Re: Intellectual property

Michael Lorrey (
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 21:21:37 -0500

Jeff coulter wrote:
> > 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.
> It would be great if you could offer a model or some evidence/background
> to back up these facts.

While he may be literally correct, the fact is that until our country
developed its USPTO, investment in technological advancement was an
extremely high risk proposition. This is why the only technologies that
remained secure were those that were classified SECRET by governments,
and enforced with death sentences. Unfortunately, this method tended to
stifle cross fertilization as well as the possibility of mass producing
secret inventions, since by their secrecy their market was limited.
Those that did not remain secure were easily stolen and copied.
Inventors never got rich on their own, they always had some rich
politician or industrialist as their lord protector who made the most
money off of it since they had the goons to enforce their self declared

With our current system, inventors have at least a better than even
chance of getting paid fairly for their creations, even of enforcing
their rights overseas. LDC seems to have gotten to his opinons by being
disgusted with the high cost of comercially available software, but if
intellectual property rights were fully enforced, software could be sold
for the price of a paperback. The reason this isn't so is that its much
easier to copy electronic data than printed bound material, so its much
harder to enforce copyrights with software than books.

The more widespread intellectual property enforcement occurs, the lower
per unit intellectual property costs will be for consumers, so that
prices will more closely reflect a "fair" market value. Intellectual
property that is not properly protected or is only partially protected,
like our present system causes a greater level of technological
monopolization than with full enforcement systems. With zero enforcement
systems, like the medieval secrecy system, people were not even given
the opportunity to have access to technology, which seems to me to be a
much greater level of monopolization than mere overpricing in a partial
system like the present one.

> > 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.
> Not. If you breach a contract you have Contract remedies available to
> you, not those from tort law. Fraud is enforceable in Tort.

Thank you. Picking nits is not what I am after here, though. This all
derives from my contention that recognition of intellectual property as
a basic human right that is tied up in ones right to self expression, to
choose to reproduce, to create new life, to seek the fulfillment of
one's happiness. Man is the monkey that creates, or to use a theist
term, our God given rights were given to reflect the power of God within
each and every one of us to create.

Of course, in a perfect world, where a corporation only has the power of
the average individual, LDC's concepts would be great, but in my mind
reflect the sort of egalatarian socialist utopia that Marxists dreamt of
rather than any libertarian hope.

> > 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).
> Good point, but you still havn't expressed how IP would be protected
> otherwise.

Listen, contracts between individuals don't mean squat. The ski industry
has tried for years to protect themselves from ridiculous law suits from
people that are injured at ski areas due to personal negligence, through
no fault of the resorts. Every ski ticket has on it a waiver stating
that to purchase a ticket is to recognise the individuals complete
responsibility for oneself, etc. etc., and signs in front of the ticket
offices say this, and the ticket sales people say to read the ticket,
and all credit card reciepts that are signed also have this agreement on
them. You'd think that they'd be fully protected, right? No such luck.
This is why 75% of the cost of your average ski lift ticket is to pay
for the ski areas insurance premiums. The only people who make money in
the ski industry are insurance companies, injured skiers, and tort

> >
> > > 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.

Sorry, this means that you are an anarchist rather than a libertarian.
There is SOME need for government. What form it is and how it is
administered are different issues entirely.

> >
> > 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.
> >

Show me one that works. Design a system that works. My proposal was
merely trying to work within the existing system to maximize human
individual liberty. I'm trying to be real about this. Trying to be ideal
only gets you laughed at in politics.

> > > 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.

SOrry, libertarians are all for protecting any sort of real property.
Real property doesn't need as much help though for one simple reason:
its real. Intellectual property is highly intangible, and therefore very
vacuous and easy to steal, copy, brush off, etc. and suffers badly in
environments of power imbalances and power corruption.

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.
> What? You're way off buddy. Real property is protected in an identical
> fashion. Deeds are your claim to a piece of real property - granted by
> the government. Patents/copyrights are your claim/title to a piece of
> IP. Where's the distinction?

There is none at all outside of the tangibility issue.


Michael Lorrey ------------------------------------------------------------ President Northstar Technologies Agent Inventor of the Lorrey Drive

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