Well, OK, I'm willing to make a concession here: I allow the data to be modified, as long as it is not decreased. I allow any amount of increase, though. I'm not at all possessive at the exact value, I just don't want a lower one.
That sounds consistent with larger numbers having larger values, but not so consistent with it being worthless either way. You're not being very convincing here.
Because I have a contract with the bank giving me that control.
OK, let's start being clear here. What I'm claiming you own is not the number itself (it's a number that probably occurs in many places), nor the physical bits that it's stored upon (they're owned by the bank), but you own being the subject of the bank's duty to pay a person money when you decide to lower that number. You claim that this is not ownership, merely some mechanics tied to a contract.
First of all, this duty is not worthless. The proof of this is to simply ask anybody on the planet to relinquish this duty to you, and ask them what they'll pay for it. For the vast majority of people, they won't accept any amount less than what is stored in there. This tells us that, to them, the duty of the banks to pay them money in exchange for lowering their balance is worth to them at least what the balance reads. This is literally the definition of subjective monetary value: how much a given person will trade for the object in question. So, we have at least proven that, while completely intangible, this duty is not worthless.
If you decide to define property in a way that excludes this duty, you may. Do not expect the courts, or anyone else, to agree with you on that point. You must remember that property, even of tangible objects, is an abstract, artificial concept that is enforced only by law. It is up to us to decide what to treat as property, and what not to treat as property, as well as what to call property and what not to call property. In this case, we have this duty, which has worth like property, is forbidden to be taken or otherwise abused like property, that can be bought, sold, and otherwise transferred like property. To me, to many others, and to the courts, this is sufficient to consider it property, as it shares all the core properties that make up the concept of property. Like I said, you're free to make exceptions, or impose further arbitrary restrictions to your personal concept of property, but if you want others to share your view, you need to be more convincing.
You are missing that whether something is worth anything real and whether it should be protected by law are two very different questions. For example, legally owning slaves is worth a lot, but I think we both agree that it should not only not be protected by law, but even forbidden.
I wasn't claiming that copyrights should be protected. I was pointing out that so many on /. have decided that a potential to gain money should not be protected by law, specifically because they consider it not to be "real". I think that distinction is probably better placed at the feet of the people whose view I was attacking.
Whether something should be protected, merely allowed or forbidden by law should not depend on whether you can potentially gain money from it. It should be dependent on whether allowing or forbidding it gives a net gain or net loss. For slavery, forbidding clearly gives a net gain. For bank accounts, protecting clearly gives a net gain.
I'm with you so far. You, of course, realise that this makes any quibbles over what constitutes property utterly moot, right?
For copyright and patents, the current system clearly gives a net loss. Completely removing copyright would probably not be a good idea, but limiting it to a much shorter duration (say, ten years from publication) I think would give a net gain.
Well, I don't think it's nearly so clear that it's a net loss, in that we would be better with no copyright than with copyright as it is now, but yeah I agree shorter terms would be appropriate.