Re: Intellectual property

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 12:48:47 -0800 (PST)

> 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.

If you honestly believe that a valid contract between two people
canot be enforced with either private arbitration or public courts,
then we indeed can argue no further. I simply don't beieve that,
and if I did, I would spend /all/ my efforts changing it, because
I refuse to give up on civilization.

> > "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
> once.

Yes! That's exactly my point, but it doesn't invalidate /my/ argument,
it topples yours. A book, a program, and a DNA sequence ARE NOT
PROPERTY, because property is, by definition, that which two people
cannot simultaneously own. Your continued insistence to call them
property is just a failure to see that that's precisely what we are
arguing about.

> That we humans are intelligent, and can create new knowledge sets us
> apart and justifies our concept that we are more than just animals,...
> 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?

Actually, I am unimpressed by any claims that human cognition is of
any significantly different character than animal cognition, rather
than simply a matter of degree. Such arguments are usually made by
mystics who want to think we have some special place in the world,
rather than just being yet another clump of cells in the soup of life.

> 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.

Even Jefferson, who you seem to esteem, utterly rejected the idea that
knowledge itself could be "property", and this is in fact still the
law, affirmed in Feist v. Rural, though even this is in danger from
recently proposed treaties. Even the DNA you claim as the most natural
of properties has already been litigated, and found NOT to be property.
I agree that creation is a wonderful thing, but the value of creation
itself is more than sufficient to ensure its rewards. When you combine
it with force, you devalue it.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC