Intellectual Freedom and Learning Versus Patent and Copyright


tesla921's picture

You say "ideas are not scarce". I beg to differ. Ideas which I consider profitable to me are IMHO very scarce.

tzo's picture

Then if you want to keep it scarce, you have to keep it to yourself, which means it probably won't be profitable. An idea let loose loses its scarcity, since it can be freely copied.

tesla921's picture

Why would I want to keep it scarce? I would rather figure out a way to profit from it.

If I can't own an idea why do people call it MY idea or YOUR idea? Do not "My" and "YOUR" mean ownership?

tzo's picture

If I put an idea out into the world (my idea) and it goes into your head, it then becomes your idea. You haven't stolen it from me because I still have it, but you also have it. We both own it.

So what does it mean that I originated it? Does that mean I have the right to prevent you from using your idea that is in your head by preventing you from putting it into concrete action using your own private property? Is that 'my' idea sitting in 'your' head? I own that set of neural connections in your brain? And I suddenly possess property rights on your computer (let's say my idea is a file format or somesuch) to the extent that you are not allowed to arrange the 1s and 0s in certain patterns that I control?

Isn't the very process of learning something the receiving of ideas you didn't have before from someone else? Their ideas that you make your own? Ideas you can use however you see fit?

Unless an idea happens to be profitable? Then all of a sudden the originator of the idea has the right to prevent everyone from putting that idea into action?

And if I get wind of your idea and file the paperwork before you do, then I get the right to prevent you and anyone else from acting on it?

That's a lot of proposed force to be used against people who are not using force against anyone else. I don't see the justification for it. Copying is not theft.

tesla921's picture

I understand what you are saying and I thank you for making the effort to enlighten me.

Let me give you my perspective. Let's go with Caruso alone on an island. He is picking and eating berries. Along comes Friday and sees Caruso picking and eating the berries. He's never seen or tasted berries before but he copies Caruso and gets to taste these berries for the first time and they are incredible. He doesn't have any money but he pays Caruso. He pays him with gratitude. He goes up to Caruso and says thank you very much. You are a real life saver.
Caruso is happy. He has made a friend and he takes Friday and shows him how to peal a banana. Again, Friday pays him with gratitude. If he hadn't paid him for the berries, chances are he wouldn't have been shown how to peal a banana. Caruso profits by making a friend and Friday profits by making a friend and eating berries and bananas. I define profit as any moral increase in happiness.
Now, you don't have to pay Caruso. No one should be forced to pay for anything. But, it makes the world a better place to show your gratitude as a minimum and "pay" for what you get.

AtlasAikido's picture

~Re: "You say "ideas are not scarce". I beg to differ. Ideas which I consider profitable to me are IMHO very scarce."

Nope! Butter gets thinner as it spreads, IDEAS GET THICKER! Ludwig von Mises's view is that ideas are a free good, not subject to economic constraints. They are infinitely reproducible.

....There is a very strange tendency of some capitalists to misdiagnose the source of their profits in a world of Intellectual Property, spending far more on beating up pirates than they would have earned in a free market innovating.

....Disney--for example--which relies heavily on Intellectual Property, got its start and makes its largest profits by retelling public-domain stories and is making block busters on pirate stories!

Nothing is absolutely original--we all ultimately stand on the shoulders of others--yet this turns out to be tremendously freeing from confusions about Independence and Dependence and what is actually productive and what is not (It does require some thinking....)

Thanks to misunderstandings about Intellectual Property, no one can work on a variation of a theme of something new, something good, something worth being improved, or made different, or is highly destructive....

~Re: "But, it makes the world a better place to show your gratitude as a minimum and "pay" for what you get".

....But how can creators *make a buck in a world of fluid imitation?* The same way they always have: by having the best product at the right price to the market FIRST, front loaded if you will...

When others imitate them, they have to hustle again and innovate some more. This is how individuals, societies and economies grow.

We have traditionally thought that cooperation and competition were the two pillars of social order; a third could be added: emulation.

...Think of the fashion world, in which Intellectual Property doesn't apply. It is fast moving, innovative, and remarkably profitable...Infact the more imitations, the more refinements, the more the marketing, the better...It is the same with generic drugs, fonts, perfume and other sectors in which there is no IP.

Lessons from fashion's free culture: Johanna Blakley on

Bottom line: It is about personally embracing and using the ratification of ideas that emulation and innovation and its diffusion, adoption and improvement are life giving and move one's own world incrementally forward, individual by individual.

Where BOTH buyer and innovator (AND the division of labor society) are and can be rewarded without the need of stultifying monopoly privilege and cartelization (backed and made possible by the State) and its pathetically unnecessary destruction...