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Debate: Should intellectual property be abolished?

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#1
The recent attention to SOPA/PIPA and the FBI raid that shut down megaupload.com probably make this the best time to try and get people to actually think about this question. I think normally something like copyright law doesn't attract enough interest or attention to make people question the status quo with regards to it. I take the position that it should be abolished in it's entirety, and am so confident that I can back up this position on ethical grounds that I wish to open a formal debate on the subject. So without further ado...

Should copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets and the other similar forms of intellectual property be abolished? I'll go ahead and make a preliminary case for 'yes':



IP laws restrict a person's right to reproduce, alter and distribute things by limiting that ability to the rights holder. It does this by restricting the rights of everyone else: if you haven't been granted the ability to reproduce or alter the work by the rights holder then you cannot. As such copyright isn't really granting any specific rights to the creator, it's simply restricting the rights of others under the guise of protecting the creator. In society we usually only restrict natural rights and behaviors only when they're directly harmful to others (e.g. it's natural to rape, kill and steal, but we restrict the right to do so since it harms others needlessly). Yet the creator of something is no more harmed by it's being reproduced by others than anyone else is by regular economic competition.

In the end, IP laws come down to a few assertions:
a) Creating something should give you exclusive rights to it's reproduction and alteration.
b) Information should be able to be owned and the redistribution of it controlled.
c) Overall IP laws encourage invention and creation and are good for society.

To shoot these down one by one:


Creating something should give you exclusive rights to it's reproduction and alteration.

This is really just an assumption people take for granted. Why, and where do you draw the line? Jules Verne is widely regarded as the originator of the science fiction genre: should he have been able to limit other people's ability to copy his type of story just because he was the first one to create it? If one cannot copyright a new genre simply because they created it, why should one be able to restrict use of character names or settings then?

In reality there's no basis for saying that it's unfair of people to reproduce what someone else has done. When you create something, unless someone else has also made it independently, you have exclusive control over it for the time being. You can sell the idea to someone else, or not tell anyone about it, or give it away for free, but once the basic idea is out there it's out of your hands.

Just as people have natural desires to create they also have tendencies to reproduce and redesign, and this seems on par with the original creation. Especially the alteration part; saying that an idea can't be modified by others because you created it first is arbitrarily restricting the creative abilities of others at the expense of the everyone else, solely for the potential monetary benefit of the creator.


Information should be able to be owned and the redistribution of it controlled.

This idea seems particularly dangerous, although it also seems to be the basis for all IP laws. Fundamental to the idea of copying is having the information necessary to copy something. With patents and trade secrets this might be an algorithm to do something or design plans to make something, or with copyright and trademarks the information describing a song or movie or something - in the end these things can all be converted to a format of pure information. The law seems rather vague on whether it's the information itself which is owned or the ability to use the information; knowing how to build a proprietary machine isn't an arrestable offense, but actually building one is, while copying the binary string needed to play a song is illegal even if you never actually play it.

This just seems like a horrible precedent to set. In a free and open world information itself shouldn't be able to be owned by anyone, it should be free to be shared, viewed and altered by all. (Perhaps this gets more complicated with stuff like chemical weapons and such, but there are certainly other solutions for that and IP law isn't meant to protect against such things anyways.) When such a wide variety of things can be converted to the same information storage formats (e.g. binary files on a computer) it makes the idea of specifying what information can and can't be copied even harder under an IP system. Suppose I don't know what file type that thing is? Should I not copy it just in case? What if it turns out it was an encoding of a copyrighted film? Have I broken the law now? What if I just wanted it to analyze the encoding for a research project or something?

The truth is that there is enough information out there today that this is a real issue, and short of a global apocalypse it only gets worse from here. Does anyone have time to check against some copyright/patent database every time they want to view or reuse something else? What if they don't know what it is or where it came from?

Aside from all that the entire idea that information even can be owned at all is dangerous. The idea that strings of bits can be owned or have their reproduction restricted opens the door for all kinds of censorship. Suppose a later government gets rid of IP law but uses the precedent to declare ownership of some other type of information, maybe anything involving them? Is it really any more absurd to say that someone has a right to own information "about them" as they do to own information "first used by them"?

In the end people talk about "digital rights", and people try to blow that off as people wanting the right to watch movies for free or something, when it's really more about the fundamental right to view, modify and copy information without restriction. That right seems more basic and fundamental than the silly idea that someone owns something just because they first used it (which is more like squatting), and other well-recognized rights like freedom of speech and freedom of expression are encompassed within it.


IP laws encourage invention and creation and are good for society.

It seems that the leading reason for supporting IP laws is that it incentivizes invention and creation by allowing the creator to sell his works without competitors distributing them also. After all, why put the money into making a $200 million movie when someone else can just copy it and redistribute it for free?

First off, that's highly debatable and probably not even true, but more importantly the harm that IP laws do grossly outweighs even the supposed benefits. IP laws do in fact totally hinder information sharing, public discussion and the advancement of science and technology. You can see this with stuff like the takedown of Napster, Megaupload.com, restrictions on what you can send via email, facebook, what you can put on youtube, etc. Hotmail and facebook actually monitor email for links to sites considered infringing and remove it automatically, regardless of false positives, without notifying either the sender or receiver. (This has happened to me personally, btw.) People use file sharing services for lots of stuff besides just piracy, like legitimate business materials or non-copyrighted stuff. Under SOPA and PIPA most online privacy and encryption services like proxies and VPNs (which are used by legitimate businesses also because of industrial espionage, client privacy, financial info, etc.) would likely be illegal as well.

Now I have no idea just what percentage of these things are used to facilitate copyright violations versus other reasons. Even in the cases where it's high, stuff like basic file sharing and encryption services are important enough that I don't see how it's worth getting rid of it all in the name of intellectual property. And fundamentally you can't have both: either people are able to anonymously copy files over the internet or they're not - expecting larger authorities to be able to pick and choose which files can be anonymously copied and which ones can't is unrealistic. Is the fact that this could be abused to violate copyright laws more important to the world than being able to anonymously share and copy information? Do people not care how much that will hold back science, technology, business, art, and pretty much all of human civilization?

Then we have the blatant abuses of IP itself. The fact that companies own IP they had no part in making, that they buy tens of thousands of patents to prevent others from using them, that they want to patent things like genetic sequences or genetically modified organisms, or that they use threats of copyright violations to take small competitors to court or get them shut down. Or the copyright/patent trolls (link) who buy them and sit on them waiting for some other company to make a lot of money off them, then sue them for it, or use legal threats to extort money (link) from people. Keep in mind people actually go to jail and have their lives ruined because of this kind of stuff, and those people often have done nothing wrong.

Overall this seems to do more to hinder creation and invention than it does to promote it. By creating an environment where ideas and information are proprietary and not free to use it keeps others from experimenting with new ideas and drives up the cost of things that should be easy to reproduce. Furthermore it seems completely unnecessary, since after all while some people produce things for money, others produce things simply because they want to, as has been extensively demonstrated by the open source communities and pretty much any indie film/music/game/art thing anywhere. IP is in fact a system that concentrates wealth in the hands of fewer entities: the big studios, the famous celebrities, etc., and also gives them more influence and control over their respective mediums. Is a world where you really need approval from a major publisher to have your works widely distributed helping these forms overall? Probably not.

So really, while there would likely be some restructuring in certain industries if IP was dropped completely tomorrow, and some people might go out of business, the majority of the world would seem to benefit greatly from it. Maybe certain things wouldn't be as profitable anymore; perhaps a few hundred millions of dollars would be way too much to invest in most movies. How much are we really getting from such expensive Transformers movies anyways, though? The most likely outcome would seem to be less competition and more freedom for small-time developers (of whatever).

Aside from that, it's been ridiculously easy to "pirate" things for a while now, and the world hasn't collapsed. People still create things, people still pay for things, people can still make money making things - but now people also have more access to information and ideas than they did before, because they can get whatever whenever. The content industries still suck money out of them, just perhaps not as much per the same amount of content.


Conclusion:
The real issue here is that IP laws extensively restrict people's fundamental right to share and copy information so that a very few people can charge more for their products than modern distribution systems would dictate they should be able to. It's safer to cling to out-dated business models rather than take risk by expanding into new technologies. In this case that means effectively outlawing the use of technologies which threaten your business model, regardless of the widespread damage it does to everyone else.
 

Zensunni

Raro recte, numquam incerte
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#2
If I made it and it is mine and I want to sell it why do you have a 'fundamental right to share and copy' what is mine?
 

ProxyAmenRa

Here to bring back the love!
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#3
If I made it and it is mine and I want to sell it why do you have a 'fundamental right to share and copy' what is mine?
It does not remove your possession of what you made so it is not stealing. If it is not stealing, it is not an infringement of any fundamental rights.

---

[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWShFz4d2RY&feature=plcp&context=C3266acaUDOEgsToPDskJwIjcbn8yN7cgJ3pPUF97X"]How Intellectual Property Hampers Capitalism | Stephan Kinsella - YouTube[/nomedia]
 
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#4
If I made it and it is mine and I want to sell it why do you have a 'fundamental right to share and copy' what is mine?
You made one, then someone else could have made another one, but now they can't (legally) because you made the first one. They could have reinvented it themselves, or maybe they copied how you did it exactly, but either way since you made the first one they no longer have the right to create them themselves.

It's easier to see how this works with simpler IP. If you trademark a name, then I'm not allowed to use it (I don't know the details) for myself. Maybe I wanted to use that name for my own thing, but I can't because you got to it first. You basically took ownership of a pre-existing information sequence that I'm now no longer free to use. The thing is all this stuff is just pre-existing information sequences - the encoding of a 3 hour movie just has much higher entropy than a 10 letter name (although the storyboards and plots and characters that would be covered by sequel rights and such would have much less).

Plus it's not even an exclusive right to distribute what you've created, it's an exclusive right to adapt it to new things. It prevents other people from making it better, or reusing it in new derivative works. It's the artistic equivalent of telling people they can't build cooler looking cars or better airplanes because you used them first.

How exactly does having made it mean that no one else should be able to recreate it without your permission? Regardless of whether it's as simple as the name Coca-Cola or as complex as the 15+ million lines of code that make up Wolfram|Alpha...

EDIT: What I mean is, you created one instance of something, but being the first do that shouldn't give you rights to the concept or idea or ability to make more over everyone else.
 
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#5
I'll go ahead and admit that I would immediately be one of the first to be in favor of the protection of intellectual property. Or I long have been, anyway.

I think the OP makes a great case for why ideas should not be monopolized but, having not yet put a great amount of thought into it, I'm not sure I can easily see a world in which ideas aren't treated as property is necessarily "better" for a free market. Sure, ultimately the best ideas will be perfected to the point in which material Darwinism will be in full effect, but how will any company fare in gaining enough strength behind an idea/product to really take off? I guess the end result would be that it would be hard for any industry giants to exist and that competition would be among many instead of just a few.

Assuming all inventors remained driven to bring their ideas into fruition, theoretically there might actually be a much faster rate of development for technology. I just wonder if there would be some kind of stability issue somewhere in there, not to mention society would probably be vastly different if that kind of freedom were to exist.
 

SkyWalker

observing y'all from my UFO. inevitably coming dow
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#6
Actually most inventors dont care much about exclusivity. The typical inventor just wants his ideas out there. He cares more about spreading it than about earning money from it.

Its just the parasites that usurp the inventor (and his creations) which want exclusivity of what they usurped, to usurp even more.

IP law does not protect inventors, it protects parasites

the inventor has no need for IP law: if he wants to keep it secret, then he simply does so "by not saying anything", until his product is out.
 
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#7
Actually most inventors dont care much about exclusivity. The typical inventor just wants his ideas out there. He cares more about spreading it than about earning money from it.

Its just the parasites that usurp the inventor (and his creations) which want exclusivity of what they usurped, to usurp even more.

IP law does not protect inventors, it protects parasites

the inventor has no need for IP law: if he wants to keep it secret, then he simply does so "by not saying anything", until his product is out.
I happen to be the inventor of the dojabbler. Five easy pieces put together in one unit. The dojabbler enables one to jab from a distance without the recipient ever knowing they were jabbed until it's too late. I want to produce the dojabber from an assembly line putting together the five easy pieces in my dojab plant. I expect to make a lot of money because no one else has thought of it. I had to quit my job and lost two years of pay so I could invent this little gem. I was supported by my twelve year old adopted son who sold lemonade at one dollar per cup. He had no license and is now serving time in reform school.

Now some creeps want to come along and copy my recipe. I will keep my dojabbler and its assembly secret as long as I can so I can hit the market full bore. At some point I expect Chinese-Indian conglomerates to produce cheap knockoffs. I have only a small window of time to make my fortune.

This is the dojabbler invention. I've done the same with my paper on working out the Secret of the Universe. It provides a unified theory covering gravity, relativity and soap. It's not Mickey Mouse as I have worked it out. This will be important information. I am the only one known to have solved this problem. But I'm withholding publishing because I want to use the copyright income to set up my dojabbler plant.

My greatest fear is if I publish it, some copycat will copy it five minutes after it is out and sell it to advertisers leaving me flat. Then I won't be able to build my dojabbler plant. Please help me.

Inventor of the dojab.
 

snafupants

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#8
I mean, I would be mighty pissed if I had spent three years writing a novel or hatching an idea for an invention and some yutz from Indiana stole that from under me. That's just my two cents.

With the SOPA stuff, the law was far too broad and would have led to abuses. To support this contention farther, it's telling who the Republican supporters and lobbyists of the bill were. It's also telling how little they could explain their support of the bill, how quickly they retracted their advocacy in the wake of groundswell opposition, and how disjointedly they were able to explain the internet, its basic functions and business purpose.

I actually happened to agree with the remaining four GOP candidates at the last debate in that we should target the disseminators of the pirated data, and not necessarily the hapless purveyors of that information. Hope that makes sense.
 
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#9
I happen to be the inventor of the dojabbler. Five easy pieces put together in one unit. The dojabbler enables one to jab from a distance without the recipient ever knowing they were jabbed until it's too late. I want to produce the dojabber from an assembly line putting together the five easy pieces in my dojab plant. I expect to make a lot of money because no one else has thought of it. I had to quit my job and lost two years of pay so I could invent this little gem. I was supported by my twelve year old adopted son who sold lemonade at one dollar per cup. He had no license and is now serving time in reform school.

Now some creeps want to come along and copy my recipe. I will keep my dojabbler and its assembly secret as long as I can so I can hit the market full bore. At some point I expect Chinese-Indian conglomerates to produce cheap knockoffs. I have only a small window of time to make my fortune.

This is the dojabbler invention. I've done the same with my paper on working out the Secret of the Universe. It provides a unified theory covering gravity, relativity and soap. It's not Mickey Mouse as I have worked it out. This will be important information. I am the only one known to have solved this problem. But I'm withholding publishing because I want to use the copyright income to set up my dojabbler plant.

My greatest fear is if I publish it, some copycat will copy it five minutes after it is out and sell it to advertisers leaving me flat. Then I won't be able to build my dojabbler plant. Please help me.

Inventor of the dojab.
Without any IP laws, I think that's how it would work. Your personal profit potential might be less, but it's still there. Maybe you could offer to split a portion of the profits with larger manufacturers and retailers, and make them sign a contract to that effect prior to showing them the deal. In fact I think they have non-disclosure contracts for just that sort of thing, although as with anything else it's kind of worthless if you can't afford the lawyers to back it up in court, I think.

Think about it this way, though: suppose you don't want the Chinese-Indian conglomerate to mass produce your product and sell it at $1.00 each so you can sell it at $3.00 each and make more money. Now if I see it in the store, and realize I could make it myself for $1.50 at home, I can't because that would violate your patent. Some licenses allow things to be reproduced as long as they aren't being sold commercially, but that's still costing you money (supposedly) in the end, so it isn't much different from another company coming along and producing what you've created for people cheaper. It is just disadvantaging everyone else so that you can make more money off it.

So the other issue is that you put all this time in to it, had to quit your job, etc. But if IP laws didn't exist you wouldn't have had any illusions that you'd have the sole right to redistribute your invention. Would you still have worked on it for two years and quit your job and all that? Maybe you'd have worked on something else that couldn't have been copied as easily, or maybe you'd just have expected to make less money from it, maybe you'd have just told the basic idea to someone else and let them worry about it, etc. Or just not cared and invented it anyways. Even with IP laws, I certainly don't tell people about my best ideas that I could actually make a lot of money from, since I might want to do them myself, but I'm happy to share the ones that I know I'll never realistically be able to profit from - if someone else wants to actually take those and 'steal' them, all the better.

Consider that a lot of inventions basically happen because there time has come, which is why people often 'discover' stuff independently within weeks of each other. Everyone's reading the same journal articles and generally getting ideas from the same places. Industries and society have their own incentives to evolve, I mean for example look at search engines... Google is undeniably a better search engine than most because of it's patented algorithm. Sergei Brin and Larry Page are two of the richest people in the world because they patented that algorithm (or technically licensed it from Stanford, where they were working when they developed it, IIRC). But if IP laws hadn't existed, would no one else have discovered it? Search engines have natural incentive to be better at what they do; the better it works then the more people who use it, and hence the more advertising revenue, plus you can more accurately target ads which will raise your CPA. Without IP laws there might be slightly less incentive to put the resources into research yourself, since you could just let someone with more resources do it and try to copy what they're doing, but there's still obvious incentive in being the first/best at it, and incentive for groups as a whole to move forward. Hence it would seem that it would make more incentive for open/shared research, too.

Same deal with oil companies, for example. The entire industry gets more money when they figure out how to exploit new sources and such. But if a new process for that is patentable, it just keeps other companies from copying it, and any research they put into that process goes to waste. The reward for the research could be spread out among all of them, probably to the benefit of the end consumer (as more people offering the same thing probably means lower prices). Does this seem wrong in any way?

In the end though I imagine that situations like you describe are pretty rare, and the primary drive for people to create things is rarely financial incentive supported by copyright/patent law. People go into research and art because they wanted to do that stuff, not because they hope to get rich (well, most people), and companies look for new products because it opens up a larger market. The IP bonus for having patented/copyrighted it is just something extra that screws up the way this would all naturally work, I think.




But like I was saying earlier, about how protecting IP is incompatible with a free and informed society blah blah blah, they're already on the road to killing file-sharing entirely in the name of preventing copyright violations:

"In the wake of the Megaupload takedown, Filesonic has elected to take preventative measures against a similar fate. The front page and all files now carry the following message: 'All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally.' Whether or not this will actually deter the U.S. government from taking action remains to be seen."

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/01/23/0152207/filesonic-removes-ability-to-share-files
So, you know, if you happened to have a legitimate business that relied on one of these services, and many people did, or just some free service you were running for the hell of it (I know some libraries hosted their ebooks at Megaupload, password protected), you're shit out of luck now.
 
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#10
Without any IP laws, I think that's how it would work. Your personal profit potential might be less, but it's still there. Maybe you could offer to split a portion of the profits with larger manufacturers and retailers, and make them sign a contract to that effect prior to showing them the deal. In fact I think they have non-disclosure contracts for just that sort of thing, although as with anything else it's kind of worthless if you can't afford the lawyers to back it up in court, I think.
When I invented the dojabbler I was alone and I was free. I thought I could invent something, get a reward and contribute to society. Now I find my reward is less and I have to team up with the big big guys to protect me. I can do that, but now I will be less inclined to invent. I have lost some of my freedom.
Think about it this way, though: suppose you don't want the Chinese-Indian conglomerate to mass produce your product and sell it at $1.00 each so you can sell it at $3.00 each and make more money. Now if I see it in the store, and realize I could make it myself for $1.50 at home, I can't because that would violate your patent. Some licenses allow things to be reproduced as long as they aren't being sold commercially, but that's still costing you money (supposedly) in the end, so it isn't much different from another company coming along and producing what you've created for people cheaper. It is just disadvantaging everyone else so that you can make more money off it.
I found it hard to make sense of that except for my making more money off it. The problem is now I will be less inclined to invent dojabbler-like devices so people won't have them at all and they will save money by not buying them.
So the other issue is that you put all this time in to it, had to quit your job, etc. But if IP laws didn't exist you wouldn't have had any illusions that you'd have the sole right to redistribute your invention. Would you still have worked on it for two years and quit your job and all that? Maybe you'd have worked on something else that couldn't have been copied as easily, or maybe you'd just have expected to make less money from it, maybe you'd have just told the basic idea to someone else and let them worry about it, etc. Or just not cared and invented it anyways. Even with IP laws, I certainly don't tell people about my best ideas that I could actually make a lot of money from, since I might want to do them myself, but I'm happy to share the ones that I know I'll never realistically be able to profit from - if someone else wants to actually take those and 'steal' them, all the better.
All true, but instead of encouraging my inventing, does the opposite.

Consider that a lot of inventions basically happen because there time has come, which is why people often 'discover' stuff independently within weeks of each other. Everyone's reading the same journal articles and generally getting ideas from the same places. Industries and society have their own incentives to evolve, I mean for example look at search engines... Google is undeniably a better search engine than most because of it's patented algorithm. Sergei Brin and Larry Page are two of the richest people in the world because they patented that algorithm (or technically licensed it from Stanford, where they were working when they developed it, IIRC). But if IP laws hadn't existed, would no one else have discovered it? Search engines have natural incentive to be better at what they do; the better it works then the more people who use it, and hence the more advertising revenue, plus you can more accurately target ads which will raise your CPA. Without IP laws there might be slightly less incentive to put the resources into research yourself, since you could just let someone with more resources do it and try to copy what they're doing, but there's still obvious incentive in being the first/best at it, and incentive for groups as a whole to move forward. Hence it would seem that it would make more incentive for open/shared research, too.

Same deal with oil companies, for example. The entire industry gets more money when they figure out how to exploit new sources and such. But if a new process for that is patentable, it just keeps other companies from copying it, and any research they put into that process goes to waste. The reward for the research could be spread out among all of them, probably to the benefit of the end consumer (as more people offering the same thing probably means lower prices). Does this seem wrong in any way?
It seems to me it is true the more people you have working on something the greater the chance of inventing something. Mass thinking will produce mass invention. However is it the original thinker who thinks outside the box who will be missed.
In the end though I imagine that situations like you describe are pretty rare, and the primary drive for people to create things is rarely financial incentive supported by copyright/patent law. People go into research and art because they wanted to do that stuff, not because they hope to get rich (well, most people), and companies look for new products because it opens up a larger market. The IP bonus for having patented/copyrighted it is just something extra that screws up the way this would all naturally work, I think.
Rare things are thought of by rare people. They still want rewards in the form of recognition I suppose. Whether that is in the form of fame or money I don't know.

But like I was saying earlier, about how protecting IP is incompatible with a free and informed society blah blah blah, they're already on the road to killing file-sharing entirely in the name of preventing copyright violations:
I say it's a question of where we place the freedom: on the inventors or on the consumers. There is a saying, "Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg." Another is, "You can't have your cake and eat it too."

So, you know, if you happened to have a legitimate business that relied on one of these services, and many people did, or just some free service you were running for the hell of it (I know some libraries hosted their ebooks at Megaupload, password protected), you're shit out of luck now.
This reminds me of a person buying a painting. Then it is discovered it was stolen and they have to give it back. This entire issue is a problem in search of a solution. Not on it yet.
 
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#11
When I invented the dojabbler I was alone and I was free. I thought I could invent something, get a reward and contribute to society. Now I find my reward is less and I have to team up with the big big guys to protect me. I can do that, but now I will be less inclined to invent. I have lost some of my freedom.
Now this is true Americanism; hurting the profits of big business is construed as an attack on freedom. Your ability to create things is in no way changed, nor is your ability to contribute to society, and you can still be rewarded for it. The only "freedom" I see being hampered here is what business models are preferable to you. You're still free to try and sell your stuff any way you want, I was just trying to come up with (what I would speculate to be) a more profitable method.

The situation you describe seems to be very narrow: a lone genius who developed an idea which can't be easily repeated by others, but can still be easily reverse engineered and copied, and the creator is only happy selling his product by certain methods, and refuses to invent anymore if he cannot do things exactly his way, and that's unfortunate because his inventions would have also been of great value to society. Does this seriously reflect how R&D works on a large scale?

In your particular description it seems more like the IP law is protecting his ability to run his business exactly how he wants, not his ability to invent anything. Which is basically what I've been claiming all along; IP law is just about protecting out-dated business models in the interests of a few people who profit from those models, even though there are far superior ones which almost everyone else benefits from, but are outlawed because they threaten the existing systems.

BigApplePi said:
I found it hard to make sense of that except for my making more money off it. The problem is now I will be less inclined to invent dojabbler-like devices so people won't have them at all and they will save money by not buying them.
Well, if the end argument is "I'm going to support whatever political agenda will net me the most money," then I don't have much to say to that. You might as well support war profiteering and extortion too.

My whole point here is that IP laws are good for a few big businesses and bad for almost everyone else, even most small time artists and inventors. Of course a few people make a lot of money off IP laws - they're the special interests that lobby to push these things as far as they can. The lie is the idea that this is about protecting the lone artist or inventor struggling with their career, when the majority of the time it's fucking them over too. (But I'll get to that later...)

As an example (of how corrupt copyright stuff is), here's where the MPAA cooperated with the US Embassy in Australia to try and manipulate the local court system:

The Canberra Wikileaks cables revealed the US Embassy sanctioned a conspiracy by Hollywood studios to target Australian communications company iiNet through the local court-system, with the aim of establishing a binding common-law precedent which would make ISPs responsible for the unauthorised file-sharing of their customers.

Both the location, Australia, and the target, iiNet, were carefully selected. A precedent set in Australia would be influential in countries with comparable legal systems such as Canada, India, New Zealand and Great Britain. Australian telecommunications giant Telstra was judged too large for the purposes of the attack. Owing to its smaller size and more limited resources, iiNet was gauged the perfect candidate.
Here's where the US threatened to put to put Spain on a trade blacklist for not pushing through their SOPA equivalent quickly enough:

More than 100 leaked cables showed that the US had helped draft new Spanish copyright legislation and had heavily influenced the decisions of both the government and opposition.

Solomont’s threat was that should Spain not pass the Sinde Law (described by some as the Spanish SOPA) then the country would be degraded further and placed on the Priority Watch List. This serious step would mean that Spain was in breach of trade agreements and could be subjected to a range of “retaliatory actions”.
And here's another one from today, where a judge ruled that a different picture that was merely inspired by another one was a copyright violation:



^Bottom pic is the copyright violation, apparently.

BigApplePi said:
All true, but instead of encouraging my inventing, does the opposite.

It seems to me it is true the more people you have working on something the greater the chance of inventing something. Mass thinking will produce mass invention. However is it the original thinker who thinks outside the box who will be missed.

Rare things are thought of by rare people. They still want rewards in the form of recognition I suppose. Whether that is in the form of fame or money I don't know.
Meh, this all seems rather speculative. I mean I could just claim "rare people" who "think outside the box" won't care about directly profiting from their work (along with the subtle insinuation that if you care about profit you aren't a truly rare and creative person).

Besides, there are certainly numerous examples of the exact opposite thing, where the creator got usurped by copyright law, or was largely opposed to it himself, or wouldn't have been able to produce what they did because of it. Kind of long, but here's a story I came by yesterday or so:

Curious about the copyright status of Guthrie’s decades-old music, I called up Woody Guthrie Publishing and spoke to a very nice gentleman named Michael Smith, the general manager of the organization. He was clearly familiar with the folk-song tradition and obviously knowledgeable about Guthrie, but he nevertheless had a lot of trouble accepting the idea that copyright extension was a bad thing for art and culture. I was surprised when Smith told me that the song-publishing company that owns Guthrie’s music denies recording artists permission to adapt his lyrics. And I was shocked when Smith defended the actions of the company, called The Richmond Organization (TRO), even after I pointed out that Guthrie often altered other songwriters’ lyrics. “Well,” Smith explained, “he admitted to stealing, but at the time that Woody was writing . . .”He paused. “I mean, things have changed from Woody’s time.”

They certainly have. During the 2004 election season, a year after I spoke to Michael Smith, a small-time team of cartoonists posted a Guthrie-invoking political parody on their Web site. Not surprisingly, TRO threatened to sue. The animated short portrayed G.W. Bush and John Kerry singing a goofy ditty to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land,” where Bush said, “You’re a liberal sissy,” Kerry replied, “You’re a right wing nut job,” and they sang together, “This land will surely vote for me.” Guthrie’s copyright managers didn’t think it was funny at all. “This puts a completely different spin on the song,” TRO’s Kathryn Ostien told CNN. “The damage to the song is huge.” Perhaps more damage is done to Guthrie’s legacy by practicing such an aggressive form of copyright zealotry.

“If someone changed a lyric in Woody’s time,” said Michael Smith, “chances are it wasn’t going to be recorded and it was just spread through campfire singing, you know, family-time singing and stuff like that. You know, now you can create your own CD at home and distribute it any way you want to, and so the dissemination is a lot broader, a lot faster, and can be a lot more detrimental to the integrity of the song.”Detrimental to the integrity of the song? I pressed him further on Guthrie’s own alterations of others’ songs and asked what Woody would think of TRO locking up his folksong catalog. “The answer to that is, you know, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to ask him, because we have a duty,’ ” Smith said. “We don’t know what Woody would have wanted - we can’t tell.”

Soon Michael Smith began to make a little more sense to me - at least economic sense. “If you allow multiple rewrites to occur, then people will think it’s in the public domain, and then you have a hard time pressing people to prove to them that it’s not in the public domain.” Then the publishers can no longer generate revenue from it. That a company can still make money off “This Land Is Your Land” is exactly the type of thing I believe Woody Guthrie would not have wanted. Even worse, that TRO prevents musicians from releasing altered, updated versions of his music probably makes Guthrie roll in his grave. But don’t trust me; listen to the man himself. When Guthrie was still alive, for instance, Bess Lomax Hawes told him that his song “Union Maid” had gone into the oral tradition, as folklorists call it.

“It was part of the cultural landscape, no longer even associated with him,” said Hawes, the daughter of the famous song collector and archivist Alan Lomax.“He answered, ‘If that were true, it would be the greatest honor of my life.’ ”[5] In a written statement attached to a published copy of his lyrics for “This Land Is Your Land,” Guthrie made clear his belief that it should be understood as communal property. “This song is Copyrighted in US,” he wrote, “under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission will be mighty good friends of ours, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.” Notice that he mentioned the song’s copyright lasted twenty-eight years, though the term was later lengthened.

Also note that Guthrie said, “We wrote it” not “I wrote it,” something that indicates Guthrie didn’t see himself as the song’s sole author. Since much of the song’s power comes from that lovely melody passed down to him, how could he? In light of Guthrie’s view, how sad it is that others continue to taint this socialist musician’s ideals by keeping his songs private property, turning them into a lucrative revenue stream rather than a shareable part of our common cultural heritage. If Woody Guthrie had to make his art under the overly restrictive policies his song-publishing company imposes on today’s musicians, it would have been very hard for him to make his music at all. In some cases it would have been impossible, for “things have changed.”
(From the article starting on page 91 of No Safe Harbor.)

Point being, the disadvantages and abuses of IP law are vast, I mean you can find absurd stuff about it literally every day. It definitely hinders progress by preventing people from evolving new concepts. Consider in the above story, the copyright violation described would normally be thought to be protected as a parody (parodying things is not a copyright violation, in theory), but it wasn't. That's an example of where it hurts small time artists in favor of big companies by not allowing them to remix things for their own profit. Same thing for the small-time inventors; maybe I would have developed a cool new thing, but I couldn't because that algorithm I was going to use, or the one that would have given me the idea while I was working with it, was patented so I couldn't. Heck, big companies generally make you sign contracts that anything you produce on anything remotely considered "company time" is owned by them; sometimes even stuff you produce at home is owned by them.

BigApplePi said:
I say it's a question of where we place the freedom: on the inventors or on the consumers. There is a saying, "Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg." Another is, "You can't have your cake and eat it too."

This reminds me of a person buying a painting. Then it is discovered it was stolen and they have to give it back. This entire issue is a problem in search of a solution. Not on it yet.
I say it's not, it's a simple attempt to protect the profits of a few large businesses at the expense of everyone else worldwide. The fact people actually think IP laws are a positive thing in any way is just sad, imho.

The entire purpose of an economy is to distribute limited resources efficiently. Now new technology gives us the ability to make some of those resources basically limitless and give them to everyone, but some people were making a lot of money selling those resources, and they don't want that. There's no reason now that anyone shouldn't be able to get a copy of pretty much anything ever written, any music ever made, every film or game we still have records of, no matter how obscure, and be able to distribute their own creations to everyone else just as easily - and the people who encourage this are treated like the criminals? The only people whose rights are being infringed on are the so-called "pirates."
 

Zionoxis

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#12
By 'intellectual property' how broad are we going with this? Stealing music, videos, and video games via piracy is not fair since corporations spent millions to develop the entertainment product in hope of spreading it to the masses for profit. If everyone gains it for free, there is no incentive to create quality entertainment anymore.
 

Guess

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#13
Very good topic!
In fact, the existing way of looking at IP is leashing human society development.
One of the most striking arguments I heard against the way patents work this day was this.
"You, or someone you love, may die because of a gene patent that should never have been granted in the first place. Sound far-fetched? Unfortunately, it's only too real.
Gene patents are now used to halt research, prevent medical testing, and keep vital information from you and your doctor. Gene patents slow the pace of medical advance on deadly diseases. And they raise costs exorbitantly: a test for breast cancer that could be done for $1,000 now costs $3,000. "
http://www.michaelcrichton.net/essay-nytimes-patentinglife.html
I saw such argument in a book called "The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives", from Michael Heller.
Excellent book. It describes how we got lock into the mindset of providing ownership for anything between the sky and earth (and sometimes underneath it) in order to avoid overuse of scarce resources. That's principle to utilitarian economy.
But nobody told us that ownership can also overshoot. Too much of it creates underuse. This is a key problem of IPs. Most particularly patents. It is not only medical industry which is on a halt. Electronic devices industry, telecommunication and software industries are halted and leashed by patent wars.
Just think of how much innovation we could have had!

About copyright, one interesting argument comes from book capitalism 3.0:
"first American copyright law gave authors the same deal as in Britain:
exclusive rights for fourteen years, with an option to renew for another fourteen. After that, their work entered the public domain.
Indeed, what we call intellectual property today was then considered a monopoly privilege granted by the state, not a right belonging to a creator.
For nearly two centuries, this arrangement worked brilliantly.
There was no lack of creativity on either side of the Atlantic. But starting about thirty years ago, large entertainment companies began tipping the balance from the public domain to the private. Led by the
Walt Disney Company, the corporations pushed Congress to extend copyright terms, first to seventy-five years and then to ninety-five.(The extensions occurred whenever Mickey Mouse was about to enter
the public domain.) "
So the guy who mentioned Mickey Mouse was right. It was all his fault :p
"Then in the next page, he mentions the following
DISNEY STORIES TAKEN FROM THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
Aladdin, Atlantis, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Davy Crockett,The Legend of Sleepy, Hollow
Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre, Dame,The Jungle Book,Oliver Twist,Pinocchio,Robin Hood,Snow White
Sleeping Beauty,The Three Musketeers,Treasure Island,The Wind in the Willows
DISNEY STORIES ADDED TO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
None"
Not to blame Disney. They are only doing what other corporations do. But the government should be responsible of giving some rights also to the end-user (public domain, fair use, etc). The solution should not come from everyone promoting piracy. Instead, people should be debating about how to look forward in order to find a more fair way of having rights and then pressing the government about it.

Does anybody think Michael Jackson still cares about his copyright? Or maybe Elvis?
 
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#14
Melllvar, I'm reviewing some answers. A lot of this stuff is beyond my comprehension so I'm replying with the hope some of it may be new and of value.
Should copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets and the other similar forms of intellectual property be abolished?
They are there I assume to protect originating individuals. The question is, what is the damage done to everyone else?

the creator of something is no more harmed by it's being reproduced by others than anyone else is by regular economic competition.
Is regular economic competition between equals? By that I mean, has an agreed meeting of supply and demand been met in the marketplace? Here the originator has the product of his mind taken without compensation. The question is again, how can the public avail themselves of the product of his mind and properly compensate him?
Creating something should give you exclusive rights to it's reproduction and alteration.
The problem here is, unlike hard capital, intellectual things can't be possessed between peoples. Hard capital can be placed in a container. IP is like water in a sieve. It is easily taken from a bucket underneath and is difficult to define. Some variables in IP "ownership" are (1) secrecy, therefore unshared, (2) contracted sharing or sharing with only a few, (3) if identified, temporal ownership which expires after a defined time period.

Later thought: If I possess some IP and no one knows, I have the right to keep it to myself no matter how valuable. (Think Wiki-leaks.) But if I share it with one single society's representative, that representative can pass judgment and I lose my monopoly possession. (Think cancer cure.)

Information should be able to be owned and the redistribution of it controlled.
I would say it depends on what happens to the distribution. Roughly, the further away from the originator, the easier it is to take. It's like growing poppies all the way to drug consumption. There is a bottleneck whereby prohibiting taking is easiest. That is, stopping those who organize the drug distribution.

One must also examine the nature of the originating information. If the originator held an entire empty continent and huge populations wanted the property, there is such a thing as eminent domain. Defining the information may be in order. If the information is of great value to the public and easily discovered by another, the originator suffers from "weak" intellectual property. If the originator has created something unlikely to be found soon, I'd call this "strong" intellectual property. In addition releasing IP can be based on its value to society. How to build a bomb is not the same as how to cure cancer. What about taking such to a judiciary rather than a hard and fast rule?

IP laws encourage invention and creation and are good for society.
Yes good for society provided the laws are restricted to encourage origination and but not to discourage distribution once approved. Look for the bottleneck whereby enforcement is easiest.

Further comments to Melllvar post:
IP laws do grossly outweighs even the supposed benefits. IP laws do in fact totally hinder information sharing, public discussion and the advancement of science and technology.
I read that link. Too tough a law is bad. Perhaps we could weigh violations and punish only the gross ones. The Q, "What is good for society?" is always to be addressed. Do we have a thread on crime and punishment? This is a difficult topic.
Hotmail and facebook actually monitor email for links to sites considered infringing and remove it automatically, regardless of false positives,
False positives are not good. Bugs should be corrected. Can software be written to check for the legitimacy of a copy process, say in the copy program itself? If the copy program itself is not legit, then at least the legit ones would restrict. How do I copy Microsoft's operating system without a license? I have to input a personal key to install it which Microsoft checks out for legitimacy. Oh. I forgot. Copy & paste is not going to have such a restriction on it so what I said above is too narrow.
Then we have the blatant abuses of IP itself. The fact that companies own IP they had no part in making, that they buy tens of thousands of patents to prevent others from using them, that they want to patent things like genetic sequences or genetically modified organisms, or that they use threats of copyright violations to take small competitors to court or get them shut down. Or the copyright/patent trolls (link) who buy them and sit on them waiting for some other company to make a lot of money off them, then sue them for it, or use legal threats to extort money (link) from people. Keep in mind people actually go to jail and have their lives ruined because of this kind of stuff, and those people often have done nothing wrong.
Hard capital can be owned by only a few. IP can be shared by many. How important is this IP to all? Go to court to determine what is more important: ownership or sharing? If I try to corner a cute process because I own it, people may be envious, but that's tough. If I try to corner fresh air and own it, it should be taken away from me because it's too valuable to have monopoly rights.

Overall this seems to do more to hinder creation and invention than it does to promote it. By creating an environment where ideas and information are proprietary and not free to use it keeps others from experimenting with new ideas and drives up the cost of things that should be easy to reproduce. Furthermore it seems completely unnecessary, since after all while some people produce things for money, others produce things simply because they want to, as has been extensively demonstrated by the open source communities and pretty much any indie film/music/game/art thing anywhere. IP is in fact a system that concentrates wealth in the hands of fewer entities: the big studios, the famous celebrities, etc., and also gives them more influence and control over their respective mediums. Is a world where you really need approval from a major publisher to have your works widely distributed helping these forms overall? Probably not.
Can this hinderance be explained a little more?

So really, while there would likely be some restructuring in certain industries if IP was dropped completely tomorrow, and some people might go out of business, the majority of the world would seem to benefit greatly from it. Maybe certain things wouldn't be as profitable anymore; perhaps a few hundred millions of dollars would be way too much to invest in most movies. How much are we really getting from such expensive Transformers movies anyways, though? The most likely outcome would seem to be less competition and more freedom for small-time developers (of whatever).
Let the market take care of this. If a worthwhile film cost a lot, let the market decide. If the film is taken to China that's too far away to enforce.

Aside from that, it's been ridiculously easy to "pirate" things for a while now, and the world hasn't collapsed. People still create things, people still pay for things, people can still make money making things - but now people also have more access to information and ideas than they did before, because they can get whatever whenever. The content industries still suck money out of them, just perhaps not as much per the same amount of content.
Yes but is the world now a lessor place if piracy without paying for hard work goes on?

Conclusion:
The real issue here is that IP laws extensively restrict people's fundamental right to share and copy information so that a very few people can charge more for their products than modern distribution systems would dictate they should be able to. It's safer to cling to out-dated business models rather than take risk by expanding into new technologies. In this case that means effectively outlawing the use of technologies which threaten your business model, regardless of the widespread damage it does to everyone else.
If people wish to steal other people's hard work and society wants to allow them to steal, then let the law be laxly enforced, but enforce it a little. If somebody gets hurt, then take it to court. If court is too expensive, then set up pro bono lawyers. If society loses something by lax enforcement, then pick up on enforcement. Play this by ear. If someone complains, have at it with a debate until things lean one way or the other.
 
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#15
Sorry for the delay, I wasn't feeling the energy for the big long posts right away.

By 'intellectual property' how broad are we going with this?
All the way, abolish it all as far as I'm concerned. If someone has a particular exception for an area that desperately needs copyright, that's something to hear, but as far as written works, movies, video games, music, every patented device, process or algorithm I can think of, get rid of it.

Zionoxis said:
Stealing music, videos, and video games via piracy
Not stealing, copying. No one is having anything taken from them, so to say it is stealing is to imply that the mere act of having better prices (in this case, zero) then your competitors is "stealing" from them. This is the way they try and shape the narrative to make this seem appropriate. You might as well say that if you build a table and then I build another table I stole yours. The only thing that makes it "stealing" in our society is the presence of copyright law, which gives ownership to someone, so to say it's stealing based on that is just circular logic.

Zionoxis said:
is not fair since corporations spent millions to develop the entertainment product in hope of spreading it to the masses for profit.
Everything the entertainment industry does today is based on copyright law. They refuse to adjust to changing technology and civilization because they've apparently decided it's preferable to lobby for laws to prevent change. For thousands of years artists haven't been guaranteed any right to profit from anything. The modern entertainment industry, super-huge with $500 million dollar movies and $100 million games and such, basically evolved during a brief period when technology had been developed to spread works of art to everyone, but those distribution services were still tightly controlled - anyone at home couldn't just set up their own and give out whatever they had on hand. No CD burners, no internet, no youtube, no forums, etc. That was just a brief blurb between the times when you only had live performances and oral tradition and what we have now (and the stuff yet to come, I hope).

It's not like the natural state of all this is for giant companies to make expensive shit and license it to the rest of us, that's just the way things evolved because current technology made it profitable. Now we're at a point where those companies aren't even needed anymore. And while the current system may facilitate giant expensive stuff, over the long history of art and entertainment I don't see how those things are necessarily the pinnacle of it all. Disney makes a great example (again): they take works that were already in the public domain, that they didn't create themselves, and make great cartoons out of them. Anyone could do that these days - the content creation tools are more readily accessible, and making a great story doesn't require millions of dollars, random creative people do that all the time, every day. But under the current system these people also get their stuff ignored in favor of a some big-budget BS that no one respects just because it has a hundred million dollar marketing campaign. Or they aren't able to even repeat the process and become the next Disney themselves because copyright law will be abused any way it can to keep them from competing with the big boys.

Zionoxis said:
If everyone gains it for free, there is no incentive to create quality entertainment anymore.
Nah, disagree. As said above, quality entertainment has been around since the dawn of man, and it seems dubious that the big studios have really raised the quality much. The state of the industry seems to reflect that producing expensive crap is profitable as long as it has enough marketing, while so many great films get made on low budgets, or films like those don't even get made anymore.

Shameless plug for the movie Primer: a personal favorite, time travel movie made for less than $7,000 by a guy who quit his job as an engineer because he wanted to be a filmmaker. Won a bunch of awards at Sundance and other places, made the guy somewhat famous, gathered him a cult following like myself, etc.

I know another guy (personally) who just made a movie for the local film festival. Spent like $1,000 of his own cash on it, not expecting to see a dime or even likely it would be accepted to the festival. He's already planning another bigger one.

Perhaps this is idealistic, but I'm quite convinced humanity can make better progress without massive corrupt corporations having control over our media and the evolution of our art forms.

Guess said:
Very good topic!
Thanks. Not gonna respond though since you agree with me, but yeah it's all pretty screwed up, imo. I mean even if you think IP is a great thing, patents on genes and living organisms is absurdly dangerous. Nice Crichton article.
 
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#16
So ...

1. We can do without any movie costing more than $20,000 because it can be copied for free. All such creativity will have to be self-paid.

2. We can drop the pursuit of cures for cancer, heart disease and improving animal husbandry and the food supply because the techniques for doing so cost hundreds of millions which can be copied for free.

3. Competition in the capitalist system will no longer improve products because there will be no penalty for industrial espionage.

4. Millions will be out of work but that is okay because they will have access to very low quality stuff for free.
 
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#18
Ok, laziness apologies again, I didn't realize it had already been ten days. Maybe I can make this easier by cutting out the rhetoric and trying to get to the point.

BigApplePi said:
1. We can do without any movie costing more than $20,000 because it can be copied for free. All such creativity will have to be self-paid.
False dilemma, there's no reason big stuff can't get funded still. It would just require alternative business models (I can go into that later) or other systems for funding.

While I was bullshitting this thread, something cool (and supportive of my argument) actually happened: The game studio Double Fine was able to finance their next game completely using Kickstarter contributions. Their goal was $400,000 to make the game, which they hit in about 8 hours. As of now they're nearing $2 million after only 5 or 6 days, five times what they even needed to make the game. You can see the whole thing here. (Well respected developer too, Psychonauts won two of the 2006 GDC Awards and was nominated for two more. It's hardly "low quality" stuff. [Although I can only take them so seriously after giving Zynga an award for Farmville, I mean serious *facepalm* there, but I digress.])

Incidentally this type of system would work better for a lot of other reasons: if people are worried about their works being redistributed without them making money, just ask to be paid up front. It'd also allow more money to go directly into the product instead of distribution systems, legal issues and producer/executive salaries (I mean sucks for those guys but that's what we call efficiency). Also what gets made would more accurately reflect what people want and are willing to pay money for, instead of leaving it up to corporate executives heading big companies like Activision to decide which ideas get funded and which don't based on what they *think* people will pay for eventually.

And again it's not like they can't make money off this anyways. As one idea, have a single unified platform for everyone to "sell" their stuff on. Charge a monthly fee for membership, sliding based on usage; over a certain amount is "unlimited", you can get whatever you want whenever. Make this unrestricted, official versions of all the products. Profits from memberships/whatever else you can make money from get distributed among the developers/artists according to usage, downloads, etc. Eliminate IP laws anyway, and let people who still want to deal with torrents, streaming and upload sites do that; presumably the ease of just paying a little bit to have open access to the actual product would be enough of a competitive advantage for them. (And I think actual rates of piracy probably reflect this.)

Just two ideas, there are plenty of others. My point being people can still make *a lot* of money; more or less in the long run, I don't know, but it certainly can't outweigh the thing you're giving up: free information for all the world, open access to everything written or recorded for everyone.

BigApplePi said:
2. We can drop the pursuit of cures for cancer, heart disease and improving animal husbandry and the food supply because the techniques for doing so cost hundreds of millions which can be copied for free.
Ok, it's hard to tell if you're being facetious here... Unlike with software/media, medical treatments can't be mass produced for nearly free, so someone is still going to get the money from producing them and selling them at the best price/quality. Likewise the people who do research aren't the types who go into investment banking to make millions of dollars; your average biochemistry grad student is probably more concerned with getting published than patenting a million dollar drug. No doubt many work on building patentable devices with the hope of getting rich, as a result of patent law, but the point is it's hardly what drives the entire process - just a side effect of the fact that people can get really rich due to patent law. (EDIT: Also note that a lot of funding for such things, particularly agriculture and medicine, already comes from governments and non-profits.)

On the other hand patent law does stifle innovation by preventing use of proprietary processes, algorithms, databases, etc. You can certainly say that research is tangibly held back by it when other people aren't able to recreate and modify the work of others, or have access to their research. It also eats up a ridiculous amount of resources spent on patent lawsuits every year.

BigApplePi said:
3. Competition in the capitalist system will no longer improve products because there will be no penalty for industrial espionage.
Open-source products get improved and refined just fine, people even make good money from them, and that's not even industrial espionage, in that case you're specifically giving the full details of the product away. Look at MySQL and Apache, Firefox, the arduino, or Wikipedia. All completely free and open-source, and arguably better than their proprietary counterparts. No doubt some things are much worse, but that's probably because their projects are poorly managed or have shitty developers, etc. The abundance of successful open-source projects seems to show that it's not a "fluke" or anything, it's a perfectly viable model for developing, maintaining and refining a product.

(EDIT: Also Android makes a good example, being open-source and still profitable, with lots of competition between different versions/vendors. Whether it's better than Apple/Microsoft versions is a matter of opinion, but you can't claim it's being open-source has stifled innovation in any way. You can find way more variations of Android phones than Apple/Microsoft ones.)

BigApplePi said:
4. Millions will be out of work but that is okay because they will have access to very low quality stuff for free.
Well, after everything else I'm not sure that I even need to bother refuting that one. Let me know if you still think I do though...
 
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#20
personally, i think everyone should only be trying to enhance humanity. in which case people only eat what they grow, only live in houses they make, etc., likewise i believe that if someone comes up with an invention that improves overall health/daily life(such as food making, vehicles, etc. /etc. then it should be open to anyone to make changes for future advancements in technology/knowledge, but if it effects something that people want, then it's a different story. seeing how it is merely for making us comfortable and not important to keeping us alive.
 
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#21
I don't think IP should be abolished but the movie industry is a terrible example of old people approaching retirement who fail to move with the times. Similar to the music publishing industry in fact.

As long as piracy is an *easier* way of getting movies than paying for them then piracy will still hurt the movie industry. The advent of Netflix, Lovefilm and other streaming movie services will help significantly since finally it is easier to watch stuff you want without having to wait for deliveries or get off your ass.

The movie industry is full of old people who just want to keep the status quo until after they've retired.
 

snafupants

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#22
This is terribly simple: would you want someone gratuitously reading your book or watching your movie, considering you spent four years on that project and expected some monetary compensation?
 
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#23
This is terribly simple: would you want someone gratuitously reading your book or watching your movie, considering you spent four years on that project and expected some monetary compensation?
Yes I would much rather live in a world without IP laws, as should be clear at this point in the thread. Although in the current climate, if I had something worth money I would probably try and game the system for all it was worth - that's just prudence. The only reason I would consider otherwise is that I'm so opposed to this stuff I would personally like to die being able to say I never tried to patent or copyright anything at all, it would make my existence feel slightly less meaningless. But then again prospects of wealth can be quite tempting.


Anyways, this stuff:
A) Just because people might currently feel entitled to ownership rights doesn't mean it's better for the world. The majority of white Americans might not want their tax money going to feed starving black people in Africa either, doesn't mean it wouldn't make the world a better place if the slightest bit of altruism was forced on their selfish asses for the greater good. Beyond that I seriously think the only reason most people support it is because they haven't bothered to think it through, instead they've come to believe in a false dillemma where copyright = the only method of creator compensation, and piracy = stealing, so they end up vehemently supporting a system that is actually working against them.

B) The majority of creators are almost certainly not going to lose out on any money, in fact you can make a strong case that it would lead to growth in the majority of these industries and distribute revenue across a broader group. This because:

  1. There are many lucrative alternative business models that people can profit from, some of which were described in my last reply. Unified platforms charging monthly fees, earning ad revenue, donation systems, digital distribution, whatever. None of those are unrealistic or untested models either, there are wildly successful examples of all of them. Netflix, Steam, Double Fine, Youtube, etc.
  2. Most of these industries are run by giant entertainment companies that screw their creators over and the majority of money goes to the corporate executives who aren't even necessary. Did you buy that game to support the programmers who made it? Or that CD to support the musician who wrote the song? Sorry, they'll likely get anything from NOTHING to maybe 30% of that money, depending on the industry and contract. On the other hand with the above suggested distribution models there would be little to no distribution costs, nearly all the money spent by consumers would go to the creators.
  3. The inability to sell recreations of other people's work hurts small-time/independent artists, so eliminating copyright law would probably provide more work and jobs for more people, if doing so at the expense of the big entertainment companies. For example, now I can't remake a movie unless I own the rights to do so. Without IP laws any group of independent filmmakers would be free to remake and sell their own version of whatever story they wished. More generally, IP law just works to concentrate money and power in the hands of big entertainment companies, and eliminating it would redistribute it among the wider industry.

C) It is not some self-evident natural law that writing and making music and video games must be lucrative professions. Copyright law has only been around for a few hundred years, in it's modern form for less than a hundred, and the vast majority of heavy-handed copyright restrictions have only come about in the past thirty years as giant corporations twist the law to try and squeeze as much profit as they can out of everyone else. Music, literature, theater and everything else got along fine for thousands of years without copyright law. I challenge you to show that there has been massive improvement in the quality of all art forms across the board in proportion to the strengthening and expansion of copyright.



Now some of the trade-offs you're giving up by keeping IP laws in place:
1) No open access to all the world's knowledge for literally every human being with a computer and internet connection.
2) Enhanced censorship abilities for governments and corporations which regularly exploit IP law to silence opponents and eliminate competitors. Governments love IP law because it's a great excuse to expand their surveillance and censorship capabilities.
3) Intrusive and obstructive technologies for DRM and piracy detection/prevention, DNS blocking, shutting down entire servers on a whim without any review, etc.
4) Choice of what is actually produced by the entertainment industry lying with studio executives and publishers rather than the developers and consumers.
5) Inefficient funding as the majority of consumer spending will go to the same studios and publishers rather than directly from the consumers to the creators.
6) Higher prices for consumers, less money for the industry, less works produced overall. (Note this is pretty much the opposite of what's generally claimed, but see part B of this post.)

Well whatever. You get the point. IP law is just a terrible idea, in fact IMHO no one here has even begun to make a reasonable argument in it's favor yet.
 

~~~

Active Member
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#25
Methinks philosophy is probably much more important than the legislated conception of IP.
 

A22

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#26
This wasn't the thread I was looking for, but anyway, here's a guy's opinion I think it's worth sharing:

kaiyovu56
Here is how I see it: Theft means that I take something away from you in such a way that you no longer have it, because now I got it. E.g. I could steal one of your books. The consequence is that you will miss the book because it is no longer in your possession. If I copied the book, with or without your knowledge, you would not miss it because it hasn't been stolen from you.
When I copy a CD it is not theft in that particular sense because I am not robbing the "owner" of something he already has.
The same goes for pictures. Don't we all have the "copyright" to our own face? Then how is it that so many people can get away with posting pictures on facebook without the prior consent of the one who owns the face? Maybe people should start charging fees for having their picture taken and posted on the web.
The only argument you could make in any copying-case is that I might be robbing the "owner" of an opportunity to make more money - but that is not a crime. That is what the capitalistic system is all about. If someone finds a cheaper way of doing something than me, then they will eventually force me out of business. It happens all the time and in every other sector of our society nobody raises an eyebrow. When a wealthy company lays off employees to increase their already insane profits, that causes a lot more damage to families than me downloading a movie that I would never buy anyway as long as prices are ridiculously high and completely blown out of proportion for the value I get.
 

snafupants

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5,026
#27
Knowledge is power. If you control the flow and spread of it then you control all.
Only if people read and listen to what's being disseminated. Because there are only a half dozen big media corporations, compared to over four dozen fifty years ago, the news shouldn't be trusted. Science is hogwash because the government provides grants to universities, and the capitol itself is bought by corporations who tangentially steer the studies (e.g., via funding); in addition, the results from the study are discounted whenever they fail to vindicate an initial scientific hypothesis, which usually aims to please the company in question. This is hardly objective protocol and analysis. Almost everyone in authority aims to delight potentially cranky donors, which perpetuates a vicious cycle of collusion and fake results.
 
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#28
This wasn't the thread I was looking for, but anyway, here's a guy's opinion I think it's worth sharing:

kaiyovu56
Here is how I see it: Theft means that I take something away from you in such a way that you no longer have it, because now I got it. E.g. I could steal one of your books. The consequence is that you will miss the book because it is no longer in your possession. If I copied the book, with or without your knowledge, you would not miss it because it hasn't been stolen from you.
When I copy a CD it is not theft in that particular sense because I am not robbing the "owner" of something he already has.
The same goes for pictures. Don't we all have the "copyright" to our own face? Then how is it that so many people can get away with posting pictures on facebook without the prior consent of the one who owns the face? Maybe people should start charging fees for having their picture taken and posted on the web.
The only argument you could make in any copying-case is that I might be robbing the "owner" of an opportunity to make more money - but that is not a crime. That is what the capitalistic system is all about. If someone finds a cheaper way of doing something than me, then they will eventually force me out of business. It happens all the time and in every other sector of our society nobody raises an eyebrow. When a wealthy company lays off employees to increase their already insane profits, that causes a lot more damage to families than me downloading a movie that I would never buy anyway as long as prices are ridiculously high and completely blown out of proportion for the value I get.
Let me see if I can find something to get around what you said above. If I write a novel with the intention to sell it and make some money, but you copy it, aren't you "stealing" my future sales? You aren't stealing what I own, but what I will own in the future. I would have it but now I won't have it. Now it's true if you had to pay for it, maybe you wouldn't buy it anyway, but that's not 100 percent. If half would have bought it, then I still lose half ... on the average.

You refer to the capitalistic system. So maybe if I know I can't make a profit writing novels I shouldn't be in the business. That is exactly what I predict. I can only write for fun and not to make a living. So instead of writing ten novels I will write only five. It's not that the world doesn't want my ten novels, it's that the world has decided the price is too high. So there will be fewer novels ... maybe NO novels. Now maybe the world can do without novels, but what about poetry or movies? Maybe the world will be a poorer place because movies can be copied and so not so many will be made anymore.

If we make copying legal we have defined away "robbery." Wealthy companies may survive, but there won't be as many of them ... including the poorer companies who might even produce a better product.
 

A22

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#29
^ So not giving the opportunity to make (more) money with something should be a crime? That would have some strange implications depending on what materials you consider copyrightable. Let's say I have a magazine where I publish my jokes. People find it funny and pay for it. If someone that has a monthly subscription of my magazine decides to tell all the jokes to his friends, they won't have to buy my magazine to know the jokes. Is telling jokes a crime?

btw, I don't think Tolkien wouldn't have written The Lord of the Ring if he thought it wouldn't make him much money. And then again, piracy (at least considering the movie industry, which is what I follow) isn't making much harm anyway, just look at the first week profit of The Avengers. You don't usually find movies from amateur director to download, and if you do, you can (and a lot of people do) support the director by buying it - but that doesn't mean you should be obligated to do it.

PS: Copyright law (correct me if I'm wrong) dictates that the material is protected many years after it's creators death. I mean, that's not protectionism.
 
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#30
I know this thread is old, but I'm still tempted to toss in my two cents. I think intellectual property and copyright law aren't INHERENTLY good or bad, they have their pros and cons. However, society and legal systems today, ESPECIALLY in the U.S., tend viciously to err on the side of the copyright owner above all else. Here are some examples, one pro-copyright, one anti-.
Imagine you're Markus Persson. You've just been inspired to create Minecraft. You know that developing this idea will take a huge investment of time. You also know that this idea is amazing, and you want to see it through. You also want a fair return on the investment of time you're putting in, based on the perceived value of the idea itself. All these are relatively reasonable expectations. However, in a world completely without copyright law, you know that among the first buyers of your game will be someone who copies it and distributes it for a much lower price, potentially for free. With this in mind, you most likely won't invest as much time in the idea, possibly abandoning it altogether. Just like that, Minecraft has never been made.
Now, on to my counterexample. Appropriately, it also involves Mojang. A while back, there was a court case kerfuffle between Mojang and Bethesda regarding Mojang's game, Scrolls. Bethesda sued Mojang for copyright infringement, stating that a game titled "Scrolls" would steal profit from their Elder Scrolls series. Of course, the court ruled in favor of Mojang, but here's the thing; Bethesda HAD to sue Mojang. If they hadn't, it would have set a precedent that would make it harder for them to take to court more legitimate copyright infringements in the future.
All this said, it's clear that copyright law, while IN SOME CASES beneficial, it can and regularly does go too far. I, personally, propose that a revamping of both copyright law as it pertains to holder's rights and court precedence as pertaining to copyright law. A world completely without copyright would be a world with less motivation for independent creation, possibly tempered, but not made better, by an arms race between copy protection software and copying software. Meanwhile, the world in which we live has huge publishers holding thousands of patents and copyrights and abusing their holder's rights to utterly destroy any opposition, even going so far as to control Let's Play videos that reflect less-than-stellar opinions of a game. I think the very first step is in making it easier for content creators to obtain and exercise copyrights and patents on their content independently, so that the obsolescence of publishers can be highlighted by the development of the entertainment industry business model as a whole.
Another example. Let's say I'm planning to publish and sell a game with the basic concept of exploring people's mental worlds, where their psychological quirks and neuroses are given literal, tangible form. Under current copyright law, Double Fine has every right to take me to court right now for copyright infringement of their IP Psychonauts. But the only thing I said was similar was the central concept. Maybe my game's a survival-horror game where powerful psychics rule the world and oppress non-psychics, and the player character is a psychic whose powers are just developing, so they decide to take on the psychic overlords of the world and fight for the ideals of freedom of thought. However, if my game is just a shot-for-shot mockbuster titled "Cognonauts", Double Fine, or, more specifically, Tim Schafer, would have a legitimate grievance. Now for the gray area. Let's say Cognonauts exists as a game I'm making. Judging by the title, art style, surface concept, and core gameplay, it's more or less identical to Psychonauts. However, Cognonauts takes place in Communist Russia, where the player character is a psychic in training to join the titular organization, which are basically psychic Soviet Thought Police. The story, writing, and level design all invoke Orwellian concepts, borrowing heavily from 1984, specifically. At this point, despite the similarities, Cognonauts is artistically distinct from Psychonauts, and, while it does borrow heavily enough from the original game to call its claim of originality into question, it should be allowed to exist as its own entity.
Relevant to the discussion, I hereby relinquish all ownership of the concept of Cognonauts. I know I'll never do anything with it, but it's a game I'd like to play, so if someone else wants to make it, feel free.
 
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