[PHILOSOPHY] Intellectual Property, Your Thoughts

TL;DR skip to the last section

After listening to much Vergecast, and talking with a few people, I'm interested in your thoughts on IP. First, my perspective, with some background (pardon the length).

1. Scarcity, property, and justice...

Organisms on earth evolved in an environment of scarcity, where certain resources can't be used without limiting the degree to which others can use them. So to limit conflict possible due to scarcity, we developed norms about property in scarce resources according to a few general principles.

First, the homesteading principle says that an unowned scarce resource becomes the property of whomever first owns it. With concepts of ownership arises the principle of self-ownership, whereby a person becomes the owner of his self (a scarce resource by all means) when he becomes an individual with the capacity to act intentionally. From this groundwork, a final supporting concept has been termed the non-aggression principle, which says that aggressive violence isn't justified against self-owners or other property.

Universal concepts of justice have developed from these 3 pillars. It's widely accepted that scarce things can be owned as property (including you owning your person), and that it's unjust to violate the person or property of others.

The most basic, fundamental concept here is scarcity. Scarcity gives rise to property ownership; property ownership contributes meaning to language about justice.

2. Markets...

With theories of justice grounded in property to resolve conflicts over scarce resources—and with a little help from the division of labor—humanity developed trade and thriving free markets. These free market trade has facilitated the exchange of two distinct classes of resources which drive the perpetual technological progress that characterizes homo sapiens: the technology itself, and the information to improve it.

As scarce resources are consumed and diminish, another type of resource is multiplied: information, knowledge. Unlike scarce resources, valuable information on the market tends to persist and proliferate, and be built upon, as layer by layer it allows humans to raise living standards with improved technology.

3. Monopoly vs Market...

Societies have tended to support (or fail to oppose) political classes. This classes are called government, or more accurately, the state, and they form an institutionalized monopoly on violence. States characteristically assert authority, and begin to enforce a monopoly on law-making and law enforcement, and on taxation. It's important to note that state laws are backed by the threat of death, should you sufficiently resist the advances of enforcers.

The state consists of segments of a population who are above the general moral law; who, indeed, are expected to violate universal moral norms. So you can't claim people are parties to a contract which bound them before they were born, which they never acknowledged, never voluntarily consented to, and may in fact be actively opposed to—but if you have a gun and call yourself government, then you can call it a "social contract" and people expect its enforcement.

And people would recognize you as a sociopath if you went around claiming that because you have a fancy hat and fancy documents, you can decide what they can and can't do—but if you have a gun, then you can call yourself government and the rules laws, and people would expect their enforcement.

And, of course, you'd be laughed out of town as a lunatic if you danced around taking money from people in return for your "service", whether they want it or not, and even if they're actively opposed to it—but if you had a gun, then you could call yourself government and the theft taxation, and people would expect the payment.

In very recent times, people have appealed to the state for advantages to reduce their risk on the market, for protection against the unforgiving efficiency of free, competitive markets. The state has granted these monopoly privileges, notably in the form of patents and copyrights, aka intellectual property.

For the purposes of this discussion, the notable characteristics of intellectual "property" are:

1. It's a product of the state and threats of violence, not of free market trade.

2. It deals with non-scarce resources, whereas market concepts of property and justice stem from the possibility of conflict due to scarce resources.

3. It violates the non-aggression principle, by the use of force against the person and property of peaceful people.

TL;DR and Your Thoughts?

Due to the possibility of conflict over scarce resources, humanity has developed social norms around concepts of ownership and property. These norms have manifested as the homestead principle, the principle of self-ownership, and the non-aggression principle.

With these norms, the possibility for trade has given rise to free markets which drive staggering technological progress.

Due to the risk and demands of free market competition, people tend to seek unfair advantages (theft, cheating, slavery, et al.). With the recent rise of the modern state, this tendency has manifested as state-sponsored monopoly protection called intellectual property. Unlike all past concepts of property, this unique monopoly privilege protects non-scarce resources, and relies on aggression against the peaceful use actual property.

Fundamentally, IP advocates say, "If you apply non-scarce information to the peaceful use of your property in a way which violates a state-granted monopoly privilege, then I support violence against you, to the point of shooting you dead."

Do you support Intellectual Property laws and their enforcement?

If so, were you aware of the nature of your beliefs?

Now, how do you reconcile A) your support for universal property norms (homestead principle, self-ownership principle, non-aggression principle) and universal moral norms (don't steal, don't use violence against innocent people, someone isn't bound by your rules just because you say they are), with B) your support of an arbitrary monopoly on violence, and with said monopoly's enforcement against peaceful use of actual property (rightly-owned, scarce resources)?