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Intellectual Property

Date: 10 September, 2004

By: Chief

Image find this topic to be absolutely fascinating. For one very simple reason — it is companies and corporations who are pushing for intellectual property (IP) laws at the international, national and state levels. What makes no sense is that it is these same companies and corporations who, in all honesty, produce nothing.

Disney, Microsoft, The SCO Group, the various record companies and many, many others, virtually most companies and corporations produce nothing. These companies patent and copyright up one side and down the other and then seek IP protection and prosecution of perceived offenders, but in reality what do the companies themselves produce? Again — nothing.

How can I say that? It is really quite a simple premise. People invent. People create. People produce. People — not companies, not corporations — have intellect. When was the last time a building, the building mind you, produced something? I would have to say never.

Companies and corporations are not real. They exist only on paper. Some have stock certificates, which are meaningless, but that is another story. All have fictitious business names statements in their home state which are required by law in most, if not all states. People, on the other hand, are real. People exist.

Actually, I think the fictitious business name statement sums it up the best — fictitious.

It is therefore an oxymoron that a company or corporation, a fictitious entity could own, let alone invent, create, produce a product, have imagination or have intellect. It cannot be done.

One can only assume how a company or corporation ends up owning what it can not create or produce. My guess is that when people are hired, part of the contract the new hiree is required to sign is waiving or granting to the company or corporation any rights to whatever that person creates. Another way, I assume, is company 'A' outright buys certain property from company 'B'. But and here is the important thing, no matter how a company ends up owning what it cannot create, it took a person or several people to create it. Period.

Does our Constitution have anything to say on this matter? You can bet your ass it does. Contained in Article I, Section 8, the powers afforded to Congress is the following:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries[.]"

Now you show me where it says companies, corporations or any other inanimate object. It doesn't. It says authors and inventors. By definition and common usage both the words authors and inventors mean people. Not companies. Not corporations. Not buildings. Not phony stock certificates and certainly not fictitious business names. In short, it means what it says.

So just how can a company or corporation own intellectual property? Because the management of said companies and corporations have paid to members of Congress many, many millions of dollars to have Congress enact legislation which grants to inanimate objects the right to own what they cannot create. In other words, the right to own property. Unconstitutional as hell but there you have it in a nut shell.

With these various IP laws on the federal books, companies and corporations sic lawyers upon those people who have created something. Something that according to the companies and corporations via their hungry dogs (read that as lawyers) purportedly, not factually, merely allegedly infringes upon their ownership rights to some product. Now I ask you how does a law suit or the threat of a law suit "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts?" I say it cannot and does not promote anything except the profit margin of companies and corporations.

Because of IP laws progress and innovation is stifled.

Pundits or shills of companies and corporations that use IP laws as a weapon against people who do create, who do innovate, who do produce, say the opposite. These shills say that IP laws enhance innovation and creation (again, do remember that companies and corporations in fact create nothing). I say hogwash. Now let me back up what I have just said.

First, let us consider the browser war. You know, Netscape versus Internet Explorer. Well Netscape came out with the first popular commercial web browser. Microsoft had not come out with any type of browser. Netscape was a runaway success. Microsoft was not at all pleased. Microsoft, in turn, bought IE or whatever it was called when they bought it and shoved it into Windows 95 as part of the operating system. Microsoft quite literally gave IE away. What did that do to their competitor Netscape? As Netscape at that time only had a single product, their browser, Netscape damn near went bankrupt. Microsoft now rules the roost in the now over with browser war. But what about the innovation part? Has Microsoft improved IE? No. Not a chance. In fact it is the worst browser there is. Replete with viruses, worms and trojans ... oh my. It's not a vulnerability, it's a feature.

Secondly, what about music? Does intellectual property benefit music? If so, please tell me how? Currently, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who represents god knows who or what, have a statutory monopoly on music. You read that correctly, a statutory monopoly on music. The RIAA sics their leeches (read that as lawyers) on all kinds of people including music down-loaders. Does the recording industry keep all music for sale at all times? Of course not. Just try to purchase a copy of Roy Clark's instrumental "Chasing the Mule." You cannot find it in any record store. The exact same thing holds equally true with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Same song, second verse. Indeed the RIAA and the MPAA are both guilty of stifling creativity by the same method — heavy handed legal threats. Alleging or purporting infringement while not or never proving infringement. Most people can not afford the legal bills to begin with so people settle out of court with these two monstrosities.

Both the RIAA and the MPAA say illegal down-loads have drastically cut into their profits. Not possible says I. Do the math, it just isn't there. What cuts into their profits is outright lousy music and movies. People are not, by and large, willingly going to purchase crap. And that is what is being produced.

Here is one for you, what if I owned the legal rights to the music scale, the octave. No one, not one single sole could write a song or play a single note on any instrument without having to pay me a royalty fee. How could a person create something if they would run afoul of my legal rights and my leeches (read that as lawyers)? The answer is they could not. In this particular case, it surely does not advance either art or science.

By owning intellectual property and thusly controlling who, if anybody, can use or license the IP, creativity, invention, innovation and production are stymied. Shut down is closer to the truth however.

What do convicted monopolists such as Bill Gates have to say about IP and patents? Here is a quote from Bill Gates:

"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The solution . . . is patent exchanges . . . and patenting as much as we can. . . . A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors." (Fred Warshofsky, The Patent Wars 170-71 (NY: Wiley 1994))

Creativity is a uniquely human characteristic. Intellectual property laws:

"[T]he Progress of Science and useful Arts."

Take that M$ and The SCO Group, put it in your greedy pipes and smoke it.

[Story update.] Bless my soul, Micro$oft's Internet Explorer (Exploder) is no longer the most popular web browser. According to Wikipedia, that honor belongs to Chrome.

[This story has been updated.]

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