Re: Intellectual property

Michael Lorrey (
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 17:34:21 -0500

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> 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.

This is very much the case, seeing cases in courts on surrogate mother
contracts, ski accidents, etc, the validity of contracts is very much
threatened, and i share your disgust with the state of things. I lost my
lighting business for the most part due to such a case, and have seen
two ski areas owned by freinds gone bankrupt due to such disregard.

> > > "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.

This is where we get down to nuts and bolts. I say that my selling you a
book or software program is only a license to USE said material for a
limited purpose, not a right to reproduce the particular copy you have.
Whether this is done by a highly costly system of complex contractual
arrangements for each and every customer, which I must enforce in civil
court on a case by case basis, or by a system where all members of a
society agree that works that are copyrighted are used by a standardized
and legally defined behavior, that is enforced by a mutual aid pact
(duh, the feds or private cops, it matters not), is simply a matter of
what is most cost effective. I say a copyright system is more cost
effective, you say personal agreements are. Sorry i don't have the funds
to pay lawyers to argue with you on the issue.

> > 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.

hardly. any cognition that is unable to improve the condition of the
following generation over itself is an unimaginative 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.
> 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.

of course it is not property, since if it were, the big corporations
would have to pay royalties to any tom dick or harriet they stole genes
from to make their hideously expensive drugs with.

As for combining creation with force being a devaluing property, i would
say that failing to protect the creative rights of the individual, with
laws, litigation, or even force, we denigrate the individual and the
idea that power derives from the individual.