Lovely Lies - Damn Lies - and I.P.

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Confusing the intangible with the tangible

Commenting on my post of December 12 ,2007 — What's wrong with the GNU GPL?

Alan wrote, “I believe the core argument in this post is: "Copyright is one of the state's basic mechanisms for seducing weak minds into sanctioning governmental violence to enforce contrived rights who's only hope of possibly being realized lies in the menacing threat of arrogant aggression." Without commenting on the rest of the post (which I mostly agree with), I feel this main point needs rebuttal.
    While the post in question concerned various (largely laudable) observations concerning the GNU General Public License, Alan did identify the single sentence that best captures my primary core argument. It could consequently be argued that this terribly belated response should follow Alan's comment under my original provocative post. I have, instead elected to create a new main (root level) post for the following reasons:
      1) Alan's comments far exceeds the scope of the main post.
      2) It's my unwary way of dignifying all my brutish ape-like chest pounding that has preceded this event.


Alan, graciously continues, “First, let me point out the extreme irony in this idea. It is no doubt that Mr. Z. Clark is strongly of the libertarian persuasion (as I am), sharing the two most important core beliefs of abhorrence from unnecessary force, and utmost respect for (physical) property rights. Yet, this is an argument over an abhorrence for intellectual property (IP) rights.
    Thanks, a better lead-in would be hard to come by. A no doubt conclusion (accusation) of my strong libertarian persuasion merits a few shared reflections however. I wonder if said persuasion is evident from this blog's contents or has more to do with personal knowledge of say the fact I ran against D. Gephardt as a Libertarian. In any event, the average libertarian may well cringe at any Z.Clark associations. If I had the stomach to investigate such things, Libertarians would likely still prove to be the least offensive political party in the US. But like the GPL, the mere exercise of either lends credence to a system which is ill founded at base. It's quaint at best to hope Libertarians can improve/salvage what the ‘Founding Fathers’ could not (i.e. the morbid transition from confederacy, to republic, to democracy on to socialism is systemic in nature and is fated to unfold as such despite the bloody patriot's best intentions). A flattering distinction for the GPL is that it hopefully sets a precedence (wittingly or not) of binding the machine against itself.
    To more directly contest the issue however, Alan apparently considers my inability to equate the “physical” horse in my front yard to the “intellectual” unicorn in Danny's imagination as “extreme irony” ... hmmm. All are invited to rephrase the foregoing to more advantageously reflect their perspective. Nevertheless the real crux of the problem I see lies in first 1) inventing then 2) claiming and finally 3) protecting ‘rights’ in the first place.

Alan: "Assume two people toil to create something useful to others. One builds a widget, and the other writes a book. Assume both items have real, physical properties, as well as IP. Virtually every government in the modern world have laws which protect both. That is it is both illegal to steal either the widget or the book, and it is also illegal to sell identical copies of either without agreement from the creator of the widget or book (assuming neither person abdicated their physical property or IP claims).
    I underscored the third sentence because despite its dubious significance, Alan still uses it to support follow on assertions. Given Alan's above context/usage of the word “properties”, it almost has to mean “attributes”. So is that what the “P” in “IP” also means?? Is that what it always means? Or does it sometimes mean “possession”? To best support Alan's efforts, let me try to express more exactly what Alan likely wants to say. “Assume both items are ideal examples of real physical property as well as IP.” Well I guess that's more useful than essentially saying that widgets have physical & intellectual(?) properties. Yet in whatever case, I'm still too dense to see any points being made here at all. Unless -god forbid- we want to maintain that IP has obvious merit since virtually every government in the modern world have statutes promoting it. Please don't make me go through the agony of conclusively demonstrating just how sick it would be to derive moral instruction from government acts. Even from the get-go, why in the world should we, “Assume two people toil to create something useful to others.”?? What's the deal with two people? Is toiling a necessary ingredient? And even more interesting is the objective “to create something useful to others.” I mean the same person could have both made a widget and written a book. And in the case of the Q'tip the toiling amounted to observing his wife prepare a swab to use on their baby. Lastly, if the real motivation is to create something useful to others then enforcement of IP rights would surely prove counter productive to that objective. Moreover, Alan seems to forget that even the government statutes he apparently adores, clearly distinguishes between the illegality of steeling a woman's pot of day old spaghetti and distributing copies of her recipe from the book she published which you bought and own (as the latter is addressed via privileged ‘owners’ being empowered by the state to sue offenders). And that's not even mentioning the distressing newspeak Alan employs. So gee-whiz, to have something with some chance of putting me in a corner then perhaps it will help to create a whole new example. Let's try this:

S is a red-neck Nazi father-raper who murdered his Jesuit inbred half brother to steel family land ill-gained through illegal drugs, KKK affiliations, the broken backs of black slaves, and prostitution. Land was originally occupied by enlightened Anasazi until they were heinously consumed by ravenous boars under the direction of Satanist. Land was subsequently used illegally to bury huge amounts of atomic waste, arsenals of chemical warfare, and even graphic pornography by S.
      W is an African-Hebrew born death, dumb, & blind. Her ancestors valiantly escaped daily cotton field beatings only to locate in Germany and later have her faithful family largely parish in Hitler's concentration camps. Unlike S, who's never even exercises much less works (except to commit atrocities), W toils tirelessly due to sleep disorders attributed to terrible traumas suffered at the prime of her innocence via unspeakable violations of virgin orifices by none other than S himself. Despite all the horror she's suffered from misunderstood cheek turning, W has remained a steadfast altruist and voter. Rather than express her tragically undeserved self-loathing by bodily giving herself to the lowest lifeforms imaginable, W has instead sacrificed herself for the good of humanity by performing countless antagonizing experiments on her own person. More remarkable yet, W can barely think since doing so invokes unimaginably excruciating migraines. Nevertheless W has endured thousands of tortuous hours of pure pain praying, tabulating the results of her self-inflicted experiments, and digesting volumes of material from holly ancient text to bleeding edge medical reviews – all of which has resulted in a 100% cancer cure using unheard of ingredients in a previously indescribable manner (i.e. ZERO infringement problems). W's aversion too any sinful forms of pleasure naturally extends to capitalism at large, so her initial impulse was to put her invention into the public domain for free access by all. However, manufacture of the cancer cure produces a side product with menacing mind bending qualities leading to dangerously independent thinking and hence a major threat to the American way of life. By virtue of being awarded the Nobel peace prize and a congressional metal of honor among other notable tokens, W realized that she alone can be trusted to manufacture her cancer cure. So to best ‘protect’ not only her invention but global humanity as well, a patent was deemed necessary.
      Disturbingly, procuring a patent proved to be unmeasurable more arduous than both her appalling past and the rigors of creating a cancer cure; but in the end W prevailed with her precious patent. Now as fate would have it every person of S's prodigy including S himself was dying of cancer. Right, you guessed it, the first thing W does after receiving her patent is visit S at his mansion and successfully cures him and all his family. Regretfully, this fails to reform S's black heart. Within days of his full recovery S steels W's IP as published at the PTO and goes into full scale production. Predictably, all the cancer cure S produces is used as his personal ceremonious masturbation fluid. Moreover, S becomes filthy rich selling the minding bending side substance tax free on the black market. W would have humbly forgiven this grand thievery of intellectual property (not to mention tax avoidance) and even the havoc over running the world due to said side substance. But S also selfishly bought up all the available ingredients so W is mournfully precluded from effecting her life saving cancer cure – and that is simply an unforgivable violation of her rights to save the world. Nevertheless, to be fair and give S the benefit of the doubt, W -in a show of good faith- arranges a meeting to discuss the situation with S that same day. Not being anyone's fool and out of respect for S's depravity, W would have surgically removed her own breast to best assure S's unperverted attention during this historic meeting; but alas, there was no time for such luxuries. Finally as the ultimate sacrifice (as if yet more was required), W is able to salvage a dose of the side-substance from her own lab that miraculously & providentially had not yet been incinerated. This she will carry to the meeting in her purse and consume after entering S's premises. This will hopefully distort W's mind sufficiently so she can better relate to S (who presumably ingests the god-forbidden substance regularly). W naturally realizes that the world's health hinges on this meeting and reasoning with S will constitute her greatest mental challenge ever ... the resulting migraine may well do her in. In preparation for her arrival, S posts prominent signs stating in both Braille and bold letters, “Private REAL Property -- Trespassers will be Prosecuted to the full extent of the LAW!” Hopefully we can all see where this is leading, so let's just jump to the big obvious question, “Can even Z.Clark (the prince of irony) support S's right to imprison W for trespassing yet still wholly deny noble W any I.P. protections what-so-ever?
— Stay tuned —



Alan: “There is nothing wrong with freely releasing all claims of ownership, but the argument in this blog suggest that all claims to retain ownership of creative intellectual work are necessarily wrong.
      “Claims” to be the grim reaper, the inventor of the Internet or whatever is wholly superfluous. In other words, any mere claim per se is just a passing curiosity at best. The rub comes from acting upon or enforcing said claims. Nevertheless Alan merits 98.7% credit on calling this one correctly. 100% would go more like this: ‘This blog makes the astonishing claim that a Submachine gun –for instance– and a poem about same do have different characteristics (as subtle as they may be). Moreover, ignoring said differences in the whimsical creation of statutes to supposedly ‘protect’ IP under the guise of ‘property’ shall result in less than optimal results (at least in terms of promoting creativity or freedom).’ However, to placate potential objections to a silly Submachine gun example (and strengthen my point), we could just as well consider a comparison between the half buried bolder in my back yard used as a ritualistic sacrificial stone alter (RP) and the working design of a bona fide anti-gravity machine (IP).

Alan: “… I clearly understand how boundaries of ownership regarding IP can become much less easy to identify (e.g., when does a derivative design or writing become a trespassing copy of the original?) than property (although meandering rivers can easily cause havoc to any reasonable system of property titling bordered by the river in similarly murky grounds; pun intended).
      Thank you, the above criticism of IP is right on target if not woefully understated and barely scratching the surface. Plus I do feel sorry for Alan's cause if his best apology/defense for the noted IP quagmire lies with meandering rivers in the physical world. The unfortunate observation this begs is that while the boundary problem is an issue (if not the issue) in practically any instance of IP, meandering rivers is a comparatively infinitesimal issue in the real world. Ahhh, but one needs to be very careful here, because even though the proceeding argument packs a knock-out punch for IP, it is wholly off point of the big lie (as we'll see). So in actuality, undue focus on the cancerous issues Alan cites inadvertently lends a false dignity to IP newspeak (as much more fundamental problems beg attention).

Alan: “While there is much wrong with IP law, there is also much right with it. I think it is the necessity (apparently) of arbitrariness regarding things like time limits, determination of boundaries, identification of ownership when contested, etc., which is the real core of the issue. However, the difficulty in sometimes identifying boundaries or owners or the lengths of limitation of state protection of property rights do not make IP wrong, only difficult.
      Again, the above well demonstrates that “there is much wrong with IP law,” but disconcertingly offers absolutely nothing to show how “there is also much right with it” (if anything at all). Nevertheless, the above thankfully holds a crucial crux to a real identifiable difference between Alan and myself; because the problems Alan cite are NOT –by any means– “the real core of the issue.” (although they are more than sufficient to constitute a death blow for IP).

Alan: “As with most libertarians, compromise is an anathema to all they believe, and the apparent necessity of compromises in dealing with and determining IP boundaries results in declarations such as what started this blog. I contend these difficulties are no excuse for absolute abrogating all ties to property of the intellectual type.
      While Libertarians (and other ‘third parties’) could hardly be less coherent than the two biggies, I'd be leery about assuming any pervasive anti-compromise bearing on their part at large. Moreover, my initial reaction is – this is not about compromise at all (at least not the ones Alan sees). Yet sadly enough, nothing is cheaper than the compromise, so that option always exists – the glorious middle of the road. If you were, for instance, against witch burnings back in the 1720s, an appropriate and dignified compromise might be assenting to simply pulling their nails out and beating them senseless for their nonconformity. Yet the real IP related compromise that confronts us is even worse (logically speaking). To even deal with the issue at the same level Alan wants, I'd first have to essentially agree that the polka-dotted unicorn I invented for my son's bedtime story is my (intellectual) property and worthy of legal protections (very tempting). That may perhaps sound unfairly trivializing yet we'll soon demonstrate that even our authentic anti-gravity design is no better off. Finally regarding Alan's aversion to “absolute abrogating” – I'd plead heck YEA! IP was one damn bastardized, ill-conceived baby that should have been thrown out with the bath water long before it grew into the morbid malfunctioning monster it has unavoidably become.

Alan: “We do not claim the state seduces week minds into sanctioning governmental violence to enforce land or ‘widget’ property rights, so why would we make such a claim for mental property which comes from similar level of efforts producing analogous value in the form of creative designs, books, etc.?
    OK, as Popeye would say (and to shameless violate Mr. Elzie Crisler Segar's ‘property’ with abandon), “That's alls I can stands, and I can't stands no more.
      The most classic newspeak ploy of all is to apply the same word to things with diametric attributes; and then treat/relate them as equals simply due to said lame naming convention. I exaggerate not. Patents are forever reverenced for ‘protecting’ inventions, software, etc. (as if they could be damaged). Or worse yet about ‘pirates’ ‘stealing’ intangible IP (if its tangible it's not IP). It's really no less ridiculous to talk about the need to ‘protect’ a number from damage or thief (indeed, any digital work can literally be construed as a rather sizable number). When it comes to the tangible, “Possession is 9/10s ‘law’.” (as much as I hate to bring up, such a newspeak ladened saying). There are natural physical reasons why this is universally true, generally respected and normally enforceable without any police force what-so-ever (whereas any possible hope of IP enforcement necessitates an extremely heavy handed state). The tangible (as characterized by Stallman's plate of spaghetti) has the property that if it is possessed or consumed by one then it is not simultaneously available to another. Moreover, if it is stolen from you then you are without. The case for intangible IP is the exact opposite. There is no limit to the number of copies that can exist without any damage at all to some imagined original. {Aside: The YeNom capitalizes on this fact big time and enjoys the unique characteristic that its owner's proprietorship is increased/secured when it is held or accessed by increasing numbers of others.} So herein lies the real crux – at base, so called IP has nothing to do with physical property and instead is more like it's antithesis (at least in terms of requiring protection). Consequently the logic of basing and defending IP on the grounds that RP & IP are both ‘property’ (“which comes from similar level of efforts producing analogous value”) is sorely lame to put it kindly. It is understood that the current conservative majority (as well represented by Alan in this instance), will likely feel that I'm coming from some lunatic fringe perspective. However, up until less than a hundred years ago imprisonment for making copies of your own possessions would have seemed horrifyingly inconceivable (not to mention that the original intent of copyright has been turned on its head from ‘protecting’ writers from big publishers to ‘protecting’ the big publishers from their clients).

Although the blatant gargantuan differences between the tangible (a.k.a. “real property”) and intangible (a.k.a. “mental property”) are intrinsic and undeniable, I well realized that no IP defender will concede that this is a real issue (despite their incessant reliance on newspeak that purports no difference between the two). Instead they'll invent sweet moral imperatives to justify state intervention on their behalf. Ignoring inherent fundamentals is not sustainable however without ridiculous ramifications cropping up all over the place. Alan did a good job of identifying several of these euphemistic difficulties, but missed out on my favorite. One of the more ludicrous imaginings of IP is the idea that some mythical original thinker (as determined by the state) of a thought becomes said thought's owner and no one else has the right to benefit from that thought (especially monetarily) other than the officiated state thinker. Again, the only hope of such madness possibly prevailing popularly is through a huge mind numbing state with their “thought police”. A social entity/disease that's ever ready to grow yet larger to protect an unending invention of ‘fair’ and well intended rights.

Harsh off-point objections to my above S&W saga are not hard to anticipate. That was NOT intended to trivialize IP defenders in any way (they do that well enough on their own). Inspired by Alan, I was simply wanting to build an air-tight case infallibly in favor of IP (plus the story is venomously laced with lovely instances of nasty newspeak). If you don't like it then I beseech you to create your own (that out does mine). The whole point is that at the end of it all we're still faced with the bald-face differences that exist between the tangible and intangible which IP proponents (as we've seen here) have a desperate need to chronically ignore. Good-luck!

Comments

completely ridiculous and utterly discredited legal definitions…

[A] With much of the nonsense omitted…

[Z] In setting the context of this argument, Alan maintains that tangible property is a legal concept. OK — fine — and a white-man’s ‘right’ not to share a public bathroom with a black man is also a legal concept. So I can see where throwing IP into the quagmire of legalities is strategically advantageous, but please don’t try to subject tangible property to the same silliness. Is a hammer (as an embodiment of tangible property) not also a legal concept? So while I’d like to help you strengthen your case for IP you seem bent on weakening it.

[A] Trying to tie my claim that tangible property has precise legal definitions, recognized with only minor deviations by all modern civilizations of any consequence, to completely ridiculous and utterly discredited legal definitions related in no way whatsoever to IP is not contributing to this discussion. If I were to claim I stirred in micro-balloons made of glass to prepare epoxy in order to lighten a repair to my radio controlled airplanes, would you then believe it fair game to point out that the Hindenberg was also a balloon which ended in a disaster, so as to disprove the utility of my using micro-balloons? This balloon analogy is a closer fit than is your race discrimination in bathroom law to my IP legal concept point. Please try to talk to the point I am making.

[Z] Alan: “Building widgets and writing books, in the ideal case, are both difficult and creative efforts which produce real value for which libertarian and capitalist ideals would yield real rewards. There was no other reason for using these two examples, except to have a simple example of creating physical and intellectual works (PP and IP) which should deserve remuneration to the extent the product (widget or book) is valuable to others. Government should protect ones ability to trade one’s creation for value from theft by others …
      That’s fine, sane, and good in the case of tangible property but twisted, delusional, and corrupt in the case of IP.

[A] Nice assertion. “[T]wisted, delusional, and corrupt in the case of IP” is completely unsupported with any evidence, or reason, and not true. Yet, this seems to the the entire argument you have against IP.
We both know there are differences between tangible and intangible property. However, because they are different does not make them opposite (tangible property rights not being twisted, delusional, or corrupt). Until the differences can be delineated in ways that are relevant to this discussion, you may NOT assume they are opposites.

Once you agree to stop treating intangible property as fantasies wholly unrelated if not opposite to all things that you do agree is property, then you prevent any meaningful dialog on this issue. To assert IP is not property, as it is recognized by law, requires much more than assertion. The burden of proof on this must be borne by the one making the assertion that is at odds with nearly every legal jurisdiction in the world. I am willing to dissect the differences, but you wholesale dismiss any possibility of attributes related to property that could apply to both tangible and intangible property.

[Z] Alan: “It is the common attributes of PP and IP which justifies common respect of law, and it is the distinctions which justifies the special handling of each in a legal sense.”
      NO. While I’ve compared attributes of the tangible and intangible you’ve disappointingly yet wisely steered clear of that and have instead argued ‘rights’ by appealing to the “toil to create something useful to others”, etc.

[A] Could you please be specific about what useful comparisons between tangible and intangible property you have presented in this discussion? With respect to my “toil” argument, it was an effort to provide a single rational (and not intended to be the only or necessarily the best rational) for the legal status of IP.

If a weak argument disproves your point, then a weak argument is sufficient. A weak argument is not invalidated because it is not the best argument, as you suggest.

Here is another argument to tie intellectual stuff to a legal basis. When you steal or destroy someone’s tangible property, you harm them (for the value of the property) and are subject to legal recourse. When you slander or libel someone, you harm them (for the value of their reputation) and are subject to legal recourse. These are very similar issues concerning legal rights. Destroying someone’s reputation is as legally wrong as destroying someone’s tangible property, and the law approaches both in very similar ways, as it should, even though the reputation is completely intangible.

Here is question on a small twist on my first example of a book authorship. If you write a significant novel, is it OK for someone else to purchase a copy from you, then copy word for word your entire novel and then reprint it for his own sales profit? According to your logic, nothing is being stolen.

[Z] YES. “Breaking and entry” is a logical and readily recognized offense and I am not against statutes designed to punish such acts — regardless if the intruder rapes your wife, reads about your cancer cure or killer virus, or nasty Nancy’s dumb diary. Happy?? Moreover, I’d most emphatically agree that the forced sharing of personal ideas (regardless of how brilliant or moronic) should be a notion that’s innately excluded (due to its absurdity) from ever being seriously considered for legalization. Alan apparently concurs with this by calling said secrecy, “the right not to share it with anyone at all.” (Where “it” could presumably be any IP but in this case is a book in its pure semantic sense.) Unfortunately formulating any defense in such a mystical manner actually serves to undermine the very premise Alan claims to support. It is not difficult to anticipate the legal concept wherein individuals are deemed a child/parasite of the society/state and hence the rights of the parent-state to know and benefit from the thoughts of the offspring clearly eclipse any selfish rights of said thinker. Delightfully, the legal ‘theory’ behind patents was -I thought- a means to seduce/persuade inventors from exercising their secrecy rights and share their ideas in trade for new fandangled IP rights and the power to sue.

[A] You say, “It is not difficult to anticipate the legal concept wherein individuals are deemed a child/parasite of the society/state and hence the rights of the parent-state to know and benefit from the thoughts of the offspring clearly eclipse any selfish rights of said thinker.” It is entirely the inventor’s choice to trade his secret for a limited time legal protection of same, and that choice option only comes after numerous other conditions are met (dealing with the value of the IP to society – novelty, usefulness, non-obviousness, etc.). Patent protection is a counter-argument to the state forced taking of ideas, opposite of what you suggest.

– Alan

Alan means "property" and not "attribute" and not "possession"

Alan: “I meant "property" and not "attribute" and not "possession". These two redefinitions are just a strawman. (Need I define strawman?) Just so there is no confusing the context of this argument, IP is a legal concept, as is physical or tangible property, for the sake of this discussion. The legal definition of property is (from my computer dictionary): the right to the possession, use, or disposal of something; ownership. Not just a generic "attribute", and, more than "possession", the right to possession. A very subtle, but important distinction.

According to Random House Webster's:

prop-er-ty (prop'uhr tee)  n. pl. <-ties>
     1.  that which a person owns; the possession
          or possessions of a particular owner.
     2.  goods, land, etc., considered as
          possessions.
     3.  a piece of land or real estate.
     4.  ownership; right of possession,
          enjoyment, or disposal, esp. of
          something tangible.
     5.  something at the disposal of a person, a
          group of persons, or the community or
          public.
     6.  an essential or distinctive attribute or
          quality of a thing: the chemical
          properties of alcohol.
     7.  Also called [prop.] a usu. movable item
          used onstage or in a film set, esp. one
          handled by an actor or entertainer while
          performing.
     8.  a written work, play, movie, etc., bought
          or optioned for commercial production or
          distribution.
     9.  a person, esp. one under contract in
          entertainment or sports, regarded as
          having commercial value.
[1275-1325; ME proprete possession, attribute,
what is one's own = propre PROPER + -te - TY 2.
Cf. PROPRIETY]


So does your accusation of “redefinitions” apply as well to Webster? I do not know if you were paraphrasing or directly quoting your “computer dictionary”, but claiming “possession” to be a “right” sounds more like a redefinition (although the notion is employed in Webster's #4 in relationship to “ownership” – “esp. of something tangible”). In any event I was merely asking questions to clarify what you were trying to say. So twisting mere inquiries into strawman accusations (a repeated ploy on your part) seems unjust and akin to name calling. Consequently in addition to your interesting definition of “property”, your explicit interpretation of a strawman and how my questions fall into this classification would be most welcomed.
    I do appreciate Alan's above efforts to eliminate any confusion in this discussion and I honestly empathize with his frustrations over my intolerance with newspeak. Moreover, I am sincerely trying NOT to be aggravating – just clear and accurate. Acutely interesting, is Alan's posturing property (and IP in particular) as a right since this unequivocally relegates IP inescapably into the mystic realm that I've directly targeted.
    In setting the context of this argument, Alan maintains that tangible property is a legal concept. OK –fine– and a white-man's ‘right’ not to share a public bathroom with a black man is also a legal concept. So I can see where throwing IP into the quagmire of legalities is strategically advantageous, but please don't try to subject tangible property to the same silliness. Is a hammer (as an embodiment of tangible property) not also a legal concept? So while I'd like to help you strengthen your case for IP you seem bent on weakening it.

Alan: “Building widgets and writing books, in the ideal case, are both difficult and creative efforts which produce real value for which libertarian and capitalist ideals would yield real rewards. There was no other reason for using these two examples, except to have a simple example of creating physical and intellectual works (PP and IP) which should deserve remuneration to the extent the product (widget or book) is valuable to others. Government should protect ones ability to trade one's creation for value from theft by others ...
    That's fine, sane, and good in the case of tangible property but twisted, delusional, and corrupt in the case of IP.

Alan: “It is the common attributes of PP and IP which justifies common respect of law, and it is the distinctions which justifies the special handling of each in a legal sense.
    NO. While I've compared attributes of the tangible and intangible you've disappointingly yet wisely steered clear of that and have instead argued ‘rights’ by appealing to the "toil to create something useful to others”, etc.

Alan: “Any hope of you explaining in simple terms what the 0.3% distinction you are trying to make? It appears to me to be a strawman in that you claim to restate what I should have said, but leave little connection between my point and the restatement. Nowhere in this post do I see you back off from my claim that you contend that all claims of ownership of IP is absolutely unjustified. You try to refine this by 0.3% and do so with what seems to be utter nonsense in your last sentence.
    Fair enough. You said “… the argument in this blog suggest that all claims to retain ownership of creative intellectual work are necessarily wrong.” And I issued a less than optimal quip regarding the word “claims”, etc. So hopefully I can reiterate my position less lavishly now. What's “necessarily wrong” is the employment of newspeak memes to justify ‘rights’ based on fantasized similarities between the tangible and intangible. To the extent that IP embraces such tactics it's every bit as wrong as said tactics. And to the extent it doesn't it ceases to be IP.

Alan: “… before there can be meaningful discussion of the problems refining the edges of IP, there needs to be agreement on why IP is property at all, and you continue to refuse any such acknowledgment; you simply trash my attempts to justify underlying reasons to have any IP with strawman arguments and nit picking of irrelevancies (see above).
    Irrelevancies, to the extent they exist, are only found in my trying to work from your text and build up your arguments. To best guard against this you may consider actually using your best arguments rather than not.

Alan: “… I ask that you refer to tangible property as “physical” or “tangible” (PP or TP). By calling it “real” (RP) to distinguish it from IP, you deny by word play the question of whether IP is real. Also, in legal terms, “real property” refers to land and buildings. Funny, you use this word play argument against me for using the word property with IP. However, that is the legal term, and it is called property for all the reasons I am trying to point out and for which you refuse any acknowledgment.
    “WORD PLAY?” … now that's an interesting call from the kettle. Nevertheless I wholly agree with Alan's point and will now most gladly refer to the anti-thesis of IP as TP for “tangible property” (and IP can thus equally mean intellectual and/or intangible property).

Alan: “… In case you are unclear, “protect” in reference to PP and IP in this context is protection against misuse or theft. There is a legal basis that IP owners may determine acceptable use of their IP. For example (and this is only provided to suggest a possible legitimate, libertarian justification for a case of IP), if I write a book, I have the right not to share it with anyone at all. It is my property and anyone taking the book is stealing it. Reading it without my consent is stealing the content. If the book is a design plan for a fusion reactor, and you steal the book and build and use such a reactor, you have stolen my plan. The law has a legitimate purpose in defending my right to not share my plans with anyone. If I can't get you to agree that simple case is legitimate, then I suppose this discussion has reached a dead end. To repeat, if I write something and choose to keep it hidden from all else, but you steal it and use the unique idea expressed therein against my desire to keep it secret, then you have stolen my IP (copyright, in this case). Do you agree? If so, then we can work to better define the limits of IP legitimacy. However, …
    YES. “Breaking and entry” is a logical and readily recognized offense and I am not against statutes designed to punish such acts – regardless if the intruder rapes your wife, reads about your cancer cure or killer virus, or nasty Nancy's dumb diary. Happy?? Moreover, I'd most emphatically agree that the forced sharing of personal ideas (regardless of how brilliant or moronic) should be a notion that's innately excluded (due to its absurdity) from ever being seriously considered for legalization. Alan apparently concurs with this by calling said secrecy, “the right not to share it with anyone at all.” (Where “it” could presumably be any IP but in this case is a book in its pure semantic sense.) Unfortunately formulating any defense in such a mystical manner actually serves to undermine the very premise Alan claims to support. It is not difficult to anticipate the legal concept wherein individuals are deemed a child/parasite of the society/state and hence the rights of the parent-state to know and benefit from the thoughts of the offspring clearly eclipse any selfish rights of said thinker. Delightfully, the legal ‘theory’ behind patents was –I thought– a means to seduce/persuade inventors from exercising their secrecy rights and share their ideas in trade for new fandangled IP rights and the power to sue.

Alan: “The blatant gargantuan strawman is that anyone is purporting there is no differences between tangible and intangible property.
    Since the “differences between tangible and intangible property” is the real crux of this issue I'd think it would behoove you to address that matter head on rather than hiding behind legal ‘theory’ and common name calling.

Alan: “So, how were the harsh on-point objections to your myriad strawman and slight-of-hand (diversion) arguments?
    In a word, "D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E"

... more than three months since the last comment ...

To quote a brilliant observer of time, referring to himself, as the quote is once again directed, more than three months since the last comment, “I’ve rightfully been faulted for too slowly producing my promised pummelling of the pathetic premises behind Intellectual Property (IP).” Hmm.
-- Alan

Revealing strawmen galore

Z: … Alan apparently considers my inability to equate the “physical” horse in my front yard to the “intellectual” unicorn in Danny's imagination as “extreme irony“ … hmmm. All are invited to rephrase the foregoing to more advantageously reflect their perspective. Nevertheless the real crux of the problem I see lies in first 1) inventing then 2) claiming and finally 3) protecting ‘rights’ in the first place.
      Alan: “Assume two people toil to create something useful to others. One builds a widget, and the other writes a book. Assume both items have real, -physical properties, as well as IP. Virtually every government in the modern world have laws which protect both. That is it is both illegal to steal either the widget or the book, and it is also illegal to sell identical copies of either without agreement from the creator of the widget or book (assuming neither person abdicated their physical property or IP claims).”
      I underscored the third sentence because despite its dubious significance, Alan still uses it to support follow on assertions. Given Alan’s above context/usage of the word “properties”, it almost has to mean “attributes”. So is that what the “P” in “IP” also means?? Is that what it always means? Or does it sometimes mean “possession”? To best support Alan’s efforts, let me try to express more exactly what Alan likely wants to say. “Assume both items are ideal examples of real physical property as well as IP.” Well I guess that’s more useful than essentially saying that widgets have physical & intellectual(?) properties. Yet in whatever case, I’m still too dense to see any points being made here at all. Unless -god forbid- we want to maintain that IP has obvious merit since virtually every government in the modern world have statutes promoting it. …

A: I meant “property” and not “attribute” and not “possession”. These two redefinitions are just a strawman. (Need I define strawman?) Just so there is no confusing the context of this argument, IP is a legal concept, as is physical or tangible property, for the sake of this discussion. The legal definition of property is (from my computer dictionary): the right to the possession, use, or disposal of something; ownership. Not just a generic “attribute”, and, more than “possession”, the right to possession. A very subtle, but important distinction.

There is a fundamental principal in libertarian philosophy which ties ones efforts at creating value to a justifiable reward of possession of that creation. Government has a tendency to steal one's possessions, mostly through taxes, and therefore, reduces the incentive for the effort. There is another fundamental principal in libertarian philosophy which places capitalism as the best means of balancing effort and reward. Difficult or creative efforts that result in valuable results will reap the higher rewards in a capitalistic system, where the opposite, socialism tries to get all to contribute to the common good according to their ability while rewards are dispersed according to need, with little or no connection between the contributions and the rewards. Building widgets and writing books, in the ideal case, are both difficult and creative efforts which produce real value for which libertarian and capitalist ideals would yield real rewards. There was no other reason for using these two examples, except to have a simple example of creating physical and intellectual works (PP and IP) which should deserve remuneration to the extent the product (widget or book) is valuable to others. Government should protect ones ability to trade one's creation for value from theft by others, and Government should not be creating disincentives for such work by stealing the value of the work through taxes.

Z: Please don’t make me go through the agony of conclusively demonstrating just how sick it would be to derive moral instruction from government acts. Even from the get-go, why in the world should we, “Assume two people toil to create something useful to others.”?? What’s the deal with two people? Is toiling a necessary ingredient? And even more interesting is the objective “to create something useful to others.”

A: It pains me to have to digress to spell out in ridiculous detail what should be common ground between us for these points. I am not trying to derive moral instruction from government, but am trying to use standard definition of words, even if the standardization of these legal terms are a product of government.
I do not disregard the differences between PP and IP, but am trying to establish the common attributes of the two. This is why I tried to state simply “Assume two people toil to create something useful to others…” There was no focus on there being exactly TWO people, which for some reason got your goat, but, rather, a focus on distinct efforts that could be evaluated separately and not as something done by a single individual where separating the effort of the PP and the IP could be more confusing. It is the common attributes of PP and IP which justifies common respect of law, and it is the distinctions which justifies the special handling of each in a legal sense.

Z: S is a red-neck Nazi father-raper who murdered his Jesuit inbred half brother to steel family land ill-gained through illegal drugs, KKK affiliations, the broken backs of black slaves, and prostitution. Land was originally occupied by enlightened Anasazi until they were heinously consumed by ravenous boars under the direction of Satanist. Land was subsequently used illegally to bury huge amounts of atomic waste, arsenals of chemical warfare, and even graphic pornography by S.

A: Sorry, but I do not have the patience to wade through this nonsense. Please make your points simply, without unnecessary obfuscations. Further attempts to make more confusing those points I tried to make are similarly ignored below.

Z: Alan: “There is nothing wrong with freely releasing all claims of ownership, but the argument in this blog suggest that all claims to retain ownership of creative intellectual work are necessarily wrong.”
      “Claims” to be the grim reaper, the inventor of the Internet or whatever is wholly superfluous. In other words, any mere claim per se is just a passing curiosity at best. The rub comes from acting upon or enforcing said claims. Nevertheless Alan merits 98.7% credit on calling this one correctly. 100% would go more like this: “This blog makes the astonishing claim that a Submachine gun –for instance– and a poem about same do have different characteristics (as subtle as they may be). Moreover, ignoring said differences in the whimsical creation of statutes to supposedly ‘protect’ IP under the guise of ‘property’ shall result in less than optimal results (at least in terms of promoting creativity or freedom).” However, to placate potential objections to a silly Submachine gun example (and strengthen my point), we could just as well consider a comparison between the half buried bolder in my back yard used as a ritualistic sacrificial stone alter (RP) and the working design of a bona fide anti-gravity machine (IP).

A: Any hope of you explaining in simple terms what the 0.3% distinction you are trying to make? It appears to me to be a strawman in that you claim to restate what I should have said, but leave little connection between my point and the restatement. Nowhere in this post do I see you back off from my claim that you contend that all claims of ownership of IP is absolutely unjustified. You try to refine this by 0.3% and do so with what seems to be utter nonsense in your last sentence.

Z: Alan: “While I clearly understand how boundaries of ownership regarding IP can become much less easy to identify (e.g., when does a derivative design or writing become a trespassing copy of the original?) than property (although meandering rivers can easily cause havoc to any reasonable system of property titling bordered by the river in similarly murky grounds; pun intended).”
      Thank you, the above criticism of IP is right on target if not woefully understated and barely scratching the surface. Plus I do feel sorry for Alan’s cause if his best apology/defense for the noted IP quagmire lies with meandering rivers in the physical world. The unfortunate observation this begs is that while the boundary problem is an issue (if not the issue) in practically any instance of IP, meandering rivers is a comparatively infinitesimal issue in the real world. Ahhh, but one needs to be very careful here, because even though the proceeding argument packs a knock-out punch for IP, it is wholly off point of the big lie (as we’ll see). So in actuality, undue focus on the cancerous issues Alan cites inadvertently lends a false dignity to IP newspeak (as much more fundamental problems beg attention).

A: First, the wandering river was never claimed to be a “best defense”. It is simply a counter example to the frequent assumption that the acknowledged problems with IP are unique to IP, and non-existent with PP.

Second, before there can be meaningful discussion of the problems refining the edges of IP, there needs to be agreement on why IP is property at all, and you continue to refuse any such acknowledgment; you simply trash my attempts to justify underlying reasons to have any IP with strawman arguments and nit picking of irrelevancies (see above).

Third, I ask that you refer to tangible property as “physical” or “tangible” (PP or TP). By calling it “real” (RP) to distinguish it from IP, you deny by word play the question of whether IP is real. Also, in legal terms, “real property” refers to land and buildings. Funny, you use this word play argument against me for using the word property with IP. However, that is the legal term, and it is called property for all the reasons I am trying to point out and for which you refuse any acknowledgement.

Z: Alan: “We do not claim the state seduces week minds into sanctioning governmental violence to enforce land or ‘widget’ property rights, so why would we make such a claim for mental property which comes from similar level of efforts producing analogous value in the form of creative designs, books, etc.?”
      … The most classic newspeak ploy of all is to apply the same word to things with diametric attributes; and then treat/relate them as equals simply due to said lame naming convention. I exaggerate not. Patents are forever reverenced for ‘protecting’ inventions, software, etc. (as if they could be damaged).

A: “As if they could be damaged” is a strawman word play. You pick a non-relevent definition of “protecting”, a word I did not even use in this reference, and then tear down my supposed use of this word with the irrelevant definition. In case you are unclear, “protect” in reference to PP and IP in this context is protection against misuse or theft. There is a legal basis that IP owners may determine acceptable use of their IP. For example (and this is only provided to suggest a possible legitimate, libertarian justification for a case of IP), if I write a book, I have the right not to share it with anyone at all. It is my property and anyone taking the book is stealing it. Reading it without my consent is stealing the content. If the book is a design plan for a fusion reactor, and you steal the book and build and use such a reactor, you have stolen my plan. The law has a legitimate purpose in defending my right to not share my plans with anyone. If I can’t get you to agree that simple case is legitimate, then I suppose this discussion has reached a dead end. To repeat, if I write something and choose to keep it hidden from all else, but you steal it and use the unique idea expressed therein against my desire to keep it secret, then you have stolen my IP (copyright, in this case). Do you agree? If so, then we can work to better define the limits of IP legitimacy. However, …

Z: Or worse yet about ‘pirates’ ‘stealing’ intangible IP (if its tangible it’s not IP). It’s really no less ridiculous to talk about the need to ‘protect’ a number from damage or thief (indeed, any digital work can literally be construed as a rather sizable number).

A: I am not arguing that any specific idea could not be represented as a single integer, but in such a case, it is the representational syntax of the idea you are arguing about, when IP has everything to do with semantics and little to do with syntax. In other words, your “number” idea is barely more than another strawman argument. Not really a strawman, but not relevant; a diversion at best.

Z: When it comes to the tangible, “Possession is 9/10s ‘law’.” (as much as I hate to bring up, such a newspeak ladened saying). …

A: Possession is not the law; this saying is mostly bunk, outside of its narrow scope. Registered/documented tangible properties, such as cars or insurance policies or cell phones or plenty of other kinds of properties are owned by the registered owner and ownership is not in any way influenced by the possessor. Non-registered properties have more difficult issues with determination of ownership when in dispute, but possession is only a starting presumption and not a determination of legal ownership. This adds nothing to the IP subject at hand, beyond creation of a non-relevant basis on which to make a comparison to IP for the purposes of clearly demonstrating it's non-applicability. In other words, another diversion argument.

Z: … the logic of basing and defending IP on the grounds that RP & IP are both ‘property’ (”which comes from similar level of efforts producing analogous value”) is sorely lame to put it kindly. It is understood that the current conservative majority (as well represented by Alan in this instance), will likely feel that I’m coming from some lunatic fringe perspective. However, up until less than a hundred years ago imprisonment for making copies of your own possessions would have seemed horrifyingly inconceivable (not to mention that the original intent of copyright has been turned on its head from ‘protecting’ writers from big publishers to ‘protecting’ the big publishers from their clients).

A: Nice of you to equate possession with ownership (wrong, as shown above) in order to create another absurd argument: making copies of your own property must be an imprisonable offense if making copies of someone else's property is an imprisonable offense, as though it matters whether it was different 100 years ago. Also, would you care to explain how copyright protects publishers from their clients? Sounds as if you are saying protecting publishers from the authors, but I think you mean protecting publishers from book purchasers. If the latter, then the publisher is the agent of the author, and as long as the contract between the publisher and author is reasonable, the protection of theft is for the author and publisher (per contractual agreement) and against those not buying the book (legitimate customers), but from those copying and selling the book other than as authorized by the publisher/author. How is this is any ways different than the original intent of copyright law?

Z: Although the blatant gargantuan differences between the tangible (a.k.a. “real property”) and intangible (a.k.a. “mental property”) are intrinsic and undeniable, I well realized that no IP defender will concede that this is a real issue (despite their incessant reliance on newspeak that purports no difference between the two).

A: The blatant gargantuan strawman is that anyone is purporting there is no differences between tangible and intangible property.

Z: Harsh off-point objections to my above S&W saga are not hard to anticipate.

A: So, how were the harsh on-point objections to your myriad strawman and slight-of-hand (diversion) arguments?

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