Re: Intellectual property

Michael Lorrey (
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 13:58:58 -0500

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > Its odd that you and I can agree here but have different views on
> > intellectual property. What I am proposing is that intellectual property
> > be fully recognized as a basic human right (part of the natural law
> > thing), possibly THE basic human right, and that patents, copyrights,
> > trademarks etc are merely government recognition of individuals
> > exercising these rights in acts of creation.
> You are asking far more than that; you are asking not only that I
> recognize your right to use your creation, but that I further give
> you the power to use force to prevent anyone else from using it, even
> if it was independently created, or given freely. You don't want a
> right to use your mind; you want permission to use your fists to
> prevent me from using /my/ mind.

Now who is assigning motivations to whom? In a world where contracts
between individuals are virtually unenforceable without corporations or
politicians in your pocket (not too different from a pre-capitalist
arisotcracy, eh?), what is to be done? We have free trade and open
travel between our nation which does a pretty good job of protecting the
fruit of one's labor, and nations like China etc, who share your ideas
that individual have no right to protection of their ideas. China is
hardly the sort of anarchists paradise I would think you dream of.

While I am trying to make proposals to work within an existing system to
maximize human liberty, you are sniping me from an irrational idealistic
position that has frankly a snowballs chance of ever becoming real.

Wanting intellectual property protection means that I want people to
have to pay for the use of the fruit of my mental labor. Without a
government enforcing my copyright or patent, I have as little chance of
protecting myself as ski areas do of protecting against frivolous
lawsuits based on an agreement on a ski ticket. That is all the
copyright info inside the jacket of a book is, really. if you are so
fired up about making government uneccessary, do something about
contract law and tort reform.

BTW, I still don't see how a justice system can become competetive.
Having competing court rulings in a case is merely grounds for war on
the part of PPL's to enforce each party's ruling.

> "Property" is a human right by virtue of the objective nature of it:
> that a piece of property cannot simultaneously serve the ends of two
> different people. If you want to expand that to include things that
> /can/ simultaneously be used by everyone, then give me a /reason/, not
> just your feeling that it is "natural".

That an intagible property like a book, program, DNA sequence, or
invention can be reproduced and distributed makes your argument void, as
two copies of a property can obviously serve the ends of two people at

That we humans are intelligent, and can create new knowledge sets us
apart and justifies our concept that we are more than just animals, we
are animals that create newness. We add value, decrease entropy locally,
by the brunt of our physical and mental sweat. If we are to maintain
that all power is derived from the individual (as Jefferson, et al,
stipulated), and not as a consequence of one person having a bigger gun
(as Mao stipulated), we must ask, what is it about a person that is
different from an average animal?

I claim no supernatural or other external source of these rights, the
fact that these concepts are, in the big scheme of things, merely
created fictions, the fact that we concieved them, and can observe them
in practice is demonstration enough of our uniqueness, and of the source
of the power of the individual. What is it that makes each of us
individuals? partly, it is our DNA, and partly, it is the ideas,
thoughts, dreams, and experiences we as individuals go through on our
own unique paths through life. because of this, these two things that
make us individuals deserve and demand our full protection.