From: Stephen D. Williams (email@example.com)
Date: Wed May 09 2001 - 07:41:17 PDT
Michael McLay wrote:
> On Thursday 03 May 2001 18:51, you wrote:
> > Yes, it is a huge deal. A company is a collection of individuals
> > (employees) financed by another group of individuals (investors) that
> > survives by satisfying the goals and aspirations of another group of
> > individuals (customers). The transactions in that chain by definition make
> > everyone in that chain better off than they otherwise would be.
> No, it only makes those who are capable of paying for the right to use the
> secret technology 'better off". See Jefferson's remarks on how sharing
> knowledge is like sharing a flame with someone. It doesn't deminish the
> flame to share it with someone, just like sharing knowledge doesn't deminish
> knowledge. When knowlege is shared, like it was by Newton, Einstein, and the
> IETF participants, then everyone in the world benefits. When knowlege is
> hidden in the trap called binary software protected by "intellectual
> property" laws then the only one to benefit are the people who control the
> access ot the knowledge contained in the source code.
> The 1980's saw many stupid things happen that directly benefited corporations
> at the expense of the individual. Back before they changed the copyright
> laws the copyright on software required full disclosure of the source code.
> then they relaxed the rules and only required the first 50 pages. They
> eventually they didn't require the source code at all. So know when Acme
> Software decides to stop selling product X the knowledge contained in that
> product simply disappears. That certainly wasn't the original intent of
> copyright law.
> So the concept that lead to the creation of copyright laws has been
> completely corrupted. The Constitution did not intent knowlege to be
> considered a "property" in the same sense as physical property. It was only
> to be a limited right that create enough of an incentive to get people to
> create works or art and literature. The fact that open source code exists in
> abundance proves that the copyright laws do not need to protect the source
> code in order to encourage people to produce software.
> > Protecting property increases the value of all property, and results in
> > more of it, for another group of individuals (the human race).
> That's bullshit. Especially in the context of so-called "intellectual
> property". Try this restatement:
> Hiding knowledge increases the value of everyone's knowledge and results in
> more knowledge for other another group of individuals.
> Any time you see the phrase "intellectual property" substitute the word
> knowledge and see if the sentence still rings true.
> > That is
> > particularly important with IP, since technology in general is the "Lever
> > of Riches" that allows you to escape Malthusian traps.
> It isn't IP, that is important to improving the human condition. It is
> knowledge that is important. The more people who can employ knowledge in
> solving problems the better off society is as a whole.
> > As I have now
> > reached an age more advanced that was generally possible before the
> > technological advances and wealth generated in the west, I find it even
> > more valuable to me than I did previously.
> The primary reason people live longer today is because of improvements made
> at the turn of the century that targeted public health problems and because
> of improvements in the food supply. Sewer systems and clean water supplies
> were instrumental. Improvements in dentistry as well as the discovery of
> antibiotics. The year round availability of fruits and vegitables and the
> refirgeration of meat also help reduce the risk of an early death. Beyond
> these initial improvements the age increases have been marginal.
> The shift to a corporate centric world is simply evil in some situations.
> Protecting the "rights" of corporations to their "IP" has become
> disproportionate to the benefits to society. It doesn't have to be this way.
> These "rights" are given at the discression of Congress. Tomorrow they could
> vote in a law that said copyrights are only good for one year or that
> individuals can make as many copies of documents as they please. When Bill
> Gates complains about people stealing his "property" he is twisting reality.
> He still has the software. Nothing is stolen. A bootleg simply means
> someone is not paying him his rasom for the right to copy the software from a
> friend who did by a copy from Bill. Imagine if Bill weren't able to get is
> money for each copy of Microsoft Bob in existance. My, my, the world would
> probably fall apart within the week.
> There have been many very important contributions to the world made by people
> who gained no compensation for the knowledge they created. Is that fair?
> There is no comparing Salk's contribution to the world with Microsoft's Bob.
> And Salk said it would be immoral to not make the Polio vacine widely
> available to the world. What a difference a half century makes. Today drug
> companies will let people die of aids simply because those people in poor
> countries are unable to pay the government enforced monopoly prices (20 times
> the cost of production) to the drug companies. This episode in humanity will
> probably be compared to the holacost by future generations. Are they being
> The profit motive is not the only motive for humans. The improvements that
> were fundamental to increasing the lifespan of humans were the result of
> government actions in combination with the invention of a few key
> technologies. Was the value of the public contributions less or greater than
> those of the commercial developments? After the patents ran out these
> technologies the ability to use the knowledge didn't vaporize. No, the
> knowledge simply passed into the public domain and was made even more
> abundant by market demand and lower prices.
> > So while it is clear that people who support protection of IP and companies
> > are defending a system that has been incredibly important to the
> > aspirations of the human race, it isn't clear that you do or have.
> I do not believe we need to eliminate copyright and patent protection. They
> do have a role in the economy. I do have issues with the length of time and
> the extent of protection that Congress currentlly provides when assigning
> copyright and patent rights. When patents were first issued in this country
> the maximum time allowed was about the same as it is today, 17 years. Yet
> the average lifespan of a technology has been reduced from 20+ years to less
> than six months, in some cases. So shouldn't the time span for patents have
> shrunk to match the lifespan of the technology. The constitution says the
> patent rights are to be for a limited duration. With the 17 year duration it
> is effectively an unlimited duration on technology that will cease to exist
> before the patent runs out.
> The same rule applies to copyright law. Do you think Disney won't do their
> next movie if the copyright protection on the movie is limited to 15 years?
> The Sonny Bono act extended it to 90 years so Disney wouldn't have the
> copyright run out on Micky Mouse. How did I as a member of society benefit
> from this gift to Disney? And what about newspapers? This information
> becomes stale the day after it is written. Copyright didn't even apply to
> works other than books originally. It has been legislative creep that has
> caused newspaper articles to be restricted from reporduction for 90 years.
> Why not limit the copyright on newspapers to 5 years? Would they stop
> publishing the information? And popular music. Most of it goes into the
> dust bin in a few years. Only a few cuts from each year become classics.
> Why not require renewals on a yearly basis and have the rates for each year
> increase. Eventually the ROI will not justify the renewal and the work will
> find it's way into the public domain.
> We need to make intelligent laws that produce maximum benefit to society.
> The current mantra seems to be that if it is good for the multi-billion
> dollar mega corporations it must be good for the country. I think this is
> bullshit and it is time to have the government focus on the other end of the
> > What is clear, of course, is that if you wish to work for free and give
> > away your IP for free that nothing should stop you. Doing so will tend to
> > decrease the market clearing price for IP (improving the lot of those who
> > use it at the expense of those who produce it for sale) and ultimately
> > resulting in less IP. It isn't terribly clear to me whether that is a net
> > benefit in the long term, but it is likely to be a net benefit in the short
> No, this assume that the only purpose in developing IP is for direct profit
> from the sale. Many other motives are possible. What you will be seeing is
> a move from a monopoly pricing structure to a commodity pricing structure.
> Just as we have millions of farmers struggling to make a living we will
> continue to have millions of software developers struggling. Some will be
> better than others at making a living. The market will be selective. This
> is a good thing because the participants must be very responsive to supply
> and demand. When was the last time Microsoft was responsive to your demands?
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed May 09 2001 - 07:51:01 PDT