Re: Obsolesence of Intellectual Property

From: Paul Hughes (
Date: Thu Aug 03 2000 - 00:01:00 MDT

Jason Joel Thompson wrote:

> Your slippery slope argument is is... uh... dumb.

Thanks for saying so, I think yours is as idiotic as well. Now can we please
get back to being civil? :-)

> "Oh, what, you want to protect your ideas?! Oh, I suppose you're going to
> want to charge for every word you speak! I suppose you're going to want to
> charge people for seeing what you look like it public! I suppose you're
> going to want to track down every time your name is uttered and send someone
> a bill!"

Ultimately isn't that what your asking? You said it yourself, IP laws are there
to protect the creative works of others in order for them to profit from it.
Before you get too hot and bothered I am playing devils advocate to see how far
this will go. The IP laws as they are currently written could allow people like
the RIAA to completely squelch progress. In fact several astute lawyers have
said that Patel's decision could easily apply to the web itself. After all, the
web allows people to transfer mp3's just like Napster does. Yes, you and I know
that both technologies are slightly different. But have you bothered to read
current IP law and how judges like Patel and the RIAA are interpreting them? If
anyone is on a slippery slope here it is you. Where is the line drawn? Quite
frankly the lines being drawn are completely arbitrary and are at the whim of
those with the biggest money to throw at the legal system. Might here does not
make right.

> Isn't there a nice reasonable attractor state somewhere between "absolute
> dictatorial control over IP" and "absolute elimination of IP?"

I would hope so, but no one seems to be debating this as bluntly as I am.
Almost everyone says we must keep IP laws to protect creators, the economy, etc.
without seeing the full ramifications of what those IP laws can do when they are
abused. I *am* questioning the who kitten caboodle, including the legal and
corporate system as it is now. Lets play this out.

> > > By your argument, it should be legal to counterfeit money.
> >
> > Hey, now there's a great idea!
> Strangely enough, millions would disagree. I guess they have some naive
> notion that it might devalue the entire economy.

So your one of those people who wants to keep money monopolized by the Federal
Reserve? Why then are you on the Extropian List? Have you not heard of
encrypted anonymous e-cash? What we really need is competing currencies! If a
particular currency can be easily counterfeited, then yes it becomes devalued.
What's this does for the economy is loosen up how capital is controlled, by
democratizing the money supply. In a competitive currency system, those
currencies with the best reputation and stability become the dominant players.
Besides who do you think are the greatest counterfeiters of US currency? The US
government. As soon as the gold standard was removed the US decided to print
themselves loads of it. We are still trying to recover from such a debacle.

> Hmm, I'm not following this argument. Would you mind trying again?

Quite simply the RIAA is using the current IP laws to protect their monopoly of
music distribution. Only now after Napster are some of them willing to consider
another means of distribution. Since the benefits of distributing music over
the internet are plain obvious, had their been true competition in the first
place, several companies would have already been doing this years ago. Again,
here we see IP laws being used by those with the money to protect their
antiquated way of doing business. Had their been true competition, I think the
overall quality of music would be much better than it is now, because competiton
assures that market forces (you and me) determine what music is played, not who
is hyped the most.

> Let me try to simplify it for you then:
> Scenario A: He make music. Radio promote music. He sell music. Radio sell
> advertising.
> Result A: They provide a service and get paid for it.

OK this is getting really funny. It's ok for me to record music for my own use
as long as that source contains advertising, but illegal and piracy if I record
music from non-adverstising sources? I can just see it now, advertising becomes

> I think it's very nice that you want to rely on an individual's pure love of
> their art form to ensure high quality product.

No, what I'm saying is if the *only* thing motivating an artists is the pursuit
of money then maybe he shouldn't be an artist. But lets get are facts straight,
most artists are prolific creators regardless of the money supply. Most artist
actually enjoy the act of creation. Sure I want them to make money. But the
current monopolized recording industry does more to squash creative artists than
promote them. Sure this is my opinion. but it is shared overwhelming by the
majority of musicians (including myself) who I know. And yes we are having
similar debates amongst ourselves at open-mike nights.

> Many communists use the argument that capitalism approaches fascism. Again,
> these slippery slope arguments are reactionary. I agree that vast economic
> gulfs already exist. Does it follow that the solution is to eliminate
> ownership?

You seem to keep missing the point - physical and intellectual property are not
the same. One is limited, the other can be replicated at next to no cost.
Please do not confuse them again. Please see my car analogy if you need a
refresher. Duplication is not theft in any traditional sense of the word as much
as many would like to think it is. Lets get back to the real crux of this issue
- how not to destroy the economy and perpetuate technological progress in the
face of extremely cheap duplication costs.

> It appears to me that people who rail against the divide seem remarkably
> blind to a lot of the benefits unequal distribution of weath confers.

Please tell that to the other 90% of the world who feel lucky for having clean
water and a place to live. Sheesh!

> You say squash, I say foster. You say these rules are crippling our growth,
> I say that they are responsible for it. (Uh, we -are- growing, right?)

Now that we have the internet, IP laws will do more to cripple growth than help
it. And I'm referring here to growth for the entire population not just the
ones at the top. But this all begs the question that IP laws will become
increasingly difficult to enforce as the power of duplication continues to
multiply. Napster smapster. Now we have Gnutella, Freenet and Mojo Nation.
Either these advancing technologies will make IP law completely unenforceable
and irrelevant (my argument) or increasingly draconian measures will need to be
taken by the centralized governments of the world to maintain them (your


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