Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 01:11:53 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Daniel Lakeland
| Your previous argument was based on the notion of someone giving away for
| free (ie. being deprived of) electrons or flour and water (bread
| ingredients).

  Nope.  (I do not subscribe to the "property is theft" notion at all and
  do not even understand how "giving away" relates to "being deprived of".)

| You seemed to be making the analogy that in fact making copies of
| information/software was tantamount to making copies of bread under the
| assumption that there was some large free resource of ingredients around.

  Not at all.  I was pointing out that the resources used to duplicate bits
  are _not_ free by asking "what if" those resources that supposedly meke
  the difference between bits and a loaf of bread were _also_ paid for by
  the party who claimed the duplication was "free".  In other words,
  duplication of software is "free" because somebody already paid for it.
  Such hidden costs are rampant in information technology and "cyberspace".
  The Internet is an _enormously_ expensive infrastructure, so I find it
  very, very odd that using it is considered "free" in the pecuniary sense.

| The fact of the matter is that none of the ingredients of a COPY of a
| piece of software are "free" they are just cheap because of our current
| market conditions.

  They are not even cheap, it is just harder to think in terms of _total_
  cost when the _incremental_ cost is so different in magnitude.

| Now the original creation is still limited by time and effort on the part
| of the designers, programmers, and soforth.

  Precisely, and since it takes X amount of money to build something, but
  close to nothing to make _another_ copy when it has already been made,
  some people mistakenly believe that a copy costs close to nothing.  A
  copy costs X divided by the number of copies that may contribute to the
  recovery of the costs.  If you copy something like this without being
  part of the number of copies that could help recover the costs, you may
  look at this as stealing from the creator or all the paying users who
  have to pay more for their copies.

| On the other hand I haven't heard anyone argue that in the conditions
| described (a large free source of ingredients) the making and eating of
| copies of some loaf of bread should be punishable by several hundred
| thousand dollars in fines and various jail sentences.  That is what we
| are talking about when we consider copyright enforcement.

  Since the only "large free source of ingredients" that actually exists is
  funds for various causes usually available from the government or some
  organization that sets a number of conditions for is dissemination, we do
  in fact have serious legal action applicable to those who defraud such
  pools of resources.

| The common notion of property torts under the law is that when one person
| is deprived of their property, then there is a legally enforceable
| recourse under law.  That is where the notion of deprivation comes in.
| Without deprivation there is no tort.

  Do you _really_ believe that unless it is punishable by law it is OK to
  do it?  This is really interesting.  I know Bill Gates has that view of
  the world, but _real_ people?  Come on!

| So what is it that you believe should be considered a
| tort/deprivation/damage?

  Explaiend a few paragraphs above.

| I don't want to argue whether you are an utter moron.  Clearly you
| aren't, and I never intended to imply that.  I merely pointed out that
| though you seemed to be defending the notion that the medium's physical
| reality was important for your argument, there must be something ELSE
| about your argument that doesn't involve the value of the medium, but I
| couldn't exactly see what it was.

  That something needs a medium to be communicated does not imply that the
  value of that thing is the value of the medium.  I fail to see how this
  even could come up.  It probably stems from a wildly different way to
  categorize existents that may or may not have its root cause in the
  desire to see software and "information" as magical and unreal.

| Perhaps it would help if you re-iterated your argument in concise form.
| Because I'm afraid (at least to me) it isn't clear.

  "There is no material difference between the creation and duplication of
  software/information and any other object."

  Norway is now run by a priest from the fundamentalist Christian People's
  Party, the fifth largest party representing one eighth of the electorate.
  Carrying a Swiss Army pocket knife in Oslo, Norway, is a criminal offense.