Re: Intellectual Property? was Bill Gates

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sun, 05 Oct 1997 12:08:05 -0500

Steve Witham wrote:
> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes
> >To some extent, Microsoft's dominance derives from their illegal and unlawful
> >theft of intellectual property. Even if intellectual property should be
> >abolished, as Lee advocates, Microsoft's competitors couldn't use Microsoft's
> >intellectual property,
> Huh? Can you explain this last part? If Int.Prop. was abolished, what
> would MS's Int.Prop. *be*, and why couldn't someone else use it??

Okay, wrong use of tenses. Let me rephrase:

To some extent, Microsoft's current dominance derives from their past illegal
and unlawful theft of intellectual property, which was is now protected by
law. Even if the concept of "intellectual property" is ethically incorrect
and there exists a moral imperative towards its abolishment, current laws
prevent Microsoft competitors from using Microsoft's intellectual property.
Microsoft therefore had an unfair and unlawful advantage, because it had
copied competitors' software while the competitors were prevented by law from
copying Microsoft's.

Fork on whether "intellectual property" is ethically incorrect. If it is,
then Microsoft correctly copied its competitors software, but did take
advantage of the U.S. government to impose coercion on those competitors so
that they (the competitors) could not copy Microsoft's software. If
copyrights and patents are ethically correct, then Microsoft comitted an
ethical violation by copying software.

End fork. Microsoft is in violation of Libertarian ethics and U.S. law,
although perhaps not for the same acts.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.