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Intellectual Property A Silly Euphanism

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« on: October 13, 2008, 10:30:02 pm »
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I found an article that seems to nail the subject of Intellectual Property....

What do the readers think?

Cory Doctorow guardian.co.uk, Thursday February 21 2008 16.18 GMT
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"Intellectual property" is a silly euphemism


"Intellectual property" is one of those ideologically loaded terms that can cause an argument just by being uttered. The term wasn't in widespread use until the 1960s, when it was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, a trade body that later attained exalted status as a UN agency.

WIPO's case for using the term is easy to understand: people who've "had their property stolen" are a lot more sympathetic in the public imagination than "industrial entities who've had the contours of their regulatory monopolies violated", the latter being the more common way of talking about infringement until the ascendancy of "intellectual property" as a term of art.

Does it matter what we call it? Property, after all, is a useful, well-understood concept in law and custom, the kind of thing that a punter can get his head around without too much thinking.

That's entirely true - and it's exactly why the phrase "intellectual property" is, at root, a dangerous euphemism that leads us to all sorts of faulty reasoning about knowledge. Faulty ideas about knowledge are troublesome at the best of times, but they're deadly to any country trying to make a transition to a "knowledge economy".

Fundamentally, the stuff we call "intellectual property" is just knowledge - ideas, words, tunes, blueprints, identifiers, secrets, databases. This stuff is similar to property in some ways: it can be valuable, and sometimes you need to invest a lot of money and labour into its development to realise that value.

Out of control

But it is also dissimilar from property in equally important ways. Most of all, it is not inherently "exclusive". If you trespass on my flat, I can throw you out (exclude you from my home). If you steal my car, I can take it back (exclude you from my car). But once you know my song, once you read my book, once you see my movie, it leaves my control. Short of a round of electroconvulsive therapy, I can't get you to un-know the sentences you've just read here.

It's this disconnect that makes the "property" in intellectual property so troublesome. If everyone who came over to my flat physically took a piece of it away with them, it'd drive me bonkers. I'd spend all my time worrying about who crossed the threshold, I'd make them sign all kinds of invasive agreements before they got to use the loo, and so on. And as anyone who has bought a DVD and been forced to sit through an insulting, cack-handed "You wouldn't steal a car" short film knows, this is exactly the kind of behaviour that property talk inspires when it comes to knowledge.

But there's plenty of stuff out there that's valuable even though it's not property. For example, my daughter was born on February 3, 2008. She's not my property. But she's worth quite a lot to me. If you took her from me, the crime wouldn't be "theft". If you injured her, it wouldn't be "trespass to chattels". We have an entire vocabulary and set of legal concepts to deal with the value that a human life embodies.

What's more, even though she's not my property, I still have a legally recognised interest in my daughter. She's "mine" in some meaningful sense, but she also falls under the purview of many other entities - the governments of the UK and Canada, the NHS, child protection services, even her extended family - they can all lay a claim to some interest in the disposition, treatment and future of my daughter.

Flexibility and nuance

Trying to shoehorn knowledge into the "property" metaphor leaves us without the flexibility and nuance that a true knowledge rights regime would have. For example, facts are not copyrightable, so no one can be said to "own" your address, National Insurance Number or the PIN for your ATM card. Nevertheless, these are all things that you have a strong interest in, and that interest can and should be protected by law.

There are plenty of creations and facts that fall outside the scope of copyright, trademark, patent and the other rights that make up the hydra of Intellectual Property, from recipes to phone books to "illegal art" like musical mashups. These works are not property - and shouldn't be treated as such - but for every one of them, there's an entire ecosystem of people with a legitimate interest in them.

I once heard the WIPO representative for the European association of commercial broadcasters explain that, given all the investment his members had put into recording the ceremony on the 60th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid in the second world war, they should be given the right to own the ceremony, just as they would own a teleplay or any other "creative work". I immediately asked why the "owners" should be some rich guys with cameras - why not the families of the people who died on the beach? Why not the people who own the beach? Why not the generals who ordered the raid? When it comes to knowledge, "ownership" just doesn't make sense - lots of people have an interest in the footage of the Dieppe commemoration, but to argue that anyone "owns" it is just nonsensical.

Copyright - with all its quirks, exceptions and carve outs - was, for centuries, a legal regime that attempted to address the unique characteristics of knowledge, rather than pretending to be just another set of rules for the governance of property. The legacy of 40 years of "property talk" is an endless war between intractable positions of ownership, theft and fair dealing.

If we're going to achieve a lasting peace in the knowledge wars, it's time to set property aside, time to start recognising that knowledge - valuable, precious, expensive knowledge - isn't owned. Can't be owned. The state should regulate our relative interests in the ephemeral realm of thought, but that regulation must be about knowledge, not a clumsy remake of the property system.

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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2008, 01:09:11 am »
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I think it fits the subject about plagiarism that the last posters in matches in the flame section emphasized....and also I did see a woman sue over some pictures of hers that were used in an advertisement in the USA, on the news, a few days ago....that case was settled out of court...This article explains a little of the history of "Intellectual Property" and provides some sound reasoning in my view....

What with the USA case, and the Scottish Schools kids successfully winning their case over their voices appearing on the Pink Floyd track, "Brick in the Wall".....will open the floodgates to more litigations? I hope not. There will be plenty of worried people walking around and the lawyers rubbing their grubby little greedy hands over the potential income, from all this...

Actually, I remember posting my chop of Sting in the famous bathtub floating near a tropical island, chop of mine and Prowler taking a shot at me, at my group Avant-garde philosophy, over it....since that picture was actually stolen from me in the first place by a poster named Grizz. Prowler thought it was his work...

  Damn, the author of that article needs to read Canada's new Bill C-61 that is coming our way soon. It would send him into paroxysms of anger unlike any ever before seen.

How are they going to "police" the point I just highlighted in large font?


The proposed bill contains the following changes on what constitutes copyright infringement and what does not for personal use:[6]

Time shifting, limited format shifting, copying for personal use, and device transferring of media is legal as long as:
Citizens do not retain recorded programs for extended time
Are not backups of DVD's (can only be of videocassettes in format shifting).
Do not circumvent any and all "digital locks"
Transferring of media occurs only once per device owned by the purchaser of the original copy while retaining the original copy.
Are not of shows broadcast with "no recording" flags
Are not governed by any other clauses between the right holder and consumer (ex. Amazon's non-transferability clause, promotional use only, do not sell/transfer, etc.) [7]
Format shifting must comply with the twelve processes listed here (pdf) in addition to all other conditions listed. [8]

What are they going to do with all though pictures of people in crowds at football games appearing in newspapers?

  Precisely my point, which is why the author would go nuts reviewing this bill. It makes the American laws some complacent by comparison. And my fellow Canadians believed they live in a **** free society. I have known this was no such society since the age of 10, which is why I became a fascist.

  We all know there is no way to police the laws. Did you know that, if the bill passes, stripping simple DRM code out of a program would net you a $20,000 fine?

Referring back to artists like the article I posted…..during the middle ages and the time of the Renaissance painters, they often copied each other’s work, especially the female forms since it was very unlikely to actually get a female to pose naked…..if you look at the bodies of females in paintings, they’ve all got a similar shaped breasts….they remind me of male bodies, with **** and probably were….painting after painting, same female body with a face change….lol…the point is, the artists copied off each other and it was a regular practice.

Maybe God can sue people for copying his geographical features in drawings, paintings and photography.

I know a guy who closed down an M$N site that posted pictures of coffins on…..HE posted them on purpose firstly with the intent to shut the site down…. then contacted  M$N who told him to contact the makers of the coffins and tell them to make a complaint. When he did that, the Funeral Directors said they didn’t care and that foiled his attempt…. he then pretended to be the Funeral director and made a complaint to MSN by himself claiming to be the Funeral Director….eventually MSN caved in and shut the site down.

This is open to corruption from both sides of a dispute….why are bothering?
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2008, 11:24:37 pm »
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 very deep!
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