Subject: Re: The term "intellectual property" considered useful
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 02:01:36 +0900

>>>>> "Taran" == Taran Rampersad <> writes:

    Taran> sjt writes:

    >> I conclude that it's purely an economic issue, of whether the
    >> existence of IP actually encourages or discourages the
    >> production of software that *non-hackers* value.  *That* is a
    >> tough call.

    Taran> Yeah. I hadn't thought about this aspect as much as you
    Taran> have, apparently.

Or maybe you just lack my set of biases.  They're a good set of
biases.  I like them.  I have thought about them in general, a fair
amount.  But given them, it's pretty easy for me to come to that
conclusion, in the absence of persuasive counterargument.

    Taran> I don't know that a blanket 'good of the many' is really
    Taran> what this is about, because the 'good' is subjective and
    Taran> the way we group people is also subjective (thus 'many' is
    Taran> subjective).

In the end, you can't solve all problems through the "good of the
many".  There are many decisions that end up coming down to you have
to protect your own interests, because nobody else really can even if
they were willing to---they don't know enough.

However, there are lots of people in this debate who want to wear that
mantle of "advocate for society".  It's possible to argue that you
have a unique perspective on what's good for society.  But it's much
easier if it's backed up by numbers.

    Taran> So I'd like to get to the core of what everyone actually
    Taran> wants to protect and who they want to protect it for.

As long as you help spread the understanding that "everyone" is a
plural noun, not a collective one, in this context! :-)

    Taran> And you're painting me as 'only a hacker', here, and I'm
    Taran> not neatly contained in that description. I typically
    Taran> disregard such labels.

Sure.  It's a rhetorical device.  I'm not above those (didn't somebody
mention "falling ... with style!" recently?  I'm falling, too!)  But
labels are necessary.  I can't think without them, and I've read more
than one philosopher and linguist who claims thats the human
condition. ;-)

    Taran> But I also believe that if people want [option A], they
    Taran> should have that option as well.

Sure, as long as "should" means that "we are ethically obliged to
participate in efforts to create a society where options are
available, even at the cost of some mere economic efficiency (not to
mention our own effort and interests)", not "there oughtta be a law!"

Or that some law oughtta be repealed, for that matter.  It's not that
easy to grant options fairly.

    Taran> Well, the international patent issues are another large
    Taran> issue which needs to be addressed.

You mean the North-South stuff?  Sure we hear a lot about AIDS drugs,
but isn't the North-South WIPO thing really at root a battle between
the rich in less rich countries and the rich in more rich countries?
(Genuine question, I've only lived among the rich in more rich
countries.)  Is there really going to be trickle down to the shanty
towns outside of Mumbai, Shanghai, and Sao Paulo?

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