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Yeager and Other Letters Re Liberty article "Libertarianism and Intellectual Property"

My article "Intellectual Property and Libertarianism" was published in the December, 2009 issue of Liberty; the March 2010 issue features the following exchange in the "Letters" section.

Philosophizing IP

Thanks to Stephan Kinsella for questioning the justice of intellectual property ("Intellectual Property and Libertarianism," December 2009). Like many libertarians, he posits property rights as the foundation of libertarian political theory, and suggests that because it is a derivative concept, we stop calling the nonaggression principle an "axiom." So far so good. But Anthony de Jasay suggests that the concept of "property" itself should in turn be considered derivative, from the still more fundamental principle of liberty of contract. De Jasay also defines "rights" and "liberties" more carefully and usefully than most libertarians, who use these loaded words all too loosely Kinsella included. (See de Jasay's "Choice, Contract, Consent," or "Before Resorting to Politics," reprinted in "Against Politics.")

Kinsella's attempt to show that no well-formulated property rights can apply to pure information seems dubious. Yes, information can escape physical confines and reproduce in ways that physical objects can't, but so what? Perhaps the real question is not whether IP should be classified ontologically with other forms of "property," but whether voluntary agreements can be reached (without the help of legislatures) that would make revelation, or publication, or mishandling of information a tort. Clearly some can; what of contracts to protect trade secrets, and other nondisclosure agreements?

Never mind that the concept of "self-ownership" has philosophical problems that Kinsella does need to take more seriously. I've been suspicious of "property rights reductionism" ever since I noticed that it led Rothbard to believe in his own IP rights as an author of copyrighted writings, even as he disparaged the IP rights of professional inventors. At least Kinsella avoids this inconsistency (if that's what it is).

Kinsella is right to seek the philosophical foundations of the IP question; let's hope he keeps digging.

Lew Randall Freeland, WA

What Would Edison Do?

It was a pleasure reading Stephan Kinsella's piece "Intellectual Property and Libertarianism." I'm in agreement with its content as regards the nature and source of property rights. What I find impossible to accept is the view that there is no good utilitarian argument in support of legislated patent and copyright law. Would Thomas Edison and his financial backers have invested so much time, effort, and money just for the pleasure of exercising intellectual creativity? I certainly wouldn't, and I suspect I'm not alone. Having said this, in a free society, would it be a legitimate government function to establish rights where none "naturally" exist, even if the consequence of such legislation would foster an improvement in the quality of human existence? By establishing such rights, or should I say "privileges," wouldn't the freedom of action of others be curtailed? Formulated this way I opt for principle over utility, as the slippery slope comes to mind.

Howard Shafran Shelter Island, NY

The Property of the Mind

Before finally getting around to the topic of his article on intellectual property, Stephan Kinsella trumpets the proposition that each person "owns" his own body; he "inhabits" it; he is its "occupant" and Kinsella uses those very words. He dismisses as "silly wordplay" the objection that each person just is himself or his body. But who is perpetrating wordplay? Who is tainting sound political philosophy with dubious metaphysics?

Kinsella echoes the old mind-body dichotomy, the notion of the self as "the ghost in the machine" (Gilbert Ryle's derogatory description of Descartes' dualism). On the contrary, each person's mind and consciousness are functions, remarkable functions, of his body and specifically his brain. Does Kinsella really mean that the self is distinct from the body? Does the one survive dissolution of the other? (Does the self exist even before its body is born?) Does Kinsella believe in ghosts or angels? What evidence, beyond very dubious evidence, can he cite? If Kinsella does not really mean what he says, he should use more exact words.

The self-ownership slogan finds some resonance in libertarian circles. But libertarians should go beyond displaying their authenticity to each other; they should try to persuade nonlibertarians. They should avoid irrelevant metaphysics. They should put their best foot forward, not their worst. I do not mean that they should dilute their libertarianism; rather, they should present it attractively.

Perhaps Kinsella could find some (feeble) excuse for his metaphysics, but he would still be putting a worst foot forward.

Leland Yeager Auburn, AL

Copy Shop

Stephan Kinsella's argument against IP is seriously flawed. For instance, he states that copyright is "received automatically, whether you want it or not, and is hard to get rid of." Copyright, that is, the right to make copies of your work, is inherent in the creation of the work. It is not "received" by law. You can waive your copyright easily by simply making copies and distributing them without the required copyright notice. Copyright law recognizes, defines, and controls to some extent your rights to control the copying and dissemination of your work.

He also states that "We libertarians already realize that . . . the right to a reputation protected by defamation law" is illegitimate. This libertarian does not realize such illegitimacy. The libertarian principle is that no person has the right to initiate aggression against another. Spreading lies or untruths to destroy the reputation of another person is clearly within the definition of aggression.

Kinsella makes a number of references to "homesteaders," mainly, I believe, to emphasize the difference between property that you can hold in your hand, i.e., the soil from your farmland, and the more ephemeral IP which is snatched out of thin air and dissipates in the wind, i.e., the sound of a melody. However, this comparison overlooks the intellectual content of real estate (property) improvement. A farmer who homesteads a parcel of land must decide what crop will be successful on that land. A pineapple ranch in North Dakota will not succeed. Once the crop is chosen, the farmer must implement a plan for the planting and harvesting of the crop. In the case of, say, music, running a melody over in your head or tinkering on a piano is just the beginning of the creative process. It must be transcribed and carefully inspected to make sure that each note is properly chosen and placed. Then you can make your copies, register the copyright and begin selling copies of your work. With a little luck, someone may make a successful recording.

Patents are similar. You come up with the idea, develop it into a saleable product, manufacture copies and sell them. When a buyer buys a copy of your work, either invention or literary work, what does he buy? Under the law, he buys that one copy of your invention. Defining what is embodied in that one copy can get messy because the human mind is messy, but the buyer does not buy anything other than that one copy. He cannot make copies and distribute them.

So what can you do with your copy of the work or invention? You can write a critique of the song or story, quoting reasonably from the work itself to illustrate your points of argument. You can read the story or sing the song to your friends for their enjoyment. You can take your copy of an invention and modify it to suit your needs. You can strip it of unnecessary decoration that does not make it work better. You can take it apart to see how it works, or to repair it or to improve the design so much that you feel justified in applying for a patent on your improvement. You can sell it to someone else. You cannot, however, begin manufacturing the item and selling it. That is true whether the item is a widget, a book, a sheet of music, or a recording.

David Kirkpatrick Klamath Falls, OR

Body of Work

Although Stephan Kinsella's article on intellectual property moves smoothly enough from premises to conclusions, those conclusions are (to me at least) so counterintuitive that the argument acts as a reductio ad absurdum, undercutting his premises rather than proving his conclusions.

Let us say that a given work exists only in the memory of the author's computer. At this time the work could not be more obviously the author's; in a keystroke he can change it in any way, or abolish it forever. Overnight a hacker invades the machine, copies the work, and reproduces it. This is theft, is it not? If so, then the author retains ownership of the work even after it has left his hard drive. Why, then, would his ownership suddenly be reduced to naught at the instant that he sends it off to a prospective publisher? Reportedly, a British firm offered to publish "Lolita" if Nabokov would consent to the removal of four sentences. Nabokov refused, and the book was not released in Britain until a year later, by a different publisher. Surely this was right.

Kinsella takes it as axiomatic that one's property rights begins with one's own body. I think that many authors would consider their ownership of their works as more intimate, and more obvious, than their ownership of their bodies.

Jamie McEwan Lakeville, CT

Kinsella responds: Mr. Randall asks whether trade secret and nondisclosure agreements could be used to construct a form of IP. I do not believe they can, because such agreements cannot bind third parties. Only by assuming that knowledge is a form of property can you bind third parties, but this assumes there is IP. I address this in further detail in the "Contract vs. Reserved Rights" section of "Against Intellectual Property," available at StephanKinsella.com. As for philosophical problems with the notion of "self-ownership" self-ownership just means that you have the right to decide who touches or uses your body, not some other person. What could be more libertarian, or less controversial or problematic?

Mr. Shafran is no doubt right that Edison or other patentees may have benefitted from the patent monopolies granted to them by the state. But the utilitarian case requires a benefit to the economy as a whole, not merely to particular beneficiaries of wealth redistribution. Studies almost universally conclude that there is no such gain that patents actually restrict innovation. See the post at tinyurl.com/pat-innov for more information on these studies.

Professor Yeager misunderstands my comments. I am, like him, nonreligious. Viewing the mind as distinct from (though not unrelated to or independent of) the brain, and the self as distinct from the body, does not imply a soul or ghosts or angels. It does not imply that there can be a self without the body, or a mind without the brain. It merely implies a distinction. One may think of the mind as an epiphenomenon of the brain, but it is not the brain itself. Likewise I can run and remember with my body but running and remembering are not the same as my body. The "silly wordplay" I referred to is the use of the trite observation that we "are" our bodies (in some real sense) to object to the idea of self-ownership. But atheism is not contrary to self-ownership. Self-ownership is the libertarian idea that you have the say-so over who uses your body that others need your permission. Self-ownership is the rejection of slavery and aggression. It is perfectly compatible with the idea that there is no soul; that you die when your body dies. In any event, Yeager's atheism does not prove there are intellectual property rights, or that we are not self-owners.

Mr. Kirkpatrick upbraids me for stating that copyright is received automatically. He asserts that copyright may be waived "by simply making copies and distributing them without the required copyright notice." Wrong. Copyright notice is not required at all, nor is copyright registration. See Sections 102 and 401 of the Copyright Act, or the "Copyright Basics" brochure at copyright.gov. Copyright notice has not been needed since 1989, when the law was amended per the Berne Convention.

As for reputation rights, Murray Rothbard explained in "The Ethics of Liberty" why there can be no reputation rights: your reputation is merely what third parties believe about you. You do not own their brains or what they think about you; they are entitled to change their minds about you. Kirkpatrick writes, "If I grow a potato in my back yard, it is my potato. If I write a song in my kitchen, it is my song. They are both my property." By such reasoning one could argue that you own your wife, your parents, and your country (note the possessive pronoun!); if you discover that the earth is round then "it is my discovery" and you could own that fact. The mistake here is in failing to realize that not every "thing" that one can conceptually identify is an ownable type of thing. Scarce resources are capable of being owned because of the possibility of conflict over use of such things. Other things, such as "songs," information, and patterns are not ownable things at all. In acting, humans select scarce means to achieve desired ends. Their choice of ends, and means, is guided by information. To successfully act, the scarce resources employed as means need to be owned, because by their nature as scarce resources only one person may use them; but the actor need not "own" the information that guides his choice of means, since he can use this information even if thousands of other people also use this information to guide their own actions.

Mr. McEwan is correct that the hacker is a thief, since he is using the author's property (his computer) without his permission. But this does not mean that the information he gains access to is property. If the author revealed some private fact say, that he had a glass eye and the hacker discovered this and revealed it to the world, the author would have no right to demand that everyone forget this fact or not act on it. Likewise if the information was a novel, musical composition, recipe for a nice soup, or schematic for an improved mousetrap.

[Mises; SK] [Mises; AM]


Comments

Let us say that a given work exists only in the memory of the author's computer. At this time the work could not be more obviously the author's; in a keystroke he can change it in any way, or abolish it forever. Overnight a hacker invades the machine, copies the work, and reproduces it. This is theft, is it not? If so, then the author retains ownership of the work even after it has left his hard drive. Why, then, would his ownership suddenly be reduced to naught at the instant that he sends it off to a prospective publisher? Reportedly, a British firm offered to publish "Lolita" if Nabokov would consent to the removal of four sentences. Nabokov refused, and the book was not released in Britain until a year later, by a different publisher. Surely this was right. Jamie McEwan Lakeville, CT

Property derives from privacy. It is nothing to do with scarcity or finite vs infinite reproducibility, but the natural power or ability of the individual to control access and use of a physical object (whether matter or information). This right to privacy extends from the individual's body to the space and enclosures that the individual is able to secure and exclude others from (unassisted by any privilege granted to them by the state). Objects may be material or intellectual work, and where these exist within the individual's private domain comprise the individual's material or intellectual property.

Thus the hacker DOES violate the individual's privacy (the exclusive right to their writings), to commit an unauthorised removal of their property, their intellectual work (irrespective of the fact they may have manufactured a copy and left it or the original in the process) and 'IP theft' is an apposite term.

However, if the author authorises the removal of their intellectual work from their private domain in the process of sending it (or a copy) to a printer, then the printer necessarily obtains authorised access to it. It is now exclusive to both, not just the author. It is the intellectual property of both parties now privy to the work. It is a secret shared. The printer is now as naturally at liberty to copy or disclose what they are privy to as the author is. The author cannot alienate the printer from their natural liberty. It takes the state to attempt such an abominable act. On the other hand, if the printer was a corporation then it has no natural liberty to be alienated from (though its human agents still do).

Odd. This is most illogical.

Thus the hacker DOES violate the individual's privacy (the exclusive right to their writings), to commit an unauthorised removal of their property, their intellectual work (irrespective of the fact they may have manufactured a copy and left it or the original in the process).

Most illogical indeed. If the original has been left, and nothing else was disturbed, then clearly there can have been no "removal" of any kind.

NOYB, an unauthorised copy was manufactured and REMOVED.

It is immaterial to the violation of privacy that the original remained, just as it would have been if the original was taken and a copy was left behind. The fundamental crime is the violation of the individual's privacy (something has travelled across its boundary contrary to the individual's natural ability and will to prevent).

Theft is simply the class of privacy violations in which unauthorised removal occurs.

However, 'theft' is not an apposite term for the infringement of a state granted monopoly. In such a case no natural rights are violated, but the individual's natural liberty to produce and distribute copies of their legitimate possessions is engaged in contrary to statute. The statute is thus unnatural, an injustice, the suspension of a natural right to be granted as a privilege.

No physical object was removed that the intruder didn't bring with him. It's as silly to castigate him for removing his own body after having brought it there uninvited.

Nothing will be found to be missing by the home's owner.

A privacy violation may well have occurred, but nothing was removed in any meaningful sense of the term; in particular, no theft has occurred. For a theft to have occurred, the home's owner would have to find something missing if he were to subsequently perform an inventory of his home.

Beeswax:

The definition of theft does not support your interpretation. Theft does NOT focus on removal of a physical object. The legal definition of theft is:

theft n. the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale).

Note that the definition here is "taking," not "depriving" or "removing." So, if a person "takes" a copy of photographs belonging to a person, yes, there is a violation of privacy, but there was also a theft because that person took a copy of the photographs without permission, presumably with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (which could include extortion, embarassment, etc.).

As for your comment that "nothing was removed in any meaningful sense," that is a red herring, or a viewpoint of principle rather than fact. If a copy of a photograph of you en flagrante delicto is taken from your computer, would you still claim that "nothing was removed in any meaningful sense"? What if the photograph was posted on the internet? I do not believe that "nothing was removed in any meaningful sense," and the vast majority of the population does not believe it either.

In fact, more countries are changing the law so that the "taking" of data is a crime of theft. European law is probably the most progressive in the area of data theft, which is quite meaningful when it happens to you, or should be. Though the United States has yet to do so, several states now have laws that relate to the taking of data, called colloquially by prosecutors and the courts as data theft. Apparently, though you personally may not believe that the taking of data is "meaningful," the vast majority of the population does.

I have a question for you:

If someone takes my personal data, such as my social security number, credit card information, etc., but does not use that information, do you believe a crime been committed?

A liar wrote:

The definition of theft does not support your interpretation.

Yes, it does.

theft n. the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale).

See? (Emphasis mine.) In Crosbie's scenario, the intruder does not take any personal property of the homeowner; he takes only the physical objects he brought in with him. None of the homeowner's property is subsequently missing, so nothing of his was taken, with or without permission.

Note that the definition here is "taking," not "depriving" or "removing."

Same thing. If I still have it, it wasn't taken.

So, if a person "takes" a copy of photographs belonging to a person

then they took a copy. If the intruder made that copy using their own materials (e.g. blank DVD they brought with them), then that copy is theirs, not the homeowner's. Same as if I took some wood and nails onto someone else's property, there assembled the materials into a birdhouse, and left with it -- my raw materials, my birdhouse.

If the homeowner made a copy with his own materials and the intruder took that, then yes, that would be a theft -- something of the homeowner's has disappeared.

there was also a theft because that person took a copy of the photographs without permission

It hinges on who owns the copy, which in turn hinges on who owned the media (e.g. paper, blank DVD, memory card) with which the copy was made. If the privacy-violator brought his own USB key and copied the image onto it, then it's his copy and he's not a thief for removing it, though he is a privacy-violator. The only permission he needed to remove his own USB key from the premises was his own.

As for your comment that "nothing was removed in any meaningful sense," that is [accusation of dishonesty deleted]

No, you're the liar.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

If a copy of a photograph of you en flagrante delicto is taken from your computer, would you still claim that "nothing was removed in any meaningful sense"?

If it wasn't my copy, then yes. On the other hand I may very well claim that my privacy was violated.

What if the photograph was posted on the internet?

Then the privacy violation was made worse.

I do not believe that "nothing was removed in any meaningful sense," and the vast majority of the population does not believe it either.

You and the vast majority of the population are irrational idiots.

In fact, more countries are changing the law so that the "taking" of data is a crime

Because the politicians there overreach in their efforts to be more able to lash out if someone copies an embarrassing photo of them.

If someone takes my personal data, such as my social security number, credit card information, etc., but does not use that information, do you believe a crime been committed?

It appears to be an invasion of privacy, though in the long term the real fix to this type of issue is to make our payment-authentication and loan-authentication mechanisms not rely on shared secrets like the aforementioned numbers and instead rely on public-key cryptography.

Of course, compromise of a person's private key would still be possible and would be a similar thing. In fact, ironically the big bad copyright industry did invent something useful when it came up with the AACS DRM on Blu-Rays: the key revocation mechanism provides a system that can be adapted to a future way of furnishing people with identities, one which would enable a person to revoke any particular key that was discovered and used fraudulently without having to completely erase their past identity and start over from scratch.

Crosbie, so does the glass eye person have the right to demand that everyone forget that fact and not act on it or does he not?
Samuel, the privacy violation should be remedied as far as is practicable. Obviously, one cannot forget what one has seen, but one can still wilfully and knowingly abet, contribute to, or exacerbate a privacy violation, e.g. if you knowingly assist in the further distribution of stolen IP.

Being a matter of privacy rather than material contagion, one cannot take legitimate possession of someone's private intellectual property by the facile ploy of copying it onto one's own material property. The intellectual work remains the natural intellectual property of the private possessor irrespective of being copied onto the burglar's material property.

Of course, if you are an IP nihilist then there's no such thing as intellectual work or property, or an author's exclusive right to their writings. Or rather these things should not be recognised by law.

Being an IP naturalist I contend otherwise. It is only the monopolies of copyright and patent that should never have been legislated (to extend a natural exclusive right from the private domain unnaturally into the public domain).

Crosbie writes:

Being a matter of privacy rather than material contagion, one cannot take legitimate possession of someone's private intellectual property by the facile ploy of copying it onto one's own material property. The intellectual work remains the natural intellectual property of the private possessor irrespective of being copied onto the burglar's material property.

This is incoherent. If you make a physical object from your own raw materials, it must logically be your property, no matter what information is embodied in the object.

Of course, if you are an IP nihilist then there's no such thing as intellectual work.

Non sequitur.

A few years ago Yeager's book on utilitarian social theory was discussed in an online forum at the old Hayek Scholar's listserve, which was run by Greg Ransom. Yeager disputed the concept of "rights," so in a comment I asked him what he would do if he had a property or other legal dispute with his neighbor. Wouldn't he hire a lawyer to defend his rights? He didn't reply.
Crosbie, I think you might concede I am not stupid, nor am I unsophisticated as to matters of intellectual property or libertarian political theory. Yet I am unable to make out what the heck you mean by your bizarre, repeated assertions that IP-monopoly is bad but that there is "natural" intellectual property. As best I can tell, by saying there is "natural IP" you seem to be using an awkward phrase to simply describe the fact that if you have knowledge, you can use it, and keep it secret if you want to. Is this all you mean by your phraseology, or do you mean something different? If this is all you mean, why would you call me an IP nihilist? After all, I'm well aware that if you have knowledge you can use it or keep it private. If you are saying something more, what exactly is it?
Apparently he thinks he should have, not a full copyright, but a kind of mini-copyright that allows him to pursue, recapture, or destroy anything that leaks that he hasn't willingly published, as an extension of the concept of a right to privacy.

While nowhere near as evil as full copyright, this still has obvious problems when viewed from a principled stance.

Stephan, you have always classed my explanations of natural IP as incoherent, meaningless drivel, or nonsense, etc. So, I'm willing to entertain the possibility you are stupid (and even that I am). However, I suspect it's more likely that this is simply a paradigm boundary issue. Just as those who treat copyright as a natural right can't comprehend those who explain it as an unjust privilege, nor can those (IP nihilists) who find no basis for intellectual work to be classed as property recognise my arguments that it is.

The very same principle (right to privacy) that makes material work an individual's property also makes intellectual work an individual's property, whether it is introduced into their private possession by creation, exchange, or discovery.

Whether you chase a burglar to recover the camera he's stolen, or to recover the copy of the manuscript he's stolen (on his camera), both involve the theft of property, whether material or intellectual.

Copyright and patent are the unnatural extensions to natural IP. What's more, neither privilege constitutes the securing of the author's exclusive right to their writings nor the inventor's exclusive right to their designs. They're simply transferable reproduction monopolies. Copyright is for the case when you sell copies of your manuscript and wish to prevent the purchaser (or any other party who has access) making any further copies (of the intellectual property they have purchased and that would naturally be theirs to do with as they wished).

It is the burglar (the violator of one's privacy) who steals one's IP. The purchaser of one's IP cannot commit theft upon what is their own property.

The IP nihilist position (as I have gleaned from your explanations) is that a burglar can only steal material property. If they burgle, make a copy of the dweller's intellectual work using their own material, and escape with the copy, then they have stolen nothing. It is simply a trespass or invasion of privacy. The value of the stolen intellectual work is ignored, as is any further reproduction and distribution.

All I'm saying is that intellectual property is as natural as material property - IF you abolish the monopolies of copyright and patent that have been granted to its creators/registrants for the ulterior benefit of mass producers.

If I find that someone has stolen a copy of my manuscript, the police should investigate and seek a remedy to this as much as if I reported my camera stolen. However, there should certainly be no monopoly granted to me such that I can forbid people making copies of my intellectual work that I sell or give to them.

As I've said before. I'm against MONOPOLY, but not intellectual property.

A deliberately obtuse person wrote:

See? (Emphasis mine.) In Crosbie's scenario, the intruder does not take any personal property of the homeowner; he takes only the physical objects he brought in with him. None of the homeowner's property is subsequently missing, so nothing of his was taken, with or without permission.

You may deny the legal definition of property all you wish, but the fact remains that, independent of intellectual property definitions, that "taking," which has been broadened to include "making a copy of," data that is resident on a private computer, or a documents, photographs and the like that only you have, is illegal. You may protest the legal definition all you like, but protection of data is being expanded relatively quickly and will likely continue to be protected under the definition that the crime is "taking," including making copies, not depriving.

You are correct that the only way someone could take my data is by violating my privacy, but privacy laws are quite mild and frequently non-existent with respect to certain violations of privacy. Data theft laws are correcting what should have naturally been a crime.

Note that this legal definition does not include making a copy of music or movies, which legally remains copyright infringement.

Crosbie:

I understand what you are saying. Indeed, in my conversations with another person (I think it is a person, but could be an alien for all I know), my point regarding data or a photograph (or a manuscript, for that matter), is that legally the act of taking, which includes making a copy, is the crime, not the act of depriving.

If I have a manuscript, and I have secured the manuscript on my property, even if in an electronic form, and someone violently wrests control of my manuscript from me (via breaking and entering my computer, or taking my CD and making a copy, etc., all of which are violent actions), then a principled person would have to say an unprincipled action has taken place. Yes, the first unprincipled action was the violation of my privacy, but my personal property, the manuscript, photograph, etc., was then taken, even if by only copying. No, the manuscript, photograph, etc., is not the property of the person doing the taking for they took my property by violent actions and without permission, and should be entitled to protection for and return of that property.

Crosbie, you still do not give a definition of natural IP. Do you have one?

Property rights are rights to the exclusive control of some scarce resource. Ideas are not scarce resourcs. There are no property rights in them. Now my property rights give me the ability to control some ideas, sure. I don't see that this means we need a special name for the ideas.

"So, I'm willing to entertain the possibility you are stupid (and even that I am)."

hahah. at least you're honest.

"However, I suspect it's more likely that this is simply a paradigm boundary issue."

I dont' know what to do with such California type talk.

"Just as those who treat copyright as a natural right can't comprehend those who explain it as an unjust privilege, nor can those (IP nihilists) who find no basis for intellectual work to be classed as property recognise my arguments that it is."

But what do you mean by property? what do you mean by intellectual work

"The very same principle (right to privacy) that makes material work an individual's property"

? There is no right to privacy. What are you talking about? And how is any "right to privacy" the basis of material property?

" also makes intellectual work an individual's property, whether it is introduced into their private possession by creation, exchange, or discovery."

But you have no defined what you mean by property. What do you mean when you say intellectual work is your property?

"Whether you chase a burglar to recover the camera he's stolen, or to recover the copy of the manuscript he's stolen (on his camera), both involve the theft of property, whether material or intellectual."

The theft of the manuscript is theft of a material item.

Now I grant, if the burglar copies a file off your computer while he's there, he is gaining access to information you preferred to keep private. But this is just a consequence of his trespass against material property. It's one of the damages you have suffered.

"Copyright and patent are the unnatural extensions to natural IP."

What is natural IP? Can you give a clear, concise, coherent definition? And a very clear uncontroversial, example.

"It is the burglar (the violator of one's privacy) who steals one's IP."

Let's be clear. The burglar commits trespass. He gains access to your physical property illegitimately. He uses it without your consent. One of the harms he does to you by doing this is to gain access to information you might have preferred to keep secret. To say this is "stealing information" is fine in colloquial, informal usage but as your thinking here indicates it is fraught with the potential for confusion. Better to be rigorous and clear: he is not stealing information since you still have it. IT is not a scarce object that can be stolen.

"The IP nihilist position (as I have gleaned from your explanations) is that a burglar can only steal material property."

Correct.

"If they burgle, make a copy of the dweller's intellectual work using their own material, and escape with the copy, then they have stolen nothing."

Crosbie, not all crimes are "theft." All crimes are in fact species of trespass: using someone else's property without their consent. If A rapes B, and hten leaves, has he "stolen" anything? No. He used her body without her consent, and that is the crime. The crime cannot be undone, there is nothing "stolen" that can be returned, but that does not mean no crime has been committed, and it does not mean that the justice system has no way to respond to this criminal.

Likewise, if a burglar accesses your property without your consent *that is the crime*. The fact that he copied secret information while doing this is just a measure of how much damage he did. One can analyze this without making up crankish definitions of "intellectual property."

If a burglar steals my $1000 gold coin, then my remedy might be $1000, or maybe $2000 in a two-teeth-for-a-tooth type system. But if he steals a watch my great grandfather left me, that I have a lot of sentimental value in, even though the market value of the watch is only $1000, it is worth far more to me. So the damage done to me is greater and this may be taken into account in fashioning the remedy or punishment. This does not mean there is a property right in value or sentimental attachments--only that justice takes the damage done by the criminal into account.

" It is simply a trespass or invasion of privacy."

ALL crime is "merely" trespass.

" The value of the stolen intellectual work is ignored, as is any further reproduction and distribution."

Of course the value is not ignored. All crimes are unique. Except in very simple cases such as theft of a fungible item that may be returned, crimes usually may not be undone. Restitution is not usually possible, literally speaking. I have written on this fairly extensively by the way, in a libertarian theory of justice -- see Punishment and Proportionality: The Estoppel Approach, 12:1 Journal of Libertarian Studies, pp. 65 et seq.--where I discuss how justice requires the victim of a crime to have a variety of options for retribution or restitution. OF COURSE the value of the intellectual work is relevant here, as it goes to the nature of the harm done to the victim! But this does not mean there are property rights in IP! You don't need to resort to such awkward, confusing, crankish concepts and terminology to understand all this at all.

"All I'm saying is that intellectual property is as natural as material property"

but you have not yet defined what you mean by it. You seem to think it's intuitive or obvious and need not be explained.

"If I find that someone has stolen a copy of my manuscript, the police should investigate and seek a remedy to this as much as if I reported my camera stolen."

YEs, because you own the manuscript, which is not intellectual but tangible.

A troll wrote:

[insult deleted]

No, you're the obtuse one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

You may deny the legal definition of property all you wish

I have not done so, liar.

but the fact remains that, independent of intellectual property definitions, that "taking," which has been broadened to include "making a copy of,"

By you. But you are a wackjob, so your crankish definition doesn't actually count.

You may protest the legal definition all you like

I'm not protesting the legal definition. I'm protesting your crankish, puritanical, religiously-inspired, zero-sum definition, though I expect your IQ is low enough for the distinction to escape you.

but protection of data is being expanded relatively quickly and will likely continue to be protected under the definition that the crime is "taking," including making copies, not depriving.

Doubtful. Data protection laws use the language of privacy (or of copyright-style infringement).

You are correct that the only way someone could take my data is by violating my privacy, but privacy laws are quite mild and frequently non-existent with respect to certain violations of privacy.

Then they should be toughened up, OR the consequences of such violations reduced. In the case of secret numbers, one way to do that is to move to more modern authentication schemes for e.g. financial transactions. In the case of personal secrets, perhaps we need to move toward having a more tolerant (= less puritanical) society.

I understand what you are saying. Indeed, in my conversations with another person (I think [insult deleted])

No, you're the alien.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

my point regarding data or a photograph (or a manuscript, for that matter), is that legally the act of taking, which includes making a copy

It does not. And I don't think the legal books even use the term "taking". They refer to copying, or infringement, or physical removal of artifacts, etc. depending on the particular law and its particular purpose.

If I have a manuscript, and I have secured the manuscript on my property, even if in an electronic form, and someone violently wrests control of my manuscript from me (via breaking and entering my computer, or taking my CD and making a copy, etc., all of which are violent actions), then a principled person would have to say an unprincipled action has taken place.

Yes, even though perhaps nothing of yours was actually taken.

No, the manuscript, photograph, etc., is not the property of the person doing the taking for they took my property by violent actions

If they took YOUR copy of something by violent action, then of course it doesn't become theirs. However, if they made their own copy using their own materials, then it is theirs because the materials were theirs. Similarly, if someone breaks into your house carrying their own tools and pieces of wood, assembles the wood into a birdhouse, and then leaves with it, the birdhouse is theirs. And they are guilty of trespass and B&E, but the birdhouse has nothing to do with that.

If there's a privacy invasion, then that's an additional tort on top of the B&E and can enhance the damages, but that doesn't equate to "theft" or to anything being "taken".

One issue here is that the word "taken" is used confusingly in at least three ways. In the narrow technical sense something is taken if it's appropriated, e.g. if you remove a diamond ring from someone's home, they lose it and you gain it. Quite commonly "taken" also gets used if the thing is removed from its owner without actually being transferred to the criminal; e.g. rape may be described as "taking" someone's "virtue" (though the criminal surely has not acquired virtue in the act!), or murder as "taking" someone's life (though only in vampire mythology does the killer sometimes actually gain what was "taken").

Your peculiar notion that something can be "taken" when it's gained by someone else, but the person it's purportedly "taken" from does not lose it, is definitely stretching things even for colloquial use though, and is definitely not technically accurate or even coherent.

Stephan, I've been defining Natural IP for yonks.

I haven't written a treatise that defines Natural IP, so here's a brief definition:

Property derives from the natural right to privacy. It is the physical enclosure, proximity, and reach of the individual's body to possess and protect a region and objects within it (private domain) that creates natural property. Anything beyond the reach of the individual, in the commons or public domain, that requires the assistance of the community or state to secure is more a matter of allocation (of privilege, custody, responsibility, title, etc.).

Natural intellectual property is thus the physical enclosure of intellectual work (in an individual's private domain).

And here's where it fits into the spectrum of IP positions:

  • IP Nihilism: No-one can own a poem, only the material comprising the copies of it.
  • IP Naturalism: Those who have legitimate copies of a poet's poem own that poem in the copies within their private property (house, car, briefcase).
  • IP Monopolism: A poet should also be granted a transferable reproduction monopoly (on the pretext of incentivising publication).
  • IP Maximalism: A poet, or his assigns, owns his poem in all representations throughout the universe, forever.

In terms of natural rights 'property rights' derive from the right to privacy. They're nothing to do with scarcity or abundance. A grain of sand becomes as much my property as a pearl that I may find in a river bed. Property comprises discrete, exchangeable, non-human objects that an individual can enclose or occupy.

A burglar may steal a copy as much as he may steal an original. It is stealing precisely because the burglar violates someone's privacy by transporting a material or intellectual work across its boundary without their permission. It is not due to infringement of a monopoly that prohibits unauthorised copies.

'Stealing' is a perfectly apposite term.

I appreciate that you have built your theory on a foundation that cannot recognise intellectual work as able to constitute property, so really there's no hope for reconciliation without apostasy.

I suggest that in trying to explain why the monopolies applying to intellectual works are invalid you have thrown the baby out with the bathwater by blinding yourself to the reality that people are naturally able to create, control, secure, and exchange their intellectual works as property, i.e. have these as natural rights that should be protected. The only unnatural aspects of IP are the state granted monopolies. I can naturally prevent you copying my diary while I keep it to myself. I can also sell, lend, or give you my diary. But, I cannot naturally prevent you copying my diary once I've done so. Being unnatural, it shouldn't be surprising that copyright is pretty ineffective at preventing people copying their possessions. What is surprising is how many people still think copyright is a good idea.

Crosbie writes:

A burglar may steal a copy as much as he may steal an original. It is stealing precisely because the burglar violates someone's privacy by transporting a material or intellectual work across its boundary without their permission.

A copy that also wasn't his, but if he makes the copy himself he can't steal it. If as you suggest "transporting an intellectual work across its boundary" is automatically stealing, then if he buys a Celine Dion CD, carries it onto my land, and then leaves with it, the CD becomes stolen and I have the right to take it from him by force.

Obviously, it doesn't get much more ludicrous than that.

I can naturally prevent you copying my diary while I keep it to myself.

But if a copy escapes your control, whether with your permission or not, you cannot naturally prevent its further dissemination.

NOYB, a private domain is attached to an individual. The burglar has his own private domain more tightly attached to his body than the private domain of someone else's house he burgles. Thus the CD in his pocket does not leave the boundary of its owner's private domain - it remains within the burglar's private domain, his pocket. It is the burglar who crosses the boundary of the householder's domain, and if he transports a material or intellectual work from the private domain of the house to some external domain then it has crossed the boundary of the householder's domain.

Similarly, if you pick the pocket of a guest, you have transported an item from within their private domain across its boundary without their permission.

For example, a person who enters a shop does not consequently surrender any private possessions in their pockets into the ownership of the shop. Conversely, if they place an item from the shop in their pocket it could arouse suspicion, but it is only when the item leaves the domain of the shop (without permission) that theft can be said to have occurred.

The same thing applies to intellectual works. If you pick someone's pocket to secretly make a copy of their notebook, it's still IP theft even if the notebook is replaced. An intellectual work has been transported across the boundary of someone's private domain without their permission. It is that violation of privacy that is a natural rights violation. If you're given the notebook voluntarily you don't need permission to copy it (such is only necessitated by the privilege of copyright), though etiquette may well still warrant it.

A government is supposed to protect all individuals' natural rights as equals. There's no point to such protection if it's limited to what the individual could do unassisted. If an individual can naturally prevent people stealing their material or intellectual works, then rather than leaving the individual to fend for themselves or only providing additional protection to the handicapped, the government should secure that as a right by using its far greater power to prohibit and remedy any violations (which includes restitution of anything stolen). However, an individual cannot naturally prevent people copying the material or intellectual works they give or sell to them. That's why individuals do not have a natural right to prevent such copying. Copyright is already recognised as not a natural right, but a privilege. Moreover, even the wealthy publishing corporations that copyright was designed for are having difficulty enforcing such an unnatural monopoly.

IP is natural. It's the privilege of a monopoly that's not.

Nice attempt at sophistry, Crosbie, but it doesn't fly. If, hypothetically, the burglar doesn't leave with a single atom of matter he didn't bring with him, then you cannot in all reason claim that anything was "taken" or "stolen".

If you pick someone's pocket to secretly make a copy of their notebook, it's still IP theft even if the notebook is replaced.

No, it isn't. There is no such thing as IP. There may now be matter belonging to the pickpocket that's been reorganized to, in some way, resemble an arrangement of matter belonging to the victim, but this cannot logically be equated with any kind of theft. I am free to arrange the matter I own as I see fit and if such an arrangement happens to resemble an arrangement of yours, this makes no nevermind.

An intellectual work has been transported across the boundary of someone's private domain without their permission.

Now we're back to this again, which would mean that your Celine Dion CD becomes mine if you bring it to my "private domain" and then take it out again without my permission.

A government is supposed to protect all individuals' natural rights as equals. There's no point to such protection if it's limited to what the individual could do unassisted. If an individual can naturally prevent people stealing their material or intellectual works, then rather than leaving the individual to fend for themselves or only providing additional protection to the handicapped, the government should secure that as a right by using its far greater power to prohibit and remedy any violations (which includes restitution of anything stolen).

Which means if you took my notebook and copied it, I'm entitled to have THE ORIGINAL returned to me, by force if necessary. The copy, whether I like it or not, is yours though.

The law may of course provide a separate remedy for violation of privacy, such as enhanced monetary damages.

Beeswax says:

No, it isn't. There is no such thing as IP.

I disagree with you. There is such a thing as intellectual property. Not recognizing when something exists is not the same thing as non-existence.

Crosbie has attempted to explain how intellectual property can exist, and his explanations seem quite natural and articulate. At least, I understand them.

Your claim that you cannot steal a poem if you made a copy of it, even though the poet is the only owner of that poem, is wrong. If I create something and secrete it within my private domain, then making any copy of that thing I created is ethically wrong because:

(1) As Kinsella has pointed out, it requires trespassing, which is clearly unethical as well as illegal.

(2) It requires violation of my privacy, which is clearly unethical, probably immoral, and may be illegal.

(3) It requires someone to take my private work and to duplicate it in some fashion, which is trespassing, violation of privacy and STEALING, since no one else owns that arrangement anywhere in the world, all of which are immoral. I do not care whether the criminal brought his own paper or CD or camera to copy my work on.

Yes, once stolen it is possible that the theft cannot be undone, but I can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the thief punished.

Crosbie: "Natural intellectual property is thus the physical enclosure of intellectual work (in an individual's private domain). "

A physical encosure is IP? this is nonsense. Having physical property permits you to keep information private. Yeah. We all know this.

NOYB, bear in mind that there is both matter and information in this universe. Both are able to constitute property. It might make the law simpler to only recognise material works as property, but the fact is individuals are naturally able to control the movement and communication of intellectual works across the boundaries of their private domains just as they are naturally able to control the movement of material works. It is when the power of our bodies and physical barriers to protect the boundaries of our private domains are overcome (by burglars) that the government is needed to remedy violations.

Individuals have no natural ability to enforce monopolies (derogating the liberty of others) and hence no right to them, and society has no sanction or need to grant them. They are simply coveted by those wealthy and powerful members of industry and government to further extend their wealth and power.

Look at it another way, what do you think is going to appeal more to the budding intellectual worker?

IP Naturalism: Monopolies are 18th century anachronisms to be abolished, and instead one's private intellectual property should simply be protected from theft (whether through movement or copying), e.g. by burglars.

IP Nihilism: Intellectual work cannot be owned. If it can be said to belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone who obtains access to it, by whatever means. There is thus no such thing as intellectual property, nor theft or trade thereof. The act of unauthorised intrusion or theft of material property should of course remain prohibited.

The former loses the dirty bathwater. The latter has lost the baby too.

Such a minor, but vital difference between two anti-monopoly positions.

Stephan, I see your detraction is "nonsense" this time. Can I look forward to an "incoherent" or "meaningless babble" soon?

I trust you realise that this vituperation you peculiarly level against my position effectively signals your respect for it?

Remember, I'm not here to convert you. I respect your position. I simply disagree with it, given I do recognise intellectual work as naturally able to constitute property.

I'm amused that you refuse to even concede that I have a coherent position - as if to do so is ideologically unaffordable to you.

Crosbie, you have just confirmed my earlier suspicious about your position, that you are simply saying the obvious: that you can use your property to keep things secret. No, I dno't hink you are coherent nor have you offered a clear definition. You seem unable to realize that property rights in real things exhaust the field.
Ok Stephan, let's take it as read that my position is incoherent to you (due to ideological schism). Perhaps we can move on now. I'll propound natural IP, and you can evangelise IP nihilism. But, at least we're both against monopoly eh? ;-)

I'll refer to you those who don't believe intellectual work can constitute property, and you can refer to me those anti-monopolists who stubbornly remain in recognition of an author's exclusive right to their writings.

Crosbie, I dont mean to be insulting. I just can't understand why you want to call it "natural IP" when all you are saying is regular property rights allow you to keep information secret. I fail to see what implications of calling it natural IP are beyond just the ability to use your regular property to keep information private.

I also fail to see why you call me an IP nihilist. By your own idiosyncratic terminology, all "natural IP" means to you is the regular property rgihts that contain this informatino; and I am in favor of these regular property righgts, and your use of them to keep info secret. So at most I am a denier of the TERM "natural IP" but not an actual IP nihilist.

A troll says:

I disagree with you. There is such a thing as intellectual property.

No, there isn't. Information is not scarce, unlike physical objects, and property is a way of dealing with scarcity.

Crosbie has attempted to explain how intellectual property can exist, and his explanations seem quite natural and articulate. At least, I understand them.

Then perhaps you two wackos should get a room?

Your claim that you cannot steal a poem if you made a copy of it, even though the poet is the only owner of that poem, is [insult deleted].

No, you're the stupid one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Making a copy is not theft. Theft is removing something of someone else's, such that THEY NO LONGER HAVE SOMETHING THEY OWN. But making a copy does not result in their no longer having the original.

What about that is so goshdarned difficult for certain people to understand?!

If I create something and secrete it within my private domain, then making any copy of that thing I created is ethically wrong

Perhaps. But it is not theft.

It requires someone to take my private work and to duplicate it in some fashion, which is trespassing, violation of privacy and STEALING

Nonsense. It may be the first two of those three, but that's it.

I can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the thief punished.

No, since there is no thief, but you can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the trespasser punished, and you can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the privacy violator punished.

NOYB, bear in mind that there is both matter and information in this universe.

Irrelevant. Only one of those is scarce.

Both are able to constitute property.

No, property requires scarcity.

It might make the law simpler to only recognise material works as property, but the fact is individuals are naturally able to control the movement and communication of intellectual works across the boundaries of their private domains just as they are naturally able to control the movement of material works.

That's because information has to be encoded somehow in physical material. It is these material objects that they can directly control, and that are property. There is no independent property right in the arrangement or pattern of that material, however.

It is when the power of our bodies and physical barriers to protect the boundaries of our private domains are overcome (by burglars) that the government is needed to remedy violations.

In the scenario at issue, those violations are trespass and invasion of privacy, but not theft.

The former loses the dirty bathwater. The latter has lost the baby too.

No, it has not. We already have concepts of trespass and invasion of privacy that suffice to cover the case you're worried about. If your quibble is that the penalties for the latter are not steep enough, then direct your arguments towards steepening those, not towards creating a spurious additional category of crime. The latter is the same kind of legalistic kludge that the prosecutor tried in the Lori Drew case, and is dangerous; it creates precedents easily abused, e.g. to create unethical mercantile monopoly privileges.

An insulting ass says:

I disagree with you. There is such a thing as intellectual property.

No, there isn't. Information is not scarce, unlike physical objects, and property is a way of dealing with scarcity.

You are absolutely wrong. If I write Crosbie's hypothetical poem and keep it a secret, that poem automatically has scarcity because it is the only copy in existence. Interesting that you say that property has a way of dealing with scarcity, because you are correct. Because the poem is my property and no one else has it, it is scarce and will remain so until the property goes outside my control

Crosbie has attempted to explain how intellectual property can exist, and his explanations seem quite natural and articulate. At least, I understand them.

Insults deleted.

I have weighed your carefully considered rebuttal and have determined that it is, as usual without content.

Your claim that you cannot steal a poem if you made a copy of it, even though the poet is the only owner of that poem, is [logical comments deleted in a vain attempt to suppress intelligent comments restored], is wrong. If I create something and secrete it within my private domain, then making any copy of that thing I created is ethically wrong because:

(1) As Kinsella has pointed out, it requires trespassing, which is clearly unethical as well as illegal.

(2) It requires violation of my privacy, which is clearly unethical, probably immoral, and may be illegal.

(3) It requires someone to take my private work and to duplicate it in some fashion, which is trespassing, violation of privacy and STEALING, since no one else owns that arrangement anywhere in the world, all of which are immoral. I do not care whether the criminal brought his own paper or CD or camera to copy my work on.

Yes, once stolen it is possible that the theft cannot be undone, but I can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the thief punished.

No, you're the stupid one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

I have carefully considered your apparently well-thought out rebuttal and have concluded that its logic fails to overcome my points.

Making a copy is not theft. Theft is removing something of someone else's, such that THEY NO LONGER HAVE SOMETHING THEY OWN. But making a copy does not result in their no longer having the original.

What about that is so goshdarned difficult for certain people to understand?!

Making a copy of something that only one person owns, and doing so in violation of their privacy and private property, is theft. They NO LONGER HAVE THE ONE AND ONLY COPY, which means they no longer have the uniqueness of that property, which, regardless of how you look at it, HAS BEEN STOLEN.

Unfortunately, logic will never overcome your religious belief, so we are at an impasse.

If I create something and secrete it within my private domain, then making any copy of that thing I created is ethically wrong.

Perhaps. But it is not theft.

But it is theft. You just fail to recognize that.

It requires someone to take my private work and to duplicate it in some fashion, which is trespassing, violation of privacy and STEALING.

Nonsense. It may be the first two of those three, but that's it.

Again, a statement of belief. I know it is stealing, and have proven it multiple times. Your beliefs are getting in the way of logical thought.

I can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the thief punished.

No, since there is no thief, but you can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the trespasser punished, and you can and should be able to have the violent criminal actions of the privacy violator punished.

That's okay, I will go after them for the theft first, then the trespassing second, and the violation of privacy third. It would be interesting to have someone with your beliefs steal a copy of something that only I have that has value. That person's illogical arguments would be dismissed immediately as extraneous and irrelevant and then that person would be convicted of STEALING, because even though you fail to understand the concept of taking, about 99.99% of the population does (I found out that your religion, libertarianism, has about 115,000 believers; even amongst those 115,000 believers there are multiple interpretations of libertarianism, so it is possible that around 50,000 people out of 305,000,000 have the same, erroneous belief as you).

A liar says:

An [insult deleted] says:

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

I disagree with you. There is such a thing as intellectual property.

You're wrong.

[insult deleted]. If I write Crosbie's hypothetical poem and keep it a secret ...

No, you're the stupid one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

that poem automatically has scarcity because it is the only copy in existence.

Copies of it have scarcity at that time. The information itself is nonrival, though.

Crosbie has attempted to explain how intellectual property can exist, and his explanations seem quite natural and articulate. At least, I understand them.

I understand them too. I just do not agree with them, because they are not consistent with the facts.

I have weighed your carefully considered rebuttal and have determined that it is, as usual [insult deleted].

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Your claim that you cannot steal a poem if you made a copy of it, even though the poet is the only owner of that poem, is [insult deleted].

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Of course you can still steal it -- if you also remove the original.

(3) It requires someone to take my private work and to duplicate it in some fashion, which is trespassing, violation of privacy and STEALING

No. Maybe the first two of those things, but not the third.

since no one else owns that arrangement anywhere in the world

NO ONE owns "arrangements". People own physical objects.

I have carefully considered your apparently well-thought out rebuttal and have concluded that [insult deleted].

That's because you're an idiot.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Making a copy of something that only one person owns, and doing so in violation of their privacy and private property, is theft.

No, it isn't, because nothing was taken from them. There is nothing that they now have fewer of.

It is, perhaps, invasion of privacy. But it is not theft.

They NO LONGER HAVE THE ONE AND ONLY COPY

Nice attempt at sophistry, Lonnie, but it doesn't hold water. They still have their copy. It may no longer be the only one, but they do still have it, so it is not true that they no longer have an object that they once had.

which means they no longer have the uniqueness of that property, which, regardless of how you look at it, HAS BEEN STOLEN.

Uniqueness is not itself property, and cannot be stolen.

Unfortunately, logic will never overcome your [insult deleted], so we are at an impasse.

No, you're the one whose arguments are faith-based.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

But it is theft.

It is not.

You just [insult deleted].

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Again, a statement of belief.

No, a statement of fact.

I know it is stealing

THAT is the statement of belief. You "know" this despite all the logic and evidence to the contrary. Just as some people "know" the earth is flat and only six thousand years old.

and have proven it multiple times.

For values of "multiple" that include zero, perhaps.

You [insult deleted].

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

That's okay, I will go after them for the theft first

THERE WAS NO THEFT!!

That person's illogical arguments would be dismissed immediately as extraneous and irrelevant and then that person would be convicted of STEALING

Ridiculous. They might be convicted of trespassing. They might also be sued for breach of privacy and for copyright infringement. But they would not be convicted of larceny unless some object was missing from the place after their unauthorized visit.

because even though you [insult deleted], about 99.99% of the population does

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

99.99% of the population are idiots like you, sad to say, or else just plain haven't thought things through logically.

(I found out that your [insult deleted], libertarianism, has about 115,000 believers

Nonsense. I disagree with Kinsella and several of this site's other anarch^H^H^H^H^H^Hlibertarians on a number of points, and none of my beliefs are irrational; all are evidence-based.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

it is possible that around 50,000 people out of 305,000,000 have the same, [insult deleted] belief as you

No, you're the one making errors here.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Now go crawl back under your rock, you patent-loving insult-slinging irrational weasel.

A confused lemming says:

[Irrelevancy deleted.]

I disagree with you. There is such a thing as intellectual property.

You're wrong.

I have carefully considered your logic in detail, and have found it fails to overcome by previous comments and my statement.

[Insult deleted]

[Irrelevancy deleted]

that poem automatically has scarcity because it is the only copy in existence.

Copies of it have scarcity at that time.

So, you agree that copies can be stolen. Good.

Crosbie has attempted to explain how intellectual property can exist, and his explanations seem quite natural and articulate. At least, I understand them.

I understand them too. I just do not agree with them, because they are not consistent with the facts.

You mean they are inconsistent with your beliefs. Big difference. If you had facts, I might be persuaded, but beliefs? I like mine.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

Of course you can still steal it -- if you also remove the original.

Let me see. If I have the only copy of something in existence, and someone then makes a copy of my copy, then my copy will no longer be the only copy in existence. That must mean that something was taken from me. Taking is stealing. What was taken? My control of my poem, brilliant or otherwise and my ability to sell my poem based on being the only copy in existence, which, being the only copy in existence, may give the poem value, but once it is no longer the only copy, the value is either reduced or may even be eliminated. Seems to me that a lot was stolen, even though the original remained. Stealing may not require an act of depriving to be stealing.

...since no one else owns that arrangement anywhere in the world

NO ONE owns "arrangements". People own physical objects.

I have a number of poems that I have written in a notebook. Those poems exist no where else in the world. Who owns the poems? The answer is, of course, me. I could memorize the poems and destroy the paper the poem is written on, and my ownership would be even more complete, but I would still own those poems. I own the "arrangement" by the nature of its uniqueness. You may attempt to duplicate those arrangements, but you would fail because you have no idea what is in the arrangements, and never will. Indeed, I have absolute ownership over those arrangements and unless I share them with someone else, I always will.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

[Insult substituted for substantive argument deleted.]

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

Making a copy of something that only one person owns, and doing so in violation of their privacy and private property, is theft.

No, it isn't, because nothing was taken from them. There is nothing that they now have fewer of.

You can steal something from someone without decreasing the number of items that a person has. Just because you do not personally believe that does not make it any less true. There are people who still believe the world is flat and that the earth was created in seven twenty-four hours days. The world is full of deluded people just like you.

They NO LONGER HAVE THE ONE AND ONLY COPY.

Nice attempt at sophistry, Lonnie, but it doesn't hold water. They still have their copy. It may no longer be the only one, but they do still have it, so it is not true that they no longer have an object that they once had.

You are hung up on physical objects. Ownership can apply to other things, such as control.

Example: Mineral rights are a kind of property right. If someone steals your mineral rights, have you lost anything? No. But was something stolen from you? If it is later discovered that you have gold in your ground, you will quickly find that the theft of your intangible mineral rights prevents you from digging the gold up. You were never deprived of anything, yet something of great value was stolen from you.

which means they no longer have the uniqueness of that property, which, regardless of how you look at it, HAS BEEN STOLEN.

Uniqueness is not itself property, and cannot be stolen.

It is inherently obvious that you are wrong, but you refuse to see the truth of it. I told you before that your religious beliefs are different from me. I (and the vast majority of the people in the world) cannot understand a religion where evident truths exist and are denied.

No, you're the one whose arguments are faith-based.

No, you're the one whose arguments are faith-based. You just have a mental block that prevents you from realizing it.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

But it is theft.

It is not.

You just keep on believing that. Faith can be a powerful thing. Does your religion have a church where you go to worship?

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

Again, a statement of belief.

No, a statement of fact.

The faithful of a religion always claim their beliefs are facts. Does not change the fact that they remain beliefs.

I know it is stealing

THAT is the statement of belief. You "know" this despite all the logic and evidence to the contrary. Just as some people "know" the earth is flat and only six thousand years old.

That is a statement of fact. Uniqueness is a property that exists and was taken away. Come to think of it, uniqueness, which is tangible, has been removed and since uniqueness is a physical attribute, then it had to have been stolen.

and have proven it multiple times.

For values of "multiple" that include zero, perhaps.

It is always hard to convince religious zealots of things that disagree with their beliefs.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

That's okay, I will go after them for the theft first

THERE WAS NO THEFT!!

You keep right on saying that. I, however, will still get a conviction for stealing.

That person's illogical arguments would be dismissed immediately as extraneous and irrelevant and then that person would be convicted of STEALING.

Ridiculous. They might be convicted of trespassing. They might also be sued for breach of privacy and for copyright infringement. But they would not be convicted of larceny unless some object was missing from the place after their unauthorized visit.

I never said they would be convicted of larceny, which is but a small subset of the crime of theft. I suspect I could go for straight theft under current laws, but I might also be able to get them convicted for criminal conversion, which is also considered a type of theft.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

99.99% of the population are idiots like you, sad to say, or else just plain haven't thought things through logically.

Your faith is showing through again. You are right and everyone else is wrong. Sad, very sad. Have you sought therapy?

I found out that...libertarianism, has about 115,000 believers

Nonsense. I disagree with Kinsella and several of this site's other anarch^H^H^H^H^H^Hlibertarians on a number of points, and none of my beliefs are irrational; all are evidence-based.

Very weird. I thought throwing an actual number out would be evidence. Hey, if you can claim evidence is "nonsense" by your word alone, then you are farther gone than I thought. If you mean that you do not believe the same as the other 115,000 libertarians, okay, that is probable. It is even possible that you are the only person on the planet who believes exactly the way you do. A religion of one.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

it is possible that around 50,000 people out of 305,000,000 have the same, [insult deleted] belief as you.

No, you're the one making errors here.

You have failed to point out an error in this statement.

[Paranoid statement deleted.]

[Insult deleted]

Now, go back to your compound, lock the gate, and worship your sticks.

A liar says:

A [insult deleted] says

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the irrelevant one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

I disagree with you.

That's because you're an idiot.

There is such a thing as intellectual property.

Nonsense.

I have carefully considered your logic in detail, and have found it [insult deleted]

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the irrelevant one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

So, you agree that copies can be stolen. Good.

Of course, just like any other physical object.

Crosbie has attempted to explain how intellectual property can exist

And, of course, since it can't, he's failed.

You mean they are inconsistent with your beliefs.

No, I mean they are inconsistent with the facts. The facts are that information patterns are not scarce, nor are they rivalrous.

[insult deleted]

No, you're the stupid one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[[insult deleted]] [x2]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Let me see. If I have the only copy of something in existence, and someone then makes a copy of my copy, then my copy will no longer be the only copy in existence.

Fascinating. Also totally irrelevant.

That must mean that something was taken from me.

Non sequitur.

Taking is stealing. What was taken? My control of my poem

No, you still control your poem (the original that was left behind). You don't control the copy that was made, but that copy isn't yours anyway.

and my ability to sell my poem based on being the only copy in existence

If "your ability to sell xyz exclusively" were something that could be stolen, then if a town had only one pizza joint, and someone started up a competing pizzeria, then they'd be stealing the first business's "ability to sell pizza exclusively" to the town's residents.

Your overstretched concept of what can be "theft" would make all kinds of ordinary, perfectly legitimate business activities "theft". Your definition of "theft" is therefore a stupid and unworkable one.

the value is either reduced or may even be eliminated. Seems to me that a lot was stolen

Nonsense. Otherwise, if I strike gold somewhere, mine it, and sell a shitload of it on the open market, thus driving the price of gold down, and devaluing some gold you owned, then I'd be guilty of "theft" of some of the value of your gold, by your nutty definition of "theft".

There is no property-right entitlement to the VALUE of something you own; only to the thing itself. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if there were such a right! Nobody would be able to do anything without stepping on someone's "property rights", since almost any kind of market transaction will alter the values of things. Sell your shares? Uh-uh -- it will slightly lower the value of other shareholders' stock. Sell your home? Oops, if enough people do that at once the housing market depresses, so we can't allow that, it would be theft! Blow the whistle on illegal toxic dumping by XYZ Inc.? Nope, might devalue XYZ's stock, and that would be stealing!

Stealing may not require an act of depriving to be stealing.

Nonsense.

I have a number of poems that I have written in a notebook. Those poems exist no where else in the world. Who owns the poems? The answer is, of course, me.

To be precise, you own those specific copies.

I own the "arrangement" by the nature of its uniqueness.

No, you don't. You only own the particular copy.

Consider that (however likely or unlikely it may be) someone else somewhere else can conceivably independently think up the exact same arrangement, and make their own copy. By your theory, you'd magically own it. So would he, and he would own yours. This is clearly nonsensical, so neither of you can own an arrangement, only your respective physical copies. Anything else is simply incapable of making any sense.

You may attempt to duplicate those arrangements, but you would fail because you have no idea what is in the arrangements, and never will.

Nonsense. It is conceivable I could guess right, even if improbable, and if I did, then what?

[[insult deleted]] [x3]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Making a copy of something that only one person owns, and doing so in violation of their privacy and private property, is theft.

No, it's privacy intrusion and trespass. Physically removing something that had been on the premises would be theft.

You can steal something from someone without decreasing the number of items that a person has.

No, you can't.

Just because you do not personally believe that does not make it any less true.

No, because it's not true makes it not true (and it's because it's not true that I don't believe it).

[vicious insult deleted]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

You are [insult deleted].

No. None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Ownership can apply to other things, such as control.

Ridiculous. I've just furnished numerous proofs that extending the notion of ownership beyond the physical inevitably results in logical contradictions; sometimes even the grinding of the economy to a halt.

Mineral rights are a kind of property right.

And mineral deposits are physical objects.

If someone steals your mineral rights, have you lost anything? No. But was something stolen from you? If it is later discovered that you have gold in your ground, you will quickly find that the theft of your intangible mineral rights prevents you from digging the gold up. You were never deprived of anything

Obviously you were deprived of the gold, which is a material substance.

It is inherently obvious that [insult deleted]

No, of course not.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

I told you before that your religious beliefs are different from me.

They certainly are, since I have none while you seem to be overflowing with mystical irrationalism like some kind of metaphysical blocked toilet.

I (and the vast majority of the people in the world) cannot understand a religion where evident truths exist and are denied.

You can't understand your own religion? How sad for you.

[calls me a liar]

No, you're the liar.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Does your religion have a church where you go to worship?

Since it doesn't exist, obviously it cannot.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

The faithful of a religion always claim their beliefs are facts.

Yes; particularly you. You do that especially frequently, I've noticed.

That is a statement of fact.

Hardly anything that comes out of your keyboard is a statement of fact. Those that are not untestable seem invariably to be just plain wrong, and occasionally even intentional lies.

Uniqueness is a property that exists and was taken away.

Nice bit of sophistry, Lonnie, but I see right through you. You've employed the fallacy of equivocation, conflating two dissimilar meanings for the word "property". First you use "property" to mean a quality of a thing, but then you say that removing such a property of a thing is theft because taking property is theft, despite the fact that "taking property is theft" is using a different meaning of "property", namely, "an object owned by someone".

Come to think of it, uniqueness, which is tangible

It isn't. If you have a vase, is it unique? Perhaps no copy of it is known, but for all you can tell, some alien on the third planet of Alpha Centauri A has made one just like it, purely by chance. So you can't tell for sure whether something is unique or not just by looking at it or otherwise examining it. Therefore uniqueness is not tangible.

Since the rest of your argument was predicated on the premise I just torpedoed, I have deleted it without bothering to rebut it any further. It's already heading for the bottom of Davy Jones's Locker.

It is always hard to convince religious zealots of things that disagree with their beliefs.

Believe me, I've noticed. I'll settle for you agreeing to disagree, or simply shutting up, though, if you refuse to be convinced of things that disagree with your beliefs.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

You keep right on saying that. I, however, will still get a conviction for stealing.

No, you won't. Nobody gets convicted of larceny in a court of law without having actually removed physical property from a place.

I never said they would be convicted of larceny

You did, though you used the lay person's term "stealing" instead of the legalistic term for theft.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[insult deleted]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Very weird.

Yes; unfortunately, people whose beliefs are all evidence-based are very weird, and irrational mysticism seems to be the norm among this planet's population.

[calls me a liar]

No, you're the liar.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

You have [insult deleted].

I have not.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

[[insult deleted]]

No, you're the crazy one.

None of the nasty things that you have said or implied about me are at all true.

Now, go back to your compound, lock the gate, and worship your sticks.

I have no compound and no gate, and I don't worship sticks.

P.S. You must, from now on, wait 24 hours before replying. I can't be spending all my time mopping up your messes. Surely you, too, have better things to do, like suing poor innocent tech startups for patent infringement or whatever the hell it is that you do to make a dishonest living.


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