On Property Rights II

The “Who had it first?property rights convention solves the artificially created conflicts surrounding so-called “intellectual property” eg. copyrights and patents. Ideas only exist embedded in real, physical items, starting with our brains. Your attempt to control my brain or my property forces us to ask the question, “Who had it first?” My brain first belonged to me, not you. If I use my brain to think about an idea you originated, that’s really none of your business. My brain does not belong to you. If I use my mouth to sing a song you originated, with or without the exchange of money, that’s also none of your business. My mouth does not belong to you, and neither does my customer’s money. If I use my property to implement an invention you originated, that’s also none of your business. My property configured any way I please does not belong to you. The “Who had it first?” property rights convention is totally incompatible with a property rights convention that asks, “Who thought about it first?” Ideas, patterns of information, thoughts, can be used by everyone simultaneously, always embedded in real, physical items that cannot. “Who had it first?” is the key. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

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Alex Knight
Alex Knight
1 month ago

If it was my idea first, I will grant (and always have, to the best of my knowledge) that I must be able to prove that — otherwise, it’s just a hollow contention. This means that I’ve actually created some kind of a blueprint, example, prototype on paper — or in some other kind of physical form. That cements it as my idea, my property. The suggestion that your subsequent use of it, particularly for profit, without seeking my permission or offering any form of compensation to me is theft, and a flagrant misuse of whatever raw materials you may… Read more »

Alex Knight
Alex Knight
1 month ago

I think I just demonstrated that’s not true — the fact that I did originate it makes it my property, so long as I can offer sufficient proof of origination. I have held, and continue to hold, your idea that this constitutes some kind of illegitimate “control” over you and/or your physical property to be ridiculous on its very face. Once again, it’s no different than you suggesting that I’m depriving you of the use of your barbecue gear because I won’t allow you to host a picnic in my front yard. The fact that my idea has been made… Read more »

Alex Knight
Alex Knight
1 month ago

I reject outright (as should be obvious by now) your idea (!) that a.) ideas are non-scarce (they are not), b.) that their scarcity or non-scarcity bears any relevance whatsoever to the matter, and; c.) that the possible simultaneous use of an idea somehow automatically deprives it of any proprietal status. Moreover, I reject the concept that simply because this simultaneous use may be possible in cases, that it is or should be perfectly permissible, simply because of this physical possibility. Your ideas (!) are not only inconsistent with property rights, they are flagrantly socialistic in nature. Which is, among… Read more »

Alex Knight
Alex Knight
1 month ago

That is completely abstract and entirely nonsensical, so, no. No deal, I’m afraid.

Alex Knight
Alex Knight
1 month ago

I might say the same of yours — and already have.

Let’s end by stating the abundantly obvious at this juncture (if not long since): We are never going to concur on this issue.