Down with intellectual property

I’ve thought a number of times about how awful intellectual property is, and how it hurts us all.

I think I’ve mentioned before that the attempts to stop piracy, including the FBI warning, cost us more man-hours than piracy ever could. I’ve talked about how patent trolls hurt us all, as do companies that won’t share their innovations. (Remember how the oil companies got access to the patents for NIMH and wouldn’t allow EV-sized batteries to be made in the USA? And ponder how we could have magsafe-like connectors everywhere if Apple weren’t such dicks – not to mention the absurd idea that the iPhone was the first smartphone

Side thought, I think part of the problem is that the worst of us are the most likely to want to control the rest of us, so historically the bosses and political leaders are often the people you would least want to have the job. I’ve often thought this about things like the presidency but I think it’s also true on a much more micro scale.

Anyway, back to the evils of intellectual property. We *all* stand on the shoulders of giants – I talk about this in Resource Allocation As A Group – and yet over and over we let people camp out on and hoarde ideas.

I think I’ve mentioned before how every song ever recorded already existed before it was recorded – this is easy to prove, just consider that every song can be represented by a fantastically large number (after all, a digital file is really just a fantastically large number) – now start at zero and start counting. You’ll get there.

I understand that content providers need to earn a living – although in my ideal universe the need to earn a living would be removed since we clearly have sufficient resources to permit people to do whatever they want and still eat and live indoors, we’re starting to deliberately do things in massively inefficient ways in order to keep enough “jobs” because we feel like people shouldn’t be allowed to eat and live indoors unless they are working. (Awfulness is a popular theme among humans, and it’s catching.)

However, we clearly have gone too far at the point that we start allowing things like DNA to be copyrighted. Which we do. We allow companies like Monsanto to bully farmers because some pollen from a copyrighted strain of corn happened to blow onto their field. We allow copyrighting of DNA that originally came from humans or animals.. sometimes even without those humans or animals’ permission. And, DNA is another one of those things that’s just a really large number, so it exists in potentia even if it doesn’t exist in a concrete manifestation.

Think about how much better the world would be if all education and entertainment was available to everyone! But, of course, the message over and over with the modern world is Thou Shalt Not Share. And maybe given the lack of success of polyamoury the message I shoudl take away is that humans really aren’t into sharing – or indeed into happiness or success. Given nuclear reactions, most sane species would build NERVAs. We built bombs. Enough bombs to guarantee extinction.

I should probably stop here before I get even more depressed about our potential future.

3 Responses to “Down with intellectual property”

  1. Firesong Says:

    The copyrighting of DNA is indeed ridiculous. It’s like “discovering” Manhattan in 1990. Prior art, etc. If something exists already, nobody should be able to claim ownership of it. Hmm. Is that where you get the idea that nobody owns intellectual property? Because it existed somewhere as potential already?

    I think of the degradation of copyright law as another failure of capitalism. The larger the company, the more likely it is to get its way and become still larger.

    *hugs* But if humanity was fundamentally against sharing, we wouldn’t have a lot of the nice things that we do have. We’ve banded together before. People still do it on the micro and macro scale. You know that — you’re one of those people. You’re not the only voice in the wilderness. But you are a damn fine example.

  2. bunne Says:

    OTOH, if there were 0 rewards for invention, innovation, or artistry, we’d all be hunkering in trees and covering our junk – should we feel it necessary – with leaves glues on with dung.

  3. bunne Says:

    OTOH, if there were 0 rewards for invention, innovation, or artistry, we’d all be hunkering in trees and covering our junk – should we feel it necessary – with leaves glued on with dung.

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