Everything happens for a reason?


David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

Related Post Roulette

31 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


    Clarification questions.  Rather than argue for or against the status quo, I need to know more about your idea of the way things ought to be, because I’m not entirely clear on the way you think things ought to be.

    Does a maker of a physical object have a right to impose a license on the use of a physical object?  Can I sell you a shovel, but legally prohibit you from using it to make a profit?  You can use it to dig holes in your own back yard, but you cannot use it to dig ditches for a living.  Regardless of current usage, do you think this is the way things ought to be?  If you don’t, how do you square this with a belief that licensing restrictions are okay with non-physical property?

    What constitutes fair use, in your framework? Is there such a thing? If there is, is it moral for intellectual property holders to practically restrict fair use in an attempt to prevent unfair use? Who holds the burden of allowing fair use while disallowing unfair use… the government, the market, society, or the intellectual property holder?

    You implied earlier that one of your bones-to-pick with current IP laws is that they expire.  By implication, then, the first person to think of something has in perpetuity full ownership of that idea.  Is this a fair characterization? If it isn’t, at what point do you believe expiration is fair? If two inventors are working on the same idea at the same time, and they’re both putting in the work, but one of them beats the other one to the patent office because the second guy misses the train, is full ownership of the patent something that should go to the first inventor?

    Do I have a legal right to patent/copyright something, allow its use for free, and then later demand payment for the use of that idea?  Can (for one example) Tim Berners-Lee suddenly decide that http is proprietary and demand royalties on everything currently generating revenue on the Internet?

    Do I have a legal right to prohibit anyone from ever using something that I think up?  Can I patent something and then not allow the idea to ever enter the marketplace?

    Is there a difference, in your mind, between creative intellectual property (works of art, literature) and technical intellectual property (patents)?

    How do you determine provenance, when it’s so common in art that nothing is really new (the earlier Satriani/Coldplay example)? (edited to add): this sounds kind of inflammatory, change that from “nothing is really new” to “oftentimes parts of art are used again, possibly independently of the original use”, which is actually what I meant (/edited).

    Indeed, since many technical intellectual properties depend upon the existence of technical intellectual property that is already in the public domain, do you suggest that this should be undone?  If you don’t, how do you square that with justice?

    And finally:

    If I was Warren Buffet, and I right now today offered you a lump sum of $N (for some N you can decide for yourself) to do nothing for the rest of your life but make movies and distribute them online, in perpetuity, for free… would you do it, and if so, for what value of N?Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here’s my question:

    Let’s say that my great-grandfather wrote “Yes, We Have No Bananas”. Let’s also say that a new biopic of Che Guevara is coming up and uses that song (instrumental) as the background for half of the trailer for this movie.

    It doesn’t strike me as self-evidently true that I am entitled to money. Indeed, it would seem to me that any money that I do get as a result of this song making money (written before I was born) comes to me through no agency of my own and the analogy to the lottery is one that makes sense to me.

    Is it your argument that I deserve a taste?Report

  3. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Recent physics also suggest that you can never truly measure the position of any object, but that excuse hasn’t nullified my conviction for trespassing.Report

  4. Avatar Fnord says:

    Copyright isn’t applied to information in the sense Shannon and Vidral mean, either, except for a very special case of information.  Which is just as well, because a “copy” of a given book or movie is no such thing if you consider the quantum information of the original.

    I am reminded of RAND Corporation’s copyright claim to A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, though.Report

  5. Avatar North says:

    David, a clarification. If my memory of the comment thread is accurate the lottery comparison was not aimed at persons who create and copyright intellectual property but rather at their descendants who continue to collect royalties from their forbears accomplishments. If that is the case the lottery comparison is perfectly apt since the beneficiary of their ancestors accomplishments is in essence the winner of a biological lottery, to wit being born to an accomplished parent.Report

    • Avatar David Ryan says:

      Lottery indeed!

      Had their forebears had the foresight to make investments of time and money in real estate (done) or a business and associated assets not subject to easy out right theft or temporal garnishment (doing), said decendents would be sitting pretty. Why out here on the East End, there are folks who’s property claims span hundreds of years. 

      The only thing you’ve managed to clarify is that you haven’t thought very long, or very hard on the subject. As I’ve said a couple of times now, I don’t have much interest in arguing about the rights or wrong of Intellectual Property. The simple fact is that Intellectual Property is treated differently from other property, both in law and custom. That is the way it is. I find debating the right or wrong of this fact infuriatingly banal, especially since it tends to reveal how misinformed, selfish, and illogical most people are.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        When things are the way I want them to be, I dismiss discussions of morality in favor of discussions of tradition, pragmatism, and realism.

        When things are not the way I want them to be, I lean pretty hard on such things as principle, morality, or ethics.

        When I’m feeling frisky and don’t particularly care about things, I usually just attack the person making the argument as not having standing to make it.

        It beats masturbating.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Perhaps so, and that’s a harsh way for you to put it. But I don’t think you have considered the unique nature of the “property” in question. The whole point of intellectual property of this nature is its non-zero sum nature. If a song or a technique is copied the original creator technically has not lost any property of their own. A song is not diminished by being repeated, a design does not fade from the original schematic when it is copied. Land and other material property is pretty much by definition zero sum. It’s use is limited, you and I cannot eat the same apple, we cannot both employ an acre of land for different uses. Intellectual property needs copyright protections to encourage its discovery but those protections need to be loose enough  to allow it to have value and there’s very little merit to the endless copyright extensions that seem to be becoming all the more the fashion now a days.Report

        • Avatar David Ryan says:

          More on lotteries:

          “Psychologist Walter Mischel’s famous “marshmallow test” studies suggest that the ability to delay gratification at age six is a stronger predictor of academic achievement and social adjustment in young adulthood than many other traits. Does anyone really deserve credit or blame for merit that is due to influences before they were six-years old?… 

          “Everyone, liberal or conservative, wants a system that de-emphasizes luck or preordained status in favor of the merit we care about. But as McArdle, Stille, and others lament, one problem is that merit itself is increasingly determined by parental status.”


          • Avatar North says:

            The problem of the meritocracy is a worrisome one, though not I personally think, an intractable one. But it’s certainly all the more reason to not continue extending intellectual property indefinitly beyond the life of the creator. For one thing almost all of them inevitably end up in the hands of corporations, they attract specious litigation like a rotting whale attracts blowflies, entrenches winners of the biological lotteries and it stifles economic activity and further creativity.Report

      • Avatar Fnord says:

        For someone who doesn’t have much interest in arguing the right or wrong of intellectual property, you sure do it a lot.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Eaton says:

        “The simple fact is that Intellectual Property is treated differently from other property, both in law and custom.”

        That seemed to be the very point you were frustrated by in your earlier reply to my comment, however. You compared it to rental property and stocks, for example. The problem is that intellectual property, for all of its usefulness, is not a possession. Rather, it is a promise by the government to punish anyone who creates something similar to your work using their own time and materials.

        “I find debating the right or wrong of this fact infuriatingly banal, especially since it tends to reveal how misinformed, selfish, and illogical most people are.”

        If you aren’t interested in discussing the moral and pragmatic aspects of intellectual property law, I would highly suggest not writing posts about the moral and pragmatic aspects of intellectual property…Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

        Had their forebears had the foresight to make investments of time and money in real estate (done) or a business and associated assets not subject to easy out right theft or temporal garnishment (doing), said decendents would be sitting pretty

        I know of no capitalized investment that is not depreciated over some predetermined lifespan.

        Even many of the “real” values of land (mineral rights, location) are temporal and will be either exhausted (in the first case) or varied significantly with the market (in the second).  In short, no physical asset lasts in perpetuity, either.  Nothing does.

        Even money eventually becomes worthless, if you regard past performance as indicative of future return.  Every national currency in the history of the world has gone through periods of collapse at one point or another.  Hell, eventually even the land we stand on right now today will be uninhabitable, for whatever portion of land you’re currently standing on.  The cosmos dictates that it be so.

        Even outside of those obvious reducto ad absurdum examples in the last paragraph, the point that physical property depreciates stands.  In any event, if you’re equating physical property with intellectual property that opens up all the questions I asked above, which I asked in honest inquiry.  That mattock you wrote about?  What if all mattocks suddenly came with a disclaimer that you were only licensed to own it for 6 years and then you had to throw it away and buy a new one?

        The only thing you’ve managed to clarify is that you haven’t thought very long, or very hard on the subject.

        Apparently anyone who disagrees with you has by definition not thought very long, or very hard on the subject.  Because you’ve pulled this out immediately, certainly well before the people with whom you are engaging have had the opportunity to show that either is the case.  Indeed, you whipped this out on me when you conflated my question about actual hard property ownership with contractual obligations by assuming that I thought… uh, something about contractual obligations that I hadn’t articulated, which is at the very least reading very uncharitably.

        I like your posts about boats, your own blog is pretty interesting, and as I explore Tony Comstock land I find more I like and I bet I’ll find even more because you’ve got a good writing style, but dude, on this one point in the last week you’ve been basically just really damn rude.

        I get that the present state of affairs has fished up your first calling and I think that sucks hard core.  I can’t stress that enough.  I would much, much rather have a society where people who, as a first calling, wish to engage in the creation of art, and have the talent to do so… have ample opportunity to do so.  That gets you lots of slack up to a point.  Continually stating baldly that everyone that doesn’t agree with you on this point is either a simpleton or intellectually lazy is eating up that slack at a pretty fast rate.  If it’s too close to blog about it fairly, don’t blog about it… or if you do, stop thumbing people in the eye when they comment on your posts.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    “But recent physics theories suggest…”

    Every time someone says this with respect to a subject other than physics, a physicist punches a hole in a nearby wall.Report

  7. Avatar Jeff Eaton says:

    One especially enthusiastic commenter offered the extreme and ongoing value of this or that bit of Intellectual Property as being the result of a “lottery”, and if I read his tone correctly, by using the word “lottery” he seems to be implying that whatever benefit one might reap from the creating of said Intellectual Property is unearned.

    As the particularly enthusiastic commenter in question, I want to clarify several points that seem to be misunderstood. It seems a bit odd that my original, simple comment has caused so much confusion. I simply stated that if royalty checks from a dead husband’s photograph are the only thing keeping a widow going, we’ve failed as a society. In replies, you suggested I wanted a 100% inheritance tax, and now you seem to be suggesting that I don’t believe artistic success is earned.

    My point was not about creators being rewarded for their own work. Rather, I was suggesting the descendants of commercially successful artists “win an intellectual property lottery” under our current system of perpetual renewal. I mention this not because it is a general objection to copyright or patent laws, but because you specifically put forth the idea of an artist’s widow, supported solely by royalties from her dead husband’s famous photograph, as a possible reason to support the current intellectual property system.

    Ignoring the difference between intellectual property and tangible property like money, stocks, or real estate, the new point you bring up is equally interesting. The idea that success is borne of hard work and failure is the result of inadequate skill, dedication, or moral fortitude is an important myth in our culture. They may correlate, but any honest look at history (or even the present) reveals that one does not ensure the other. The kind of wild success that started the discussion — an artistic work so popular that it ends up supporting one’s descendants for a generation or two under the current copyright system — has less to do with hard work and creative energy than the vagaries of promotion, external cultural forces, and so on.

    Wild commercial success for any artist is rather like winning the lottery in that sense. I was the co-author of a book, for example, that ended up netting roughly 50-60x the sales it was originally supposed to get. That helped a lot! Not “keep my wife secure once I pass on” help, but it certainly paid for the time I spent working on it. However, that success was due in large part to excellent timing and other circumstances beyond my control. Other equally gifted and talented writers working in similar fields labor much harder for a fraction of the return.Report

  8. Avatar Sanchez says:

    This blog has really gone to the dumps with the addition of asshole bloggers like this one and Tom Van dyke. Maybe you guys need to slow down a bit and not keep adding on new bloggers like there’s no tomorrow. With ED Kain rarely posting here now since he got his Forbes gig, there’s less and less reason to read this blog anymore.Report

  9. Avatar David Ryan says:

    I beg you excuse my pique.

    I’ve been asked about a shovel, sold under a covenant. Physical objects and real property are sold under limited usage agreement all the time. Home owner’s associations, non-compete clauses, zoning restrictions, etc.

    Why shovels (generally) aren’t under sold under covenant might be a question that interests me. Whether or not the shovel maker has the right to sell his shovel under these terms is not.

    Now you’ve you’ve brought depreciation, terminating with a question about a (theoretical) mattock. The answer is simple. If suddenly all mattocks came with such a disclaimer. I’d buy a hoe.

    I do not believe that there are songs (or whatever) that are so very unique and so very important that their being “locked up” in copyright is a culture-threatenning crisis. There is an entire genre of stock music production call sound-alike. Riffs are and melodies are ripped off (nearly) wholesale, and it’s completely legal. (I have, on occasion, had reason to commission sound-alike music.)

    The notion that the extension of copyright for 5, 10, 100 years past a creator’s death to the very few works that anyone cares about two days after they are released is some grave and terrible threat to creativity doesn’t strike me as well-founded.

    I’m very much alive and kicking. All of my works that are valuable enough to make whether or not they are protected by copyright, or even can be protected by copyright an issue have been produced in the last decade. Whether or not my films will continue be valuable enough to benefit from post mortem protection, or whether such protection will be possible is an abstraction I simply don’t have the mental horsepower to contemplate.

    I’ve said, “Technology and norms around the production, distribution, and consumption of entertainment have changed in a way that make it unrewarding to continue to do my work, so I’m doing something I believe will be more concordant with this new era” and the response has (repeatedly) been “What do you think about the extention of the term of copyright that will only benefit corporations?” (Perhaps a brusque synopsis, but you get my drift.)

    I’ve demurred (with varying levels of grace) on the question of what our Intellectual Property laws and customs can and should be, and in response I’ve been pressed, by you, and others. My answer is simple: I don’t know.

    Against hope or intention (I meant it as pure commentary), the Help Wanted post has yielded a hire. Judging by his work, the fellow is creative and detail oriented. By the accounts of his previous employers, he’s several deviations from the norm reliable. I’m pleased to say that what I can offer him as a boat builder on the Mon Tiki Project constitutes a raise compared to his current wages working at a Prestigious Cultural Institution in our nation’s capital.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Pat, Jay, Gentlemen. May your day be filled with abundance!



    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I do not believe that there are songs (or whatever) that are so very unique and so very important that their being “locked up” in copyright is a culture-threatenning crisis.

      There are books that are no longer in print that cannot be re-printed because of copyright claims. Google books found this out very recently, for example. There are millions of original documents that can’t be reproduced electronically due to these laws. Not just fiction, but non-fiction. Sure, it could easily be argued that cream rises to the top and all of the stuff that was worth reading in 1955 that is still worth reading is still in print… but I know of several philosophy books that sell for a hundred dollars (or more) used that are not available anywhere else and unable to be copied electronically due to copyright concerns on behalf of people long dead.

      A more excitable commenter might make a comparison to the Library of Alexandria.

      If we don’t want to explore the “ought”, we can always explore the “is”:

      Copyright, as it exists, protects corporations like Disney without protecting artists like you. We’re not even in “the law in its majestic equality” territory, here. The law, in theory, protects everything original including this very comment of mine. In practice, it only protects Steamboat Willie… and strengthening it will only protect Steamboat Willie more without protecting the little guy.Report

    • Avatar Copernicus says:

      How can you steal something that doesn’t exist?  At least in our three-dimensional universal–okay, four if you include space-time–but intellectual property  (ideas and Freude, schöner Götterfunken*Tochter aus Elysium,knowledge) is not owned by anyone.   That’s like telling you I’m filing charges for stealing my nightmare last night. This is an interesting subject–admittedly, I’m hardly qualified to even discuss this subject but I do find it interesting.   Let’s say you happen to be eating outside in a restaurant,  and a rather eccentric man passes by, his arms flailing away, conducting an imaginary orchestra, all the while he’s whistling, humming, singing a most captivating melody that utterly mesmerizes you–the distinct words,
      “Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium…” you’re mad with rapture, sending you home in a totally frenzied state, you get home and write down the words and melody putting it poems, pianos, violins, short stories, jokes, etc. And guess what. You’ve just stolen Beethoven’s 9th symphony! But have you? I have NO idea. I need help with this dilemma. Please comment with any ideas. Many thanks and a very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at the League of (anything but) Ordinary Gentlemen–the coolest cats on the Internet.

      Jason, a dire and urgent call to have you nominate Oscar Peterson’s, “Hymn to Freedom” as the theme song for Beethovenian Libertarians. Beethoven was a true Libertarian–read his thoughts about Napoleon sometime. Or his thoughts/music about freedom, nobility, God, Fidelio, Leonore, death, die Seele, Christ. Just listen to his gorgeous masterpiece!!


      “I will seize Fate by the throat. It will not wholly conquer me! Oh, how beautiful it is to live – and live a thousand times over!” -LvBReport

      • Avatar Copernicus says:

        Interestingly enough, I just thought of a very similar situation that actually DID happen.  To Mozart, no less. When he was about 10 years old, his father had taken him and his sister to visit the Vatican.   A piece of music  was to be performed–apparently, music that was so esoteric, mystical, possessing great powers, that it was hidden and not to be seen by anyone but a very select few.   Was this an obstacle to the young Mozart?  HAH!  He listened intently, went right home and wrote the entire piece of music–about 12 minutes long, complete with all vocal parts and words. We’re talking about an extremely complex, contrapuntal piece of music. Yes, from the first note to the last, he wrote the entire composition down without a single mistake.  To say the very least, this is just mind boggling.  So, was the precocious young Mozart guilty of intellectual property theft?   Considering this happened back in the mid 1700s and considering this happened in the Vatican, it’s surprising he wasn’t burnt at the stake.Report

        • Avatar Jeff Eaton says:

          “So, was the precocious young Mozart guilty of intellectual property theft?”

          No. He was guilty of copying someone else’s work, but “intellectual property” is an agreement between the state and a creator to punish other creators who make similar works. One might as well ask if the young Mozart was guilty of moving violations or securities fraud. This gets especially interesting when you ask whether Disney was guilty of intellectual property theft when it released Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, etc. As derivative works, they were utterly dependent on the earlier creative efforts of other artists.

          Before going on, I want to emphasize that I am not attempting to justify stiffing creators or violating the law, just exploring why there is such a disconnect in how many people feel about the matter.

          The underlying problem, really, is that copyrights and patents are a hack. What we want to do, culturally speaking, is reward creative people for the up-front work of creating things. Before easy mass duplication arrived, this wasn’t terribly problematic. You had child geniuses like Mozart who could listen to complex music and copy it later, but the very act of copying was difficult enough that most people would see it as an act of creation on its own. People who can recreate another artist’s paintings, stroke for stroke, aren’t called pirates, after all. They’re called forgers, and we understand that it’s a different kind of crime. In past eras, as long as they didn’t sign someone else’s name to the painting, it wasn’t even considered a problem.

          In that kind of environment, there is also little incentive for someone to copy and give away a creative work. Either it required considerable manual labor, or up-front investment in manufacturing facilities, or the cost of materials was nontrivial, etc. To reward creators in that sort of an environment, we’ve attached the legally enforced value to the tangible representation of the creative act, and rewarded creators by promising to punish anyone else who attempts to create new “incarnations” of the creative work without the original creator’s permission.

          The problem is that as the ease of duplication increases, “free riding” on the original creator’s work becomes easier and easier and the general public’s perception of value in the individual copy drops dramatically. Photocopying a book is laborious, and certainly not free in terms of toner and paper costs, but easier than setting up a printing press. Recording a song off the radio and using it to make a mixtape for a friend takes work, but it is far easier than setting up a studio and re-recording the original artist’s music.

          At that point, copyright stopped being a check on unscrupulous manufacturers and publishers, and became a restriction on people who wanted to do something with their own cassette recorders, or their own photocopiers, or their own theater troupe. People understand that stealing a CD or a book or a set of plans from a store is wrong, but legal restrictions on making one’s own copy with one’s own materials reveals the hacky disconnect between where true value lies, and what our system protects legally. It was still sustainable, though, because it took some work in time and materials to create the duplicate, and the quality of the homegrown duplicate was lower than “authorized” duplicates.

          With the advent of digital duplication, however, even that collapses: you have essentially unmeasurable marginal cost, and the act of creating a perfect copy is so easy that it is impossible not to create duplicate copies of a creative work in the process of enjoying it. That’s where the hacky workaround of copyright reveals itself. We’ve historically attached value to the creating of copies rather than the creating of the original work, but now the actual perceived value of a single copy is nil: if I select a file and duplicate it ten times, have I created ten times the value? No, I’ve simply flipped a set of bits that were already there.

          The problem is of course much, much bigger than that. But the crash in the perceived value of an individual copy is, in my opinion, one of the reasons we have such a profound disconnect between public feelings about copyright violation and the law.Report

          • Avatar David Cheatham says:

            Yes. As I’ve argued in other venues, whether or not we ‘want’ copyright is a moot point at this time. The fact is, for copyright to work, as you say, it requires some sort of cost. Not just making the ‘copy’…but distributing it. Copyright would  probably be fine with CD burners but without an internet.

            In the past, making and/or providing copies cost money and time, so all copying was either internal personal and friend use (And frankly no one cares about mix tapes.) or an actual business set up to violate copyright and sell at a profit, where violators can be tracked down. In that universe, copyright works.

            In this universe, it doesn’t. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m not saying I want to get rid of it, I’m not actually stating any position at all. I’m stating a fact. In this world, the sky is blue, and copyright law doesn’t work anymore.

            It doesn’t matter what the laws say, it doesn’t matter if the laws are a very good idea, it doesn’t matter if there’s some moral purpose to them, it doesn’t matter if society will crumble if those laws do not exist. The fact is, in a society where everything is on a computer and can be instantly and infinitely copied, it is physically impossible for copyright laws to work. Doesn’t matter if we want them or even need them to work.

            DRM tried to make this harder, and unlike most people I have to say kudos to someone for actually understanding the problem and trying to stop it by imposing added copying costs…but the fact that DRM is utter nonsense and cannot work loses them the points they just gained. If a computer can decode information to present it to a person, it can decode information to store an unencoded copy of it. The entire premise is stupid.

            So I urge people who think copyright law actually serves a purpose to try to figure out exactly how to fix it. It cannot work in this world. (Alternately, you could attempt to undo the information revolution. Good luck with that.)Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              “Copyright would probably be fine with CD burners but without an internet.”


              “I urge people who think copyright law actually serves a purpose to try to figure out exactly how to fix it.”

              My proposed fix is that people stop insisting that it’s broken.

              The fact that I can use a bulldozer to smash down your fence and drive on your lawn doesn’t mean that I’m not trespassing. The existence of bulldozers does not “break” trespassing law any more than the existence of easy copying “breaks” copyright.

              The issue is that if I take a bulldozer and smash down your fence and drive on your lawn, we all agree that, under the law, I am in the wrong. The problem with copyright is that we haven’t had hundreds of years to get used to easy mass distribution. We don’t understand that we’re smashing fences and driving on lawns because we haven’t spent our whole lives knowing what a fence means.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                … because suddenly lending a copy to your friend becomes wrong.

                Nah! The key thing about intellectual property is that it spreads via word of mouth. Get fifty hundred people playing your videogame, and you can start charging a nickel or a dime. What’s that game about cubes called again? The one all the autistics play? Yeah, just like that…

                I don’t agree that the person distroing Mystery Science Theater 3000 is doing something bad.

                I also disagree with the idea that these people aren’t willing to pay reasonable prices for reasonable goods. That their prices ARE lower than what’s currently being charged is easy to tell.

                But I bet you dollars to donuts that many folks buy the MST3K dvds when they come up on WOOT, even when they already have the tapes.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Happy Thanksgiving, Pat, Jay, Gentlemen. May your day be filled with abundance!

      Thanks!  Just started paying attention to the Internet really after a few days basically off.  Food coma.  I hope yours was more than satisfactory as well.  Sorry I got snarky.

      Physical objects and real property are sold under limited usage agreement all the time. Home owner’s associations, non-compete clauses, zoning restrictions, etc.

      The question wasn’t “does this happen”… the question was, “do you think this is the way that it ought to be?”

      The answer is simple. If suddenly all mattocks came with such a disclaimer. I’d buy a hoe.

      The point is that in principle, extending your as-yet-not-fully described theory to the general case leads ultimately to all physical device manufacturers who have intellectual property rights to their devices selling *everything* with a license agreement.  You can, of course, posit that “shovels won’t ever be under patent” because they’re currently in the public domain and nobody can prove provenance, but that brings in other questions as well.  If there ought not to be a public domain (which you haven’t answered, but I suspect you’re sympathetic to by inference)… then it stands to reason that we ought to get rid of the public domain that we have.  Indeed, if everyone thinks of IP as just like other property, getting rid of the public domain is just like getting rid of federal lands, on the basis that the private market will handle it better than the government.  It makes no sense to have some things grandfathered in and others are not.  Perhaps the government will establish formal patents for things that are under the common domain and sell the patents to license holders, like they did with the spectrum.  Perhaps none of this will come to pass.  Personally, the possibility makes me shudder.

      I’ve demurred (with varying levels of grace) on the question of what our Intellectual Property laws and customs can and should be, and in response I’ve been pressed, by you, and others. My answer is simple: I don’t know.

      Well, that’s certainly fair enough.  “I don’t like what I see, but I don’t know what would be better” is an answer I’ve come to myself on more than one occasion.

      Have you looked at Kickstarter?  I know right now of seven different projects that have had life due to Kickstarter, that would not have otherwise.  These range from a $6K idea to a $75K idea to a $250K movie.  If you ever wanted to complete one of your projects and “I need to get paid X to make this worth my while” is a calculus that is doable, starting a Kickstarter project for such an animal can possibly net you X.

      It might not give you the amount the movie is worth over all time, but if getting paid enough to make movies (or, at least, finish something you have partially in the can) is keeping you from finishing that last project…Report