Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

ChuckKuecker (
Tue, 5 May 1998 20:05:15 -0500 (CDT)

At 10:43 5/4/98 -0700, you wrote:
>> 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.

Now you are starting to get to a level I can empathize with. Incremental
improvements are important, and mostly ignored by our present systems. What
needs to be protected against, perhaps not by law, is the 'unfair' use of
creations that actively harm the orignal creator. This would be analogous to
present slander or libel laws.

>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.

There has not been a full blown 'invention' by that definition since the Big
Bang. Obviously, nothing in this world stands alone. Any idea you or I can
formulate is colored by our life experiences and readings.

This does not answer the basic question. Should I be able to profit from my
own labors? If I write a novel, I should be able to market it without having
to worry about someone else taking my work, adding an introduction, and
selling it at much less than my publisher's costs, thereby destroying my
market. If I create a logo for my enterprise, should someone else be
permitted to use it to sell their products? This is socialism you are
talking about - the creators only live to hand out their lifeblood to the

>> 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.

I agree that sometimes too much 'its MINE!' is a bad thing. Apple tried this
with a closed architecture, and suffered loss of sales to the IBM clones
which had a much richer array of second source vendors. Even though the IBM
PC was not a closed system, they still retained the rights to their logo,
case designs, etc. People who made aftermarket add-in boards still kept the
ownership of their individual designs. At no time was anyone prohibited from
designing a new and better peripheral by the existence of their predecessors.
Other bus architectures have been designed. Those which were closely guarded
were less successful than those which were allowed to become public domain.
The boards that plug into these buses, however, need the protection of
patents and copyrights for reasons I have stated elsewhere, so the creators
have a chance to recover their costs of creation. It's a matter of degree. A
'bus' is a fairly trivial thing. An image processor is not. The creators of
the open buses allowed them into the public domain to stimulate the demaind
for their proprietary boards, and the competition is healthy.

Anyone who hangs too tightly to their creations will not benefit from them;
neither will the world. But saying that ideas and their physical embodiments
are not the property of the thinker and inventor certainly does nothing to help.

I have no objection to others using my ideas to act as a springboard for
them to reach even greater heights. I only object to others using my
creations to deny me a chance to make a living by undercutting me with
duplicates of what I made.

After all, if they can concieve of a better way to do what I am doing,
surely I can use their take on the matter to leapfrog them..

Copying, however, is cheating. By your arguments, if I copy your doctoral
thesis, I should be able to claim the degree just as if I had done all the
research. After all, it's not 'theft'..

Chuck Kuecker
Chuck Kuecker, President
C K Enterprises, Inc.
326 Deveron Circle
Cary, Il 60013
(847) 639-2771
(847) 516-1410 FAX