So some Randian, Gary “McGath,” who had published a weak semi-anti-IP article previously, “Patenting Software Threatens Innovation” (his utterly confused and totally useless article pontificates, “Software patents aren’t a necessity. Without patents, code can still be under copyright, protecting its authors from copying without compensation.” Brilliant, Gary, brilliant)—well, he submitted a pro-copyright article to FEE recently, his article “Is Copyright a Right?” As with all pro-IP arguments, it is confused and incoherent.1 As he wrote in his email begging FEE to publish him, “This article’s thesis is that copyright is a legitimate form of property, based on the same principles as the right to tangible creations. The libertarian case for copyright hasn’t had enough representation lately, and I’m hoping FEE will help to balance the debate by publishing this article.”
Obviously this guy is just another confused Randian who wants to find some way to justify some type of IP protection for his pet interest, software, sort of how Rand searched for a way to find animal rights because she loved her pet cat, Fluffball, or whatever she “Objectively” called it. (But at least, in the end, she had the grace to admit she couldn’t justify animal rights—yet, like most libertarian novelists, she twisted her theories to defend copyright. Because, you know, that’s how you live, man! You got to have protection from competition from the state, man!”)
This amateur, pro-IP, statist submission was rejected by FEE (no surprise, as the founder of FEE, Leonard Read, was naturally against IP) but, I figure, hey, I’ll have a conversation, a discussion, with anyone. So I email him to offer this. I say:
“Tucker told me you wanted to publish an article defending copyright (surprising to me since I believe you opposed software patents in the past). Would you like to have a discussion about it via Skype or phone—not a debate, just a discussion. If it’s not a trainwreck I could post it on my podcast. If you are not aware, I’m a leading libertarian legal theorist and the world’s leading IP policy theorist, and a practicing patent lawyer (also opposed strongly to all forms of IP). Also a semi-/former Randian.
If you’re talking about offering some money (writing is what I do for a living), sure, I’d be interested in talking about it. My cell number is __. I’ll be around this afternoon from 1 to 6 PM Eastern time.
My views on software patents and on copyrights are two very different things; I believe that copyright is the appropriate level of legal protection for software. My view on copyright is that it stems from the same principles as property rights in tangible objects, coming from a more or less Randian position.
So it’s amazing to me. This is how these Randroid morons think. If you don’t “pay me” I won’t “produce” “values.” They are so… predictable. When I am offering to give him free services valued in the hundreds per hour, plus free publicity. Typical Randroid. You just can’t make this shit up. They really think this way. Unbelievable.
If you’re talking about offering some money (writing is what I do for a living), sure, I’d be interested in talking about it.”
Oh, not at all. I was offering to give you maybe an hour of my time, which is valued at $600 by the market, to help tutor you and educate you, and also give you a bit of free PR, since I’m well known and have a popular podcast. I would never pay you–if anything you could pay me, but I would waive the fee, as a pro bono type gesture, as part of my libertarian activism.
“My cell number is __. I’ll be around this afternoon from 1 to 6 PM Eastern time.
“My views on software patents and on copyrights are two very different things; I believe that copyright is the appropriate level of legal protection for software. My view on copyright is that it stems from the same principles as property rights in tangible objects, coming from a more or less Randian position.”
Yes, I gather you are a Randian. Her views on IP are utterly confused and flawed—her worst mistake, worse even than her mistake on anarchy. I thought you might want to have a conversation about it, but apparently you think you need to be paid for this, so again, let’s forget it. It’s just that I’m always willing to take time pro bono to try to expose errors people have in thinking about IP—either for the benefit of the person I am talking to, or for the audience.
You do realize, by the way that FEE doesn’t pay for articles, so you were willing to have them publish your piece for free (if they would have accepted it, which they didn’t—maybe some indication of the value of strained defenses of the fascist idea of copyright in the name of “liberty”).
Please do not call me.
Um. As if I had offered (“threatened”?) to “call him”. I offered him my tutoring.
Sorry, Gary, you sad sack. My reply to this … upstanding citizen: “Ditto.” Hey, your loss, Randroid. Your loss.