Subject: Re: The term "intellectual property" considered useful
From: Seth Johnson <>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 01:00:18 -0400

Norbert, I think Stephen is talking about ideas that are somehow
confined within people's heads.

So, what's in your head had best stay in your head, okay? 

No, that's not "legal ownership of what is in other people's
heads."  That's not controlling thought.  Just write your code
and keep it and your computer running it to yourself, dammit. 
You can think full well.  Aren't you relieved?


"Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:
> >>>>> "Norbert" == Norbert Bollow <> writes:
>     Norbert> I would argue that "intellectual property" means some
>     Norbert> degree of legal ownership of what is in other people's
>     Norbert> heads.
> That's false on the face of it.  Patents do not control thought, only
> the embodiment of a thought in a device.  You can write textbooks
> about how to use a patented device, you can describe its principles in
> detail, etc.  You can think up new inventions based on it.  There's no
> way that a patent can be applied to the contents of your head (unless
> you are actually an AI program running on a System/360, but the
> relevant patents have long since expired I'm sure).  This is even more
> true of copyrights, which apply to copying or performance of
> expression fixed in some medium.  Similarly you can use a trademarked
> term all you like as long as you acknowledge that it applies to the
> owner's product, not yours.  And you can certainly claim that the
> concept it denotes applies to your product, too, as long as you
> express it in different words.
> Intellectual property grants no control, let alone "ownership", of
> any thought in anybody's head.
> Intellectual property may come very close to it (e.g., public
> performance rights on poetry).  Nevertheless, the performance is
> outside of your head.
>     Norbert> How else would one explain what all the various legal
>     Norbert> rights that are grouped under the label "intellectual
>     Norbert> property" have in common?
> Here's a quick hack: "intellectual property" means a grant of certain
> legal rights of control over specified fixed physical manifestations
> of intellectual activity.
> --
> 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


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