IP infringement and definitions

Apparently the current US administration is pushing to ‘reform’ intellectual property laws, and even some popular tech sites have chimed in. Anyone around me for any length of time over the last few years knows that intellectual property is a pet subject of mine, so I can’t help but be annoyed by what they are saying.  Is piracy theft? Well yes, but I don’t agree with what they mean. I think intellectual property is an altogether invalid concept, and even find the term ‘intellectual property’ itself objectionable because the word ‘property’ can’t legitimately be applied to ideas, patterns, or arrangements. Property by definition needs to be able to be owned in an exclusive manner. I suppose that is why they had to add the word ‘intellectual’ in front of it – to distinguish it from actual property, in which case they may as well have called it ‘imaginary property’! The argument is framed by the terms used. My aim here will to briefly question definitions. With diagrams I ‘stole’.

There is the somewhat popular graphic that emerged a while back.

In a simple way gets at a core issue. Scarce vs. non-scarce entities. 'ownership' is not violated by duplication in the way it obviously is by theft.

And lots of variations springing out of that:

pirate hater
Didn't like the original, so attempts to recast the 'pirates' as evil without really dealing with the scarcity issue. I guess the underlying claim is that piracy 'steals' the possibility to profit exclusively, and those potential profits were somehow owned by an ideas originator, however, you can't really own an opportunity any more than you can own an idea so it doesn't hold water.
Just decided pigs were more fun than stars I guess...

Some people prefer hexagons and shopping carts

A feeble attempt to appeal to the plight of the starving artist while again ignoring the core issues. Has this person lived under copyright for so long they have no ability to imagine alternative models of profitability? Do they really think without IP all creativity and innovation will cease? In general IP benefits the big guys more than the little guys. Many independent artists thrive without IP, others just prefer to do art for arts sake.
file sharing not piracy
Pulls into question the usage of the term 'piracy' with a touch of humor.

File sharing has evolved some, and I sort of feel it is worth while to illustrate how as it is actually quite relevant to the file sharing legality issue. However, I can’t really do it better than the wikipedia article on torrenting, and this demo (won’t work in IE, don’t try) does a slick job of illustrating a torrent in action.

Copying is duplication, not piracy. Piracy is theft in international waters. Theft only operates in the realm of property and ownership. Property is a scarce resource that can have exclusive ownership. Ideas can have an originators but not owners.

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Intellectual Property Debate

I recently have become very interested in this topic. I read this review which lead me this free book. So far I have only read the introduction, but I am eager to continue. A few months ago I read Against Intellectual Property which was very intriguing, but left me wondering about practical application

This new book makes a bold general claim:

Since there is no evidence that intellectual monopoly
achieves the desired purpose of increasing innovation and creation,
it has no benefits. So there is no need for society to balance the
benefits against the costs. This leads us to our final conclusion:
intellectual property is an unnecessary evil.

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Marriage and the State

Watching a little Leno the other night, not a normal thing for me. Ellen was a guest, and I guess it was news that she recently married some woman. California allows that now I guess. She made a comment that made me think. People are raising money to help do something to get the California gay marriage thing overturned, and she made it seem like that was a bad idea considering the economic crisis that is going on. What made me think was what if proposition 18, or whatever it was – I can’t remember, did pass, and gay marriage in Cali was overturned. If the state comes in and says, “sorry, you are no longer married”, other than making them mad what does that really accomplish?

Here is my point, if the government showed up at my door tomorrow and burned my marriage certificate thingy, I would in no way cease to be married in reality (though I might have issues with lawyers and insurance companies and stuff like that who don’t believe me…). I think most people, at least the happily married ones, would feel the same way, and what that means is that governments role in defining marriage is bogus. As a disclaimer, I am not advocating homosexuality, or saying gay marriages should be allowed. I am just saying people need to think more about the definition of marriage and who has the right to change it.

I see marriage having two levels, a theological or spiritual level, and a social contract level. The state has jurisdiction over one but certainly not the other. I think a lot of the controversy over the whole gay marriage thing has to do with people missing this distinction and not understanding definitions, the government seizing to much of a role, and the people not questioning the government enough in that. Share your thoughts but keep it a friendly exchange please.

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Open Debates

opendebates.org logo

The Presidential debates that took place last week were a waste of time in my opinion, and I know many who would say the same. McCain and Obama bickered back and forth, but never really got at substantial differences in their political philosophy. A good example is how they went on about nuances of interventionist foreign policy, but the question of whether we can afford to maintain such a world empire, the ethical objections, and the political repercussions of such a policy never made a blip on the radar.

The debates didn’t used to be so meaningless. OpenDebates.org, a site pointed out to me recently by a friend, presents some incredibly interesting history. True like much of the non-mainstream political stuff it does smack of conspiracy theory a bit, yet they provide enough facts and references to be actually alarming. Their goal is basically to break the stranglehold of the two party regime, or at least its stagnation, by reopening the debates. I encourage you to check it out, tell friends, and in general become less apathetic. While you’re at it consider voting for a third party candidate.

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