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Ideas can be owned (by means of a medium)

UPDATE: I felt it necessary to clarify that the article below argues for ownership by means of a semantic modification in language which ties the idea with the medium making them a single thing which can thus be owned to the extent to which it is your own medium that we're talking about. But if we view ideas as conceptually distinct from the medium yet realize that ideas cannot exist without the medium then ideas themselves cannot be owned. However by ownership of the medium (your brain cells, computer storage media etc.) you can deny a conveyance/download of your idea unless the downloader agrees to your terms which creates a contract.

Please keep these two possible ways of looking at it in mind as you read since this semantical difference is a difference between saying "ideas can be owned" and "ideas can't be owned but mediums can".

A lot of the past discussions on this site involved the question of idea ownership, mostly as part of the overall discourse on Free Software. I've usually been the one to state that ideas cannot be owned or at the very least fall under some sort of collective ownership. Today, however, I believe I was wrong. Not only do I no longer believe in collective ownership, but I do believe that ideas can and are being owned as good old fashioned private property.

Collective Ownership vs. No Ownership

First, here is some reasoning behind my lack of belief in collective ownership. By definition, ownership implies exclusive and absolute control over something. Collective ownership should thus imply that a given collective, essentially a group of people, has exclusive and absolute control over a thing. However, this is a logical impossibility because a group is merely an abstraction for a number of individuals. A "group" is not a singular being that can act or think and thus exercise any sort of control by itself. What's left to claim then is that ownership is simply shared by individuals within that group, but that brings about another logical impossibility based on the conflict with the very definition of ownership as exclusive and absolute control. How can two persons have exclusive and absolute control over the same thing?

Just as two persons cannot occupy the same point in space at the same time two persons cannot own the same thing at the same time. An owner of the thing can merely contract with other people on terms of use, but (s)he still remains an owner. The provision for use does not imply that ownership is somehow transfered. Ownership thus remains individual and cannot be anything but individual.

I have also sometimes in the past asserted that perhaps ideas simply cannot be owned thus saying that some things, by their nature, cannot be owned at all. However, this seems to contradict certain reality based facts which everyone can easily observe. If I don't own something it simply means I don't have a right to exclusive or absolute control over it. If I don't own an idea then that means that I don't have exclusive and absolute control over an idea in my head. How can that be, though, if I have control over all of my thoughts? It implies that I am not the one to decide and indeed nobody is, whether an idea in my mind is to be used, considered, shared or done whatever else with. It's like the idea, then, as far as any human being is concerned, does not even exist to begin with. And that obviously is not true.

The concept of non-ownership is usually based on the claim that the nature of the thing being considered is such that it cannot be subjected to absolute and exclusive control. In essence, it is a claim that ownership depends on the nature of the thing. But according to this almost anything could be claimed as impossible to own. You cannot bend a rock, thus you have not absolute control over a rock and so you cannot own it. You cannot turn yourself into a unicorn and thus you don't own yourself. And so on. But if this was really so, and ownership didn't exist, then how come you are even capable of reading this? How come that your eyes cannot be used in the same fashion at the same time by someone else? How come that when you eat something only you can digest it at the same time and nobody else, and you have to eat to survive. All of this contradicts the idea that ownership doesn't exist and in fact poses that it is impossible not to exist.

But most of all, this rationale for denying the existence of ownership leads to complete dismissal of that which makes a thing to be what it is. Thus denying ownership of it is also like denying its nature as what it is. This reasoning effectively comes down to this: "If a rock cannot be anything else but a rock it cannot be owned." But if a rock was anything else but a rock, there would not be a rock whose ownership would have to be considered in the first place! It is in the nature of a rock not to be bent. It would not be a rock if this wasn't so, thus a question of whether you can own a rock or not cannot even be asked before we establish a rock as a rock.

This gives way towards a conclusion that ownership as an absolute and exclusive control over a thing implies only such control that is permitted by the nature of the thing. In other words, you can own everything (ownership of which rightfully belongs to you), but you are not a god. You cannot bend objective reality.

The same goes for ideas.

Yes, ideas can be owned.

So lets bring this to the point. It is in the nature of an idea that it cannot exist outside of a mind and that it can be shared only by means of communication between minds. The fact that you cannot exactly turn an idea itself into a physical thing (you can only make a physical representation of it), does not mean that you cannot own it. This is because it, the idea, would not be an idea, if it also had the ability to be physical.

It's even easier to attack the more common argument against idea ownership, however, which is rooted in false belief in the concept of collective ownership gone awry. If you believe in collective ownership you might also believe in that ideas cannot be anything but collectively owned, if nothing then because of how easy it is to share them. This leads to complete ignorance of the fact that a single idea does not exist within multiple minds at the same time. Enter the concept of copies.

If I have an idea I have control over it to every extent to which it is by the nature of an idea possible to have control over it. So I can decide to keep it to myself, write down words representing it in a private place or create that which the idea is about. Or I can decide to share it with others. If I share it with others, however, what happens is that I am simply making copies on the fly. Me communicating my idea to someone else is not a process of moving the idea from my mind to someone else's mind because in that case the idea would no longer exist in my mind. It is a process of copying. So as soon as you communicate an idea to someone else there are now two copies of the idea, one is owned by you and another is owned by the one you copied it to, by your own decision.

Those in the free software movement reading the title of this article may have assumed that this article suggests that proprietary software is based on sound principles and that there is nothing wrong with intellectual property. As you might be able to see by now, however, it rather suggests the opposite as far as support of proprietary software goes. If I own an idea I can decide not to share it, but if I do, I've made a copy to someone else's mind and by that act alone gave up ownership over that other copy. So that someone else now owns his own copy of an idea and should therefore have the same exact rights you had over your own copy. Proprietary software licenses are contracts which (try to) override this and use the government's copyright laws as a base and blueprint of such contracts and its police as their enforcer.

This override happens when the one who is about to make a copy of an idea or a software program or a piece of music (they all have similar qualities to ideas) seeks the recipient to agree to certain terms under which this second copy is going to be used and by doing so cede ownership rights over this copy to the one making it. Therefore proprietary contracts applied to copying and distribution of ideas are about establishing monopolies of ownership over all copies of the idea.

Clearly, there are significant problems with this. It is not that such contracts are invalid by themselves. Two or more people can agree to all kinds of terms, no matter how difficult it may be for them not to actually break them, but as far as asking of someone not to act as if (s)he owns an idea being copied to his or her mind's possession it could almost be said that the nature of ideas simply don't allow for such restrictions, and hoping to successfully seek them is fools quest. In that case, if you made a copy of your idea to someone else, you should probably forget about controlling it, and if you don't like that, then simply don't copy them in the first place. Keep it to yourself. Note that I am not making that claim here myself. You decide on that for yourself. I concede only that because of nature of ideas, restrictive idea sharing contracts are impractical and difficult to follow through.

Why is such restrictive licensing still so widespread despite such drawbacks is an interesting question, but one I may reserve for another article.

As far as the term "intellectual property" goes, in itself it is completely valid if describing the ownership of ideas (individual copies in your mind). The problem is that like many other terms its meaning has been diluted to the point at which it represents something quite different than this simple conception of idea ownership presented in this article. Sometimes it is used as an umbrella term for three related laws: patent law, copyright law and trademark law, which one way or another do relate to idea ownership, but do far more than to simply enforce agreements between individuals trading ideas, often forcing certain kinds of terms which otherwise would in many cases not be part of person to person agreements. Other times the term represents collective ownership of ideas, which was shown to be a completely false concept.

Comments

there is ownership and ownership...

 

"It is in the nature of an idea that it cannot exist outside of a mind" ... "
"The fact that you cannot exactly turn an idea itself into a physical thing (you can only make a physical representation of it)"

One can argue that the notion of 'idea' you describe, that exist only 'inside' of a mind, is in itself a physical representation. The state of a bunch of neuron that allow you to 'have the idea' of prime number, for example, can be seen as a representation of the concept of prime numbers, but one could argue that such concept exist in itself.
The fact that two different mind can 'own' the same idea without ever communicating support this notion. (If we ever meet an extra-terrestrial intelligence, I bet you they will have had the idea of bubble sort, without ever having communicating it to or from a human).

"By definition, ownership implies exclusive and absolute control over something"
exclusive yes, absolute, no - as illustrated by your rock-bending contradiction, which does not imply that "ownership didn't exist", but merely that the definition you posit is wrong. (more exactly, 'absolute' and 'control' in this definition have a restricted legal sens not a common sens)
Exclusivity is only meaningful is the context of a society, which is at odd with the irrevocable individualism you assign to ownership. Some society, like Australian Aboriginal, had a very limited notion of ownership, and no notion of individual ownership. And clearly, if you are alone on a desert island, the notion of ownership is senseless.

You concluded that "collective ownership of ideas[..] was shown to be a completely false concept."
Yet collective ownership in itself is not a false concept, it is actually quite widely used, even in strongly individualistic societies. That apparent contradiction indicate to me that the problem is not so much the collective nature of the ownership of idea, but the notion of ownership itself, applied to ideas.

Ownership being a societal notion. it only manifest itself in the presence of conflict. In other word, in order to assert ownership you need at least to assert what you claim ownership to. In the case of idea, by doing so you expose the very idea you are claiming ownership too, hence relinquishing the option of keeping it private.
In other word, if you indent to keep an idea private, you cannot claim ownership over it, and therefore the notion of ownership become pointless.
Which lead to the actual root of 'intellectual property'. It is not so much an 'ownership' concept as with material things, but a mechanism that some society have chosen to employ to promote sharing. In order to avoid that people kept their ideas secret, societies formed mechanism to reward the sharing of such ideas, with the underlying motivation that such sharing would eventually benefit the society as a whole. In other words, providing some kind of society-recognized temporary monopoly in exchange for the timely sharing of new ideas and discoveries.

Sadly enough, the development of this scheme, in the past few decades as lead to a complete perversion of the system, leading many to confuse the granting of a temporary monopoly with a 'natural right'. One has the natural right to keep an idea private, but the granting of a temporary monopoly of such idea being made public is not a natural right. It is a 'favor' granted by a society in exchange for sharing.

shmget wrote: One can argue

shmget wrote:

One can argue that the notion of 'idea' you describe, that exist only 'inside' of a mind, is in itself a physical representation. The state of a bunch of neuron that allow you to 'have the idea' of prime number, for example, can be seen as a representation of the concept of prime numbers, but one could argue that such concept exist in itself.
The fact that two different mind can 'own' the same idea without ever communicating support this notion. (If we ever meet an extra-terrestrial intelligence, I bet you they will have had the idea of bubble sort, without ever having communicating it to or from a human).

True. That's a good point. It would've probably been better that I said ideas can only exist within the mind period, without going further and claiming it can't have a physical representation. It's almost a semantical argument though. Smiling

shmget wrote:

exclusive yes, absolute, no - as illustrated by your rock-bending contradiction, which does not imply that "ownership didn't exist", but merely that the definition you posit is wrong. (more exactly, 'absolute' and 'control' in this definition have a restricted legal sens not a common sens)

For clarity's sake, how do you define "legal" and "common" sense?

By absolute I mean control to the extent to which abilities it implies would not deny the nature of the thing in question. So you have absolute control over a rock even when you cannot bend it, because if you could, it would not be a rock that you have control over. Absolute here is excepted by the nature of that which is controlled. I hope I'm conveying this understandably.

shmget wrote:

Exclusivity is only meaningful is the context of a society, which is at odd with the irrevocable individualism you assign to ownership. Some society, like Australian Aboriginal, had a very limited notion of ownership, and no notion of individual ownership. And clearly, if you are alone on a desert island, the notion of ownership is senseless.

If you are alone on a desert island nothing actually changes as far as ownership is concerned. You still have exclusive and total control over your property. It's just that there's nobody who would potentially violate your property rights.

Also, that certain cultures had no notion of something doesn't mean that this something doesn't exist. What a "society" says is not an end-all answer to all questions. Societies cannot think, individuals can. You are an individual.

Quote:

Yet collective ownership in itself is not a false concept, it is actually quite widely used, even in strongly individualistic societies.

That people act on basis of a completely invalid concept doesn't make that concept suddenly valid. Someone saying that a lie is truth doesn't make a lie any less of a lie.

Quote:

That apparent contradiction indicate to me that the problem is not so much the collective nature of the ownership of idea, but the notion of ownership itself, applied to ideas.

That sentence didn't make much sense to me.. What do you mean? Didn't you acknowledge at least the exclusivity of control as part of ownership and doesn't that pretty much invalidate collective ownership? How can it be both exclusive and collective?

Quote:

Ownership being a societal notion. it only manifest itself in the presence of conflict. In other word, in order to assert ownership you need at least to assert what you claim ownership to. In the case of idea, by doing so you expose the very idea you are claiming ownership too, hence relinquishing the option of keeping it private.

I don't think it is a societal notion. Ownership is an emergent quality of every individual, whether (s)he is surrounded by other individuals or not. Without ownership an individual can't even exist as such. Other individuals can fail to recognize or respect your individual rights, but that doesn't mean you don't have them, just that if you want them to recognize the fact that you have them you have to demand and defend them.

Also, you seem to fall into a trap here of considering ownership over an idea as being equal to ownership of the ideas of same content located in different minds (the classical notion of idea ownership that keeps confusing millions of people). Only in this case could you say that one has to claim ownership over an idea. But you own only ideas which are inside of your own mind and so long as you did not choose yourself to tell them to someone nobody can take them away from you, nor know what they are.

Quote:

Which lead to the actual root of 'intellectual property'. It is not so much an 'ownership' concept as with material things, but a mechanism that some society have chosen to employ to promote sharing. In order to avoid that people kept their ideas secret, societies formed mechanism to reward the sharing of such ideas, with the underlying motivation that such sharing would eventually benefit the society as a whole. In other words, providing some kind of society-recognized temporary monopoly in exchange for the timely sharing of new ideas and discoveries.

I'm familiar with that story, but I no longer believe there has to be an imposed mechanism for encouraging people to share ideas because a mechanism that does that and everything else necessary for a functioning and prosperous society already existed: a free market. You don't need patents, trademarks or copyright law to write down a contract by which you retain certain rights over all copies of an idea that you first conveyed.

Quote:

Sadly enough, the development of this scheme, in the past few decades as lead to a complete perversion of the system, leading many to confuse the granting of a temporary monopoly with a 'natural right'. One has the natural right to keep an idea private, but the granting of a temporary monopoly of such idea being made public is not a natural right. It is a 'favor' granted by a society in exchange for sharing.

Of course it failed, because it was coerced on everyone instead of letting individuals decide what kind of contract they will enter into, deciding for themselves what the term of the monopoly will be etc. With a coerced law you have a situation where if one wanted to acquire an idea under a contract which limits him to use it fully for say only one year, you can't do that because a law mandates a minimum that goes far beyond. And that's just one of many examples where coerced one-fit-all mechanisms end up hurting more people than it helps.

Free market works. Regulated (read coerced by one-fits-all rules) markets don't. It's a simple as that.

interesting article

 

I would have to say that you can't claim ownership of something unless you can deny it or take it back from others. And you cannot remove an idea from someone's consciousness, except by killing them. Lets hope the process for removal of ideas never comes about. Else we'll likely find the concept of democracy to be something unknown.

Humans pervert every system. Its what we do. If a system is set up for the greater benefit of mankind, it should have an expiration date, else it will eventually be corrupted.

Considering people as nothing but entities of the mind is interesting and beautiful, but in truth, we're animals. We destroy beauty. We create it too, but seldom as fast as we destroy it.

really?

 

Well, within our legal system, we have the concept of join ownership all the time. Just ask any married couple that owns a house whether it is impossible for both partners to simultaneously own something. Also many of the "things" that are owned in this world are owned by corporate entities and these are definitely examples of "multiple people exercising control over a shared asset"

Also your notion that an idea has to be communicated is fallacious. Calculus was an idea developed by many people simultaneously. The idea no more belonged to Newton than it did Leibniz in the same way that the recognition that the circumference of a circle is proportional to its diameter. No one can "own" that idea, as it represents mathematical truth and thus could be found by anyone.

The problem is that many ideas are ideas that relate to mathematical or physical truth and the idea that only one person has that idea and thus "owns" it is ludicrous. I think several people have mentioned the alien argument already. Clearly these aliens could have the same idea -- perhaps they had the idea before you, and so to smugly think that only you possess this knowledge until you decide to share it with others is rather a gross exaggeration of ones importance.

We do allow the ownership of an idea in the sense of a patent. But in this case the idea is not kept secret (the patent is filed), and rather the government recognizes your right to solely produce the physical item that represents the patent for a time, in order to encourage ingenuity. But this in no way implies ownership of ideas, and in many countries, one can not patent mathematical truth (i.e. an algorithm).

anonymous #1 wrote: I would

anonymous #1 wrote:

I would have to say that you can't claim ownership of something unless you can deny it or take it back from others.

I did not claim that you can, at least by default, own an idea in someone else's mind, just those in your own, even when the idea in your own mind is in content the same as an idea in someone else's mind. The kind of ownership I am asserting here is effectively emergent from ownership of your own mind in that if you own your mind then you must own the content of it, including the ideas that reside in it.

Apparently I wasn't clear enough because your comment almost makes it seem as if you didn't read past the title of this article.

Even in the case in which a recipient of an idea agrees with its giver that he will not use it in certain ways (thus ceding ownership), such an agreement is voluntary and therefore the recipient exercised ownership over his own mind in making that decision. Whether he then decides to break that agreement and whether such agreements are even enforcible is the doubt I expressed near the end of the article.

anonymous #1 wrote:

Humans pervert every system. Its what we do. If a system is set up for the greater benefit of mankind, it should have an expiration date, else it will eventually be corrupted.

While I don't quite agree with the worldview which sees humans as destroyers and corrupt by default, a worldview which often acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, I don't think we need ANY system whatsoever and given the point you are making here you should probably be inclined to agree. I instead advocate a pure free market which is effectively an emergent order that results from not having an imposed system. Pursuit of maximum value by means of creating and trading is something that comes natural to humans and it is only the false self-denying concepts (collectivism, statism, socialism, altruism, belief in sacrifice as nobility etc.) that make them turn their minds off from that and become something corrupt.

anonymous #1 wrote:

We destroy beauty. We create it too, but seldom as fast as we destroy it.

The longer you keep believing and saying that the longer it will be so. Are you a destroyer of beauty or are you the one who is creating a better world? Are you evolving or devolving?

anonymous #2 wrote:

Well, within our legal system, we have the concept of join ownership all the time.

Define legal system. If it's whatever the majority says or a bunch of politicians decide well, I don't hold it for much. Others saying something is doesn't necessarily make it so. I have to think for myself and I advise others to do the same.

anonymous #2 wrote:

Just ask any married couple that owns a house whether it is impossible for both partners to simultaneously own something.

Can they use the same thing at the same time? Can they occupy the same point in space within the house at the same time? At best what you call "joint ownership" here is in fact a series of implicit or explicit contracts between two individual owners. A husband may own a house yet have an agreement with a wife that lets her use it almost as if it were her own, or whatever their house management agreements are. A wife can own all of the furniture, on the other hand, and have an agreement with a husband to have it in his house, use it when available etc. So in short, think more precisely about what exactly is going on here before writing it off as an example of "joint ownership". Also think about the harmful implications of trying to act as if there really was such a thing as joint ownership, the kinds of conflicts that arise in families who operate under the false assumption that they can have absolute and exclusive control over the same thing at once (in which case no agreements need to be sought before either of them wants to use it in any way).

The same thing applies to corporations. Think about it. Eureka / I have an idea

anonymous #2 wrote:

Also your notion that an idea has to be communicated is fallacious. Calculus was an idea developed by many people simultaneously. The idea no more belonged to Newton than it did Leibniz in the same way that the recognition that the circumference of a circle is proportional to its diameter.

See my reply to anonymous #1 (in this post above). I am actually in an agreement with you on this. I never claimed that a single person can own all ideas which have the same content, such is the idea of calculus. Instead both Newton and Leibniz owned the idea that was in their minds. The fact that both of these ideas were same does not make them any less separate. Their minds are separate, their cognitive processes which make up the idea are individual and separate from each other and thus Leibniz owned the calculus idea in his mind whereas the Newton owned the calculus idea in his own.

I did not claim that monopolies on all ideas with same content are possible, only that ownership of an idea within your own mind is possible. And this can be overriden ONLY if you agree it to be overriden yourself, by for instance agreeing with an inventor that once he tells you his great new idea you wont share it with others and that if you did you'd have to pay him a certain amount of money for retribution. You can refuse such a deal or agree to it, because you own yourself so the non-ownership of the inventor's idea that would result in such a deal is a limit you imposed on yourself - and only YOU can do such a thing to yourself.

anonymous #2 wrote:

The problem is that many ideas are ideas that relate to mathematical or physical truth and the idea that only one person has that idea and thus "owns" it is ludicrous.

As you can read above that is not what I claim at all. I only claim that you own the "instance" or "copy" of an idea that is within your own mind, not all of the other instances which may happen to have the same content. Say you know a Shakespear's play by heart. While you clearly know that it is not you who originated this play you still own your own copy of it that resides inside of your own mind. You have exclusive and absolute control over what you do with that copy. If someone asks you to sing a part from the play you can refuse or comply. If you choose to write it down or modify it to write something based on that play, you can do that too. But if your friend comes along and says he knows the same play, you can't claim ownership over that play in his mind and therefore should not force him to sing it to you or do whatever else with it that you please.

Again, idea ownership I am talking about is a direct descendant of ownership over your own mind.

You seemed to have skimmed the article and just jumped to your own conclusions, barking up the wrong tree.

Thanks for reading.

 

I can not disagree more.. an idea is only a thought and each thought ( unless written down ) dissipates as soon as the next one takes its place...I agree that once something is written on paper or electronically it becomes a document and is OWNABLE. but an idea has no tangable form therefore can not be owned. The concept of owning Ideas is a bit like holding oxygen in your had once you open it to the world it belongs to everything and everyone and if you tell someone of an idea. that is " opening the hand " Your idea is only yours until you share. Some of us believe that things are better shared , a flawed idea can be corrected or modified when shown to the rest of the world. the original ideas are noteworthy and deserving of praise and even some measure of protection. but most true advancement in the human condition comes about by the sharing and improving of the original ideas. ( the wheel is all but useless without the cart above it ) a computer is nothing but a grouping of electronic parts without the operating system. the operating system is useless without the programs and with out the sharing of ideas nothing in this world would be possible. While I Agree that original creations should have protections under law. the law can only apply to things that can be substantiated and to show ownership. you have to show possession and to do that you have to have it recorded.
The idea of group ownership is slightly mistaken. a group shares and improves for its common benefit doing what it believes will advance the group be it a government or company,. a person owns for his own personal advancement leaving behind the group to advance himself as better than the group.
Owning an Idea is simply saying I'm better than you because I thought of it first not best.
I realize I have some conflicting Ideas in my statement. but you can feel free to improve on them as you see fit. I don't mind sharing. and being shown better ways.

Max

Faulty concept

 

you are mistaken. the issue is legality over ownership , a house requires both parties to be in agreement when selling the house or the sale is considered unlawful therefore joint ownership is just a concept, you don't own half of a house , if you did you could sell the upstairs closet without consulting your spouse
even huge companies must agree to sell assets before one person can sell his portion of that company ( ie, a printing press or even pencils ) or the sale is fraudulent.
Ideas are concepts shared.... nothing more ...they become owned when committed to written or electronic form thus giving the originator rights under law. non-"real" items cannot be regulated under law. any more than just the thought of a crime can be regulated but commit it to paper and you have conspiracy to commit.

Max

Right off the bat I'll say I

Right off the bat I'll say I pretty much agree with you. The odd thing about the above article is that it isn't in disagreement with you either, but there's a semantical issue. Namely, the point is that ideas can be owned while in your head, but not otherwise because you own your head and your brain. But it requires a mere semantical switch to then simply say it isn't actually the idea in my head that I own, but the head itself. In short, ideas cannot be owned by themselves because they always depend on the medium on which they are stored so you can only own the medium (your brain, DVDs, computer etc.), but never the idea because without the medium the idea or information or other things depending on the medium, don't even exist.

So yes, I agree with you, while still agreeing with my article. There's only that one exception. If I were to write the above article today I wouldn't boldly title it "Ideas can be owned", but rather something like "Ideas can be owned only as part of the medium on which they're stored". As I said, it's a semantical difference. Smiling

Regarding regulation under law, I don't think that's necessary because property ownership doesn't depend on law, but is a natural part of being human, but that's a wider topic.

About joint ownership of the house, so long as it's clear that so called "joint ownership" is nothing more than a mental concept I might be in agreement. It's not really ownership then that this concept represents though, but rather a particular kind of contractual relationship between the two owners. It can never stand that single thing can be wholly owned by two or more individuals, but one owner of it can certainly enter a contractual relationships in which they might "simulate" such an arrangement to some extent. Either there is a single owner obliged by prior agreement to someone else or the thing owned is in some manner split into two things. In reality there's no third option really.

Thank you for your comments.

I think you missed my point

 

I take exception to the " property ownership doesn't depend on law, but is a natural part of being human " statement .Ownership is only a concept that we as a civilized society has come to accept as fact and only as a group of like minded individuals have we agreed to be ruled by laws .
That is the crux of your idea ownership debate.
but I digress...
back to the MEDIUM issue. by putting your idea onto a medium. you insure it as a real document and as such you have rights to control that medium under the law ( how its copied and used modified etc.). thus the Idea in its protected form is what is own able. truly your entire argument of ownership is based on "laws" and not much else ? Your basic argument is fair and correct but sadly it's the world we've made for ourselves lawyers and corporations know the laws all to well and use them to their advantage.
Your article was well written and thought provoking
Thanks for making me think today

Max

Maxwell Taylor

Maxwell Taylor wrote:

Ownership is only a concept..

Actually it's defined as "exclusive and absolute control" which is something you have over your self regardless of what a particular law says so it exists independently of the law. Ownership of other things is just an extension of self ownership since those other things you acquire by applying your self.

Maxwell Taylor wrote:

...only as a group of like minded individuals have we agreed to be ruled by laws

But that's the thing. We're not all like minded, but different. Laws assume otherwise and are just the terms of service of one company which thinks they are right to force others to behave in a certain way. Naturally everyone wants to appeal to such a company and use it for their advantage. It's a short cut to power. We call this company "government".

Maxwell Taylor wrote:

back to the MEDIUM issue. by putting your idea onto a medium. you insure it as a real document and as such you have rights to control that medium under the law

Actually what I meant to say was that ideas already are in a medium and can't exist without it. The initial medium is our brain. Think about what ideas in reality actually are and think about what information stored on other non-brain media actually are, because there's no fundamental difference. Ideas in our brains are just patterns of energy flowing through our brain, nothing more. Information on a DVD is just an arrangement of nano-scale holes in the DVD (hole is 0 or 1 and if there's no hole it's the opposite, forming the binary code which is then decoded into audio visual data).

Without the brain to contain them there would be no way such energy patterns to form (unless in some different brain) so without a brain as a medium ideas do not exist. The same thing is with information on a DVD. Those holes and the order in which they are dispersed on a DVD obviously could not exist without the DVD disk itself so without the DVD information stored on it doesn't exist either. And that which cannot exist cannot be owned. If it exists ONLY as a PART of the medium then owning the medium is enough ownership pertaining to those ideas or that information.

And law again has nothing to do with that. Laws are just letters on paper which certain groups of people say others must follow and threaten theft (fines) or kidnapping (jail) if they disobey. But laws, as mere letters on paper, change nothing whatsoever in terms of nature of ideas and mediums on which they're stored. Nothing is protected.

Maxwell Taylor wrote:

Your article was well written and thought provoking
Thanks for making me think today

Thank you, my pleasure.

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