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Re: [decentralization] Re: Decentralized Thought Experiment

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  • Tom Caudron
    In a sense, there is something of ideas and art that makes them everyone s. Ideas don t spring up de noveau. They are milled with the grist of previous
    Message 1 of 50 , Apr 29, 2001
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      In a sense, there is something of ideas and art that makes them everyone's.  Ideas don't spring up de noveau.  They are milled with the grist of previous thoughts and ideas.  They are culled from our friends, family, and mentors.  It's a sort of social decentralization that brings old ideas together into new configurations of thought.
      I cannot own something created under such a system...even if we were to accept the idea that ideas and thoughts can be owned (a pretty scary notion unto itself, if you ask me!).
      I think that certain organizations and people want us to forget just how young the 'experiment' of Intellectual Property is.  I'm inclined to argue that this experiment has failed.  It has wrought greater excesses of wealth and greater divisions of class than I am comfortable with.  Capitalism, of which I am a proponent (just adding that as a disclaimer), has survived for a long time without the crutch of IP Law.  The system will not be hurt by a return to a way of thinking that lasted thousands of years without serious incident.
      Sure, we can point to the USSR or China to show examples of the failure of societies without substantial IP Laws.  But we could reasonably argue that those societies' failure had little to do with IP law and alot to do with general mismanagement and ideological errors.  Also we could point to countless examples of creative successes born from societies with no IP laws.  Anything written before the past 150 years was likely done produced without the benefit of IP laws (or even the very concept of IP itself!).  I'm not advocating that we abandon our authors and scientists, nor that we belittle their contributions, but likewise, we cannot forget that they had inspiration and in some notable cases added very little to the mix to realize the final configuration of thought that they want to call their own. 
      Shakespeare didn't seem to suffer from a lack of creativity, though his works were used in theaters without his explicit permission.  Paul (of New Testament fame) didn't complain when his works were copied (even canonized) without his explicit permission.  The Grateful Dead gave as much to their fans as their fans gave to them.  There is a synergy between creator, creation, and community that cannot be ignored or denied.  The very concept of IP seeks to break the bonds of that synergistic relationship and establish the creator as an intellectual island unto himself.
      I won't accept that.
      Tom Caudron

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: egroup@...

      > I think that we don't actually know what would happen, since
      > no one has performed (AFAIK) the social experiments
      > necessary to test what would happen if all copyright
      > laws were removed.

      The large scale experiments in removal of the
      general property rights have been done in USSR
      and we know what happens when you do that. The removal
      of the IP rights would bring the same kind of disaster,
      except much faster.

      The experiment at the other extreme of the spectrum,
      where the IP rights are overprotected is currently
      ongoing in the US. I think that will result in as
      bad final effects for the creators & distributors
      here as did the USSR extreme for their manufacturing.

      Namely, this overprotection invariably induces art
      distributors to jack up the prices/profit margins.
      That in turn stimulates development of circumventing
      and underground distribution technologies which will,
      in the long run, do more damage to the art industry
      than the original more lax IP laws would have.

      The overprotection of IP rights is analogous to
      overprotecting against bacteria with antibiotics. The
      later triggers evolutionary overdrive in the bacteria's
      genetic engine networks, creating antibiotic resistant
      strains, which are more damaging than the orginial ones
      we were overprotecting against.

      The current overdrive in p2p activity was spurred in great
      part by the "surprise" success of Napster, which in turn was
      stimulated by the obscene profit margins of the arts
      middlemen shielded by the excessive IP rights protections.
      So the art distributors have now managed to align against
      themselves much greater technological creative genius than
      they had to deal with before. While they were losing pennies
      to the low-tech 'pirates' before, they will lose their shirts
      to the unleashed p2p distribution 'monster' they helped create.

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    • Tony Kimball
      ... Sharing is good and hoarding is bad. That s the kindergarten version. Codifing IP in law thus institutionalizes evil. Having the ability to help someone
      Message 50 of 50 , May 9, 2001
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        Quoth Lucas Gonze on Thursday, 3 May:
        : ...are there moral dimensions to whether intellectual work can be property?

        Sharing is good and hoarding is bad. That's the kindergarten version.
        Codifing IP in law thus institutionalizes evil.

        Having the ability to help someone and not excercising it because it
        is not to your personal advantage is a moral evil unless the personal
        detriment is more severe than the alternative benefit. That's the hoi
        polloi version, which is basically form of Utilitarian altruism.
        (With a Human Rights aspect, it can be qualified: While you have the
        right to be wrong, it's still wrong.)

        I think Stallman uses a Kantian ethos. Larry Wall uses a Christian
        ethos, which is pretty close (variations on the Categorical
        Imperative, aka Golden Rule). Eric Raymond seems more like a
        Rand-oid. From an "Objectivist" perspective, only the pragmatic
        benefits really matter, morally -- this has a natural appeal to
        those whose focus is economic.

        From a libertarian perspective, IP rights can only be created by the
        use of governmental force (or by contract). (Power flows from the end
        of a gun. -- Mao) And the use of force is immoral unless it is
        required to prevent a unjustified forceful incursion (or to enforce a

        From a democratic perspective, information is merely assertion of
        truth value (albeit perhaps in a convoluted sense, in accordance with
        the semiotic pragmatics of discourse), and the ability to make
        decisions on a truthful basis is essential to the function of
        democracy. IP rights have in practice been leverage to create a
        choke-hold on the flow of information by technological means. The
        reasonable fear of the advocate of political democracy is that
        this choke-hold results in effective private control of the body

        : Information seems to want to be free in the same way that momentum wants to be
        : conserved. If that's all there is to it, I can't see a moral dimension...

        Conservation of momentum has several moral dimensions. It means I
        can't hurl lead globes at your head. It means I would be a fool (a
        moral concept) to stand in front of a fast-moving Mack Truck.
        Certainly a deontic proposition cannot be inferred from a descriptive
        proposition, being in a different modal class, but given a deontic
        framework (an axiomatic system, for example), descriptive facts will
        certainly impact what deontic truths can be validly derived.

        Does a technique for making "weapons of mass destruction" from OTC
        goods want to be free? It will be, inevitably -- if I am aware of it,
        others with less compunction will be soon, and I'm sure there are many
        such who are more intelligent and interested than myself. In fact, it
        is reasonable to expect that at some point in future human history, if
        recent trends continue, the technology required in order to destroy
        the physical universe will become reasonably inexpensive. These
        aspects of info freedom definitely have a moral dimension. Others do
        by analogy, although for different kinds of information the dimensions
        will be orthogonal.

        If I knew about conservation of momentum, but prevented others from
        using it in their works by the threat of legal action, my action would
        be absurd to the point of moral and aesthetic abhorrence.

        And there's the rub: The issue is as much aesthetic as moral.
        That is not a reason to belittle the importance of the issue, however:
        Riots and street battles have been fought over Schoenberg operas.
        Blasphemy against Islam, for which the death penalty is not uncommon,
        is at least as much an aestheticly- as a morally-defined issue.
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