

“Exactly–the vision of the world of the IP advocates is one where we live by permission, not by right. You cannot do anything unless you first clear it with an IP–sorry, “logorights”–attorney. What utter totalitarian nonsense.”

So it’s totalitarian to require permission to use someone else’s property. You can take their car without permission because requiring permission is totalitarian. You can break into their house, Goldilocks, eat their food and sleep in their beds, because, after all, we wouldn’t want to live in a totalitarian society where you need permission to use someone else’s property.

This discussion has reached the point of my having to respond to such idiotic arguments it’s submarginal for me to continue responding to blasts of dumb filibuster.

Stephan Kinsella April 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Kinsella, I damn well know the current copyright law and nothing I wrote said a copyright notice was required under current law. Another of your straw-men rants meant to distract and deceive.

You wrote, ““One might make a case that the property needs to have a visible claim mark — equivalent to posting land with No Trespassing signs — to protect third parties from accidental infringement. That posting is what a “copyright notice” serves to function as in current copyright law.”

I reasonably read that as a restatement of the common misconception about the necessity of copyright notice. If this is not what you meant I am not sure what you were trying to say.

“Exactly–the vision of the world of the IP advocates is one where we live by permission, not by right. You cannot do anything unless you first clear it with an IP–sorry, “logorights”–attorney. What utter totalitarian nonsense.”

So it’s totalitarian to require permission to use someone else’s property.

It’s not property. More question-begging.

You can take their car without permission because requiring permission is totalitarian.

Using someone’s car is not merely using your own property. You need the permission to use their car not b/c it’s a way of using your body but b/c it’s a use of what you and I both agree is the other person’s property.

Here, the question is whether ideas (or whatever weird synonyms you use for them–logos, whatever) are property. You can’t just analogize it to a clear case of theft (and property) to prove that the analogy is a good one.

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 1:36 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

Copying something which is unowned by you — unless it can be determined to be unowned by anyone — is an act of invasion. It is aggressive.

Preventing copying (unless covered by a contract or unless you are owner of the target media, i.e. when IP is redundant) is always an act of in of invasion and aggression too, because it needs to violate the property rights in the media. So unless you admit you are abandoning property rights in physical goods (the media), you’re contradicting yourself.

Admit it, dear J. Neil Schulman, you’re running away from a debate because of cognitive dissonance. Your theory is falling apart and in order to prevent it from hitting you, you make up an excuse and stop replying. If you call me a thief, then I’m calling you a coward. Well, at least you’re not alone, all the other IP proponents I debated before you did that too.

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Stephan Kinsella writes, “But I gave JNS a clear, coherent set of objections to respond to; he ducks and weaves and refuses to engage, as usual (and as expected). No wonder. I would too, if defending such obvious, unlibertarian nonsense.”

I engaged and refuted your nonsense twenty years ago. You’ve come up with nothing new. So you claim I haven’t answered you, which is a good trick since it’s unreasonable to expect an audience to have followed the debate for that long.

Then you claim victory, patting yourself on the back.

You know what your entire theory is, Kinsella? It’s the Goldilocks Theory of Property. If you can get away with eating the bears’ porridge and sleeping in their beds without being eaten, you declare you own the bears’ cabin.

You know what? I believe in the Right to Arm Bears. Prepare to be eaten the next time you pull that shit, Goldilocks.

J. Neil Schulman April 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm

nate-m writes, “Copying and duplication of ideas is a fundamental requirement to existence in a modern society that has any hope of progress. Very simply put: you cannot function without it. If you think it’s evil to copy concepts then have fun going off and living naked in a cave somewhere, because that is pretty much the only way your going to avoid it. Presumption of liability for a action that does not deprive anybody else of anything is idiotic.”

Nate-m both attacks the straw man of idea-ownership (which is no part of the material identity theory of property rights and which I explicitly deny) then falls back on some sort of social utilitarianism — exactly the attempt to negate individual rights that I would expect from a communist.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Answer the following and do not be a coward by running away from that question as you did many times here:

If you look at objects (for example a book) you process them with your cognitive information processing system. In this process copies of information are stored in your memory. These copies are processed many times, information is changed, patterns formed and so on.
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?

What if we go a step further and include other types of human action in this information processing, eg writing information down (you read a book and write a summary about it).
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?

What if you exchange that information with other people (you tell them the content of the book)?
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?

Were does the infringement start?

If you are not able and/or willing to answer this (or other) questions asked HERE then why should ANYONE be interested in discussing with you HERE?

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 6:16 am

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote,

“If you look at objects (for example a book) you process them with your cognitive information processing system. In this process copies of information are stored in your memory. These copies are processed many times, information is changed, patterns formed and so on.
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?”

No.

“What if we go a step further and include other types of human action in this information processing, eg writing information down (you read a book and write a summary about it).
Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?”

No.

“What if you exchange that information with other people (you tell them the content of the book)? Is this a type of infringement in your “logorights” theory?”

No.

“Where does the infringement start?”

When you make unauthorized copies onto an observable medium and make a market out of doing so.

“If you are not able and/or willing to answer this (or other) questions asked HERE then why should ANYONE be interested in discussing with you HERE?”

I answered your questions. Now I am no longer interested in discussing this here.

Wildberry April 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

Neil,

I have watched this happen to a number of people who try to offer an alternative view to the “official doctrine” supported by Kinsella. The dogs come out, the language gets abusive, and the purpose of the exchange shifts to running you off. I can think of several individuals who have been treated this way just in the past year or so.

This is not an honest exploration of the subject, but the rabid defense of an ideology. Like all good anarchists, when rational discourse fails to intimidate you into silence, the fire bombs come out.

People like Kinsella, Surda, and the latest addition, this Anti-IP Libertarian dude, are happy that you vanish. Mission accomplished. I personally, am not. Well done.

Regards,

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

Wildberry,

you slimy coward. I warned J. Neil Schulman in advance that people run away from debates from me. He said that is not his nature. I totally smashed his arguments by cold logic. His reaction was to get emotional, refer to me as a thief and communist then then run away from debate. This only took him about three days. And I did not even say that IP should be opposed! I only said that his arguments are flawed.

Your demagoguery would do well in the employ of the state propaganda. But here on the internet the likes of you cannot use force to prevent your lies to be exposed. You can only try to spread more lies. And that is why I will persevere in exposing the magnitude of the lies and fraud you’re perpetrating. An open an honest debate is something you detest, so that’s what I’ll insist on.

Answer the questions I gave you.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m not happy that J. Neil Schulman is leaving. It is a loss for both sides, because at least one of us is in error and he’s not interested in figuring out who.

Wildberry April 8, 2011 at 11:42 am

Surda,

Thank you for making my point clear to all. Who are you to warn anyone? People avoid you because you are unpleasant and a waste of effort. I have watched you achieve this outcome with any number of poeple by now. You think way to highly of yourself to imagine it is anything other than repulsion.

You are interested in the truth? What a load! No self-respecting person is going to long suffer the abuse and personal attacks that you, Kinsella, and this dude AIPL heap upon bloggers here.

Just becaue you act like an ass doesn’t make you one, but through your perseverence you have removed all doubt.

Your condut is disgusting.

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Wildberry,

shame on you for lying like this. I have been nothing but courteous to J. Neil Schulman. He on the other hand, referred to me and my arguments as stubborn ideologue, stupid argument, imbecilic, thief, communist and parasite. I challenge you to provide me a single example of my behaviour towards him you’re describing. Can you find one? You’re a liar and a fraud.

The bigger fraud of you presenting yourself as “open” and unbiased although it’s exactly the opposite. I have yet to see where you admit your error after it has been exposed. You’re the one who presents himself as unerring, not me. You’re the one not willing to accept your opponent’s arguments, not me. You’re not the one making falsifiable arguments, I am. You’re not the one who is attempting to debate, I am. You’re the fraud and closed minded, not me.

I would call you pathetic, but instead you’re dangerous. You’re dangerous because you advocate the use of fairy tales and flawed logic to initiate force. This needs to be exposed before people fall for your tricks.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm

“People avoid you because you are unpleasant and a waste of effort. I have watched you achieve this outcome with any number of poeple by now. You think way to highly of yourself to imagine it is anything other than repulsion.”

All I can say is that it seems like Peter is actually supporting his case (regardless of whether it is right or not) and you’re getting mad because he’s doing a good job of it. I know this “you’re an ego-maniac” ad hominem way too well. It’s as though using one’s own faculties of critical thinking is tantamount to being an ego-maniac.

Sprachethiklich April 8, 2011 at 11:55 am

It’s ironic because I’m anti-IP (for many of the same reasons those here are *hugs*) but there’s no doubting the behavior of my fellows is hysterically bad. I seriously laugh at most of the posts here. Not one of them knows how to argue well or seemingly at least give the impression there has been some sort of argumentative dialectic involved. Some intelligent doofball like Kinsella accidentally stumbled onto a decent argument then regurgitates it into their hungry beaks and they’re off to vomit his ideas on the blog, with even poorer manners. He gets the big part right then erroneously assumes every little part of the argument is biblically apodictic without giving the appearance of actually having thought about it. It’s embarrassing and, as always, angry internet guy is angry. Almost hard to believe none of you are scholars. Puzzling, really.

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Kindly provide an example of any flawed argument I may have made. I have no problem in rectifying an error. That’s why I’m here.

Sprachethiklich April 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

You’re not too bright, are you?

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I tend to miss the obvious, but please elaborate.

Wildberry April 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

@ Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

Wildberry,

you slimy coward.

I didn’t have to do much research.

Peter Surda April 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Wildberry,

I didn’t have to do much research.

this (“slimy coward”) is a reaction to a well-documented behaviour of yours, your constant avoidance of answers, your lies and your portrayal of yourself as a victim and an unbiased observer, although you’re the exact opposite.

It’s a reaction to you claiming that I made a personal attack against Schulman, which I didn’t. He on the other hand used derogative terms on me. He fell into his own trap. I never expected that he’ll take up my offer for a debate, much less then he renegs on his own words after just three days (or was it two?). As a scientist, I find this regrettable, but on a personal level I don’t care. He’s probably just suffering from cognitive dissonance, having a deep emotional attachment to the issue. Cognitive dissonance is a very human trait. I can’t really blame him for being human.

On the other hand, you’re a fraud, a coward and a liar. You pretend to sympathise with people merely because it serves your purpose of manipulating them. You’re portraying yourself as neutral while being unwilling to accept other people’s premises. You’re portraying yourself as educated and open minded although what you’re presenting is just smoke and mirrors hiding a big empty nothing.

And I’ll repeat this until you either admit it or stop this disgraceful behaviour, whichever comes sooner. I’m not a fan of banning. Fraud needs to be exposed rather than hushed up. People need to learn to detect this behaviour so that they don’t fall for it when another trickster approaches them.

Your con is over, Wildberry. I’ll continue following your posts here and use your own words to expose your true colours.

Zorg April 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm

“Some intelligent doofball like Kinsella accidentally stumbled onto a decent argument then regurgitates it into their hungry beaks and they’re off to vomit his ideas on the blog, with even poorer manners.”

Dude, I think you just won the bad manners contest.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 10:24 pm

“Not one of them knows how to argue well or seemingly at least give the impression there has been some sort of argumentative dialectic involved.”

Says the person who responds to Peter’s patient request to provide actual details with “You’re not too bright, are you?”

Way to keep that argumentative dialectic going!

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

“The dogs come out, the language gets abusive”

Oh I’m sorry, we’re just getting called “communists” left and right.

“and the purpose of the exchange shifts to running you off”

So you’e got our intentions figured out?

“This is not an honest exploration of the subject, but the rabid defense of an ideology”

Indeed it is not. The IP proponents offer hardly anything substantial and fall back on a rabid defense of ideology. For example, they call us communists and start diagnosing the unhealthy obsession with Rothbard we must have. They also concoct laughably stupid straw men such as “IP opponents believe only physical things exist”.

“Like all good anarchists, when rational discourse fails to intimidate you into silence, the fire bombs come out.”

I’m so glad you said this and hope everyone on this site remembers you by it. You are the one that thinks all anarchists are violent criminals that sabatoge peaceful interactions. Good to know.

Comparing fierce argumentation to throwing fire bombs? Only from a statist…

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

Well, I’ve tried all day to post replies here, and they don’t post.
Anybody have an idea why? how does one get captured by the spam filter for this site?

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Maybe the spam filter has learned to recognise lies?

Zorg April 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

“When you make unauthorized copies onto an observable medium and make a market out of doing so.”

So it’s ok to copy it and make it available to millions online at no cost?
So you don’t have property in the thing unless a copier charges for the copy (it sounds like you added that as a condition)? Or you just decided not to enforce it or what?

No sarcasm or meanness. I’m interested in the answer because I just don’t hear advocates ever giving one that, to me, seems like it’s consistent with the claim or property. It often sounds as if the “property” is continually coming into and going out of existence, and/or its status as property depends on the mood or intention of the creator (or the calendar).

You don’t have to leave the conversation. Just take a break and regroup. I think the short answers to questions really help. We should all try to ask short pointed questions and give short, to the point answers. I sympathize with you feeling like these exchanges are getting out of control and too frustrating for you because you face opposition.

But even though you called me a “commie parasite” (or some such) before, I am sincerely interested in hearing your short responses. I promise not to call you a dirty low-down fascist monopolist or an ego-driven property-rights-infringer of squalid character, murky ancestry, and questionable ethics (or some such). : )

Anti-IP Libertarian April 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm

@J. Neil Schulman:

Your whole theory is FLAWED: You argue that there is some sort of identity (aka essence aka logo) in each object that is “created” and to which (the identity) someone has a property right.

But this identity only goes so far that it is restricted to THAT object only. So by your “theory” you have not shown anything on (transfer of) property rights regarding the linkage between an “original” (your “logorighted” object) and a copy. To the contrary that means that each COPY is a work with its OWN identity itself which has another owner.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Some addition:

You seem to believe in what is called (ontological) essentialism. The problem seems to be that you think that certain properties of objects are aspects which can be owned. Therefore other objects with these properties (copies) are after your theory owned by the “creator of the essence”. That would also mean that each and every child was the property of their parents…

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 6:12 am

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote, “You seem to believe in what is called (ontological) essentialism. The problem seems to be that you think that certain properties of objects are aspects which can be owned. Therefore other objects with these properties (copies) are after your theory owned by the “creator of the essence”. That would also mean that each and every child was the property of their parents…”

There’s nothing mystical about the argument I’m making. A thing is the sum total of its properties. Its utility is the sum total of what it can be used for by human actors.

Create an observable entity with new properties and the new properties make it a new thing.

If that new thing can be copied, that’s proof that it’s a distinct thing … and can be owned by who made it.

Done.

I am out of here.

sweatervest April 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm

You didn’t address his actual point, which is that your argument leads to the conclusion that everyone is owned by their parents.

Stephan Kinsella April 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm

“Create an observable entity with new properties and the new properties make it a new thing.

If that new thing can be copied, that’s proof that it’s a distinct thing … and can be owned by who made it.”

this is one of the goofiest “arguments” I have ever heard.

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote, “But this identity only goes so far that it is restricted to THAT object only.”

Demonstrably wrong if the object can be hosted elsewise, independent of its first appearance. The very ability to copy it proves its independent existence as a separable thing.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 9, 2011 at 4:01 am

Regarding your identity-thingy:

Either you state that only physical things exist. Than everything you own in an object is in that object. The identity is only in the object itself. The essence of an object is the object itself with all its properties. None of these properties is an object itself.

Or you state that you believe in a duality in this universe, that there is an object and a separate essence which you own and that this metaphysical essence which is the thing which is re-instantiated via copying in other objects (in copies) is your property and therefore you own those copies too.

There can only be those two positions. Tertium non datur!

Which one do you believe in?

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Peter Surda,

I answered all your questions. Read up this thread.

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 4:25 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

I answered all your questions. Read up this thread.

Calling me a communist or a thief is not an answer. That’s just a way of saying that the debate is frustrating you.

Where is the example of an IP that is neither redundant nor contradictory to physical property rights? Where is the explanation why causality + similarity + utility create property rights, and why does this only happen sometimes and not in other cases? Where is the proof that you’re not claiming that reinterpretation creates a separate phenomenon? Where is the proof that what you’re referring to as “identity” is something else than standards+encoding+decoding?

Where are all the other answers?

Or, let me turn this around completely and give you the power to fix this once and for all. Let us assume that all the assumptions you are making are coherent and not self-contradictory, i.e. a falsifiable while yet unfalsified theory. Can you construct a counterargument, which when true, would invalidate the theory? If someone was saying that A and B are different phenomena, how would it be possible to disprove it? If someone was saying that certain actions violate rights, how would it be possible to disprove it?

Prove that you can overcome your emotions.

Wildberry April 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Why is it that my posting is not showing up, I wonder?

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Sweatervest wrote, “You are literally assuming your conclusion, which is that ideas are a type of property.”

I say for the umpteenth time in this form: NO. Nowhere have I ever written that ideas are or can be property, or that anything intangible in someone’s mind or a mere product of someone’s subjective value can be property.

The case for logorights is for ownership of things that can be observed as existing as objects independent of the other things that carry, transport, and display them.

Deal with this.

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 3:29 am

J. Neil Schulman,

things that can be observed as existing as objects independent of the other things that carry, transport, and display them.

Yet, when challenged, you cannot provide a single example for this.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 5:59 am

Peter Surda wrote, “‘things that can be observed as existing as objects independent of the other things that carry, transport, and display them.’ Yet, when challenged, you cannot provide a single example for this.”

Atlas Shrugged
Casablanca

You want several hundred thousand more examples, or will these two do?

Atlas Shrugged exists on paper, and as a Kindle edition without paper. In both cases it’s Atlas Shrugged, even though the carrier is different — proof that its an observable object independent of its carriers.

Casablanca has existed on film, on VHS tape, DVD, and Blu-Ray. Four different carrier media yet in all cases it’s still Casablanca — observably existing independently of its carriers.

Can you really not understand this?

These are real, observable things. Not ideas. Not interpretations. Not something existing only subjectively. Objectively existing and mathematically quantifiable things.

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

Atlas Shrugged
Casablanca

Can you provide an example of Atlas Shrugged or Casablanca that is independent of a medium? You can’t. Because by even writing or speaking the words, you are using a medium.

Atlas Shrugged exists on paper, and as a Kindle edition without paper. In both cases it’s Atlas Shrugged, even though the carrier is different — proof that its an observable object independent of its carriers.

It only answers that the similarity can be observed on more than one carrier, not that it can be observed without any carrier at all. You’re not answering the question I’m asking.

Casablanca has existed on film, on VHS tape, DVD, and Blu-Ray. Four different carrier media yet in all cases it’s still Casablanca — observably existing independently of its carriers.

Ditto.

In summary, you are answering a different question that I’m asking. You are answering whether two objects can share some commonality that can be considered useful from some perspective (because, in your opinion, this results in rights). But that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking if the commonality can be interacted with without being imprinted on any media at all.

Once again, the question is not about metaphysical existence. The question is about implications of assumptions.

And, because rights in carriers (physical media) are already fully covered by physical property rights, IP can only be redundant or contradictory to them. It is completely irrelevant whether the IP has metaphysical existence or not.

Can you really not understand this?

I understand this perfectly. You do not comprehend the question.

Once you comprehend what I’m asking, you’ll realise your whole theory falls apart.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 10:40 am

@ Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

… that it can be observed without any carrier at all.

Of course! All you are asking is that Neil make the intangible appear on the table like some kind of majic show! All that is needed to satisfy you is to make something intangible, tangible. You sound like an Grand Inquisitor accusing someone of witchcraft! LOL.

You deny your insistence that all property is only tangible, and insist that to disprove it, we merely have to violate the laws of physics! Right!

Some people actually think you are defending a case. It’s a screamer!!

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Wildberry,

let me remind you how your lies and fraud discredited you already.

All you are asking is that Neil make the intangible appear on the table like some kind of majic show!

Yet again, you twist the flow of debate and make up stuff that you then attribute to others. Neil said that IP does not contradict rights in physical goods. You stated previously that it does not matter. So why are you complaining to me? We two agree on this. Neil does not.

I on the other hand did not state that the intangible does not exist.

You deny your insistence that all property is only tangible, and insist that to disprove it, we merely have to violate the laws of physics! Right!

No you dumb liar. You admit by this sentence the very thing Neil is denying. The difference is that he needs it to be false it because it’s the basis of his argument. You’re just making stuff up on the go and then just randomly put it into sentences that oppose me.

Some people actually think you are defending a case. It’s a screamer!!

And some people actually think that your “arguments” should be taken seriously. They should not. It’s just random stuff that has no relevance for the debate.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm

@Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

I’m asking if the commonality can be interacted with without being imprinted on any media at all.

This is all you need to know about Peter’s “falsification”. Here merely poses a question that assumes impossibility.

The concept is tangibility. It is not “material” or “physical” or anything else. Intangible is the word, and that is why that PARTICULAR word is used as the term of art for this subject.

Now, intangible means not perceptible by human senses, in case you don’t have a dictionary handy. Yet intangible things can be experienced, and their existence can be demonstrated, as Neil has succinctly shown. Intangible things exist, they are not “phantoms”. But you cannot directly perceive them, unless you can read my thoughts, OR, now wait for it…they are made TANGIBLE! This is done by fixing them onto a tangle medium.

Now, though you deny the requirement of metaphysics to make your case, this is not actually correct. You claim that causality extends to infinity, and so you say that thoughts are neurons, and neurons are atomic, and no one creates atoms, so there is no such thing as property in intangible things, there are only physical things, which are already covered 100% by property rights. Got it.

Yet you don’t deny the existence of an “idea”. Can you show me an idea that is not imprinted on any media at all.

Now don’t be a coward and run away. I am asking you a direct question. If you don’t deny the existence of ideas, then show me one.

I’m asking if an idea can be interacted with without being imprinted on any media at all. As soon as you show me, we can move on to a discussion as to whether ideas can be owned as property.

Don’t be a coward and run away from our debate, now. That would be self-contradictory to your previous statements.

Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Wildberry,

let me remind you again how your lies and fraud have been exposed before and how you discredited yourself.

Here merely poses a question that assumes impossibility.

Anyone can feel free to provide a counterexample that would disprove the impossibility. That is how falsification works.

Yet intangible things can be experienced, and their existence can be demonstrated, as Neil has succinctly shown.

All he has shown that they can be experienced when attached to a medium. He has not shown how they can be experienced without a medium.

This of course does not on its own disprove the metaphysical existence of intangibles (as you fraudulently misrepresent my claims). But I don’t care about metaphysical questions. They have nothing to do with my arguments.

Neil said IP does not contradict physical rights. That has nothing do with the question whether it exists from a specific metaphysical point of view. He was probably unaware at the time when he said “no”, but he fell into his own trap.

I would really appreciate if IP proponents confronted the contradictions instead of hiding behind metaphysical bullshit.

And you, Lieberry, drop the pretense. You’re not a supporter or defender of Neil’s arguments. You’re just want to be acknowledged for your nonexistent qualities. Not gonna happen.

Zorg April 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

He’s not saying that the intangible story doesn’t exist. None of us are. That would be absurd. He’s saying you can’t separate it from whatever medium it is instantiated within at the moment so as to refer to it as an “object” on its own. Clearly it is not an object, although it obviously does exist.

He’s saying that property rights are already established in physical media, so that when you imprint the information which constitutes the story it doesn’t change the fact that the disc (or whatever) already existed as property.

He’s saying that this means that IP is therefore contradictory to established property rights in physical media.

Don’t pretend like you don’t understand that. Come on!

Deal with what he’s saying. Agree to the point he makes so that you can proceed to the next point in the argument. That’s what an argument is, eh? Perhaps you don’t disagree here, but you will disagree with the next point that: Because it is not an instantiated thing or object on its own, we shouldn’t treat it as property since, being that way, it is infinitely reproducible in its essence, unlike everything else we call property.

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

“You claim that causality extends to infinity, and so you say that thoughts are neurons, and neurons are atomic, and no one creates atoms, so there is no such thing as property in intangible things, there are only physical things, which are already covered 100% by property rights. Got it.”

I can’t speak for Peter, but I’ve never gone down the road of methodological monism in order to prove my anti-IP case (and I doubt Kinsella the Hoppe-ian has either), and I have at least seen Peter invoke the basic points of this argument. Either way, at most this is a straw man that only defeats a poor presentation of an anti-IP case and does not defeat the anti-IP case itself.

Here is the argument: property is only meaningful where conflicts arise, conflicts imply rivalry (economic scarcity), and intangible things are not rivalrous, therefore no conflicts arise over their use, and therefore intangible things cannot be property. I don’t see any metaphysical claims there. There’s definitely no need to ponder what “creation” really means, which only ever became relevant because of the naive but popular conception of property as “I made it so I own it”, a conception of property at least I have made a point to avoid.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm

@Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

let me remind you how your lies and fraud discredited you already.

This should be good…

Neil said that IP does not contradict rights in physical goods. You stated previously that it does not matter. So why are you complaining to me? We two agree on this. Neil does not.

I have no idea what you are trying to say here. What does “contradict rights in physical goods” mean? All rights limit other rights in some way. Rights in the self limit your actions (i.e. your rights of use) of your own property. Rights in IP also limits your rights of use, that is should you acknowledge their existence, in theory, in principle. Do we agree or disagree about that?

I on the other hand did not state that the intangible does not exist.

OK, that’s good. An idea is intangible. It exists. Can you demonstrate that to me without using any tangible medium please?

I said: You deny your insistence that all property is only tangible, and insist that to disprove it, we merely have to violate the laws of physics! Right!

No you dumb liar.

This sounds emotional, HAL.

You admit by this sentence the very thing Neil is denying. The difference is that he needs it to be false it because it’s the basis of his argument. You’re just making stuff up on the go and then just randomly put it into sentences that oppose me.

Sorry, your are incomprehensible. Do you deny that only tangible things can be regarded as property? Yet you acknowledge that intangible things exist, but cannot be regarded as property in your view? Your reason is that tangible property is already covered 100% by property rights. Is that correct?

I recall that Neil said that “things” can be created that did not exist before was the basis of his argument. You can’t seem to figure out what these “things” are. Explain it to me.

And some people actually think that your “arguments” should be taken seriously. They should not. It’s just random stuff that has no relevance for the debate.

What debate? You can’t seem to stay focused on a single point, much less conduct a debate.

@Peter Surda April 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm

let me remind you again how your lies and fraud have been exposed before and how you discredited yourself.

You are not the boss nor the judge of me. I hardly need to be reminded of what you think, if I can call it that.

Anyone can feel free to provide a counterexample that would disprove the impossibility. That is how falsification works.

Fine. Then show me an idea. You are the author of the question. Answer it.

All he has shown that they can be experienced when attached to a medium. He has not shown how they can be experienced without a medium.

Are you trying to be obtuse or does it come naturally?

Can you have an idea? That is how it is experienced without a medium (in the meaning of this discussion. Please don’t refer to neurons, that is just a distraction). If you want to convey your idea to me, how will I experience it? That is called communication. That’s the way the universe of human beings works. Are you a human being? Then you understand what I am saying. If not, then you fail the Turing test.

This of course does not on its own disprove the metaphysical existence of intangibles (as you fraudulently misrepresent my claims). But I don’t care about metaphysical questions. They have nothing to do with my arguments.

Are you sure your arguments exist? I’m beginning to wonder.

Neil said IP does not contradict physical rights.

Like I said, I don’t grok you. You are making up new terms which have not been defined by you, as far as I know.

That has nothing do with the question whether it exists from a specific metaphysical point of view. He was probably unaware at the time when he said “no”, but he fell into his own trap.

That makes at least two of us, genius. What are you talking about?

I would really appreciate if IP proponents confronted the contradictions instead of hiding behind metaphysical bullshit.

My life revolves around your appreciation.

And you, Lieberry, drop the pretense. You’re not a supporter or defender of Neil’s arguments. You’re just want to be acknowledged for your nonexistent qualities. Not gonna happen.

I am a supporter of ideas and concepts that I can understand and withstand my analysis as truthful. As for my nonexistent qualities, and my needs for acknowledgement, you certainly are in no position to judge.

You ask nonsensical questions, but don’t answer simple ones. You try to lead people into traps that you construct out of nonsense, and require nonsense to “prove” your point, whatever that is. You are a Mad Hatter.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm

@Zorg April 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

He’s saying you can’t separate it from whatever medium it is instantiated within at the moment so as to refer to it as an “object” on its own. Clearly it is not an object, although it obviously does exist.

Is a concept or idea an “object”? I don’t know what this means as you use the term.
I am using, as my concept for this discussion, an “original work of authorship”. Until it is fixed onto a tangible medium, it is intangible. You agree an intangible thing “exists”. If it exists, it exists separately from whatever medium it may be fixed upon. The fact that it is fixed on paper, does not change the fact that it can also be fixed in digital media. Therefore, will you agree that a “work” is an object that is seperable from the object it is fixed upon? If so…

He’s saying that property rights are already established in physical media, so that when you imprint the information which constitutes the story it doesn’t change the fact that the disc (or whatever) already existed as property.

What happens when this object is “fixed” (if that is what you mean by “established”) in a tangible (if that is what you mean by physical) media? The tangible media has been transformed in a particular way, do you agree? The tangible medium has been changed to that of being what it was before (say a blank book) into what it is now (say a book with War and Peace fixed upon it). Does that “change the fact that the disc (or whatever) already existed as property? No it doesn’t change that fact.

If I have paper, I own it. If I fix a novel upon it, I still own the paper. If I sell the paper to you under the presumption that I am transferring the title to the paper with the object on it for use in a particular way, does that AUTOMATIALLY MEAN I HAVE TRANSFERRED THE INTANGIBLE OBJECT? Why?

It seems that even under Rothbard or Hoppe, one cannot assume they have obtained the title to property unless the owner has specifically transferred it. When did this happen in the example above? When did it transfer under any other assumption than under the presumption of copyrights? In the albescence of copyrights (which does not currently exist) you cannot presume that the original owner would transfer it to you under the same conditions that you assume you have it. So under your own theory of property, explain how you obtained title to the intangible object along with the paper (or disk, or whatever).

He’s saying that this means that IP is therefore contradictory to established property rights in physical media.

Yes, I do understand. He is saying that a theory of property which recognizes that the self-ownership and private ownership of means of production does not apply to intangible objects, because once they are fixed on a tangible medium, the title to the intangible object also automatically transfers, because that is the only way he can remain consistent with a theory of property that declares that tangible objects always trump intangible one. He assumes that there can be no theory of property that does not simply operate on the principle of “tangibility rules”. This is unsupportable in any other area of property theory. Yet he will not admit this self-evident fact.

All rights are limited in their range of action by other rights. That is simply a statement of what a right is. It is a defensible limitation on the actions of others.
No pay careful attention, I have never claimed that defending a right establishes my right to another’s property. What I say is that defending my rights imposes limites on the range of actions you may take with YOUR OWN PROPERTY. If you violate my rights, you still OWN your own property, but you have violated my rights, nonetheless.

If you swing a bat that you own so that you violate my property rights, I do not OWN your bat. But your rights of use to your bat are limited by the very existence of my rights not to be hit by your property as the result of your actions.

So if this is what you mean by “conflicts with physical property”, then yes, any right conflicts with the physical property of another to the extent that their use of their property infringes upon my rights. That is a general statement describing the operation of rights, and is not specific to IP rights.

Don’t pretend like you don’t understand that. Come on!

I am not pretending. Why would I want to waste my time doing that?

Agree to the point he makes so that you can proceed to the next point in the argument.

Based on my explanation above, do I agree or disagree with Peter’s position? I have no idea, honestly.

That’s what an argument is, eh? Perhaps you don’t disagree here, but you will disagree with the next point that: Because it is not an instantiated thing or object on its own, we shouldn’t treat it as property since, being that way, it is infinitely reproducible in its essence, unlike everything else we call property.

You know you are shifting arguments here, right? You are now arguing that property rights are dependent upon something called “infinite reproducibility”?
I understand what you really mean is rivalry, I think, but that is another line of reasoning what I won’t go into now.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm

@sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Fair enough.

Here is the argument: property is only meaningful where conflicts arise, conflicts imply rivalry (economic scarcity), and intangible things are not rivalrous, therefore no conflicts arise over their use, and therefore intangible things cannot be property. I don’t see any metaphysical claims there. There’s definitely no need to ponder what “creation” really means, which only ever became relevant because of the naive but popular conception of property as “I made it so I own it”, a conception of property at least I have made a point to avoid.

Here are your assumptions:

-property is only meaningful where conflicts arise
-intangible things are not rivalrous
-no conflicts arise over their use
-intangible things cannot be property

Each of these points is debatable. If they are debatable, they cannot be assumed. So I have studied the arguments you summarize, and disagree with each of these assumptions, and not surprisingly, come to different conclusions.

No amount of personal abuse is going to change that simple fact. If you really want to know more about what I think, fine. If not, fine.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 5:06 am

Lieberry,

This should be good…

No, it is terrible that someone as corrupted as you has the audacity to continue posting.

I have no idea what you are trying to say here.

Just another demonstration how stupid you are, since even after months of debates you can present a claim like this.

What does “contradict rights in physical goods” mean?

It means that any and all rights that follow from “IP” either contradict a right in an already owned physical object, or they affirm it (thus being redundant).

All rights limit other rights in some way.

There it is again. You say that my objection does not matter. Neil, however, disagrees.

All that IP can do is either be irrelevant or steal. There is nothing else it can do. Since Neil supports rights in the physical he’s contradicting himself.

Do we agree or disagree about that?

We agree that all rights impose limits on action. But that has nothing to do with my claim. That’s something you made up in order to avoid confronting my argument directly.

OK, that’s good. An idea is intangible. It exists. Can you demonstrate that to me without using any tangible medium please?

.
I did not say ideas exist either. It's all metaphysical bullshit that IP proponents use to hide their self contradictions.

You deny your insistence that all property is only tangible, and insist that to disprove it, we merely have to violate the laws of physics! Right!

No, I do no such thing. Again, this is metaphysical crap that is completely irrelevant to my claim. It does not matter whether the intangible metaphysically exists or not, the self-contradiction is not affected by it.

This sounds emotional, HAL.

It is a sign of utmost disrespect I have for you, due to your constant use of lies and fraud.

Sorry, your are incomprehensible.

Sorry, you’re stupid. I already reformulated my arguments several times and you show no sign of comprehending the question. Maybe you should go back to school and learn how to read.

I recall that Neil said that “things” can be created that did not exist before was the basis of his argument. You can’t seem to figure out what these “things” are. Explain it to me.

I don’t care whether “things” are “created” or not. I’ll only repeat that it’s metaphysical nonsense trying to mask the contradictions that follow from combining this with other claims the IP proponents are making. It’s not my fault that IP proponents mix self-contradictory claims. I’m not telling them to abandon the concept of immaterial creation. I’m just telling them they are contradicting themselves.

You can’t seem to stay focused on a single point, much less conduct a debate..

Lieberry, you slimy coward. I always, or at least almost always, provide a direct reaction to whatever my opponents are claiming. You on the other hand have jumping to a completely different topic, just like you do here, as the main method of “argumentation”. And now you claim that I can’t stay focused? Shame on you.

You are not the boss nor the judge of me.

If you don’t want people to judge you then don’t interact with them. If you don’t want to make them angry then don’t lie to them.

Fine. Then show me an idea. You are the author of the question. Answer it.

Once again, you dumb and dumber. I did not say that idea does not exist, nor that it exists. I said that if you consider the immaterial relevant from the purposes of rights, then you need to sacrifice other rights. But the deontological IP proponents, like J. Neil Schulman, want to have both, so they need to contradict themselves. It is up to them how to resolve the contradiction. They are free to say that they have no problem in abandoning rights in the physical goods. I don’t think they’ll do it, precisely because that would require a utilitarian, rather than deontological, approach.

Like I said, I don’t grok you.

Because you’re a moron. IP opponents on this site get my argument. For deontological IP proponents, I can at least assume that the reason why they still don’t get it is due to cognitive dissonance. But you don’t have such a limitation. You’re just objecting out of principle regardless of arguments.

What are you talking about?

You misrepresent my claim as “immaterial does not metaphysically exist, therefore it cannot have rights”. That’s a lie. I never said that. Rather I said that if you want to have rights in the immaterial, they either need to be redundant or contradictory to rights in physical goods. Whether my opponents want to have rights in the immaterial or physical, I don’t care. That’s for them to decide, not me.

I am a supporter of ideas and concepts that I can understand and withstand my analysis as truthful.

So that’s what your trail of lies, fraud and cowardice is supposed to represent? I had no idea.

You ask nonsensical questions, but don’t answer simple ones.

I answer all questions. Show me an example of a question that I did not answer! I also ask trivial questions. However, cognitive dissonance is preventing my opponents from comprehending them, yet alone from answering them. As for you, you are a category on its own.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 6:32 am

Wildberry,

Each of these points is debatable.

No, they are not. There is no such thing as an intangible action, intangible rivalry or intangible conflict. Those are oxymorons.

But by all means, if you think otherwise, show me! Oh wait, you said that would violate the laws of physics.

Snake Plissken April 10, 2011 at 10:09 am

Wilberry is the intellectual equivalent of a Cleveland steamer.

sweatervest April 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

“No amount of personal abuse is going to change that simple fact.”

Now where did I personally abuse you?

“If you really want to know more about what I think, fine. If not, fine.”

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you don’t mean what you literally said here, but just to clarify I don’t care at all what you think, you are a complete stranger to me. I am interested in the truth, not what other humans are capable of stating.

“Here are your assumptions”

They were not assumed. I dedicated much time to establishing those points on threads I know you participated in.

“property is only meaningful where conflicts arise”

Of course it is. I dare you to even start to conceive of “property” where there is no conflict. Property is about exclusion. The whole meaning of “I own this” is captured in “I can exclude others from using this”. What relevance or even meaning would exclusion have where no exclusion ever needs to happen? Where there are no conflicts of use, there is literally no way to even identify something as an act of exclusion. In order to meaningfully exclude, someone has to request or try to use something. There has to be a conflict of use.

“intangible things are not rivalrous”

You are the one that keeps using the word “intangible”. All I ever said was that ideas are non-rivalrous, which I specifically supported. The act of using an idea cannot conflict with another’s use of that idea unless such use trespasses on another’s physical property. If it can, then it should easy to cite an example of such. I really don’t care if there are “intangible” things, whatever that may mean to you, that are rivalrous. That is totally irrelevant to this discussion, which is about ideas, and the fact that they are non-rivalrous goods. That’s all I ever said.

“no conflicts arise over their use”

This is a literal repitition of the previous point, since rivalry means potential conflicts of use. I have provided my burden of proof. You are capable of disagreeing with anything you want. You can sit here and say, “Well I think 2 + 2 = 5″. You don’t invalidate a position by suggesting that you might believe another one. I have backed up my reasnoning to believe this. You need to back up your reasoning to not believe it.

“intangible things cannot be property”

I never, ever said that. All I said is that ideas cannot be property, which is not an assumption but is a logical consequence of the first two “assumptions” you listed here. If I assume that property is only meaningful when conflicts arise, and assume that not conflicts arise over the use of ideas, then it is not an additional assumption that ideas are not property. It is a logical consequence of the two assumptions. To clarify, neither of those two first points are assumptions. I have offered support to them over and over and over.

“Each of these points is debatable.”

This is a meta-argument (thank you Peter for exposing me to this word). If they really are debatable, then you’d just go ahead and debate them instead of promising me that such a thing is possible (what better way to prove your claim!). This reminds me of when my friend said, “But Keynesian economics is derived from logic”. I’m sure it is!

“If they are debatable, they cannot be assumed.”

So your claim that they are debatable is not your assumption? Are you saying it is not debatable that those statements are debatable? If it is, then you fall into the same trap you think I’m falling into.

“So I have studied the arguments you summarize, and disagree with each of these assumptions, and not surprisingly, come to different conclusions.”

So!? Why do you think this is relevant at all to any discussion!? What does it bring to the table for you to respond to arguments with, “Well I disagree, so there.” Your act of disagreement doesn’t prove anything!

I would like to make extra emphasis on the fact that you took this much space to tell me you disagree with me, and didn’t offer *a single word* to justify that disagreement. I know full well that you disagree, and I submit that you have no good reason to disagree, which is the only explanation I can think of for someone taking so much time to say “I disagree” and no time at all to say why.

I would love to see a theory of property rights that doesn’t immediately make all of the insights that you listed off as my “assumptions”.

Wildberry April 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

@sweatervest April 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

>blockquote>Now where did I personally abuse you?

Fine. If I improperly associate you with the general tone of rudeness that is so common here, allow me to offer my deepest and most sincere apology.

They were not assumed. I dedicated much time to establishing those points on threads I know you participated in.

“property is only meaningful where conflicts arise”

Of course it is. I dare you to even start to conceive of “property” where there is no conflict. Property is about exclusion. The whole meaning of “I own this” is captured in “I can exclude others from using this”. What relevance or even meaning would exclusion have where no exclusion ever needs to happen? Where there are no conflicts of use, there is literally no way to even identify something as an act of exclusion. In order to meaningfully exclude, someone has to request or try to use something. There has to be a conflict of use.

We are in agreement then; So far so good.

“intangible things are not rivalrous”

You are the one that keeps using the word “intangible”. All I ever said was that ideas are non-rivalrous, which I specifically supported.

If this is all you said, then I agree. To clarify, both ideas and “original works” are intangible “things”. Ideas are not rivalrous, but “original works” are. “Intangible work” is important, unless you will agree that once a work is fixed in a medium, it is always fixed somewhere, and its origin can be traced back to a single original attributable to a specific author. This is my understand of why Neil refers to logos/MCP as “material”.

The act of using an idea cannot conflict with another’s use of that idea unless such use trespasses on another’s physical property. If it can, then it should easy to cite an example of such. I really don’t care if there are “intangible” things, whatever that may mean to you, that are rivalrous. That is totally irrelevant to this discussion, which is about ideas, and the fact that they are non-rivalrous goods. That’s all I ever said.

OK, if that is all you are saying, fine, but since “ideas” are not the subject of copyright or other IP, and are not ever property, then I am waiting for the punch line.

“no conflicts arise over their use”

This is a literal repitition of the previous point, since rivalry means potential conflicts of use. I have provided my burden of proof. You are capable of disagreeing with anything you want. You can sit here and say, “Well I think 2 + 2 = 5″. You don’t invalidate a position by suggesting that you might believe another one. I have backed up my reasnoning to believe this. You need to back up your reasoning to not believe it.

I haven’t figured out yet what you are arguing. I agree ideas are non-rivalrous and there is no conflict over use (in a scarcity sense).

“intangible things cannot be property”

I never, ever said that. All I said is that ideas cannot be property, which is not an assumption but is a logical consequence of the first two “assumptions” you listed here. If I assume that property is only meaningful when conflicts arise, and assume that not conflicts arise over the use of ideas, then it is not an additional assumption that ideas are not property. It is a logical consequence of the two assumptions. To clarify, neither of those two first points are assumptions. I have offered support to them over and over and over.

“Each of these points is debatable.”

This is a meta-argument (thank you Peter for exposing me to this word). If they really are debatable, then you’d just go ahead and debate them instead of promising me that such a thing is possible (what better way to prove your claim!). This reminds me of when my friend said, “But Keynesian economics is derived from logic”. I’m sure it is!

Yes it is, but that is not a dirty word.

“If they are debatable, they cannot be assumed.”

Sorry, but now I’m really confused. That is a tautology, but it doesn’t stop some from assuming things instead of debating them. Where are you heading? It seems so far we are on the same side of the argument.

I know full well that you disagree, and I submit that you have no good reason to disagree, which is the only explanation I can think of for someone taking so much time to say “I disagree” and no time at all to say why.

Disagree with what?

Drum roll….All that is fine as an argument for why ideas should not be property, which I support, and I don’t know who DOES think ideas should be property. Where I disagree with the “ideas are free” line of argument, is not that I think that ideas are property, but that IDEAS CANNOT BE EQUIVOCATED WITH THE CONCEPT OF IP, ESPECIALLY THE COPYRIGHT CONCEPT OF “ORIGINAL WORK.”

So, did I mistakenly assume that you were leading up to a grand conclusion that says, “therefore, IP cannot be property? If so, we just wasted a bunch of time restating the obvious.

I would love to see a theory of property rights that doesn’t immediately make all of the insights that you listed off as my “assumptions”.

And finally, if ideas are not property, then this entire discussion concerning the qualities of ideas is irrelevant to the discussion of property, unless you are simply giving a negative example of something.

This is a real problem with this format of discussion. It is easy to get lost between different bloggers and the train of thought and what is being asserted, etc.

I am addressing these assumptions, which you summarized nicely at the beginning or our discussion, relative to the equivocation inherent in the “ideas are free” line of reasoning, as it is applied to the argument against IP rights. If you aren’t making such an equivocation, if you hold that an “idea” is not the same thing as an “original work of authorship”, then we are aligned. If you mean to assert that because of all the things you can and have said about ideas is an argument against IP, then I repeat, we reach completely different conclusions.

Sorry, somehow we got our wires crossed here. If you want to understand where I’m coming from, go back and substitute “ideas” with “IP”, and you can see what I meant to convey. It is the equivocation I am objecting to. Sorry…

I have come to the conclusion that this entire discussion of whether there are property rights in IP is simply a diversion, anyway. It seems that no one disagrees that the original manuscript of an author is the property of that author, so the whole issue is moot. Why it has taken months and thousands of words to arrive at that point I don’t really don’t know.

Shall we take a mulligan?

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

“The case for logorights is for ownership of things that can be observed as existing as objects independent of the other things that carry, transport, and display them.

Deal with this.”

I have already dealt with this for the “umpteenth” time. You are either claiming that one has ownership over the nonphysical aspects of a logo, or you are making the even more absurd claim that as soon as you design a logo you gain ownership rights to every physical object, now and in the future, that either resembles or has a part that resembles your logo (how does one decide where to draw the line of resemblence?). I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you are not saying you can trump someone’s homesteading claim to physical property because they drew your picture on it. Claiming you own the abstract picture, absurd as it may be, is far less absurd than claiming you all of a sudden gain ownership to anything by drawing anything on anything, except for the thing you’re drawing on.

What exactly qualifies as a “logo”? Can I claim that symmetry is a logo I created and sue anybody that produces highly symmetric goods? Whatever line you draw in the sand dividing a “logo” from anything else is entirely arbitrary and invokes subjective value.

If you think I’m being pedantic, this causes real problems. Apparently Intel tried to get a trademark claim to the letter “i”. It makes me think of Futurama, when a Momcorp commercial ended with, “Mom, love and screen door are registered trademarks of Momcorp”.

One thing I think the IP opponents are forgetting to do is point out how silly of an avenue this is to go down anyway. Why do you need property rights to protect logos? If someone designs a logo and then sells good products and in turn instills value in that logo then other people can either copy this logo and admit openly that they are not the real deal, which makes the whole endeavor pointless anyways (first of all who would do this, and second of all why should the original designer care?), or they can copy the logo and con people into thinking they are the real deal, and they are guilty of fraud no matter what “logorights” people talk about (and they defraued the customers, not the logo designer). It’s a supremely silly way to deal with something that well-defined physical property rights deals with just fine.

Talking about logorights suggest that there would be some sort of problem without them. What problem would that be?

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 5:10 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

The case for logorights is for ownership of things that can be observed as existing as objects independent of the other things that carry, transport, and display them.

And the case against logorights is that all these situations you mentioned are already covered by the rights without logorights. So, logorights either contradict them or are redundant.

Deal with this.

J. Neil Schulman April 8, 2011 at 11:18 pm

After I have stated my intention not to participate in this forum, Sweatervest — who has until now been silent in this discussion — shoots out 17 messages that merely replicate challenges I’ve already answered.

Not going for it, Sweatervest. Read my article. Read my previous comments in this forum.

My time is too valuable to repeat myself endlessly.

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

“After I have stated my intention not to participate in this forum, Sweatervest — who has until now been silent in this discussion — shoots out 17 messages that merely replicate challenges I’ve already answered.”

Oh right I’ve been lurking in the shadows waiting for you to give up! I’m sorry I don’t stalk these forums and discovered this thread after you ran away from it.

“Not going for it, Sweatervest. Read my article. Read my previous comments in this forum. ”

You mean the ones where you call me a communist and Kinsella a dialectical materialist?

“My time is too valuable to repeat myself endlessly.”

Trust me, I know what it’s like. You keep claiming that we have denied the existence of intangible things. How many times do I have to explain how off the mark this is? I probably sound like a broken record on these threads by this point!

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 12:51 am

It’s very unlikely people who disagree with IP will go along with using force against others in order to enforce it.

Why if I run an ISP would I give you any information about the people who use my ISP to find out about infringement? They are paying me money, but you are giving me nothing but a headache as I will have to get rid of a paying customer to enforce your so called rights.

The proof that IP will never work is demonstrated by the fact that those who would never steal will regularly download or copy without a thought. Even those who give lip-service to IP will often violate it (I’ve had numerous discussions with people who advocated IP with their arguments but readily admitted to being pirates).

You don’t have to force most people to accept physical property because not accepting it means that they cannot logically expect others to respect their own property. The same is true regarding laws against violent crimes. Most people do not want to be attacked.

The truth is for individual violators looking to get a free movie/book/game/etc. IP is largely already dead. It’s remains are primarily hindering others from developing their own books/movies/games based on those who came before them that don’t meet some strange criteria or destroying the lives of the few people convicted for sharing.

The rules say it’s ok to make a parody, but not ok to make extension to another’s writing like a sequel, translation or adaptation. And if you come up with an idea for how to improve a patented device, you either have to wait or try to sell it to the person who has the patent.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 6:12 am

In the open seas there have often enough been pirates.

In the old west there were often enough cattle rustlers and horse thieves.

In the inner cities gang members often get away with drive-by murder.

In many cultures men get away with raping women, killing women, and ritually mutilating their genitalia.

Slavery still exists today.

Cannibalism still exists today.

The argument that people see nothing wrong with violating other people’s rights is not a libertarian argument against rights.

If you wish to do away with property rights and support those who violate them, please have the courtesy to stop calling yourself a libertarian or a propertarian. It’s communism so demented even Marx and Lenin would have puked.

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

1) Certainly, however who would accept that piracy on the sea is ok when it comes to their own stuff? And yet people do accept that what you call IP that the “create” can be freely shared/copied.
2) Same argument as above. Who would advocate for their own cattle to be stolen?
3) No one wants to be raped or killed or mutilated. No one wants to be a mistreated and beholden to another’s orders with no right to refuse or to be eaten. This is why constructing arguments against all of these things is very simple. This is why having a “non-aggression principle” makes sense. The fact some cultures allow these things is indeed very bad, but the reason other cultures left them behind is that the reasoning behind it was easy to explain.
4) I didn’t say that people seeing “nothing wrong” is a “libertarian argument.” It is probably somewhat utilitarian. I’ve got no problem if you want to label it as whatever, but it is consistent with human action. People act in their own best interest. IP will never be in the best interest of everyone (not even in the long run).
5) I call myself a libertarian because I believe in the non-aggression principle and voluntarism. But I think we must have different definitions of aggression. Unfortunately IP is really another axiom you put above non-aggression which enforces your opinion as to what it means. And so you must tell me that I’m a communist simply because I don’t agree that your idea of IP will ever work.

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

“If you wish to do away with property rights and support those who violate them, please have the courtesy to stop calling yourself a libertarian or a propertarian. It’s communism so demented even Marx and Lenin would have puked.”

Please stop paying lip service to the political philosophies that actually favor individual liberty and admit that you are, at least concerning this issue, a fascist calling all of your adversaries “commie bastards”.

You sound like a full-blown liberal right now. Why don’t you just start calling us “neo-confederates” and “rascists”? I’m tempted to post Tom Woods’s interview in response to this.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 6:24 am

“The proof that IP will never work is demonstrated by the fact that those who would never steal will regularly download or copy without a thought.”

“Those who would never steal” also without a thought approve of government agents taking the private property of “tax cheats,” imprison people who refuse to be drafted, and allow adults to feel up four-year-old girls going for a ride on an airplane.

I hold libertarians who claim to believe in private property rights to a higher standard.

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I think this is a pretty good point. You said yourself people approve of slavery elsewhere and I’m sure this is without thinking as well. But you have a good argument that can convince people over time against it (we know it works because it worked in many countries peacefully).

Unfortunately, to this point there is no argument that has convinced people that government is not a “necessary evil”. And most people still think it’s doing things like protecting them and supporting the poor, etc. Even Wildberry believes in the state, and he agrees with you on the subject of IP.

In any case, you can hold libertarians to any standard you want but you have to convince us first, just like with anyone else. I’m not convinced. If I recall correctly that your system doesn’t even have term limits on IP, I think it’s far worse than our current system (from a utilitarian perspective, even if it is more consistent).

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm

@Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Even Wildberry believes in the state, and he agrees with you on the subject of IP.

Don’t put words in my mouth. I oppose mercantilism, so any aspect of the State, or state, or self-government (state is a bit ambiguous, yes?) that embodies that quality I am opposed to.
Neil, to my understanding, has developed an argument for property rights in intangible works. As far as I know he has not depended on any form of IP laws to make his case for property rights in what he descirbes as “logos”.

Therfore, unless I misunderstood Neil, it is not accurate to presume that we agree, as I don’t know if that is the case.

However I can say that I support the concept and principle of IP rights. I support this concept as I understand them to be derived from self-ownership and private ownerhip of the means of production, from an ethical point of view, and the issue of internalizing external economies from an econmic point of view.

If Neil supports those positions, the we are in agreement.

sweatervest April 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

“state is a bit ambiguous, yes?”

No. See Hoppe.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I wasn’t responding to Hoppe.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Sweatervest,

I wasn’t resonding to Hoppe.

sweatervest April 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Of course you weren’t. That’s probably why I suggested that you read Hoppe!

Was this serious?

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I didn’t put words in your mouth. You inferred things from my statement that I didn’t say. I never said you support everything the state does, however… I’ve not seen where you disagree with the state on IP, since most of the time when you reply to me you defer to existing law.

Wildberry April 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

@Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Fair enough. Thanks for clearing that up.

There are many areas where I disagree with the current operation of the law, the CTEA for example. But we have rearely discussed that here. We are debating the fundamental legitimary of the concept and principles of IP as a property right.

As I understand Neil, he is making an argument for the legitimacy of property rights on the basis of self-ownership, etc. He seems to specifically avoid depending on existing concepts of law. It is interesing and thoughtful, and he arrives at the same conclusion I reach on that specific point; that rights in original works of authorship are justifiable and legitimate. I do not honestly now where his concepts of logorights and the concept of copyrights intersect beyond that.

On that point, there is vast confusion and equivication of terms. Much of this is given considerable precision in the language and conepts of the law itself.

Therefore, I do refer to the law, just as I would refer to the dictionary, to define terms and usage. I can’t figure out why anyone objects to that as a point of departure, escpecially Kinsellsa, who makes it well known that he is an IP lawyer, so why not depend on the usage that is already defined? I am not speaking a foreign language.

As far as others, most seemingly get their understanding of what the law says and does from Kinsella, Tucker, or what they’ve heard, and end up arguing against these strawmen born of their own misunderstandings. The most blatant example is the “ideas are free” line of reasoning.

I dont expect anyone to know what the law actually says, but if I refer to it, anyone is free to see if what I say is accurate. What is wrong with me proceding from that point of departure?

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Pointing to the law for the definition of “IP” is problematic in some ways because it was established over a long course of time and the writers of portions of it had vastly different opinions on the justifications for it and it’s purpose.

It was largely written in the US on utilitarian grounds, to provide some measure of incentive to produce. This is not like your “basis of self-ownership” at all, which seems to pose causality (I caused it to be therefore I own it) as the basis of ownership. The utilitarian grounds in the reason for limited terms on IP. This is also why the exemptions are created for it (like parody).

However, I don’t think saying “this is what the law is” answers the questions. It tends to beg for answers to more questions, like why is parody ok when some authors/artists might hate parody and find it insulting? Or how much humor must a parody have to be considered a parody and not a sequel or other type of adaptation that isn’t legal. But then the question must be asked, why can’t I write a sequel to someone elses story? If the authors dislike of parody is not important, should their dislike for others writing sequels be considered?

Or what if I do make an improvement to an existing patented device? Is my only rightful choice to ask for the original one who held the patent to pay me for the enhancement?

If one is arguing from a utilitarian basis I think they really need to make the case that these things all benefit, but I haven’t seen that case made sufficiently. And if one is arguing from a natural rights perspective or self-ownership, then I think it’s important to make as few assumptions as possible.

I agree with you when you say that “scarcity” as a condition is an assumption, but it is less of an assumption than causality, and imposes fewer limitations and doesn’t result in internal contradictions.

Lets take causality as the assumption.
1) I make a wheel out of stone that I procured. I own the stone and thus the wheel. I also came up with the idea “wheel” and thus I own the wheel pattern.
2) Someone else sees me, and uses their own stone to make their own wheel. I see their wheel and tell them they owe me for making that copy.

At this point I made not 1 but 2 assumptions
1) That causality is sufficient for ownership
2) That ownership of a pattern supersedes ownership of an object

But why must pattern ownership be greater than ownership of something physical? On what grounds did I make this assumption? But if I don’t make this assumption there is an unresolvable conflict. Is it made on the basis of necessity? For if I don’t have rights to deny others to use their stone to make wheels I have no ownership of the wheel?

But why is this necessary at all? In what way does his making a wheel just as I did infringe upon my right to make wheels? It does not.

I would argue that the idea that I can own “wheel” creates unnecessary conflict. It doesn’t prevent aggression but in fact demands it. Whereas before I had come up with this concept of ownership rooted purely in causality I could peacefully coexist with others without denying them the use of that which they had procured, now I must take to the streets and demand others help me by not making wheels without my permission and that they use force against their neighbors if they see them making wheels without permission.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 5:35 am

Wildberry,

We are debating the fundamental legitimary of the concept and principles of IP as a property right.

We’re not debating the legitimacy of IP. We’re debating the logical coherence of arguments that IP proponents make.

I objected to this misrepresentation already many times and looks like IP proponents still don’t get it. They think we’re blaspheming. The sooner the IP proponents realise this the sooner the issue can be resolved.

Wildberry April 10, 2011 at 11:44 am

@Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Pointing to the law for the definition of “IP” is problematic in some ways because it was established over a long course of time and the writers of portions of it had vastly different opinions on the justifications for it and it’s purpose.

When I refer to a definition of a word and quote from the dictionary, you don’t question the motivations of the authors of the dictionary. Think of it like that.

However, I don’t think saying “this is what the law is” answers the questions. It tends to beg for answers to more questions, like why is parody ok when some authors/artists might hate parody and find it insulting? Or how much humor must a parody have to be considered a parody and not a sequel or other type of adaptation that isn’t legal. But then the question must be asked, why can’t I write a sequel to someone elses story? If the authors dislike of parody is not important, should their dislike for others writing sequels be considered?

You are asking a good question, and the answer is a long essay. If I did that, I would be explaining to you all of the assumtions and defining all the terms so you could understand what I am saying, and then the rationale is for having them that way rather than the other possibilities.

If someone else explained all of that already, I would refer you to that. You wouldn’t expect me to retype that work again for you here, you would read the link. That is all I am doing when I refer to the law. That, and objecting when others misstate what the law says and does as a basis for attacking the straw men they are thus creating.

If I answered you questions in detail, I would largely be just restating the way the current law operates, and at the most, perhaps highlight some things that I disagree with. But it is somewhat premature for me to do that before you had an understanding of the definition of certain terms, like “parody” and “adaption”. Obviously, if those terms had very broad meaning, it would raise questions like yours. If they were defined very narrowly, then they would not serve their purpose. Familiarity with the law helps facilitate those discussions. Otherwise, I can only give you general answers.

Generally, the concept of protected works conflicts with other rights, like First Amendment free speech. Also, free association means that we must be free to use and exchange information and knowledge to a large degree. Therefore a doctrine of “fair use” is an important part of copyright laws. It is an extensive and detailed doctrine, and includes an exception for parody. Parody is defined in a way that makes it applicable to things like the recent “Friday’ phenomena.

Also, the legal treatment of “copying” is complex. But Neil’s description of a “check sum” is useful, if you are familiar with that term. The term of art in the law is “substantial similarity”.

The point I am making is that there are answers to your questions, but I can’t explain them in detail in this forum. If you wanted to go further, you have to learn something about how the law operates. Otherwise we have to be content with general answers not specific ones.

Also, it is difficult to switch back and forth between copyrights and patents, except at a very high conceptual level. Otherwise you have to talk specifically about one area, because each operates with its own specific terms and concepts.

But why must pattern ownership be greater than ownership of something physical? On what grounds did I make this assumption? But if I don’t make this assumption there is an unresolvable conflict. Is it made on the basis of necessity? For if I don’t have rights to deny others to use their stone to make wheels I have no ownership of the wheel?

In theory, you are describing the patent system, and if you make other assumptions, like an advanced economy, “legal enforcement”, etc., your example holds.

The application of “wheel” might be patentable, which would establish monopoly rights in you as the inventor. But also in this particular case, this happened long ago, and since the invention has long been in the public domain, and under the principles of the existing law, once in the public domain, it can never be protected as a new patent. Something in the public domain cannot be “unique”.

But why is this necessary at all? In what way does his making a wheel just as I did infringe upon my right to make wheels? It does not.

I wish I knew how to give shorter answers… You are raising the issue of external economies. Whether it should or should not create conflicts, and how conflicting rights should be resolved, involves ethical, legal, and economic questions.

The general argument is that granting limited monopoly rights provides the incentives for inventors to invest in innovation and development. We all benefit from wheels, in your example. That is a good thing. But monopolies are a bad thing. So the compromise between the two is a limited term (and theoretically a difficult threshold for getting the patent in the first place)

I would argue that the idea that I can own “wheel” creates unnecessary conflict. It doesn’t prevent aggression but in fact demands it. Whereas before I had come up with this concept of ownership rooted purely in causality I could peacefully coexist with others without denying them the use of that which they had procured, now I must take to the streets and demand others help me by not making wheels without my permission and that they use force against their neighbors if they see them making wheels without permission.

You are making huge assumptions about the nature of man, society, and economics here.

In general, conflicts arise between humans. Depending on the nature of the two humans in your scenario who each make wheels, left to their own devices they will bargain or fight. Civilized humans (big assumption) prefer bargaining. The costs are lower. To resolve conflicts in general, individual rights are established before conflicts arise, or as a result of resolving a conflict, rights are defined in a certain way. Remember, property rights, like all rights, are a human device.

If you assume that you have patent rights in “wheel”, then you have to ask the utilitarian, economic question, how should property rights be allocated in this situation? Both have claims: the inventor for exclusivity, and the public for free use. Patent law is a compromise between these two conflicting claims.

Matthew Swaringen April 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I’m familiar with checksums. They change if the data is encoded/encrypted and they can’t be “decoded” back into the original data. It’s theoretically possible (though would be extraordinarily rare) to have 2 files with the same checksum that are different.

“You are making huge assumptions about the nature of man, society, and economics here.”
I don’t think so honestly. I made kind of 2 arguments in that paragraph. The first implied I thought people could not believe in IP.
1) That it is entirely possible for people to not believe they can own the design of “wheel.”

The second was about what is necessary if people do believe in IP.
1) If there is ownership of “wheel” it necessitates restrictions on the use of others ownership of their own materials that could be used to make wheels.
2) If there are restrictions, it necessitates people to help me restrict others who aren’t going to restrict their own actions willingly.

“Depending on the nature of the two humans in your scenario who each make wheels, left to their own devices they will bargain or fight. ”
This makes the assumption that the humans see a reason to bargain or fight. It sounds like you are proposing that at least the creator of the wheel believes he owns it. I’m asking “why must this be so?” I’m assuming it can not be, or at the very least it can not be among most people.

“To resolve conflicts in general, individual rights are established before conflicts arise, or as a result of resolving a conflict, rights are defined in a certain way. Remember, property rights, like all rights, are a human device.”
The right of “IP” wasn’t formed in this way. It came as a much later development and when it came was used for censorship or to grant privileges. This is the way those who created it saw IP.

They didn’t see it as a “right.” My argument is that IP doesn’t in fact resolve conflicts but creates them, for the 2 reasons I gave above, that it makes demands on third parties for enforcement and limits the property rights of others who made no contract.

“you have to ask the utilitarian, economic question, how should property rights be allocated in this situation? Both have claims: the inventor for exclusivity, and the public for free use. Patent law is a compromise between these two conflicting claims.”
I only have to ask the utilitarian question that you pose here if IP already exists and I think it is valid. I don’t think the inventory has a claim for exclusivity. “Naturally” anyone who could reverse engineer or read some instructions about his device would be able to remake it.

There is no law inherent in physical reality that limits the scope of use. There are in fact physical laws that limit the use of scarce resources. Once they are used they are many times forever changed.

Physical property rights are about allocation of scarce resources because of these physical laws.

Now I can still ask the utilitarian question here. What if I think that IP is beneficial moreso than it’s restrictions? What if i think it would make people better off as it would make for more inventions or books/etc?

Well, I can certainly think this, but if I’m going to advocate the use of force against others to limit how they use their property, I think I better have some substantial evidence that exclusivity is promoting the “general welfare.” I’ve seen no such evidence.

Matthew Swaringen April 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

inventory = inventor

Bad hands.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 9, 2011 at 4:03 am

@Wildberry:

“The dogs come out,”

Yeah, you lost your credibility, honesty and so miles ago. Your trolling became boring.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Peter Surda wrote, “Can you provide an example of Atlas Shrugged or Casablanca that is independent of a medium? You can’t. Because by even writing or speaking the words, you are using a medium.”

That’s it? That’s your objection?

Find me a plot of land that doesn’t exist without being carried by land.

Find me a toaster that exists without being a toaster.

Your demand is that something exist without existing.

Absurd nonsense.

The point is that Atlas Shrugged and Casablanca exist independent of the other things that carry them, and the proof that they exist independently is that they can exist on different carriers.

I’ve been criticized on this forum for demanding to go back to first premises. Now everyone can see why this is necessary. Your epistemology is junk.

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I made a reference earlier to a hypothetical memory recall device. Given that ultimately everything we see (whether from a PC monitor or a live performance) interacts with the brain do we have no right to our own memories if it violates IP?

Atlas Shrugged and Casablanca only have a meaning for the human mind. Without humans the pattern that makes up those books would matter no more than any pattern in the world.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

You are so right.

But that’s something people who have ZERO knowledge of physics and information theory won’t get: They believe in some metaphysical nonsense.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 3:14 am

J. Neil Schulman,

again and again you hide behind metaphysics and fail to resolve the logical contradiction.

If you cannot show an example of how to interact without a logo without a carrier, then all rights in logos are either redundant or contradictory with regards to physical property rights. For the purposes of this argument, it is completely irrelevant whether a metaphysical toaster, plot of land or a book exist.

The point is that Atlas Shrugged and Casablanca exist independent of the other things that carry them, and the proof that they exist independently is that they can exist on different carriers.

Again, you are answering a different question. I’m not asking if they can be demonstrated on more than one carrier, but on less then one. If they cannot, your theory is self-contradictory. QED.

Your epistemology is junk.

Epistemology does not fix a self-contradiction. By the way, how do you know what “my epistimology” is? You don’t. You’re confusing the combination of your own assumptions and my logic as “my epistimology”. For the purposes of my argument, I’m not making any assumptions that you are not making either.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 4:03 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

by the way, let me ask you this: if there is more than one copy of the bible, does that mean that god exists?

Zorg April 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

“The point is that Atlas Shrugged and Casablanca exist independent of the other things that carry them…”

They don’t exist independent of a carrier though. That’s why you have to sell them as story-on-medium. You don’t sell blank media and you don’t sell the idea of the story of Casablanca.
The fact that you can conceptually separate the story from the medium is irrelevant. It actually argues against your case since you MUST sell the story when you sell the carrier (since that’s the only way it exists for any of us) – UNLESS, of course, you have a contract with the buyer that says otherwise.

Everyone agrees that Story exists and that Author created it. Everyone also agrees that Story is conceptually not medium. But, Story is entirely dependent upon medium in order to exist for and be sold to the buyer as Casablanca or Atlas Shrugged.

“…and the proof that they exist independently is that they can exist on different carriers.”

That’s what proves that they are not the author’s property once sold. The stories themselves become non-rivalrous goods once published while the carriers are rivalrous goods. That’s why you get the price you do on them and not on “Story,” because you can’t sell Story. Billions of people can all possess and use Atlas Shrugged or Casablanca as they *necessarily* are carried on innumerable particular carriers which any one of those billions of people can own individually, demonstrably without any conflict in the use.

I can read Casablanca in the USA while someone else reads it in China and the author reads it at home. There is no conflict in the use of the same story, hence no need or justification to claim an exclusionary right in it. Mr Copier does not take Story away from Author or Buyer. The story was released into the public domain on particular media by the author in exchange for money. The story necessarily goes with its carrier as it has no other way of existing or being sold as a property to the buyer which he can own.

The author/publisher makes them this way. The author’s exclusive property, the story, is transformed into mass produced instances of the story which people buy. He is compensated by many people for producing one work. He is the master copier capitalizing on a mass market for profit. Buyers have no other legal entanglement with the author after buying the book. The author has capitalized on a way to sell cheap media at an exorbitant price – by imprinting an interesting story onto it. That’s it as far as law and economics – the author’s desire for monopoly control over what he has freely sold notwithstanding.

Don’t tell me that you don’t need contracts and that it’s a default position that you never intended to sell the story itself. You are UNABLE to sell the story to anybody apart from media. And no buyer of “the story of Casablanca” is buying blank media. They’re buying the story of Casablanca obviously. You MUST sell people story-on-media or else you can’t ever sell the story in the first place. You must change your exclusive property – the original story – into numerous instances of that story-on-medium so that you can sell the same story to many individuals and then they can own it and use it. It has become their property without a doubt. In the absence of a contract, the story (which the buyer bought because it was that story) is embedded within its medium and is not separable to the buyer. That would destroy what the buyer bought if you took the story back. You can’t take it back. You released it. Sold it. Over and over and over.

You’ve made it property for them to own. That’s why they paid you. It’s a fair exchange.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Wildberry,

Not a criticism but a clarification.

I’m not claiming property rights in anything “intangible.” An information object is tangible. It can have a calculable numerical checksum. It can be detected by multiple observers. It is observable as the same thing when transferred from one carrier medium to another. These are all proofs of the “tangible.” I am arguing for property rights in tangible things.

Neil

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Wildberry,

Apologies. I just caught your post in which you said just this.

Neil

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Sweatervest writes, “I for one might start with asking why any conservation theorems in physics exist if creation is something different from rearranging.”

It’s an epistemological/ontological rather than physics distinction.

Neither Rand nor I are arguing that creation is the production of new particles, although recent experiments at Cern suggest that this may have occurred on the subatomic level. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42497555/ns/technology_and_science-science/.

There is a distinction to be made between an existent and an entity. An existent merely exists; to become an entity — a thing — it has to have an identity: properties that make it distinct from other entities.

“Rearranging” is creation only when the properties of a thing are reordered such that a new “entity” — a new “thing” — first appears. If this new thing — this never-before-existing entity — can be observed by multiple observers then it exists as something real.

That’s the case for creation of something objectively new and real, and this epistemological/ontological case precedes a possible claim based on libertarian ethics that this new thing can be owned as property.

A full case — such as the one I’ve made in The Libertarian Case for IP — deals with satisfying all the necessities for identification of a thing as ownable property.

sweatervest April 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

“It’s an epistemological/ontological rather than physics distinction”

You’re drawing arbitrary lines in the sand. It’s not okay for one theory to contradict another just because they occupy different “genres” of knowledge. Physics says matter is conserved. That means matter cannot be created or destroyed. If “ontology” says something different, then one of them is wrong. They can’t both be right. I.e. an ontology that refutes conservations theorems would necessitate an entirely new theory of physics before anything.

“although recent experiments at Cern suggest that this may have occurred on the subatomic level”

This is perhaps *the* most ridiculous interpretation of this experiment I can think of. No, they’re not saying they created a new particle. They’re saying they just saw a particle for the first time. It was there before, we just didn’t detect it. Physics does not deal with creation. As I have explained above, physics and metaphysics assigns no meaning to creation. It is a praxeological concept, which means also that it is equally meaningless in an ontological or empistemological discussion.

“There is a distinction to be made between an existent and an entity. An existent merely exists; to become an entity — a thing — it has to have an identity: properties that make it distinct from other entities.”

Precisely the point I made above about creation being a praxeological concept concerning the cateogorization of reality into means for ends. If you think you’ve found an “error” in my reasoning, you have not because I agree with you on this.

“That’s the case for creation of something objectively new and real, and this epistemological/ontological case precedes a possible claim based on libertarian ethics that this new thing can be owned as property.”

It is still a non-sequitur to jump from creation to ownership. As someone else has pointed out here, you did not create your body, so if you think creation is the criterion for ownership then you owe your parents a lot of resititution.

Which is why, as I have argued, any discussion about creation in the context of ownership is confused and obstuse to the point that it only mystifies what is otherwise a very simple problem. There’s no need at all to go down some rabbit hole trying to figure out what “creation” is, because ownership has *nothing to do with creation*.

The concept of creation makes sense even to an isolated person acting in self-sufficiency (for example the man deserted on an uninhabited island). The concept of ownership is utterly meaningless in that situation. The two have nothing to do with each other. Creation has nothing to do with ownership, and ownership has nothing to do with creation.

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Matthew Swaringen wrote, “Without humans the pattern that makes up those books would matter no more than any pattern in the world.”

Without humans, terrestrial discussion of any property or property rights doesn’t exist at all. That does not, however, negate the existence of real things.

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

It doesn’t negate the existence of physical things. But patterns such as the writing in a book only have meaning insofar as there is someone to read it. The slight variation in the location of ink within the book would be unrecognizable to the environment itself or creatures without the capacity to read.

Do you own part of my memory if it was reading a book you wrote?

J. Neil Schulman April 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Matthew Swaringen wrote, “But patterns such as the writing in a book only have meaning insofar as there is someone to read it.”

And a chair is only a chair if there’s an ass to sit on it. :-)

“The slight variation in the location of ink within the book would be unrecognizable to the environment itself or creatures without the capacity to read.”

So if that slight variation in the location of ink within the book is so unimportant, you don’t need to copy it, do you? If any other slight variation will do so why not just make your own ink scribblings?

“Do you own part of my memory if it was reading a book you wrote?”

Of course not. But if you reconstitute every jot and tittle from memory onto a new physical medium, and sell it, then what you have taken money for is stolen goods.

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I like your sense of humor.

Neil, if you think anyone who is opposed to IP is saying that we think books are unimportant I think you are mistaking our position for something it isn’t. In fact I’ll go further than this and say that it’s not books that are important, but the individual ideas that books are composed of. And yet IP advocates (wisely) stop short of making ideas ownable.

The very nature of the discussion we are having is over ideas. The nature of my post is virtually making my own ink scribblings on this particular subject.

I think the fact I’d spend time (or anyone else here would spend time) debating this shows that we all find some value in these ideas, whichever side we may take. But value is not a sufficient criteria for ownability. Pursuant to our other interests it may be sufficient to give us reason to buy or support something.

Despite my views on IP I spend more money on media than probably anything else. The reason I am opposed to IP is not because I am so frightened of being prosecuted for copying a few files or sharing a game with a friend. I am opposed to it because I think it destroys wealth and makes all of us worse off.

“Of course not. But if you reconstitute every jot and tittle from memory onto a new physical medium, and sell it, then what you have taken money for is stolen goods.”

Thank you for answering. Now, the only thing I’d want to know is why media other than the brain itself should be treated differently? I might say if I believed IP that self-ownership negates other forms of property.

But this seems very arbitrary to me, much like the assumption I referred to with Wildberry concerning the conflicts between IP and physical property. If self-ownership is more important than IP, why cannot any physical ownership be more important than IP?

The idea of someone else owning parts of my memories is certainly horrifying, but should “memory-sharing” devices ever be developed, and should the idea of IP still exist… I worry that this assumption about self-ownership will fall behind the interests of IP owners for similar reasons to the demands on restrictions on my use of physical property.

I know that this idea is very much in the realm of science fiction, and perhaps I’ve watched a bit too much Ghost in the Shell, but I still think the argument is valid to some degree. I see now with various treaties and laws that have been proposed that the government seeks to be able to cut off websites for IP infringement. I see the inevitable next step from the other side to be using encryption to keep out the prying eyes of government. And then what new measures will be passed?

You said earlier that you held libertarians to a higher standard, and in the same way I expect libertarians to be very wary of more government. And yet due to it’s nature IP demands more government.

J. Neil Schulman April 10, 2011 at 2:33 am

Matthew Swaringen wrote, “Now, the only thing I’d want to know is why media other than the brain itself should be treated differently?”

We don’t know that the brain is “media.” We really don’t know how human beings store and access memories. We don’t know if memory is separable from human identity.

What we do know is that the brain is owned and what it in the brain belongs to its owner.

I would not contest nor challenge the “ownership” of something I’d created that resides — if it even does — in someone else’s brain or mind.

Only if they put it “out there” again, intact in an externally observable medium, so that it correlates to my created property and can be objectively and quantitatively identified as such, would I even think there’s a basis for a question.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 4:32 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

We don’t know that the brain is “media.”

Of course we do.

We really don’t know how human beings store and access memories.

We know brain does it and that’s sufficient for Matthew’s argument.

We don’t know if memory is separable from human identity.

But unless the identity is separable from all objects that are already owned, your theory requires a self-contradiction.

DixieFlatline April 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

JNS won’t touch the contradiction. It’s been brought up several times and he keeps passing on it.

Wildberry April 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm

There is no contradiction.

The “identity” is separable, but not seperable as a tangible object. Therefore it is a nonsensical question.

As a demonstration of the absurdity, I asked Peter to show me an idea without using any tangible media. He claims to answer all questoins, but he didn’t answer that one.

Neil’s argument about the proof of separability is self-evident.

So where is the contradiction?

Matthew Swaringen April 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Wildberry, I don’t think Peter argues that you can show an idea without tangible media. He wouldn’t answer your question because it’s not an argument we would make. I think it’s fairly obvious, and this is the reason I asked the question that I did.

I am not exactly sure how you can shrug this off as “no contradiction” though if you believe the brain is just another medium. If it is and you own IP then you own a portion of my brain, the part that allows for me to recall some words you write that you think that you own.

nate-m April 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm

@DixieFlatline

JNS won’t touch the contradiction. It’s been brought up several times and he keeps passing on it.

It does not seem that he can comprehend the point. Either that or he is so intellectually dishonest that he knows he cannot address it without admitting the contradiction.

@Wildberry

The “identity” is separable, but not seperable as a tangible object. Therefore it is a nonsensical question.

Yes. This is the PART of the point he is trying to make. Your about 2/3rds there.

As a demonstration of the absurdity, I asked Peter to show me an idea without using any tangible media. He claims to answer all questoins, but he didn’t answer that one.

He answered that question a hundred times. I will try to make it plain by attempting to accurately paraphrase him in another manner:

Question: Show me an idea without using any tangible media.

Answer: I cannot. A idea cannot be expressed, used, or documented without some form of tangible media. Therefore if you have ‘rights to a idea’ then it’s either always going to conflict or be redundant to the property rights of the owner of the physical media. Therefore a IP system is always going always exist in perpetual violation of private property rights.

Niel appears to believe that IP can exist without contradicting private property rights. Since Peter fails to comprehend how this can happen it is up to Niel to address Peter’s point by logically showing how IP can exist without this inherent violation.

So far Neil has failed to do this. He seems to have chosen to try to turn the argument back to whether or not IP is moral and other such issues. From what I can tell this does not address the contradiction.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Wildberry,

There is no contradiction.

Of course there is. Either you can experience the “intangible” without the “tangible”, or any rights in the “intangible” expropriate the “tangibles” (or are irrelevant, but that would require that IP proponents and opponents agree on the assignment, which they clearly don’t). It’s a totally trivial claim, yet IP proponents will go at great length to avoid confronting it.

Although you don’t mind the expropriation, you are also contradicting yourself because you said in the past that IP creates new rights (at least that’s what my memory tells me, if I’m wrong, I apologise). Well, obviously, it cannot create any new rights that are experience-able, so we’re back to the metaphysical bullshit.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Our brain is just a media. Nothing else.

Our brain works with interconnected neurons. It is highly complicated. But it is not some metaphysical mumbo jumbo.

So physically speaking our brain is nothing more than an electrochemical machine. In cognitive science the brain is seen as a part of a whole information processing complex.

If you state that the brain is owned by its owner and therefore no “IP” infringement can happen than the SAME GOES for every other information processing device.

So why the heck do you make an illusionary difference?

J. Neil Schulman April 11, 2011 at 6:16 am

Anti-IP Libertarian wrote, “Our brain is just a media. Nothing else.”

Not even a processor? No imaging? No connection to the external world? Just media?

*snort*

“So why the heck do you make an illusionary difference?”

Because evidently my brain does things yours doesn’t.

Snake Plissken April 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm

J. Neil Schulman is the intellectual equivalent of a dirty sanchez.

Matthew Swaringen April 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

That was unnecessary, I wish I hadn’t looked that up. :/

Daniel April 10, 2011 at 1:05 am

To be fair, his “The Libertarian Case for IP” article was terrible, but his response to SEKIII’s Copywrongs article was ok.

J. Neil Schulman April 10, 2011 at 2:35 am

Snake Pliskin. I heard you’re going to be dead.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 3:02 am

No no no. He’s just overly emotionally attached to the issue.

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 6:42 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

And a chair is only a chair if there’s an ass to sit on it.

But the chair will continue to exist even if there are no people. Just the meaning and utility of it will be lost.

nate-m April 10, 2011 at 7:19 am

So if ownership of ideas was a property right, what do you suppose would be reasonable licensing fees for the meaning and utility of the chair would be?

After all, it would be violent to deprive the descendants of the inventor of the chair from their inherited property.

Zorg April 10, 2011 at 11:18 am

@ Wildberry

Peter simply asked if you agreed that we cannot experience the story apart from a medium.

Do you agree?

Wildberry April 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

@Zorg April 10, 2011 at 11:18 am

Peter simply asked if you agreed that we cannot experience the story apart from a medium.

Do you agree?

Of course. Peter insists on using the word “immaterial”, yet I have always insisted that the relevant term is “intangible”. That means inperceptable relative to human senses. I don’t know what he means by immaterial.

So naturally, if somthing is intangible, it cannot be experienced by others unless it is fixed upon some tangible medium. Transmission by way of tangible medium is a requirement for communication. However, as a fellow human being, you agree that we may both experience things that are not communicated. If that were not the case, concepts like “concept” would have no meaning.

And, to anticipate your next question, IP rights, like ALL rights, limit the rights of action by others at the boundaries of those conflicting rights. That is the way ALL rights operate, including IP rights. That is not stealing your property. Rights make no claim on the ownership rights of other’s proeprty, only on the limits of use.

OK?

Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Wildberry,

Of course.

Well done.

Peter insists on using the word “immaterial”, yet I have always insisted that the relevant term is “intangible”.

I don’t insist on using the world immaterial, you insist on using the world intangible. The word is irrelevant however, it has no influence on my argument.

And, to anticipate your next question, IP rights, like ALL rights, limit the rights of action by others at the boundaries of those conflicting rights.

Yes, this is correct. However, I already explained to you that this is a misrepresentation of my claim, and you know it because I told it directly to you several times already. But let us now skip over your lies and go back to the argument.

Since you cannot experience IP (or, anything for that matter) without a medium (which you yourself admit), IP cannot do anything else then change rights in the alteration of media. It can only be irrelevant or justify theft. Just like, for example, a right to a job, healthcare or other “rights” are either irrelevant or contradict property rights.

You claim that an application of a rights sometimes results in an overlap with an application of a different right. But I claim that application of IP always results in an overlap with an application of a different right. Neil disagrees. So he’s contradicting himself. You might not mind it, because you’re using some indecipherable utilitarian approach, but Neil is using a deontological approach so for him it’s a fatal error.

Wildberry April 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

@Peter Surda April 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Since you cannot experience IP (or, anything for that matter) without a medium (which you yourself admit), IP cannot do anything else then change rights in the alteration of media.

I don’t agree with this statement. Humans can experience things without communicating them to other humans. The author experience some act of “creation” that another human cannot perceive until this “creation” is expressed in a tangible form. This expression can be conceptualized as an “original work of authorship”. Concepts can be communicated on the basis of the common human experience, which can be given symbolic meaning through the use of words which represents common human experience.

Nonetheless, I presume you mean “communicate”, not “experience”. Words matter.

It can only be irrelevant or justify theft.

Wrong. It may also be relevant. The existence of intangible “works” is relevant and does not justify theft. You have no rational basis for your claim that only your two alternatives are available to the exclusion of others.

Just like, for example, a right to a job, healthcare or other “rights” are either irrelevant or contradict property rights.

Therefore, also wrong. A certain right may be relevant to some purpose or action, or limitation thereto. Defining that relevance and the legitimacy of a purpose or action is a specific argument. All rights are not equivalent. One thing that all rights share, however, is that all rights must “make room” for all other rights, even those as basic as a “right to life”. If that room is not granted or enforced, then the right cannot exist.

You cannot use your right to life to justify harvesting another’s organs to save your own life, for example. When one’s right to life conflicts with another’s right of self-ownership, we make up ethical rules to justify treating one as supreme over the other. This is a general statement concerning the operation of all rights, including IP rights.

You claim that an application of a rights sometimes results in an overlap with an application of a different right.

Yes. If there is a conflict, one right must be supreme. It is stated in terms of a limitation of action, or of the exercise of a given right.

But I claim that application of IP always results in an overlap with an application of a different right. Neil disagrees. So he’s contradicting himself.

All rights have boundaries. Where the boundaries of two rights “interact” (I presume this is what you mean by “conflict”), rules must be adopted to define the preferred outcome. My right to life ends at some boundary of another’s right to their own life. That boundary is passive until there is an actual conflict, in which case the facts surrounding that specific conflict are relevant to the rules for resolving the conflict.

You might not mind it, because you’re using some indecipherable utilitarian approach, but Neil is using a deontological approach so for him it’s a fatal error.

Well, Neil is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but I do not understand him to be saying what you claim. As for my approach, I’m not surprised you find in indecipherable. If I claim “sometimes” and you claim “always” and Neil disagrees, then it looks like both Neil and I disagree with your “always”. Ethics implies a duty to honor the ethical rule. I think there is no contention of that basic principle. Therefore, if Neil’s argument attempts to establish property rights on some ethical basis, it follows that it establishes a duty for those who acknowledge its legitimacy.

I understand you to be saying (in line with Kinsella) that although you acknowledge the property rights in an original manuscript, for example, you deny the owner’s right to transfer a limited title to the purchaser of a book, because you believe that all rights pass with the tangible good upon which the work is fixed.

Apparently, both Neil and I object to that premise. What I hold is consistent with Hoppe, of all people, who makes it clear that property and title to property are separable, and that title transfer theory does not imply otherwise. So it is you who contradicts himself, because you insist that there can be no separation between property, and title to it. You only hold this view for IP, and not for other forms of property. You fail to explain why.

My understanding of Neil’s argument is that he establishes a rational basis for rights to arise in the intangible “works” that are the subject of copyright. He does not go further than that, but to say that these “works”, which he generalizes under the concept of “logos”, establish legitimate means for claiming ownership by the “creator”.

I tend to prefer the terminology of “original work” and the economic concepts of “production” and “privately owned means of production” Such usage comports with Mises treatments of the economic analysis, and existing IP laws. This is the basis for any utilitarian arguments that I’ve made, which you have likely misunderstood.

Peter Surda April 11, 2011 at 1:20 am

Lieberry,

I don’t agree with this statement.

How about expressing yourself clearly? What you are now saying that while the copiers cannot experience the intangible without a media, the author can. Which is also wrong, because the author also needs to use some media, at least his brain, and this is typically also accompanied by external stimuli (in fact I think the absence of external stimuli is rare, you’d need to be in an isolation tank).

Words matter.

Yes they do, so stop using them to confuse and start using them to debate. “Communicate” presupposes intention. “Experience” does not. IP covers experience, not only communication.

It may also be relevant.

It cannot be relevant because it does not change the outcome. Do not convolute words again Lieberry.

You have no rational basis for your claim that only your two alternatives are available to the exclusion of others.

You have no rational basis on your claim other than leading the flow of arguments astray and confuse.

A certain right may be relevant to some purpose or action, or limitation thereto.

Once again, Dummberry. I do not object to the claim that all rights limit the amount of which actions are not illegal. Stop misrepresenting the issue. There are three sets of actions: (L)egal, (I)llegal and (N)ot addressed by law. I claim that in the absence of IP, the set N is empty, so IP can only shift the elements between sets L and I (=theft). Neil says that N is not empty (he requires it for his theory to be correct), yet has not provided any example.

If there is a conflict, one right must be supreme.

Therefore, IP is always theft, because it is always in conflict with the ownership of the medium and cannot be interacted with without a medium. Thank you for confirming my argument.

All rights have boundaries.

However, not all rights are always in conflict with other rights. A hypothetical right to an ownership of apples, for example, is not always in conflict with a hypothetical right to an ownership of peaches. But some rights, like IP, are always in conflict with other rights, i.e. the media. In special corner cases, they are irrelevant, because both rights result in the same outcome. For example, if I use my paper to type a novel that I made up, I own the physical paper already so the application of IP is redundant. If other people take the paper, they are violating my rights anyway, IP or no IP.

So stop convoluting the issue.

you deny the owner’s right to transfer a limited title to the purchaser of a book

We make no such claim. Stop making stuff up and derailing the flow of arguments.

Zorg April 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm

FWIW, this is just my own summary of the question as I see it and as I understand the arguments:

1) Property is a concept which excludes all others from access to and/or control of something (tangible/intangible) so that only the owner may possess, use, change, dispose of it by right without interference (so long as he does not violate the property rights of others). This serves the purpose of keeping the peace and allowing production and trade to flourish without destructive conflicts over scarce goods. We must know who has the right to use certain things exclusively so that we can have conflict-free (in this respect at least) production and trade.

Something which could be used by many people at the same time without necessitating conflict over a scarce good would not be property. No exclusionary rule would be required as the good is not diminished no matter how many others use it. That something is not an economic good since it doesn’t need to be economized. In the economic sense, it is abundant, not scarce. It leads to no rivalry over exclusive use because its use by anyone is not exclusive by nature.

2) IPers claim that a writer/songwriter/designer owns an intangible pattern that they created in their minds. But since it has no tangible existence in the world apart from their own minds, they cause it to take physical form in books, CDs, digital files, etc., which they sell for money, thus engaging in production and trade. They claim that since the created pattern is conceptually separable from the media which they sell (consider a blank book as opposed to War & Peace), that they always (?) own the pattern as personal property even as they sell innumerable instantiations of it via media of some kind. This gives them the right to exclude all others from unauthorized use of the pattern regardless of any other property claims in tangible books, computer discs, devices, that people other than the author own which might carry a copy of the original pattern.

3) IPers further claim that it is a crime against them to copy (meaning for others to use in some way) the pattern they published to the world without their express or implied consent. They claim the pattern must be attached to some media which they or an agent sold that is authorized (or through some other agreement such as licensing). They claim the right to stop by force any unauthorized person from using their published pattern, since to them it is still their property. This leads to the desire to enforce the purported right against violators. Some type of compensation, restitution, or punishment is sought. Otherwise, the “right”would be meaningless.

4) Anti-IPers argue that these intangible patterns, while they do exist and are original works of creativity and expression, and while they do have economic value when attached to a medium, the copies of that pattern are not property once published/sold since they then become non-rivalrous, meaning that possession/use by one person does not impair the possession/use by another in an economic sense. Now the medium (book, CD, device) is rivalrous as only one person at a time may use it exclusively while the original pattern is not rivalrous – being able to be used by very many people at the same time without impairing anyone’s use of it.

An unpublished work is automatically in the possession of its author by nature, or whomever he chooses to share it with. A published work, however, is publicly released onto media in exchange for money and is therefore no longer exclusively available to the originator such that he can claim his use of it is injured by the existence of innumerable copies possessed by others. In fact, he intentionally caused this to happen. The economic decision was made to release the work to the public on particular rivalrous media in exchange for money.

The economic exchange with the consumer is finished once the medium carrying the work is sold to him – unless, of course, there is a contract. In the absence of a contract, there is no property right in the work itself once the work-on-medium is sold. People are always free to create contracts which may then bind another if they willingly agree to terms.

J. Neil Schulman April 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Don’t confuse my use of language or arguments with those of other IP advocates, including Ayn Rand or Wildberry; and absolutely do not take the formulations of opponents of IP, since they’re incoherent.

A logos — an object with material identity existing independently of other objects that carry and/or display it — is neither immaterial nor intangible. It can be owned because it is a real thing. It is owned when a new thing is made that has not previously existed.

All IP opponents ignore the prime fact that someone other than them created it, and what they debate is how they can argue against the property rights of the creator so to use that which they did not make and which would not exist for them to use without that other.

This is a debate not for libertarians but for pirates attempting to get away with their crimes.

I will succumb to quoting Ayn Rand for once. You God damned moochers.

Stephan Kinsella April 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm

A logos — an object with material identity existing independently of other objects that carry and/or display it — is neither immaterial nor intangible. It can be owned because it is a real thing. It is owned when a new thing is made that has not previously existed.

So “a logos” is an “object.” It exists independently of things that carry it–i.e., material things–yet you say it’s not immaterial. Ho-kayyyy. This is really ridiculous. A logos or pattern existing independently of things that carry it is a pattern of information. And you say this is not immaterial? Of course patterns of information are immaterial.

All IP opponents ignore the prime fact that someone other than them created it

We don’t “ignore” it; we think it’s irrelevant. You have a right to use knowledge and information you have, regardless of who created it. The reason is, when you use information to guide your actions–your use of your owned scarce means–you do not invade the borders of others’ property.

Every action you and I perform is based on knowledge we have accumulated, most of it absorbed from the extant body of human knowledge that has developed over thousands of years. Your novel could not exist if you had not read others. Shakespeare’s plays were just remixes of existing older plots. So what? This is what life is about: learning, emulating, competing, remixing, and sometimes adding your own little twist–a new creative artistic arrangement or idea or invention that others can then learn from or emulate or modify or compete with. ,

This is a debate not for libertarians but for pirates attempting to get away with their crimes.

You keep begging the question like this.

Whta’s wrong with real pirates is that they steal things and kill and destroy. A modern information-”pirate” does not do this; he just copies information but leaves the originator alone.

I will succumb to quoting Ayn Rand for once. You God damned moochers.

Technically speaking nothing is unlibertarian about “mooching”–only stealing is prohibited: the invasion of others’ property borders. Mooching just means free-riding. Or, benefit from others’ actions. So what? Many people benefit from being part of society. You can denigrate it as mooching, but it proves nothing to spout off like this.

In the field of copyrght, being a moocher just means implementing something you learned from others’ work in your own; what is wrong with remixing? Learning? Emulating? Copying? Nothing.

In the field of patents, an infringer is not necessarly a copier at all–in fact usually is not. He is just prohibited from using his own ideas. Now you can say “I don’t favor statist patent law” but that is a copout because you also don’t want it abolished yet. Your own theory is just the same; you have some absurd notion that “information theory” can “tell us” how likely it “would have been” that an invention woudl be invented by someone else. It is baffling how you can really believe this. Show me this information, theory, please.

Peter Surda April 11, 2011 at 12:44 am

Dear J. Neil Schulman,

All IP opponents ignore the prime fact that someone other than them created it…

How does this fix the self-contradiction? It doesn’t. You’re using it to hide instead.

sweatervest April 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I also never, ever said that. There are no many problems going on here, the worst one being that this is confusing IP with plagiarism, and the two have nothing to do with each other.

Wildberry April 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

@J. Neil Schulman April 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Like I said, you are more than capable of speaking for yourself. You have indeed nailed the essential issue for IP opponents here.

I wonder if you could clear up one area of confusion for me? You say a logos is “neither immaterial nor intangible”.

If a logos is seperable from the media that carries it, then if it is seperated, wouldn’t it exist as an intangible object? I ask this because copyright law establishes property rights in the intangible work which in the specific case of an “orignal work or authorship”, is the “expression” that is fixed.

An expression is intangible unless it is fixed, yet a logos is not intangible. Can you clear this up for me?

J. Neil Schulman April 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Wildberry Comment: @J. Neil Schulman April 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

“Like I said, you are more than capable of speaking for yourself. You have indeed nailed the essential issue for IP opponents here. I wonder if you could clear up one area of confusion for me? You say a logos is “neither immaterial nor intangible”. If a logos is separable from the media that carries it, then if it is separated, wouldn’t it exist as an intangible object? I ask this because copyright law establishes property rights in the intangible work which in the specific case of an “orignal work or authorship”, is the “expression” that is fixed. An expression is intangible unless it is fixed, yet a logos is not intangible. Can you clear this up for me?”

If a car drives from land onto a ferry, it is separated from the land, but it doesn’t cease to be a car. It doesn’t dematerialize from the land that carries it and miraculously reappear on the ferry.

Likewise, a logos being transferred between carrier media doesn’t cease to exist as a real independent thing.

The only case where your objection might have real-world application would be if someone memorized a logos and at some future point reconstituted it onto an objectively perceivable medium.

But I suppose all property will have to survive this test of “intangibility” at the point the Star Trek transporter becomes real, and real things can become temporarily intangible.

sweatervest April 15, 2011 at 9:36 am

“If a car drives from land onto a ferry, it is separated from the land, but it doesn’t cease to be a car. It doesn’t dematerialize from the land that carries it and miraculously reappear on the ferry.

Likewise, a logos being transferred between carrier media doesn’t cease to exist as a real independent thing.”

But what someone could copy your car and produce their own you wouldn’t own that, and that has nothing to do with the car staying a car. We’re talking about a single car, not the set of all cars. If someone could copy your car, you would not own all the copies. It would involve a trespass on your car to make the first copy but then people could make additional copies without any conceivable damage or trespass on any of your property.

Wildberry April 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm

@sweatervest April 15, 2011 at 9:36 am

But what someone could copy your car and produce their own you wouldn’t own that, and that has nothing to do with the car staying a car. We’re talking about a single car, not the set of all cars. If someone could copy your car, you would not own all the copies. It would involve a trespass on your car to make the first copy but then people could make additional copies without any conceivable damage or trespass on any of your property.

Pardon me for intruding. This is the “magic bagel” analogy Tucker used earlier. I suppose it is fun to speculate about these things, but in reality what you suggest is impossible. There are no magic bagels, and there are no cars that can be copied without the cost of replicating the manufacturing process. Without an automobile factory, this is a pretty costly proposition.

By analogy, try making a copy of a novel without having an original to copy from. You would have to go through some significant production effort to get the copy, even if it was only a matter of typing it out from your photographic memory. Of course even that wouldn’t be there to draw from if you didn’t have the original to memorize.

Yes somehow you think the analogy is that while cars are not cheap to copy, books are, if cars were cheap to copy, no one could cry foul if you did it? Without an original to copy from, books are also expensive, or possibly impossible except under the most fantastic of assumptions concerning being able to produce a copy without an original.

I suppose two unrelated people with the exact same fingerprints or the exact same genetic pattern is theoretically possible too, but its low probability makes fingerprints and genetic analysis useful as forensic tools.

Likewise, the similarity or lack of it, is a useful forensic tool in the determination of whether a given copy was in fact derived from an original.

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