Free Information vs Information Protectionism

Paul Foley
29 May 2001 13:13:19 +1200

On Mon, 28 May 2001 11:40:24 +0200, Francois-Rene Rideau wrote:

> If you use another definition of value, then you should state it.

The definition used by Bastiat in Economic Harmonies, to which you
provided pointers earlier, is fine.  See Bastiat's arguments on
private property, rent, and interest; they apply perfectly to the
issue of copyright.

>> The data you're copying may be of high value.
> It's not up to you, or anyone to decide that.
> Let the market decide, i.e. every potential buyer.

How can the market decide if you take steps to force the value to

> Value unilaterally decided, and imposed by force,
> whether public or private force, is but racket.

My point precisely!  The important word here being "force", not
"unilateral" (all value is decided unilaterally!  I say "I value this
thing at $50; if you want it you'll have to pay me $50" (though I may
start out trying to charge more, of course); you either value it
equally (or more) and pay the $50, or you don't, and you go elsewhere.
If you're not willing to pay that much, I won't sell.  Seen from the
other side, if I'm not willing to sell for what you're willing to pay,
you won't buy.  A unilateral determination of value in both
directions, as long as nobody starts pointing guns)

> So you admit that there are abstract results that cannot be owned.
> Now there remains for you to draw a line somewhere
> between results that can be owned and results that cannot,

All _results_ are owned.  But some of what you're calling "result"
isn't a result at all, just a preexisting condition that perhaps was
never noticed.  E.g., in your "trade with India" example, the products
being traded are not a result of the trade (though they are owned).
Nor is the route to India, or the existence of shipping, etc.

>> But for anyone else to trade with India, they'll either have to buy space
>> on the existing ship, or build or buy their own ship.
> Sure. Just like to use the software, I'll have to buy an existing copy,
> or somehow make my own.

Yes.  But you've been arguing that you can do neither -- that you can
just copy mine.

Following Bastiat: by writing some code, I save you from having to
write it yourself, potentially doing you a service (if an exchange
takes place); this *is* value, by Bastiat's definition, and I must be
reimbursed by an equivalent amount of service from you (or by money,
which amounts to the same thing), or you have to do without my code.
Taking it without payment is thus theft, by definition.

> Well, I'll tell you: when I copy a floppy,
> I obtain a different disk, with different atoms,
> and different electromagnetic wave functions.
> Any "thing" that'd be the "same" between the two disks
> is already in a different plane than the physical plane.

Of course!  Value isn't in physical things.

>> You know that saying about an infinite number of monkeys banging on
>> typewriters eventually producing the complete works of Shakespeare? [...]
> So you justify forbiddance because of easiness?
> Just because it's good and easy, it should be prohibited?

I do?  I never said a word about ease, did I?

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

(setq reply-to
  (concatenate 'string "Paul Foley " "<mycroft" '(#\@) ">"))