This is almost too ridiculous to read, but … see below. Just confirmation of my view that there are no good arguments for IP.
So likewise is any other author who takes money from a publisher while in the same breath arguing against intellectual property.
They’re like the flimflam man selling worthless snakeoil, or the usurer. They exchange nothing for something.
If intellectual property does not exist, then to take money by selling intellectual property is to take money selling that which does not exist. Which is to sell nothing in exchange for some thing which actually does have value.
The publisher is the one who owns the paper, pays for distribution and all other hard costs. The author produces the ordering of the words on the paper, an ordering which is by nature an ‘idea’. And Sheldon Richman writes ideas don’t properly exist as property. And thus Sheldon Richman is taking money from his publisher while giving the publisher nothing he owns in exchange.
Of course, Sheldon Richman is not actually a thief, because intellectual property does exist, but like the man who mistakes a virtuous act for a sinful act and does that act regardless. He is culpable of the act of being a thief.
The error Sheldon Richman makes is that he sees the world in black and white. It’s either this or that. But like most of life, truth is found in the mean between the extremes.
Like the issue of torture, justice is not black and white but relative to prudence.
What is known in principle is that a man is due compensation for his labor. And thus in turn an author or a pharmaceutical company is due compensation for the labor they invest in production of their product. No different than I owe a doctor for a consultation where I pay him for his knowledge.
After the doctor has told me what my ailment is, I can’t simply turn around tell him I’m not paying him because I too now possess the same information has he did. As an architect, I don’t sell paper and ink, I sell the information contained on that paper. No one in his right mind pays for random spots of ink on paper; which in turn is why some authors sell well, and others do not sell well, because what people are buying are the ideas conveyed by the paper and ink.
This is also why those who pay big money for modern art do exhibit signs of insanity, because they, for all practical purposes, are paying for nothing more than random ink splotches.
Property is not an absolute ownership, but an ownership relative to the good of society as a whole. Men are not islands, we are by nature social living is society, and it’s society which determines the nature of ownership of property, that is, ownership is subject to prudential judgement of what is just compensation in exchange for invested labor and other incurred expenses.
more to come. This post is currently being written, read at your own risk.
- Sheldon RichmanJan 25, 2012 02:32 PM
Your premise is wrong. I did not get paid for providing intellectual property. I got paid (as you also note) for my labor services, that is, writing. I own my labor because I own my person, so I am free to trade it for money. Intellectual property has nothing to do with it. You seem to think that others should have to pay me (and my estate for 70 years after my demise) repeatedly for work already done. That makes no sense.
You should now say what Rick Perry has become famous for saying: “Oops.”
- love the girlsJan 25, 2012 03:00 PM
Thank you for your reply.
You are not paid for writing any more than I as architect am paid for drawing. I’m paid for specifically drawing this house to be built on this land.
My clients come to me with a problem, I solve it and and paid for the solution. The paper is the means of the solution. Not the end.
Likewise a writer is paid to solve a problem. The end of his product is not the writing but the information contained within that writing. If he were to write nonsense, he would be writing, but he would not be producing a product which has value which he could ask compensation for.
If I were hired to pick grapes and I picked them and dropped them on the ground as opposed to putting them in a basket, the owner would be within his right not to pay me because my labor did not produce the required end.
And no I did not write that you or your estate should be paid 70 years. What I wrote is that compensation is subject to prudence and that a man should be compensated for his labor, i.e. productive labor.
For instance, if a writer invests 2500 hours writing a book, then let him be at minimum compensated a living wage equal to those 2500 and after he has earned a reasonable return, the book could be available for distribution without further compensation to the author.
What you have done, which is commonly done is divide the argument into either this or that where the solution is in the mean.
- love the girlsJan 25, 2012 03:08 PM
Mr. Sheldon writes : “you assume precisely what is in dispute.”
More precisely, what I do is point out the error of those who argue that intellectual property does not exist, if they in turn accept compensation for the product of their labor.