Subject: Re: Thought crimes
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 01:31:52 +0100

On Mon, Dec 25, 2000 at 08:08:07PM -0500, Jonathan S. Shapiro wrote:
> > > I hear people argue "company X has a *right* to
> > > make a reasonable profit on their inventions." Similarly, we are hearing
> > > that "company Y has a *right* to make a profit on their video,
> recording, or
> > > what have you. These are reasonable arguments, but they have very little
> to
> > > do with copyright or patent.
> >
> > they are not even reasonable argument ... well they have every right
> > to make a profit, but a patent is a monopoly...  It is about preventing
> > others from making a profit, even if they invested too.
> You seem to be arguing that patent effectively deprives the "second place"
> developer of their investment. I had not considered this point, and in some
> cases it is clear that you are right.
> I find that it is rarely helpful to start a dialog by informing the other
> party that they are unreasonable. Also, I think you are focusing on my side
> comment about patents. I stuck the side comment in there to broaden the
> audience for the patent debate, but it wasn't the focal point of my posting
> and I may not have handled it as well as I might have.

I only meant to say that they are not reasonable arguments for
patents.  Of course anyone is entitled to a reward for his work.  And
many do not get it.  But why should a programmer get more of a reward
than, say, a mathematician who advances the arts ?  Why should the
reward be a patent rather than something else ?

   I think indeed that, as you stated, the argument has little to do
with patents. But I was not sure you said it for that reason.

> The problem, in the end, is not that copyright or patent are
> irrational ideas.

I think they are irrational per se, but their use is irrational if not
properly balanced for everyone's benefit.  What other reason is there
to live in society.

  Now, I agree that the digital age is exacerbating the problem.  But
the principle of balancing public and private interest has no reason
to change.  And it also means that society has to worry about
rewarding creators adequately.


PS I realized that was a side comment, but I was interested in your
post, and wanted to get deeper in it.

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