[MUD-Dev] patents and muds

Joel Kelso joel at ee.uwa.edu.au
Mon Oct 18 09:45:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
> 
> On 01:34 PM 10/15/1999 -0700, I personally witnessed Scott Boding jumping
> up to say:
> >
> >I noticed that there are 5 other patents that this one references and another
> >73 that reference this one. Looking over some of them, I almost don't see how
> >you could help but step on more than one of these patents when making an
> >online game of almost any sort. I find this kind of frightening.
> 
> The fallacy of intellectual property is the most hideous crime ever
> perpetrated on the artistic and scientific community in the history of this
> universe.

<snipped: stong words on the evil of intellectual property>

I agree that "intellectual property" is fundamentally different from
physical
property.  A (_the_ ?) defining attribute of property is that it is
exclusive:
if I have this rock, it means that you don't have it.  Our whole economy
(and
increasingly, our whole culture) is centered around trading property and
services.  What we call intellectual property does not have this
exclusive
nature: if I give a program away to a million other people, I have lost
nothing.
By the same token, if I sell someone some intellectual property, it is
practically speaking extremely difficult to stop them from giving it
away to
other potential customers.

<socialist rhetoric>
Since physical property is all our economic systems really know about,
we
end up having to do things that are on the face of it bizzare in order
to
shoe-horn the intellectual into the physical property model: invent the
idea of patents, trade secrets, non-disclosure agreements, levies on the
manufacture of blank writable media etc; just so that "manufacturers" of
intellectual property can survive in a competitive market.  And then of
course patents and so forth get exploited by opportunistic individuals
participating an intellectual land rush.

I'm not saying the system doesn't work, its just that the capitalist
idea
requires that ownership be ascribe to _everything_ of value, leading to
strange consequences such as the idea of "owning" an algorithm.

There are alternative economic models for supporting intellectual
endevours:
everyone gets together pay for research, and make the results available
to everyone.  In my part of the world, however, it seems that people
(through
their government) don't really believe in this idea: universities are
constantly pushed in the direction of the "real" (ie physical property)
economy.
</socialist rhetoric>

Of course, every piece of free software released creates "prior art",
and
eliminates an opportunity for intellectual property abuse.  MUDs alone
must
demonstrate prior art for hundreds ideas.

Joel Kelso

-- joel at ee.uwa.edu.au ------------------------------------------
"I went to see the pool of wisdom but it was empty.  Someone has
 drained the pool of wisdom." - Todd Jones
-- http://ciips.ee.uwa.edu.au/~joel ----------------------------



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