Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 4 May 1998 10:43:48 -0700 (PDT)

> >Copyrights do nothing but reward duplication and mediocrity at
> >the expense of true creativity and artistry. Patents do nothing
> >but reward pointless novelty at the expense of workmanship and
> >quality. Writers and inventors should not be afraid of losing
> >their jobs to their abolition--they should cheer for losing their
> >jobs, and being freed to use their talents more profitably in
> >a thousand other ways that the laws have stifled for too long.
> Here I have a problem. How exactly doesw my having a copyright or patent
> prevent you from developing your own unique copyrightable or patentable
> product? These laws have no effect on creativity, except possibly in the
> area of discovering ways to make a patented thing faster or better than
> the patent owner can..

It doesn't prevent me from developing my own /unique/ creations,
where "unique" is defined as "sufficiently different and unobvious
to merit copyright or patent under the present system". What it
prevents is I and others making small incremental improvements or
customizations to creative works. I can't build a Dodge Neon with
a little better stereo; I can't produce a good German translation
of a book I like, even if I'd do a much better job than whoever
the author chooses to hire--if he hires anyone at all. I can't
make a braille edition of a magazine without negotiating with the
copyright holder. I can't make a college textbook with extensive
excerpts from classic novels (only short "fair use" excerpts).
I can't make wallpaper based on a popular piece of art.

Copyrights is based on the myth of the lone inventor--the idea
that creative works spring full-born from the mind of a single
creator. In reality, there is no such thing as "creation" from
nothing. All inventors and authors draw from a pool of public
domain ideas and recombine and modify them in interesting ways.
With copyright law, only those modifications that pass an arbitrary
bar of "uniqueness" are able to get to market, regardless of their
inherent value. Small, incremental improvements to things--which
would be the majority of works without copyright--aren't made,
which results in a decline of both quality and quanitity of work.
When all creators are free to do those small things they do best
without lawyers in the way, really great works can be created.

> Even so, the free market will evolve protections analogous to
> patents and trademarks. It is inevitable that rules of some sort
> will be made to prevent theft and fraud.

Some creators will go to great lengths to use encryption and
contracts and other means to guard their works--and they will
suffer for it. That's their problem. As long as they do it in
the free market, let them. Also, I have no problem with laws
against actual fraud--for example, producing a work by someone
else and claiming it is yours. I suspect, though, that what you
are calling "theft" here is merely the use of others' ideas, and
that is only "theft" by definition, not reality. Copyright law
is what mistakenly attributes the concept of "property" to ideas
that are no such thing, and I reject such argument-by-definition
as meaningless.

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