Intellectual Property Archives



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March 14, 2011

Philosophers' Carnival 122

The 122nd Philosophers' Carnival is now up at Icthus77, with a link to my post on bad footnotes. Also of interest this time is Michael Billy's post, "Is 'piracy' theft?". I am in broad agreement with Billy on this one, though I don't have time to lay out my thoughts in detail right now, but let me simply say that the distinction between piracy properly so-called, theft properly so-called, and copyright infringement is, to my mind, a very important one because it is my view that property is a natural right, whereas copyright and patent are only statutory rights. This...
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January 24, 2009

Kant on Copyright

Regular readers are no doubt aware that I don't believe in intellectual property. That is, I don't believe that you can have property rights in ideas or, generally, in intangibles. I have, however, noted that I support anti-plagiarism laws, and even suspect that they are capable of doing most of the good that so-called 'intellectual property' laws do. (Our current copyright and patent laws, in my opinion, do more harm than good.) Kant, however, has an interesting argument (which is even more or less comprehensible - a rare find in a Kant text!) against the unauthorized publishing of books. The section is fairly short so I will publish the whole thing without authorization...
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July 21, 2007

Economically Optimal Copyright Term is 14 Years

According to economic analysis recently published by Cambridge Ph.D candidate Rufus Pollock, the optimal term for copyright is 14 years. Presumably, this means that a 14 year term would maximize utility across society in an idealized free market or some such. This is of interest to me because I don't believe that one can hold libertarian property rights in information or ideas (or intangibles generally), and so I take copyright and patent law to be constructed in the social contract (which means that its enforceability by goverment is limited, in terms of what the government is morally permitted to do),...
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December 6, 2005

Digital Rights Management Software: Everyone Gets Screwed

The New York Times (see also slashdot) is running an Op-Ed by the lead singer of the band OK Go (which I have never heard of) explaining why Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, like the stuff Sony BMG got itself in trouble with recently (see Freedom to Tinker, the blog of Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten, for all the technical details. Professor Felten first discussed the security flaws that got Sony in trouble here.) isn't good for anyone. In particular, the author argues, bands who have DRM forced upon them by their record labels end up being heard by...
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October 6, 2005

Recording Industry Counter-Sued for ... Well, Pretty Much Everything

From Recording Industry vs. The People via the Electronic Frontier Foundation newsletter: "Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother living in Oregon, has countersued the RIAA for Oregon RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of 'outrage', and deceptive business practices." The suit charges, among other things, that Ms. Anderson was contacted by legal council for the RIAA in regard to music downloading (which she has never done) and offered to allow them to inspect her...
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September 20, 2004

Badnarik Finally Comments on IP

On Slashdot today, Michael Badnarik finally comments on intellectual property law (see my earlier post on this here). The issue came up in the seventh question of the slashdot interview. While he doesn't give quite the answer I'd like, he does say that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act was a mistake, and he seems to think that the market should sort things out, rather than corporations lobbying the government to preserve artificial monopolies. He also seems to come out in support of file-sharing. Good stuff, overall....
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August 25, 2004

Download Music and ... the Government Will Steal Your Computer?

Also on slashdot today, a pointer to a Reuters story about a justice department raid on the homes of peope accused of the vicious crime of ... file sharing? Four raids took place, computers were confiscated but not arrests were made. John Ashcroft reportedly made idiotic and generally fascist statements to the affect that it would be "inappropriate" for the justice department to "stand by while such theft is taking place." Give me a break! Allow me to let you in on a little secret: If I can take it from you, without depriving you of it ... It's NOT...
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JibJab Wins

I had previously mentioned the lawsuit threat regarding the hilarious JibJab parody of the old patriotic song "This Land". Well, Slashdot is reporting that the case has been resolved and, as it turns out, the song was actually in the public domain to begin with, and the company doesn't control the rights after all. You mean there's still a public domain?...
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August 9, 2004

Rights for Authors - Not Publishers

Tim Wu, guest blogging forLawrence Lessig, notes that the JibJab parody of "This Land is Your Land" is actually supported by the family and estate of Woody Guthrie, the now deceased author of the song. Asked about the parody, granddaughter Cathy Guthrie reportedly responded "this parody was made for you and me." The rights are controlled by a company known as The Richmond Organization, and they are threatening to sue JibJab. The parody is hilariously funny and highly reccomended. The family's decision ought to stand, and the rights of individuals ought to triumph over the rights of huge corporations. After...
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May 31, 2004

Anti-Plagiarism Legislation as an (Almost) Adequate Replacement for Intellectual Property Law

I spend a lot of time here railing against the RIAA, et al., and it may sound as though I am opposed to intellectual property law altogether. This is pretty much the case. How, you may ask, can someone who is such a big fan of books, and plays, and science, and movies, and music think this way? The truth is that intellectual property law does help encourage production in these fields. I believe that people who create really outstanding works in these fields have a drive to create, and would do so even if they received no compensation whatsoever,...
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May 28, 2004

The Record Labels' Problem: They Are Obsolete

So USA Today is running an article about bands who support filesharing, and the reasons why bands support it and record lables don't. What it comes down to is this: filesharing (allegedly) hurts record labels, but it helps artists (financially). Why? Because the Internet is doing one of the millions of things it's advocates promised it would do back when we first started to get it in our homes: eliminating the middle-man. By distributing their music online, artists can generate audiences for their concerts (which is what they need to get money) without record labels. Furthermore, once they have generated...
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March 30, 2004

The Great MP3 Caper

I just found this awesome short film on the EFF web-site. Check it out.
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March 24, 2004

RIAA vs. Penn Students

Have you seen this morning's Daily Pennsylvanian? On the heels of my decision to blog (for the first time, I think) about this RIAA crap, it seems, coincidentally, that the RIAA has decided to sue some Penn students! Check out the EFF's Let the Music Play campaign to sign petitions and stuff to stop the madness.
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March 22, 2004

EFF Proposes Solution for Online Music Downloading

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization which focuses on technological issues, has proposed a very sensible solution to some of the problems related to peer-to-peer filesharing, in hopes of stopping the Recording Industry Association of America from suing more users. Check it out here.
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