Subject: Re: The term "intellectual property" considered useful
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Fri, 05 May 2006 19:40:46 +0900

>>>>> "A" == A Pagaltzis <> writes:

    A> Right, conceded. But in that case, it would appear to me that
    A> the term itself is largely inconsequential and interchangable,
    A> and the only matter of import is that there is consensus among
    A> all present about the set of subconcepts it refers to.

Agreed.  Except that the lawyers are not going to stop using
"intellectual property" to denote this concept, any more than
economists will give up their bizarre definition of "demand" or
physicists their rather abstract definition of "force."

    A> Sure. However, to draw the parallel back to the use of the IP
    A> term, I have never wanted to use the term API as a
    A> generalisation of both SWIG and Ada in a conversation where the
    A> aim of using such generalisation would have been to derive from
    A> it a concrete course of action to take using both SWIG and Ada.

It's not a generalization of SWIG and Ada.  It's a general facet that
SWIG and Ada can have in common.  Consider "let's provide an Ada
module for SWIG so that APIs of Ada libraries can be imported using
the common FFI that SWIG provides."

How do you say something like that without the term "API", and its
specialization "FFI"?  Do you think it's an accident that FFIs
appeared a decade or two after the concept of API took hold?  Note
that you can substitute API for FFI with only a small loss of

Similarly, for me the "free software epiphany" was realizing that all
forms of intellectual property had "government franchise" in common.
Until that point, I looked at each one and saw creators and their
creations, and wondered how the FSF could deny that intimate
relationship and the rights that came with it.

Then I realize that *nothing* except the joy of creation came from the
relationship; all the rest was legal artifact.  In a democracy, we
have the option to create, destroy, restrict, extend, and reform the
laws that authorize and protect it.  And there's nothing necessary
about any of it, nor is there anything necessary about software

We can write the laws that we (collectively) want.

Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering   University of Tsukuba        Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
        Economics of Information Communication and Computation Systems
          Experimental Economics, Microeconomic Theory, Game Theory