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John's Thoughts on Things

This is to be, like many if not most blogs before this one, a general dumping ground for thoughts on life, the web, computers, mathematics, philosophy or whatever else interests me.

In general, if I want to write something that others can see, I'll stick it here (for now...)

John: allsupj "Art, with a right taken away" "Predict, but don't look" dot "A door? a for? What comes next?" dot b(irming)ham dot ac(ademic) dot u(nited )k(ingdom)

p.s.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A little rant about 'intellectual property' 

Someone posted on slashdot:

I'm sorry that the freedom to own property annoys you. Personally, I'm fucking pissed off about the freedom of speech. I think that idiots who can't tell the difference between right and wrong should just shut the hell up, right now.

My reply: It's not freedom to own property that annoys me. It is all this creative redefining of the notion of property that annoys me. (Basically, if you can take something abstract, declare it your own and sell it, then you get money for nothing. Much effort is expended in pursuit of this goal.)

Intellectual property wasn't even 'property' in the sense of the word just a few decades ago. (It was, and strictly is, a bunch of legal rights, created by politicians who have long since been voted out of office, that are legally transferrable from one legal entity to another. These rights were created subtractively by first taking away and then giving a little back (removing the ability to legally copy a book from the citizens of a country, then creating legal structures by which permission to copy could be given back where it was necessary.)) Patents introduced a similar system of denying the general populous the legal right to make certain devices, then allowing said permission to be sold and controlled by some designated legal entity.

I'm sorry if that's a little complicated. I know it makes all this 'property' look a little artificial, but that's because it is artificial. People need to remember that. Except in legal terms, there are no moral rights not to be copied. All these systems of rights are legal constructs created with the intent of getting more done with them in place than would get done without them. That is the benchmark against which they should be tested and re-tested, and taking a 'moral stance' with respect to 'intellectual property', especially viewing intellectual property as property per se, is an erroneous position to take.

Rant over.


posted by John Allsup  # 2:21 pm

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