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Battling Objectivists about IP via youtube

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t3hsauce Posted: Tue, Jul 27 2010 7:28 PM

I have been having a rather long debate with some Objectivists via youtube, and am looking for a little help in the matter.  The topic is the legitimacy of IP, and I am looking to enlist the help of some users interested in the topic.  This is the latest video I made about the topic:


I don't know much about Objectivism, and I know that I am going to get responses based entirely on their philosophical insights.  Is anyone interested in participating in the battle with me?  

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Sieben replied on Tue, Jul 27 2010 7:52 PM

I wasn't able to view the youtube discussion easily. Is it like a video thing back and forth?

Anyway, my two cents on this issue are a little different from most ancaps. I believe you can find more common ground with the objectivists... I'll be using contract theory / Coase.

First off, we all agree on the following:

Don`t tell your secrets to anyone
Because ideas are vulnerable
As soon as you say your ideas out loud
Then they can go and live on their own without you
And you will miss them oh so bad
And you will wait for their return
And you will wish they were your own
But ideas that left will never come back home

-Regina Spektor before she became lame and sold out, which is also lame.

So we agree that you own ideas in your head, but don't know whether you own them once you give them to other people. It should be obvious that regardless of what we conclude about IP rights, the originator of an idea can always get people to sign non-disclosure agreements before disclosing. So this takes care of 95% of all IP objections asking us to consider technological development and trade secrets.

The remaining 5% will make up markets for ideas where non-disclosure contracts are impractical. Like music. But the reason they are impractical is important; because enforcing the IP rights would cost more than originators would benefit. Even if IP rights do exist, companies will not enforce them in an anarchist society. To institute this law in a state is a form of wealth redistribution, since the originators must be subsidized to make the enforcements profitable. We should abhore this wealth redistro for moral reasons, but also economic ones. The market has already shown that we're combining resources inefficiently by lost profit enforcing these rights, so the universal IP argument fails on utilitarian grounds too.

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DD5 replied on Tue, Jul 27 2010 7:57 PM

if IP is an extension of property rights, then how come there is an arbitrary time limit on this ownership before the whole community can just help themselves?


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Gero replied on Tue, Jul 27 2010 7:59 PM editor Jeffrey Tucker had a good blog post on intellectual property July 19, 2010: I hesitate to link this essay of L. Neil Smith because, if it influences you without his consent, you are guilty of stealing from him. Maybe you think that you have his implicit consent because he has posted it online. He doesn’t see it that way.

“There is no discernible difference between physical property and intellectual property,” he writes. “The farmer begins with a tree-covered lot that he must clear and plow and plant, and the writer with a damnedly blank page or screen.”

What is wrong with that analogy? Yes, the farmer owns the land. Yes, the writer owns the page and screen. The farmer, however, does not own the idea of plowing and planting. Nor can the writer prevent others from arranging letters and words in a particular way because he somehow owns the ideas expressed on his paper. Land and paper need economizing. Plowing and writing do not: they are ideas and can be infinitely reproduced without rivalry over the original.

To put it another way, if Crusoe, alone on a[n] island, discovers how to pick berries, he owns all the berries he can pick. No one may steal what he has gathered. If Friday shows up and start[s] to pick berries in the same way, Friday is not thereby a criminal. He is merely learning just as everyone in society learns from others. If Crusoe uses violence to stop him from picking berries on grounds that Crusoe owns the very idea of berry picking, it is Crusoe who is the criminal.

If you are a baker, the cake you make is your own. The idea of baking, and the techniques you use, cannot be claimed as your exclusive possession if you share them with others. If you are a snappy dresser, you own your tie and hat, but if every time you go out in public you are inviting others to share in your ideas of wearing a tie and hat.

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