Stealing Music

Once upon a time ago it was not illegal to download copyrighted music (circa 1997). I remember my brother downloading a strange new file type onto my computer and then playing from these files cd quality music. He was quite excited about it, and the question of legality and ethicality never even came up. It was legal to trade copies of songs, and make copies of songs as long as no money was being exchanged. And why not? We had been doing it for years in analog form - creating cassette copies of songs off of CD's, the radio, and even other cassettes for friends, family, and co-workers.

What was different about mp3's? The quality first of all, and the ease. There was no pausing, rewinding, editting, etc. But a 1.5 meg file on a 1.2 gig computer wasn't exactly free in my mind either. One song was taking up as much as an entire software application, a whole playlist would have quickly eaten up my hard drive.

Fast forward to the present and the same sort of download is not only illegal but seems to be considered unethical by mainstream america. People who exchange music online without paying for it are called criminals, and theives, and are slapped with expensive lawsuits via The Recording Industry Association of America.

The RIAA in its never ending quest to right the wrongs of internet past has stated time and again that downloading music for free is no different from shoplifting. But clearly it is different if for no other reason than the fact that shoplifting involves tangible objects. If you walk into a store and walk out with a tune in your head that you heard inside the store no one is going to apprehend you for stealing no matter how precise your memory may be. Also to shoplift one always had to enter someone else's property.

It's not even clear what is being stolen. Some say music and some say royalties for sales that would or should have occurred but never existed. The copies of songs that are created during a download are copies that didn't exist until they are created on the computer of the recipient. They are taken from no one, only copied from other copies possessed by those who either copied them from someone else or from their own cd collection.

It's data, its not even music until you hit the play button on your mp3 player or computer. And what matters is ultimately the sound that comes out through the speakers when that data is translated into sound. They can't make a claim to the order of one's and zeros of the file itself, there would be too much variance between copies, and it would be easy to make minor changes to the data that would invalidate such a claim. Ultimately they are claiming as property the sound, specifically how precisely the sound translated from your mp3 file replicates the sound of a recording that someone somewhere in the recording industry owns and likely made.

They have no interest in midi files, karaoke recordings, or lyrics on a page. There interest is in you and the likelihood in their minds of having gotten money from you for a copy of a song if you had not downloaded a high quality replica for free.

Its not about taking because there is no taking involved. To say the issue is about theft is to say that you took something that didn't exist until it was in your possession. The issue is about having. If you have a copy of a song and neither you nor anyone else paid money to acquire it then you owe them money and thus have stolen that money from them or rather from the starving artists whom you obviously care nothing about.

They never had the money to begin with nor your copy, but there are theoretical royalties involved. Money that would have exchanged hands if you had chosen to purchase a cd with the song on it. Money that could have been paid in royalties if that theoretical event had come to pass. Money that may have existed if you had not chosen to create your own copy of the song via the internet.

My point is not that we should feel one way or the other about the issue, but that its absurd to consider this a simple issue of theft. Its equally absurd to let the RIAA decide for all of us whether or not downloading free music is ethical. I'm sure they had no small role in criminalizing what was an already widely practiced activity, and too many people are willing to believe that legality=ethicality.

From Foxnews.com:

"Our goal with all these anti-piracy efforts is to protect the ability of the recording industry to invest in new bands and new music and give legal online services a chance to flourish," she said. "The illegal downloading of music is just as wrong as shoplifting from a local record store." - Jenni Engebretsen, spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America

Is it really just as wrong? Whether or not it is depends on whether we can consider a specific pattern of sound to be property, and by extension a compressed file format with the capacity to replicate that pattern of sound in the presence of the right software and equipment.

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Brandon, I don't know if you

Brandon,

I don't know if you were paying attention to this but I never once claimed that the copyright holder was the owner of the information. Instead what I was doing was claiming that for for sufficently long strings of information you will know that all existing copies of that information came from an original source. If you properly control you sell the first copies then you are ensured that if you find that information encoded in any form, anywhere in the universe then you know that it was originally copied directly or indirectly from one of the copies that you as the copyright holder had title to. Thus any unauthorized copies are indeed stolen property.

Now they are not stolen property in whole but only in part. If I were the copyright owner of some software and an unauthorized copy is on your computer then the very smallest remedy to be taken is to erase it off your computer. Until you do so I am indeed co-owner of your computer, and was so from the point you loaded the software. To the extent you were using my software on that computer you were using my property without my permission.

This is precisely because you have used my copy as a factor of production and I did not authorize you to do so.

You can not plead ignorance because any reasonable person would know to check this. Just because you find a car on the street and cannot find the owner does not mean you can claim it as your own and drive it off.

"You can not plead ignorance

"You can not plead ignorance because any reasonable person would know to check this. Just because you find a car on the street and cannot find the owner does not mean you can claim it as your own and drive it off."

Speak for yourself, not for all reasonable people. The reasons you do not take a car off the street are a.) because if you do, you deprive the owner of the use of his car and b.) that's deemed socially unacceptable and c.) the commonly-used means of punishing you, including violence and incarceration, are deemed socially acceptable. That is not the case regarding the copying of music or text.

Until you do so I am indeed

Until you do so I am indeed co-owner of your computer, and was so from the point you loaded the software.

So you are claiming with a straight face that by reading the copy of "Atlas Shrugged" on my shelf I am somehow granting Ayn Rand (or her estate) co-ownership of my brain? I guess we're done here...

"So you are claiming with a

"So you are claiming with a straight face that by reading the copy of “Atlas Shrugged” on my shelf I am somehow granting Ayn Rand (or her estate) co-ownership of my brain?"

Yes, insofar as ownership entails the right to control your actions. You agreed to it voluntarily so what's your problem. It is a social convention that if you buy a book and read it you agree not to copy it. You don't own the right to copy the book from your memory.

This sort of thing happens all the time. You walk into a restarant, sit down and eat a meal then until you pay up the restarant does indeed have an ownership relationship with you in that they have a right to get you to behave in certain ways. They have a right to get you to behave in a certain way, to pay them. You never signed a contract but thats the way it is. The restaurant owner cannot force you to pay in any particular way but pay you will.

Note that owning the right to copy does not mean that the copyright owner has the right to force you to make a copy, only to prevent you from acting in a way that makes a copy. Likewise with the book you bought. If the copyright owner lost all his own personal copies of the book he could not actually force any of the owners of the copies to make a copy for him. He would be shit out of luck.

Also the statement you complained about was applicable to the case where you had already committed an act of copyright theift by mingling your property with the proper owner of the information. His ownership in your unauthorized copy of his book is actually stronger than the one he sold you. His ownership in the copy in your mind is only with regard to copying. The authorized book you have is yours for all other purposes. The unauthorized copy is something he has a right to destroy and send you back the paper pulp of.

As for the 8 billion dollars. Well read my post again. I said actual not imaginary damages. Nor did I spell out the mechanisms I had in mind. It would be some kid getting convicted of a crime and then every Tom, Dick, and Harry coming out of the woodwork to declare damages and seek restitution.

Seems like you interject your own assumptions into things that makes it so they don't work without thinking about how the can work. You don't need the assumptions.

BTW, I do understand your position. I don't believe you understand mine. Not sure exactly why. Perhaps it is because you are confused by the fact that the human brain or a computer can act in different ways on information. Running a program and copying it are both things a computer can do with information. Just because the same machine can do two different operations does not make them identical. The fact that running a program entails a form of copying it does not therefore give you free license to produce a copy of the software to give to someone else. You only bought the right to run it, not copy it.

If I had the kind of photographic mind you imagine, do you think it would be alright for me to go around looking at peoples house keys and then using that information to produce copies to sell? Could I wait outside Pamela Andersons house, watch her pull out her keys, then use my photographic memory (or just a camera) to get the information I need to produce keys to her home, then sell them to strangers?

This is not something I thought about on the spur of the moment either. I considered this awhile ago, and I considered how it ties in with genetic rights and how technology may in the future allow one to pick up a few sloughed off cells and produce a clone of someone. I think the default social convention should be that the information contained in such discarded cells should not be considered public information.

While I was at it I also thought about the issue of genetic databases for use in solving crimes, and what the social conventions for that should be. I decided that one could not require someone to give you a full copy of his genome for such a database. I also decided that providing identifying genetic markers was not something an individual can rightly withhold. It seems that you would have no grounds for denying either. After all the genome is just information that can be copyied.

Certainly the sex trade could benefit by hundreds of Pamela Anderson clones, who have been raised in a religion that professes the belief that giving ones body for the church is the highest honor. Isn't that the type of justifications you anti-copyright people make. It would be more of a benefit than not? Heck, perhaps with the right programming those 14 year old Pamela Anderson clones would enjoy sex with dirty old men as much as nuns when the prostrate themselves in front of the cross, perhaps more.

Gabriel Mihalache, You're

Gabriel Mihalache,

You're making the jump from civil to criminal law. You first say that there's some kind of contract between the buyer of a CD and the music company, because of the copyright statement on the product. Well, that's fine. Murray Rothbard accepted as much.

But you go on to say that a third party who downloads it is receiving stolen goods. No, he's not a party to the contract. And a private party, the record company, sure as hell doesn't have the right to use government to invade the property of a third party and spy on him to keep him from downloading music.

I have no objection at all to a contractual basis of copyright as a matter solely between the original buyer and the original seller. But third party issues make its broader enforcement make it of questionable benefit to the record companies. The nature of the technology involved makes enforcement much more costly and problematic. And it's not legitimate to alter burden of proof or my right to privacy in order to compensate for these special technical difficulties.

The big media companies are dinosaurs, depending on laws that are basically unenforceable without a police state.

You agreed to it voluntarily

You agreed to it voluntarily so what’s your problem. It is a social convention that if you buy a book and read it you agree not to copy it. You don’t own the right to copy the book from your memory.

1) I "agreed" to no such thing, 2) it's an incorrect social convention, and 3) I can copy whatever I like from my brain. It doesn't matter whether I buy a toaster-oven, a book, or an apple. Buying a book gives the seller zero ownership over my brain. Even if we assume, arguendo, that they still own the book, the fact that they do not own my brain means I can do whatever I want with it, including copy its contents down to paper. My god, do you even read your own writing? Surely an argument from the rights-to-ones-labor or something would be better than this...

They have a right to get you to behave in a certain way, to pay them.

They have no such right; you're advocating slavery again, dude. What they have a right to is a certain amount of wealth whose title was transferred to them upon your ordering of the food.

The authorized book you have is yours for all other purposes.

I'm amazed you can keep ignoring the fact that reading the book in my example is analytically distinct from copying the contents of your brain down on paper. It's like you think "reading the book is ok", "using your brain is OK", but somehow the conjunction of the two events "reading the book", "using your brain" in succession is somehow not OK.

BTW, I do understand your position.

Could have fooled me.

I don’t believe you understand mine.

That's right, I don't understand it. As far as I can tell you think that by buying a book I'm giving partial ownership of my brain to the publisher. I'll be sure never to walk into "Brain Macker's Book Store" then...

You only bought the right to run it, not copy it.

What do you think happens when I read a book? I just admire all the little squiggly lines? Or could it be I have to actually comprehend what's there on the page in order to "run it"?

If I had the kind of photographic mind you imagine, do you think it would be alright for me to go around looking at peoples house keys and then using that information to produce copies to sell?

It would be consistent with libertarianism, but an asshole thing to do. But many things are like that. Your point?

Could I wait outside Pamela Andersons house, watch her pull out her keys, then use my photographic memory (or just a camera) to get the information I need to produce keys to her home, then sell them to strangers?

Sure, in a free market. You have the right to do whatever you want with photons Pamela Anderson is broadcasting at you.

I think the default social convention should be that the information contained in such discarded cells should not be considered public information.

That might be nice, but it's not implied by libertarianism. I have the right to analyze the cellular structure of any unclaimed tissue I find (of course whether the skin cells can be considered automatically unclaimed is another debate).

I decided that one could not require someone to give you a full copy of his genome for such a database.

I would have just said nobody can forcibly restrain you and extract a tissue sample without violating your rights. Do you even think rights are important, or are you analyzing these issues using some other set of rules entirely? I ask because I honestly can't tell.

Isn’t that the type of justifications you anti-copyright people make. It would be more of a benefit than not? Heck, perhaps with the right programming those 14 year old Pamela Anderson clones would enjoy sex with dirty old men as much as nuns when the prostrate themselves in front of the cross, perhaps more.

I'm a deontologist, not a consequentialist. At any rate, what do armies of Pamela Anderson sex-clones have to do with the topic we're discussing? I admit the idea of an army of beautiful Pamela Anderson clones willing to be my personal servants sounds cool, but try to stick to the issue at hand. :cool:

Let's recap property

Let's recap property rights:

My body is my property. Anything I create is my property. I have the right to do whatever I want with my property, so long as it doesn't infringe upon somebody else's property rights. I can negotiate an exchange of my property with another party's property.

The question: when I create an intellectual product --- a book, a song, a schematic, etc. --- is it my property? Going by the above definition, yes.

The next question: if a book I write is my property, does that implicitly forbid people from making copies of it when I sell it to them? The answer is no. You have to stipulate that as a term of sale. I can agree to let you into my house if you don't smoke. Likewise, I can agree to sell you a copy of my book if you agree not to copy it --- but I have to let you know that this is a term of sale, just like I have to let you know that the cost of the book is about tree fiddy.

The big question: is downloading mp3s wrong? This is unanswerable. It's akin to asking if tax evasion is wrong, or if using anabolic steroids is wrong. It's certainly illegal, and if illegal is wrong, it is wrong. But let's posit that illegal is not necessarily wrong --- a postulate I think most people here will accept. What do property rights tell us about the acceptability of "piracy"?

We now need to turn to the issue of enforceability, a factor in the legitimacy of any given property right which is oft ommitted due to its sole applicability to fringe cases (such as this one). Whenever I exhale, CO2 that has been released as a product of my body moves throughout the air. A strict interpretation of property rights indicates that I ought to have the right to prevent other people from using my CO2 against my wishes. But common sense revolts at this notion --- it's not enforceable, so we just drop it.

Likewise, I think it's intuitively obvious that attempting to prevent file sharing in anything but a police state is a lost cause (and I wouldn't bet on the police state in the long run, anyway). Without Uncle Sam's endorsement, there's no way this "right" would exist on any notable scale. So, in the same sense that using somebody else's CO2 to grow your weed is OK, downloading somebody else's ultrafunky beats to gitcher grooven on is OK.

So, that's one way in which "piracy" can be deemed justifiable. But I might be wrong, and it might be possible to enforce a property right to creative output sans governmental fiat. In which case, "piracy" might be unjustifiable.

Unfortunately, it's not a matter of which hypothetical scenario is correct. I consider my case plausible, and likely a plausible case to the contrary can be made, but that we can prove the mutual exclusivity of these two scenarios is very much implausible.

Long story short, because our society is governed by much apart from property rights, we can't really tell whether "piracy" is indeed a violation of someone's property rights. Only if we lived in a society which was governed solely by property rights could we determine if "piracy" was indeed a violation of someone's property rights. All we can say is that "piracy" is a violation of the law, and because enforceability has been removed from the legal equation, we can deduce nothing about the (in)correctness of hoisting the digital jolly roger.

Note that this argument is amoral. This is a feature, not a bug. I don't want to debate this on a moral level. Someday I'll explain what I believe to be wrong with moral philosophy, but not today. Suffice it to say, please resist the urge to play hearts in the middle of a game of poker.

ARRRRRR!!!

Pete, When you create a

Pete,

When you create a material object, you're mixing your labor with elements of the physical world. When you create a work of art in digital format, you're mixing your labor with ones and zeros. Pretty weak case for homesteading, I'd say.

When you create a material

When you create a material object, you’re mixing your labor with elements of the physical world. When you create a work of art in digital format, you’re mixing your labor with ones and zeros. Pretty weak case for homesteading, I’d say.

To elaborate on Kevin's point: The basic problem with regarding ideas as property is that it leads to a contradiction with objects as property, because some objects can change their state to correspond to an idea or not correspond to the idea. Example: If you and I connect our computers, property in objects says that I still own my computer, whether it's connected to yours or not, or whatever the configuration of my hard drive is. But suppose via the network link your computer sends a copyrighted song to mine. Then if you believe in property in ideas, I have ceased to own my computer once the hard drive is configured a certain way, whereas according to property in objects I own the computer and all its components. Contradiction.

You guys are ignoring

You guys are ignoring property of me. My body is my property, and I can negotiate with it as a bargaining chip like anything else. If you need someone to chop wood, I can offer my services --- in essence, you're buying a piece of me. If I try to sell you a book for tree fiddy, but stipulate that you are not to reproduce it, then you are trading two kinds of property in order to get it: on the one hand, you're giving me money --- on the other hand, you're giving me the service of you not copying the book that I'm selling to you.

If I buy an apple from you, and then you take it away, you have violated my property rights by failing to uphold your end of the bargain --- I have a right to a refund, at the least. If you hire me to chop wood, and I fail to grant you myself in the manner we agreed upon, I have violated your property rights by failing to uphold my end of the bargain --- you have a right not to pay me, at the least.

And if I sell you a book, but only if you agree not to reproduce it, and you reproduce it anyway, you have violated my property rights by failing to uphold your end of the bargain.

This is the logic of private contract --- two or more parties voluntarily entering into a legally binding agreement. Your computer analogy has no bearing on this.

Of course, all of this hinges on the enforceability of intellectual property, which I speculate as not being possible (at least not the way we're doing it now). That was the main thrust of my post.

on the other hand, you’re

on the other hand, you’re giving me the service of you not copying the book that I’m selling to you.

That doesn't make any sense.

And if I sell you a book, but only if you agree not to reproduce it, and you reproduce it anyway, you have violated my property rights by failing to uphold your end of the bargain.

I have done no such thing; my agreement to do something or not do it with my own property has the status of a mere promise, and last I checked the law doesn't enforce promises. You might claim then that the book is not really my property, but then why go through the charade of "selling" it to me then?

Business shouldn't fear

Business shouldn't fear customers
This article about peer-to-peer file-sharing networks shutting down in the wake of last year's Supreme Court decision holding companies liable for copyright infringement on their networks is interesting. Specifically, this quote:Mitch Bainwol, head of...

Stefan, Elaborate --- how do

Stefan,

Elaborate --- how do I not make sense?

As far as I can tell, you're denying the validity of contract law. That's an unprofitable position to hold, and one not likely to gain any sort of popularity in any sort of political system. If you take an ethical/moral position on this, though, that's another matter entirely --- and one I am not interested in.

And if you aren't denying the validity of contract law, you are creating a special exception for intellectual output. That's a position which might prove profitable, but most likely under certain circumstances. Two corporations agreeing to exchange trade secrets probably can profitably enforce a violation by suing the bejebus out of the offender. A coporation selling music on condition of non-reproduction to millions of consumers probably can not profitably enforce a violation. From this, we can deduce what the shape of "intellectual property" would be in a completely property-rights driven society, and it certainly doesn't follow that there will be no provisions for some kind of "intellectual property" system. If you take an ethical/moral position on this, though, that's another matter entirely --- and one I am not interested in.

Bottom line: "intellectual property" can be implemented through private contract, contingent on enforceability, by which I mean that enforcing the contract must not cost more than it benefits the enforcer. If you take an ethical/moral position on this, though, that's another matter entirely --- and one I am not interested in.

By the way, "mere promise" is a ghastly dishonorable phrase. But that's an ethical/moral position, and another matter entirely --- I understand completely if you are uninterested in it.

Kevin, The third party

Kevin,

The third party doesn't need to be a party to the contract in order for it to be criminal. In fact, it is criminal precisely because he is not party to the contract. Theft of services or whatever you want to call the use of property without permission. Otherwise taking cars on joy rides and returning them with full tanks would be a civil crime.

Copying something does cause wear and tear on the original object being copied just like riding a car around does. The word original in the prior sentence is very important, so don't ignore it. If it is not the original and it is an unauthorized copy it is still owned in part by the copyright owner, so the wear and tear on that counts too.

If you take an ethical/moral

If you take an ethical/moral position on this, though, that’s another matter entirely — and one I am not interested in.

I guess that's fine, although why you like "political" positions and not "moral" positions seems a little puzzling.

By the way, “mere promise” is a ghastly dishonorable phrase. But that’s an ethical/moral position, and another matter entirely — I understand completely if you are uninterested in it.

If you have a point to make by repeating the phrase "I/You am/are not interested in it" then it escapes me.

As far as I can tell, you’re denying the validity of contract law.

Actually I'm trying to figure out a consistent libertarian contract law. As far as I can tell the "agreements" discussed in these hypotheticals don't reach the status of a real contract; almost no material good I can think of (except books and CDs) is a "sale with conditions", where you somehow "own" the book and yet have to follow "conditions" on the use of the book. I could be wrong, but if so nobody has spelled out for me why it's wrong; talking about "purchasing the service of not copying" doesn't seem to be a satisfactory solution.

From this, we can deduce what the shape of “intellectual property” would be in a completely property-rights driven society, and it certainly doesn’t follow that there will be no provisions for some kind of “intellectual property” system.

That's certainly possible, and I'm not denying the possibility of rental contracts or sale contracts. I just can't tell which category the book sale is supposed to fall into, or even if these are the only categories a sale can fall under.

If you take an ethical/moral position on this, though, that’s another matter entirely — and one I am not interested in.

Somehow I'm finding reading your sentences to be less and less interesting.

Otherwise taking cars on joy

Otherwise taking cars on joy rides and returning them with full tanks would be a civil crime.

Cars are not ideas.

Copying something does cause wear and tear on the original object being copied just like riding a car around does. The word original in the prior sentence is very important, so don’t ignore it.

Sure, yeah - holding the book in my hands causes some wear and tear when I read it. Your point?

If it is not the original and it is an unauthorized copy it is still owned in part by the copyright owner, so the wear and tear on that counts too.

You know, if I sign a contract whose terms involve me not giving anyone a certain piece of information, and then I give a little nine-year-old girl the information, your argument establishes partial ownership of the little girl's brain; at the very least she is now some kind of slave of the party I contracted with (in that she's not "allowed" to give the information away by using her larynx, throat, and tongue, which are her property). Doesn't this worry you in the slightest that you're advocating rights violations?

When you create a material

When you create a material object, you’re mixing your labor with elements of the physical world. When you create a work of art in digital format, you’re mixing your labor with ones and zeros. Pretty weak case for homesteading, I’d say.

You are forgetting that all 1's and 0's that exist in the real world are instatiated as real material objects. Somebody owns those objects. Using those objects without permission is a form of theft. It is impossible to make a copy without using the object. This doesn't happen in some imaginary Platonic plane. You copy things in the real world by using prior owned objects as templates. That is what the whole point of my article was.

Ownership of object can be shared between people. For instance, I owned the right of way to cross someone elses property at one point. In the case of a copyrighted work that is sold the copyright owner retains ownership of duplication rights on all copies of the book in existence, either authorized or unauthorized. He owns rights in the authorized versions by contract, and in the unauthorized copies on the understanding that they were produced by using an authorized copy as a factor of production.

There are no "unowned copies" floating around out there. Even when the physical owner of the book loses his copy we still believe he owns the book if we can find him. If we find the rightful owner then we return the book to him. We cannot "homestead" it in that case. If you cannot find the rightful owner after a reasonable search then you can indeed appropriate the book for yourself. It's finders keepers. However this cannot hold for the copyright owners rights over the book. Firstly, the author is printed in the book and with a reasonble search you can find the owner of the copyright. It might indeed be the case that the copyright was allowed to lapse via the owner giving it to the public in his will, or not having a proper heir. In which case you could copy the book. You need to do the modifications because someone could claim to have found a surviving copy of the original. Without the changes you couldn't prove the copy was produced from one of the copies you owned "copy rights" to.

In fact, you could do better. If no one else in the world actually had a copy you could set yourself up with a copyright of your own. Merely, change the book slightly by word substitutions. Record the words you changed in a provable way then start selling authorized copies of your version of the book. You can now prove that someone who had an unauthorized copy had copied it from one of your authorized versions.

Point being that my argument was not an intellectual property argument at all. In fact if you were able to randomly jiggle some physical embodiment of 1's and 0's to the same order as my copyrighted book then I would have no claim against you. The shorter my "book" the more likely that you can do this. So if my book is "I'm loving it" then there is a very high likelyhood you could have come up with this yourself. Therefore I hold that copyrighting such a phrase makes no sense because it would be very hard for you to prove in court I didn't come up with this independently. However, the odds of generating all the words in "Treasure Island" are so remote that it is almost ironclad proof of duplication if we find any possible representation of 1's and 0's that match it.

In fact, the same can be said for strings of 1's and 0's that match the plot to a very high degree. For instance if you write another book with the same characters with the same names, even with plot changes we can be sure you got your hands on Treasure Island and were attempting a copy. It's not just the copying I can restrict by contract, I can also restrict you to not copying the plot, and characters.

Cars are not ideas. Books,

Cars are not ideas.

Books, software, and brains aren't ideas, they are physical objects. Physical objects which you can make contracts about.

You're not getting the physical aspect of my contention.

There are implications to my theory. For instance, if you independently invent something then you could own it.

In fact there could be multiple owners of the same ideas, just so long as one owner did not copy from another in an unauthorized way. He could either do it in the normal way, contract with the copyright holder, or he could independently come up with the same information independently.

This way of thinking of copyrights would not work for patents. That is patents as they are currently exist. In fact it is slightly different than the way copyrights currently work. Under my theory the writer of a book could lose his rights if he is stupid and sells or lends even one copy of the book to someone he has not gotten a contract with. Current copyright law protects writers against such possibility.

1) I “agreed” to no such

1) I “agreed” to no such thing,

If you bought the book you did. If you didn't buy it then you are a thief, since there is no honest way for you to get hold of the book outside the terms. See my other post on lost books to see why.

2) it’s an incorrect social convention

Says, you. You are free to ask for different terms when you buy the book. Of course the bookstore is going to tell you take a hike because the transaction costs wouldn't be worth it to them. They'd tell you to approach the copyright holder. If you are not a purchaser of the book and you are using it then you are just a common thief. Same way a joyrider is.

Why do you think it is an incorrect social convention to disallow the use of other peoples property in ways they don't wish you to?

3) I can copy whatever I like from my brain. It doesn’t matter whether I buy a toaster-oven, a book, or an apple. Buying a book gives the seller zero ownership over my brain. Even if we assume, arguendo, that they still own the book, the fact that they do not own my brain means I can do whatever I want with it, including copy its contents down to paper.

Wrong, you cannot do whatever you want with the contents of your brain. For instance you cannot copy the words "Everybody, run the theater is on fire" from your brain into the form of audible sound in a theater if it is a false statement.
Where do you get this idea you can do whatever you please with the information in your brain? You seem to be treating it as some kind of axiom. It ain't.

My god, do you even read your own writing?
I don't always proofread, if that's what you mean, but I know you don't. I got pleasure out of seeing you right this. He, he. :) These are original ideas and hard to get a handle on. The fact that you wrote this is an indication they are .. or an indication they are just crazy. I'm not afraid of thinking outside the box however. If you prove these ideas to be completely wrong in some manner I am willing to dropo them. In the meantime I will hold them in the same esteem as any other theory.

Surely an argument from the rights-to-ones-labor or something would be better than this…
I was already assuming a right to one's labor, via ownership of ones body. What I based the assumption of self ownership on, I didn't say.

The wear and tear argument

The wear and tear argument was to undercut, post facto, any arguments that might be made regarding lack of damages in the case of third parties who have obtained access to the book in an unathorized fashion.

You know, if I sign a

You know, if I sign a contract whose terms involve me not giving anyone a certain piece of information, and then I give a little nine-year-old girl the information, your argument establishes partial ownership of the little girl’s brain; at the very least she is now some kind of slave of the party I contracted with (in that she’s not “allowed” to give the information away by using her larynx, throat, and tongue, which are her property). Doesn’t this worry you in the slightest that you’re advocating rights violations?

Not at all. First of all it isn't just any piece of information. I couldn't get you to sign a contract with regards to the information "Bill Gates founded microsoft" in a way that could be enforced on the child. Why? Because I couldn't prove in court that information was my work product, that any copy of that information came from me, that the girl knowingly recieived copyrighted information, or that she didn't get the information from elsewhere.

Now if the information in question was something that was propretary, like a secret recipe, then I have no problem having restrictions on the girl repeating the information. This is not tantamount to slavery, any more than being prevented from yelling "fire" is.

Are you a slave just because you are not allowed to get on stage and perform the play 'Oklahoma' without permission of the copyright holder? Not at all. Not anymore than saying you can't drive my car without my permission makes you my slave. You may have the idea in your head that you can drive it but that doesn't mean you own the ability to do so. You either got an authorized copy of the play with permission to perform it or you didn't. If you didn't then you are stealing and I am enforcing my rights against you, not making you a slave.

Also something that was

Also something that was implicit to my argument that I feel I should make explicit lest you miss it. When I talk about an authorized work being a template and acting as a factor of production I was assuming that everyone would understand something about that. It was my assumption that you would get the fact that the information contained in the unauthorized copy, no matter what form, can be wholly accounted for by that single factor of production, the original work. The authorized copy is both neccessary and sufficient to account for the fact that the unauthorized copy can represent the information contained in the original.

If you bought the book you

If you bought the book you did.

Of course I should probably make it clear at this point that we're debating hypothetical copyrights; copyrights as they are implemented now aren't even the sorts of "non-copying" contracts we've been talking about, since the little notice inside the book just says that you break a law by copying it.

Why do you think it is an incorrect social convention to disallow the use of other peoples property in ways they don’t wish you to?

I would ask you the same question; it sounds to me like you're advocating a form of slavery. Even aside from the supposed contract between the seller and buyer, where do you get off thinking third parties are somehow bound not to copy whatever is in THEIR brains onto paper? Other people are not your property, even if they are humming a song you composed, or happened to hear you recite a 10,000-word essay which you don't want published. :juggle:

Wrong, you cannot do whatever you want with the contents of your brain.

Obviously I can. It's my property (although I am a little uncertain about contracts specifying the selling of brain parts, but that's neither here nor there).

For instance you cannot copy the words “Everybody, run the theater is on fire” from your brain into the form of audible sound in a theater if it is a false statement.

That's a red herring and you know it. My example with the book involves you interacting voluntarily with a person, not shouting the contents of the book out during afternoon tea.

I don’t always proofread, if that’s what you mean, but I know you don’t. I got pleasure out of seeing you right this. He, he.

Well I'm glad you can laugh off supporting slavery. Ha ha.

The fact that you wrote this is an indication they are .. or an indication they are just crazy.

I already provided links to Kinsella and Long at the Mises Institute against copyrights, and more links are available at Long's Molinari webpage, although to be fair they don't agree with everything I've posted here.

Now if the information in

Now if the information in question was something that was propretary, like a secret recipe, then I have no problem having restrictions on the girl repeating the information. This is not tantamount to slavery, any more than being prevented from yelling “fire” is.

I am amazed you think these two examples are related at all. The girl owns her brain. The theater manager who wants to put on a show owns the theater. Work it out.

Are you a slave just because you are not allowed to get on stage and perform the play ‘Oklahoma’ without permission of the copyright holder? Not at all. Not anymore than saying you can’t drive my car without my permission makes you my slave

You own your car. The girl owns her larynx.

can be wholly accounted for by that single factor of production, the original work.

I don't care if the little girl announces to the world she heard you, your mom, or your toaster-oven reading the essay or book out loud. Even if your argument about buyer/seller contracts is valid, you can have no just claim over third parties who agreed to no contract. What part of that isn't getting through?

The authorized copy is both neccessary and sufficient to account for the fact that the unauthorized copy can represent the information contained in the original.

Your ideas about copyrights contradicts property in physical objects. Read that sentence again, because somehow I don't think we're using the same words with the same meanings, perhaps. You don't magically gain ownership of any kind over a little girl's brain no matter WHAT she hears and no matter WHAT the state of the neurons in her head are. To think you do is tantamount to .... you guessed it, slavery!

Of course I should probably

Of course I should probably make it clear at this point that we’re debating hypothetical copyrights; copyrights as they are implemented now aren’t even the sorts of “non-copying” contracts we’ve been talking about, since the little notice inside the book just says that you break a law by copying it.

Correct, that was my understanding from the start. I am not defending copyright or patents as implemented or justified now. I am defending something different but similar. I am saying stay off the volcano because it is dangerous, not because of the volcano gods. The results look similar but the reasons are different.

Why do you think it is an incorrect social convention to disallow the use of other peoples property in ways they don’t wish you to?

I would ask you the same question; it sounds to me like you’re advocating a form of slavery. Even aside from the supposed contract between the seller and buyer, where do you get off thinking third parties are somehow bound not to copy whatever is in THEIR brains onto paper?
I’m not advocating slavery. It is not a general binding of third parties to any information, that is, it is not “whatever”. It is a binding in a specific case where they third party has already violated another’s right to control of their own property.

Other people are not your property, even if they are humming a song you composed, or happened to hear you recite a 10,000-word essay which you don’t want published.

They may not be but rights to control what they do with certain information they have may be. If I wrote a copyright such that no one was allowed to hum the tune then I may well have a valid claim to prevent it. The reason why this doesn’t happen has nothing to do with the validity of the claim. Most songwriters want you to hum the tune.

Obviously I can.
Not at all obvious. Many a won lawsuit shows the opposite. How can a minority position be obvious.

That’s a red herring and you know it. My example with the book involves you interacting voluntarily with a person, not shouting the contents of the book out during afternoon tea.

I don’t think it is a red herring at all. It is in response to you belief that you can do anything with the contents of your brain. You use that as an axiom with which to club the idea that others can control what you do with information in your brain. The fact of the matter is that others do have rightful control over what you do with the contents of your brain in other matters. I have just added one more, copyrights. Actually, it wasn’t I, and had already been codified into law by many a society. I just gave a more valid basis for that control. The screaming fire in a theater example is one where you are simply copying your brain contents into another form. You claim complete ownership of your brain, and I assume your vocal cords. Yet, others have a right to control your actions in this case, because your action would trespass against their right to freely interact. Likewise, a situation can arise where you may have information in your brain that you do not have the right to copy for other reasons. In the case of copyright infringement because you either agreed not to or you used property in a way that the property owner had not allowed you to.

I am amazed you think these two examples are related at all. The girl owns her brain. The theater manager who wants to put on a show owns the theater. Work it out.

You applied the analogy incorrectly. If the girl is in the theater and she speaks English she is certainly in possession of the word “fire”. She is not in full ownership of her brain if you consider ownership to include full right of control. She is limited by others rights. You made the argument that one can use ownership of ones brain to justify doing anything you want with the information. I was showing a case were I thought you would agree that a person is restricted in such copying.

I gave you specific reasons why you didn’t have such a right with regards to copyrighted material. You merely objected that you own everything in your brain and therefore I couldn’t be right. This is just circular reasoning. You are using what you had assumed at the outset to try and prove that identical position. I have now given you a counterexample where you are not allowed to control the copying of information from your brain into some other form.

You own your car. The girl owns her larynx.

Not when it comes to falsely shouting fire and not when it comes to truthfully reciting entire plays that are copyrighted.

Even if your argument about buyer/seller contracts is valid, you can have no just claim over third parties who agreed to no contract. What part of that isn’t getting through?

I do have a just claim over third parties who have violated my property rights to get the information. What part of that isn’t getting through. If I rent a horse to a second party for studding fees I have a contract with that party, that doesn’t mean some third party can come in with a plastic cup, jack off my horse and use the semen for his own purposes. It doesn’t matter that there are no visible damages to my horse, nor that there was no contract with the third party.

The authorized copy is both neccessary and sufficient to account for the fact that the unauthorized copy can represent the information contained in the original.

Your ideas about copyrights contradicts property in physical objects.

No it doesn’t. Just because a certain set of molecules might be arranged in a particular pattern without use of my property to do so does not mean that it is an event that can happen in the real world. In order to get it in that arrangement you might have to utilize my property to do so. If I had the only copy of the thousand page book I wrote “Brian’s Diary” and I kept it locked in a safe, allowed no one to read it, and decided to have it burned upon my death then there isn’t anyway in hell you are going to be able to arrange the molecules of any physical property you own into an identical copy, or even one that is slightly off. It is you who would have to violate my physical property rights to get a copy. Now if I see you have gotten such a copy then I think it is perfectly within my rights to seek restitution. After all you have violated my physical property rights. I have the right to restore things as much as possible with my wishes regarding my property, and the state the world would be in had those rights been respected. In this case had you not broken into my safe then nobody would have had the information contained within. The world is not a perfect place so I cannot be fully restored, but preventing you are any others who got their hands on a copy from replicating my diary is at least a partial restoration.

Read that sentence again, because somehow I don’t think we’re using the same words with the same meanings, perhaps. You don’t magically gain ownership of any kind over a little girl’s brain no matter WHAT she hears and no matter WHAT the state of the neurons in her head are. To think you do is tantamount to …. you guessed it, slavery!
You keep stating this but I already gave you important ways in which it does not constitute slavery. Are you my slave just because I don’t want you replicating my diary that you viewed without permission? Of course not. Are you my slave just because I don’t want you shouting fire in my theater, even if you did purchase a ticket to be there. No, of course not. Are you my slave if you bought a book from me agreeing not to copy it, and to hold any buyers or viewers of the book to the same terms. No, of course not.

Is this control I have over your brain similar to ownership. Well, yes, in some ways, and no in others. You seem to want to push this analogy way beyond the claims I am making. Preventing anyone, little girl or not, from making a copy of my secret recipe is not identical to making them a slave, not in the remotest sense.

From my perspective it is you who are playing word games. You objected to any control over someone else’s brain because it was you who felt that was analogous to ownership due to the control factor. I don’t care if you were not explicit about it, I made it explicit in my reply. Well if I grant you that analogy then there are a lot of things that fit the analogy, such as preventing you from stepping on my land. It’s your brain that makes you do that, and if I can prevent you from stepping on the land then well I am controlling you. In a vague sense I own you when you “come a calling”. As one guy has said, if I want you to wear a chicken suit whenever you are on my property then your brain had better damn well obey. If not you are violating my rights to control my property as I please. It isn’t about slavery at all.

The way I see it the people objecting to copyrights in principle no matter what form are actually advocating a position that is contradictory to physical property rights, not me. I think my example of the diary shows this quite clearly. Your arguments are just as valid in this case as in any other, yet it is quite clear my property rights were violated. Just because the case of openly published works is more complicated and involves contracts does not make it any different. I can get to that state of affairs in simple steps, each one of which is perfectly compatible with a system of physical property rights.

The screaming fire in a

The screaming fire in a theater example is one where you are simply copying your brain contents into another form. You claim complete ownership of your brain, and I assume your vocal cords. Yet, others have a right to control your actions in this case, because your action would trespass against their right to freely interact. Likewise, a situation can arise where you may have information in your brain that you do not have the right to copy for other reasons. In the case of copyright infringement because you either agreed not to or you used property in a way that the property owner had not allowed you to.

I'm sorry, but if you're too obtuse to see why this analogy is nonsense then there's nothing I can do to help you. The reason you can be prohibited from shouting the contents of your brain out in a theater is not because of some magical ownership of someone's brain, but because the owner owns the theater which you happen to be standing in. If I'm standing in my room, obviously the owner of the room (me) can have no problem with me shouting out or writing down the contents of my brain. At least get an analogy that makes sense.

You use that as an axiom with which to club the idea that others can control what you do with information in your brain.

I'm using libertarianism as my starting point, not some mystical prinicple of brain ownership as you seem to think. If you don't accept libertarianism in the first place, then we're having the wrong discussion.

It is not a general binding of third parties to any information, that is, it is not “whatever”. It is a binding in a specific case where they third party has already violated another’s right to control of their own property.

The distinction makes no sense. You're dodging the issue of whether copyrights as you argue for them require ownership of people.

I have now given you a counterexample where you are not allowed to control the copying of information from your brain into some other form.

It's a non-sequitur. The girl has to follow the rules of the theater owner because she's occupying his physical, identifiable property. You seem to be thinking that if I read a book and commit it to memory then somehow my brain (or hard drive or whatever) becomes homesteaded property. You're forgetting that the homesteading principle only applies to unowned property; you can't claim ownership of my cornfield by mixing your own labor with it, at least under the Lockean version of homesteading. Similarly you can't claim ownership of my brain or my hard drive on the basis of your book appearing in it because somebody (namely me) already has prior claim on it (which you seem to have little regard for, hence my description of your beliefs as "slavery").

I do have a just claim over third parties who have violated my property rights to get the information. What part of that isn’t getting through. If I rent a horse to a second party for studding fees I have a contract with that party, that doesn’t mean some third party can come in with a plastic cup, jack off my horse and use the semen for his own purposes. It doesn’t matter that there are no visible damages to my horse, nor that there was no contract with the third party.

Well the semen is your physical property which the third party stole. If the third party merely looked at your horse and memorized the pattern of hairs on its head then that wouldn't give you claim to the third party's brain.

The authorized copy is both neccessary and sufficient to account for the fact that the unauthorized copy can represent the information contained in the original.

Yeah sure, but who cares? Of course the unauthorized information is the same as the information in the original. Otherwise we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

No it doesn’t. Just because a certain set of molecules might be arranged in a particular pattern without use of my property to do so does not mean that it is an event that can happen in the real world. In order to get it in that arrangement you might have to utilize my property to do so. If I had the only copy of the thousand page book I wrote “Brian’s Diary” and I kept it locked in a safe, allowed no one to read it, and decided to have it burned upon my death then there isn’t anyway in hell you are going to be able to arrange the molecules of any physical property you own into an identical copy, or even one that is slightly off. It is you who would have to violate my physical property rights to get a copy.

So they trespassed into your safe. Last time I checked trespass didn't give you brain ownership or anything.

Now if I see you have gotten such a copy then I think it is perfectly within my rights to seek restitution. After all you have violated my physical property rights.

Yeah ok, so he owes you some money or something for trespassing. Big deal.

I have the right to restore things as much as possible with my wishes regarding my property, and the state the world would be in had those rights been respected.

Bullshit. If I destroy your Ming dynasty vase, the solution is for me to pay you a certain sum of money, not attempt to build a Ming dynasty vase -lookalike from scratch. Carried to its conclusion, your idea would give you the right to forcibly erase my memories to prevent the spread of the information. If you think that's a just solution then you're not the kind of libertarian I want to live next door to in libertopia.

You keep stating this but I already gave you important ways in which it does not constitute slavery. Are you my slave just because I don’t want you replicating my diary that you viewed without permission? Of course not. Are you my slave just because I don’t want you shouting fire in my theater, even if you did purchase a ticket to be there. No, of course not. Are you my slave if you bought a book from me agreeing not to copy it, and to hold any buyers or viewers of the book to the same terms. No, of course not.

That last clause is even sillier than the "do not copy" clause. Now the proprietors of used-book shops are under the obligation to use force to prevent their customers from selling their books the way they'd like? Your copyright fantasies obviously have no bounds.

Is this control I have over your brain similar to ownership. Well, yes, in some ways, and no in others. You seem to want to push this analogy way beyond the claims I am making. Preventing anyone, little girl or not, from making a copy of my secret recipe is not identical to making them a slave, not in the remotest sense.

You're assuming the legitimate authority to violate their rights when they do something (copying a book) which you don't like. It sure looks like a limited form of slavery to me.

From my perspective it is you who are playing word games. You objected to any control over someone else’s brain because it was you who felt that was analogous to ownership due to the control factor. I don’t care if you were not explicit about it, I made it explicit in my reply. Well if I grant you that analogy then there are a lot of things that fit the analogy, such as preventing you from stepping on my land. It’s your brain that makes you do that, and if I can prevent you from stepping on the land then well I am controlling you.

You have the right to get the guy off your land, but once he's off your land I see no basis under libertarianism for you to have any control over his body after that.

In a vague sense I own you when you “come a calling”. As one guy has said, if I want you to wear a chicken suit whenever you are on my property then your brain had better damn well obey. If not you are violating my rights to control my property as I please. It isn’t about slavery at all.

It's because I'm within your "sphere of authority", i.e. when I'm on your land, then libertarianism says that's more or less the same as if I entered your physical body, which you own. You don't own me; you own your property, which under libertarianism I must respect. If you don't want me on it, you're free to kick me off it.

You seem to be under the impression that if I walk onto your property, read one of your books, then walk off your property, then somehow you have partial ownership of my brain. But I have already explained that the homesteading prinicple disallows you from claiming a resource that is already being used by somebody else if your claim conflicts with theirs. Once I leave your physical domain, YOU become the invader when you barge into my room with some ideas about imaginary property I've stolen from you.

The way I see it the people objecting to copyrights in principle no matter what form are actually advocating a position that is contradictory to physical property rights, not me. I think my example of the diary shows this quite clearly. Your arguments are just as valid in this case as in any other, yet it is quite clear my property rights were violated. Just because the case of openly published works is more complicated and involves contracts does not make it any different. I can get to that state of affairs in simple steps, each one of which is perfectly compatible with a system of physical property rights.

In your example you state that you're entitled to restitution because the trespasser had to violate your property rights to get the information. But that's an equivocation; sure they might have had to bust the safe open, which does entitle you to restitution. But merely reading the book doesn't give you any valid claim to restitution. If you stand on your lawn reading a book, and I use my telescope to pick up on the photons that are bouncing off of your property onto mine, then record the pattern of photons into a book and distribute it to all my friends, then it is YOU who are violating rights by claiming some kind of mystical "right" to prevent the peaceful use of my own property because it happens to be organized a certain way.

Christ, this discussion is pointless. If it takes this much hard work to get supposed libertarians to understand rights, then rationally evangelizing the entire U.S. population is truly a doomed project. I can understand how you might think copyright contracts in books between buyers/sellers might be valid, but your belief that third parties can somehow be bound to contracts they never signed strikes me as an obviously untenable one for a libertarian to hold.

Rest assured Brian Macker that if I ever live next door to you I will record EVERY single fucking photon you fire at my house and publish the ones corresponding to english letters on the internet.