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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/3073/bush-wants-more-jailed-citizens-in-russia-and-china/

Bush Wants More Jailed Citizens in Russia and China

February 1, 2005 by

“Intellectual Property” is the sticking point in US support for Russia to join the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, this headline is an attention grabber: “Bush Wants China to Send Copyright Violators to Jail.” The irony is ghastly: strengthen your state and jail your entrepreneurs or we won’t trade.

{ 18 comments }

Perry Eidelbus February 1, 2005 at 12:17 pm

I wouldn’t call intellectual pirates entrepreneurs. I call them thieves.

If their “entrepreneurs” take what others make, it eventually discourages ours from innovating. Why should a person labor toward something new when others will copy the newly created work and reap the benefits?

Pete Canning February 1, 2005 at 2:41 pm

Clearly the first hominid who walked upright should have jailed all those who tried to copy his innovation. The world would be better off if all those ape-men hadn’t “stolen” his idea and profited from it. Think of all the “innovative” methods of motility that would have been invented.

Oddly enough, there was plenty of innovation between that time and when “intellectual property” was “invented.”

Stephan Kinsella February 1, 2005 at 3:17 pm

Perry wrote: “Why should a person labor toward something new when others will copy the newly created work and reap the benefits?”

By your logic, you should not have wasted the time to post your post. You created something new but got no monetary benefit from it. What are you, some altruist?

SilasXdX February 1, 2005 at 4:21 pm

If their “entrepreneurs” take what others make, it eventually discourages ours from innovating. Why should a person labor toward something new when others will copy the newly created work and reap the benefits?

The same reason that *real* entrepreneurs keep coming up with way to make a profit even though they know others will copy them.

Nathan Shepperd February 1, 2005 at 4:44 pm

The fact that people make money out of selling tables and chairs should indicate that IP is a dodgy concept.

Bob from Seattle February 2, 2005 at 10:42 am

Nathan Shepperd said:
“The fact that people make money out of selling tables and chairs should indicate that IP is a dodgy concept.”

now that was funny…

Perry February 2, 2005 at 3:57 pm

I really find it incredible, perhaps even hypocritical, that an institute praising Ayn Rand would also have a blog writer show disdain for intellectual property rights, which she supported as equal to private property. “The government does not ‘grant’ a patent or copyright, in the sense of a gift, privilege, or favor; the government merely secures it — i.e., the government certifies the origination of an idea and protects its owner’s exclusive right of use and disposal. A man is not forced to apply for a patent or copyright; he may give his idea away, if he so chooses; but if he wishes to exercise his property right, the government will protect it, as it protects all other rights.” Rand, of course, disapproved of the U.S. patent system, but the important fact is that she *did* support intellectual property rights.

You see, there’s a little thing called Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution: “The Congress shall have power to…. To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The beauty of its simplicity is first and concisely explaining why Congress is granted that power.

The fallacy of IP opponents is that IP proponents are hardly talking about normal biological proclivities or basic furniture. You can’t patent the wheel, nor is it common sense to. Recall what happened to the inventor of the kaleidoscope?

Real intellectual property proponents aren’t asking for the power to patent a cardboard box, or trademark a circle, or slap a copyright on “look and feel” — and it’s quite dishonest to misrepresent our argument as such an absurd caricature.

It’s about incentive, and the moral question of why you feel entitled to take somebody’s intellectual creation, when that person created it as his *free choice* of labor. There are many unique creations that require constant development and the pouring in of resources, and if copied by others, the endeavor is not worth it.

So Pete, Stephan, Silas and Nathan: you would have Dean Koontz do something else? How about Disney animators or Microsoft programmers? In fact, I’d be curious to know what operating systems you all use. If you use Windows, do you pirate it? Do you pirate your other software? If you pay for your copies, why? Especially today, the cost of buying legitimate copies is far more than the cost of pirating.

My software is all legitimate. Part of the purchase price of my new computer included paying Microsoft for the right to use Windows on that machine. Microsoft created the product, and willingly chose to accept their terms. I have a few shareware titles that I willingly paid for, which are protected with various codes.

Professional software programmers simply can’t stay in business if their creations can be copied freely. They’re *already* innovating on the next product once the first starts shipping, so that rebuttal is irrelevant. If I can buy one copy of Windows and let my twenty friends borrow it to install it on their own PCs, the company would have to charge many times more. Oh, oops, nobody would buy it at that higher price. The company then goes out of business, assuming it even got started.

There’s no difference between my farming 100 acres of corn and selling the produce, or my writing a software program and selling it. Did I not labor in each? Are resources not expended in each? What incentive is there for me to farm my corn if someone can just take it — or what incentive exists if I spend a year writing a software program if somebody can copy it?

You all seem to be so concerned with entrepreneurship and innovation, forgetting that certain things are copied for very little cost. Nobody tries to copy an automobile, but there are kaleidoscopes, digital technology, and books. I have a very nice print of the Three Stooges, taken from an original drawing. What if someone made very nice copies for the average cost of a dollar each, then sold them for $5? It would put the original artist out of business, who could otherwise sell them for $15.

I don’t know how old any of you are, so you may not remember or be aware that computer software originally didn’t need copy protection. A decrease in the price of computer memory made it feasible to “swap” disks when copying; a decrease in the price of extra disk drives helped too. Yes, the companies in turn innovated ways to prevent copying — which raised prices and even damaged equipment. It’s true: sometimes a disk drive was banged out of alignment by error codes purposely written on tracks, a trick employed as a copy protection scheme (because a copy program wouldn’t know to reproduce the errors). Dongles were effective, and less annoying than the codewheels or “What is third word of the first paragraph on page 11 of the manual?” questions.

People have complained about Microsoft’s ability to disable Windows somewhat, if Windows suspects it’s been installed on another machine. The simple answer is: you don’t have to use Windows if you don’t want to. Microsoft is hardly a monopoly or putting a gun to your head.

Vanmind February 2, 2005 at 4:34 pm

What about those of us who think Rand was little more than a hack?

Perry February 2, 2005 at 6:23 pm

Not to be belligerent or anything, but I’d appreciate an explanation why. It’s one thing to say, and another to at least give a brief reason. That’s what the Declaration of Independence (and Declaration of the Necessity and Causes of Taking Up Arms) was: “Look, we want independence, now here’s *why*.”

Someone tell me why it’s anyone’s right to take my unique intellectual work, which no one else could have or would have created otherwise, and deny me the ability to make money off my intellectual labor. Of course it “costs” society more when there are intellectual property protections. If I sell something to a willing customer for $1, it “costs” society more than had I sold it to him for 75 cents.

Stephan Kinsella February 2, 2005 at 11:44 pm

Perry:

“I really find it incredible, perhaps even hypocritical, that an institute praising Ayn Rand would also have a blog writer show disdain for intellectual property rights, which she supported as equal to private property.”

It is neither incredible nor hypocritical for there to be diversity of thought. I guess anyone who is steeped a bit too much in Randroidism is baffled by the concept. Some libertarians are pro-IP; others are not. This is not mind-blowing.

“You see, there’s a little thing called Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution: “The Congress shall have power to…. To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The beauty of its simplicity is first and concisely explaining why Congress is granted that power.”

It is not news to tell us that there is a Constitutional basis for IP laws. This is not a remedial IP law course for morons who need to be told that, nor is it a forum where people making normative assertions will make much headway if their argument is “the federal government says so.”

“Real intellectual property proponents aren’t asking for the power to patent a cardboard box, or trademark a circle, or slap a copyright on “look and feel” — and it’s quite dishonest to misrepresent our argument as such an absurd caricature.”

Trust me. I practice IP law on a daily basis. What goes on is really absurd. Many companies have trademarks on the circle; you really don’t know what you are talking about. No one “slaps” a copyright on anything, since authors of original works receive copyright automatically–and yes, the look and feel of some works has been held to have copyright protection; and I guarantee you I could find for you patents on cardboard boxes or even sillier ideas; see some here

And while most IP propoents do not want “cardboard boxes” to be patented, they nevertheless advocate a system that inevitably will result in such absurdities. I am reminded of a great Mises quote: “No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power—whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government—could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.” Human Action, 692.

“It’s about incentive, and the moral question of why you feel entitled to take somebody’s intellectual creation, when that person created it as his *free choice* of labor.”

Well, here you are mixing two arguments in the same sentence: the utilitarian one (incentive), an the moral one.

“So Pete, Stephan, Silas and Nathan: you would have Dean Koontz do something else? How about Disney animators or Microsoft programmers? In fact, I’d be curious to know what operating systems you all use. If you use Windows, do you pirate it? Do you pirate your other software? If you pay for your copies, why? Especially today, the cost of buying legitimate copies is far more than the cost of pirating.”

It’s boring to make these questions personal. It’s irrelevant whether we personally “pirate” things. Stick to substance and ideas. It’s a cheap trick to try to put someone on the defensive like this.

“There’s no difference between my farming 100 acres of corn and selling the produce, or my writing a software program and selling it. Did I not labor in each? Are resources not expended in each? What incentive is there for me to farm my corn if someone can just take it — or what incentive exists if I spend a year writing a software program if somebody can copy it?”

You need to enunciate and defend the principle you are following that justifies the use of force by the state to prevent me from using my own scarce resources and body as I see fit. Not just hurl a bunch of mainstream-view influenced questions at us as if it makes the answer obvious, and that you don’t need to connect the dots. You do.

“Someone tell me why it’s anyone’s right to take my unique intellectual work, which no one else could have or would have created otherwise, and deny me the ability to make money off my intellectual labor.”

Are you not aware that there are lots of already-published “explanations” in this regard, including those here?

You are obviously begging the question, don’t you se that? By assuming you have some right in your ideas. Moreover, you probably don’t really see what IP does. It does not prevent only “taking” someone’s idea. For example, if you find, say, a new way to tune your carbeurator to improve gas mileage, and you file and obtain a patent for it, then you can stop (a) your neighbor who hears from someone about the new way to tweak your car to get better mileage; (b) another person who independently invented the same process before you did, but who didn’t bother to file a patent on it; and (c) another person who independently invented the same process AFTER you did.

The question is, why do you have the right to tell these 3 people what they can or cannot do with their own cars on their own driveways, just because you filed a piece of paper with a government bureaucrat?!

Curt Howland February 3, 2005 at 7:36 am

To further elaborate Mr. Kinsella’s argument, there is the issue of “monopoly”. Perry mentions “monopoly” as if it were a bad thing, he says that Microsoft has no monopoly and cannot force you to use their software.

Microsoft indeed does have a monopoly. A government enforced monopoly, actively prosecuted by their enforcement arm, the Business Software Alliance.

Note that Microsoft has actively poached from the BSD Unix code base, integrating such things as the BSD network stack into Windows when MS finally discovered that Windows should have one. If anyone else took code that Microsoft wrote and did exactly the same thing with it, Microsoft would be furious.

Disney’s poaching from the “public domain” for many of their most famous titles, Snow White, Alice In Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Aladin, etc., is an excellent demonstration of how there is still incentive even without the pendulum of government-mandated “IP”.

Lastly, there is the issue of fraud. If Perry writes something, and I take it and say I wrote it, that’s fraud. No government manufactured IP rights required. I cannot say that I am selling The Real McCoy unless I am in fact selling The Real McCoy.

What the absurd legal extentions of so-called Intellectual Property enforcement has done is create an environment where such beautiful things as “Variations On A Theme By Paganini” would be illegal if created today in the same time frame as it was done in the 19th century.

If you want to see what the world could be like without the absurdities of modern “Intellectual Property”, just look to Linux and the rest of the astounding variety and innovation that have come out of the GPL.

Ike Hall February 3, 2005 at 10:24 am

Curt,

Excellent point. Linux and the GPL are based on copyright, not intellectual property/patents. There is nothing wrong with Microsoft copyrighting its code and enforcing said copyright. What it can’t legitimately do is tell would-be programmers that they can’t make a computer do certain things using their own code, because it “patented” those certain things.

Now, Microsoft’s appropriation of the BSD code was entirely legal, since the BSD license does not restrict the commercial use of the code. Apple did the same thing for OS X. The GPL restricts distribution, but not internal use. No GPL’d innovation can be distributed without the source code, which is still the author’s copyright, being made available with it.

Perry February 3, 2005 at 9:56 pm

Stephen:

“It is neither incredible nor hypocritical for there to be diversity of thought. I guess anyone who is steeped a bit too much in Randroidism is baffled by the concept. Some libertarians are pro-IP; others are not. This is not mind-blowing.”

I never said that about diversity of thought; you may be reading antagonism where none is present or was meant. But what is a relatively new reader (several months at this point) to think when one blog entry praises Rand, and others disagree with the concept of intellectual property? Certainly you can see where it might be confusing.

Actually I’m not as much into Rand as you presume. You may be surprised that I’m more accepting of differing opinions than she was, and in fact I’m a big believer in the dialectic. I’m no follower of Socrates or Kant at all, though. The term I prefer to call myself is “Jeffersonian” (and yes, I’m aware even he was ambivalent on intellectual property).

“It is not news to tell us that there is a Constitutional basis for IP laws. This is not a remedial IP law course for morons who need to be told that, nor is it a forum where people making normative assertions will make much headway if their argument is ‘the federal government says so.’ ”

It wasn’t meant as “news,” just as a reminder. Additionally, the federal government doesn’t say so: the Supreme Law of the Land does. That’s not to say the Constitution is always perfect, but that’s the one law you *do* need to amend. And again, it spells out why it protects the creators of unique works.

“Trust me. I practice IP law on a daily basis. What goes on is really absurd. Many companies have trademarks on the circle; you really don’t know what you are talking about.”

So let me pull out a compass and draw a basic circle. A company has a trademark on that? That’s the what real IP advocates say it’s patently (no pun intended) foolish to have copyrights on such basic things. On the other hand, how about a circular object that’s been frilled up to a particular, unique design, or a few letters with a unique color gradient? Now that’s something that should and can be protected by copyright. It took time to create them. They wouldn’t have existed without protection.

You don’t know me and I’m a bit more informed than you’d like to think. I *do* read enough about such litigation that my head spins. I know that cases like Sun are the tip of the iceberg, and I cringe when I think of the waste in the courtrooms. Rand complained that while intellectual property is necessary, the system itself gets perverted. I never said things are perfect today, because heaven knows our litigation system is far from perfect, but intellectual property is an ideal. I always felt these companies are only opportunistic supporters of IP, anyhow, not because they believe in the ideal, but because, well, they wanted to patent the wheel. Apple felt Windows copied the “look and feel” and rightfully lost. Separate application windows are too basic, like a wheel, to be patentable. Microsoft versus “Lindows” had no real merit, though action against a commercially sold “Wyndows” (off-topic: ever see that pun?) would probably have merit if it looked too close. Think Coca-Cola successfully protecting its trademark against the Koke Company and others.

“No one ‘slaps’ a copyright on anything, since authors of original works receive copyright automatically–and yes, the look and feel of some works has been held to have copyright protection; and I guarantee you I could find for you patents on cardboard boxes or even sillier ideas; see some here”

“Slap” is merely an expression, left over from when an explicit copyright notice was needed. The U.S. hasn’t been a party to Berne for that long, so it’s not that old-fashioned.

Some works have been protected by court decision, but not all, and as you know it depends on how closely they were copied. Again, Mac OS.

But things like this? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
http://blog.fastcompany.com/archives/2005/02/02/eiffel_tower_repossessed.html

A box is a good example. Patents on a particular pattern of perforation and folds in corrugated cardboard can be patented, but not the basic concept of a box. Otherwise, no one would bother to invent a new quick-assemble cardboard box that sets up more easily than others. The inventor would have no hope competing against someone who would simply copy it, because they don’t have to recover as much money. So such a box wouldn’t exist, and when I need to pack another set of old documents for storage, I’d have to spend extra time setting up a more cumbersome box, one whose setup design is so plain that nobody bothers to copyright it.

Another example. Edison didn’t invent the concept of the light bulb, but he invented the first practical one; it was his idea to try a carbon filament. Similarly, the cardboard box wasn’t invented recently, but someone devised a new pattern that allows a flat piece of cardboard to be folded and tabbed into a box in a few seconds.

Had Edison invented all his wonderful creations solely for the good of mankind, he wouldn’t have sought patents. He envisioned making a profit, which was his right. It doesn’t detract at all from his ingenuity, and how much he’s improved our lives.

This evening I purchased a package of GE Reveal lights. Patentable concept? If it’s a matter of blue tint, no. However, GE’s tint comes from neodymium, and that’s patentable. No businessman would have devoted resources to the requisite experimentation, if he couldn’t make a protected profit. If others could simply copy it, he’d have to sell at their lower prices, so he wouldn’t bother in the first place; it’s illogical to do your competitors the favor of sharing an invention with them. So it would then be up to an altruist, or someone sponsored by an altruist, to experiment with rare earths or whatever substance. And that all depends on the one financier sharing the same tastes as the masses.

“And while most IP propoents do not want ‘cardboard boxes’ to be patented, they nevertheless advocate a system that inevitably will result in such absurdities.”

Not a plain box, but the design. What if I designed a particular framework for a couch that would use half the materials and support twice the weight? If I knew my competitors could just copy my creation, I wouldn’t bother. It’s true that society would be wealthier overall without intellectual property protection, because they could buy the same products for less, once others copy and produce for lower prices (and only the creator/creators would be out the development costs). It’s far more likely, though, that society would be out the couch.

On the other hand, I’m looking at a flower vase near the couch. Not worth patenting, unless the design is particularly beautiful and unique. A unique design almost always requires an investment of time, which would be irrecoverable loss if just anyone is able to copy it.

“I am reminded of a great Mises quote: ‘No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power—whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government—could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.’ Human Action, 692.”

I’m not advocating unlimited power, however, and I do recognize that man-made institutions can develop into things wholly unanticipated and unintended. The current size and scope of the federal government, for example.

“Well, here you are mixing two arguments in the same sentence: the utilitarian one (incentive), an the moral one.”

I don’t consider that mixing; it was to name the two equally valid reasons for the necessity of intellectual property. I also believe there’s more than one reason for the Second Amendment, too.

“It’s boring to make these questions personal. It’s irrelevant whether we personally ‘pirate’ things. Stick to substance and ideas. It’s a cheap trick to try to put someone on the defensive like this.”

It wasn’t intended as a cheap trick nor to put you on the defensive. Actually I asked quite sincerely, expecting something about Linux and maybe Walmart bare-bones PCs.

It was to apply theory to the real world, instead of relying on abstract ideas, hence my examples of real things like couches, software programming or novelists. I didn’t have to name Koontz. I could have mentioned Stephen King, Michener, Charles Dickens (who was criticized for writing for profit) or any of the famous for-profit writers. Yes, poets and authors had gone thousands of years under the sponsorship of patrons, but writers didn’t flourish like today until this miracle of royalties off each copy sold. The ability to write a new work and gain a royalty off each copy encouraged more people to become writers, expanding choice for everyone, rather than production depending on the tastes of a relatively few rich patrons.

“You need to enunciate and defend the principle you are following that justifies the use of force by the state to prevent me from using my own scarce resources and body as I see fit. Not just hurl a bunch of mainstream-view influenced questions at us as if it makes the answer obvious, and that you don’t need to connect the dots. You do.”

Very well, I’ll rephrase. I farmed 100 acres of corn and sold the produce. Meanwhile, my neighbor wrote a software program with the business plan of selling one copy to each customer. Each of us put in labor, time and monetary resources. If people can simply take my corn, clearly I’d have no incentive to grow it. Likewise, if people simply copy my neighbor’s software, that destroys his incentive to create it, except as a matter of altruism.

I see, though, that you regard the moral justification as less convincing than the utilitarian justification (I hate labels, really, because I’m not that compelled by utilitarianism).

“Are you not aware that there are lots of already-published ‘explanations’ in this regard, including those here?”

Oh indeed, not only the last few days, and all over the WWW. But I remain unconvinced.

“You are obviously begging the question, don’t you se that? By assuming you have some right in your ideas.”

Actually I don’t think it does. “Someone tell me why it’s anyone’s right to take my unique intellectual work, which no one else could have or would have created otherwise, and deny me the ability to make money off my intellectual labor.” I see where you’re coming from, but I’m stating it as the creator’s belief and motivation. If he doesn’t believe he’ll have exclusive rights to his unique work, even for just a limited time, he won’t bother to create it out of a profit motive. Unless out of altruism, he’d create it only if it returns value to him no less than the costs he put in.

It’s true there’s been innovation over thousands of years of civilization. Hittites developed iron but ultimately couldn’t stop the knowledge — a simple enough process, compared to the Bessemer process that was patented in 1855. The patent wasn’t on the box itself, but a superior way of making it. There have been great scientific discoveries by the likes of Lavoisier, Humphrey Davy, Joseph Priestley and Joseph Henry, who didn’t seek exclusive rights to their discoveries (though at times they had some state funding). But the most advanced R&D today is coming far more rapidly than the past: microprocessors, VCRs, DVD players, cell phones. You’d think a copyright or patent would allow a creator to relax, but it only allows him to earn money to develop the next level. Meanwhile, his competitors can’t copy it, so they look to produce an equivalent that’s cheaper and/or superior. Intel wouldn’t bother developing the next generation microprocessor if AMD could copy the technology, and vice-versa. Same with pharmaceutical companies and drugs. It’s because of the huge costs of development relative to the sale price of individual units.

“Moreover, you probably don’t really see what IP does. It does not prevent only ‘taking’ someone’s idea. For example, if you find, say, a new way to tune your carbeurator to improve gas mileage, and you file and obtain a patent for it, then you can stop (a) your neighbor who hears from someone about the new way to tweak your car to get better mileage; (b) another person who independently invented the same process before you did, but who didn’t bother to file a patent on it; and (c) another person who independently invented the same process AFTER you did.

“The question is, why do you have the right to tell these 3 people what they can or cannot do with their own cars on their own driveways, just because you filed a piece of paper with a government bureaucrat?!”

There are things like “fair use,” though. You might have a copyright on an article and thus exclusive rights to its publication, but in my own reference to it, I can make brief quotations. It depends, as I’m sure you know the U.S. Code specifies, on the length of the excerpt and the purpose of its use.

With your carburetor example, I would say it depends on the complexity of the modification. Kaleidoscope, you know. Adjusting the choke, or adding a supercharger you designed yourself?

Perry February 3, 2005 at 11:30 pm

Curt:

Actually I don’t think monopolies are intrinsically bad. I’ll just briefly say that I don’t believe a monopoly necessarily inhibits competion, because it must compete with potential market entrants, unless it uses government to erect artificial barriers to market entry. Standard Oil wasn’t inherently a monopoly, but Rockefeller did things like lobbying government to enact laws requiring a certain amount of insurance. That made it too expensive for those who’d have otherwise entered the market.

“Microsoft indeed does have a monopoly. A government enforced monopoly, actively prosecuted by their enforcement arm, the Business Software Alliance.”

A monopoly in what? I ask this seriously and sincerely. They’re dominant but that doesn’t make a monopoly.

I’m quite a Microsoft and Bill Gates fan. Bill envisioned bringing a standard to the computer world, a far cry from when I started programming in 1984 (on a VIC-20, then I got a 64, then a 128). I learned 6502 code on the Commodores, but the architectural differences were too great to just port over the code to an Atari.

“If anyone else took code that Microsoft wrote and did exactly the same thing with it, Microsoft would be furious.”

The difference is all in how one creator allowed very free use of his creation versus the other. Someone can copyright an article to retain exclusive rights, but he can permit its free distribution so long as citation is preserved.

Thanks to Ike for explaining the legality of Microsoft using BSD code. Microsoft can’t allow free use of its code because they’re in business to make money, not to provide competitors with source.

“Disney’s poaching from the ‘public domain’ for many of their most famous titles, Snow White, Alice In Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Aladin, etc., is an excellent demonstration of how there is still incentive even without the pendulum of government-mandated ‘IP’.”

We’re not looking to patent or copyright or trademark the box, just the particular, unique never-been-done-that-way-before way it’s made. I can draw a Cinderella cartoon if I want. But if I buy the new Aladdin DVD and make copies for my friends, that violates the copyright.

Funny thing is, none of those Disney titles would have existed without the protection of copyright laws. I’m not asking for infinite periods of copyright, you know, but a reasonably long time so a creator can realize a profit off his work, instead of creating it for others to copy.

“Lastly, there is the issue of fraud. If Perry writes something, and I take it and say I wrote it, that’s fraud. No government manufactured IP rights required. I cannot say that I am selling The Real McCoy unless I am in fact selling The Real McCoy.”

Hong Kong pirates have copied books, music, videos and computer software for years. They’re pretty faithful to list the authors, too, so it’s not fraud.

I could buy one copy of “The Return of Aladdin” and sell them on the street for $5, making a nice profit for myself. There’s no fraud because I’m representing it as Disney’s Aladdin on DVD. But someone else copying and distributing Disney’s work (for profit or not) destroys the incentive for Disney to create the DVD in the first place; recall that part of the purchase price of music, movies and software is the company recovering losses from piracy.

“What the absurd legal extentions of so-called Intellectual Property enforcement has done is create an environment where such beautiful things as ‘Variations On A Theme By Paganini’ would be illegal if created today in the same time frame as it was done in the 19th century.”

I always loved that piece; my first date was taking someone to hear a remarkable young pianist play it. Paganini and Rachmaninoff had the same motive, making a living, but entirely different ways of doing it. Paganini made money off concert-goers. Rachmaninoff did the same but also off records.

Paganini is a terrific example because he innovated previously undiscovered violin techniques; some thought he was in league with the devil. The techniques weren’t as reproducible as a CD or software program. Unless you were a violin master yourself with keen powers of observation, you’d need to be taught them. Paganini could thus restrict who he wanted to teach, if he wanted to.

“If you want to see what the world could be like without the absurdities of modern ‘Intellectual Property’, just look to Linux and the rest of the astounding variety and innovation that have come out of the GPL.

Nothing GNU to me. I do use a few things, like GIMP. Best of both worlds. So why is Microsoft still so dominant, including at my home and work?

Stephan Kinsella February 6, 2005 at 1:54 pm

Perry:

“Stephen:”

No, it’s Stephan.

“It is neither incredible nor hypocritical for there to be diversity of thought. I guess anyone who is steeped a bit too much in Randroidism is baffled by the concept. Some libertarians are pro-IP; others are not. This is not mind-blowing.”

I never said that about diversity of thought; you may be reading antagonism where none is present or was meant. But what is a relatively new reader (several months at this point) to think when one blog entry praises Rand, and others disagree with the concept of intellectual property? Certainly you can see where it might be confusing.

Dunno. Does not matter. Let’s stick to substance not personal stories.

Actually I’m not as much into Rand as you presume. You may be surprised that I’m more accepting of differing opinions than she was, and in fact I’m a big believer in the dialectic. I’m no follower of Socrates or Kant at all, though. The term I prefer to call myself is “Jeffersonian” (and yes, I’m aware even he was ambivalent on intellectual property).

again… see my last comment.

It wasn’t meant as “news,” just as a reminder. Additionally, the federal government doesn’t say so: the Supreme Law of the Land does. That’s not to say the Constitution is always perfect, but that’s the one law you *do* need to amend.

Not at all. The Congress can repeal patent and copyright law without amending the constitution. The Constitution only authorizes them to do it if they want to.

“So let me pull out a compass and draw a basic circle. A company has a trademark on that?”

Sure. Lots do. Try Orrick. Lucent. Etc. Several companies can have a trademark right in the same mark, so long as it’s for different goods and there is no likelihood of consumer confusion. see .g. http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=n5j09h.2.1 and I am sure there are better examples. Go to http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk (or uspto.gov and click trademark search), then click free form search, then search this term: O[FM] (it means “full mark” is “exactly” the letter “O”. You will see dozens.

“That’s the what real IP advocates say it’s patently (no pun intended) foolish to have copyrights on such basic things. On the other hand, how about a circular object that’s been frilled up to a particular, unique design, or a few letters with a unique color gradient? Now that’s something that should and can be protected by copyright. It took time to create them. They wouldn’t have existed without protection.”

Instead of coming up w/ ad hoc rules, why not come up with a principle, general rule and then justify it. Are you saying that if you invest time in coming up with something, that means you should have a copyright? Taht was rejected already — it was teh “sweat of the brow” doctrine. Even our moronic courts rejected it. BTW the design you are talking about could be proteced by copyright, trademark/trade dress, or even design patent.

“You don’t know me and I’m a bit more informed than you’d like to think. I *do* read enough about such litigation that my head spins. I know that cases like Sun are the tip of the iceberg, and I cringe when I think of the waste in the courtrooms. Rand complained that while intellectual property is necessary, the system itself gets perverted. I never said things are perfect today, because heaven knows our litigation system is far from perfect, but intellectual property is an ideal.”

None of you people even ever suggest an *ideal* system that has no flaws.

“A box is a good example. Patents on a particular pattern of perforation and folds in corrugated cardboard can be patented, but not the basic concept of a box.”

Oh really? Sure it can–all you need is a careless or stupid examiner.

“Otherwise, no one would bother to invent a new quick-assemble cardboard box that sets up more easily than others. The inventor would have no hope competing against someone who would simply copy it, because they don’t have to recover as much money.”

Your utilitarain argument is jsut a bunch of assertions, and ignores other activities that go on despite copyright/patent protection. e.g., new perfume scents: you can knock off a perfume, but the original manufacturer can still sell for higher price. So waht?

” So such a box wouldn’t exist, and when I need to pack another set of old documents for storage, I’d have to spend extra time setting up a more cumbersome box, one whose setup design is so plain that nobody bothers to copyright it.”

So are you saying that this extra benefit outweights the costs of having an imperfect IP system? how do you know? Taking someone’s word for it?

“Had Edison invented all his wonderful creations solely for the good of mankind, he wouldn’t have sought patents. He envisioned making a profit, which was his right. It doesn’t detract at all from his ingenuity, and how much he’s improved our lives.”

Sure, it’s his right to seek profit. Why do you assume there is profit only if you have a patent? Conversely, why do you assume the profit from a patent is enough to spur innovation? MAybe we need more–a government panel to give out prizes.

?This evening I purchased a package of GE Reveal lights. Patentable concept? If it’s a matter of blue tint, no.”

Oh really? So now you are a patent expert? Why is a blue tint not enough? Do you have any objective standards at all for this pronouncement?

“However, GE’s tint comes from neodymium, and that’s patentable.”

Another assertion.

“No businessman would have devoted resources to the requisite experimentation, if he couldn’t make a protected profit.”

Wow, what an assertion.

“Not a plain box, but the design. What if I designed a particular framework for a couch that would use half the materials and support twice the weight? If I knew my competitors could just copy my creation, I wouldn’t bother.”

Really? Others might. To be first on market, to stay on the cutting edge, whatever.

“Very well, I’ll rephrase. I farmed 100 acres of corn and sold the produce. Meanwhile, my neighbor wrote a software program with the business plan of selling one copy to each customer. Each of us put in labor, time and monetary resources. If people can simply take my corn, clearly I’d have no incentive to grow it. Likewise, if people simply copy my neighbor’s software, that destroys his incentive to create it, except as a matter of altruism.”

You seem to think that the case for property rights is incentive based. It’s not. Not everyone is a utilitarian, or havent you noticed?

“I see, though, that you regard the moral justification as less convincing than the utilitarian justification (I hate labels, really, because I’m not that compelled by utilitarianism).”

No, I don’t care about the utilitarian case; the moral one is the one that matters.
“”The question is, why do you have the right to tell these 3 people what they can or cannot do with their own cars on their own driveways, just because you filed a piece of paper with a government bureaucrat?!”

“There are things like “fair use,” though. You might have a copyright on an article and thus exclusive rights to its publication, but in my own reference to it, I can make brief quotations. It depends, as I’m sure you know the U.S. Code specifies, on the length of the excerpt and the purpose of its use.”

Fair use has nothing to do with patent dude. That’s a copyright concept. I was talking aobut patents.

“With your carburetor example, I would say it depends on the complexity of the modification. Kaleidoscope, you know. Adjusting the choke, or adding a supercharger you designed yourself?”

I have no fricking idea wha you mean by this repeated reference to kalediscope, as if that’s some obvious thing we all know. I’m a very experienced patent atty and have no idea what you are talking about. The dropping of that word does not make your point for you. Again, connect the dots.

Perry Eidelbus February 8, 2005 at 1:35 pm

“No, it’s Stephan.”

Oops, my apologies.

“Dunno. Does not matter. Let’s stick to substance not personal stories.”

I find that anecdotes can bridge theory and reality. It’s also interesting to hear of other people’s experiences.

“Not at all. The Congress can repeal patent and copyright law without amending the constitution. The Constitution only authorizes them to do it if they want to.”

That is true, but repealing the patent laws could be reversed after the next election. And Congress is constitutionally forbidden from passing ex post facto laws, so I would argue that it can’t make retroactive changes to copyright law that reduce protection (only increase). Amending the clause wouldn’t have such difficulties.

“Sure. Lots do. Try Orrick. Lucent. Etc. Several companies can have a trademark right in the same mark, so long as it’s for different goods and there is no likelihood of consumer confusion. see .g. http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=n5j09h.2.1 and I am sure there are better examples. Go to http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk (or uspto.gov and click trademark search), then click free form search, then search this term: O[FM] (it means ‘full mark’ is ‘exactly’ the letter “O”. You will see dozens.”

You misunderstand me. If it’s a unique design, sure, that can be trademarked. It’s the difference between, say, the O on Bacardi O bottles and all the various search results. They all look pretty different to me.

“Instead of coming up w/ ad hoc rules, why not come up with a principle, general rule and then justify it.”

I don’t speak legalese, but the general idea would be that a jury can determine a violation based on colors, shapes, appearance and other similarities. The jury can also determine if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (or Copyright Office) shouldn’t have awarded the patent, trademark or copyright in the first place, if the creation was of such a general nature: wheel, kaleidoscope, a letter, “She cried all night long.” Or a line going down and to the right at a 45-degree angle, then going up and to the right at a 45-degree angle for twice the original length (a check mark). Those are all too simple for someone to claim ownership of the idea.

I should explain that I’m no fan of judicial discovery, and juries aren’t perfect, but I don’t believe in hard and fast rules. Let’s apply it to the check mark on my Degree antiperspirant. Now, I don’t say a check mark itself can be a trademark, but a sufficiently unique design can be. As you said, it’s about preventing confusion among consumers (which, sure, is to prevent a mild form of misrepresentation). In this case, the check mark is over an oval whose shape is formed by a thermal-colored gradient. Looks unique enough to me to qualify as a protected trademark.

“Are you saying that if you invest time in coming up with something, that means you should have a copyright? Taht was rejected already — it was teh ‘sweat of the brow’ doctrine. Even our moronic courts rejected it. BTW the design you are talking about could be proteced by copyright, trademark/trade dress, or even design patent.”

Not necessarily, regarding the investment of time. You’re referring to the 1991 decision involving Feist, I believe? A straight list of facts, even a telephone book, can’t be copyrighted, though an individual advertisement could be by its creator. Encyclopedias can be copyrighted, though, because it’s not the creation per se, but the creativity.

“None of you people even ever suggest an *ideal* system that has no flaws.”

I don’t believe humans, with our imperfect knowledge, can ever design a flawless system. I’m a believer in exceptions to the rule, and that human nature tends to get involved and really muck things up. Someone once said, about 2000 years ago, “This I command, that you love one another,” and lots of people believe He was perfect.

["A box is a good example. Patents on a particular pattern of perforation and folds in corrugated cardboard can be patented, but not the basic concept of a box."]

“Oh really? Sure it can–all you need is a careless or stupid examiner.”

Then the person should be fired if such a mistake is discovered. There wouldn’t be a need to double-check records, because like a bad law that’s never enforced, it’s not an issue until something brings it up.

Let’s say someone did manage to patent four rectangular pieces of cardboard that are attached to each side of a fifth rectangular piece, with a sixth side as a top lid. Nothing else special, just a patent on the box itself. If the patent holder wanted to enforce his patent and sue someone who designed a quick-assemble cardboard box, an official with the Patent Office could invalidate the patent. The patent holder could challenge that in court and seek a reversal. Or if the Patent Office wouldn’t invalidate the claim, a court can order it, if the quick-assemble box’s creator successfully defends himself.

“Your utilitarain argument is jsut a bunch of assertions, and ignores other activities that go on despite copyright/patent protection. e.g., new perfume scents: you can knock off a perfume, but the original manufacturer can still sell for higher price. So waht?”

Please don’t take this as being antagonistic, but I thought you wanted me to stick to ideas, not examples. In any case, perfume imitations aren’t precise copies, which is partly why they sell more cheaply (and relying on the big name for advertising, naturally). However, a book, a vinyl record, a software program, etc., are precise copies. It’s the precise copies that IP proponents want to protect, because they can be so easily duplicated.

Things like music piracy are common because, as I’ve observed in people, people will accept the minimal marginal costs of downloading and burning a CD, rather than buying the original CD with the fancy printed label and sleeve. And when it comes to software, you generally don’t use the CD except to install, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a knockoff or the original CD and package.

There’s prestige in owning the original Mona Lisa versus a copy. There’s not much of a difference, on the other hand, in owning a genuine CD versus a copy, because people aren’t so concerned with the medium as they are in the information itself. The marginal cost of copying a vinyl record was relatively expensive for everyday people several decades ago, but it’s now quite cheap to copy a CD or DVD, or software.

["So such a box wouldn't exist, and when I need to pack another set of old documents for storage, I'd have to spend extra time setting up a more cumbersome box, one whose setup design is so plain that nobody bothers to copyright it."]

“So are you saying that this extra benefit outweights the costs of having an imperfect IP system? how do you know? Taking someone’s word for it?”

The box is a crude example, but I take it you believe someone monopolizing an invention is profiting from the expense of everyone else? That society would be wealthier overall because they wouldn’t have to pay the price set by the inventor? But that assumes society would ever have the invention.

Imagine the world without protections on intellectual property. GNU would be irrelevant because there wouldn’t be major microprocessors, let alone software. All else being equal, the only profitable creations would be where the cost of creating something is no greater than the cost of competitors copying it. Competition and innovation would shift to the manufacturing process, with little (if any) set aside for innovation. Very little that is truly “new” would be innovated unless the cost of discovery is very low, and/or the competitor’s cost of copying and reproducing is relatively high.

“Sure, it’s his right to seek profit. Why do you assume there is profit only if you have a patent? Conversely, why do you assume the profit from a patent is enough to spur innovation? MAybe we need more–a government panel to give out prizes.”

Patents help ensure there’s a profit (many patents don’t even make it to prototypes, including one by Abraham Lincoln), but I’m not saying the converse is true, that profit arises only if there’s a patent. However, almost all our technological advancement in the last century and a half has occurred under

["This evening I purchased a package of GE Reveal lights. Patentable concept? If it's a matter of blue tint, no."]

“Oh really? So now you are a patent expert? Why is a blue tint not enough? Do you have any objective standards at all for this pronouncement?”

I never claimed to be a patent expert, but it’s spelled out quite nicely in the U.S. Code, Title 35, § 103.

["However, GE's tint comes from neodymium, and that's patentable."]

“Another assertion.”

Is it? Or is that there’s a big difference between any old blue tint, and the creativity required to discover neodymium’s suitability for a tint. That you can apply blue tint is quite obvious to most people. That you can incorporate neodymium into the chalky inside coating of a light bulb to achieve a blue tint, filtering out the yellows of the visible electromagnetic spectrum, was not previously obvious.

How about the modern business suit, or a necktie? Too general, too obvious to patent.

["No businessman would have devoted resources to the requisite experimentation, if he couldn't make a protected profit."]

“Wow, what an assertion.”

You mock, but it’s true about most modern innovations. Would Motorola have bothered creating some of the first personal computer microprocessors, if anyone else could have copied their design? That brings me back to what I was saying, that nobody would expend much effort to create anything really new. The concern would be on refining the manufacturing process, marketing better, etc., and technological advancement would come slowly. Nobody would want the entrepreneurial risk of spending a relative lot for a new creation. New discoveries would have to be very cheap, accidental or purely out of altruism (or state sponsorship).

If you don’t have legal rights to the exclusive ownership of your ideas, limited time or not, then it’s not worth sinking a relatively large amount of resources into developing something, particularly when you must sell a lot of it just to recover what you spent developing it. You’ll spend $1 billion developing a new cardiovascular drug, sell it for $10 per pill, and watch your competitors build a manufacturing plant for $200 million and sell the pills for $2.50 each. Or you’ll spend $5 billion developing the next operating system, only to sell a relative few copies at $100 each and not make your money back because it can be pirated for very little cost.

["Not a plain box, but the design. What if I designed a particular framework for a couch that would use half the materials and support twice the weight? If I knew my competitors could just copy my creation, I wouldn't bother."]

“Really? Others might. To be first on market, to stay on the cutting edge, whatever.”

But only if the cost of discovery and/or creation were very low, or competitors’ cost of copying and reproducing were high. If their cost is less than yours, ceteris paribus, they can sell for less because they have less to recover. Oh certainly, you can still prevail by being more competitive in marketing or production, but you’d have been more competitive already without the handicap.

“You seem to think that the case for property rights is incentive based. It’s not. Not everyone is a utilitarian, or havent you noticed?”

Incentives are what drive people, though, and the ability to control your own creation is a powerful one, whether you’ve created something tangible or in the mind. This isn’t to say the profit motive is behind every creation of the mind, but it is most of the time with modern innovations. Microchips. Transistors. Eli Whitney is a notable example, for he specifically spent a few months to invent a cotton gin so he could make a profit. It’s unfortunate that so many cotton farmers violated his patent by unauthorized duplications.

I’m not a utilitarian, you must know. I reject labels, because every time I think one might fit me, a glaring contradiction rears its head. I only state is that I look at things from a perspective of reason, which in our particular reality often differs from another — hence my belief in the dialectic.

“No, I don’t care about the utilitarian case; the moral one is the one that matters. ‘The question is, why do you have the right to tell these 3 people what they can or cannot do with their own cars on their own driveways, just because you filed a piece of paper with a government bureaucrat?!’ ”

Because my moral viewpoint is that it’s theft. It’s theft of someone’s time, labor and resources to take what he invented and use it yourself. He made it fairly and legally so that you could fairly and legally purchase the right to use it, as compensation for his expenditures in creating it. Just because it’s intangible, or a design on paper, doesn’t make an intellectual creation any less than something “real.” Now this is where you think they’re being mixed, but it’s actually where I see incentive and the “moral” viewpoint come together. If your moral viewpoint is that it’s not theft, incentive is destroyed. My moral viewpoint is that someone spent time creating something, and to copy it deliberately is to deliberately denying him the fruits of his labor. It’s different if you stumble upon something by chance, but I consider it stealing to take something apart so you can learn how it works and duplicate it, because you didn’t want to pay me.

Let’s take the most extreme form of permissiveness, Mill’s utilitarianism. A person should be free to do anything so long as it doesn’t harm another (which I reject as overly simplistic). So from your moral viewpoint, I can’t prevent you from copying my creation because you’re simply using your own property. But from mine, it does harm me, because I created it with the intention of selling it to you, like any tangible commodity.

["There are things like "fair use," though. You might have a copyright on an article and thus exclusive rights to its publication, but in my own reference to it, I can make brief quotations. It depends, as I'm sure you know the U.S. Code specifies, on the length of the excerpt and the purpose of its use."]

“Fair use has nothing to do with patent dude. That’s a copyright concept. I was talking aobut patents.”

Actually I meant that for elsewhere. Not sure where, at this point, so my apologies for the confusion.

So regarding a car and tinkering with the carburetor, there will be very general things that people will stumble upon by chance. Nobody can patent a pulley, or adjusting a choke a certain way, or the design of an intake, or the concept of a catalytic converter. By U.S. Code, Title 35, § 103, those are too general and/or too obvious.

Now if you and your neighbors pull apart a supercharger I designed and am currently marketing, then make your own because it’s cheaper than buying mine, I consider that immoral. I consider that stealing from me because I created it only with the intention of selling it to you.

“I have no fricking idea wha you mean by this repeated reference to kalediscope, as if that’s some obvious thing we all know. I’m a very experienced patent atty and have no idea what you are talking about. The dropping of that word does not make your point for you. Again, connect the dots.”

OK. David Brewster, credited with inventing the kaleidoscope, made very little money after the first few days. The concept was so simple that, patent or not, people began constructing their own. It would have been impossible to sue them, or have any sort of court order enforced.

Stephan Kinsella February 14, 2005 at 10:48 am

Perry: “[Kinsella:] “Sure. Lots do. Try Orrick. Lucent. Etc. Several companies can have a trademark right in the same mark, so long as it’s for different goods and there is no likelihood of consumer confusion. see .g. http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=n5j09h.2.1 and I am sure there are better examples. Go to http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk (or uspto.gov and click trademark search), then click free form search, then search this term: O[FM] (it means ‘full mark’ is ‘exactly’ the letter “O”. You will see dozens.”

“You misunderstand me. If it’s a unique design, sure, that can be trademarked. It’s the difference between, say, the O on Bacardi O bottles and all the various search results. They all look pretty different to me.”

No, you misunderstand me. If you would just do teh search and look at the first few entries you will see they are so-called “word marks”–NOT designs. I.e., the are MERELY THE LETTER “O”.

I don’t think you understand trademark law. You seem to think it has to do with a unique design. It’s understandable you are somewhat clueless about trademark law, but then why would you venture policy opinions about it?

“Not necessarily, regarding the investment of time. You’re referring to the 1991 decision involving Feist, I believe? A straight list of facts, even a telephone book, can’t be copyrighted, though an individual advertisement could be by its creator. Encyclopedias can be copyrighted, though, because it’s not the creation per se, but the creativity.”

Maps too. Not just telephone book listings. Encyclopedias cannot “be” copyrighted. They ARE subject to copyright protection autormatically by their nature. Saying they “can be copyrighted” is wrong because (a) it implies the author “does somtehing” to copyright it, which is untrue; no registration or notice is necessary, it’s automatic; and (b) it impliers the author could choose NOT to “copyright” it, in which case it would not be protectgd by copyight; again, this is untrue.

“Let’s say someone did manage to patent four rectangular pieces of cardboard that are attached to each side of a fifth rectangular piece, with a sixth side as a top lid. Nothing else special, just a patent on the box itself. If the patent holder wanted to enforce his patent and sue someone who designed a quick-assemble cardboard box, an official with the Patent Office could invalidate the patent.”

So…. if I want to make a box … I am free to do so, all i need to do is sue someone in federal court and win the battle. Absurd.

“”Your utilitarain argument is jsut a bunch of assertions, and ignores other activities that go on despite copyright/patent protection. e.g., new perfume scents: you can knock off a perfume, but the original manufacturer can still sell for higher price. So waht?”

“Please don’t take this as being antagonistic, but I thought you wanted me to stick to ideas, not examples. In any case, perfume imitations aren’t precise copies, which is partly why they sell more cheaply (and relying on the big name for advertising, naturally).”

Counterexamples that show the principle you are promulgating is invalid are perfectly reasonable. Your assertion that perfume imitations aren’t “exact” is just an assertion. Even if they are exact, they still sell at a lower price becuas some people like the NAME of the original.

” However, a book, a vinyl record, a software program, etc., are precise copies. It’s the precise copies that IP proponents want to protect, because they can be so easily duplicated.”

This is wrong! EVERY advocate of copyight and patent does NOT want it restricted to only IDENTICAL copies. Copyright covers “substantially simialr” copies! Patent is never estricted to an “identical” copy; in fact it simply defines some essential features of the invention in more or less general terms; and then, on top of that, all you need to find, for a device to be infringing, is each element in the claim OR its “equivalent”.

“”So are you saying that this extra benefit outweights the costs of having an imperfect IP system? how do you know? Taking someone’s word for it?”

“The box is a crude example, but I take it you believe someone monopolizing an invention is profiting from the expense of everyone else?”

I have no idea. The problem is other people are not free to use their own property as they see fit.

“That society would be wealthier overall because they wouldn’t have to pay the price set by the inventor? But that assumes society would ever have the invention.”

My point is that you are USING a wealth-maximization criteria in the first place to determine what the law and rights should be. As explained by critiques of, say, Coase, by Hoppe and Block (see this post, and this one), this is a flawed notion from the outset.

“Imagine the world without protections on intellectual property. GNU would be irrelevant because there wouldn’t be major microprocessors, let alone software. All else being equal, the only profitable creations would be where the cost of creating something is no greater than the cost of competitors copying it. Competition and innovation would shift to the manufacturing process, with little (if any) set aside for innovation.”

This is just an assertion.

” Very little that is truly “new” would be innovated unless the cost of discovery is very low, and/or the competitor’s cost of copying and reproducing is relatively high.”

It’s a wonder how we ever invented anything without modern patent laws. I guess we were in the stone ages until 1789; there were no innovations or anything “truly new” before then. Wow.

“You mock, but it’s true about most modern innovations. Would Motorola have bothered creating some of the first personal computer microprocessors, if anyone else could have copied their design?”

I don’t know. What makes you so sure?

” That brings me back to what I was saying, that nobody would expend much effort to create anything really new.”

so, before 1789, “nobody” ever “expended much effort” to “create anything really new”? Do you really believe this?

“Nobody would want the entrepreneurial risk of spending a relative lot for a new creation. New discoveries would have to be very cheap, accidental or purely out of altruism (or state sponsorship).”

How about… being first to market? cutting edge?

“If you don’t have legal rights to the exclusive ownership of your ideas, limited time or not, then it’s not worth sinking a relatively large amount of resources into developing something, particularly when you must sell a lot of it just to recover what you spent developing it. You’ll spend $1 billion developing a new cardiovascular drug, sell it for $10 per pill, and watch your competitors build a manufacturing plant for $200 million and sell the pills for $2.50 each. Or you’ll spend $5 billion developing the next operating system, only to sell a relative few copies at $100 each and not make your money back because it can be pirated for very little cost.”

So, by only having 18 year patent terms, instead of, say, 100 year patent terms, there must be some marginal inventions that are not being made because an 18 year patent is not enough to help them recoup development costs. “Therefore” (sic), patent terms should be extended…. to infinity.

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