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    One issue that I rarely see addressed in these kind of rejections of intellectual property is a good economical model. Most people involved in creating something don’t do it for the money as such, but they do need to make a living and other resources to be able to do what they do.

    IMO any argument rejecting copyright should start with an economic theory. This usually gets handwaved away by pointing at some example or the other, but I feel that’s far too simplistic. In reality, most people are driven by various incentives with are complex and interwoven, and any system also needs to be able to prevent people from abusing it too much.

    Rejecting intellectual property would mean a massive reorganisation of our economic system. Perhaps this would be a good idea regardless, but IMO the focus should be there instead of these kind of church discussions. It seems to me that the FSF and Andrew mostly agree on the core issues, and just disagree on the best methods to enact them.

    All of this is easier said than done, of course.

    tl;dr: “It’s the economy, stupid”

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      One issue that I rarely see addressed in these kind of rejections of intellectual property is a good economical model. Most people involved in creating something don’t do it for the money as such, but they do need to make a living and other resources to be able to do what they do.

      I’ve seen this question in a few places and I find it incredibly odd. We have two activities:

      • Creating a new work (whether it’s art, software, whatever)
      • Copying that work

      One of these is a skilled activity that requires (often rare) talent, time, and human effort. The other is trivially automated and is so cheap that it’s effectively zero cost (economists refer to things like software as ‘zero marginal cost goods’: creating one may be arbitrarily expensive, creating the second identical one is free). Copyright defines a model in which people do the difficult thing for free and then try to be paid by getting people to pay them to do the trivial thing, with an artificial monopoly enforced by the state. That is completely indefensible as an economic model.

      Imagine if Henry Ford had given away motor cars for free but got the government to enforce a law that said that you couldn’t drive them on the public highway without a stamp from the manufacturer dated this year and built their entire business model around charging people a lot of money for the stamps. There would be a load of counterfeit stamps floating around and a load of money spent enforcing authenticity of Ford stamps and checking that cars had a valid stamp. If someone came along and said ‘maybe this could all be avoided by charging for cars’, would you criticise them for having an economic model that just points at some example or other of another kind of good that is sold with an up-front cost?

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        How would you do it?

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          The same way that I do now: Charge people for writing software, don’t charge them for copying it. If lots of people want a piece of software written and don’t each individually want to pay for it then there are lots of business models that can work on top of this basic economic model.

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            How will this work in practice? Let’s say I write something like an email client for Android, how will people “charge me for writing it”? The easiest, and most obvious, way to get paid is to have people pay when they download it (i.e. on distribution) like they do now. You could argue that this is paying for distribution rather than creation, but it seems to me that you are paying for creation, just post-facto.

            And software is just one part, of course. How will this work for music? Films? Theatre? Books? Other works or art and culture?

            This isn’t intended as a rebuttal, by the way. I’m just not sure if I follow how this would work for all of what copyright currently covers.

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              Let’s say I write something like an email client for Android, how will people “charge me for writing it”?

              You don’t usually start any business venture by doing something for free and then figure out how to get people to pay you for the work that you’ve already done. You start by working out what you want to do, then find people who want it done, then work out how to get them to pay you for it.

              So, you want to write an email client. Who wants a new email client and has money? Do they actually want a new one, or do they want bug fixes and features on an existing one? If it’s a new one, it’s a difficult sell, but if you have a really good idea then you may be able to crowdsource something based on the design. If it’s established, then there are some good ways that exist already. For example, Thunderbird is backed by a foundation that hires developers to work on it full time. A lot of open source foundations operate in a mixed mode of paying developers out of donations for things that the project leaders think are important and coordinating bounty-style things, where groups of individuals or companies will fund a specific feature and the foundation will act to collect and distribute the money.

              For films and so on, see my other post in this thread.

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                I think that’s something that perhaps works well for some kind of projects, but less so for others. Especially if you want to try something new you sort of have to build it first to see if it will work, and (potential) users or customers will have to try and use it to if it will work too. I’m not so sure that a “I have an idea, and now I’m looking for money to build it” will work all that great for many projects.

                Those open source projects that now pay developers often started as people building it in their spare time, without being paid. The donations came after they already put their work in to build and establish a project. (work they never got paid for).

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          Copyright defines a model in which people do the difficult thing for free and then try to be paid by getting people to pay them to do the trivial thing, with an artificial monopoly enforced by the state.

          This… is actually pretty interesting. I have to agree with your description of the current system. But what’s the alternative? I agree that it would make more sense for people to receive money for the creation of the work, since that’s what’s valuable, and not for the distribution of the work, since that’s cheap and easy.

          But I have no idea how that system would function. If you write and produce a Marvel movie, it costs billions of dollars. Clearly, given the number of people who go to see these movies, your creation is very valuable. But how will you get paid for it if not by charging for the distribution? Should each person individually pay for the creation in some kind of crowdsourced payment system? I can’t see how people would be incentivized to pay if they know that they’ll just get the movie for free if someone else pays for it.

          It seems to me that charging for distribution is really the way that we charge for creation; we just do it indirectly, and we do it for practical reasons.

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            I can’t see how people would be incentivized to pay if they know that they’ll just get the movie for free if someone else pays for it.

            The same reason that people have paid for art to be created in the past: because they want to incentivise creation of a particular kind of art. Something as popular as Marvel movies, you can imagine that if you don’t pay anything then there are enough other people that like them then you can probably get them for free if you just wait. If, after it comes out, more people think that, then the funding for the next one will drop. At some point, you have to decide whether it’s worth risking.

            That said, there’s actually been a bunch of research recently that indicates that people don’t think that adversarially when it comes to arts funding and are quite happy to pay to support things that they like and are much more likely to support paying for things if that payment directly goes to the people who created the things.

            The tricky thing is likely to be bootstrapping. It’s easy to get people to pay for the next thing from an established studio, especially the next thing in a popular series. It’s much harder to get people to pay for something new and experimental. It’s interesting to think of this in terms of TV, which actually has quite similar economics today: studios create programmes and sell them to distributors, distributors then show ads and try to recoup their investment. Studios set aside some of the money that they make on successful projects to subsidise pilots. That exact model would work if you cut out the distributors as rent-seeking middlemen. Studios would create pilots and give them away, get a load of free publicity from any that people liked, and use that to get investment from people who’d like to see something larger made.

            Creating a 5-minute short film, even with some decent effects, is pretty cheap. The Mandalorian is using the Unreal Engine for special effects: cheap mass-market game technology is sufficient for mainstream TV, for a rough mock-up to try to raise funding for a big project it’s more than enough. We’ve seen a lot of games created using crowdfunding over the last decade, there’s no reason that the same approach couldn’t work for other things.

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              The thing with crowdfunding is that you’re essentially “buying a cat in a bag”. When a movie is released I can read reviews or watch trailers and decide if I want to go; if I spend money on crowdfunding then I’m not really sure if I’m going to like the end result. It’s kind of a weird reversal, and goes against the idea of informed consumers choosing from competitors.

              Don’t get me wrong, I think crowd-funding has done some great things. It more or less revitalized the old-school cRPG genre with things like Pillars of Eternity – heaps of people have been eagerly awaiting such games for years but it was too much of a niche for the mainstream studios to pay attention to. I’m not so sure if it’s a good model by default though; it seems to me that it works well for these kind of scenarios where the regular market fails to cater to specific niches, but it goes too much against the basic idea of a (free) market for it to be the default.

              Personally, I’m not really looking forward to a future where I have to go out and crowdfund loads of films, movies, and games. I’m not really a movie buff or gamer and I’m not that interested in that kind of stuff; it’s just something I occasionally watch of play for a bit and I’m happy to be a mostly “passive consumer”. This would mean I’d rarely pay for anything, which doesn’t strike me as great.

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                For me personally, I’m not convinced that if we lacked a system of intellectual property we would therefore not pay for distribution. There’s plenty of ways to pirate movies or TV shows, yet people still go to the movies and otherwise pay for media. And piracy is not just for people who know how to torrent. It’s available to the masses. I have friends that use a jailbroken firestick (something called Kodi I think?) to easily watch any movie or TV show they want for free. AIUI, it’s using torrenting internally, but it’s available in an easy to use UI.

                Obviously it’s hard to say for sure what would happen, but I think a bit of imagination can help here.

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                  I don’t know; maybe that will be the case, but the rise of “free but problematic services” such as Facebook, gmail, etc. as well as the problems “traditional media” is in leaves me less than optimistic about it.

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          I do somewhat agree. It’s just not feasible for me to do that convincingly. It’s been awhile since I’ve read “Information Feudalism,” but I do believe they touch on this.

          And of course, even if I had an economic model, whose to say it would actually be accurate? Modeling something like this without any controlled experiments seems exceedingly difficult. And I’m not really sure how one would run a controlled experiment.

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            I don’t really have clear answers to this either; and it’s not like I’m massively happy with how copyright currently works either (something I wrote about before). It just seems to me that an “I am against system X” (whatever “X” may be) type of argument is incomplete if there isn’t at least an indication of what will replace it (a blog post doesn’t have to be complete of course – that would be a book – it’s just that these kind of things usually seemed glossed over.)

            Systems like this have some very real constraints on account of the combined millions (or even billions) of people using it. Perhaps our current copyright system is the best we can do with these constraints? I strongly suspect it’s not, but it could be? You can still have ideological objections of course, but at the end of the day people gotta eat and pay rent, so those concerns should be addressed … somehow.

            This is also why I don’t really like to talk about “intellectual property” as copyright, patents, and trademarks all solve very different problems. I don’t really have any fundamental objections against trademarks, as it’s mostly there to prevent bad actors from misleading people. There may be some problems with the current implementations, but the concept as such seems fine to me.

            Personally, the more I think and read about this the less sure I am of anything. The post I linked above took me something like four years to write, and it’s still a jumbled mess 😅

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              It just seems to me that an “I am against system X” (whatever “X” may be) type of argument is incomplete if there isn’t at least an indication of what will replace it

              I share your skepticism, absolutely. It’s a good rebuttal. It’s like a hot knife cutting through butter. I think the most famous instance of this is a defense of democracy by Churchill: “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

              I guess I know where I stand ideologically. I’m against a lot of stuff. And it’s not really clear to me what the alternatives would really look like. A lot of people have gone to great pains to explain how systems might work without a State for example. David Friedman’s “The Machinery of Freedom” is one such example. But is it really convincing? Or is it convincing enough to actually go out any try it? Even if one can put forward a feasible alternative, there is still the problem of actually making the alternative a reality.

              To me it’s three distinct issues: 1) ideology, 2) alternatives and 3) path to the alternative. Commenting on (1) without the other two is indeed a bit unfulfilling, but it does actually impact my behavior in some circumstances.

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                One of the tricky things is that current implementations of things like copyright or democracy almost certainly influence our ideology about these concepts. I’d like to think that my own ideological views exist in some separate plane and are disconnected from contemporary implementations, but if I’m honest with myself then they’re probably not, although I’m not really sure how much influence this has exactly. As a consequence, I’m usually a little hesitant to take these kind of bold ideological views.

                Either way, at the end of the day it’s about meaningfully improving people’s lives. Something like a saner limitation of copyright (10-20 years or so) is probably a better path at the moment for that than the complete rejection of copyright.

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                  Yes. I would rejoice if the copyright term were shortened.

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          There’s nothing all to controversial about this, in my opinion. Copyleft and the GPL are about maximising and ensuring user freedoms, not how many people use it, the freedoms of developers that aren’t users or rejecting the copyright system. If your goal is any of the latter few point, Copyleft licenses are not what you want.

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            Aye. I don’t think it’s terribly controversial, although “abolish all IP” is outside of all Overton windows I’m aware of, except for perhaps in tech circles. :) My main goal here was to put my stance down in one place so that I can refer to it. I’m asked why I oppose copyleft fairly often. It’s a nuanced position that is difficult to explain.

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              i think it’s likely for any nerd who grew up in the time of SOPA to have thought about IP and decided it’s unjustified.

              pretty much anyone that i show stallman’s copyright vs. community talk agrees with it (albeit he does not advocate for complete abolition).

              maybe it just seems like an extreme view because there is no representation for it in government or media.

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                maybe it just seems like an extreme view because there is no representation for it in government or media.

                Yeah, this is mostly what I had in mind. And the fact that a significant part of our economy (even globally) is tightly coupled with the IP system.

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                  there are a lot of things like that. child labor and other forms of coerced labor, dumping of pollutants into the ocean, and violence against people who stand in the way of scarce resources are all integral parts of the global economy that many are against.

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                    I’m not sure any of those are quite as coupled and embedded as IP, but I’m not sure how I would provide data to support that. And this is a meta point anyway.

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                      I would argue they are far more embedded, as they have been there centuries, whereas the modern IP regime has become dominant within the past half century or so.

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            A lot of this seems to be dressing up the core reason, which is that the author doesn’t want people to use someone else’s code instead because of his license choice. That’s a fair enough reason, it would be more poignant if it weren’t enlaced with unnecessary prose and weird arguments like how a perfect alternate reality might not have the four freedoms (okay, I guess). They’re still subverting copyright by using the UNLICENSE so I don’t get why copyright’s legitimacy is brought up at all.

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              which is that the author doesn’t want people to use someone else’s code instead because of his license choice

              That’s an interesting perspective. I never really saw it that way. And I don’t think it’s quite correct. Firstly, it’s not really how I internally synthesize it at all. I see it more as an intrinsic reward for sharing my code and having other people use it. It’s nice to know that I helped someone solve a problem. Secondly, if I publish some code with a copyleft license, the choice might not be, “use that or someone else’s code.” The choice might be, “use that or nothing at all.” Sometimes tools or libraries help frame problems in a new perspective that inspires folks to solve problems in different ways than they might have otherwise done it. I know that’s certainly happened to me many times!

              weird arguments like how a perfect alternate reality might not have the four freedoms

              I wrote that section specifically because it has come up on more than one occasion when discussing this issue with copyleft advocates. The crux of the issue is why I don’t support copyleft as a hack against copyright. One of the key points in that argument is that a world in which IP does not exist and a world in which the four essential freedoms are guaranteed are potentially quite different!

              They’re still subverting copyright by using the UNLICENSE so I don’t get why copyright’s legitimacy is brought up at all.

              Well, I dual license under the UNLICENSE and the MIT. So it’s not clear just how much I’m really subverting copyright.

              I brought up copyright’s legitimacy because I don’t see how else I can explain why I’m opposed to copyleft.

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                a world in which IP does not exist and a world in which the four essential freedoms are guaranteed are potentially quite different!

                Sure, but we’re not living in nor planning to move to either of those worlds at the moment, so I don’t see the relevance. I’m opposed to the existence of copyright too (agorist here) but still support copyleft, because any coherent resistance in this case seems preferable to none at all.

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                  It’s obviously a hypothetical situation. The point is to clarify my stance against copyleft. Where you settled seems perfectly reasonable.

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                  Well, I dual license under the UNLICENSE and the MIT. So it’s not clear just how much I’m really subverting copyright.

                  You’re using the copyright system, that’s made to limit how people can distribute their intelectual property, to publish your code that allows people to distribute it as they wish (or as specified under the UNLICENSE/MIT, which approximates “as they wish”).

                  Looks like subversion to me.

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                Something that’s often not mentioned in these discussions is the enforcement of terms like copyleft — as an independent author of small projects who wishes to keep some privacy, something like an international lawsuit is just completely infeasible.

                And if we ignore that and only use copyleft so that the honest, copyright-respecting megacorporations would ignore our code because their lawyers see the “wrong” license and say “nope”… WTFPL works just as well :)

                Namely, when I publish source code, one of my main goals is for as many people as possible to use it, regardless of whether it’s other individuals or giant corporations

                Heh, my goal is very similar, but not exactly this. My philosophy is that code must be published so that it’s not wasted. I don’t really insist on “promoting” my code, I don’t always care if as many people as possible do use it, but I do care that it’s added to the perpetual global collection/archive that is “code on the internet”.

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                  Speaking to burntsushi here, as he’s monitoring the discussion:

                  “Dual licensing” MIT with the Unlicense is an oxymoron, so you haven’t really made it any better. If I were a corporate where the legal department actually cares, I might want to avoid your projects.

                  The SQLite project holds a clear position, for example, and gives bullshit papers to those who need them.

                  Sadly I can’t do that here in Europe. I’ve resorted to attaching the Zero-Clause BSD, which is the closest unambiguous thing to what I want to achieve. It won’t confuse anyone. (Yet the trailing liability disclaimer is questionable in effectivity and even applicability. I couldn’t find any evidence as to whether this is merely brainless cargo-culting, or in fact anything at all that would discuss it in detail.)

                  In the end it boils down to an “I won’t sue you” statement, disguised in legally appliable text to support that.

                  It feels like if people really wanted to be evil, a lot of the open source legal base wouldn’t hold water, purely because copyright is such bullshit and so wildly interpretable. Luckily lawyers, courts and software analysis are all expensive, and there doesn’t seem to be any money to be made from it in return.

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                    “Dual licensing” MIT with the Unlicense is an oxymoron, so you haven’t really made it any better. If I were a corporate where the legal department actually cares, I might want to avoid your projects.

                    They empirically haven’t. And it’s not an oxymoron. Because it lets risk averse people select the MIT instead of relying on the less tested UNLICENSE. Did you click through to the GitHub issue in which I decided to go that route? It solved a real problem.

                    The 0BSD license is great too. I just prefer something that makes more of a statement.

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                      The point is: it either is copyrighted (moral rights), or it isn’t. There is no choice in between. And the Unlicense is not a license, it claims the work is in the public domain, so those are not licensing terms, hence no dual licensing, just opposing statements.

                      You’ve solved one man’s concern but at the same time you’ve created a legal nonsense.

                      It might be worth to ask the FSF for a more authoritative interpretation.

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                        I’m not looking for a choice between. If folks accept the UNLICENSE, then they can choose that. If not, they can more conservatively select the MIT. The UNLICENSE is quite likely just fine in the US, but other jurisdictions lack the public domain concept. If folks select the MIT but the work is actually in the public domain, then there’s no harm done.

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                          The UNLICENSE is quite likely just fine in the US, but other jurisdictions lack the public domain concept.

                          Actually, USA is one of the key juristictions where it is not legal to dedicate something to Public Domain and the main reason why CC0 includes a fallback license for such cases.

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                            Can you provide a source for this so I can read more about it? AFAIK, this is wrong. There are places where you can’t do a dedication to the public domain though. I believe Germany is one of them, for example.

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                              Hmm, I got the info from a fairly reliable source but when I tried to dig into it to give you a link I found https://www.jstor.org/stable/25151223?seq=1 which pretty clearly contradicts me. So I’ll go back to not being a lawyer now ;)

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                            Bad analogy: you can choose between: this is in fact not a horse but a stray dog, or that you can ride it.

                            At the same time you /assert copyright/ and /waive it/.

                            With actual licenses, this is different: they all declare a/ who it belongs to and b/ licensing terms.

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                              That’s not quite correct, because one choice is more risk averse than the other. In jurisdictions where public domain works, then folks can select the UNLICENSE. Otherwise, the MIT will be just fine. I see no problem here. In the risk averse case, the worst thing that can happen is that you use a piece of software in the public domain under the terms of the MIT. Is there some actual problem here that you can point out? I don’t see one. As far as I know, this setup has passed Google’s lawyers, which otherwise ban the use of software using the UNLICENSE.

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                                I think the point is that legally speaking, you don’t always get to choose one or the other as a user, both can apply simultaneously and because they directly contradict each other, an argument can be made that neither apply or at least one is void. Basically, you can’t license something that is in the public domain, you no longer ‘own’ it, so at the very least in jurisdictions where there’s a public domain concept, the MIT license cannot apply.

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                                  Right. But in that case, the software is in the public domain and thus there are no legal restrictions on using it.

                                  But yeah, dual licensing is always more complex than a single license. It’s my attempt at balancing activism with pragmatism.

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                      I see property as a means to non-violently resolve conflict over scarce resources. But ideas are not scarce, and thus, to me, they are not property and thus should not be treated as property.

                      I think this is a pretty interesting idea. Basically (correct me if I’m wrong), you’re asserting that the societal value of property is that it resolves conflicts over scarce resources. This is a good approach to talking about property; it avoids the values-based “I think owning property should be an inherent right” that doesn’t really produce a constructive conversation, even if I would agree with it. In the context of societal value, we can talk about which ideas produce societal value, and which don’t. In this case, you say that treating ideas as property doesn’t produce societal value because there’s no conflict over them, since they’re not scarce, and therefore there’s nothing to resolve. I like the argument.

                      The only thing that comes to mind is that there could be societal value in the incentive that potential property ownership creates. People are motivated by money to produce value. I think that’s pretty uncontroversial. If we declare ideas to be a form of property (patents, copyright, etc.), then people can have ownership over their own ideas, and therefore have the power to exchange the ideas for money. This creates an incentive to come up with new, valuable ideas.

                      Obviously what I just wrote is nothing novel. It’s the basic idea behind patent ownership. I just wanted to point out that scarcity isn’t necessarily the only motivating factor for a society to declare something to potentially be “property”.

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                        then people can have ownership over their own ideas

                        This is a recursive definition. It assumes the ideas we think are our own.

                        And the idea that patents were created to incentivise, or even have successfully incentivised, “the progress of science and useful arts” will find little support in history or even light googling.

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                          Abdolutely. And indeed, many debates around whether IP should exist or not amount to the anti-IP position trying to convince their opponent that people would still be motivated to produce creative works.

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                          IMHO, the author just wants the unfettered right to read, write and reuse code they hope will get popular.

                          Copyleft and Software Freedom makes no sense from that perspective; it’s just a different set of chafing rules.

                          I am a rather terrible activist

                          Only if the goal is for “the opposition of all forms of intellectual property.” But if the goal is for “opting out of the intellectual property system…”

                          There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance in this piece. “I care more about sharing my code as much as possible.” The author doesn’t seem to actually oppose intellectual property. I mean as in “oppose” as a verb. I mean as in “oppose” as an action.

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                            IMHO, the author just wants the unfettered right to read, write and reuse code they hope will get popular.

                            Copyleft and Software Freedom makes no sense from that perspective; it’s just a different set of chafing rules.

                            I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Could you elaborate?

                            There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance in this piece.

                            If you just mean to say that there is a tension between competing desires, then sure, absolutely! I don’t really feel like I shied away from that. On the one hand, I want to share my code as much as possible and removes as many barriers as I can. On the other hand, I want to oppose intellectual property to match by belief that it should end. So the question is how to reconcile them. And that’s kind of what I tried to explain and why I said I was a terrible activist: because I’ve found myself deferring more to the removal of barriers for sharing code versus actual opposition to intellectual property.

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                              First, I want to be explicit that I’m expressing my interpretation of this essay. I am NOT telling you (or anyone who reads this comment!) what you believe, what you feel, or what you think. Since you’re the author and this is your position, I could be wildly off and I’d be thankful for you to set me straight.

                              Could you elaborate?

                              Sure! I interpret what you’ve written as:

                              • You believe IP is bad
                              • You want to oppose it
                              • But you don’t oppose it

                              There’s a gap between what you say you want and what you say your actions are. The “courts […] have become corrupt”/we live in a society narrative seems like an excuse when even “light advocacy” devolves to MIT license use.

                              The reason why I say cognitive dissonance, as opposed to tension between competing desires, is there are no examples of actual IP opposition. You work hard to note exceptions because— and this is the important part— “I care more about sharing my code as much as possible.”

                              When I believe you and change my interpretation to:

                              • You care more about sharing your code as much as possible
                              • You want to do that
                              • You oppose IP, only insofar as it stops you getting what you want

                              … then the dissonance I see is resolved. ✅ consume copyrighted media. ✅ avoid violating copyright. ✅ signed a couple patents. ✅ dual license software under both the MIT and the UNLICENSE.

                              And to the point of the essay, copyleft: it’s a system that enshrines four rules that would hamper sharing your code as much as possible. So you oppose it!

                              Let me turn the spotlight on myself for a moment. I believe eating meat is bad. I want to oppose it. But I don’t oppose it. Practically, I care more about eating tasty food with friends. I want to do that. I oppose eating meat, only insofar as I won’t eat it if my friends also eat tasty foods without meat.

                              Reading my own words— which are true, by the way— IMHO I clearly don’t actually oppose eating meat. I wish I did! But I don’t. I hope you’ll excuse me for being a terrible activist for vegetarianism. 😉

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                                Seems to me that this is based on diverging definitions of “opposition” and “activism”? My reading of the original piece (which matches how I understand the terms) is that “opposition” is about holding (and voicing) the opinion that you’re against something, while “activism” implies acting on that. You seem to argue that “opposing” already requires action; I think at best that’s an unusal use of the term. (Perhaps it’s a translation issue?)

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                                  Yes, I think to oppose something requires actually opposing it.

                                  If I claim to hold a belief, but do not behave in a way consistent with that belief, do I hold that belief?

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                                  Interesting points. I guess I would say that my opposition to copyleft is one example of my opposition to intellectual property. Namely, I strongly support the four essential freedoms, but I resist the use of the copyleft to do it, in part, because it furthers the use of intellectual property. (Now, I also avoid copyleft for practical reasons, but I cited ideological reasons too.)

                                  Your vegetarian analogy is interesting. I think that’s exactly why I said I was a terrible activist. What would it mean to fully oppose intellectual property? Does it mean to avoid consuming any IP? To avoid producing any IP? When the system is all encompassing, it’s a bit harder to avoid than, say, eating meat.

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                                    What are other examples of your opposition to intellectual property?

                                    What would it mean to fully oppose intellectual property? Does it mean to avoid consuming any IP? To avoid producing any IP?

                                    If you oppose IP, then oppose it. Consuming or producing “IP” would be irrelevant to you; do whatever you want with whatever idea or expression you please. IP-ists would see your willful disregard as either criminal behavior or civil disobedience. Or go further, teach and help others how to step outside the IP framework too. Make propaganda. Make copying systems. You like writing code— make programs to disable DRM. etc.

                                    @A-Za-z0-9 may have found where I’m tripped up. When you say “oppose” do mean “I think and say X is bad.”

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                                      In not sure where the confusion lies. I was pretty clear what I meant by “opposition” when I said:

                                      While I oppose all forms of intellectual property, this opposition is rarely practiced.

                                      I’m not interested in arguing about definitions. I think your definition is weird, but what matters is my use of the word is clear enough.

                                      I’m not sure what more you want from me. I was up front about being a terrible activist.

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                                        While I [verb], but this [verb] is rarely practiced.

                                        You say you do something. Then say you rarely do something. Then you carefully list all the ways you don’t do something.

                                        I asked:

                                        What are other examples of your opposition to intellectual property?

                                        Question still stands. When do you do the thing?

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                                          I already told you what I do. It’s even in the OP. And now you’re coming off as pedantic and aggressive. I clarified what I meant. I answered. Back off.

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                              This is pretty much the party line for libertarianism / anarcho-capitalism. It’s a good idea and worth trying now, but I’m not sure how this type of thinking will fare in the distant future when a lunatic can build an atomic bomb in their garage. Unfortunately IP laws hide this danger and by the time DIY atom bombs are feasible it will probably be too late to do anything. Hopefully I’m dead by then.

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                                tl;dr use MIT license.

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                                  I was already opposed to copyleft when I read this post, but I found it very convincing and I feel like my position has shifted a little further towards being opposed to intellectual property altogether. I’m not quite convinced that the benefit of dual licensing beyond MIT outweighs the cost of not having Github parse and display the licenses properly, but I have more appreciation for the intent behind the UNLICENSE than before.

                                  Thanks for writing this, burntsushi. Also thank you for having such calm and thoughtful responses to all of the comments in this thread, it was a very pleasant read.

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                                    towards being opposed to intellectual property altogethe

                                    copyright abolitionists unite!

                                    I am happy to use copyleft as a strategy for now, but if we ever got close to a world where we could just weaken or end copyright I would jump on that bandwagon so fast.

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                                      I only started being opposed to copyleft after this FSF / Pirate Party debacle. It seems like a stark case where the means to the end wind up becoming the ends unto themselves: the FSF opposes shortened copyright terms because it shortens the applicable time limit of the GPL.

                                      Never mind that, if someone’s use case is fine with a five year old version of Linux, their use case would probably be satisfied with a BSD flavor anyway (in other words, I think the biggest impediment to just cloning a GPL’ed application to form a proprietary or MIT-licensed equivalent is if it has a constant stream of valuable updates). Never mind that SaaS allows software to remain proprietary with no intellectual property protection at all. The FSF basically decided that it was okay to harm the cultural commons in order to prevent companies from making proprietary forks of outdated versions of GPL’ed software.

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                                        There are many things where the FSF and I disagree. This is certainly one of them

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                                        Is there anything that would convince you that copyleft is counter-productive to abolishing copyright?

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                                          Given that that was my original reason for opposing copyleft and I’ve since switched my position, it seems unlikely ;)

                                          Abolishing copyright would of course make my copyleft strategies stop working, but that’s fine in the service of the greater goal. No strategy lasts forever.

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                                      Great write up, it felt like reading my own feelings presented in an organized manner.

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                                          I don’t see how admitting I’m a terrible activist while simultaneously doing what I can is “incoherent.” Maybe you could elaborate?

                                          And I don’t think I ever said or implied that copyleft was about activism… There’s a component of copyleft that’s activist, but there’s a big practical component to it as well.