Subject: Re: termless copyright and patents
From: David Fetter <>
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 07:31:00 -0700

On Fri, Sep 22, 2006 at 05:55:33PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "David" == David Fetter <> writes:
>     David> On Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 05:53:02PM +0900, Stephen
>     David> J. Turnbull wrote:
>     >>>>> "Thomas" == Thomas Lord <> writes:
>     Thomas> And, this would be better because socialism is a more
>     Thomas> efficient allocator of resources?
>     >> Since Congress is involved, it's already socialism; I'm arguing
>     >> we can have a better form of socialism.
>     David> Government is socialism?  What have you been smoking?!?
>     David> Every government sets boundaries on the markets, *which it
>     David> makes possible*.  Calling that "socialism" is just plain
>     David> idiotic.
> But we're not talking exclusively about setting boundaries on
> markets.  We're talking to a great extent about the government
> reallocating wealth.[1]

Ah, another libertarian bullshit stock phrase trots out.  Let's
examine this one critically, too.  Show me one government in all of
history which did *not* redistribute wealth.  Redistributing it from
the poor to the rich counts.  After you've failed in that, tell me
with a straight face that "governments shouldn't redistribute wealth."

> All of the benefit to the monopoly granted by a copyright is already
> exhausted at first sale.[2]  So when an existing copyright is
> extended, it's purely a transfer, and in this case a very regressive
> one.  And there are other attendant transfers, not all of which are
> justifed by creation of value.

I agree that there are damned few entities which actually create value
and can claim that they have earned the right to be compensated for
it.  Skyrocketting CEO pay is one blatant example of people collecting
huge monies for doing nothing good.

>     >> "IP" is still government force and still yuck, of course,
>     David> The alternative to government force is private force,
> You can't exclude this middle, I'm afraid.

You can't show me something else, I'm certain.  Force comes from
exactly one of two places: governments, where at least in principle
it's accountable to the public, and private hands, where it's not.

> By the way, may I take it that you do agree that IP (as currently
> formulated) is yuck?  IP is yuck for reasons quite independent of
> how it is legally founded and enforced, you know.

I see we're talking about 2 different things here: IP as currently
formulated, and the absolute craziness of certain dogmas of the
libertarian right being used to attack it.  One concise formulation of
the libertarian right's political stance is the idea that social and
economic issues are independent of one another.  As you might have
guessed, I do not subscribe to that idea.

>     David> It really saddens me when otherwise bright people espouse
>     David> this libertarian nonsense.
> What kind of nonsense do you espouse? ;-)

Several, I'm sure.  I'm many years past the idea that God (Rand or any
other) has handed me the premises of a first-order logic system which
makes the whole universe run, though.

> Footnotes: 
> [1]  I believe that the increase of term length was entirely
> motivated as a smokescreen for extension of existing rights.

I quite agree, with the minor quibble that it's more like "licenses"
in the sense of "power without responsibility" than "rights."

> Because of discounting, there just is no (gross) social benefit to
> copyright terms longer than the average lifespan of a human being,
> while there are great costs.

I agree here, too.  I would go further and state that the social costs
of copyright terms often start to accumulate long before the death of
the author.  I believe that 15 (optionally renewed--by the author, and
only while they're still alive--to 30) years is *plenty* of
opportunity for individual authors to recover whatever they're due.
For a non-individual entity to which the copyright is transferred,
even 15 years is far too much.

> Caveat: of course if "creator's natural right" exists, that's
> sufficient justification---copyright isn't a "transfer," it's "the
> way God planned it".  I don't believe in such a right, but YMMV.

As you may have surmised, "natural right" is another pernicious myth
to which I do not subscribe.  Justice is what people impose on an
unjust universe (and other people not so just), using and delegating
force as needed to do it.

> [2]  Lest a RealLawyer[tm] get on my case, I should say that
> "exhausted" and "first sale" are a deliberate reference to the legal
> doctrines by those names, but the usage here is different.

Could you explain the nature of these differences and your motivation
both for using the names of legal doctrines without their legal

David Fetter <>
phone: +1 415 235 3778        AIM: dfetter666
                              Skype: davidfetter

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