Re: Obsolesence of Intellectual Property

From: Jason Joel Thompson (
Date: Tue Aug 01 2000 - 03:39:17 MDT

People comparing duplication to theft
> are plain wrong. If I were to steel your car,
> that would be theft. After all it would cost you a substantial amount
> of money to replace it. But what if I gained the ability to duplicate
> your car at no cost to you? This would not be theft, because quite
> simply your car would still be there! Yet this argument fails to sway,
> because those in power have managed so far to use fictitious
> intellectual property ideas to make money off of information.

Uh, actually this argument fails to sway because it defines theft in very
simplistic terms. You might not be stealing my music if you copy it, but
you certainly are stealing my profit. If you desire something that I have
spent energy producing, then it is clear that we should come to some
arrangement by which I should end up with something that you have spent
energy producing (like, er, money for instance.)

By your argument, it should be legal to counterfeit money.

> Understandably this was done in an era when duplication costs were
> high. Now that costs of duplication have fallen close to zero,
> intellectual property arguments are loosing their strength.

Uh, why even bother with intellectual property laws if something is really
hard to duplicate? Intellectual property laws -gain- relevance as a
particular thing becomes easier to copy. In fact, intellectual property
laws protect... intellectual property, which by definition, has always been
tremendously easy to duplicate.

> Which brings us to the crux of the issue - intellectual propertarians
> fear that cheap duplication threatens their ability to make money.
> Exactly, and they better get used to it! That's the nature of advancing
> technology. Their argument is the same as blacksmiths during the 1920's
> complaining that the proliferation of the automobile was
> putting them out of business, or typists when the copy machine came into
> widespread use. The only difference here is blacksmiths and typists
> weren't a very powerful lobby.

No, actually, the real difference here is that blacksmiths were being
replaced by something that did their job better. That's called progress.
No one has proven that Napster is going to result in better music or that
the removal of copyright is going to result in better drugs, coca-cola,
filmmaking, literature, automobile design, etc.

> Their next line of argument is the claim that without financial
> incentives made possible by intellectual property protections, the
> overall level of creativity will suffer. This is the most bogus
> argument of all. Can anyone say Linux?!

Hey, Linux is not the only example of something really cool that people have
made without getting paid for it. There will likely continue to be many
shining examples of what humans will do for free. And humans will continue
to do really interesting things for free.

Its just that they still have to spend a lot of their time doing things they
get paid for.

And just because an operating system is better when lots of people can get
in there and move things around doesn't mean that, oh, say, a movie will be
better if lots of people can get in there and move things around.


::jason.joel.thompson:: ::wild.ghost.studios::

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