# Legalize file-sharing on the Internet

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Both the original statement and the analogy are wrong! Intellectual property exists and a graph on an oscilloscope, moving faster than C exists too.
The thing is that while one can easily claim ownership of a thing in one's possession the only means of claiming ownership of an idea (in the form of rights to printing, manufacturing, ect) is through the law.

russ_watters
Mentor

There is no crime to begin with, since intellectual property does not exist. If I analyze one of your cookies, then go bake my own, have I stolen something from you? Of course not.
I know this is 3 weeks old, but just to be clear here, are you arguing that there shouldn't be intellectual property or do you really mean that it just plain doesn't exist? Because a huge fraction of our legal resources are devoted to this issue. It most certainly does exist!

And yes, "intellectual property" is ideas, so if you take someone's recipie without their permission, that is stealing.

russ_watters
Mentor

The thing is that while one can easily claim ownership of a thing in one's possession the only means of claiming ownership of an idea (in the form of rights to printing, manufacturing, ect) is through the law.
You are wrong on both counts. "Ownership" is a legal thing so when someone claims ownership of something in his posession, he's claiming it as a matter of law. Consider the opposite: if you steal something and now it is in your posession, do you own it? Of course not!

Now you probably just mean that when you "own" a physical object, you can lock it in your house, carry it on your person, and otherwise protect it yourself. If that's what you mean, then you can most certainly do the same with an idea.

Instead of deciding that Moridin is wrong, I chose to figure out what he must have meant with the word "exist", so that his statement would be right. It could be that Moridin's choice a words was not the best possible one, and I wasn't particularly defending the choice of words, but more like explaining them.

You are wrong on both counts. "Ownership" is a legal thing so when someone claims ownership of something in his posession, he's claiming it as a matter of law. Consider the opposite: if you steal something and now it is in your posession, do you own it? Of course not!

Now you probably just mean that when you "own" a physical object, you can lock it in your house, carry it on your person, and otherwise protect it yourself. If that's what you mean, then you can most certainly do the same with an idea.
Ownership of a physical object is not determined solely by law. Mere possession is enough to assert ownership of an object. As long as you are capable of maintaining possession of that object you more or less own it. This can not be done with an idea. You can not simply lock it away and say it is yours forever more.
As an example a US musician lost a copyright case to a German musician even after proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he never could have even heard the music he had supposedly stolen which was only sold in Germany and played on German radio.
One does not even have to have actually seen or heard your idea from you or anyone connected to you to "steal" it.
There is absolutely no way to retain possession of intellectual "property" except through the law, the willingness of others to not copy your idea without permission, and the willingness of others to enforce such a standard of "property rights". This is as opposed to simply maintaining possession of a singular object.

russ_watters
Mentor

Instead of deciding that Moridin is wrong, I chose to figure out what he must have meant with the word "exist", so that his statement would be right. It could be that Moridin's choice a words was not the best possible one, and I wasn't particularly defending the choice of words, but more like explaining them.
The word "exist" has a pretty clear meaning and while you tried to find an interpretation that would work, you failed because your analogy is wrong. You may well be correct that that's what Moridin was getting at -- but it is still wrong.

russ_watters
Mentor

Ownership of a physical object is not determined solely by law. Mere possession is enough to assert ownership of an object. As long as you are capable of maintaining possession of that object you more or less own it.
That's quite clearly untrue as shown by the stolen property example I gave earlier. The fact that something is physically in your posession and you are physically capable of guarding it is not a major factor in determining ownership. This is a clear matter of law.
This can not be done with an idea. You can not simply lock it away and say it is yours forever more.
Of course you can! You can write it down, tell no one, lock it in a safe, and it will forever be yours. Or you can patent it and it will be yours alone for 17 years.
As an example a US musician lost a copyright case to a German musician even after proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he never could have even heard the music he had supposedly stolen which was only sold in Germany and played on German radio.
One does not even have to have actually seen or heard your idea from you or anyone connected to you to "steal" it.
Ok....so what? One example of how ownership of intellectual property is protected by the law does not say anything about how ownership of intellectual property can be physically protected. There are many ways, from safe deposit boxes to encryption.
There is absolutely no way to retain possession of intellectual "property" except through the law, the willingness of others to not copy your idea without permission, and the willingness of others to enforce such a standard of "property rights". This is as opposed to simply maintaining possession of a singular object.
I gave some other examples of how you can protect your posession of intellectual property, however you just said, in essence - 'you can't except how you can'.

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The word "exist" has a pretty clear meaning and while you tried to find an interpretation that would work, you failed because your analogy is wrong. You may well be correct that that's what Moridin was getting at -- but it is still wrong.
The word "exist" can be rather nebulous. The idea of any "rights" what so ever can be fairly vague aswell though the idea of the "right" to own physical property has the advantage of being attached to a rather concrete object.
I believe the point (at least in my estimation) is that "intellectual property rights" are a convenient social/legal fiction that was instituted for a particular purpose (Moridin though may not agree that the purpose has merit). Unfortunately, as I ranted on about in a previous post, the original purpose has been lost and supplanted with the notion of a 'natural right' to ownership of intellectual property (perhaps to the edification of Moridin's anarcho-capitalist views). It is really quite easy to challenge the idea of a 'natural right' to intellectual property.

You posted while I was typing, I was unsure if you intended to respond to me.

Russ said:
That's quite clearly untrue as shown by the stolen property example I gave earlier. The fact that something is physically in your posession and you are physically capable of guarding it is not a major factor in determining ownership. This is a clear matter of law.
While it is often misconstrued as fact the oft quoted "Possession is nine tenths the law" is fairly accurate. One must prove that one legally possessed an object and that it was illegally appropriated. The law actually favours the person who is in physical possession of the object. Even by hook or crook one can claim ownership of a stolen object in one's physical possession and be legally validated so long as no one can prove that the object was in fact stolen. So as long as one can maintain physical possession of an object one can claim "ownership". It is an indisputable fact.

Russ said:
Of course you can! You can write it down, tell no one, lock it in a safe, and it will forever be yours. Or you can patent it and it will be yours alone for 17 years.
In the case of copyright that would be lifetime plus seventy years. Also one needn't apply for a copyright (I am unsure about patents) but only be capable of proving the idea was yours originally.
We are talking about ideas. People have them all the time and it has been shown that multiple people in various locations across the world have come up with similar ideas at approximately the same time (see: Tesla v. Marconi, among others). So how does one legitimately and objectively claim ownership of an idea if it is accidentally "stolen" by someone else outside of a convenient legal fiction?

Russ said:
Ok....so what? One example of how ownership of intellectual property is protected by the law does not say anything about how ownership of intellectual property can be physically protected. There are many ways, from safe deposit boxes to encryption.
This in no way protects against people "stealing" your intellectual property by simply coming up with the same idea as you did at approximately the same time. Have you not ever thought of an idea totally and completely on your own and then seen that someone else had the same idea before, or even after, you did and capitalized on it? If you have not then I'd bet money that I could start a thread in GD and get at least a dozen people responding who have experienced this.
Not that I really begrudge these people who have "stolen" my ideas and made money off of them, but I would still expect some reciprocity if I were to independently come up with an idea at the same time as someone else and be sued for having "stolen" it.

Russ said:
I gave some other examples of how you can protect your posession of intellectual property, however you just said, in essence - 'you can't except how you can'.
Can't except can. I hope that my reference to copyright and patent as convenient legal fictions answers this. Aswell I will point out again that while one can claim ownership of a physical object through physical possession, and must be proven to have stolen this property, one needn't even be proven to have actively "stolen" intellectual property to be held liable.

a graph on an oscilloscope, moving faster than C exists too.
No it does not exist in the sense used in the analogy which you decide to refuse to understand. Nothing can move faster than light (in the sense of something carrying energy) and so the spot does NOT exist (because it is a mere geometrical intersection and not carrying energy). The analogy is perfectly appropriate to the current situation. Intellectual ownership is certainly less trivial than owning a car. The car is built, I buy it and register it. Pretty much all ideas are not the creation of a single individual, and many of them may have patent attributed not to whom conceived it first, maybe simply because the person who conceived them failed to realize how he could patent them.

Borek
Mentor

So, whom do you call the pirate?

The infringer has effectively already admitted owing at least $50 million and the full claim could exceed$60 billion. If the dollars don't shock, the target of the lawsuit undoubtedly will: The defendants in the case are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada, the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.