Re: Coercion = Intellectual Property Rights?

Paul Hughes (
Sat, 19 Dec 1998 17:09:34 -0800

Hal Finney wrote:

> Intellectual property can be thought of as "homesteading in thoughtspace".
> You go out and "fence in" a set of ideas, rather than a piece of land,
> and it becomes yours. The specific rules for when and how this can be
> done will be social constructs, as with other forms of property. A
> smoothly working intellectual property system will satisfy the same
> requirements of practicality and utility as other types of property
> rights.

The difference here is unlike material property with its inherent physical limits, intellectual property has no such limits - it can be reproduced an unlimited number of times at a cost rapidly approaching zero.

I guess the key operating words here are "smoothly" and "social construct" - both substantially arbitrary definitions when coercion is the means of a maintaining it. More importantly who decides what these social constructs are to be? What I see happening are those with the most money deciding for the rest of us what these social constructs are to be. Once decided, they use the strong arm of the government to enforce them strictly and with vigilance. I would call such theft of memespace by the richest an a embarrassing hypocrisy if we insist on maintaining that it is in line with the operating principles of an open society as outline by Max More in his Extro Principles 3.0. BTW, it is my understanding that had the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 been passed in the 1970's, the invention of the VCR would be considered illegal technology and never have come into the marketplace. I'd hardly call such 'Recording Industry' strong arming fair and equitable social constructs. Nobody I know was ever consulted on whether such draconian legislation should be passed. Without further elucidation, I can't see such legislation as anything but blatant state-sponsored coercion by the rich and powerful.

**To be real clear and blunt - Are we as extropians advocating a social order where all the laws are written, controlled and maintained by the rich for their own benefit? And if we are, how is this any different than what we have now? I'd hardly call this an open society, more a like an open society if your rich enough, closed to everyone else.

> But the basic idea of intellectual property, of being able to stake a
> claim in the world of ideas and defend that, is ultimately to be judged
> like other such social constructs.

To recap, I see such arbitrary "social constructs" being defined almost exclusively by the rich for the rich. Coercion by the richest. Oh, I get it! Maintaining the rich and powerful in their current position through their virtual monopoly on legislation, is in the best interest of all of us poorer more ignorant fools.

Paul Hughes