Free Information vs Information Protectionism

Paul Foley
27 May 2001 18:54:46 +1200

[Oops; accidentally sent this reply to Far=E9 instead of cybernethics]

On Sat, 26 May 2001 11:28:00 +0200, Francois-Rene Rideau wrote:

> On Sat, May 26, 2001 at 02:40:30PM +1200, Paul Foley wrote:
>>>> I claim you owe me because you
>>>> agreed to owe me when we made our mutually-agreeable exchange.
>>> Except that copyrights are not based on such mutual agreement,
>>> but on preventing third parties from copying.
>> Property rights are not based on such mutual agreement in general; I
>> don't have to make separate agreements with every person on Earth in
>> order to own..oh, say, my shoes, do I?
> I'm thus happy to see you drop your previous argument above.

What previous argument?  Are you confusing me with the person you were
replying to (Mitchell Morris)?

>> Do I own the result of my own labours?
> Depending on what you call "the result", yes or no.
> You certainly do not own all the consequences of your labours.
> If you build a knife, that is latter used by someone else to
> win a cooking competition, or to kill his wife, you don't own this resu=

I'm not responsible for other people's behaviour; of course not!  But
I presume you'll allow that I owned the knife, until I sold to the guy
who killed his wife?  If I build a gun and it fires a bullet through
the fence and kills my next door neighbour, am I still not responsible?

>> Any code I might write is surely that;
> Depending on what you call "result", it is or it isn't.

Do you admit that some "labour" has occurred?  The only result is that =

pattern of bits in the computer!

> In any case, I dispute it is something you can legitimately claim
> to own in an exclusive way.

Do you have a reason?

[Or can I come and kill you and then claim to the court "I dispute
that life is something you can legitimately claim to own"?  It's
considerably less tangible, and vastly easier to copy than computer
software, if that's your criterion -- it only takes a single cell to
produce life, but requires a vast array of highly specialized cells --
the human brain, and all the support machinery necessary to keep it
alive, years of learning, centuries of building up knowledge, and
language to pass it on, etc., etc., to produce a computer program]

> Note that if you root copyrights in natural property, then you shouldn'=
> be claiming a lapse of 70 or 90 years after the death of the author or
> anything. You should be claiming eternal copyrights, just like Gustave
> de Molinari or Ayn Rand claimed them.

I'm not claiming any 70 or 90 years after the death of the author in
the first place!  [Nor is anyone else: how long does the copyright
last on, say, music, today?  The copyright is invested in some
company, not an individual, and the company can theoretically live
forever...But I think it's no more unnatural than you claiming 0 years
after the creation of the work]

Note that copyright isn't a patent on the idea -- someone else can
independently implement code that does the same thing.

> The people cannot delegate to government the power to do
> anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.
> 	-- John Locke, "A Treatise Concerning Civil Government"

Too right.  [If the people you keep quoting (Locke, Bastiat, and
Jefferson) were alive today, do you think they'd agree with you about
stealing software?]

-- =

You don't have to agree with me; you can be wrong if you want.

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