[Israel.pm] OT: Copying intangible property

Mikhael Goikhman migo at homemail.com
Wed Mar 24 08:48:30 PST 2004

On 24 Mar 2004 14:58:27 +0200, Jason Elbaum wrote:
> I certainly can equate illegal copying with stealing, even if the law 
> doesn't. Try and stop me! :-b
> I believe that a man has the right to the value of the product of his 
> labor, should he want it, and that benefiting from that labor without 
> permission is morally a form of theft. I intend to continue to call it that.

Consider this case, some monopoly X sells some product charging $1000.
Another company Y arrives and presents a similar product for $100.
Your morality says Y is stealing from X. My morality says X should adapt
to competition, provide something better than Y, and stop to curse Y.

Think about customers. It is just unrealistic (and unmoral either) to
require customers to always pay $1000 on something costing several
sheckels in mass production. Why do you think X has the natural rights to
require this? I imagine Einstein demanding everyone $1000 to learn his
physical laws. The knowledge does not work this way. If you believe that
knowledge should be free (i.e. anyone may transfer his knowledge to
someone else without paying taxes to the originator of this knowledge),
then you get very close to expanding knowledge to any other intangible
property, like information or even software. A lot of people believe this
is beneficial for the human progress, this is why we have Free Software.

Anyway, we should clearly distinguish between tangible and intangible
property, proprietary and free (hofshi). These are 4 different cases and
we should not mix them. Copying proprietary products are illegal in all
cases. Copying tangible products are unrealistic technologically yet.

As for proprietary intangible products, many believe these restrict the
basic user freedoms and thus are unmoral to even bother with. Anyway, if
a user enters the troubles of spending his valuable time and bandwidth on
such illegal copying, then there are problems with the product itself.
It is likely to be overpriced. As for proper earning on intangible
products, the companies should sell services that have the real cost and
thus will never be easily copied. Of course it is easier to earn for
monopolies, they should not worry at all about this.

But I guess, this is totally off topic here. :)


perl -e 'print+chr(64+hex)for+split//,d9b815c07f9b8d1e'

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