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Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 1) 186

I'm thoroughly bored of this thread now, but I can't resist debating with one of my freaks.

You don't need to invent intangible forms of "property" to explain the operation of a bank. Ordinary tangible property is sufficient to the task.

Yes and no. You seem very biased against calling it property for "it can be explained in other terms" to imply that "it should be explained in other terms". Besides which, isn't all property just a series of legal obligations and agreements? Property could be described perfectly without making reference to the term property. It is through these that property is legally defined. If you think the term property should exist at all, I submit that you also need a better reason for concluding that a bank balance is not property.

The reason why bank balances (or more precisely, the duty that the bank has to honour its debts to you) is property is because it is valuable, it is legally tied to you to do with as you please. You may buy it, sell it, or trade it for its afore-mentioned value. What other attributes does it require in order to qualify as property?

Perhaps a better counterexample would be private information. Again, private information is valuable, legally tied to you, and able to be bought, sold, or traded. If it is not our property, then an explanation is required as why we should get any control over how it is distributed at all. Why should we get to control this information, and not other pieces of information? The reason is because, well, it's ours. You can try to carefully explain it, dodging any words that suggest ownership, but in the end, our private information is for us to use as we please, and for others to use only as we permit.

Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 1) 186

You, of course, realise that this makes any quibbles over what constitutes property utterly moot, right?

No, because property is a legal concept

Touche, but I was more thinking of quibbling over what we think should constitute property. If you want to cite legal definition, that's at least something we can independently verify. However, by taking this stance, you are also shooting yourself in the foot. You can't argue that intellectual property is not property, taking property by its legal definition, when the law defines intellectual property. Everything you said that property must entail is broken by intellectual property. To argue that it's not property, you have to ignore that it is property in the eyes of the law.

Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 3, Interesting) 186

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.

Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 5, Insightful) 186

Sorry to double post, but I wanted to add something extra (not that it contradicts your viewpoint in any way). All property is artificial. It's an abstraction of possession that's protected by law. Let's say that I have a banana, and you take the banana from me, with no previous arrangement made between us. I now no longer possess the banana, but you do. What is there in the natural world to say that I "own" the banana and not you? Clearly possession is not enough.

Our laws define ownership. Without them, natural law would basically be along the lines of "It's yours until someone stronger takes it". People tend to place far too much importance on possession, not realising that what really underpins property is a complicated series of laws, without which property would hold no weight. It is but another reason why picking on intellectual property purely because it refers to something intangible is not really a valid concern (not that you do that, of course).

Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 1) 186

However I demand that the number on my bank account is not modified in the process.

Can you give me an explanation as to why you would make that demand (you could be jeopardising your free car)? For a worthless piece of data, you seem awfully possessive of it.

The data on the bank is not the money. The data on the bank only tells me how much money I own.

That's fair enough. Could you tell me why you should get any control whatsoever of this piece of data which is stored on the bank's private property? Why should they not be allowed to change the number at their whim? I mean, if they decided to set the number to 0, it's not like you've lost anything. You had no money before, and you have no money now. The only thing that's changed is the potential to gain money. But as we all know from multiple discussions about the **AA and copyrights, potential to gain money is not worth anything real, and should not be protected by law. Or am I missing something here?

Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 1) 186

Clearly you accept that valuable items need not be tangible. And, from what I can tell, you accept that some intangible items should be subjected to property laws. You've now gone to the next logical step which is to argue that ideas specifically should not be treated as property. The theme of this argument is that ideas are more valuable with less restrictions on them, which is undeniably true. An idea benefits only those who can access its implementation, and the more freedom they have to use and play with the idea, the more likely they are to develop some of their own.

None of the above is in any serious dispute. The problem arises from cultivating ideas in the first place. Plenty of people can have some kind of a brainwave along the lines of "Wouldn't it be cool if ...", or perhaps mentally work out some of the details. However, it is a lot less common to find someone with the knowhow, the means, and the opportunity to make an idea come into fruition. This, of course, depends heavily on what the idea entails, but always the implementation is harder to foster than the idea.

None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. -- Thomas Edison

The 1% is cheap, and the rest is where almost all the value lies. This is the part that we support with intellectual property laws. As valuable as an idea without restrictions may be, the often overlooked genesis of the idea must be protected or encouraged somehow, because otherwise it makes no economic sense to expect people to put themselves through it. If we can find a way to protect the 99% of invention, while making ideas more free, I would support it 100%. Otherwise, I will stick with the best system we have until a demonstrably better one comes along.

By the by, not only corporations make money off ideas. Counterexample? Minecraft.

Comment Re:Not Thieves (Score 1) 186

Yes indeed, the kind that has never once inflated away to worthlessness.

But, if you disagree, I'd be happy to trade my 12 year old car for, oh let's say, 100,000 of those worthless, electronically-stored dollars? Think about it; you give me some worthless, replicable data, and I give you something that will give you at least a year's worth of transport. It's a positive bargain!

Comment Re:Because everything has a price. (Score 1) 349

He is saying content is bad enough that its price is zero. Meaning, people will only watch it if they get it for free.

But it costs you time and attention, no matter how much money you pay. Why would you even spend your time on something that's so crap?

For a minute, try thinking dispassionately and objectively

Why do assume that I'm not?

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