Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And I suppose there's something inherently wrong with American government efforts at "protecting American content businesses"? I think I'll copy Techdirt's postings and make them my own. I'm sure they won't complain.

2 comments:

Mike said...

I gotta say I'm getting sick of people claiming some sort of "gotcha" by saying they're going to copy Techdirt content.

Please read:
http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20070412/183135#c612

If you want to copy our content, go right ahead. At best, you'll hurt your own reputation. At worst you'll just send us more traffic.

Why should that bother me?

As for your claim that it's okay for gov't protectionist policies, I find that amusing on a site that links to Ayn Rand.

Mark said...

Mike,

When you sign a contract, you expect to be able to take someone to court should they breach it. That's government "protectionism." When you leave your house or apartment, you expect that should someone break in and steal something, the police will look for them, arrest them, and prosecute them. That's government "protectionism."

My problem with your use of the word is that you draw some inherent distinction between a "market based economy" and "protectionism," as if government has no intrinsic role in establishing free markets and ensuring that an environment exists wherein the individual can prosper.

Now, _that's_ important because patents and copyrights are ultimately just another form of the same sorts of government protection. Your arguments about Jefferson's position aside (and he doesn't exclusively inform the patent debate, which is why I'm not continuing that line of argument), patents do have an important function in ensuring that the individual benefits from his inventions so that an incentive exists for others to invent.

That is an individual rights basis, not a "social utility," again because the founds did not believe that the individual should be sacrificed for "society." In the same sense, the Founders would have said ours isn't a "democracy," because they were as wary of the majority oppressing the minority as vice versa.

Don't make the mistake of thinkging Ayn Rand was an anarchist. She wasn't.

Like the Founders, she recognized that government exists exclusively and vitally to protect the individual. This does not mean that one individual is given some ability to infringe on the rights of others. By granting a monopoly for some limited time to a single inventor, government doesn't take away something that anyone else _has a right to_. Nobody has a right to the product of someone else's efforts. Rather, they have a right to _trade_ for that product, with the product of their own efforts, by the standards and on the terms of both parties.

If government didn't protect against the use of force and fraud (and patent/copyright infringement is a form of force, of taking for one's own use the product of the efforts of another's), then one would be helpless at best and would be forced to resort to vigilante justice at worst. That's anarchy.

A free market can only function to the extent that government creates an environment within which each individual is confident that his efforts will be reward on his own terms. My wife grew up in the opposite, in the USSR, which had a command economy that existed to protect the interests of "society." Because society isn't an entity with its own real interests (just interest groups within it), _someone)_ had to act as "speaker" for society. This was all of the government bureaucrats who ran the factories, housing, schools, transportation, etc., according to whatever their whims were at the moment. It was the most corrupt system imaginable; if you wanted a new job or a better place to live, you bribed the bureaucrat. Otherwise, you stayed where you were. If you tried to start your own business, like my mother-in-law did with her sewing, you did so secretly or you were arrested. That's the alternative to a free market with government protection of contracts.

Maybe you're okay with someone stealing your content. Fine, that's your prerogative. Your belief that such would result in more traffic to your site (which I wonder how that would happen, if I were to steal the content without identifying where it came from) doesn't strip away everyone else's right to protection of their intellectual property.