Re: Intellectual property

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 19 Mar 1997 18:30:02 -0800 (PST)

> Nor are their records on respect for any sort of human rights at all
> what an individualist would call "civilized".

True enough. They aren't good examples, but the insidious meme of
IP is so pervasive that there aren't any good examples.

> > The United States had no such laws before the USPTO was created.
> Wrong. Read your US Constitution.

Go back to civics 101. The constitution authorized congress to
create such laws. It did not in fact do so until many years later
with the creation of the USPTO. Until then, there were thriving
publishing and manufacturing industries without the subsidies of
copyrights and patents.

> Sounds like an intellectual property version of the old rule
> that stated that blacks were 2/3 human. Sorry it doesn't wash.

Huh? I don't understand what the hell you're talking about here,
soI can't even hope to reply.

> Patents and copyrights are merely government recognition of original
> work and an agreement to enforce protection of the inventors creation
> from license violations, much as trademarks are protected from
> fraudulent claims.

The fact that you confuse trademarks and licensing with copyrights and
patents is a symptom of the problem. Look at the objective realities,
not the propaganda: If I use your name, I commit fraud. That's a
trademark. If I break a contract with you, that's an enforceable tort.
If I reprint a chapter from a book you wrote--and which you freely
chose to publish on the open market with no disclaimers or licenses
or physical protection of any sort--and not claiming that it's mine,
I have not committed fraud, I have breached no contract that I signed,
I have merely used information that I got through non-coercive means
for my own benefit, and the government will come in--at my expense
as well as yours--and prosecute me for it. That's a copyright (and
similarly for patents).

> Your argument is irrational and typical of the hacker ethic that whats
> mine is mine and whatever I can crack, pry up, steal, or defraud from
> people is mine.

Tie that slander to reality. I make no claim to anything that is not
mine and never have. In fact, I have made my honest living for 15 years
as a computer programmer and writer--a producer of intellectual property.
I respect that my employers believe in those laws, but I still refuse
to participate in my own name, because I can see beyond the justifications
and the propaganda. I don't want to steal or defraud--I simply refuse
to be an accessory to the government's denying people the right to use
what I have freely given them. If I want to keep my inventions, I will
protect them myself, and pay for the technologies and contracts to do it.
I cannot in good conscience demand the government get out of my life in
one respect, and then come to my benefit in another. it is dishonest,
and hypocritical, and I will have none of it.

I choose not to violate the copyrights or patents of others, because
they have chosen to release works into a system that makes those
assumptions. But that doesn't mean I won't speak out for a free-market
non-coercive means of doing business in information, just as I speak
out for free-market means of doing everything else big brother want
to do for me.

> When the state derives its authority from that granted by its citizens,
> as ours is by the constitution, then it is not begging, it is a mutual
> aid compact.

Yeah, yeah, the social contract, blah, blah. Funny how libertarians
reject such arguments for protecting real property, but are willing to
allow it for IP. It's inconsistent. If you want to open a set of
bookstores where everyone who buys agrees to respect authors' monopoly,
and you don't sell to anyone who doesn't agree, then I'll be happy for
you. That might well encourage authors to publish works only in that
set of stores, giving them a market advantage. I'd be all for it.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>