Information Just Wants to be Free

Pirate Bay vs. HollywoodWhen discussing copyrights for music and videos with one of my hacker friends, he always maintains that such protections will never ultimately work. His reason is that information has a natural tendency to eventually become part of the public domain, no matter what is done to protect it.

They just shut down Pirate Bay servers in Sweden, but they’ll be back up again soon. From the AP:

Hundreds of people waving signs and skull-and-crossbones pirate flags demonstrated in Stockholm on Saturday against a police crackdown on a popular file-sharing Web site with millions of users worldwide.

Dozens of police officers conducted raids in 10 locations Wednesday, seizing servers and other computer equipment in their crackdown on The Pirate Bay site.

But the site was back up Saturday, and spokesman Tobias Andersson said it would be “bigger and better than ever.”

No matter how one feels about intellectual property rights, a simple fact is that there is no way to stop the pirating of audio and video on the Internet. So long as there is one country in the world which doesn’t respect contemporary intellectual property laws, there will be servers there — unless it becomes cheaper to simply run the servers somewhere offshore.

There is no technology which can prevent someone from copying audio. No matter how encrypted and electronically safeguarded, it is a simple matter to patch the analog audio output to some sort of recording device and then distribute the results. While more complicated, the same holds true for video. They can keep shutting down the Napsters and Pirate Bays, but they will continue to sprout like weeds anyway.

Perhaps the Motion Picture Association of America and the music recording industry need to start rethinking their marketing and distribution mechanisms. People still pay to see live music and to attend the theater.

While the recording industry has held consumers captive for decades, the millions and millions of torrents and downloads clearly indicate that no Stockholm Syndrome has taken effect. To be sure, it may be Stockholm that takes the recording industry down by freeing the music and video that people so desperately wish to obtain at no financial expense.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. I watched the new MI off pirate bay because the previous two sucked and I refuse to pay $8 to see the same damn formula again (in retrospect… I’ll probably end up renting it because it’s def an eye-candy movie that a BS cam recording can’t do justice).

    But I gladly paid the $8 to see Vendetta and will do the same for A Scanner Darkly, sooo… Hollywood better figure out there needs to be price differences for shit/good movies.

  2. Stealing is still stealing. Some seem to believe it is OK to steal in certain ways and certain products or information. Is there a difference between a drug addict holding up a convenience store and a college student stealing information, plagiarizing, and downloading music illegally? There must be. I guess we are grooming the next thieving politicians and CEOs.

    If I am wrong, someone please educate me. My little Georgia redneck brain does not work properly sometimes. I must be wrong because so many of you are doing it.

  3. Julian,

    There is a lot of disagreement, even in libertarian circles, about whether an idea (i.e. writings, music, art) can or should be considered property. I tried to avoid addressing that debate, though.

    My point is that somethings can’t be protected. Try to sit in your front yard and protect the air you exhale or the water that evaporates from your lawn sprinkler, for example. There is no reasonable way to do it. The same holds true for electronic media if someone wishes to use it.

  4. I dont believe that artistic expression can be labled property, and I also believe that corporate distortion of the natural market between producers and consumers in music and other arts is the only reason these laws exist.

    Please imagine if your farmer that supplies you with milk had to get a upfront loan that gave you only the right to DRINK the milk – and that to do anything else with the milk, you would have to pay not the farmer and his cows who made the milk, but the bank that gave him the loan.

    The entire notion of what “protection” means to a persons works is being prostituted, not protected. The music companies are pimps, and the bands and artists are the ho’s.

    Laws which are unenforceable breed contempt for the law.

  5. ‘Intellectual property’, does not otherwise fit into a ‘property’ model, since it’s not tangible.

    The only way to enforce it is via a growing police state, watching you use your tape player, copy machine, dvd burner, etc. The power of those with expensive Gutenberg presses caused the monarchy to grant a government monopoly. It’s time for that to end.

  6. As a writer and now a patent applicant, not to mention working as a legal assistant for a movie studio, I have to agree with Julian.

    Theft is a social problem that can’t be controlled by government. There aren’t enough police. (I’m remembering the “civil unrest” in Los Angeles.)

    You either respect others’ rights, or you don’t. Even if you argue that intellectual property rights are not inalienable rights (like the rights to tangible property, life, liberty, etc.), we creators have rights under contracts, written and unwritten; we’ve earned them.

    Every law is unenforceable unless society is solidly behind it. It’s still your own individual integrity that’s at stake.

  7. I’m boycotting MI3, because they violated an unwritten contract with fans of the TV show by making MI1. (Using the title of the TV Show and the names of the characters was fraudulent, IMO.) They cheated, and won’t get another dollar from me.

    That said, I once kicked a family out of a drive-in because Mom came in in the trunk. (No refund.) You have to wonder what they’re teaching their kids.

    I won’t pay to see MI3, but I won’t steal it, either. I won’t cheat theatre owners, screenwriters, directors, distributors, ushers, or anyone else who paid based on work they did to create or provide this entertainment to me with an implied contract that they would be paid accordingly.

    Directly (as a stockholder), indirectly (as an employee) and in many other ways, I get paid based on whether you pay to see a movie or not. I learned a lesson when I sold software: if it’s worth having, it’s worth paying for.

  8. “No matter how one feels about intellectual property rights, a simple fact is that there is no way to stop the pirating of audio and video on the Internet.”

    The impersonal sharing of files can be almost completely stopped if the media companies invested more money creating scrambled files. Personal peer to peer file sharing might not be able to be stopped, and some argue that this “borrowing” is fair use. Despite what Stephen says, I have not heard many serious arguments from fellow libertarians (or anyone for that matter) as to why intellectual property is not property. Tangibility is not a prerequisite for ownership.

  9. Ideas should be free, and those with the best ones will be rewarded. That’s why we give away my show and ask for voluntary contributions.

    Hollywood will either change or die.

  10. “if it’s worth having, it’s worth paying for.”

    That might be true but it fails to include the market’s pricing mechanism. In other words few things are worth having at ANY price. That’s why we have price discovery and the guild-like structure of the media conglomerates and their distribution channels will not bear the high prices that they demand protectionist measures to uphold.

    Clearly you beleive that your favorite CD is worth having, but I somehow doubt that you beleive it worth $5000.00 to pay for. Most people don’t want to pay $20.00 for the mass produced, disposable crappola that passes as “quality” entertainment today. Give us $5.00 CDs and DVDs and more online accesibility and I’ll bet the market would respond. There are newer, cheaper alternative means of distribution and production that are not being taken advantage of within the industry. It is their job to adjust to the trends, not the consumers. The ironic thing is that they could profit even better if they adapted.

  11. “Ideas should be free, and those with the best ones will be rewarded.”

    While I almost certainly have not given this issue as much as thought as you have, Ian, I respectfully disagree. I enjoy making financial models that estimate the fair value of publicly traded stocks. If I posted the models on the web to be used freely, I would receive no tangible benefit whatsoever for doing so. Many, many others could benefit at the expense of my labor.

    America’s venture capital industry is the world’s 800 pound gorilla for several reasons, but primary among those is that we have strong IP rights within our borders. If tomorrow the government were to completely do away with IP rights, I can guarantee you that the flow of both monetary and intellectual capital into VC would decrease from a fire hose to a leaky faucet. The damage, aside from the near automatic decrease in job growth and investment returns in the sector, would not become apparent for many years to come, IMO.

  12. Correction, “That’s why we have price discovery and the guild-like structure of the media conglomerates and their distribution channels will not bear the high prices that they demand protectionist measures to uphold.” should read “That’s why we have price discovery and the MARKET will not bear the high prices that the guild-like structure of the media conglomerates and their distribution channels demand protectionist measures to uphold.”

    Or something like that.

  13. Wow. Here we are again. I actually had a decent conversation with SG on this a while ago … don’t think either of us changed our stances, but hey: that’s how it goes. :)

    I think most everyone can agree that the “mainstream media outlets” are price-gouging when it comes to things like music, and movies. They’ve become engorged.

    As a local supporter of the industrial music scene in Phoenix (by sporadic attendance: I have no tattooes and the only piercing I have is my left earlobe. lol), I have seen more than once rather popular bands, with their own production companies, selling their music then-and-there (with them *present*) for around 10.00/each. *That* is a fair price.

    I am also a user of the P2P networks for music. Like a very large portion of the population of those who enjoy the music I do, we download it first, and if we like it go and buy the album. Is this piracy? I don’t know.


  14. (cont’d)

    Here’s what I do know: Programming and information technologies have become the sole source, nigh-unto, of Japan’s economic strength in many ways (not entirely though)… and they are a strong part of our own nation’s. Techniques, procedures, and programs *NEED* to be proprietary for them to receive real benefit from those things.

    The thought that intellectual labor could be rewarded on a voluntary basis across the spectrum is, well, facetious at best. Sure, it works for Spybot S&D… mainly *because* it is targeted at those who dislike IP.

    But when you’re talking about chemical manufactories, research companies, and the like … they *need* a way to be economically viable.

    And what it boils down to, for me, is the following: A farmer can make money from the crop he grows. A miner makes money from the gold he digs up. An inventor… gets nothing for the ideas he creates? Why bother inventing, then?

    Abolition of IP would stagnate the economy.


  15. Sandra,

    The problem with your contract argument is: What about people who aren’t party to the contract?

  16. I think intellectual property is as sacred as any other property, but I agree it is going to be pirated anyway, and likewise I think you’ll always have a similar amount of piracy independent of how much copyright protection you try to jam in there.

    I think it won’t be too long before entities like the MPAA and RIAA realise that they are throwing money away in these efforts when they could be putting out more and more varied product with the same money. Then maybe “hackers” would find a productive outlet for their skills, and “anti-hackers” could move on to more important engineering and computer projects.

    Thieves hurt the bottom line, but they keep trying to blame them for all of their problems. The fact is people see less movies now because they have better home theater systems than they used to, and the movie will come out in 6 months with bonus features anyway. People listen to less music because it all sounds like corporate generated pop nonsense, there’s no soul to the music.

  17. DAP – I can take a scrambled P2P product and play it with my preferred output device. While doing so, I can put a patch cable between my pre-amp output mic jack to record the .wav file. Then I can distribute the .wav on the internet. Total setup time is less than 10 seconds for me.

    How will scrambling solve the problem?

  18. IanC,

    I’d argue that changing IP laws would have a great impact on the marketplace, but I doubt it would stagnate the economy.

    It would mean that people would be spending less money to protect their IP by legal means, but they’d be spending that money on hiding their IP until software release date or on public concerts instead of cd sales, etc.

  19. Abolishing IP laws just means more competition. Businesses would hate that, but consumers would love it, and we’d all benefit.

  20. SG, The scrambling can be circumvented via software too. Just route the analog output stream after the dac to adc and record. The only difference between this and a perfect digital copy would be the distortion and variance introduced by the dac and adc… which for purposes of MP3s and their typical listening environments is just fine.

  21. The way to curb piracy is to just price CDs and DVDs less than $10. Very few people would pay $3 for a pirated movie when they can get a legit version for $5. The technology used to make these types of media has made mass production so incredibly cheap, but the industry refuses to pass on savings to consumers.

    I read about this idea on another site, I don’t remember where though. But imagine going to best buy looking to spend about $20-30. You could either buy 1 DVD at current prices, or 4 or 5 at around $5. I will argue that profits will actually rise substantially because the volume would go through the roof. Pirates couldn’t compete with the enormous second hand market for used legit media.

    I respect intellectual property rights and I don’t pirate music and I’ve never even had an interest in pirating movies. For the most part, seeing a movie once is enough for me.

    Everyone should check out if you haven’t already. Great music, much of it is free to download.

  22. Don’t underestimate the amount of money entertainment companies spend on taking risks that don’t pay off. The vast majority of the work I do is on movies that will never be made. I consider it very wasteful, and I agree that a new economic model will have to arise (though I, for one, would consider it a tragedy if movie theatres went out of business — and if I have no broadcast free TV alternative to cable, I’ll be really bummed out; love those advertisers), but a great many artists and others earn a living perfecting their talents to later produce the entertainment you enjoy. As the profit goes, so does the risk-taking.

    Change is painful. Jobs are being lost, left and right.

    Music is audible. Movies are visible. If you don’t respect the rights, if any, of those who make them, how can you respect the invisible, inaudible, intangible right to liberty?

  23. Mark, just what I was saying.

    Your idea of the second hard market is interesting, because I didn’t even think of that. We are in agreement as per roughly what price the market would bear, but I have to wonder is such prices wouldn’t eliminate or hamper the second hand market. Which would bolster new sales even more and inflate the companies bottom lines more as well.

  24. You’re a party to the contract if the artist/provider offers music to you on certain terms and you take the product.

    If you take the product from someone who doesn’t have the right to it, then what? You’re not responsible? I think you’re still bound by a social contract, such as when you find somebody’s wallet on the sidewalk.

  25. From Wikipedia:

    “Earlier, Williams made an infamous joke to reporters, likening bad weather to rape, quipping, ‘as long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.'”

    Piracy is inevitable, so we might as well spread ’em, lie back and enjoy it. Is that what you’re saying?

    “if it’s worth having, it’s worth paying for.” This runs against the free market, which always holds that cheapest is better and free is best of all, regardless of other considerations.

    “Ideas should be free, and those with the best ones will be rewarded.” How? If you don’t own your ideas, anyone can use them free of charge. If you don’t own your creation, you can’t expect payment- making the labor expended in creation of zero market value.

    “Abolishing IP laws just means more competition.” – You can’t compete with a company that takes all your creations, does no creating, and sells the same product for little or nothing.

  26. Here we go with social contracts that are forced upon us even though we never opted into them and don’t even know what the terms of said “contract” is.

    The fact is that such “social contracts” are nothing more than a bunch of pinko authoritarian hokum.

    If I find someone’s wallet on the sidewalk, I’ll try and figure whose it is. If I can’t make the determination and no other reasonable options are available, I’m going to keep it. I’m not bound by anything or anyone as per what action I should take. And I sure as hell am not obligated to abide by whatever arbitrary “contract” you would just as soon compel me to abide by through the application of force.

  27. Kris, I think the argument that non-competition with a company that “takes” all your creations, does no creating and sells the same product for little or nothing is doing the consumer a favor by making what we are assuming to be worthwhile creations and making them more afforable and widely available. If the creation is worthwhile, then everyone enjoys greater wealth than they would had the creation only been available via monopolistic channels.

    The market is better at allocating resources than government granted monopoly. Period. There are many different, alternative ways that people can achieve IP protection than the government offers. Remember we are advocating unlimited right to contract. If there is a demand in the marketplace for some sort of IP protection, I am sure that solutions can be realized.

  28. “If I find someone’s wallet on the sidewalk, I’ll try and figure whose it is.”

    But why, David? Do you feel obligated to make the effort? Isn’t that a social contract?

    There’s nothing in the social contract that says you have to run ads on TV looking for the owner until you find them and return it. If I found a CD on the sidewalk, I might add it to my collection, unless I saw a shoplifter drop it on the way out of the store.

    I’m talking about doing what I know is right, based on feeling a social obligation to others and so are you; the “terms” of our contracts are not identical, but since they’re unwritten, that’s to be expected.

  29. “Abolishing IP laws just means more competition. Businesses would hate that, but consumers would love it, and we’d all benefit.”-IB

    “I’d argue that changing IP laws would have a great impact on the marketplace, but I doubt it would stagnate the economy…”-SG

    At first, yes. Before long, though, we would be begin to see less and less technological advancement. Money, talent, and jobs would begin to flow to countries where IP rights still existed. The cornerstone of the pharmaceutical and biotech fields is IP rights. Without them, it is hard to picture these groups spending billions to develop new life-extending drugs. Upstart and established firms alike are seeking an alternative to oil/gas for a share of the profits, not possible donations.

    This is really an unbelievably abstract line of discussion, since there is no possible way to quantify any of this on a macro scale. Still fun to toss around, though. I haven’t yet, but I look forward to catching your show, Ian.

  30. I agree with Kris. The only way there will be benefit to the consumer is if there is incentive to innovate. With respect to inventions, that requires patents – but those are easy to uphold using litigative, not bureaucratic, processes. Personally, the patent law I advocate is “postmark patents” – you mail the idea to yourself, and the postmark shows when you thought of it. That requires no patent office and still allows a chronological record of thought.

  31. I would be much more willing to take a chance on buying the works of an artist I am unfamiliar with if I only had to spend $5 instead of $15. People are losing jobs because the business model is inefficient. A new price model would encourage risk taking because the risk of a consumer wasting his or her money would be reduced.

  32. Because a product or service is priced higher than you think it should be, then you believe it is OK, even possibly an obligation to steal it than buy it? There is a thread of moral justification for taking something that does not belong to you because I suspect some of you do it on a regular basis.

    Again, enjoy the moral training ground you are experiencing stealing, cheating and lying. You are sharpening your skills so you can become exactly as my generation has become, a bunch of dishonorable, bloated, self-centered pigs living off other peoples achievements.

    I am 60 and ashamed of my generation. Most of you are half my age or younger. Look at us. Is this what you want to be? Take the high road and make changes, don’t justify your junkie behaviour.

  33. SG — You and I agree on the issue of *changing* IP laws. But the discussion here has been on their *abolition* …

    And with the *abolition* of IP laws comes the inherent element which follows: Those whom spend money and time inventing will never be able to recoup serious benefits. This holds *ESPECIALLY* true of projects which require millions or even billions of dollars to derive.

    Yet who would say that Kevlar or Teflon weren’t useful? Without IP laws those materials would not today exist — PRECISELY because those whom would have to invest the money would *KNOW* that there would be no way to turn a profit.

    Businesses have the habit of doing profitable things. Which means no businesses would do research, as you COULD NOT PROFIT from it.

    Which is where Ian Bernard’s comment is shown to be, frankly, absolute nonsense. Sorry, Ian.

    Be consoled that I’m the evil one. :) (So I hear from, pretty much, *ALL* of my friends, anyhow.)

    IP = freedom. Anti-IP = stagnation.

  34. IP abolition would not ‘stagnate’ things at all.
    Those who _want_ to perform music, write or invent, will.
    Most musicians, authors, and inventors fail to make a lot of money. The few who do, such as the Stephen King or JK Rowling continue to write despite having money to burn, because they _want_ to.
    Take a long hard look at the Open Source movement, your local bands, those who write fan-fiction, technical works that sell only a few copies, or (gasp) online. Take a look at Cory Doctorow, who gives away his books, and even gives away (in 3rd world countries) secondary rights, allowing anyone to produce derivative works.
    IP is not Property, nor does it make Intellectual sense, unless you believe in a huge and powerful State to enforce it.
    This is the same argument I make for Abortion: the only way to truly prevent it is to make a bigger & bigger police state and take away more and more rights of women. QED: a ‘libertarian’ side ends up against prohibition of any sort (IP included)

  35. As for Invention, and the claim that nobody would do research?
    Trade secrets are just that, secrets. They rely on private contract, and not the government.

    Nothing stops you from cloning the taste of CocaCola: they make money because they have the reputation, not the taste police stopping anyone from making something taste like them.

    There is a study that showed that Web Comics that gave _away_ the comic, and used secondary marketing (ie sold shirts, etc) make more money than those than sell the comics themselves. The same is true for musicians, authors, and lots of other successful businesses.

    You can always give away the IP, because you _can_ sell the real _property_ which the IP is related to… and freeing the IP means more people to market yourself to.

  36. Seth, you can’t reverse-engineer Coca-Cola. You can, however, reverse-engineer most other inventions, and that’s where the stealing comes in.

  37. Reverse engineering is not stealing, sorry. It’s real work, like the goal of it or not… If I buy a cheap knockoff of a Rolex, that’s my choice, and Rolex might not like it, but I do. Same if I use something reverse engineered, ‘generic’, ‘no-name’ brand, etc…

    You are defining competition as stealing…. because the goal of IP laws is to reduce competition. “I invented this _first_ so I own the idea.” Never mind if I independently invent it, if I can improve slightly (but not majorly) on it, if I want to do it better, cheaper and/or faster but still within your ‘owned’ idea.

    Libertarians who espouse IP as a principle have never thought it through throughly, because it’s an open and shut case of government intervention and use force to stop another’s actions.

  38. Seth, I write, and I produce web comics.

    Allow me to say: your argument is utter BULLSHIT.

    In your utopia, a website could steal every webcomic, sell its own derivative merchandise, make a bundle, and pay not one thin dime to the person who created it.

    In your utopia, an author could spend months or even years writing and yet be unable to support himself because when his novel is complete, three bootleg publishing houses print it at half the price he can afford to sell it for.

    In 1901 a Frenchman created, at enormous expense, the first science fiction movie- “From the Earth to the Moon.” Thomas Edison saw the movie in Europe, stole a print, and made millions marketing it in the USA. The Frenchman died bankrupt and disgraced, unable to pay his creditors because, at the time, there was no such thing as international copyright- and barely any copyright at all in the USA!

    If you want a world where no one can live by creating, Seth, keep on as you’re going.

  39. Besides people, Ayn Rand likes patents – remember how Rearden’s patent on his metal was forced away from him, and how that was bad?

    (If the stupid Blogger server would let me load the page, I’d publish a nice defence of patents. I guess it’ll have to wait a bit.)

  40. Ian – I read the article you linked earlier, I found it very reasonable, and it changed my opinion on property rights. Thanks for setting me straight!

  41. Whether you people like it or not, as Stephen said, information wants to be free. So people who create intellectual property should modify their business paradigm so that they can make a profit in an environment where information sharing is prevalent.

    For example, take the music industry. Artists can still make money by giving away their music for free while performing live shows and selling merchandise.
    Filmmakers can make money in the era of widespread pirating because people will still pay to go to the theatres for the experience even if they can watch it at home for free.

    I write computer programs for a living. I give the programs I create away for free, but I charge for the service (license fee) to use the software for a given period of time. In order to verify the user is paying for the service, the program must connect to the Internet from time to time. (cont’d)

  42. (cont’d)
    Essentially, I want people to copy and distribute the software I create as far and wide as possible, to get them signed up for the service.

    We have been shifting to a service based economy for some time. It’s time that people think in this way. Selling prepackaged music, movies and software will be replaced by selling live entertainment and services.

    A problem I have with IP is the idea that if two different people are developing the same technology, and one of them finishes one day ahead of the other and applies for a patent, the second person is cut out of the loop completely… that doesn’t seem right to me. I’d like a supporter of IP to justify why with is ok.

  43. Leroy — I have previously (in this thread no less) admitted that the current IP laws need to change.

    But the people whom make arguments against IP continue to reference entertainment media, primarily, as though this were the sole concern against it.

    There are entire fields wherein the only way to make a profit after having spent *billions* of dollars is to sell the product itself. Anyone who could take the blueprints of that product wouldn’t have to defray the cost of its creation and thus could sell it more cheaply to turn a profit, by virtue of having lesser debt.

    As a primary example, I posit chemical techniques. This is nothing more than a *process* … yet can take millions of dollars to develop properly. In some cases, billions. I speak with knowledge derived from a life spent surrounded by individuals in the R&D field of industrial chemical companies.

    These processes COULD NOT BE DEVELOPED without IP. Period.


  44. (cont’d)

    As much as we all hate the medical/pharmaceutical companies for many of their practices, no one can deny that a large portion of the materials they develop are *directly* beneficial to society. And since pennecillin, nigh-unto *NONE* of the anti-biotics developed today would exist without IP rights.

    It boils down to this, however, gentlemen — who owns the right to benefit from your hard labor? You, or somebody else whom you’ve never met?

    How’s *THAT* for putting it in “libertarian terms”?


  45. What’s sad is Libertarians calling for monopoly privilige granted by government.

    Just because YOU can’t envision how the market would handle innovation without govt, doesn’t mean it won’t.

    Stop calling for coercion and try reading what Mr. Kinsella wrote about IP. See my above post.

    Liberty works!

  46. IanC,

    I was only citing an alternative for profiting in software and entertainment in an era of widespread piracy. I didn’t say I was against IP rights, I just expressed reservations about one aspect of it. Is there a solution to the following problem: Let’s say there are two drug companies working on a similar product. Both companies have invested millions of dollars into research. Now let’s say that one company finishes developing the drug a week before the second company does, and these drugs have an identical chemical makeup. Although the odds for this happening are very slim, would the second company’s work all be for naught? Shouldn’t there be a way to share the intellectual property rights in some way?

    I think in certain areas, IP has gone too far. The classic example is’s “one-click” purchase patent. IMO, software and all life forms (GMOs) should not be patentable. I have no problem with pharmaceutical drugs being patented.

  47. Ian, “monopoly privelege” is generally not limited to a few years. I support lowering the lifetime of patents to five years, with no renewals.

  48. Information does not want to be free.

    Information is inanimate. It doesn’t want ANYTHING.

    -People- want -information- to be free… but only because people don’t want to spend money on anything they can get for free.

  49. “Just because YOU can’t envision how the market would handle innovation without govt, doesn’t mean it won’t…Stop calling for coercion and try reading what Mr. Kinsella wrote about IP.” – IB

    OK, I’ll give it a read, but before I start the 53 page paper when I get home tonight from work, let me present this challenge: show me a country with little to no regard for IP laws that has a comparable history of innovation as compared to those that defend IP rights. I’m willing to be swayed on this issue with solid arguments, but I haven’t yet seen anything here that is convincing.

  50. Kris: “Information wants to be free” isn’t a statement that information has desires. It’s a statement of natural tendencies, like “water wants to run downhill.”

  51. Joe, in response to your challenge, I’d point out that, compared to the current legal situation, the United States didn’t have significant IP laws for half of its history. The same half that catapulted us from 13 colonies in the back of nowhere to the world’s intellectual leaders.

  52. There seems to be quite a bit of disagreement regarding the source of IP. Here it is: “[Congress shall have the power] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”

    There are a couple of things we can deduce from this. First, IP must be respected by anybody who accepts the validity of the Constitution, as a valid use of congressional power. Second, IP is explicity a government granted monopoly backed by government force, not a natural right.

    Where that leaves you is up to you, but there it is.

    P. S. If the government can grant something to you, it must have already stolen it from you; if you claim that IP *is* a natural right, then the government’s control of it must go.

  53. “Joe, in response to your challenge, I’d point out that, compared to the current legal situation, the United States didn’t have significant IP laws for half of its history. The same half that catapulted us from 13 colonies in the back of nowhere to the world’s intellectual leaders.” – Daniel

    Good point, Daniel. I’ll counter by saying our country has witnessed phenomenal technological advancement since we began recognizing IP, much of it in fields with prohibitively high R&D costs such as healthcare. This has been an interesting discussion. I’m going to try and get some more education on the topic.

  54. Seth:

    I’m living it, I don’t need to read it. The vast majority of webcomic artists who are able to do it for a living make their living not by micropayments or donations, but by sales of HARDCOPY BOOKS OF THE COMIC or other comic-related merchandise. In your “I don’t wanna pay for your labor” world, these people would be out of luck- their comics would be printed and sold more cheaply by publishers who don’t have to pay the creator for their work.

    Daniel: for the first half of the US’ history, most great authors, songwriters and other creators died peniless because they saw little or no return for their labor as creators.

    If IP is a natural right, government must PROTECT it, not “let it go.” You’re essentially saying, “If government grants it, it’s wrong and should be destroyed; if it’s natural, government shouldn’t protect it, and it should be destroyed.”

  55. Kris: In essence, you are saying “I don’t need to listen, I know I’m right.” yeah, you’re a libertarian. :)

    So what if someone else published the book as well?
    They’d be spreading your memes, and you would have a bigger audience… In other words, more success for you, more audience to market toward. Bill Watterson never got a dime from all of the Calvin ripoff images pissing on things… so what? The “official” Calvin books just get more exposure too.

    Stop looking to a government solution to police my mind, my hard drive, and/or my printer just because you think you own a particular combination of pixels and colors or a ‘style’.
    If I steal your car, you have no car… that is theft. Copying pixels and colors is not theft.

    Go watch The Aristocrats and learn that the art isn’t the joke itself, it’s how you tell it that matters.

  56. No, the fruit of your labor is _not_ your labor.

    If you wish that fruit to be viewed, and not stored away secretly, then you want it to be viewed widely… or else you would not _share_ it. If you wish to draw privately, feel free. If you wish to only show to those who sign explicit non-disclosure agreements, feel free. If you want a gallery showing, go for it.

    You are perfectly free, similar to what happens to GPLed software, to charge whatever you want for it… $1 or $1000, and, like not only GPLed software, but all software, the market will spread it around, either for retail, wholesale, $1 or $1000, or (gasp) pirated for $0 (or in the case of GPLed, just passed around freely).

    In other words: you put it out there and some _will_ pay you for it, and those who don’t will get ahold of it regardless, in a vast variety of ways…

    The difference is that you want to get the force of government to make some ways illegal, and I want government to stay out of the picture completely.

  57. The next time I am hungry I will walk up to a fruit stand ant take the fruit for free. If stopped, I will say it is the fruit of someones labor, is publicly displayed, therefore it is free. I believe that argument will hold up all the way to jail and to the judge I must face.

  58. Julian, that is a tangible item. I am not taking about tangible items (ie real property). I am _only_ talking about intellectual property, ie ideas…

    When you steal real property, the former owner doesn’t have it anymore. When you ‘steal’ “Intellectual Property”, the original owner still has it intact… you have creating something _yourself_ (a copy), so the world now has MORE in it, than before.

    In other words, it’s not stealing, it’s creation of something that didn’t not exist. Some want to outlaw that… I want to promote it and get government out of the way of us doing it.

  59. Um, ignore the grammar mistakes above. :) I hit send too quick. Should read:

    you are creating something _yourself_ (a copy)

    it’s creation of something that didn’t exist