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   Can property law principles be applied to IP?
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   Author  Topic: Can property law principles be applied to IP?  (Read 1931 times)
peiwen
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Can property law principles be applied to IP?
« on: May 1st, 2007, 6:43am »
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It seems that intellectual property is becoming more and more like 'property' - real and personal property - yet it seems rather unfair since is non-rivalrous. By imposing so many intellectual property restrictions - wouldnt that actually slow down the whole innovation and cultural expression process?  
 
I have been very intrigued with all the legislation and cases in the recent years....
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JimIvey
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Re: Can property law principles be applied to IP?
« Reply #1 on: May 1st, 2007, 8:19am »
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I'm having a hard time trying to figure out in what ways intellectual property is not like other types of property.  Can you give examples?  And, I'm not sure what you mean by "non-rivalrous".  Can you explain and/or give examples?
 
Regards.
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peiwen
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Re: Can property law principles be applied to IP?
« Reply #2 on: May 1st, 2007, 9:14pm »
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By non-rivalrous - i mean that it is not excludable. unlike real property, say a house, you cannot exclude or stop someone from using things such as information, ideas, concepts, notions. Piracy is clear personification of this.  
 
And if we are to impose IP rights on ideas and information, wouldnt that impede innovation because people have restricted access to information, which could potentially generate More progress and development?
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JimIvey
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Re: Can property law principles be applied to IP?
« Reply #3 on: May 2nd, 2007, 9:08am »
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on May 1st, 2007, 9:14pm, peiwen wrote:
By non-rivalrous - i mean that it is not excludable. unlike real property, say a house, you cannot exclude or stop someone from using things such as information, ideas, concepts, notions. Piracy is clear personification of this.

If I understand correctly, piracy renders all intellectual property ineffective.  Wouldn't burglary and larceny render all real and personal property ineffective?
 
Propery is not the right to use anything.  If I own real propery, I can't dump tons of cyanide down into the ground water.  I can't detonated dynamite yards from by neighbor's house at 3 am.  I can't even clear a slope if an upslope neighbor needs that slope for support.  All I can do is exclude others from that real property.
 
Same with personal property.  Owning a gun doesn't give you the right to do whatever you want with it.  It just allows you to exclude others from using it.
 
Same with intellectual property.  Intellectual property merely allows you to exclude others from buying, selling, making, importing a patented thing or process.
 
on May 1st, 2007, 9:14pm, peiwen wrote:
And if we are to impose IP rights on ideas and information, wouldnt that impede innovation because people have restricted access to information, which could potentially generate More progress and development?

Actually, intellectual property is about greater access to information.  The idea behind patents is that, without protection, people will just suppress or abandon clever ideas.  Suppose you come up with a clever compression tool.  Suppose you actually bring it to market.  Then, Microsoft incorporates it into its OS and doesn't pay you anything.  That actually happened.  Suppose you had no recourse.  What are you going to do with your next clever idea?  Probably nothing.
 
But, look at this flipside that most people ignore.  Remember GIF?  Remember it was patented?  Yes, "was".  The patent expired.  Now, it's free for everyone to use.  Yeah!  And, during the entire term of that patent, people were able to review, study, consider the technology.  And design-arounds like to other image compression techniques -- the most directly competitive of which is PNG.  
 
Patents don't last forever.  The idea is to induce technical disclosure and then have the disclosure fall into the public domain.
 
The opposite is happening with copyright.  First, copyrights explicitly exclude "ideas" from protection.  But Disney, the RIAA, and the MPAA are pretty assuring that copyrights, which are supposed to be for a "limited time", will never fall into the public domain.  You'd see an interesting image if you charted laws to extend the copyright term and the various superseded copyright expiration dates for "Steamboat Willie".  
 
Believe it or not, a lot of very smart people worked for a very long time to come up with the system we have.  It's not perfect, but it's not completely foolhardy.
 
Regards.
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Re: Can property law principles be applied to IP?
« Reply #4 on: May 2nd, 2007, 12:27pm »
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Jim,
   If I am correct, I think you and I had this real verses intellectual property discussion a while back.  I am not sure where the thread is though.
 
Regards,
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