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Intellectual Property Rights

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

We must now tackle so-called IPR's, much to our disdain and displeasure. When we mention IPRs we are strictly referring to the collection of laws, regulations, rules and judgments that countries have instantiated over the years. By IPRs we do not mean IP rights as we, Absolute Austro-Libertarians, understand them.

The origin of IPRs

To understand why IPRs are such a collection of mammal (and non-mammal) dung, we need to understand their origins.

IPR's originated on top of pre-existing legal structures which responded (and were twisted by) the many political changes that countries underwent over the centuries. As such, they are not based on a logical and rational set of rules, but on political decisions often based on religious, gut-feelings, agreements, biases and plain old stupidity. Is then there a surprise that they represent such a collection of nonsense? Of course not.

The very old computer saying applies: Garbage In - Garbage Out.

The basis for IPRs

Politicians represent IPRs as based on religion, ethics or morality and therefore good. Alas, all these principles are deeply subjective and flawed at best and ridiculously contradictory at worse. Furthermore, as we have demonstrated with this theory, completely unnecessary.

The consequences of IPRs

Is then a surprise that any pseudo-rights based on IPRs will give rise to a mountain of pseudo-logical rationales based on un-sustainable concepts? They may be good business for lawyers who may argue them to death, but they are plain and simply nefarious for everybody else.

IPRs are not part of the problem, they are the problem. This problem cannot be fixed by amending IPRs but by ditching them altogether. A poison is a poison even in small doses. The solution is not to take poison to begin with. In other words, start with a clean (and rational) slate.

Our IP rights

Contrast now IPRs with our IP rights. Our theory of IP rights is based on solid (and very few) well-known economic conditions which are themselves direct consequences of the biological nature of human beings. You cannot get more basic than this. Furthermore, you cannot get more universal than this. Even furthermore, none of our IP rights reject any other religious, moral or ethical private principles that people may wish to impose on themselves on top of their IP rights. In addition, our IP rights do not, under any circumstance, impose un-voluntary agreements on other people. It is very simple; in our world one is absolutely (fully) responsible for the conservation of our own IP rights.

IPR flaws

We have written several articles outlining the many IPR flaws and unresolved issues that seem more like an endless ocean of crap than anything that can be remotely rationalized. We won't repeat them here but if you are interested you may wish to review the articles Intellectual Property Rights Are Dumb and Knocking Down Intellectual Property Rights for your amusement and amazement.

PRACTICAL MATTERS

Now that the basic theory has been laid down, we can take a look at a few basic, common, everyday scenarios.

Keep it secret of lose it

The only way to retain absolute ownership over IP is never to reveal it to anybody. However, once revealed, no matter how many precautions you take, you can lose your absolute ownership over said IP in a valid manner. In practice this means that if you are a company and have developed a new product based on new IP, the only choice you have is to treat it as an industrial secret and to take every single precaution you may think of to avoid the inevitable leak of IP information. You do not have any valid right to avoid this event, but you can delay it.

IP copying

This is also known as the third party problem. One theoretical way to protect an IP once placed in a transmission medium is through Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). For example let's say that Ulrich (being a publisher) wishes to sell Joana's book. He creates an unbreakable NDA as a condition for book purchase. Every single employee of Ulrich and every single customer must sign the NDA before they can deal with the book in any manner. The NDA states that every single copy of the book is to be used for personal purposes only and its contents cannot be disclosed or even hinted to anybody under any circumstance. The terms and conditions of said NDA are water tight. The penalties for breaking it are also exorbitant. Problem solved, right?

Well… no. The NDA may be unbreakable but in practice it is un-enforceable. What this means is that the chances a customer may be caught breaking it are ridiculously small. In practice this means that originals of the book will reach people that have not signed the NDA. Once in their hands, they will make copies of the book and pass these copies to other people, the so-called third parties.

The question is now the following: do these third parties have any duty to Ulrich? The answer is no. These third parties have no valid contract of any sort with Ulrich and therefore they are not liable for interacting with what once were Ulrich's absolute IP rights.

In practice this means that IPs cannot be protected against copying once placed in a transmission medium.

Public IP does not generate profits

There is a would-be pseudo-argument against what is effectively an IPR-less society. This argument is that without IPRs there will be no profits and with no profits there will be no incentive to innovate. This is, of course, bull manure and the proof is in the pudding, or more precisely in GPL-style licenses. These licenses (used mostly for software) indicate that any person can get the software for free and can further modify it. The only condition is that the modified copy must also be made available for free. At face value it would seem that nobody would bother developing GPL-based products or services since anybody can get them for free. Alas, this is not the case. There is a large (and growing) number of companies that are actually extremely profitable dealing with GPL software. How is this possible? Because one thing is the software itself and another is the know-how to use it. The biggest company in the world that has made GPL software a large part of its core business is IBM. If anything, IBM people are not idiots. They know a good business when they see one.

The "locks" issue

The US-coopted corporatocracy is trying to push into as many countries as possible the IPR concept of "locks". The idea is that if an IP is somehow encrypted, this suffices to guarantee absolute IP ownership. As we have shown in the section "Labeling through encryption" above, this is plain and simple bollocks. We won't even bother to repeat the arguments. At least the EU is not that stupid… for now.

PARTING WORDS

We are reasonably sure that this theory will precipitate several comments, requests for clarification and issues. We will do our best to answer them, but we must be absolutely candid in saying that we do not guarantee to have "the truth". We can only guarantee our honesty. Within those parameters and within the framework of an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system we believe that this theory or IP rights is sound and solid. If this turns out not to be the case, we will then stand corrected.

Thank you for playing.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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