The Libertarian Theory of Intangible Property
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Intangible Good ARE Rivalrous (nushell)
My use of my song is to mass-produce and sell copies. Your unauthorized copying interferes with my use to the precise extent that my use is reduced below 100%. That is a wholly OBJECTIVE measure of your interference of my use.
August 25, 2014, 7:58 pm
You have the right to use the song. You do NOT have a right to achieve a specific purpose by the use, i.e., to sell copies to particular people, because that would imply a property right in those people. You have a right to offer the song for sale, but the fact that someone else is offering it for sale does not violate any actual property rights you possess.
August 25, 2014, 11:40 pm
Matt, you are absolutely correct. As a songwriter, I do not have a claim on a single penny of anyone else’s money. I DO have a claim on 100% of the sales, whether that ends up being $1,000,000 or nothing.
August 25, 2014, 11:42 pm
You’ve asserted that, but you haven’t established it. If I make something of the same configuration (be it a song, book, or whatever) with my resources, then I have the right to the sales.
August 26, 2014, 6:18 pm
You don’t have a right to “sales.” What a ridiculous claim. A “sale” is a transaction between you and a person who wishes to pay you money for some action or service. You have no right to a transaction. This is the central problem with your approach, which is severely flawed–in fact which would undermine property rights. To have a right to a sale, is to have a right to a transaction–a possible future event–and presumbly to the money you “could have” or “would have” made. I.e. this is a claim to a property right in future property owned by potential customers. But you have no property right in things owned by others. This is really totally illiberal reasoning.
August 29, 2014, 4:48 am
– Of course I have a right to sales. Good grief. If you own a truck, don’t you have the right to sell it? Of course you do. You have a right to 100% of the proceeds from the sale of your truck.
August 29, 2014, 8:15 am
“Own” is begging the question. Sure, we can prove who owns a truck by regressing through property titles and transactions of that scarce resource. However, if I have a recording of a song, one that I found on the internet and downloaded, what criteria proves ownership?
It would seem to me that ownership derives from first appropriation. That you’re a musician, you necessarily use notes (especially those of diatonic music), so you’re creating a double-standard here. You want to lay claim to a certain combination of notes and back it up with the use of aggression towards others who use that same combination, yet you don’t want to be held liable to those who actually created the diatonic system of notes. This seems very hypocritical and should be your first instruction that *creation* and ability to sell (or influence) is not the criteria of ownership.
To take your stance, you most assuredly owe many royalties to the descendants of Pythagorus, or at least if we were to follow your reasoning, you should not use diatonic music at all without his descendant’s permission. Have you secured that permission?
September 1, 2014, 3:06 pm
Saying you have a right to contractually provided for proceeds from the sale of a truck does not mean you in general have a “right to sales,” any more than your right to receive money from the buyer means you have a general “right to money”.
September 1, 2014, 5:21 pm
We don’t disagree. A property owner has no claim on anyone else’s property, unless and until the terms of a valid contract provide for the transfer of title.
But a property owner most certainly does have the right to sell the property. This is absolutely fundamental to property theory. If there is no right to sell, it is not property.
Crucial here is my point, which you Intellectual Commies ignore:
Both of the above points (no claim on other’s property, right to sell) apply precisely the same to intangible goods as physical goods.
September 1, 2014, 6:39 pm
“But a property owner most certainly does have the right to sell the property. This is absolutely fundamental to property theory. If there is no right to sell, it is not property.”
This is false. This is Walter Block’s argument for voluntary slavery. I have already explained in detail why this is wrong. The right to property is the right to exclude others, to control the resource. It does not contain within it *necessarily* the right to sell. For example, in the case of one’s own body. One needs a more sophisticated theory of property rights and contracts to start making statements as you have.
“Both of the above points (no claim on other’s property, right to sell) apply precisely the same to intangible goods as physical goods.”
You are conflating the economic concept of “goods” with “property” or, more precisely, with “objects that are the subject of property rights.” So you are just engaging in question-begging, and do not even seem to realize it. Just because economists can classify something as a “good” does not mean that it can be “owned.” You don’t have a clear view of property theory of contract theory, so you don’t get this.
September 2, 2014, 12:50 am
Us Intellectual Commies? Comrade, have you defected? I thought you denied the justice of patents or ownership of language, science, math and other pure knowledge! From each according to his willingness, to each according to his curiousity!
August 25, 2014, 8:38 pm
Matt is exactly right. To say you have a right to “sell copies” is just a disguised way of saying you have a property right in others’ bodies and owned resources. It’s to claim a property right in future potential revenue–i.e. in the money owned by possible future customers. But there is no such right. IP is simply protectionism–protection from competition, and censorship.
August 25, 2014, 11:28 pm
More to the point, if someone has a “right to be paid for their creations” then it must be illegal to compete with any business, even indirectly. Because any competition diminishes the value that they can earn from it.
There is a very deep rabbit hole here, too bad few people follow it to see what it implies.
August 29, 2014, 4:50 am
No creator has a right to be paid.
Every creator has a right to sell his creation.
If he can sell it, he will be paid.
August 25, 2014, 11:47 pm
Kinsella, my selling song copies is just a form of rent-seeking. If that’s a claim against “others’ bodies and owned resources”, then so is any other product or rent or anything sold on the market.
Other than the mere fact that my songs are intangible, they are just like physical property in every way.
August 26, 2014, 7:36 am
So why is it that if you sell me a song and a cigarette, I can roll another cigarette as similar to that one as I like, but I can’t record a song like yours without your permission?
August 25, 2014, 10:16 pm
I have to agree with Alexander here. If a person goes through the time and trouble of creating something, tangible or not, it should be for them to decide what it is used for, and by whom. Insisting that once a creator releases their work to the public that creator ceases to have any rights to expect profit for their work merely discourages creativity.
The problem behind this is not one of function, but of morals. I would not think for a minute of using Matt’s or Stephen’s written work on one of my sites, other than attributed quotes, without first asking them, and subsequently thanking them, having followed their request as to how I used it, if they expressed a preference. If I wanted to use their work badly enough to pay them if that was one of the requirements, I would do so.
Claiming that a creator has absolutely no right to expect at least this much consideration is to reject the concepts of morals and manners.
August 26, 2014, 7:12 am
A creator can sell or not sell. She can do a kickstarter campaign or ask for donations, she can make it convenient to pay, do live gigs, etc. etc. What is rude is for her to demand control over my PC, over what research I can do, what I can think, say, sing, encrypt, decrypt, reverse-engineer, play, sample, mash up or record.
The creator of a pure idea has no right to control it, once she reveals it.
August 26, 2014, 8:07 pm
“I have to agree with Alexander here. If a person goes through the time and trouble of creating something, tangible or not, it should be for them to decide what it is used for, and by whom. ”
The assumption here is that there are, and should be, property rights in “things” in general–in paritcular, a some”thing” that you “create”. This is false, as I have explained in detail elsewhere. It gets tedious to repeat this refutation, and it is frustating to see people just repeat already-debunked claims over and over, trying to re-invent the wheel and pontificate without first doing the homework to justify having a public opinion.
August 26, 2014, 9:35 pm
So, Stephen, how has this claim been debunked? Your frustration tells me that you have to go through this repeatedly. Are people like me just ignorant, or is there a deficiency in your argument that you have not yet noticed, and which you may want to address?
Second, should I decide to password protect all of my articles, and release the password only to those who meet my criteria, should that not be my right?
August 26, 2014, 9:42 pm
I am frustrated; I tire of googling my old stuff for people. Do it yourself. Yes, you are just ignorant. You should be careful about making pronouncements in such areas that you are just figuring out. IMO.
you are free to add passwords to whatever you want. That has nothing whatsoever to do with copyright.
August 26, 2014, 10:08 pm
Have you carefully read all of my comments before you proclaimed me to be the source of your frustration?
“I have to agree with Alexander here. If a person goes through the time and trouble of creating something, tangible or not, it should be for them to decide what it is used for, and by whom. ”
You seem to ardently disagree with this statement, then make the following statement of your own: “you are free to add passwords to whatever you want. That has nothing whatsoever to do with copyright.”
I’ll say again, I am defending the right of the creator to decide what their creation is used for, not the copyright system itself.
On the surface, your statements appear to contradict one another, but I would like to think that this is just because you misunderstood the meaning of my argument.
August 26, 2014, 10:25 pm
“Have you carefully read all of my comments before you proclaimed me to be the source of your frustration?”
This is not what I claimed; this is a typical mischaracterization. It seems to happen all the time with you newbs. And that, also, is frustrating. Instead of nitpicking me to death why don’t you step back and honestly consider what you have done here.
“then make the following statement of your own: “you are free to add passwords to whatever you want. That has nothing whatsoever to do with copyright.”
I’ll say again, I am defending the right of the creator to decide what their creation is used for, not the copyright system itself.”
This is a vague and ambiguous statement. It could be used in support of IP or just normal property rights and contract. That is exactly the problem: is is used like this to equivocate.
“On the surface, your statements appear to contradict one another, but I would like to think that this is just because you misunderstood the meaning of my argument.”
I am not the one in favor of IP which contradicts the property rights I also pretend to favor, while talking about Ip without even understanding what IP law even is. It is mind-boggling to me: I encounter people like you all the time who have strong opinions on something they know almost nothing about. One of the perils of the Internet age.
August 26, 2014, 10:37 pm
Passwords obviously are allowed (though it may not be a practical idea to punish our customers). The only question is, if someone cracks your password system, or buys a copy and leaks the cleartext (intentionally or otherwise), what are you entitled to then?
August 26, 2014, 10:40 pm
I suppose you could ask the same question of the chance of someone cracking your safe and taking your cash.
August 27, 2014, 1:11 am
Cracking passwords and safes would be very analogous, if the owner of the safe put their safe out in public.
August 25, 2014, 11:42 pm
Foo, competition makes for higher quality. Profiting by someone else’s labor while diminishing their profit potential is something else.
Most IP debates seem avoid the fact that most people will not create without some benefit, and miss the point that if the artist starves, creation ends.
August 25, 2014, 11:46 pm
All my published works are released with a CC0 or CC-BY-SA license. I’ve still managed to make a decent amount of money with them.
Your argument has two premises; that most people will not create without some [monetary] benefit, and that without copyright individuals cannot receive a monetary benefit from the things they create. Both of these are demonstrably false.
August 26, 2014, 12:00 am
Sorry, communism has a predictable result: starvation. If you take away the property right in farmland, farmers don’t grow crops. The notion that entrepreneurs will undertake all of the risk and expense to mass-produce any kind of product without a property right in the produce is just . . . well, wrong.
If Kinsella’s (necessarily bloody) revolution ever succeed, the entertainment industry would be reduced to amateurs and charity. Of course, Kinsella could never prevent all contracts for IP, and most likely there would evolve a vibrant “black market” as free people navigated around Kinsella’s totalitarian dictates.
August 26, 2014, 8:09 pm
Baker fails to marshal an argument, notice. He just says “if A is right, X would be reduced to charity.” What kind of argument is that? Is the libertarian theory of rights based on arguments about what should not be charity?
August 26, 2014, 9:38 pm
Alexander seems to be talking about incentive. This appears to be a clear and simple argument: Reduce the incentive to produce and you reduce the production.
August 26, 2014, 11:05 pm
So what is the argument, Vroman? Property rights should be determined by economic analysis of incentives? Is that what you are saying?
August 26, 2014, 11:16 pm
No, Stephen, I said that reducing the incentive to produce reduces production. Whatever that incentive is, whether money, satisfaction, status, or anything else, when it either increases or decreases, production will follow.
August 26, 2014, 11:21 pm
My name is Stephan. Not Stephen, not Steven, not Steve.
“I said that reducing the incentive to produce reduces production.”
Who cares? What has this to do with what rights there are? Can you not answer a direct, simple question? Res ipsa loquitur.
“Whatever that incentive is, whether money, satisfaction, status, or anything else, when it either increases or decreases, production will follow.”
So the hell what? and…….? connect it up, counselor.
August 27, 2014, 12:00 am
Sorry for the misspelling, Stephan, it was not intentional. Since I was not working today, I left my glasses in the other room, and these days it is difficult to distinguish between some letters at this distance.
My point on incentive is that for some people the potential to profit is a large part of their incentive to create, probably for some their only incentive.
I am sure we agree that the copyright laws are not the answer, but the fact remains that these people want some protection. I believe that they are entitled to that, in whatever form it takes, so they can see their desired incentive realized.
As bad as government interference is, these laws will not soon be repealed unless and until there is an alternative that is effective enough to keep these people from lobbying for more laws.
Dave has expressed his opinion that technology is not yet available, and I don’t see the widespread acceptance of private contracts yet, either. Both of these are likely in the near future, though.
Until there is something to replace the current copyright laws, there will be people who want them to remain in effect. I do not have anything personally invested into the argument, other than the fact that I do not wish to see people who wish to be protected left completely without protection in the meantime.
August 27, 2014, 1:06 am
“Sorry for the misspelling, Stephan, it was not intentional. Since I was not working today, I left my glasses in the other room, and these days it is difficult to distinguish between some letters at this distance.”
Fine. It’s just a personal thing. People never misspell Stephanie. So it boggles my mind that they do it with Stephan.
“My point on incentive is that for some people the potential to profit is a large part of their incentive to create, probably for some their only incentive.”
But that’s not really a point. It’s not a coherent argument. It’s jsut a scattered observation. You have to connect it up to some conclusion if you want to make some normative proposition.
“I am sure we agree that the copyright laws are not the answer”
honeslty, I never talk or think this way. I would never say this. I would never talk about what is or is not “the answer” without first identifying “the quesiton.” In fact, I dont think I would have ever become a libertarian without such a mindset. I cannot see how you or others do, without this mindset, to be honest.
“, but the fact remains that these people want some protection. I believe that they are entitled to that, in whatever form it takes, so they can see their desired incentive realized.”
But you see you have simply asserted what you “believe” with no argument whatsosever.
“As bad as government interference is, these laws will not soon be repealed unless and until there is an alternative that is effective enough to keep these people from lobbying for more laws.”
This obvious observation is also not an argument in favor of these laws’ validity. So why do you say such obvious things? Mihgt as well say “drug laws are bad but if you violate them you might go to jail.” This statement is both obvious, and irrelevant.
“Until there is something to replace the current copyright laws, there will be people who want them to remain in effect.”
This also is not an argument in favor of copyright. It’s like saying that until we have a replacement for prostitution or drug laws, they will remain illegal. okay… so??
” I do not have anything personally invested into the argument, other than the fact that I do not wish to see people who wish to be protected left completely without protection in the meantime.”
What you want is frankly irrelevant. This is not a coherent argument for a given libertarian policy.
August 27, 2014, 1:19 am
I’m off of the computer, but I’ll give it one more try tonight.
I’m not for copyright law as such, but I’m against insisting that people do without protection if that is what they want.
What people want is immensely important, maybe not in the laboratory but in real life. They will strive to gain what they want no matter what we think is right.
Maybe this can be continued sometime tomorrow?
August 27, 2014, 1:34 am
“I’m not for copyright law as such, but I’m against insisting that people do without protection if that is what they want.”
So who knows what you are “for”. Apparently even you do not. You want to oppose people who want to abolish copyright, but you do not want to be in favor of copyright. I have seen this dissonant crap hundreds of times. Make up your mind and take a stand, or if you are not sure, ask questions and stop asserting things.
“What people want is immensely important, maybe not in the laboratory but in real life. They will strive to gain what they want no matter what we think is right.”
Another totally useless, bullshit truism. I mean this says nothing useful or valuable or meaningful at all.
August 27, 2014, 1:45 pm
Good morning, Stephan.
One last try here, then I’m going to give up.
Please take this as a whole statement.
“People want the protections offered by the copyright laws. The copyright laws should be abolished. The people who want them will not allow them to be abolished. Promote a better option which allows these people what they want, then let this option take over and make the copyright laws less desirable, after which it will be much easier to do away with them. Eliminate the bad by promoting a better good. Competition.”
We can theorize all we want on the definition of property, but the person making the claim will prevail unless they are forced to withdraw their claim, or convinced that their claim has no merit.
We can claim that what people want does not matter until the end of time, but to them, what they want is far more important than what we think, and they will try to get what they want. Without taking this into account, the theory is worthless.
August 27, 2014, 10:16 pm
“last try” at what, Vroman? I don’t see a coherent question.
September 2, 2014, 12:54 am
Yes, such a shame no one has an incentive to update English with words describing new phenomena. My babushka was standing in the word line for hours last week, and they ran out just as she got to the front of the line. So frustrating.
August 26, 2014, 6:58 am
“most people will not create without some benefit”
Actually, most people do. Or do you include satisfaction as sufficient benefit? Did someone pay you for making your response, or did you do it without benefit?
” if the artist starves, creation ends.”
There are alternative business models, no one needs to starve. According to Engstrom and Falkvinge, artists’ income has risen as music has been disintermediated. It’s the middlemen who need to panic.
August 26, 2014, 1:29 pm
“Did someone pay you for making your response, or did you do it without benefit?”
Thanks, Dave! I’m glad you think my comments are works of art!
August 26, 2014, 8:26 pm
Of course writers are creators. Your argument applies to the words you are contributing to this discussion freely. So why are you paying for the priviledge of schooling me?
August 26, 2014, 9:39 pm
I suspect much the same as the reason you are paying.
August 25, 2014, 11:47 pm
Alexander, what are your thoughts on the difference between an original copy and a cover?
August 26, 2014, 12:27 am
As a songwriter, I LOVE it when artists cover my song. The more versions, the BETTER.
August 26, 2014, 12:42 am
Thanks. I’ve always been curious about how some original artists feel about covers.
August 26, 2014, 12:00 am
Matt, you have interpreted my premises incorrectly.
Many people will not create as much or at the same level without financial gain simply because their efforts will be tied up trying to survive with a second trade, allowing them less time and energy to create. Some will choose to release their work only to close friends. A few will simply not create. At any rate, monetary gain stimulates creativity, if only by facilitating more available time and energy.
Copyright is simply a stopgap that was applied by governments at people’s request because too many people are ill-mannered enough to enjoy art while the artist starves, and won’t voluntarily contribute to offset the artist’s time and effort. Until this changes, artist’s and other creators will continue to ask for copyright protection. Not all, but more than enough.
August 26, 2014, 12:31 am
Your explanation above has a name, and it’s called “the incentive problem”. It is the second-worst problem with communism (absolute worst being the calculation problem).
Your desire for people to “change” and “voluntarily contribute to offset the artist’s time and effort” also has a name. It’s called “New Socialist Man”.
August 26, 2014, 12:44 am
Exactly, Alexander. That is the point I was working toward. It sounds good, but without generations of change it will only happen by force, and that would be a big step backwards.
August 26, 2014, 7:45 am
Are you supporting the full monopoly, with DMCA provisions against crypto research, lawsuits, and Internet censorship, or might you settle for the moderate reform agenda of the Swedish Pirate Party, with broad scope for fair use? I’ve seen Alexander claim that we should still be paying Bach’s heirs for performing the toccata and fugue in D minor. Seems to me if you’re going to go that far, we should be paying the heirs of Newton and Leibniz for using calculus.
August 26, 2014, 1:34 pm
Once the original creator is gone, that’s it. In my opinion, that creator should have a significant say in how their work is utilized, but that is not to say that the right to control it should be transferable to a third party.
I also distinguish between works of art (creations) and scientific discoveries (did Newton create gravity, or just help to explain how it affects objects?).
August 26, 2014, 7:56 pm
“Once the original creator is gone, that’s it. [Not] transferable to a third party.”
Isn’t that a bit arbitrary? The creator can’t sell this property, or leave it to heirs? Hmmm, maybe it’s not property at all?
” distinguish between works of art (creations) and scientific discoveries”
” (did Newton create gravity[...]?)”
No, he created calculus.
August 26, 2014, 9:45 pm
For your second question, I see a clear difference between discovery and creation.
For the first, how can the creator be expected to manage his creations after his death? I have no rational case for this, but I personally believe that after the death of a person, although their physical property will be possessed by another, their non-physical creations should become public domain.
August 26, 2014, 10:30 pm
“I see a clear difference between discovery and creation.”
So the efforts of creators must be rewarded, but discoverers need no incentive? Creation more important than discovery? Less valuable? Calculus was like a remote island, just sitting there waiting to be discovered, but Gilligan’s Island had to be created with serious mental effort and economic incentives?
“how can the creator be expected to manage his creations after his death?”
I’m not clear what you mean by managing the creations, alive or dead.
August 26, 2014, 8:15 am
This story has a nice ring to it, but lacks historical accuracy.
August 26, 2014, 10:31 pm
I was referring to Mike’s “won’t voluntarily contribute” story.
Double Crossed Radio X X
August 26, 2014, 12:33 am
I have heard (not done any research on my own) that the peer to peer sharing has increased sales in the music industry, even with free copies available. Is there an opportunity cost involved in reducing the free exposure (voluntary advertising of your works) to new listeners through this kind of gray market sharing? Or, is it just reducing the ultimate potential that you hope to realize? I have purchased over $10,000 worth of music in my life. The stuff I really like makes me want to hear more of that artist and I usually buy as much as is available over time. Someone I have never heard of probably isn’t going to get me to take a chance on them. Being able to download a few of their songs helps me to decide if I want to buy more or not. I have no problem supporting artists whose works I enjoy. It is in my best interest to do so, if I want more. I know not everybody thinks this way, but I think the YouTube stuff and torrents have helped the music industry, especially those artists not signed to any recording deals.
I would be interested in what you thought about this.
August 26, 2014, 1:40 am
Giving away free samples to gather customer attention is a long-standing marketing strategy, in music and many other industries. Obviously, the idea is to give away only a small part of the total inventory, in the hopes that customers will be enticed to buy.
Changing the law so that the producer is forced to give away his ENTIRE INVENTORY for free is a different matter altogether. It obviously fails as a business model, because nobody is going to bother to create any inventory of something over which they have no property right.
August 26, 2014, 10:11 pm
“Changing the law so that the producer is forced to give away his ENTIRE INVENTORY for free is a different matter altogether.”
Considering this has not been the case in any situation in which there is no IP protection under the law, you’re attacking a strawman.
August 29, 2014, 1:38 am
Um . . . what? You’re using a triple-negative, and I’m not aware of any relevant time period during which there was no copyright. WTF are you talking about?
September 2, 2014, 12:56 am
Music, poetry, and theater existed and thrived before copyright was invented. I think that’s what he meant.
September 2, 2014, 2:08 am
Oh, OK. People built roads and houses before there were property registries, deeds, titles, etc.
September 2, 2014, 2:38 am
Yes, obviously, property existed before title registries. Did copyright exist before copyright enforcement? Did Nero have the praetorians enforce his rights to his musical compositions? No. If they even thought of it, they put it down as impractical.
August 26, 2014, 8:10 am
Engstrom and Falkvinge give a history of copyright in their book The Case for Copyright Reform. They released it Creative Commons, so you can download it free and legal at
. It turns out that copyright has always been a tool of censorship used to control artists.
Double Crossed Radio X X
August 26, 2014, 2:31 pm
August 26, 2014, 8:28 pm
The book also discusses revenue trends in the music industry lately, showing that profits from sales od CDs is down, but other sources of revenue have made up for the differentce (for artists).
August 26, 2014, 1:31 am
Isn’t it plainly obvious that the musical writer / artist has been rendered into a charity case? This occurs because the writer / artist has been stripped of the property right necessary to even attempt to start a business.
August 26, 2014, 4:44 am
I suspect it’s because the barriers to entry are low. The starving writer/artist is a rather old and universal archetype. You seem to be saying that this is something new. (!?!)
Btw, your conflating anti-IP with communism is just off the wall.
August 26, 2014, 7:28 am
Why? Communism for ideas, thoughts, language, anything that we can share without reducing our share. Property for other stuff. What’s wrong with that?
Well, I guess it doesn’t satisfy “to each according to need, from each according to ability,” it’s more like from each that is willing, and to anyone who wants some.
August 26, 2014, 1:38 pm
This sounds good on the surface, Dave, but how does the addition of incentive to create, as Alexander mentioned earlier, change this equation?
Double Crossed Radio X X
August 26, 2014, 2:30 pm
The incentive becomes being the creator. It is important to be known as the person who composed this song, and that song. Eventually you have a reputation that generates sales on each new release. There are many ways to market this. With present technology an artist could seek subscribers (patrons) who would have exclusive access to new material. Unauthorized use of this new material could be made to be a violation of membership, and the artist could sue the offender for violation of contract.
However, giving this responsibility to a third party (government) who taxes the general public to enforce the monopoly over content seems more than a bit draconian. This is not free market. It isn’t even close.
The Grateful Dead found a way to become the most successful performance band of all time without using the force of government to line their coffers.
August 26, 2014, 2:40 pm
Double Crossed, you mention something I have asked about before as a solution: Subscription. As I mentioned earlier, the government solution is a stopgap solution. The time is here, or fast approaching, where it finally can be replaced with technology, but until it is, the artist who wants protection should still have it. Forcing this person to give up their desired protection would be as bad as forcing the person who did not want protection to take it.
Double Crossed Radio X X
August 26, 2014, 3:09 pm
Mike Vroman, I am sympathetic to the artist, but Forcing people who don’t even like the creation of the artist to pay for the enforcement of his “intellectual property right” should also be considered in this discussion. The artist has the same problem the tool manufacturer has when the product they sell is loan/shared with others thus lowering the potential sales. If someone purchases the product, they now own it. Copying and reselling is wrong, and I support this form of copyright protection, but sharing is totally a different case. I share books with friends all the time. Does this impact sales? Probably, but it also promotes the author to people who may not be aware of him. Hard to determine what if any value this brings to the author, but still if I buy a book am I the only person allowed to read it? If that was a condition of sale, I would buy far fewer books…maybe none at all. I have purchased and read 10 books written by Thomas Sowell, all after someone loaned me their copy of “Vision of the Anointed”.
You speak of technology providing a way to monitor the use of intellectual property. This seems to me to be very scary. If we become spied upon at every turn to make sure some artist’s work isn’t being used outside those uses approved at the point of sale, I think I will not buy music any longer. You see when I buy something I consider it mine. As it is now my property, I should be able to use it as I wish. I could copy to my computer and sell the original, make several copies to make sure if one gets stolen or damaged I will still own the music, share a copy with a friend, or whatever as long as I don’t try to resell the copies or charge people money to listen without paying the artist his share of the proceeds.
August 26, 2014, 3:26 pm
I am not suggesting that technology be used to monitor who uses a creation, but who is able to access it. I’m afraid you thought that I meant “monitor who uses it and punish the wrongdoers.” Not at all. What I suggest is a subscription type of technology, where if the creator desires a “paywall,” they can have the capability to allow only subscribers or purchasers to access their song, book, or whatever. An encrypted key, perhaps. Even WordPress allows a rudimentary form of this, allowing a person to publish “public,” “password protected,” or “private.” Eliminating all copyright protections permanently would be akin to forcing every WordPress user to publish publicly, whether they want to or not.
August 26, 2014, 8:12 pm
Bach did not use copyright. Where did his motivation come from? Creativity of all kinds is part of humanity, since long before copyright existed.
Motivation and incentives are more complicated than you think. It’s not that people aren’t motivated to do things that aren’t profitable, it’s that profitable activity is more sustainable and (roughly speaking) more likely to be socially beneficial.
Copyright was created by the state to censor and control information. From Engstrom and Falkvinge:
“Seeing how France had failed miserably in banning the
printing press, even under threat of hanging, [Bloody Mary] realized another solution was needed. One that involved the printing industry in a way that would benefit them as well.
She devised a monopoly where the London printing guild would
get a complete monopoly on all printing in England, in exchange
for her censors determining what was fit to print beforehand. It
was a very lucrative monopoly for the guild, who would be working hard to maintain the monopoly and the favor of the Queen’s censors. This merger of corporate and governmental powers turned out to be effective in suppressing free speech and political-religious dissent.
The monopoly was awarded to the London Company of Stationers on May 4, 1557. It was called copyright. “
September 2, 2014, 1:00 am
He doesn’t seem worried about incentives in science, industrial design and invention, language or mathematics, where copyright does not apply. Patent covers invention, but Alexander has joined the side of the angels on that issue.
August 29, 2014, 1:41 am
Communism is the abolition of property rights, especially in producer goods. Kinsella + minions favor the abolition of property rights in producer goods such as songs, movies, books, games, and software. Communism is precisely the correct term.
Your assertion that I am “off the wall”, and “conflating” things, is based on . . . what exactly Cathy?
Double Crossed Radio X X
August 26, 2014, 2:17 pm
So you say you favor the use of force and coercion by a third party who is supported by funding also taken by force from others to enforce the monopoly of your creation. Sounds kind of like Communism to me, or maybe Fascism.
Chopin was perhaps the world’s greatest pianist ever. He wrote compositions so difficult to play that his work could not be copied. If you wanted to hear what he wrote, you had to pay for the privilege.
If you are good enough, you can make a good living preforming live. If you are just better than most, you may find yourself the starving artist. What is common and easily available does not command a premium price. Only with the force of government can you make your product artificially scarce and thus increase its subjective value to others. Yes it is your property, but when you chose to make it public by selling it, you lose the control over how it can be used. I do agree that you have a possible claim against those reselling your product, if you make the prohibition of such a condition of the purchase, but sharing seems to me to on the same level as loaning a tool to a neighbor so he won’t have to go purchase one himself.
How is it possible to own an idea? Are you saying that no one else has the right to ever find the same melody in their mind that you have found in your mind? Isn’t this thought control? Would you have this extended to the written word? I don’t think you would enjoy living in that world.
August 26, 2014, 2:43 pm
If a person is creative enough to successfully “rent-seek” by selling their unique creation, isn’t it also “thought control” to force them to release it to the public without their desired exchange?
August 26, 2014, 8:22 pm
If they want to keep it secret, fine. If they broadcast it on the radio, why should they be able to punish me for recording it?
August 26, 2014, 8:58 pm
Quiet right. As Benjamin TUcker observed over a century ago: “If a man scatters money in the street, he does not thereby formally relinquish title to it … but those who pick it up are thereafter considered the rightful owners…. Similarly a man who reproduces his writings by thousands and spreads them everywhere voluntarily abandons his right of privacy and those who read them … no more put themselves by the act under any obligation in regard to the author than those who pick up scattered money put themselves under obligations to the scatterer.”
August 26, 2014, 9:54 pm
You just touched on a point where I think I may have been misread. “If they want,,,”
This is the crux of my position. I am not defending the copyright system as it currently exists, I am defending the right of the artist to have their creation used how and by whom they desire.
The current copyright system has more problems than we can recount here, but for a time it did serve a purpose that nothing else could.
Technology can now determine who can see a creation, and whether or not they have to pay.
For example, the local newspaper allows ten free article views per month, after which you have to pay a subscription to read these articles on their website. Is anyone here saying that they should not be able to require this payment?
August 26, 2014, 9:58 pm
No Mike, no one (even the most rabid anti-IP people) are saying they shouldn’t be able to have a mechanical paywall. That has nothing whatsoever to do with copyright.
August 26, 2014, 10:15 pm
That’s where I am coming from, Matt. I admit that the copyright system served a purpose in its time, but I also recognize its obsolescence.
It is time for a discussion on how those who do the creating can protect their creations to the extent that they wish, whether they choose no protection or so much that they are the only ones who see it. That should be their choice, and to some extent also becomes a privacy concern.
August 26, 2014, 10:22 pm
Where I think we may differ is in what we’re perceiving when you say “that should be their choice.”
If by that, you mean that they have the option of paywalling, using a subscribership model, or releasing it freely, we don’t disagree. If you mean that they have the right to use the law to control it once it has been put into the public, then we do disagree.
Stephan and I (and I hope I am alright speaking for him here; I think we have identical positions) have no problem with someone putting up a paywall and telling people they have to subscribe to see content. We would even be happy (ish) if that person sued someone who broke a contract with them by putting the content out without their consent. What we would not be okay with is that person then being able to sue third parties who then copied it further, as they are not in privity of contract. Paywalls are, in fact, a free market solution to the incentive problem.
August 26, 2014, 10:48 pm
Matt. I think we’re in close agreement, except for possibly one point. I believe that for a time the copyright laws were the best form of protection available, if for no other reason than no other popular method was devised. I also don’t believe that their time is quite up yet, not until there are suitable and widely available means of protection to satisfy those who want to have them. We are almost there, but not quite. In the meantime, it would be wrong to remove the desired protections from those who want them without having a ready replacement. Technology and private contracts will accomplish this, but they have to be widely accepted first.
August 26, 2014, 10:51 pm
Mike wrote: “Technology can now determine who can see a creation, and whether or not they have to pay.”
He is being a bit over-optimistic. Existing DRM schemes are a big hassle and quickly get cracked, even though DMCA makes research in this area illegal.
Copying stuff used to be difficult. People created business models based on that fact. It no longer holds, and less so each day. Soon you will even be able to copy physical goods. 3D printers have been used experimentally to make material for surgical transplantation. Propping up those old business models makes no sense, especially when the only reason to do so is a thought-experiment that was debunked by experience before copyright existed.
August 26, 2014, 10:52 pm
” I admit that the copyright system served a purpose in its time, but I also recognize its obsolescence.”
Antoher stupid comment. I mean the gas chambers and concentration camps “served a purpose” in their “time”. so the hell what? Copyright NEVER served a VALID purpose. Unprincipled thinking is your problem, son.
August 26, 2014, 7:21 am
Welcome back, Alexander. By this definition, are there any goods that are not rivalrous?
Matthew M Edmiston
August 27, 2014, 12:41 am
You have an idea, you express the idea, someone interprets the expression, and from that interpretation has an idea of their own.
If you don’t want someone to misinterpret what you express, then you have to take responsibility and action to ensure proper understanding, otherwise someone could have the wrong idea.
If you don’t want someone to abuse what you express, then you have to take responsibility and action to ensure its proper use, otherwise someone could abuse your idea. You can do this by;
1. Not sharing the idea with people who could abuse the idea.
2. Only share the idea under conditions where it is difficult or impossible to abuse.
As far as number 2 is concerned, stealing money from all potential abusers and using it to hire a violent goon squad is not acceptable. It places the burden of protecting the idea on everyone except for the person who decided to share it. Art, Science, and literature are things that are supposed to enrich society not deplete it.
Matthew M Edmiston
August 27, 2014, 12:47 am
I’ve seen paywall and subscription suggested, that’s a good example of finding your own protections without using the state against people.
August 27, 2014, 1:50 pm
Thank you, Matthew. In this area, as well as all others, as more people find that they can help themselves more effectively and more economically than the government, the less the government will be demanded.
August 27, 2014, 1:41 pm
“My use of my song is to mass-produce and sell copies. Your unauthorized copying interferes with my use to the precise extent that my use is reduced below 100%. That is a wholly OBJECTIVE measure of your interference of my use.”
If I copy your song, you are still completely free to “mass-produce and sell copies.” Your ability to use your song is not affected in any way, shape, or form.
August 29, 2014, 1:57 am
Please see my new article “Songs Are Like Factories (a deeper look)”.
I use your “factory can’t be in two states at the same time”. It’s perfect, thank you.
Here’s a little hint for you: Notice your language “way, shape or form”. Notice how, by use of your words, you imply that interference must be physical.
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