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Neither Intellectual Nor Property

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the but-it's-not-imaginary-either dept.

Patents 280

Techdirt's Mike Masnick is writing a series of short articles on topics around intellectual property. His latest focuses on the term itself, exploring the nomenclature people have proposed to describe matter that is neither intellectual nor property. The whole series (starting here) is well worth a read.

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So like Military Intelligence? (5, Funny)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670036)

Actually, anything with that many lawyers has gone way past intellectual and we all know the lawyers end up with more of the property than anyone else...so yes - I'd say he's right.

I better go RTFA now

Re:So like Military Intelligence? (4, Informative)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670722)

I'd better RTFA as well, but patent prosecution is one of the few areas where lawyers don't make an absolute killing relative to the client.

An "average" patent (basic electronics, software, mechanicals) costs between $4k and $8k in attorney's fees, plus the USPTO filing fees. Relative to the market potential, fees are minimal. That cost vs. reward is something the business, inventor, etc., must take into account when securing IP protection.

Biotech patents are another story but rarely go above $100k in fees. Assuming that a drug, for example, could bring in hundreds of millions+ in sales, the fees are pretty insignificant...

It's also a very rare situation that a lawyer will take an interest in the IP in exchange for services.

NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670042)

Q: How do you stop five NIGGERS from raping a white woman? A: Throw them a basketball!

nothing to protect if you never invent anything. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670064)

all i hear is the whining of stupid people.

Rebuttal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670082)

Copyright lobby's rebuttal can be found HERE. [doiop.com]

Re:Rebuttal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670248)

That's HILLARIOUS!

Re:Rebuttal (0)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670552)

The link is a myminicity(or whatever the hell it is). Avoid.

valuable intellectual property (1, Funny)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670090)

I want to start a band that makes music that is actually not music at all, but poor quality recordings of terrible noises. Something so stupid and so utterly annoying and maddening to listen to that there isn't a single person on the face of the planet that would bother to pirate it even if paid to do so. Not to mention that playing it back would probably damage any good speaker.

Then, I would get some dirty lawyer to represent my band in court, claiming that thousands of people are illegally pirating my valuable intellectual property. I can just see the looks on the faces of the jury when the so-called "music" is played in the court to demonstrate just how valuable said intellectual property is.

Re:valuable intellectual property (2, Informative)

malraid (592373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670186)

Sorry, it was done already: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Teenage_Riot [wikipedia.org] . They actually have an album that's a single 25 minute song of pure noise. And people liked it!

When I say "make some", you say "noise" (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670198)

I want to start a band that makes music that is actually not music at all, but poor quality recordings of terrible noises.
A lot of people would cry prior art, holding up a Nine Inch Nails CD. NIN fans would claim that Trent Reznor's music isn't noise and that people should be looking at real noise [wikipedia.org] instead.

Not to mention that playing it back would probably damage any good speaker.
Citation needed. I can pipe /dev/random into any decent stereo system and not damage the speakers, as long as the DAC's volume is turned down below half of maximum line level.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670324)

I happen to think that NIN (trent) makes quality music. I also happen to think that rap falls into your definition of poor quality recordings of terrible noises. Does that make my comment any more useful than yours? ... maybe - if it adequete demonstrates the error of your post and someone learns from it.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670520)

I happen to think that NIN (trent) makes quality music.
I wasn't arguing with that. I too am one of the "NIN fans [who] would claim that Trent Reznor's music isn't noise". I was just trying to pre-empt a bit of the flame war, especially because NIN recently made the front page of Slashdot.

I also happen to think that rap falls into your definition of poor quality recordings of terrible noises.
Some rap does; some rap doesn't.

maybe - if it adequete demonstrates the error of your post and someone learns from it.
Or perhaps the comments put together demonstrate that "noise" is subjective. But then some Wikipedia editors seem to think Butthole Surfers is a noise rock [wikipedia.org] band.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670708)

It all falls under the 95/5 rule. 95% of all music is complete and utter crap. For some that's NIN; for you that's an entire genre which seems a bit racist to me but that's your taste, or lack of it.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670840)

I'm tempted to accuse your Sturgeon's Law [wikipedia.org] reference of being in the majority group of /. postings, but that would be kind of mean.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (3, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670880)

Disliking a musical genre cannot be racist unless you equate musical genres to race, which is a racist concept.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671224)

This is true, and yet most of the people I hear say they hate rap as a genre are racists. I won't go into the subtleties of racism but suffice to say that racism doesn't necessarily mean one uses racial slurs.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (4, Informative)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670696)

A better prior art example might be Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, a 1975 double album of nothing but constant overdubbed guitar feedback. Although Reed claimed at the time that it was a serious artistic endeavor, it was widely speculated that it was made entirely for the purpose of getting his record contract terminated, and I remember reading somewhere that he once admitted to never even having listened to the album all the way through.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670740)

Citation needed. I can pipe /dev/random into any decent stereo system and not damage the speakers, as long as the DAC's volume is turned down below half of maximum line level.

Dude, /dev/random is so much better when you crank it.

Re:When I say "make some", you say "noise" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670782)

"Citation needed."
as you correctly pointed out, speakers kept below a threshold decibel range (varies by make) will never go bad. the wires to them are more likely to fail than the speakers themselves especially in portable applications.

Re:valuable intellectual property (1)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670220)

I want to start a band that makes music that is actually not music at all, but poor quality recordings of terrible noises. Something so stupid and so utterly annoying and maddening to listen to that there isn't a single person on the face of the planet that would bother to pirate it even if paid to do so. Not to mention that playing it back would probably damage any good speaker.

Then, I would get some dirty lawyer to represent my band in court, claiming that thousands of people are illegally pirating my valuable intellectual property. I can just see the looks on the faces of the jury when the so-called "music" is played in the court to demonstrate just how valuable said intellectual property is.

Never overestimate the taste of the American public. Your "noise" just might be a hit. (Of course, at my age, plenty of hit "songs" sound like so much noise to me anyway...)

Re:valuable intellectual property (2, Funny)

rfunches (800928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670350)

You'll know the IP lawyers are desperate when one of them brings a copyright infringement suit against someone for uploading/distributing John Cage's 4' 33" [wikipedia.org] .

Re:valuable intellectual property (1)

andy_t_roo (912592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670858)

but that 1 upload would count for a 33% drop in profits (ever)...

Re:valuable intellectual property (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670870)

You'll know the IP lawyers are desperate when one of them brings a copyright infringement suit against someone for uploading/distributing John Cage's 4' 33" [wikipedia.org] .

If you read further down the Wikipedia page, you'd know that it actually did happen:

In July 2002 composer Mike Batt (best known for being behind the 1970s novelty/children's act The Wombles) had charges of plagiarism filed against him by the estate of John Cage after crediting his track "A Minute's Silence" as being written by "Batt/Cage". Batt initially vowed to fight the suit, even going so far as to claim that his piece is "a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds." Batt told the London Independent that "My silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence." Batt eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed six figure sum in September 2002.

Re:valuable intellectual property (-1, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670648)

Go for it dumbass. Then, those thousands of people can counter-sue you and they will win.

Now, STFU and go back to your homework.

Hmmm (-1, Flamebait)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670124)

This (excessively dense and and pretentious) article is just a philosofic one. The man is just theorizing about what "intellectual" is and what "property" is , etc, the same way Karl Marx discussed what "the capital" is or what "the worker class" is not.

The answer to everything is as always very simple. Yes: intellectual property does exist, whatever Stallman or other crazie commies say, what I generate with my brain is MY intellectuall property and thus, I can choose to share it, protect it or commercialize it without Stallman or anyone else calling me a criminal for that.

See? So easy.

Re:Hmmm (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670160)

So you're saying that you owe society nothing for providing the stimulus to your amazing brain? That everything that comes out of my brain is MINE MINE MINE and has nothing to do with the world I live in? You know this kind of bullshit thinking harks back to Aristotle right? and that even he decided it was wrong.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670374)

So you're saying that you owe society nothing for providing the stimulus to your amazing brain?

I thought he was saying that he owes the estate of Aristotle for his use of that idea, and he owes some money to various Germanic tribes for their contributions to the English language. I'd imagine that is keyboard is illegal, as it didn't include any payment to the estate of Christopher Sholes, inventor of the QWERTY keyboard layout. Does his power company pay rights to Tesla's decedents for their use of alternating current to power that computer? Is there anything that we as humans can make or do that doesn't utilize the ideas of other people?

Re:Hmmm (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670868)

"Is there anything that we as humans can make or do that doesn't utilize the ideas of other people?"

well that's a tough question, but I'd definitely go with spitting up milk. after all nobody teaches a baby to spit up, they're not using any other human idea, of what to make or do... a close second is 'wee ourselves' and 'poo ourselves in the pants' although doing so in a toilet is obviously using someone else's idea, and doing so intentionally then you have to wonder where you got past your training of not to do so intentionally and who's thought it was to go against something ingrained in children by their parents when they're most vulnerable.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671066)

So you're saying that you owe society nothing for providing the stimulus to your amazing brain? That everything that comes out of my brain is MINE MINE MINE and has nothing to do with the world I live in? You know this kind of bullshit thinking harks back to Aristotle right? and that even he decided it was wrong.

You're saying that because other people existed, you can't do anything new? Can't add anything to the pool of knowledge? Can't do something revolutionary? Can't do something small?

Even the tiniest contribution to human knowledge has value. Even if you surmise that only 1/10 of an idea is original "MINEMINEMINE", man has every right to be proud of the 10% that wasn't there before.

The last mile can be the most important one; if people are willing to pay you for your work, great. But, attributing everything to others because because they're older is anti-knowledge. (Maybe I'm new here.)

Re:Hmmm (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670166)

You're right, the answer is simple. No it does not exist. There is nothing physical, thus while you have the right to share or commercialize it, you cannot prevent anyone else from doing so as well, once they either learn of the idea or come up with it on their own. No matter what the facist corporatists say.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670304)

what I generate with my brain is MY intellectuall property and thus, I can choose to share it, protect it or commercialize it
But, FTA, there's no way you can protect it without involving the law/other physical enforcement. It's not like physical property - you can't just hire a security team to make sure no-one trespasses, because once they have the idea they can't give it back. If you explained your idea to me, I'd then know what it was, and you would no longer have sole domain over it - without the intervention of law. And just like money, the idea is useless to you if you don't do anything with it. Therefore, it's impossible to maintain complete control over an idea without taking some very drastic, paranoid steps - in fact, I don't think you could possibly produce an idea by yourself that's complex enough to not already be prior art.

That's (one reason) why people get so upset over IP law - there's nothing stopping them copying ideas EXCEPT the law (it's so rare that something is produced by one person that it may as well be discounted), and there's no harm done by copying IP (RIAA/MPAA might argue that, but you could just as easily argue that their business system is based solely on the law, which means that it would be different/redundant without that law).

That's as succinctly as I could manage to summarise the article, and none of it seemed like intellectual wankery - this argument has serious ramifications IRL, and looking at the fundamentals of it seems as good a place to start as any. So, what you generate with your brain IS your property, but just like your money, it's completely useless if you don't SPEND it.

Re:Hmmm (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670364)

(it's so rare that something is produced by one person that it may as well be discounted),


Really? I suggest you go down to your local book store and look at the spines of the books. By far, the majority will list exactly one person as the author.

Re:Hmmm (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670922)

But, FTA, there's no way you can protect it without involving the law/other physical enforcement. It's not like physical property - you can't just hire a security team to make sure no-one trespasses, because once they have the idea they can't give it back.


Intellectual Property is not trespassed upon by someone having an idea, as that is not within the scope of the exclusive rights conveyed by any form of IP. The actual things that constitute violations are things that are, conceptually at least and often in practice, just as subject to vigilante enforcement as are the exclusive rights in real or personal property; indeed, we've seen plenty of articles on slashdots about IP owners and their agents attempting vigilante enforcement. And, anyhow, one of the main reasons for having legal rights in real and tangible personal property is to allow the creation of stores of wealth greater than could possibly be practically defended by vigilante enforcement (on the theory, at least in utilitarian justifications, that this doesn't just lead to the concentration of wealth and the deprivation of the losers, but that this results in creating greater net wealth, and that even those least well off are better off with this system than without it; whether this is true in any particular application is debatable though it at least seems plausible that combined with the right other policies it could be true.)

There no meaningful way I can see that IP differs from real and tangible personal property (or other intangible personal property) in this regard (including, of course, the fact that actual implementations often may not serve the net good even though the concept could do so.) I think we'd do a lot better to examine the actual problems with how our systems of property are implemented rather than making spurious and largely semantic arguments against certain classes of property really being "property".

Re:Hmmm (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671154)

there's nothing stopping them copying ideas EXCEPT the law

Is that a bad thing? In all cases?

Revolutionary, fun, tube-filled things of sparkles and sunshine take research. Research takes money. Without IP law, a company has two options:

  1. $$$$$ Research said sparkly, sunshine-filled invention
  2. $ Wait for #1 to do the research for you.

Which one do you think will happen more often?

Why do the research to begin with if, by "stealing" someone else's lets you make the same product on the cheap? You have no sunk costs to recover!

Imagine a world of only generic drugs... except there are no longer brand-name drugs to turn into generics.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670306)

So if you happen to simultaneously invent something with someone who beats you to the patent office by 20 minutes, you're happy paying him for his intellectual property that you clearly stole (telepathically)?

Re:Hmmm (1)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671104)

Of course! Lest we all forget Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell. At least you can expect a lengthy court battle out of the deal.

Re:Hmmm (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670342)

what I generate with my brain is MY intellectuall property and thus, I can choose to share it, protect it or commercialize it without Stallman or anyone else calling me a criminal for that.
You are lucky enough to live in a society that at least allows for the possibility of you having some choice as to what is done with your ideas (the biggest threat to your IP is the fact that society is made up of indviduals who may not play by the rules).
You should ask yourself why you want to be paid forever for something you do once.
Or, more usefully, try to identify the advantages of a long-term source of income that does not require constant work ;-)
I believe that a reasonable answer to this line of inquiry might lead to IP laws that benefit the largest number of people (including the people they are intended to protect).

Flamebait? That's why slashdot is a cancer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670612)

Just because an OPINION is not politically correct on /. is not necesarely a flamebait or a troll. I happen to NOT agree with the parent, but I'm open enough to accept other points of view.

But what else can you expect from the mob?

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671000)

what I generate with my brain is MY intellectuall property and

No man is an island.

The ideas etc that you generate with your brain are not emanating only from you but are generated by your experiences; your education, the society in which you grew up, your life experience.

They do not arise out of some kind of vacuum, unless you really *are* empty-headed.

Hence, if there really is *property* here it must be said to be the property of all of society; you *didn't* come up with it *all* by yourself. Never. Ever.

For heaven's sake... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670164)

The main reason why I have trouble with the "property" part isn't just the fact that it leads people to try to pretend it's just like tangible property, but because it automatically biases how people think about the concept. As I've written before, the very purpose of "property" and "property rights" was to better manage allocation of scarce resources...So, the entire rationale for "property rights" disappears.

I don't understand why this is so difficult for you idiots to comprehend. The "property" around that MP3 you're warezing isn't the file itself; it's the *copyright*, which can not be duplicated and which is scarce. Now, you may not think such a thing *should* exist in order to be property and Richard Stallman may have told you that it's thoughtcrime to think such a thing, but the fact is that in our legal system it *is* property. All this sophistry about scarcity is completely missing the point.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670250)

property in the layman terms of "it has an owner" as in the "copyright owner" but not "property" in the correct technical sense of the word.

I don't know why that is so difficult for you idiots to comprehend.

Re:For heaven's sake... (-1, Flamebait)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670362)

property in the layman terms of "it has an owner" as in the "copyright owner" but not "property" in the correct technical sense of the word.

1) I'm not sure who you think determines "in the correct technical sense of the word" for those who aren't Stallman Zombies. For most of us, having an "owner" and being "property" are the same thing. Certainly a copyright or patent is just as much "property" as a bond or a mortgage is.

2) Even if one were to concede 1), the fact remains that the guy holding forth on what is and isn't "intellectual" doesn't even know what "intellectual property" refers to.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670416)

Definitely not debating that TFA is barely an article.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670822)

I'm only guessing here, but I think he means that the "technical definition" of property is "real property." That is, land. He's ignoring that other class of property, "personal property," which includes everything else that can be owned.

Actually, he DOES know. Your argument is bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670882)

> 2) Even if one were to concede 1), the fact remains that the guy holding forth on what is and isn't "intellectual" doesn't even know what "intellectual property" refers to.

It refers to patents, copyrights, trademarks and a few other bits of law that are even stranger, like the statutory super-trademarks for the Olympics and Red Cross, semiconductor mask designs, hull designs and anything else I've forgotten. He covers at least the first three in the first article linked, which you may or may not have read.

After all, if you'd read one of the last few stories about this, you'd have seen the comment from NewYorkCountryLawyer saying that IP is just a name, it doesn't really make it 'property', just something vaguely analogous to it.

But I don't suppose you read that far, or care what lawyers think. That's the real harm of that term, it makes people think that people don't believe in real property, and that seems to trigger some kind of Libertarian-style knee-jerk that makes little sense.

Personally, I think I should be granted "breathing monopoly rights" so that I may revoke them for anyone breathing my air who doesn't have sufficient IQ to be permitted to who hasn't really bothered to engage any of the many counter-arguments that have been posted, and I'm very disappointed that the government is disrespecting my rights!

Re:For heaven's sake... (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670912)

Well, you're right, but only as far as the point that neither mortgage nor bond are property -- they are both financial claims against the future revenue stream of whoever sells them.

Similarly, copyright, trademarks and the host of related items aren't property. They are a limited monopoly issued by the government for whatever reasons to their holder.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671340)

And they are most likely to be abused when the holder is not the creator.
When they are abused, everybody loses.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671266)

Stallman's Zombies

There, fixed it for you. The vision of thousands of identical zombie clones of RMS is something out of an FPS-induced nightmare.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671016)

property in the layman terms of "it has an owner" as in the "copyright owner" but not "property" in the correct technical sense of the word.


The technical sense of the word "property" is, roughly, "a collection of exclusive legal rights relating to some particular subject, or the subject to which some collection of those rights attach." And, IP is precisely property in that technical sense.

If you mean "not 'property' in some poorly thought-out, fuzzy sense in which only real property and tangible personal property can be 'property' which is utterly divorced from the historical use, understanding, and justifications of property rights", then, well, you might be correct, but that's not the "proper technical sense of the word".

Re:For heaven's sake... (3, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670398)

Upwards of 150 years for a copyright isn't "scarce," it's bullshit. Arguing that the very act of copying a CD to your hard drive in MP3 format violates copyright is bullshit, too.

The only thing scarce about music these days is the talent.

Re:For heaven's sake... (2, Insightful)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671172)

The only thing scarce about music these days is the talent.

I agree inasmuch as commercially, mass produced music is concerned, but there is *plenty* of good, free (as in beer and liberty) music out there. You just gotta know where to look. Of course my tastes are rather diverse, so YMMV, etc.

If it were up to me, only the original composer(s) could hold a copyright on a piece of music which would expire (and default to public domain) upon their death. No corps or estates allowed.

Copyrights *CAN'T* be duplicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670756)

> it's the *copyright*, which can not be duplicated and which is scarce.

It can't be? You mean the government can't give more than one person license to use the work, say, in something called the public domain?

Oh wait, they can. In other words, with real property, the law was created to address the harm caused by other people using your property, but with imaginary property, the law was created to cause harm and prevent other people from using something of "yours" that isn't really property.

So I understand that argument just fine, but even still, I don't believe in imaginary property.

Re:For heaven's sake... (5, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670762)

But we know that there is no scarcity on the bits themselves, and the copyright only creates the scarcity. What bothers me, and probably a lot of other people, is that they act like we're taking a physical object when we're not. If I download a song that I will never buy anyway, they've lost nothing by that download, unlike someone stealing a car, or a dvd off the shelf, or any of the other ridiculous bullshit analogies that they use.

The scarcity's in the time and talent of the artist. Rick Astley put time and effort into his songs, and he's considerably more talented than most singers. If he wrote the music and lyrics, then that's even more time that was put into the song. It's not property in the tangible sense.

Also, our law recognizes this, because you're not charged with felony theft when you download a shitload of music/movies off the internet, so try again.

Re:For heaven's sake... (1, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671342)

I download a song that I will never buy anyway, they've lost nothing by that download, unlike someone stealing a car, or a dvd off the shelf, or any of the other ridiculous bullshit analogies that they use.

I submit to you, sir, that "I wasn't going to buy it anyway" is equally bullshit.

If you couldn't get it for free, would you still listen to music? I'm guessing you would, but maybe you'd have to compensate the artist instead. Although I'd like to see a lot of them starving, I wouldn't want to see every artist a starving artist.

If their work isn't worth paying for, don't buy it. Don't finger-quote-bunny "steal" it. If a tune isn't worth $.99 to you, it's obviously not worth listening to. So why are you torrenting it, and then being self-righteous about your laziness?

The scarcity's in the time and talent of the artist. Rick Astley put time and effort into his songs, and he's considerably more talented than most singers. If he wrote the music and lyrics, then that's even more time that was put into the song. It's not property in the tangible sense.

...which the artist doesn't get paid for. Because what that time and talent produces is not tangible. But, that intangible good is more value than the tangible one - yet you don't feel he and others have a right to get paid for their work?

Re:For heaven's sake... (2, Insightful)

proselyte_heretic (1030466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670930)

But intellectual property also denies a reality of buying music today, when it is not possible to buy music from far away by non-major labels. Even if I listened to the radio a lot, I seriously doubt that I would have heard of Antibalas, Lily Allen, John Butler Trio, Spoon, State Radio, and many others. People explore music by hearing it, and when radio isn't playing it, they share it. This is illegal, and leaving that status quo allows companies to make it increasingly difficult to actually get some of this music to hear. Lily Allen and John Butler Trio are both from outside the USA, so unlikely to find on radio. I heard of State Radio from a friend at school, and if I didn't have a emusic.com membership, the first thing I would have done would be to download some tracks from g2p.org and listen to them (illegally). If I really liked them, I might buy their music. The law should be reformed when it makes it illegal to do normal, expected things, like listen to music before you buy it. But then again, I'm just some kid in high school, so I haven't had the experience that makes the adult world as slow to adjust as the legislature.

Re:For heaven's sake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22671102)

I don't understand why this is so difficult for you idiots to comprehend. The "property" around that MP3 you're warezing isn't the file itself; it's the *copyright*, which can not be duplicated and which is scarce.

Duplicating copyright costs no physical resources or time. A single legislative action would produce an infinite number of copies of all copyrights. Therefore it's not scarce.

Bonds and mortgages are scarce because they involve physical resources, the underlying money or houses. Producing a copy of a bond would require someone to back it with physical resources, which is why duplication is not free.

Re:For heaven's sake... (2, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671170)

Thank you so much for saying this. I'm very sad that I burned through my karma by attacking a few too many sacred cows, but happy that there are people like you (and, fortunately, others) to refute these common misconceptions in my stead.

People fail to compare apples to apples, for the reasons you've given. While *information* can be reproduced ad infinitum, the right that people are asserting cannot. Only one person can have *exclusive* rights to form any given pattern. It's a very valid point to argue that no one should have such a right (like you say), but the property claimed is, undeniably, scarce.

I am quite frankly sick of all the misconceptions and crappy arguments thrown around about IP. I really should step up my efforts to stamp them out. I'll list a few of them here:

-"intellectual property is a deceptive term/ blurs distinctions between copyright and trademark, etc" --> Um, yeah, because it's a superset term that people find useful in many contexts. For example, "signficant other" can be said to "blur" the difference between a wife and a girlfriend, but if superset terms really confuse you, you were confused to begin with.

-"It's not property" --> See the zillion analogues that people automatically notice when they're intelligent and honest.

-"IP has no legal meaning" --> but it does in common parlance.

-"It's possible to produce intellectual works for profit without asserting IP rights" --> and you can use those methods even while IP exists; we would, however, lose all those that require IP in order for anyone to bother producing them.

Anyone else want to try their hand?

Deja Vu (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670190)

At the risk of a big ol' karma hit (which I'm sure I can afford), let me just say that almost anyone can look through slashdot comments and come up with the exact same thing written. The "article" seems to be written purely to get on the front page of slashdot and drive pageviews up. I got the biggest sense of deja vu reading it -- I'm sure I've read every word there on slashdot already.

That said,

As I've written before, the very purpose of "property" and "property rights" was to better manage allocation of scarce resources.
Sounds nice, but I don't think it holds merit at all. The very purpose of property and property rights is self-interest and the philosophical right to pursue self-interest. It has nothing to do with managing allocation of resources. It's human nature to declare ownership (ever been around a two-year-old?) because ownership of things translates to better survival and reporductive rates.

At any rate, I'm sure I'm gonna get modded into oblivion here, since my post runs counter to the opinions of some of the more rabid libertarian/anarchist moderators. I'm not going to get into some of the other things in his blog specifically in relation to IP... since rebuttal of same is apparent in the comments to so many articles have come before.

Re:Deja Vu (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670394)

No, they'll agree with you, but only if it is in defense of their property. The same people who wouldn't think twice about downloading a movie or cd are the same people who think Tivoization is theft.

Re:Deja Vu (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670960)

I don't think it's theft. I merely believe that it results in sub-optimal results for the community as a whole. I don't really want to put effort into supporting something that's specifically designed to be contrary to my interests and to make it illegal for me to make it work in a manner that isn't.

It isn't theft.

And downloading a movie isn't theft either.

It's arguably doing damage to the community for the movie to not be freely available. The cost of the movie is likely too high for many people who might otherwise enjoy it. So the community as a whole is hurt by the value these people are not deriving from the movie because the monopoly right granted on its distribution makes the cost too high.

The idea is to trade off the damage to the community as a whole as opposed to the good for the community as a whole to grant a temporary monopoly right in an attempt to encourage the production of the movie. Treating copyright as a property right is to totally short-circuit this attempt at balance.

The existence of electronic distribution means this balance needs to be re-thought. The tradeoff is different. The ability to make a copy so cheaply means that the amount of damage to society being done by the granted monopoly right is correspondingly greater. Even more people than previously might be able to enjoy the movie if only the monopoly right didn't exist.

There is no analogue in the world of physical property. Sure someone who doesn't have a pound of sugar might be able to derive a lot of value from having that pound. But in order for them to have it, it has to be taken from someone else who is also deriving value from having it.

Calling copyright 'intellectual property' totally casts the debate in terms that lead people to make poor decisions.

The idea of capitalism is to derive the overall greatest value to society as a whole from the distribution of various resources. It turns out that to do that it is best to let each individual actor assign their own values to various resources and each bargain with the others to gain the things they most value. This has various interesting problems in practice, but that's the basic idea.

Casting copyright and patents as 'property' totally skews how people think of them and prevents this calculation from being done appropriately.

Re:Deja Vu (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670746)

At the risk of a big ol' karma hit (which I'm sure I can afford), let me just say that almost anyone can look through slashdot comments and come up with the exact same thing written.

Indeed [slashdot.org] . 8^)

The phrase itself goes back to 1997 [questia.com] , too.

Reverse Psychology (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670874)

Why is it that every time I see one of these "I'll probably get modded down but..." posts, it's modded up.

Re:Reverse Psychology (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671116)

Because the other ones get modded down where you can't see them. (Maybe.)

Re:Reverse Psychology (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671232)

Ha, didn't think of that

Re:Deja Vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22671288)

At the risk of a big ol' karma hit (which I'm sure I can afford), let me just say that almost anyone can look through slashdot comments and come up with the exact same thing written. The "article" seems to be written purely to get on the front page of slashdot and drive pageviews up. I got the biggest sense of deja vu reading it -- I'm sure I've read every word there on slashdot already.

I don't have a Slashdot account, but this is Mike Masnick from Techdirt. I wrote the original post, and I can unequivocally state that the above is untrue. I'm actually quite surprised that it's on Slashdot at all (if you know anything about Techdirt at all, you'd know by now that we don't care about page views, and the last thing I'd do is write something just for page views). I'm writing the series specifically because Techdirt readers asked for a general primer on the space, after seeing one too many "education courses" by copyright maximalist firms that are clearly designed to mislead people into the purpose of intellectual property. Thus, I thought it would be good to basically pull together some basics about the IP space that people could point to if they want to understand the basics.

The fact that it's not "new" is by design. It's supposed to be a primer, not a huge thesis. I'm not sure why you're making fun of it for it doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

Sounds nice, but I don't think it holds merit at all. The very purpose of property and property rights is self-interest and the philosophical right to pursue self-interest. It has nothing to do with managing allocation of resources. It's human nature to declare ownership (ever been around a two-year-old?) because ownership of things translates to better survival and reporductive rates.

Well, that sounds good, but is wrong, and easily proven wrong. Self-interest and property rights do not perfectly correlate, as you assume. In fact, self-interest can often be inflated by a lack of property rights (in cases where you are dealing with infinite goods, as opposed to scarce ones). Even if you (falsely) believe that property rights are about self-interest, that doesn't explain why property rights are placed on infinite goods. After all, if it was all about self-interest then we'd put property rights on everything, such as air. Think about how large an industry the "air" industry would be if you had to pay to breathe?

If you look back at your economics lessons, you'll realize the only purpose for property rights is for resource allocation. Self-interest is then a function of that resource allocation, not the other way around.

I have no modding power, so I won't mod you down -- but I will say that you are wrong on my motivations for writing the piece, the purpose for the piece as well as your claims about the purpose of property. It's not because I disagree with your opinion, but because you are factually wrong.

Whatever (1)

daddyrief (910385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670218)

It's easy to argue about nomenclature differences, but in the most general terms, Intellectual Property refers to the "property" (song, poem, etc.) created "intelectually" by the author (band, writer, etc.)

Legal fiction? (4, Interesting)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670316)

IANAL (I don't even play one on TV), but it seems to me that IP might be considered a legal fiction [wikipedia.org] , much like the equally disputed concept of corporate personhood [wikipedia.org] . Maybe our resident NYCL could set me straight on this.

Re:Legal fiction? (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670842)

I would say that it is a bit of a legal fiction (like an honest lawyer), but it also essentially the best concept we have - that is if you're of the type to agree with entitled-to-the-fruit-of-your-labor philosophies.

There are certainly faults with the system and even some of the concepts, but without a legal creation and definition, how else can ideas be protected? As with the concept of corporate personhood, sometimes it's a matter of convenience or at least a way to fit a different concept into an already established system (i.e., try to treat a corporation as a single person or protect an ethereal idea or concept as we would say chattels or a piece of land).

I went back and read my comment and now I'm not sure if it answered your question or not! I guess there's so much money and litigation over IP that I'm not going to be able to adequately encapsulate the idea in an /. post! :)

Re:Legal fiction? (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670932)

"...how else can ideas be protected?"

Copyright does NOT protect ideas, it is CLEARLY defined that copyright protects the EXPRESSION of an idea in a fixed, tangible medium. It's this simple fact that is so often overlooked and if more people understood it then we'd have far fewer people whining about copyright. Well, except for those who are only arguing against copyright because they just want shit for free which seems to be pretty much everybody arguing against copyright in the first place.

Re:Legal fiction? (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671040)

Dude I totally agree. I was speaking primarily to patents. Admittedly I didn't RTFA... ;)

Intellectual property (4, Insightful)

RCL (891376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670318)

Code/music/data are no more than a sequence (pretty large sometimes) of numbers, that is, bytes. If I came up with sequence, say, 5, 10, 11, 35, 255 - can I claim it to be my property and sue you for copying it? If not, how long should such sequence be in order to allow this?

Re:Intellectual property (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670748)

I don't know much about IP law but from what i know, you cannot copyright a number :) if i get something from the number, thats not my fault

Re:Intellectual property (2, Interesting)

RCL (891376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670820)

But binary executable, mp3 file, a movie file and all the other things that are copyrighted are ultimately just a sequence of numbers. You can theoretically copy them by remembering all those numbers if you have a phenomenal memory and ability to type quickly.

Re:Intellectual property (2, Insightful)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671294)

That's an interesting point, but really it's just splitting hairs. A patent is really just some ink on a page that represent a less vague idea on how to implement something. Music is just air pressure differences that hit the eardrums in a certain order. Bits on a hard drive (or in memory) are just an arrangement of electrons that represent some idea that can entertain or provide a tool to get work done. Ultimately everything is just a sequence of something, and that's now what's really important - it's what the sequence represents. When it comes down to it, it seems to *me* that all tools are really just an extension of the mind, which is why the whole debate over "Imaginary/Intellectual" Property comes off as convoluted and absurd.

...Then again, I'm still a naive idealist, although somehow rather cynical. Ahh, fuck it...

Tax Intellectual Property (4, Interesting)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670320)

Even if it is a nickel, it would solve so many problems. If it is worth so much to protect then there should be no problem in paying tax to cover for the mess it makes.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670358)

This is similar to the suggestion that charging a fee for each email sent would stop spam.

And about as practical.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670422)

Actually, I think it is a bit different. If you make a lawsuit you will have to pony up the tax and continue to pay it each year if you think you will ever need to file a new lawsuit. Nice clean un-avoidable rule and prevents frivolous lawsuits.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670458)

Sigh. Charging a fee for sending an email will stop spam, yes, but it will also drastically reduce the number of emails that are sent and therefore the entire utility of the email system. That's the analogous argument.. that's the entire argument.. don't go reading some other argument into it.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670862)

So, you're saying that more patents means that the system is better? I think you're drawing a false analogy.

Patents exist as an aberration to "how things work". Monkeys learn by watching other monkeys do something. They don't patent their doings of things. Patents are supposed to encourage people to do more interesting things, but what they're being used for is basically squatter's rights on vague ideas, and then as a measure to tax anyone that does anything like you've done before. More of those "rights" is nowhere near analogous to having more emails sent. In fact, fewer patents in general would make the system stronger and more dynamic overall, pretty much the exact opposite of what would happen to email.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670976)

The patent system is wholly fucked up for many reasons. The cost of entry *is* extremely high.

But mainly I was thinking of copyright.. which is another problem with the blanket term "intellectual property", no-one knows if you are talking about copyright, patents, trademarks or trade secrets.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (0, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670688)

Assholes like you are the cause of the mess. Perhaps we should tax being an asshole.

Re:Tax Intellectual Property (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670728)

Don't you pay enough taxes already?

I like to call it a currency of the mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670372)

The fact that ideas aren't property doesn't mean that they should be offered freely to those who never gave it a second thought.

In the hive mind... (1)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670402)

...all intellects, and all property thereof, are one.

Term of Art (2, Informative)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670404)

So, lawyers have been thinking about the nature of property for hundreds of years, and have come up with the idea that property is a bundle of rights in a thing. And, there are some very real parallels between Real Property (ie land) and Intellectual Property:

The right to exclude: If you own real property, you can prevent trespassing; if you own intellectual property, you can prevent infringement.

The right to convey: If you own real property, you can sell it; if you own IP, you can sell it.

The right to subdivide: If you own real property, you can break it up into smaller units, or sell off parts of it (like, for example, Mineral rights). Similarly, with Copyright, you can sell off the right to distribute or the right to publicly perform it, and with patent, you can sell off the right to import it, or make products based on it.

The right to control how something is used: If you own real property, you get to say what happens with it. Same things with IP. (Both of these have limits)

The main complaint about IP as property comes from it not being "rivalrous" -- unlike, say, a coffee cup, which can only be used by one person at a time, IP can be used by any number of people at a time. However, there are non-rivalrous goods out there in which we attach property rights. For example, a public golf course near us has a public easement over the back yards of adjoining houses -- if you hit your golf ball onto their lot, you have the right to go and get it. That is a non-rivalrous property right: my ability to get my golf ball is not impeded by the number of other people who have that right.

IP resembles real or personal property a lot more than it resembles anything else.

Why no intellectual property tax? (0, Redundant)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670602)

So, lawyers have been thinking about the nature of property for hundreds of years, and have come up with the idea that property is a bundle of rights in a thing. And, there are some very real parallels between Real Property (ie land) and Intellectual Property:

The right to exclude [...] The right to convey [...] The right to subdivide [...] The right to control how something is used
With the rights associated with real property come responsibilities, such as the payment of property tax in addition to the payment of tax on income derived from the property. What analogous responsibilities come with copyrights?

Re:Why no intellectual property tax? (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670686)

Well, if you get income from your IP, then you have to pay tax on it, just like you have to pay tax on any other income.

There are plenty of types of property that you do not pay property tax on. The pair of pants I'm wearing, for example.

Re:Term of Art (4, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670984)

So, lawyers have been thinking about the nature of property for hundreds of years, and have come up with the idea that property is a bundle of rights in a thing. And, there are some very real parallels between Real Property (ie land) and Intellectual Property
The only reason those parallels exist is because the legal fiction of intellectual property attempts to mimic the physical reality of real property. You are doing the equivalent of using a term to define itself.

Let's look at the difference between the two in the physical world, rather than the abstraction of the physical world which is the law.

The right to exclude
Real property - exclusion can be accomplished without involving 3rd parties.
Intellectual property - exclusion can only occur with the aid of 3rd parties (i.e. law enforcement).

The right to convey
Real property - Once conveyed, its gone.
Intellectual property - Once conveyed, you still have it.

The right to subdivide
Real property - Subdivision is finite, there is only so much to go around.
Intellectual property - Subdivision is infinite, you can give away pieces of arbitrary size to as many people as want them.

The right to control how something is used
Real property - control does not require 3rd parties.
Intellectual property - control requires 3rd parties (i.e. law enforcement)

That is a non-rivalrous property right: my ability to get my golf ball is not impeded by the number of other people who have that right.
Whether or not a right is rivalrous says nothing about whether or not the actual resource is rivalrous. The entire world could have the right to retrieve golfballs from someone's yard, but the entire world could not actually DO it because the yard is rivalrous.

IP resembles real or personal property a lot more than it resembles anything else.
But physical resources do not resemble ideas anywhere but within the realm of some legal systems.

Re:Term of Art (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671264)

Real property - exclusion can be accomplished without involving 3rd parties.

Intellectual property - exclusion can only occur with the aid of 3rd parties (i.e. law enforcement).

Really? If me, and 6 of my friends, and a few dozen of their friends, decide we want to use your backyard, can you stop us without using third parties? Hell, you'd have every right to - but it's that "i.e. law enforcement" 3rd party that makes it all possible without you hiring a private army and fighting force with force. Maybe we want to torch your garage while we're at it - think "real" property rights are any more enforceable without government?

Real property - control does not require 3rd parties.

Intellectual property - control requires 3rd parties (i.e. law enforcement)

Same problem as above - "Real" property is no more of an intellectual arbitrage than "intellectual" property.

The only difference? Ideas are easier to "trespass" upon. You can keep others off of your "real" property with a fence. Your decade of market research is infinitely more valuable, yet infinitely less protectable.

And generally, what is hard for the individual to do, we expect the government to do - roads, law enforcement, and even utilities are perfect examples. Why is making research profitable such a heinous idea? If you think you can keep others off your backyard, think of how much greater the need is to protect the "useful sciences."

Re:Term of Art (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671012)

IP resembles real or personal property a lot more than it resembles anything else.
And grass is green!

Titles 17 & 35 specifically intend to put real property restrictions on intellectual works. IP, by definition, makes a non-scarce thing scarce by treating it as property. So it is of absolutely no coincidence that exclusion, conveyance, subdivision, and limited control of IP are parallels of real property. Loose analogy in geek terms: if class B inherits from A then it's of no surprise B has the same properties of A.

The primary argument about IP is that specific legal force that non-scarce things are made scarce. In other words, the complaints against IP are for the reasons IP is being abused. Term extensions, trolling, trivial/prior-art, etc.

When you think about it IP is completely ironic. IP has exclusion but the point is to sell as many copies as you can. IP has conveyance and subdivision but the original owner has to voluntarily stop using it (the transference is intangible). IP has control but the more you control it the less you can sell it.

However, the absolute true irony to copyrights is that as time marches on communication of information gets cheaper and cheaper yet companies grip it tighter (DMCA) and get their stranglehold extended (Mickey Mouse Act)!

Lawyer Letters (1)

billsf (34378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670432)

Letters from lawyers are neither, particularly considering some have even told us where we can post them. They "cease and desist", something well known within the legal community for many years.
   

$ is the reason for IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670572)

If folks created without trying to obtain cash, we wouldn't need IP laws. IP only protects the creator's right to determine who makes money from their creation.

Understanding language and property (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670596)

Continuing my ongoing series of posts on "intellectual property," I wanted to discuss the phrase itself. It's become common language to call it intellectual property, but that leads to various problems -- most notably the idea that it's just like regular property.


Well, no, apparently Masnick doesn't understand the way language works. Modifiers (here, "intellectual") indicate that things are different from other things in the modified class (here, "property"), not that they are "just like" the other things in the modified class. This is true of "real property", "personal property" (and more specifically "tangible personal property" and "intangible personal property", where the additional modifier ["tangible" or "intangible"] indicates that not only is the item different from other types of "property" but also from other types of "personal property".)

As I've written before, the very purpose of "property" and "property rights" was to better manage allocation of scarce resources.


Masnick may have written before, but its not accurate as a matter of fact (the reason for "property" and "property rights" factually is that people who had stuff wanted to justify continuing to have it and excluding other people from taking it), nor is it the only retrospective justification offered for it (management of scarce resources is often argued as a justification of property, a more general argument for promoting the general welfare by increasing the incentive to create and preserve value -- which includes, but goes beyond, management of scarce resources -- is often offered, and a number of a priori reasons are often offered as well.) So there is no sense in which the claim that that there is a single purpose of property and property rights is true other than a as a subject statement of personally preferred justification.

If there's no scarce resource at all, then the whole concept of property no longer makes sense.


If you start from Masnick's premise that property is solely about managing scarce resources, this is true. If one takes the view that property rights exist to create incentives to create and/or preserve value, a framework within which management of scarce resources to prevent waste is subsumed, the absence of scarcity doesn't obviate the utility of property. It might recommend different treatment of property rights where scarcity isn't a major concern, but then rights in intellectual property are already very distinct from those in tangible personal property which are very distinct from those in real property.

As for the suggested alternative terms:

Intellectual Monopoly


This one is fairly accurate, in that all property rights are legally-enforced monopolies of one kind or another. Of course, its just as accurate to call real property "land monopoly" and tangible personal property "movable objects monopoly".

Intellectual Privilege


Also accurate, in that all monopolies are privileges granted by law and, as discussed previously, all property is monopoly. But, again, the "privilege" label would be no less accurate applied to any other existing form of property.

Imaginary Property

Not very good. It is property, of course, but the only way the imaginary works is if imaginary is taken as equivalent to "intangible". But IP is but one small subclass of intangible personal property, so this would be a particularly bad label.

Others


All the examples given under this heading are labels that could apply to all property as written, without modification. All legal property rights constitute "use monopolies", all legal property rights are "imposed monopoly privileges", and all legal property rights are "Government-Originated Legally Enforced Monopolies".

None of the Above


The argument for this point rests on the false dichotomy that you can't recognize a class of "intellectual property" that subsumes trademarks, copyrights, and patents while at the same time recognizing that those are different distinct things with their own particular features, which is as ludicrous as saying you can't recognize "tangible personal property" and "intangible personal property" as distinct while recognizing "personal property" as a valid and useful analytic class, or "personal property" and "real property" as distinct, while recognizing "property" as a meaningful analytic class.

What happens when all physical production (1)

Bytal (594494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670798)

is commoditized...? Once we can use 3D printers to home produce items of great complexity there will be only two items of value in the world. 1) The raw materials to feed the 3D printers and 2) the software blueprints that instruct the printer to produce certain items. Now that will really throw IP law for a spin. Not to mention the world economies.

Re:What happens when all physical production (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670978)

What about medicine? What about food? What about all the things that we'll never be able to shape with just a printer? You can't just "print out" a bunch of solid steel girders and snap them together into a workable shelter or office building. Why do people think this is a feasible future for us?

Cmod 3own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670844)

knowS that ever

IP is misnamed (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670910)

The first thing we need to do is abolish the term completely. It's a conglomerate that practically begs to promote FUD through worst case intersection of applicable law.

For starters, there are three entirely different kinds of intellectual properties, and different laws apply to each kind.

You have trademarks, which are distinctive names or designs used for branding. Almost like a name for your product, like Nike, Microsoft, or McDonalds. Linux is a trademark that applies to the operating system by the same name, for example.

Trademarks need to be registered before use, and can be renewed indefinitely so long as the mark remains distinctive. Infringing a trademark is most comparable to forgery, rather than theft.

Copyrights are rights of exclusive derivation, and apply to works of information. If you write an original book, you have a copyright. If you take a picture of the Grand Canyon, you have a copyright. If you write a kick ass program, you have a copyright on the source code.

Unlike trademarks, copyrights exist upon fixation in a durable medium, and last for life plus some odd number of years, unless it was made by a corporation. Unlike a trademark, you don't break a copyright if you come up with an idea on your own. If two authors on opposite sides of the country simultaneously write exactly the same work, both of them enjoy copyright on their versions. With a trademark, however, the winner is whoever gets to the USPTO first. A copyright mostly applies to works of art and have creativity and expression as a key part of what they protect.

Patents apply to more physical things, like processes, devices, machines, and stuff that is more tangible. They last for 20 years, and, like trademarks, grant the owner exclusive use of the patented invention. Anyone using your idea without your permission is liable for patent infringement.

The problem with IP is that, owing to the "play it safe" attitude of many people, the copyright portion will often be applied to a patent, and vice versa.

As far as I know, nothing can be both copyrighted and patented at the same time. However, the ambiguous term of "Intellectual Property" doesn't specify which applies, so FUD-mongers get to delight in scaring people into honoring both styles, even though only one likely applies.

Re:IP is misnamed (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670962)

As far as I know, nothing can be both copyrighted and patented at the same time.


Since copyrights and patents don't apply to the same kind of things this is probably true in a sense, though it is certainly the case that, e.g., the non-functional elements of the design of a product could be protected by copyright (and possibly trademark) and the functional ones by patent at the same time, and that the common-language description of that situation would be that the product was copyright, patented, and possibly trademarked; this would, perhaps, be imprecise, but not particularly inaccurate.

Intellectual Property (2, Insightful)

epicureanideal (1252132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670994)

I'm sort of disturbed by the idea that just because you can make 10000 copies of something at no _cost_ to the original creator of the content, you should just be able to make as many copies as you want and never compensate them. Yes, it doesn't cost them anything, but what about compensating people for the work they do, or encouraging them to do more work in the future? There are lots of things I would like to write or produce that I think would be valuable, but rather than simply wondering how many people would like my product and what they would think it's worth, I have to wonder how many would just copy it and steal the product of my labor. Sure, open sourcers would still produce things, and there would be people willing to work for free for the fame or future job prospects or whatever, but not everybody wants to work for free! I like the idea of working hard and getting a higher income than the guy who doesn't, and having a nice house and a new car parked in front of it. I don't understand why people want to reduce the opportunity to do that.

'intellectual product' - why not simplify? (1)

dawud (1252164) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671348)

what about 'intellectual product' - a simple descriptive, keeps the IP initials, and defines what's being spoken about, because aren't we talking about products of the intellect?
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