Re: Very good discussion by me of Intellectual Property Rights ;-)

Tim Bates (
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 20:43:21 +1100

Hal Finney said
>Well, as you say, the definition of "obvious" may not be clear. But
>I would not agree that everything in software or other disciplines
>is "obvious".

I disagree ;-)

>Some inventors are motivated primarily by the
>hope of patent protection. Without patents, these people might have
>gone into some other field.
OK. Let them.

>In cryptography, the researcher sometimes called the "patron saint"
>of cypherpunks, David Chaum, has a number of patents on technologies
>which can greatly enhance freedom and privacy.
Not if he owns them they can't. I may or may not be as expert as you are in crypto (probably I am not) but I cringe at the thought of people owning basic mathematical theorems such as those involved in trap-door factoring proofs and reversable computing.

>From an academic point of view (that is what i am in every sinue)
whenever someone says to me "oh I can't tell you about that" I walk out the door. I refuse to talk to people who, as far as I am concerned are barbaric theives. We are talking about ideas here. Humans who don't share ideas have lost the genes that connect us to our future.

>Big companies like IBM have expensive
>research labs that are de facto "patent factories". They crank out
>thousands of patentable inventions every year.

That is exactly what i hate. Those are thousands of algorithms you will never be able to write for yourself. It impacts directly on products that you will never see. It is exactly equivalent to patenting sentence forms in the English language and then hoping to make a living of off them for the rest of your life.

"What does your dad do?"

"Oh, nothing really, he patented putting "s" on the end of words."

"Shit. That really suck_! I wondered why no used "s" anymore!"

"Oh, no, not at all. You know: we could have run out of "s" words if old dad had not been able to secure patent protection."

Yeah, that is really libertarian, not.

Code IS a language. Algorithms are expressions of the generative grammar of their language just like snetences express the grammar of our language. There is no difference at all between patenting instructions in a computer and patenting what I am typing now.

>This intellectual property
>helps the company justify the research expense by giving them something
>they can add to the bottom line.
No question, these laws make people rich. The question is is it theft? I say unequivocally "Yes".

>Without patents, the economics of
>industrial research would be less favorable, and there would probably
>be less of it.
Yip and without massive subsidies (like courts to defend your plunder) the economics of many illegitimate activites would be less favourable. Research that needs patents can just die as far as I am concerned. If I invent prozac all on my own, I want to be able to manufacture it too.

>If society wants to define a kind
>of property that lasts only a finite amount of time, there is nothing
>inherently contradictory in that.
The question is not one of contradiction within a system, but of rectitude. Of correctness. Of justice. It is an absolute.

>There is
>nothing wrong with extending this notion to property, if the participants
>agree that they are benefitted by it.

i don't: can I please be excused? ;-)