From: Eugene Leitl (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Jul 27 2000 - 20:17:03 PDT
Jeff Bone writes:
> Quick addendum.
> > I've done that, and the unfortunate and somewhat shocking conclusion
> > that I've reached is that there's something fundamentally screwed about
> > the notion of bits-as-property.
There are no absolute laws. Property laws are just codified rules of
thumb: if you don't protect intellectual property *which has a
significant potential value* and *requires nontrivial investments* to
produce, then the incentive of people generating any such will be
Anything purely information based (literature, music, software) is
partially exempt because it does not require considerable tangible
investments on the part of creators -- apart from their time, of
course. Still, a lot creative people at least expect to be able to pay
parts of their bills with their labour of love. Prestige/status alone
it is not.
Anything brick and mortar (we're a medical R&D facility, for instance)
takes real bucks to run. If whatever you have developed with
significant burn of above resources can't be protected by enforcible
laws, or can't be kept secret (the best type of protection, I think),
then you simply can't afford to run such a facility. Bang, you're
If whatever you're producing profits the society as a whole, and the
results can be easily harvested by competitors (lucky us, not many
housewifes are interested in arcane drug cocktails to manage
ischaemia), taking you out of business, then you (and society as a
whole) has shot themselves in the foot by building an infrastructure
for anonymous information sharing and allowing it to operate.
Now I don't know how bad it is going to be, but I think there will be
a definite impact in the quality and/or quantity of intellectual
property produced. Some niches will not be affected at all, some will
Let's wait and see. If machine-phase nanotechnology will really grant
artifacts (by proxy of blueprints) the status of software, then brick
and mortar can also start profiting from mind share.
Meanwhile, I'm not holding my breath.
> By the way, the irony of my own argument is not at all lost on me: I'm
> making this argument *despite* having outed myself as a rabid Lockian
> proponent of property rights, right here on this very list ages ago. Still
> --- and this causes me no small amount of consternation --- the problem of
> applying physical property laws in all their dimensions to bits is becoming
> ever-more apparent to me over time.
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