Re: Intellectual property

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 20:44:48 -0800 (PST)

> 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
> rights.

That language is so full of holes and connotations I find it hard to
pin down what it means. If I could, I might be able to argue, but one
has to find meaning before one can discuss it. If you can give me some
examples of what you're talking about, I might better understand.

You also use words like "secure" and "stolen" which are begging the
question posed, namely, are ideas property, and is copying ideas theft?
Secondly, you act as if the rich patron of the creator is not entitled
to return on investment, and the greater share of options his wealth
provides. In a pre-capitalist aristocracy, that might have been true.
But I am arguing for capitalist institutions, where wealth is earned by
labor, creation, /and investment/, not by currying favor with the guns.
Where the creator must convince his patrons what his creativity is worth,
and the patrons can decide how to profit from their own investment in it,
and both are rewarded in proportion to what they can freely negotiate,
and both hire the same goons to enforce their voluntary contracts.

If a contract between two free men cannot be enforced, then society is
already so far gone that it is not worth saving. That is the very
foundation of civilation, without which there is only rule by force.
I am assuming that in all my discussions, because if that most precious
piece of freedom is lost, nothing else can be argued until that is fixed.
If you want to argue that contracts are not valid, then our minds have
no common ground, and we must stop.

> 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.

Again you assign me motives with no evidence and no basis in reality.
I don't give a damn what software costs, and I've never said anything
to make you or anyone else think that. Please argue with what I say,
not with what your fertile imagination dreams up about me. I "got my
opinions" by reasoning from the evidence available to me /on both
sides/, and from my experience as a producer. I'm sure your experience
is different; perhaps you've spent more time on the inside of the
present system, so you are blinded by it. I am not.

In our present system, creators use the means available to them to
earn money--but that's not evidence of the system's value for many
reasons: (1) The fact that they use the system as it is says nothing
about how it might compare to a different one, or how creators would
use that different system. (2) The earnings of a creator today are not
necessarily what one would expect from a different system. They seem
"fair" precisely because they are what we are used to, and we act in
ways to make them come out that way under the present system. Again,
this says absolutely nothing about how it /might/ be. (3) The system
also has very real costs to both the creator and to everyone else,
that I have outlined many times, and those cost changes would change
the net earnings of a creator. (4) The cost of enforcement is high,
and will only get higher with more networking and technology. Yet
another cost factor. (5) Your failure to imagine how the information
economy might operate in the absence of copyright is no justification
for assuming it would fail to operate just fine. I have shown many
ways such a system might function; if you care to argue against any of
those, please do so.

> 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...

This is naked assertion, and utterly without evidence. In fact, it is
quite opposite of plain logic: enforcements cost money, copying is cheap.
When the information itself is a negligible cost, consumers will pay
for things like workmanship, timeliness, customization, organization,
etc. Some of those things will be provided by creators, some by others,
but in a free market, they will tend to be produced by those who can
produce them most cheaply. When the information itself is an enforced
monopoly, its subsidiary products will be produced by those whom the
creator has chosen for his own reasons, not the consumers'.

> 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.

You say that like it's a bad thing. :-). Yes, of course I'm an anarchist.
I absolutely deny the "necessity" of monopoly government in any human
society, and live with hope for the day when it will be wiped from the
face of the planet. I know that's a minority opinion, even among die-
hard libertarians, but I simply have not seen any convincing argument for
the absolute necessity of that arbitrary institution, and I have seen
more than I care to of its crimes against humanity. Until I am shown
with clear, convincing, evidence that anarcho-capitalism /cannot/ work, I
will continue to treat government as a criminal enterprise, and those who
support it have no sympathy from me.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>