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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9249/copyrights-on-npr/

Copyrights on NPR

January 16, 2009 by

The discussions over IP awakened a memory of an old NPR segment. The summary of “Copyrighted Music and Phones“:

Two Australian artists have written and copyrighted a composition that includes the notes corresponding to the touch-tone phone sounds for every conceivable 7- and 8-digit phone number. Therefore, they say that every time a phone number is dialed, they’re owed a royalty. They say they’re satirizing a culture in which almost every cultural idea is owned by big corporations.

While the artists support copyright law (their issue is with copyrights owned by corporations, not individuals), they address what would happen if copyrights were applied to their logical end.

Note: My favorite quote relative to IP comes from Frank Chorodov in Rise and Fall of Society: Knowing Nock, I am sure that he would be the last to take me to task for appropriating some of his argument, and would be quick to point out that originality is a fiction and a posture.

{ 18 comments }

newson January 17, 2009 at 1:52 am

nice to see some in australia still have a sense of humour. our bratish tennis ace, lleyton hewitt, demonstrates a notable lack of irony in taking up the lapsed patent rights for the “vicht” gesture, previously owned by niclas kroon.

bodily gestures, being scarce resources, must be carefully shepherded by the state. would a ban on charades not be a charade?

ktibuk January 17, 2009 at 5:42 am

There is always a chance for independent discovery which is included in libertarian IP law. The accuser (which would be the owner of a certain IP) bears the burden of proof that his IP is copied in a court of law. Since there is chance of independent discovery for certain IP “first comer principle” can not be used.

The absurdities of current patent laws are not logical conclusions of anything. They are just straw man arguments made by IP socialist because their core theory of IP socialism is full of holes..

david January 17, 2009 at 11:54 am

@ktibuk: No one said the current patent laws were ‘logical conclusions’, the OP said ‘they[the Australian artists] address what would happen if copyrights were applied to their logical end.’ which is true.

The end(goal, not conclusion) of copyright law is to secure for some what would naturally be available for all with no scarcity, and this is what they are making fun of. Obviously they don’t expect to get money from people dialing telephone numbers, but it does address, as Fedako said, “what would happen if copyrights were applied to their logical end.’

Artisan January 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

IMHO, this “action” barely deserved the qualification of “art work” … call it a hoax.

I don’t know about Australians, but in Europe there’s a rule preventing to file a patent over functions that are already widely in use.

Stephan Kinsella January 17, 2009 at 10:40 pm

ktibuk:

#

“There is always a chance for independent discovery which is included in libertarian IP law. The accuser (which would be the owner of a certain IP) bears the burden of proof that his IP is copied in a court of law. Since there is chance of independent discovery for certain IP “first comer principle” can not be used.”

“The absurdities of current patent laws are not logical conclusions of anything. They are just straw man arguments made by IP socialist because their core theory of IP socialism is full of holes..”

The IP socialists faux-libertarians pull the trick all the time. You point to an obviously unlibertarian aspect of IP law (which they appear to support, since they bash opponents of IP law), and they crawfish and say, “well, naww, we are not in favor of THAAAAT”. Every problem you find, they just deny it–leaving you to wonder what they DO favor. What is this ideal IP system like that they favor? They can never tell you. The ones that do, like Rand or Galambos, either support systems that are either unprincipled and pragmatic and arbitrary (Rand) or obviously absurdly unjust (Galambos). The rest just clam up; they don’t know what the heck they advocate or believe in. They don’t believe in the current IP system–so don’t blame them for ITS deficiencies. But if you ask them what they believe in, it’s deer-in-the-headlights, “Hey, man, I’m not a lawyer, don’t ask me.”

As for their system having some kind of exception for “independent discovery,” I assume this means that:

1. If A invents it first (but keeps it secret), then B invents it later and patents it, then B can’t stop A, right? This is called prior-user right (but we don’t have a general one here). Is B’s patent still valid, against C?

2. If A invents first and patents it, then B invents it later *independently*, I suppose this means A can’t stop or get damages from B, right?

3. Take case 2, B is about to independently invent it, but happens to see a bus advertisement showing A’s product, so that now he’s prevented from claiming to be its inventor–sort of like when your moronic friend spoils a movie by telling you its ending. In this case, A can stop B, unlike in case 2… right? So B, who in the absence of patent law, and in the absence of A’s invention, *would have* been able to use the idea he was working on, is now prevented, Right?

Let me guess–you are not sure of the details. I.e., you literally do not know what you are talking about.

David C January 17, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Look, if you can call us the IP-socialists, then we can call you the IP-plantation masters. You keep calling it property, you keep buying and trading it, you keep declaring it’s necessary for business and commerce, you keep saying it is productive, and incentive, and protection (of your investment), and you keep declaring that no cotton fields (read innovation) would be harvested without slaves. (read IP) Yet, 150 years later it’s still all bullshit and nothing has changed.

Once again, it’s just controlling peoples liberties and then giving that control a dishonest label eg. “property”, and then magically thinking that all the evil caused by it will just magically disappear and wash away, and then when it doesn’t, when it makes things worse, you deny that it is even your problem.

Funny, you can talk the property talk, but you can’t walk the property walk. Back then they wrote off the violations of others property because they were born black, now they blow off violations of my property because, like all humans from birth, I copy and immitate from the world around me. So what will your cause be, what will your excuse be in the next century? God help us.

It took a lot to die with slavery, so how many before you “get it” with IP? How about millions from Africa who were denied generic AIDS drugs. How about millions in auto accidents as development of air-bags and anti-lock brakes were retarded for decades. What about drugs with all sorts of unnatural hazards, and hidden downsides, what about the waste caused by incompatible parts in every market – for no rational reason, just control ones. Maybe we should call the government’s right to rape and tax you a “property”, then all your problems will go away. :)

ktibuk January 18, 2009 at 6:20 am

David C,

It is kind of funny for you to try to agitate trying to equate IP with “slavery”, while you are the one claiming you are entitled to the products of others.

What you are arguing for (socializing private property) is parasitism just like slavery was parasitism. You are the one who claims creators of IP are you slaves, and they shouldn’t compensated for their product while you enjoy them freely.

ktibuk January 18, 2009 at 6:55 am

Stephan,

Let me try to explain libertarian IP law as much as I can.

First there is not patents, or registration of anything anywhere in libertarian law. As I said before, since there is possibility of independent discovery, “first comer principle” is null and void in this case. So whatever you create, you don’t need to run somewhere and claim “you did it first”.

If some creator thinks someone copied his IP, the burden of proof is on the accuser just as the law dictates. This means under libertarian IP law, many things protected today with patents wouldn’t be “protected”. Simple inventions, drugs that can be reverse engineered, or software algorithms wouldn’t be owned by just one party because it would be almost impossible for someone that the other party copied it..

For example you couldn’t copy MS Windows on CDs with crack codes and sell but you could (if you can) use parts of algorithms Windows uses on your own OS. Today because of these idiotic patent laws, simple algorithms can be patented which is clearly wrong.

But I must emphasize that this would not be because of inability to protect IP, but inability to prove there was copying. Creators of IP would also bear the cost of protecting IP with different methods. Today many new technologies are used to protect IP even before any government gets involved. DRMs for songs, and movies is an example. Maybe in the future there will be self destructing books, which would “expire” after certain time.

What you would have in a libertarian, stateless society is copyright contracts between two parties. This is already being done today with music, books, videos and software and nothing much would change under Libertarian IP law.

There is also a misunderstanding about making IP public. If an owner of IP makes many contracts with many people, this is not making IP public like someone making his face public. It is rather many individual contracts. And all contracts are protected by law.

And let me add that the third party argument is a cop out issue and irrelevant. If you concede that IP is in fact property and contract between two parties is in fact legitimate third party issue is a simple one. Almost everyone that steals songs, movies, etc know clearly well that the IP is protected by contract. This means the first person that breaks the contract and spreads the IP around, and the ones using it are knowingly. There maybe exceptions where someone unknowingly uses some copyright protected IP and those cases could be handled in court.

And “I bought the book I can do whatever I want with it” argument is really a semantics issue. If you label the action “renting” in stead of “buying” when it comes to copyright protected IP, the issue is resolved. You don’t buy a book, movie, song or software. You just rent it for life, on certain conditions. The tangible good doesn’t change ownership. It becomes a vehicle that is rented to give put IP which is embedded in it.

Also as in every property law, every single case of dispute can not imagined before hand and integrated in theory. That is why there are courts. If there are exceptional issues those issues would be handled by arbitration courts.

But as first step you people must give up the notion that you are entitled to other people’s fruit of labor.

A movie, a book, a song, a software is not nature given free goods that can be picked up freely. It is the product of human beings created by scarce resources. Maybe the most sacred scarce resource. The creators time, that he could never get back.

Marcelo January 18, 2009 at 10:53 am

Boy am I glad we don’t have ktibuk’s “libertarian” IP law. That sounds even more restrctive than what is in place right now.

The fact is you can’t prove someone copied an idea if you are not in favor of “first come, first serve” patents.

Stephan Kinsella January 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

Thanks for the armchair brainstorming, ktibuk. When you get your whole theory of IP worked out let me know. I guess you guys are harmless so long as you doodle your ravings in your little notebooks. It’s only when you would try to enforce this kooky nonsense that you would encounter the anarchist Smith & Wessons.

ktibuk January 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Stephan,

You are not the first socialists that got whipped all over the place and you wouldn’t be the last. Your agony and following insults are understandable because you feel helpless. You won’t get any similar angry responses but instead I will extend my pity.

Kiba January 18, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Isn’t ktibuk being the socialist here?

He is the one after all want the patent office to decide who should get a patent and who should not, and a court to handle it. Which also mean that we get lawyers who decide who get what instead of capitalists expanding their production.

Nevermind that people who use DRM and books that self-destruct will be run out by the free market. Nevermind that the copyright and patent regime will no longer be able to restrain the free market.

Peter Surda January 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm

> But as first step you people must give up the notion
> that you are entitled to other people’s fruit of labor.
Funny thing, I just wanted to say the same thing about you. Reminds me of the good ol’ capitalist vs. communist arguments “taxation is theft” vs. “property is theft”.

I’m sure then you wouldn’t mind giving up being entitled to use the English language, alphabet, and logic, so that those who invented them can enjoy their fruit of labour?

I used to be an IP proponent too. Luckily, I was never a communist :-).

Cheers,
Peter

Peter Surda January 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm

One more thing:

> If you concede that IP is in fact property …
The phrase “intellectual property” is a euphemism. You won’t actually find that phrase in the law. It consists of several logically unrelated concepts. Wikipedia lists the following: copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets.

Now, for trademarks you don’t need special law, because a “violation” of trademark is basically lying about your products to your customers. Similarly for trade secrets no special law is necessary, as it a violation of a trade secret is already a violation of a contract. What remains is two: copyrights and patents.

In all current implementations that I know of, these two are rights with the following features not found in “normal” property:
- they have hazy borders that are arbitrarily changing all the time
- they are managed by centralised organisations
- they are granted for a limited period of time
- they have exceptions where a third party is allowed to violate them
- they overlap with “normal” property and also with each other (e.g. it is normal for one “object” to belong to one person according to “normal” property, second person according to copyright and a third person according to patent law, all at the same time). Obviously only one of them can be correct, which leads to expropriation from the perspective of the others.

To me, these (mis)features look remarkably like any other government created regulation. ktibuk, if you don’t mind me asking, how do you “fix” those differences? In the light of this, can you really continue asserting that IP is actual property?

Just one more example of the unusual “properties” (no pun intended) of IP. You write:

> A movie, a book, a song, a software is not nature
> given free goods that can be picked up freely.
Do I assume that you think that “picking up” a movie, book, song or software without the creator’s approval is prohibited by the copyright? Well, I have a surprise for you: downloading any of those is legal. You’ve been tricked, just as you have been tricked by whoever it was that invented the term “intellectual property”.

Cheers,
Peter

ktibuk January 19, 2009 at 3:10 am

Peter,

There are many flawed and illogical IP laws as of now and I will not defend all of them. So giving examples from todays legislation is not an argument against my claims that IP is in fact property.

I defend IP protected by copyright contracts. Which is a simple concept since it is somewhat being used today. I tried to outline my thought above and if you have any questions regarding what I said, I would try to answer them.

Also regarding you previous post. Logic is not created by man, it is hard wired in out brains. Workings of logic can only be discovered. We weren’t illogical beasts before Aristotle discovered the science.

And as for language and alphabet. Yes they are creations of men but they are anonymous creations currently not owned by any single party and you can think of them as gifts from our forefathers. Just because they are free as of now, doesn’t mean we don’t at least owe our gratitude to the creators or people that contributed to it, just like we owe to people who came up with mathematics, chemistry, etc.

Every piece of property doesn’t have to be a part of economic exchange. Some maybe given out for free. This doesn’t negate any property rights.

Marcelo January 19, 2009 at 9:37 am

ktibuk, well? Go ahead and defend IP without using rhetoric. Prove that IP is property, do not assert that it is property.

Peter Surda January 19, 2009 at 9:39 am

> There are many flawed and illogical IP laws as of now
> and I will not defend all of them.
Surely then, the only way out is to either fix them or scrap them? I recommend scrapping, you don’t seem to agree, so that’s why I’m asking how do you fix it? It seem to me a proponent of IP should be able to answer that.

It’s the same as saying that specific government regulation does not prove that government regulation is bad in principle. Which is logically correct, but does not bring the argument further.

I for example think that those issues are unfixable. I may be wrong, but I’m giving the opponents the opportunity to prove me wrong. My hope is that by actually thinking about the issues I pointed out, the opponents will come to share my point of view.

Can you for example objectively define how many duplicate bits are required for a copyright violation? Is it the same for all types of IP?

> I defend IP protected by copyright contracts.
That sounds to me like an oxymoron. The very reason for copyright’s existence is that it applies outside of copyright holder’s parties of contract. You seem to be suggesting an IP system that is completely different from what we have now.

> Logic is not created by man, it is hard wired in out brains.
Millions of trolls on the internet disagree :-).

> Workings of logic can only be discovered.
This is semantics. Can you objectively define the difference between “discovery” and “invention”?

> We weren’t illogical beasts before Aristotle discovered
> the science.
It is quite possible to use something before it is understood. These are separate things. As Morpheus sayeth: there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path :-).

In everything that we think and do, there is unlimited amount of something old and unlimited amount of something new. Every thought and action is a unique hybrid. What amount of this “new” represents created intellectual property, and what part of the “old” represents violations of someone else’s? Are the movements of my fingers as I type this intellectual property? Whos? After how many pushed keys does the property, or the violation thereof, “appear”? Does it also appear if the keyboard is not connected? Does it also appear if I don’t actually type anything and just think about it?

(language and alphabet)
> they are anonymous creations currently not owned by
> any single party
How do you know that?

> Just because they are free as of now, doesn’t mean we
> don’t at least owe our gratitude to the creators or people
> that contributed to it, just like we owe to people who
> came up with mathematics, chemistry, etc.
Just because they are free as of now, does not mean their creators’ rights vanished, it can also merely indicate that contemporary IP laws does not honour them.

> Some maybe given out for free.
[sarcasm]No, you may not, giving out things for free has been patented.[/sarcasm]

Cheers,
Peter

ktibuk January 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

Peter,

If you read above you can see how I envision the libertarian IP laws.

But since English is not my native language, I will presume that it is my fault I haven’t been able to communicate my thoughts and I will try to clarify.

In a libertarian society, there are no patent laws as you know it. There is no patent office people run to to prove they found something first. They don’t need to register anything.

I hope we are clear so far.

Some of the IP that is under patent laws would be under copyright contracts.

You invent a vacuum cleaner, you sell on the contract that it is for vacuuming use only, and the buyer may not open it up try to reverse engineer. If you have a problem with the term ‘”buy”, we can use “renting for life” since some IP socialists try to claim if buy something they transfer all the rights to themselves. Since I am used to this type of reaching for straws I felt to mention it before hand.

Think of the copyright contract as a lease agreement. You may own a house and you may want to rent it out. When you hand out the keys you will need to protect your property with a contract. I can not “rent” your apartment and do whatever I want with it.

Copyright contracts are just like that. Or you can call it a general use terms agreement, or as in the software industry End User License Agreement, or an EULA.

This is the core.

Enforcement issue is an technical issue and we can talk about it, thinking of different scenarios but it wouldn’t change the fact that there is IP.

IP Socialists like Kinsella base their whole theory on technical enforcement issues, and disregard the main ethical issue.

That nobody is entitled to someone else’s fruit of labor.

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