There is a war brewing over intellectual property, and although one can argue about the freedom of information, and how property is theft, and the free exchange of ideas is the foundation of liberty, there are things to consider. There is a lot of debate going on right now about copyright and other intellectual property law.

There is a need for laws protecting the ownership of intellectual property. We all live in a physical world full of material needs, and one cannot eat gratitude. An artist, writer, or inventor should be compensated for their intellectual efforts just as a physical laborer is compensated for their mechanical effort. Work went into the creation of that song, book, or invention, and to deny the creator of that original construct the opportunity to profit from it is wrong. If we lived in a world where one could live off of the high opinions of others, there would be no need for laws to allow a person to demand remuneration for their intellectual creations.

There is a great deal of abuse in the system, but that does not mean the system is wrong and should be discarded. We hear about the corporation that uses patents to stifle development, but we rarely hear about the inventor who used their patent fairly and in the manner it was intended.

Everything2 is full of writers. Granted, everything that is written here is given away, but many of the writers here hold down a paid writing job onthe outside. How many of them would be willing to give away all of their books, articles, and stories for free? Would you take the book manuscript that you slaved over for years and just post it on the Web for free? A similar question could be asked of artists, photographers, and sculptors.

A person who downloads a song that the artist hasn't given away intentionally without compensating said artist is stealing. One can sugarcoat it by pointing out the degree of damage is less than if it were property theft, but it is theft. One may dislike the layers of profit vampires that insert themselves into the transaction between you and the artist, but that doesn't mean that one should not pay for value received.

There are those that say that libraries give away information. That is not the case. A Library lends materials it has purchased itself. One must return the materials to the library when one is finished. If you make a copy from materials borrowed from it you are stealing, as your ownership was not part of the original transaction.

To say that ideas are the only thing that can both be given away and kept is true. However, specific applications of an idea are the property of the individual that created it, and should only pass into the public domain after a certain interval to allow the creator to be compensated for the effort that went into its creation.

Intellectual property law (at least in the USA) does not deny the people access forever, there is always an expiration period. All eventually passes into the public domain, where anyone is free to use it as they see fit. The current arguments against copyright and other intellectual property laws always neglect to take that into consideration.

I agree that there are abuses in the current system. Arguments against extending intellectual property protection beyond a reasonable period, such as the efforts of Disney to keep Mickey Mouse and its founder's other creations out of the public domain are very wrong and should be rightfully fought against. Attempts to subvert the intention of intellectual property law such as Disney's greedy attempt to keep material out of the public domain exposes problems with copyright law. However, that does not mean that Walt should never have been allowed to profit from his creations in the first place.

IP protection law is an extremely tricky subject, and people with more influence in the debate than I have argued it to a standstill. In a society where knowledge is power, original art of any kind is a fungible and very valuable commodity. Due to modern technology and the very nature of information as data, IP extremely difficult to control.

Pseudo_Intellectual says: re In defense of intellectual property laws: Yr e2 allegory is a bit curious, since taking our manuscripts and posting them on the web for free is precisely what we are doing by noding original material.

My answer to that is the material we provide here is given, not taken. There are those here who are professional writers and editors (myself included) who get paid for our work elsewhere.

unperson said, "I do strongly disagree with the statement that copying is theft. Copyrights are fundementally different (and more limited) than ownership, and violation of those rights is neither legally nor morally equivalent to theft. It would be fair to say that it's illegal and a breach of the social contract (thus, immoral). It's no more "intellectual property theft" than it is "creativity rape".

Let's say you write a song, perform it at a club, and then find out 100,000 people heard that performance via a bootleg recording. You can't sell the single to anyone now, and nobody paid you for the downloads. Were you raped or robbed?

This is a response to "In defense of intellectual property laws" by smartalix, who argues that intellectual property laws are necessary for authors of material that is easily copied to make a living. The problem with this is that lots of people make money producing pornography even though intellectual property rights are not enforced for that kind of material. Also, European authors, like Charles Dickens, ended up making more money from selling books in America when intellectual property wasn't policed than they did selling books in Europe, where IP existed. Whats actually happening is that people who distribute cheap copies of your work are advertising the author. Its counter-intuitive, but the people who copy your work and distribute it to other people are more useful to the author than are the people who paid you to produce it. That people are aware of your work is critical to an authors success. If enough people are aware of an author's work, then only a tiny fraction of people who have a copy of your work need to pay the author in order to make a living. And enough people will be paying you for it. Since the quality of the copy is guaranteed when its bought from the author. That's really important to some people. But the big money comes from the next book or episode that you produce. A lot of people can't stand to wait even a day for something they want. They'll pay to get it first. So that's the argument that IP isn't necessary.

But the case against IP is not simply that it is really expensive to enforce. IP slows the dissemination of new technologies and drugs and stifles innovation. Jonathon Hornblower would likely disagree with you that intellectual property helps new authors and inventors to profit from their work. James Watt, who was awarded one of the first patents for inventing the steam engine, argued that Jonathon Hornblower's independently designed and superior steam engine infringed the Watt patent. The legal battle destroyed Hornblower. The problem is that established firms can exploit the complexity of IP to prevent new inventors and authors from profiting from their work. So IP laws are not only not necessary for people to profit from their original work, but actually make it harder for a new inventor to win market share from an established firm.

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