Re: intellectual property

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 19 Mar 1997 20:45:40 -0800 (PST)

> > Yes, stealing work without permission is a crime; fraudulently claiming
> > authorship or invetion is a crime; but copyrights and patents aren't
> > aimed at those actions: they are aimed specifically at preventing, by
> > force, the use of information legally obtained. If I invent something,
> > I will keep the idea under wraps with non-disclosure agreements while
> > it is being developed, and you bet I'd prosecute anyone who broke his
> > contract or stole from my safe. But if I freely choose to sell the
> > thing on the open market where anyone can see how it works, I have no
> > right to have the government use its guns to prevent those folks from
> > going into business against me.
> Ok, by that same logic. If I were to write a book and publish it on the
> open market. Why shouldn't folks be able to copy it and sell it as
> there own with the resulting royalties? After all, its on the open
> market.

Yes, exactly. The fact that it is so counter-intuitive to you is
because we were brought up in a world that just assumed that copyrights
were used to protect authors like that. In a free market, non-coercive
means should be used instead.

> I'm as big a fan of the freedom to contract as anyone. Here's a hypo for
> you. If I were to create, say a new type of hard disk that stored 1000X
> the information of the current industry standard. How would i be able
> to prevent every other manufacturer from benefiting from my R&D in the
> absence of a patent?

(1) Only sell them as black boxes to those who sign a contract never
to open them or let anyone else open them for reverse-engineering. (They
might also have an interest in keeping the technology from /their/
competitors, and so are likely to pay for the security involved). (2)
Make a bundle by being first to market with huge numbers so that the
market is saturated before your competitors catch up. (3) Do (2), then
capitalize on your good name and reputation for innovation to get
contracts for future products. (4) Demonstrate the product to every
company with the means of competing with you in such a way that you
don't disclose any vital information about its internals, then let them
license it from you. (5) Never sell it at all, but buy up companies
whose major cost is data storage, and use your technology privately to
undercut their competitors (I like that one).

I'm sure I could think of a few more devious (but non-coercive) means...

Lee Daniel Crocker <>