Free Information vs Information Protectionism

Francois-Rene Rideau Francois-Rene Rideau <>
Thu, 24 May 2001 02:25:41 +0200

Dear Mitchell,

since you replied to a message on a public forum, I took the liberty
to forward it to, where I Cc: this answer.

On Wed, May 23, 2001 at 03:31:55PM -0400, Morris, Mitchell wrote:
> Given all that, may I ask a few questions of you?
> (1) Is it possible to create something by dint of effort?

> Do I have sole ownership of a thing by the act of creation,
Yes, you own the act, and can either act it or withhold it,
at your sole desire (unless you promise something about it earlier).
However, you might not have any ownership on its results.
You have the right to benefit from them, but this right is not
ownership lest it be exclusive, which, according to natural law,
is only the case when physical resources are involved.

> (2) Assuming that I have created something by dint of my effort, can its
> value be determined by any way other than finding what someone else will
> give me for it?
Value, by definition, is what others are willing to give you for it.

> That is, do things have intrinsic value, or only exchange value?
I think the ricardian-marxist notion of intrinsic value is flawed;
or at least, that it corresponds to something economically irrelevant.
However, see Bastiat's opposition between the notions of value and utility
in Economic Harmonies, Chapter 11: "Producer and Consumer"

> (3) Assuming that my creation's value is determined by what other people
> will exchange for it, how are you not affecting me when you dilute the
> exchange value of my thing by giving away copies?
I may dilute the value, but it's GOOD. That's what progress is all about:
diluting value by increasing utility.

> Under what conditions are
> you not depriving me of the value of my creation?
Under the condition that no one owes you any value, but yourself
(insert proper Heinlein quote from in here).
If you want to get more value, be more useful to your customers.
Don't stop inventing, but go on. That's the driving force behind progress.

> Is there any other name for this act than "theft"?
Progress. For instance, read in chapter 10 on Competition
how innovative techniques in producing goods and services
first benefit the inventor, as a just reward, then slowly
permeate to the whole society, as a shared progress,
by the means of competition.
All that naturally, without any protectionism involved.

> (4) How does the physical or non-physical nature of my creation affect this
> process?
Darn. I should translate my "Manifesto of Free Information" into english.
It's affected by the fact that "property" in the sense "right to benefit
from" is not naturally exclusive, with non-physical creation, and hence
does not naturally coincide with "right to exclude other people from".
More; to exclude other people from using an idea or any non-physical thing,
you have to actually invade their privacy, prevent their lawful
exchange of services, and destroy utility.

If you think it's wrong to duplicate data, you should be writing software
in a language based on linear logic, reversible computation or otherwise
quantum physics, where bits are never duplicated. Just like the language
Clean, only with all types tagged "unique". Then, for any use of the
classical duplication operator, you'd require proper licensing agreements,
levy a tax, and pay royalties. Then go within one's mind and cut any
neurons that duplicate or amplify a signal.

> respectfully-but-adversarially yours,
That's the way debates get interesting.

Thanks for your contribution,

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  |  ]
Past is important in as much as it affects the future and as such only. - Faré