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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6000/owning-thoughts-and-labor/

Owning Thoughts and Labor

December 11, 2006 by

The issue of whether non-scarce things like thoughts or labor are ownable has arisen in recent debates–see, e.g., Thoughts on Intellectual Property, Scarcity, Labor-ownership, Metaphors, and Lockean Homesteading; Intellectual Property and Think Tank Corruption; and New Working Paper: Machan on IP.

Johan Ridenfeldt called to my attention recently a 1988 panel discussion on ethics with Rothbard, Hoppe, David Gordon, and Yeager, which has this exchange:

Question: I have a question for Professor Hoppe. Does the idea of personal sovereignty extend to knowledge? Am I sovereign over my thoughts, ideas, and theories? …
Hoppe: … in order to have a thought you must have property rights over your body. That doesn’t imply that you own your thoughts. The thoughts can be used by anybody who is capable of understanding them.

This is compatible with (and, of course, pre-dates) my own views on property and scarcity. As usualy, Hoppe got it right early on.(See also Hülsmann’s Knowledge, Judgment, and the Use of Property, at pp. 44, and my Knowledge, Calculation, Conflict, and Law, p. 58, discussing the acquisition and use of knowledge being a mere technical problem.)

My view, as I argue in Against Intellectual Property, is that only some kinds of “things” are ownable in the first place. That is, before you ask who is the owner of a thing, it first needs to be established that the thing is ownable–the type of thing that property rights apply to. This is one mistake, in my view, in Rothbard’s attempt to derive a version of “copyright” (but which really also seems to include patents, since he thought it would cover inventions too). Rothbard assumes (as I explain in detail in the above paper) that where someone contracts with a novelist to buy only a single copy of a book and not to copy it, a third party may also not copy the book because he only has the rights that the customer had. This implicitly assumes that knowledge is ownable.

I think Machan also makes the mistake of implicitly assuming that that any “thing” you can conceptualize or name “exists” and “thus” can be owned. Such as a novel, or poem, or invention. And if these things are ownable, naturally, the person with the best connection to or claim to this thing is its creator. As Machan notes,

the status of something as private property appears to hinge on its being in significant measure an intentional object—its status as a private owned entity has to do with in what mental relation is stands with an agent. But then it would seem that so called intellectual stuff is an even better candidate for qualifying as private property than is, say, a tree or mountain. Both of the latter only come to be related to human intentions, whereas a poem or novel cannot have their essential identity without having been intended (mentally created) by human beings.

(This is somewhat reminiscent of what Rand did when she actually elevated patents over mere property rights in tangible goods, when she wrote that “patents are the heart and core of property rights.” See. p. 18 of my Against Intellectual Property article linked above.)

The problem here is it just assumes any “thing” you can identify conceptually may be owned. One problem with this is that it seems to make reality depend on the way we name or conceptually identify things. If I call or understand your output as a “novel,” then the “novel” is the unit. But just because this suffices for conceptual understanding of the world does not mean there is some “ontological” class of entities called “novels” that may be owned. In fact our concepts are use to refer to many phenomenon in or aspects of reality–truth, love, the-fact-that-I-woke up this morning, the age of the earth, my favorite drink. Are these things ownable just because they are “things” that can be conceptually identified? I don’t think so.

When you ask what things are ownable, before asking who the owner is, you realize the criteria is bound up with the purpose of property rights, which is to assign owners to avoid conflict; that is, they pertain to the types of things over which there can be conflict–that is, to rivalrous (scarce) resources. Clearly not to facts or memories or recipes or patterns or information. So you never get to the question of who owns a poem. It is simply not part of the class of ownable things. Call it a thing if you like; say it “exists”; fine by me. But it’s not an ownable thing.

If you restrict the ownership inquiry to scarce resources, you see the question of “creation” never really comes up, strictly speaking: as I have noted before, the focus on “creation” as an independent source of ownership is confusing and flawed. Actually, it is first use that is the key (as elaborated in my article How We Come To Own Ourselves). This is sufficient to allocate title to any particular scarce resource in question (the body is a special case). Creation, it turns out, is neither necessary nor sufficient: for example, if I am the first to homestead an apple, I own it even though I didn’t create the apple (yeah, you can torture language to try to say you “created” it in a sense since your creative efforts or “labor” were needed to recognize the opportunity etc., but let’s face it: you didn’t create the apple). So creation is not necessary. And if you create a statue in someone else’s granite slab, you don’t own it–so creation is insufficient. By contrast, if you create a statue in your own granite, you own the resulting statue, but not because you created it–because you already owned the granite, but merely changed its form.

Randians justify rights based on man’s “need” to be “productive” etc. I find this a very flawed and non-rigorous approach. It is what leads them to focus on creation as the touchstone of ownership; and this is why they are so eager to grant rights in IP–because yes, these things are “created” moreso than unowned scarce resources in the wild that are found and homesteaded.

{ 190 comments }

Stephan Kinsella December 13, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Sasha:

1. The fact that property would not exist if there was no scarcity – does not deny my definition of economic scarcity (which is a well-known definition, and Hans Hermann Hoppe never denied it)…

But it’s not the same as his focus on scarcity as meaning possibility of conflict, so that property rules are the thing that allow conflict to be avoided.

2. When it comes to issue of property acquisition, Hoppe accepts Rothbard’s and Locke’s notion that we acquire property through labor (although Hoppe does not explicitly state that we own labor, like Rothbard does).

Yeah, me too, I’m with Hoppe. Labor for Hoppe is just the doing-with something that shows that it’s embordered–claimed.

Hoppe agrees that mixing labor with some unclaimed object creates “objective link” between a person and that object. This “objective link” is contained in fact that our body (or energy according to physics)

No, it has nothing to do with energy; this is an irrelevant side-point

transformed that object and we transfer our self-ownership onto some unclaimed object.

Hoppe never states nor even implies this. Rather what he says is that you have title because you have an objective link to the thing unlike all others and latecomers.

That does not mean that property is acquired based on some “conflict avoidance” principle, because conflicts can arise even with property rights (because some people wish to violate them).

wrong. HHH is clear on this.

Like I said, I did not call Hoppe a “pseudo-communist” (false-communist). And Rothbard did not confuse anything… His explanation of free market copyrights holds when it comes to inventions.

No one familiar with the bizarre intricacies of the practice of applying for patents for invetions, could maintain this. You are just a naif.

Like I said, any violation of a free-market contract would still cause penalties stipulated in that contract. Mr. Kinsella should know that “absent-mindedness” is not a valid defense for contract violation. Absent-minded people should avoid entering a complex contract in the first place.

Evasion and pettifogging. dishonest. Even if the person B intentionally whistled the song in public, and other third parties heard it: these third parties would be able to sing the song themselves, record it, etc.

But Mr. Kinsella also failed to prove: why would people who choose to use copyright protection drive out of business those people who want their copyright?

I have no idea waht you are trying to say. You sound like an amateur or crank.

Axel Riemer December 13, 2006 at 5:30 pm

Whoo! 101 posts! i was pulling for you guys to make it! And yet, this debate has filled me with such fury I sometimes can only shout meaningless syllables at my computer. Seriously. You guys (and gals?) come so close to getting an answer and then whoa, tangent!

Is the question under debate whether or not an original idea, attributed to a single person or entity, is therefore owned by that person or entity, or can libertarians no longer debate in a respectful manner?

Axel Riemer December 13, 2006 at 5:35 pm

And am I confused or correct on this point:

Energy refers to things measured in Joules, in physics refered to work, as in how many calories are required to perform a task. So work is energy expended, and labor is work… so is that the connection?

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Dan,

Rather than using “maybe I’m wrong” after your claim, perhaps you should create a hypothetical scenario.

- Imagine an author who sells his manuscript to publisher – without any copyright contract. Imagine that the same publisher than sells copies of that book without any copyright contracts with buyers.
- Now imagine author who protects his copyright, and that his publisher restricts reproduction and commercial use as well.

Why do you think that former author+publisher will be more successful in a free market than latter? How would they achieve their success and why would copyright holders be in any disadvantage?

averros December 13, 2006 at 6:01 pm

Shasha – if you read what I wrote more carefully you may notice that I objected to the argument advanced by ktibuk that “non-property” ideas arise from the “property” ideas by the fact of the original owner giving consent. Your subsequent argumentation is totally irrelevant to my refutation by demonstration of obvious incoherency of this argument.

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 6:07 pm

Mr Kinsella fails to see that he made a terrible error when he said that labor is not scarce. The fact that labor is a scarce mean of production is known to anyone who ever studied economics.

The fact that property would not exist without conflict, does not change my definition of scarcity (and Hoppe does not challenge it in his writings). It is an established economic definition that states that demand exceeds supply of scarce resource when prices are set to zero… This means that in absence of markets and property rights (zero prices), we would have shortages and potential conflict regarding the distribution of that resource.

Scarcity does not exist only in markets for goods. Services are also scarce and they have their market price.

——————

Now, theory of property acquisition is a totally different issue. Economists like Rothbard and Hoppe stressed that when we apply our labor to some unclaimed object, we create an “objective link” between us and that object. Unlike Hoppe, Rothbard and Locke explicitly claimed that we own labor, which is consistent wit scientific fact that our self-ownership implies ownership over our body’s real physical properties. But even Hoppe accepted their view that property is acquired by creation of that inseparable link between our self-ownership and some transformed object. On the other hand, communists would like to think that property is societal arrangement, whose only justification is conflict avoidance (implying that property rights can be rearranged, based on “class conflicts”).

————————

Now, to copyrights again:

Mr. Kinsella should know that absent-mindedness is not an excuse for contract violation. If this was the case, any contract violator would claim he/she was “absent-minded.” That would, of course, never hold in any court.

Of course, an author cannot force someone to hear or see his work – and then demand that he gets protection from copying. Just like you cannot put an ice sculpture in someone’s sauna – and than demand that this person should un-melt it and return it to you. Copyright can only be a contractual agreement.

Mr. Kinsella does not know how to prove that copyright contracts would not exist in a free-market. He completely gave it up.

averros December 13, 2006 at 6:08 pm

Why do you think that former author+publisher will be more successful in a free market than latter? How would they achieve their success and why would copyright holders be in any disadvantage?

If some people go around and force others to buy their wares by brandishing guns in the faces of their “customers” if they dare to get the exactly same stuff elsewhere – they will undoubtly be more successful in selling their wares than the guys who were trying to sell the same product by merely erecting a stand and advertising their presense to all passer-bys.

The argument from market success you advanced is total nonsense. Of course people whose business model is backed by violence towards captive customers will be more profitable than those who do not threaten customers with violence.

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 6:14 pm

averros,

Like I said, you used an invalid example. Advocates of copyright protection (including Murray Rothbard) do not claim that you can force contract on someone by having that person read your conditions. Mutual agreement is necessary and you demonstrate it by purchasing copyrighted item.

Ownership of property containing idea is enough to establish a copyright, not the ownership of an idea per se (which is irrelevant).

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 6:20 pm

Averos,

The argument about market success was advanced by Dan Coleman – not me. Read more carefully.

Dan claimed that people who use contractual copyright protection would “die out”, implying that people who don’t use any copyright – and whose works you can copy and resell without any compensation – would somehow prosper relative to former group.

Free-market copyright enFORCEment implies force. If contracts were not enforceable, there would be no private property protection. We would have communism.

PS
Note that I don’t claim that we need the state to enforce contracts or to protect private property. Free markets are capable of doing this.

Jesse December 13, 2006 at 6:27 pm

Stephan Kinsella: “To take an example, if A sells his song to B, on the condition B not show or reveal it to anyone else; but one day B is walking in the park, and absent-mindedly whistles the tune, and C hears this tune, there is no libertarain [sic] way to say that either A or B has any right to stop C from recording a song based on that tune. It is on the verge of insanity to argue that there woudl [sic] be.”

Sasha: “Like I said, any violation of a free-market contract would still cause penalties stipulated in that contract. Mr. Kinsella should know that ‘absent-mindedness’ is not a valid defense for contract violation. Absent-minded people should avoid entering a complex contract in the first place.”

This is a complete non-sequitur. Stephan’s statement concerned C’s lack of liability (due to the fact that C was not a party to the contract between A and B). Your response merely confirms B‘s liability, which was not in question.

As for why I think contract-copyrights are not a sustainable business model, consider that current state-enforced copyrights, with indiscriminate third-party liability and coercion-funded enforcement, are already on the brink of total unenforceability in the face of modern advances in digital storage and distribution technology. Your scheme, for the reasons I outlined previously, would be less enforceable, not more so.

Anyway, this debate is going nowhere. As that seems to be a pattern with Sasha, I’m just going to add Sasha to my block list. Goodbye, Sasha; I won’t be seeing you again.

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 6:35 pm

Jesse,

you completely missed my point.

In Stephan’s silly example, B is liable to A – and that’s the end of it. “Absent-mindedness” is not a valid defense for violations of terms of use. So where is the problem?

Of course that radio station will not purchase music, which will be allowed for only personal use. An artist would not be stupid to make such contract.

Take it easy Jesse.

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 6:46 pm

If any musician wants to have a radio station as a marketing tool, which would promote his concerts and albums, of course he would not create copyright contracts that would hold that station responsible for possible copyright infringements.

But there is nothing wrong with is. As I said in our previous discussion “musicians should earn their bucks like the artists used to do before recording devices were invented – by going out and performing (and by people sponsoring them). And I am aware that market in this situation would eliminate all “Milli Vanillis” of this world who are not talented enough to pull-off a live show.”

No matter how much you try to invent problems with privatized copyright, you cannot prove that this system would be less efficient than our current one. Some extremists are stubbornly claiming that copyright would not exist in a perfectly free market, but they fail to offer a single argument for such claim. That is the reason why this discussion “is going nowhere” as Jesse pointed out. Even Jesse tried to fabricate a disagreement, even when he conceded to every single point I made.

Person December 13, 2006 at 7:12 pm

Wow, I’ve never seen such successful coordination in ignoring me.

Sasha Radeta December 13, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Note that even on this thread: http://blog.mises.org/archives/005764.asp , I recognized that there are some real reasons why some musicians love mp3 P2P sharing of their music, because it promotes their concerts and album sales. The same situation would exist in completely free market.

However, these conditions would not apply to designers/authors whose work does have the same characteristics. If Hans Herman Hoppe did not have a copyright and we don’t give him a penny for reproduction of his books, he could not make it up with his lectures. Unlike Green Day or Red Hot Chilli Pepers, he cannot fill the arenas by reproduceing his works in a live format.

Hoppe could ask for more money from the publisher for his original manuscript, but in the absence of copyright contracts publishers would not have an interest to do so (since their copies could also be reproduced without any compensation to them in this imaginary Kinsella’s world). Creativity and innovation would stagnate under these conditions, just like the absence of private property rights or any contractual enforcements always cause misery and stagnation.

averros December 13, 2006 at 8:03 pm

Like I said, you used an invalid example. Advocates of copyright protection (including Murray Rothbard) do not claim that you can force contract on someone by having that person read your conditions. Mutual agreement is necessary and you demonstrate it by purchasing copyrighted item.

Then you simply misunderstand what the copyright is. If A purchased a copyrighted copy from B and made a copy for me, under the copyright law I become liable to B despite having no contract with B whatsoever.

For the record – Rothbard never advocated copyrights; he advocated contracts. There’s a world of difference between these.

averros December 13, 2006 at 8:15 pm

Creativity and innovation would stagnate under these conditions,

This is totally bogus, as the evidence shows us that creativity and innovation are presently observed precisely in the areas not noted for respect with intellectual “property” – namely, high-tech, modern electronic music, and science.

(In high-tech, every piece of gadgetry on the market is illegal, period. It is impossible to make any working electronic gadget without stepping on some of the millions of patents – so all high-tech companies take patent litigation simply as a part of business overhead. The modern electronic music is fundamentally based on sampling and mixing and takes sounds from other’s works liberally. Science is impossible without free sharing of ideas.)

Compare that with the drivel coming from the bastions of “IP” protection such as Hollywood.

Please take your head out of sand and take a look at the real world.

just like the absence of private property rights or any contractual enforcements always cause misery and stagnation.

Absense of private propety rights on physical objects is bad only because it leads to conflicts because the same physical object cannot be in posession of two parties at once. Resolution of these conflicts is the one and only reason for the institution of property rights. It reduces violence for the control of rivalrous resources.

Unlike physical goods, information is not rivalrous, and can be shared indefinitely. Therefore there is no potential for conflicts.

The fact that some professions won’t be able to make as much profit as they do now does not constitute justification for violence, which the copyright and patent regimes are.

rtr December 13, 2006 at 8:26 pm

I disagree that ideas are “not ownable” things. Ideas are owned by whoever possesses knowledge of the idea. Ideas are just not necessarily exclusively owned, unless if you are the only one who possesses knowledge of a particular idea.

For something to qualify as property, it must be tangible and circumscribable. Ideas cannot be delineated nor circumscribed, like say land or person can be.

Of course, ideas are not scarce. They cannot at all be diminished. A recipe, for instance for making coffee, is infinite. Copying the recipe does not use up the recipe nor take the recipe away from the creator of the recipe. The recipe remains, and is in as perfect working condition as it ever was and ever will be.

But ideas can be possessed, and thus owned, by all, by anyone who thinks. They are ownable. They are just not *exclusively* ownable, unless of course one were to attempt to initiate violent coercive force to prevent others from thinking and/or shaping their actually existing, tangible, circumscribable property in any manner they would so choose.

You have the right to remain silent. You do not have the right to impose silence upon others, which is exactly what IP, patents, et al attempt to do.

The next great quantum leap, Mises-caliber Nobel prize idea, is showing the wealth destruction IP causes. The vast majority assume IP creates incentives for technological research & development, and thus makes society better off, wealthier. But that is clearly false, for it violates a, if not the, fundamental axiom of economics, which is that free trade occurs precisely because both parties to an exchange are wealthier having traded. Prohibiting free trade is synthetically the same as creating poverty. Violent offensive coercion is never necessary to increasing the wealth of any parties that would freely voluntarily trade. By definition, trade increases the wealth of all parties who exchange.

Granting IP protection to any single existing idea necessarily grants IP protection to the class of ideas, and thus any and all ideas, except of course as the fancies of human kind may arbitrarily vary. All that is needed to prove that IP protection is bogus is to show how ownership of one idea would or could lead to the annihilation of existence. And IP on procreation, multiplication, fits perfectly that bill. Who would dare “claim” onwership on the scientific process of procreation, and the destructive violent offensive coercion that would necessarily entail? Thus, any and all IP is necessarily invalid, is by definition an act of murder, rape, or theft. And as IP violates the axiom of wealth creating free trade, it also necessarily causes poverty, leaves human kind in a less wealthy state than would otherwise be the case without IP. Ironically, the same inefficiences of socialism vs. the free market apply to the socialistic universal ownership of ideas vs. IP.

Sam December 13, 2006 at 8:29 pm

For goodness sakes!!!!! COPYRIGHT IS ONLY THERE TO PROTECT OTHERS FROM COPYING YOUR WORK, A.K.A. PLAGIARISM, AND IT IS TEMPORARY!!!!! It is there to BRIEFLY REWARD a creator for creating, a.k.a FOR INNOVATING!!!

Who on earth is suggesting that permanent unlimited ownerships of ideas or products a good thing!??!?!?

Are some of you pro-plagiarism? Do you want to steal what others have worked hard to produce?!?!

Finally, why, WHY?!?! is it so hard for some of yous to create YOUR OWN works. WRITE your own book, CREATE your own software, CARVE your own sculpture, COMPOSE YOUR OWN music, etc. ?!?!?!.

rtr December 13, 2006 at 8:33 pm

Why not create your own reply in your own language, Sam?

rtr December 13, 2006 at 9:51 pm

“If Hans Herman Hoppe did not have a copyright and we don’t give him a penny for reproduction of his books, he could not make it up with his lectures.”

You are narrowly defining wealth. Hoppe is enriched by the reciprocal ideas of others, by the warmth of praise, etc., and not just necessarily in monetary terms. Likewise, musicians and artists are enriched by the works of other musicians and artists, even musicians and artists who sample and remix original works of art. There’s an awful lot of that potential wealth which is destroyed by IP copyright.

You can order your books from amazon.com or you can order your books from mises.com. Those are voluntary exchanges. Nothing is preventing you from voluntarily giving whatever you want to give to another.

Michael A. Clem December 13, 2006 at 11:03 pm

COPYRIGHT IS ONLY THERE TO PROTECT OTHERS FROM COPYING YOUR WORK, A.K.A. PLAGIARISM, AND IT IS TEMPORARY! It is there to BRIEFLY REWARD a creator for creating, a.k.a FOR INNOVATING!

Tell that to the U.S. Congress–please! Copyright protection extending to and beyond the life of the creator makes no sense, but the Disney Corporation still has the copyright to Mickey Mouse (the image, the name, the use of the character, not just existing animation and comics), even though Walt Disney is long dead.

Sam December 13, 2006 at 11:14 pm

I agree with you M. A. Clem. Yes if folks out there are trying to extend copyright to absurd lengths then a great disservice is being created. As I said, and personally believe, that such protection should be brief, an inventor shouldn’t get some eternal privilege for a one-off creation.

But to rtr, however, are you saying people who produce shouldn’t get paid? If people want to give away their products for free that’s fair enough. Somehow the best products come from those who expect profit in return for their cost inccurred from production. The open-source movement shouldn’t be overstated.

rtr December 13, 2006 at 11:39 pm

Getting paid is a voluntary reciprocal exchange action. Are you paying anyone for using language in this thread? Do you pay anyone when you open a window in your house or apartment? Then why should you pay someone to open a window in a software operating system? So you don’t profit yourself when opening a window to allow in a cool breeze on a hot summer night? You should be allowed to use the State to force people to pay you if you claim you invented the idea for opening windows to allow in cool breezes? You and society would be better off if opening windows was banned, or strictly regulated and enforced according to IP Law? Without IP, opening windows to allow in cool breezes for profit would never have come about? And if they decided to open windows anyway, they’d be “producing for nothing”? Only you should be allowed to use labor in opening others windows, unless you grant permission to others to start window opening businesses? Sounds like State Monopoly to me.

Sam December 14, 2006 at 12:40 am

To rtr:

I have been saying that copyright is (or should be) generally weak. I have said that such rights should only apply to something new and different. I have said that such rights should be narrow and brief. I have agreed that no one should have some sort of total and eternal right that would amount to a monopoly advantage.

Perhaps I forgot to mention that a seller can set a price for an object, but no buyer is obligated to buy it if they think the price is too high. Then the seller would have to consider dropping the price. I wasn’t advocating any sort of price-fixing.

I thought I said that copyright merely prevents blatant copying of someone else’s product. E.g. if want to create an alternative operating system to compete with Windows, Unix, Linux, etc, then there is nothing stopping you (nor should there be). If you take a copy of Windows, mass produce, slap your own business name and logo on it, then why shouldn’t Microsoft folk call the police? Similarly, if you want to create your own operating system then give it anyway for free, who’s stopping you? I don’t think I said anything against voluntary production, did I?

But I thought the heart of capitalism was one of buying/selling, service/payment, supply/demand, business/consumer. You seem to have suggested in your previous entry that people should not be expecting actual payment if their produce returned some sort of ‘spiritual payment’. I’m sorry if I hopelessly misread your other reply, my apologies. :(

r December 14, 2006 at 1:32 am

What is the action implied by copyright? Offensive force prohibiting and or punishing others from shaping their material property (whether that be cds, paper, or circuit boards) in any manner they would so choose.

What makes your particular brand of “generally weak” IP better than another’s “generally strict” IP?

What’s new and different? Words? Symbols? Mathematics? Meaning?

There’s new hairstyles. Should someone be allowed to use force to prohibit another from doing whatever they want to their own hair or voluntarily doing to another’s hair whatever they want? Are hair and dress to be exempted but not software?

If there’s no total and eternal right, then there is no right at all, at anytime. Like I said before, if someone doesn’t want to be copied, then there only choice is to remain silent, making themselves and society poorer, as opposed to doing what they want to do, and making themselves and society wealthier. We didn’t need IP for the wheel or fire, and nor do we need IP for anything else. All IP does is delay and suppress the latest versions of wheels and fire from existing.

The heart of capitalism is free trade and the division of labor. One person can’t do it all by themself. By focusing, concentrating, specializing, on doing what they do best, and trading for what others do best, all parties increase their wealth. That’s what capitalism is about. There’s all kinds of business models that work, such as advertising with content when it’s launched.

Fred Mann December 14, 2006 at 1:47 am

Person,
Please define “scarcity” for me. I’m not sure if your definition has morphed since we last communicated (I assume it hasn’t, but who knows …).
Remember to define it in such a way as to support your argument that there is “scarcity” in IP (the core of your argument against Kinsella). Feel free to use examples, rewordings/restatements, etc..

Sam December 14, 2006 at 1:56 am

Does that mean it’s OK to copy commercial software onto a CD then give it to a friend? That software piracy doesn’t actually exist and is a Statist conspiracy? That companies such as Microsoft are really evil Statist monopolies?

Sam December 14, 2006 at 2:06 am

P.S. Sorry if I offended any one with my use of Caps in one particular entry. I’ll be more considerate about my entries from now on.

rtr December 14, 2006 at 2:11 am

CDs are actually existing real tangible circumscribable property. CDs can be and are actually owned. Why can’t you put whatever you want to put on a CD you own and trade that CD to whoever you want to for whatever they’re willing to give you in return for it? The only piracy that exists is someone telling you that you can’t put whatever you want to put on your CD and voluntarily trade that CD to whomever you want to. Only the favored Monopoly can insert code, can insert instructions, can insert orders? Nobody can open windows in their own homes without paying IP fees or getting permission from the first to open a window, for some arbitrary period of time?

Sam December 14, 2006 at 3:07 am

So it should be OK to copy commerical software and distribute freely it then?

Fred Mann December 14, 2006 at 3:17 am

Sam,
To quote me from an older blog (http://blog.mises.org/archives/005314.asp):

By definition, IP *PREVENTS* small incremental changes in technology, goods, etc. . Obviously, if you make a very small improvement to an existing good, you may find yourself with an IP lawsuit on your hands. For what good is IP if you can circumvent it with tiny changes? So, IP necessarily shifts innovation from the hands of the many into the hands of the few. It outlaws small innovations in order to grant favor to larger innovations. This is really what the pro-IP crowd is defending.

… at some point, an improvement will be deemed “too small” – arbitrarily, of course. For example, if I change the composition of the metal used in a small pin on a very large and complex machine, but everything else remains the same, I have almost certainly commited an IP violation, even if the pin IS, in fact, an improvement. If this is not the case, then IP is effectively rendered useless as it can easily be circumvented with any small change. Of course, I believe that this improvement *would* be deemed a violation. Therefore, “small” (always defined arbitrarily by IP law) innovations *ARE* illegal. So my statement still stands. “Small” innovations are outlawed. Of course, “small” innovations are the most common type of innovation. Most people don’t have revolutionary ideas every day (I am the exception). So outlawing small innovations effectively blocks the most common type of innovation. What do you think is the cumulative effect of outlawing these millions (billions?) of tiny innovations over time?

To supplement this with a personal example with respect to copyright …
I have played drums in various bands and recorded several CDs over the past 20 years. Overall, it has been a money loser for me (maybe break-even … touring is expensive!), but I will continue to do it because I LIKE PLAYING AND WRITING MUSIC. Also, I would argue that I am a better musician, both technically and artistically, than many people who are financially successful in the music biz (you’ll just have to trust me on that one — although there is a testimonial somewhere on Amazon.com saying how wonderful I am). It may very well be that copyright subsidizes the terrible artists/musicians/authors who are in it for the money.
Also, look at all of the incredibly informative posts in the Mises Blog archive. Arguably there is more to be learned from these blogs than can be learned in any book (or even a small library).
The creation of software has also been exhaustively covered in the blogs, but it’s not really my area of expertise. Just type “software” and “IP” into google and limit the search to mises.org.
I could go on and on ….
But to sum up, we don’t need IP even for utilitarian/consequentialist reasons.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 8:16 am

Averros provided a nice summary when he said that profits and creative motivation cannot be a justification for copyright enforcement.

That is absolutely correct! FORCE is used to protect private property rights and to enforce a voluntary contract. Justification for copyright is based on the fact that you have the right to create any kind of contract, including the one that limits the ability of others to reproduce or commercially use YOUR product. Only a communist would advocate a complete absence of force when someone violates a contract and private property rights – just like a communist would argue that property should be acquired based on some “societal” conflict avoidance principles, rather than some objective criterion based on self-ownership (Locke’s and Rothbard’s approach).

Rothbard defended contractual copyright, just as I do. The fact that the state established a monopoly in this matter does not mean that copyright is wrong. As I explained, without it, many professions would completely stagnate and many authors would rightfully resort to copyright contracts in order to prevent this misery. Yes, they would ask for enforcement of their contract and there is nothing wrong with that. Libertarians do not seek to avoid force and protection of contracts – their aim is to fight aggression in any form.

Let’s talk about our first topic…

When the author of this thread states that there is no scarcity of labor, he only conveys his lack of understanding of basic economics. Even if he does not believe in science of physics and sees no objective link between labor and ownership, he should still see that labor is scarce in the marketplace. In the absence of markets and prices, there would be a chronic shortage of labor as a mean of production. That is why we get paid for labor, rather than simple physical presence at our jobs.

As far as idea-scarcity goes, I don’t think that anyone would argue that we have a scarcity of random thoughts. On the other hand, we do have a scarcity of useful ideas that can be employed as a mean to some employer’s/consumer’s end. You can argue that we don’t own idea per se – but we do own our brains, our vocal cords, and our hardware that is used for storage and communication of ideas. A person has every right to create terms of use before he sells his idea or design to someone else.

You may not like these conditions – or any kind of force which would protect that person’s contract and property rights – but tough luck! Private property rights allow for the creation of enforceable contracts, and these contracts would often limit your ability to reproduce or commercially use someone else’s design. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it – and make it yourself. The same response goes to all socialists who complain about market prices and trespassing laws.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 8:47 am

It is interesting to note that even Hans Herman Hoppe (who was misinterpreted by Stephan Kinsella) talks about labor services as some means of production that worker owns and exchanges for money with his employer. In his article “Marxist and Austrian class analysis,” he states:

“…labor services represent only future goods-and he (laborer) values present goods more highly. After all, he could also decide not to sell his labor services to the capitalist and then reap the
“full value” of his output himself. But this would of course imply that he would have to wait longer for any consumption goods to become available to him. In selling his labor services he demonstrates that he prefers a smaller amount of consumption goods now over a possibly larger one at some future date…

… If the laborer were not permitted to sell his labor services and the capitalist to buy them, output would not be higher but lower because production would have to take place with relatively reduced levels of capital accumulation.”

The fact that we are able to sell some labor services and ideas imply their scarcity. Labor ownership is a completely different subject, tied to the labor-mixing origin of property and the origin of market contracts (exchanges of property).

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 9:17 am

I proved that Hoppe views labor services as “goods” produced by people. Now, I will show that Hoppe completely accepted Locke’s view that unclaimed objects become our property when we transfer our owned means of our bodies (our labor) to these object (just like you can own, sell, or steal mean of production such as electrical energy). In his recent (2004) article “The ethics and economics of private property” http://mises.org/etexts/hoppe5.pdf Hans Hermann Hoppe states the following:

“Everyone is the proper owner of his own physical body as well as of all places and nature-given goods that he occupies and puts to use by means of his body, provided that no one else has already occupied or used the same places and goods before him. This ownership of “originally appropriated” places and goods by a person implies his right to
use and transform these places and goods in any way he sees fit, provided that he does not thereby forcibly change the physical integrity of places and goods originally appropriated by another person. In particular, once a place or good has been first appropriated, in John Locke’s words, by “mixing one’s labor” with it, ownership in such
places and goods can be acquired only by means of a voluntary – contractual – transfer of its property title from a previous to a later owner.

In light of wide-spread moral relativism, it is worth pointing out that this idea of original appropriation and private property as a solution to the problem of social order is in complete accordance with our moral “intuition.” Is it not simply absurd to claim that a person should not be the proper owner of his body and the places and goods that he originally, i.e., prior to anyone else, appropriates, uses and/or produces by means of his body? For who else, if not he, should be their owner? And is it not also obvious that the
overwhelming majority of people – including children and primitives – in fact act according to these rules, and do so as a matter of course?”

rtr December 14, 2006 at 9:42 am

Marriage is a contract. Does a married person lose their right to divorce? They no longer own their body and their right to freely associate with whomever they wish whenever and for whatever whimsical reason they may so choose?

Selling labor is a contract. Does a laborer lose their right to quit working for someone?

When the free voluntary association is willingly dissolved by any party, the contract is over. All property goes to their rightful owners. That means you own your body, you own your actually existing tangible property. Guess what? You can’t get back any IP because it isn’t tangible or circusmscribable, nor tranferable in the way land or body is. Are you going to use force to brain erase ideas which are possessed by others who didn’t originally create those ideas? Or does that just justify execution since they would be in continuing violation of theft according to IP proponents. If not, tough luck for the IP claimants.

There’s too much confusion between contract and trade. Trade is final. Contract is conditional on continuing voluntary willingness.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 9:58 am

rtr,

you misunderstood the nature of all contracts, including marriage and labor contracts.

If I pay give you $1,000,000 to perform a labor service for me in 7 days – and if you run away with that money without fulfilling our contract, you committed a contract violation and you will owe me damages.

Likewise, if you buy only personal use of my product, but you decide to use it commercially – you violated the contract. Actually, copyright contracts state that any profits from unauthorized use and reproduction will go to the author.

The fact that marriage and labor contract are not so strict and that they allow one side to exit it does not invalidate copyright contract or trade contracts that are final. That is why RTR is confused.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 10:07 am

In other words, we can have all sorts of contracts… we have those that can easily be terminated and those contracts that specifically spell out sanctions in cases of contract violation (including labor contract and even marriage). It is up to individuals to formulate their voluntary contracts any way they want to.

You don’t have to like copyright in some product’s terms of use. But no one is forcing you to accept those terms. You can simply walk away and not buy such product. Is that so hard to accept for copyright haters?

Sione Vatu December 14, 2006 at 10:54 am

person

You asked a question, it was answered for you. Interesting how you try to evade. You fail. Why are you so scared of the answer?

Stop being an intellectual coward. Take your own advice and READ what is provided for you. Face up to it and THINK on it. It would benefit you to learn something about yourself.

Sione

Stephan Kinsella December 14, 2006 at 11:19 am

Sasha,

I proved that Hoppe views labor services as “goods” produced by people. Now, I will show that Hoppe completely accepted Locke’s view that unclaimed objects become our property when we transfer our owned means of our bodies (our labor) to these object (just like you can own, sell, or steal mean of production such as electrical energy). In his recent (2004) article “The ethics and economics of private property” http://mises.org/etexts/hoppe5.pdf Hans Hermann Hoppe states the following:

“Everyone is the proper owner of his own physical body as well as of all places and nature-given goods that he occupies and puts to use by means of his body, provided that no one else has already occupied or used the same places and goods before him. This ownership of “originally appropriated” places and goods by a person implies his right to use and transform these places and goods in any way he sees fit, provided that he does not thereby forcibly change the physical integrity of places and goods originally appropriated by another person. In particular, once a place or good has been first appropriated, in John Locke’s words, by “mixing one’s labor” with it, ownership in such places and goods can be acquired only by means of a voluntary – contractual – transfer of its property title from a previous to a later owner.

In light of wide-spread moral relativism, it is worth pointing out that this idea of original appropriation and private property as a solution to the problem of social order is in complete accordance with our moral “intuition.” Is it not simply absurd to claim that a person should not be the proper owner of his body and the places and goods that he originally, i.e., prior to anyone else, appropriates, uses and/or produces by means of his body? For who else, if not he, should be their owner? And is it not also obvious that the overwhelming majority of people – including children and primitives – in fact act according to these rules, and do so as a matter of course?”

I agree w/ Hoppe here, but it does not show that he thinks we own our labor. You are having a brain fugue, Sasha, a type of monomania or mental block.

It is interesting to note that even Hans Herman Hoppe (who was misinterpreted by Stephan Kinsella) talks about labor services as some means of production that worker owns and exchanges for money with his employer. In his article “Marxist and Austrian class analysis,” he states:

“…labor services represent only future goods-and he (laborer) values present goods more highly. After all, he could also decide not to sell his labor services to the capitalist and then reap the “full value” of his output himself. But this would of course imply that he would have to wait longer for any consumption goods to become available to him. In selling his labor services he demonstrates that he prefers a smaller amount of consumption goods now over a possibly larger one at some future date…

… If the laborer were not permitted to sell his labor services and the capitalist to buy them, output would not be higher but lower because production would have to take place with relatively reduced levels of capital accumulation.”

The fact that we are able to sell some labor services and ideas imply their scarcity.

Not at all. To “sell” something is just a convenient way to specify what is the condition that triggers a contractual transfer of title. This is exactly the implication of Rothbard’s title theory of contract, which Hoppe and I (but not mentally challenged, scientistic-minded little Sasha) accept.

So, if I know the 1,075th decimal number of pi, and you wnat to know it, we can agree that you pay me $1 if i tell you. My revealing this info to you triggers the transfer of the dollar. We can colloquialy say I “sold” you the information, i “sold” you the 1075th decimal of pi. But did I? did I really own it? Don’t be silly, Sasha.

Note that even on this thread: http://blog.mises.org/archives/005764.asp , I recognized that there are some real reasons why some musicians love mp3 P2P sharing of their music, because it promotes their concerts and album sales. The same situation would exist in completely free market.

However, these conditions would not apply to designers/authors whose work does have the same characteristics. If Hans Herman Hoppe did not have a copyright and we don’t give him a penny for reproduction of his books, he could not make it up with his lectures. Unlike Green Day or Red Hot Chilli Pepers, he cannot fill the arenas by reproduceing his works in a live format.

Hoppe could ask for more money from the publisher for his original manuscript, but in the absence of copyright contracts publishers would not have an interest to do so (since their copies could also be reproduced without any compensation to them in this imaginary Kinsella’s world). Creativity and innovation would stagnate under these conditions, just like the absence of private property rights or any contractual enforcements always cause misery and stagnation.

Ah, the utilitarian in Sasha the amateur scientist/engineer comes out, as it always does with people eaten up with scientism.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 11:39 am

Stephan,

Unfortunately for you, Hans Hermann Hope explicitly stated that we SELL our LABOR as our physical body’s real PRODUCT. He used those words and that context and there is nothing you can do about it. Hoppe even quoted Locke to support his view of ownership acquisition through mixing OUR labor with something that does not belong to anyone.

Contrary to Kinsella’s fabrications, I explained that I don’t justify copyright from utilitarian perspective. It is true that you can make a valid argument that in absence of private property rights and contract protection (including the copyright protection) many authors would loose incentive and ability to produce their works…

The justification of copyright is based on respect for private property and private contracts. Nothing else… In spite of his persistent attempts, Kinsella was not able to deny that copyrights contracts be quite possible (and very probable) in a completely free market. If you advocate violation of these market contracts on the basis that these contracts are “bad” for society (which is fact a utilitarian argument, but Kinsella does not realize this) – you implicitly advocvate violence against all private contracts and private property in general – if you think they are “bad” for “society.”

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 1:42 pm

Stephan said:
—————————————————-
“We can colloquialy say I “sold” you the information, i “sold” you the 1075th decimal of pi. But did I? did I really own it?
—————————————————-

No sir. You did not sell me 1075th decimal of pi. You sold me your service, by providing information regarding this decimal, and I paid you for it. This sale was possible based on the fact that you own your brain that contained that information and you used your vocal cords or hands that you used to communicate it. It is a valid exchange of MY goods (money) for YOUR service (your physical body’s output, as Hoppe would say).

In order to fully understand economics, you cannot deny reality of physical existence in which we live. Physical objects that we own are not consisted only of tangible, visible matter (as people assumed in dark ages). It is possible to steal electrical energy from someone, just as it is possible to sell it or to sell our body’s physical output (labor). I should not be excused if I commit the maximal aggression (murder) against you with radiation (without touching your body/property with any material object). If I find a way to erase your memory without physically harming you, I am still committing an aggression. Do you think that computer virus attacks should be legal, based on the false notion that no aggression took place?

In his article “The ethics and economics of private property” Hoppe explained that we indeed own our physical body’s output. It is the logical conclusion based on the fact that physical body is consisted of energy (ability to work). By transferring our body’s output to some unclaimed object, we create property right over it. The only way Kinsella can cope with this scientific fact is by repeating his complete nonsense about scientism.

But Hoppe did not refer to “SELLING LABOR” in a colloquial manner, as Kinsella wants to portray it. Hoppe explicitly talked about LABOR OWNERSHIP – making it analogous with the ownership of any other mean of production. To quote Hoppe (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism):

——
“First, since the OWNERS OF LABOR factors can no longer become self-employed, or since the opportunity to do so is restricted, on the whole there will be less investment in human capital. Second, since the OWNERS OF LABOR factors can no longer sell their labor services to the highest bidder (for to the extent to which the economy is socialized, separate bidders having independent control over specific complementary factors of production, including the money needed to pay labor, and who take up opportunities and risks independently, on their own account, are no longer allowed to exist!) the monetary cost of using a given labor factor, or of combining it with complementary factors, can no longer be established, and hence all sorts of misallocations of labor will ensue. And third, since the OWNERS OF LABOR factors in a socialized economy own at best only part of the proceeds from their labor while the remainder belongs to the community of caretakers, there will be an increased incentive for these caretakers to supplement their private income at the expense of losses in the capital value embodied in the laborers, so that an overutilization of labor will result…

…as consumer demand to which the production structure now increasingly had to adapt (and not vice versa) was changing constantly, and the upspring of new enterprises became increasingly less regulated (insofar as it was the result of original appropriation and/or contract), no one’s relative position in the hierarchy of income and wealth was secure anymore. Instead, upward and downward social mobility increased significantly, for neither particular factor-owners nor OWNERS OF PARTICULAR LABOR SERVICES were any longer immune to respective [p. 71] changes in demand.
”
(Emphasis added by S.R.).

“Colloquialism?” That is so shameless!

rtr December 14, 2006 at 2:28 pm

Sasha Radeta: “By transferring our body’s output to some unclaimed object, we create property right over it.”

Ideas aren’t objects. Only objects are objects. You can’t touch an idea. Like was said before, if you sculpt my granite into a statue you don’t thereby own my granite. If you don’t physically code my cd with your labor, or even if you did physically code my cd with your labor, it’s still not your cd, no matter what manner the cd is sculpted in.

Electricity is a physical materially existing object. If you steal sombody’s owned electrical field, you stole something materially existing. Likewise, if you send electricity to cause damage to somebody’s computer in the form of a virus, you cause damage to something materially existing. You maliciously change the physical characteristics of something. You can’t cause another harm by merely wishing or thinking bad thoughts about them.

But your claim that you own magnetism, that you can claim IP on compasses is absurd. Whether you were the first to build a compass or not, does not give your the right to ownership of the materials and gears that could be formed into a compass. That’s real theft of real materially existing use of property. Anyone who owns real material can shape their owned material into a compass whenever they feel like it, whether you like it or not, whether you signed a contract or not, whether you claim IP or not.

Hopefully, with this latest example, it should be clear that you are waging offensive aggression against the actually materially existing property of others.

If the contract is cancelled, you get back whatever actual material existing property rightfully belongs to you. Unfortunately for you, you don’t own another person’s mind, or their cds, or their cardboard, or their keyboards, or any thing else of their actually existing material property. And since you don’t own that before the contract, during the contract, or after the contract, they can do with their own property whatever they feel like doing with it. If you wanted ownership you should have *traded* for the actually existing material objects.

Claiming IP or claiming infinite unbreakable contract does not allow you to forcefully take the property of others, or the use of the property of others in any manner they would so choose, to yourself. If you want another’s cd with code you originally created on it, you must voluntarily trade for that cd which is owned by another. IP doesn’t give you the right to take a cd you don’t own and that another does own, no matter what ideas may or may not be present in its physical manifestation.

Stephan Kinsella December 14, 2006 at 2:50 pm

Pasha, Pasha, I mean, Sasha, Sasha,

Unfortunately for you, Hans Hermann Hope explicitly stated that we SELL our LABOR as our physical body’s real PRODUCT. He used those words and that context and there is nothing you can do about it.

Really? Where did he say this? Could you quote it please, where Hoppe calls labor a “product”?

In any event, this does not counter waht I said above. You just don’t understand it. Natural scientists often have difficulty with normative and logical reasoning.

Hoppe even quoted Locke to support his view of ownership acquisition through mixing OUR labor with something that does not belong to anyone.

Right, as I said, he then explains that what he means is embordering a thing–showing that it’s possessed, used. See? Does not rely on “owning” “labor” or “energy” or “magnetic fields.”

The justification of copyright is based on respect for private property and private contracts. Nothing else… In spite of his persistent attempts, Kinsella was not able to deny that copyrights contracts be quite possible (and very probable) in a completely free market.

Sasha you are so confused you are not even sure what you are arguing in favor of. Poor Sasha. Engineers get so flustered when they get out of their depths.

If you advocate violation of these market contracts on the basis that these contracts are “bad” for society (which is fact a utilitarian argument, but Kinsella does not realize this)

I only argue that a third party is not bound by that of two other parties. You seem not to realize that unless you do this, you cannot have copyright-by-contract. On this, just take it from me as an IP expert–I assure you I am one–if third parties are not bound, then copyright disappears. If you don’t understand this, too bad.

– you implicitly advocvate violence against all private contracts

I didn’t know contracts had rights.

“We can colloquialy say I “sold” you the information, i “sold” you the 1075th decimal of pi. But did I? did I really own it?
————————————————–
No sir. You did not sell me 1075th decimal of pi. You sold me your service, by providing information regarding this decimal, and I paid you for it.

Actually, there is really no “sale”. There is only an event that happens that triggers a conditional transfer of title to money. The event happens to be the performing of a specified action.

This sale was possible based on the fact that you own your brain that contained that information and you used your vocal cords or hands that you used to communicate it.

Sure, I would not have been able to do what you want (give you information) if I didn’t control my body. Sure…. and…?? Oh, I know–”therefore” we “own our energy, like wow, man.”

It is a valid exchange of MY goods (money) for YOUR service (your physical body’s output, as Hoppe would say).

If you want to use loose language and call it an exchange, fine, so long as you realize it’s not really an exchange of things there are title to.

It is possible to steal electrical energy from someone, just as it is possible to sell it or to sell our body’s physical output (labor).

Sasha, don’t steal my aura, man! Hey, leave my aura alone! Hey, don’t invade my astral form, man, wow.

Do you think that computer virus attacks should be legal, based on the false notion that no aggression took place?

Depends–would it shut you up?
Just kidding. I’ve written whole articles on why spam, e.g. ,is a species of aggression.

In his article “The ethics and economics of private property” Hoppe explained that we indeed own our physical body’s output.

Really? Please show me the exact passage.

It is the logical conclusion based on the fact that physical body is consisted of energy (ability to work).

Like those glowing-white space aliens in Coccoon?

By transferring our body’s output to some unclaimed object, we create property right over it.

Sort of like, if I pee on a possum, I own him? Good toke man!

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 4:07 pm

rtr,

Ideas aren’t objects – nor did I ever claim such thing. I only said that physical objects can contain ideas – and you can sell these objects. Furthermore, you can sell only a particular use of your object, while restricting other uses.

Electricity (electrical energy) is a physical materially existing object – and that is exactly my point. If you steal somebody’s owned electrical energy, you stole something materially existing. Likewise, our body has its own energy (ability to work) and we can say that we own it. That is what Hoppe means when he says that we own our labor.

If you say that you can maliciously change the physical characteristics of something with radiation, or a computer virus, you are basically saying that you can commit an aggression against someone’s property without any material object. That’s all I tried to say. You think about implications of that.

My claim that you can own energy (electricity) does not imply that you can claim IP on all compasses. That is not only absurd – it is your complete fabrication. It only shows that you completely misunderstand what copyright is. Copyright refers to contracts that state that reproduction of your particular product will not be allowed. In order to prove that your product was reproduced – it must be completely unique with its design.

Anyone who owns real material CANNOT shape their owned material into a product that is replica of my product, if they contractually obligated themselves not to do so. Furthermore, if you signed a contract that states that any such replica will become MY PROPERTY – you are obligated to hand it over to me – or you are committing a theft. If you voluntarily agreed to these terms with the purchase of my product, you signed an obligation that you must respect.

Hopefully, with this latest example, it should be clear that you are waging offensive aggression against the actually materially existing property of others. Property that you contractually recognized, by stating that any unauthorized copies will become the property of the original seller.

If the contract is cancelled, you get back whatever actual material existing property rightfully belongs to you. Copyright CONTRACTS state that unauthorized copies will not belong to you. Unfortunately for you, you don’t own commercial use of another person’s copyrighted cds, or their cardboard, or their keyboards, or any thing else of their property. Copyrighted products were only sold for your PERSONAL USE. If you use their product in some different way (for which you didn’t pay, like a publisher) you are in fact committing a THEFT.

You seem to be completely oblivious about what contract law means and what copyright actually states.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 4:52 pm

Stephan Kinsella,

If you pee on possum, you can claim that you own it at that moment. But unless you establish some kind of control by catching it, putting it in your fence, and demonstrating your ownership (like with a collar) someone else may rightfully establish their adverse possession over your possum. All these actions “fencing, tying, controlling” – they all represent labor that we own according to Hoppe (and according to physics, if you claim that we own our physical bodies). You transfer something you own (and Hoppe says we own labor, as evidenced by its market exchanges for money) – to something you don’t own.

Since I already quoted Hoppe’s statements in which he refers to labor as to a factor of production and good that we sell and OWN – I really don’t have to spend any more time on that. Kinsella may want to spam this discussion, but I clearly demonstrated that Hoppe denied Kinsella’s silly claim that we don’t own our own body’s physical output (labor). I even emphasized instances in which Hoppe explicitly mentions labor ownership, contrary to what Kinsella claimed about this author. Enough of that….
Kinsella is trying to misinterpret my statements about copyright. I never said that a third party is bound by contract between two individuals. Some copycat can unlawfully obtain my book from my publisher (the person who accepted to compensate me in the amount of all unauthorized copies originated from that item). If this thief actually makes some unauthorized copies – I will still demand compensation from my publisher based on our contract, while the will in turn demand compensation for damages from this thief (in order to pay his obligation to me)
So copycat outside of my contract will not be liable to me – he will be liable to person whose contract stipulated concrete sanctions in case that unauthorized copies occur (and who is liable to me). Similar terms of use always prevent violations of any kind of contract by some third party. If third party violations of contract were excusable – any contract would be absolutely meaningless and totally unenforceable. But Kinsella is pretending to be clueless about this.
As I said: “my justification of copyright is based on respect for private property and private contracts… nothing else… In spite of his persistent attempts, Kinsella was not able to deny that copyrights contracts be quite possible (and very probable) in a completely free market.”

rtr December 14, 2006 at 5:08 pm

Sasha Radeta: “If you say that you can maliciously change the physical characteristics of something with radiation, or a computer virus, you are basically saying that you can commit an aggression against someone’s property without any material object.”

That statement is false. You absolutely unconditionally cannot commit malicious harm to person or property without material object. Radiation and computer viruses are material objects. Like I said previously, wishing or imagining harm against someone or something does not cause actual harm.

Compasses can’t or weren’t ever copyrighted or aren’t a good example of IP protection? Pick whatever product you like.

Sasha Radeta: “Copyright refers to contracts that state that reproduction of your particular product will not be allowed.”

What “*product*” are you talking about? Products must be objects, must be physical, materially existing things. Any product that may be yours does not encompass any gold, any silicon, any electrons, any whatever material things, that wholly belong to others. Your product begins and ends with actual material things you actually own. Your IP claim does not grant you title to material things owned by others. Nor does IP claims grant you aggressive restriction on material property you don’t own.

Sasha Radeta: “Anyone who owns real material CANNOT shape their owned material into a product that is replica of my product, if they contractually obligated themselves not to do so.”

You can shape your hunk of granite into a statue and I can shape my hunk of granite into that same exact statue. And there’s nothing you can do about it except to attempt violent agressive action. It doesn’t even matter if someone at one point agreed not to shape their hunk of granite into the exact same statue you created. That agreement is null and void the moment the other party cancels that contract. Sure, you can expect back any payments you might have made for another agreeing to not copy your statue. But guess what? You didn’t make any payments. You received payments. You didn’t make a payment to obtain by *trade* the other’s hunk of granite. As the contract is over whenever someone decides it is, just like divorce in marriage, or quitting a job, they can do whatever they want to with any granite they own. You don’t own their granite if they shape their granite in exactly the same manner you shaped your granite. It’s their granite! Not yours.

Your pretend IP claim is an agressive action on the real property of others, as this granite example has clearly shown.

Sasha Radeta: “Furthermore, if you signed a contract that states that any such replica will become MY PROPERTY – you are obligated to hand it over to me – or you are committing a theft.”

LOL! What fantasy! Lemme guess what’s next, pretend contracts without explicit signatures? You’d probably consider bulk mailings with contracts inside claiming acceptance of the terms of slavery, indentured servitude, and tranferance of all your wealth conditionally accepted by your opening of the envelope, valid? So divorce is theft? Quitting a job is theft? Being fired is theft? Harsh. Very harsh. You want your pound of flesh. State so.

At any rate, your still left with absolutely no claim of IP whatsoever, and a claim of contract. So concede the non-existence of IP, as it’s clear you believe what is known as IP to be mere contract. No need to obfuscate with misleading terms such as “IP”.

Sasha Radeta December 14, 2006 at 5:36 pm

rtr said:

——————————————-
“You absolutely unconditionally cannot commit malicious harm to person or property without material object. Radiation and computer viruses are material objects. Like I said previously, wishing or imagining harm against someone or something does not cause actual harm.”
——————————————–

Actually, radiation is not material. It is a form of energy. But if no one owns energy as Kinsella claims, no one can be responsible for its trespass against someone’s property. Same goes for Kinsella’s claim that someone’s information (malware or spam) can constitute his trespass against someone’s property. You failed to see my point, but you failed to see something more important…

In cases of copyright contracts you are simply refusing to think:

- If you agree to purchase a granite statue based on explicitly stated condition that you will not make a replica or commercial use of it – and if the contract states that in case of this violation ANY PROFITS OR EXISTING REPLICA WILL BE FOREFITED TO THE AUTHOR – you obligated yourself to do so! You purchased only some limited uses of this product – and if you use it in a way that you did not purchase, you are committing a theft.

If you made a purchase with these terms of use – that’s the end of it. Same goes for any kind of contract- labor or marriage – whatever particular contract specifies it must be enforceable. Some labor and marriage contracts are different than others and don’t think that their breach can pass without any consequences.

Peter December 14, 2006 at 9:20 pm

Oh, Sasha, you really have it all wrong. rtr is exactly right. If I buy your statue with the condition that “all copies belong to you”, I can still make copies that don’t belong to you – on breaking the contract, I merely become liable to you for the property that belonged to you in the absence of the contract – i.e., your original statue! Not the copies; contract be damned (you really should go and read chapter 19 of The Ethics of Liberty, wherein Rothbard talks specifically about this idea you have that “any voluntary contract whatever must be enforceable in a free society”, and why it’s nonsense)

As for “Actually, radiation is not material. It is a form of energy. But if no one owns energy as Kinsella claims, no one can be responsible for its trespass against someone’s property”, you’re wrong and then wrong again. Of course radiation is material (what do you mean by “radiation” anyway? Only EM? It’s still material, but most of the “radiation” that people are frightened of in nuclear accidents, the Litvinenko polonium-210 affair, etc., is massive-particle radiation, obviously not “a form of energy” in the classical sense), but how does ownership relate to “responsibility for trespass against someone’s property” anyway?

Daniel Coleman December 14, 2006 at 10:02 pm

Since Sasha may be unlikely to look it up:

Let us illustrate this point. Suppose that Smith and Jones make a contract, Smith giving $1000 to Jones at the present moment, in exchange for an IOU of Jones, agreeing to pay Smith $1100 one year from now. This is a typical debt contract. What has happened is that Smith has transferred his title to ownership of $1000 at present in exchange for Jones agreeing now to transfer title to Smith of $1100 one year from now. Suppose that, when the appointed date arrives one year later, Jones refuses to pay. Why should this payment now be enforceable at libertarian law? Existing law (which will be dealt with in greater detail below) largely contends that Jones must pay $1100 because he has “promised” to pay, and that this promise set up in Smith’s mind the “expectation” that he would receive the money.

Our contention here is that mere promises are not a transfer of property title; that while it may well be the moral thing to keep one’s promises, that it is not and cannot be the function of law (i.e., legal violence) in a libertarian system to enforce morality (in this case the keeping of promises). Our contention here is that Jones must pay Smith $1100 because he had already agreed to transfer title, and that nonpayment means that Jones is a thief, that he has stolen the property of Smith. In short, Smith’s original transfer of the $1000 was not absolute, but conditional, conditional on Jones paying the $1100 in a year, and that, therefore, the failure to pay is an implicit theft of Smith’s rightful property.

I’m not exactly sure why Sasha is so caught up in trying to defend the idea of copyright being widespread and implemented in this way in a free society. Why introduce involuntary servitude into liberty?

Initially, I thought it was strange to propose a free-market ‘copyright’, but I figured that the idea had as good a chance of surviving liberty as unionized workers, universal health care, or any other state intervention.

I tried to find an answer in dialogue with Sasha but I think we missed each other in conversation (or something), and that’s why I stopped trying to figure it out.

But thanks for pointing me to that chapter, Peter. The Ethics of Liberty has been quickly approaching the top of my reading list — I can’t wait to delve into it!

rtr December 14, 2006 at 10:48 pm

He he he,

Sasha Radeta: “Actually, radiation is not material. It is a form of energy.”

Is the sun not material? Is heat not material? Is light not material? I’ve never heard of a recipe or the idea of a recipe burning someone. But I’ve heard of radiation and the sun burning people.

Sasha Radeta: “If you agree to purchase a granite statue based on explicitly stated condition that you will not make a replica or commercial use of it – and if the contract states that in case of this violation ANY PROFITS OR EXISTING REPLICA WILL BE FOREFITED TO THE AUTHOR – you obligated yourself to do so!”

Guess what? I renegged. Guess I don’t get to collect $200 as I pass Go and must go Directly to Jail! Here’s your granite statue back if you also return what was exchanged for that granite statue. Oh well, we reverse the trade that originally made us both wealthier. However, you have no claim whatsoever on any other existing hunks of granite that have yet to be turned into statues of Greek gods, whether those hunks of granite be owned by me or owned by other third parties. You have no claim against hunks of granite that you yourself did not supply that exist as mere hunks of granite not ever owned by you whether or not they be transformed hunks of granite that mirror your statue creation. You put zero labor into those other hunks of granite that were transformed into replicas of your original statue. Somebody else put in that labor which transformed those other hunks of granite into replicas of your statue. Yet you think you have a claim on hunks of granite you don’t own and put zero labor into transforming? You can yell “copycat” and “jinx” until your blue in the face, but the only way your getting my or anyone else’s hunks of granite (even if they are transformed into replicas of your original creation) is if you pry it from our cold dead hands. Or I guess you could create a State and use violent coercion or the threat of violent coercion under the name of IP to amass granite which was never owned by you but was owned by others.

Naturally, you must admit that third parties that never directly explicitly contracted with you are exempt from your silly little Napoleonic claims. That in itself would render the form of Patent almost completely impotent. My neighbor could see your statue and with reckless abandon churn out thousands of exact replicas of your statue, because, hey, he’s got talent for creating knockoffs. He never made any contract with you whatsoever, and your claims against my neighbor’s granite statues are wholly without merit. Ooops.

Sasha Radeta: “If you made a purchase with these terms of use – that’s the end of it. Same goes for any kind of contract- labor or marriage – whatever particular contract specifies it must be enforceable. Some labor and marriage contracts are different than others and don’t think that their breach can pass without any consequences.”

Wait, contract isn’t contract now? Contracts are “different”? They can be entered into and disolved by arbitrary fancy? If a women promises to have sex with a man whenever he feels like it, he can then rape her if at some future time she changes her mind and no longer wishes to have sex with him? Those sure are conseuences. That’s rape. And that’s why IP claims are aggressive offensive action which are the exact opposite of libertarian principles.

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