Poll: Is it ethical to allow the ownership of information?
Poll Options
View poll results: Is it ethical to allow the ownership of information?
Never, the truth cannot be owned.
25 40%
Sometimes, when that information is private.
34 55%
Always. Whoever gets to the patent office first wins ownership of my genome.
3 5%
Voters: 62.
Page 1 of 3
#1
Information is a pretty complex topic but for this thread it isn't so difficult. Copyrights, patents, trademarks, we're all about owning our ideas. But are ideas the kinds of things we should own?

Brad Pitt, for example, has trademarked both his likeness and his name. If you're given name is Brad Pitt and you'd like to be an actor, you'll need to get a new name. If you look a lot like him, better not sell any pictures of yourself to TMZ doing disgusting things. Is it alright for him to own what looks like his face, and to own the syllables "Brad Pitt"?

Another example: If a company sequences your genome, they can patent it if they get to the office before you do. If they used your genome for projects, or even clones, they would owe you nothing and you couldn't stop them.

Do you remember Trivial Pursuit? Not long ago they were sued for copyright infringement by another company. That company also produced trivia games, and Trivial Pursuit was pulling heaps of questions from their cards directly, and changing the wording. We know this because the other company slipped false questions into their set so as to catch cheaters. The courts, however, ruled that facts "can't be owned." Information is all about facts, but patents, copyrights, and trademarks are "special" facts.

Do you own your own information? Where you live, what you like, all of that? Well, you used to. Now Facebook does, and they'll sell it to the highest bidder, and every bidder in between as long as it continues to net profit.

Those are some negative examples, but imagine this: An entrepreneur thinks your girlfriend is a very beautiful woman. While she is out and about, he takes many photographs of her without her knowledge. He then uses this to craft a sex toy with her likeness, and sells it without paying her. This is because unlike Brad Pitt, she has not payed for a trademark on her face. Let's say he even names the toy after her, and stole naked photos for better realism.

Do you feel like this is wrong? Do you feel like he shouldn't be able to control this information (her likeness)? Do you feel like you should own your face instead?


Is it ethical to allow the ownership of information? What kinds?

EDIT And if it is unethical, what might we do instead to stop things like the example of the sex toy?

EDIT2: Also worth noting is that you don't have to be able to make something right now to patent it. Companies have patents for all kinds of things that may never exist, just so they can collect money if someone else builds it.
Last edited by captaincrunk at Sep 30, 2011,
#2
Well now I know why that Trivial Pursuit question about FDR had the wrong answer.
Quote by SomeoneYouKnew
You should be careful what you say. Some asshole will probably sig it.

Quote by Axelfox
Yup, a girl went up to me in my fursuit one time.

Quote by Xiaoxi
I can fap to this. Keep going.
#4
No.
Quote by korinaflyingv
On the come up we were listening to Grateful Dead and the music started passing through my bowel and out my arsehole as this violet stream of light. I shat music. It was beautiful.
#7
Wow Brad Pitt is the biggest douche ever.
I'm rgrockr and I do not approve of this message.
#9
moral/ethical guidelines are the bane of my life

seriously, there are some things that are okay in given examples but when taken to extremes they're simply not okay

it works with anything

guidelines are very hard to construct, which is why judges exist
"I specialize in driving a set like I'm driving a Lexus" - Uncle Mez
#10
Quote by laid-to-waste
moral/ethical guidelines are the bane of my life

seriously, there are some things that are okay in given examples but when taken to extremes they're simply not okay

it works with anything

guidelines are very hard to construct, which is why judges exist

As it stands, a judge would rule that your genome can be patented.
#12
I think you have to distinguish between fact (in the public domain), invention and 'original' thought.

an idea is not the same as the fact that the sky is blue.

And obviously in the grey areas, there are some examples that a lot of people think go the wrong side of acceptable. For example, you mentioned James Earl Jones. The value of that sound is that his achievements have generated a certain amount of goodwill. So while at first glance, a lot of people baulk at the idea of people being prevented from impersonating another person, you have to consider the motivation of the impersonation.

Why should someone else be able to take advantage of the goodwill associated with a person who has nothing to do with the project?

Similarly, copyright only protects the expression of ideas. So while 2 people might have the idea to write a story about a child wizard taking on an all powerful evil force, is it really fair that one is prevented from doing so because there's a loose plot similarity? But if that second book is directly derived from another's work, why should they be able to profit from another's creativity?

Rhythm in Jump. Dancing Close to You.

Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
#13
I have no problem with the ownership of new, independently discovered information. If I discover some new, fantastic mathematical theorem that solves everything, I want to be associated with it. I personally would not try to make money off of it, but I don't have that much of a problem with people who would. They did do a ton of work to come up with it, after all.
#14
Quote by Lemoninfluence
I think you have to distinguish between fact (in the public domain), invention and 'original' thought.

an idea is not the same as the fact that the sky is blue.

And obviously in the grey areas, there are some examples that a lot of people think go the wrong side of acceptable. For example, you mentioned James Earl Jones. The value of that sound is that his achievements have generated a certain amount of goodwill. So while at first glance, a lot of people baulk at the idea of people being prevented from impersonating another person, you have to consider the motivation of the impersonation.

I agree that James Earl Jones should not be impersonated against his will. But what if you just sound a lot like him and you've always sounded that way? Should you be prevented from public speaking?
Quote by Lemoninfluence
Similarly, copyright only protects the expression of ideas. So while 2 people might have the idea to write a story about a child wizard taking on an all powerful evil force, is it really fair that one is prevented from doing so because there's a loose plot similarity? But if that second book is directly derived from another's work, why should they be able to profit from another's creativity?


Yep. This requires careful deliberation, I think. It's not so much that it is impossible, just that we've never dealt with it before. "Possession is 9/10ths of the law", they used to say. Well, I've got tons of information in my possession I can't legally use.
#15
Nope, I do not agree with the ownership of information or ideas, to an extent. I'm a big supporter of open-source software, which freely allows anyone to see, modify, and redistribute code as they want, under certain conditions. (Pretty much just you can't use someone else's trademarks or names, and you can't claim you wrote what you took.)

The way I see it, it provides a means of software evolving faster and more effectively. Sure, no one makes a profit off of it, but the software ends up better and bugs are eliminated much faster. Microsoft has a small-ish dedicated team to finding bugs, while FreeBSD and Linux have thousands of different people looking at and improving the code.

Music is just taking your influences and your own couple of ideas and arranging it in a way you like. You honestly can't claim that everything in your music is original, because it isn't. You take and mix ideas from your influences, and add your own. Being able to copyright a chord progression or melody is rediculous, because how can every song in the world be different? In the end I think it stiffles creativity and progress for one person/group's short-term profits.

For example, think about the "amen" breakbeat. If the owners of that beat had enforced their ownership over that loop, the music scene in general would be totally different. But it was taken, mixed, and modified into an incredibly diverse range of genres, and is still used today.

That's not to say you can't take your music and sell it though. Red Hat linux is a distro you have to pay for, but it's still open-source, and it's doing pretty well.


Tl,Dr; no. It's complicated though, and I'd love a nice discussion on it.
Last edited by SlayingDragons at Sep 30, 2011,
#16
Hm...this is a thinker.....hm....I think that the world focuses to much on possessions...but abstract ownership such as this is just wrong...
I haz gotten gud
#17
I think it's fair to want credit for creating something, but such things can and do get out of hand.
“Just to sum up: I would do various things very quickly.” - Donald Trump
#18
Quote by captaincrunk
I agree that James Earl Jones should not be impersonated against his will. But what if you just sound a lot like him and you've always sounded that way? Should you be prevented from public speaking?

you wouldn't be prevented from public speaking, you'd be prevented from appearing in commercially oriented works that take advantage of the reputation of James Earl Jones.

Trademarks are about the origin of goods. So the mere fact that you sound like him wouldn't be a big deal unless you were hired to promote a product because you sound like him.

That's difficult to prove, but I don't think the intention behind it is out of order.

Yep. This requires careful deliberation, I think. It's not so much that it is impossible, just that we've never dealt with it before. "Possession is 9/10ths of the law", they used to say. Well, I've got tons of information in my possession I can't legally use.


It's not about stopping the use of information, it's about preventing the misappropriation of information. You can use pretty much any information, but not in any way you want. And a lot of that has to do with commercial entities extending originally well intended legislation into shadows of their former selves that only serve the interests of the haves.

Patents were originally about protecting inventor's ideas and technology in order to encourage the advancement of science. Now we have people sitting on improved technologies to maximise profit, holding back development.

Similarly, copyright was about encouraging learned people to write 'good books' in order to allow the easier spread of knowledge. Now it's being used to prevent the spread of tabs.
Rhythm in Jump. Dancing Close to You.

Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
#20
Quote by rgrockr
Wow Brad Pitt is the biggest douche ever.


Or just smart.
Smile when you say that.
#21
Quote by Lemoninfluence
you wouldn't be prevented from public speaking, you'd be prevented from appearing in commercially oriented works that take advantage of the reputation of James Earl Jones.

The defense claimed that they hadn't used the name or image, the voice over guy just sounded like him. Of course I don't buy it, but the line legally will have to be somewhere.

Quote by Lemoninfluence

It's not about stopping the use of information, it's about preventing the misappropriation of information. You can use pretty much any information, but not in any way you want. And a lot of that has to do with commercial entities extending originally well intended legislation into shadows of their former selves that only serve the interests of the haves.

But you can't. If I learn how to make the cotton gin and Eli Whitney already holds the patent, I'm ****ed. I have to go buy one. And yes, the legislation is an era old. We're in the Information Age now and it's time to update our Terms of Service.
Quote by Lemoninfluence

Patents were originally about protecting inventor's ideas and technology in order to encourage the advancement of science. Now we have people sitting on improved technologies to maximise profit, holding back development.

And holding onto stuff that doesn't exist yet, so that their competitoors don't develop it before them!
Quote by Lemoninfluence

Similarly, copyright was about encouraging learned people to write 'good books' in order to allow the easier spread of knowledge. Now it's being used to prevent the spread of tabs.

And patent law was to allow for science in a world where science was profitable. "Show me how you made this, and we won't steal it. Don't show us, and it's up for grabs."
#22
I'm going to go ahead and do what MakinLattes™ did and trademark my username.

izbbass™
Quote by UntilISleep
You have excellent taste in literature, dear sir

Quote by Primus2112
You have excellent taste in video games, good sir.

Quote by GbAdimDb5m7
You have terrible taste in signatures, idiotic sir.

kkoo
#23
In principle, no. I wouldn't be entirely opposed to the existence of copyright laws for practical reasons. But I do think it's possible to come up with a structure that maintains information is free and doesn't result in the end of technological/artistic progress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft

Not necessarily a perfect method but I like the idea.
Is it still a God Complex if I really am God?

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
Oscar Wilde
#24
Quote by Meths
In principle, no. I wouldn't be entirely opposed to the existence of copyright laws for practical reasons. But I do think it's possible to come up with a structure that maintains information is free and doesn't result in the end of technological/artistic progress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft

Not necessarily a perfect method but I like the idea.

Was gonna post this.

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be associated with your creation/discovery, but owning what's ultimately an abstract idea as you would physical property is dumb as hell.
#25
Quote by due 07
Was gonna post this.

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be associated with your creation/discovery, but owning what's ultimately an abstract idea as you would physical property is dumb as hell.

So if I write a song any Tom, Dick and Harry should be allowed to cover, remix, broadcast and sell my music without me getting a cut of the profits?

You have GOT to be shitting me.
#26
Quote by CoreysMonster
So if I write a song any Tom, Dick and Harry should be allowed to cover, remix, broadcast and sell my music without me getting a cut of the profits?

You have GOT to be shitting me.

Did you read the copyleft wiki?
#27
Quote by CoreysMonster
So if I write a song any Tom, Dick and Harry should be allowed to cover, remix, broadcast and sell my music without me getting a cut of the profits?

You have GOT to be shitting me.

They should be able to cover, remix and broadcast your music if you willingly release it to the public domain. They obviously shouldn't sell it, but neither should you. (Assuming you're talking about iTunes style downloads.) Look up copyleft (Meths posted a link).
#28
Quote by captaincrunk
Did you read the copyleft wiki?

No, I was reacting to this statement:

but owning what's ultimately an abstract idea as you would physical property is dumb as hell.


Quote by due 07
They should be able to cover, remix and broadcast your music if you willingly release it to the public domain. They obviously shouldn't sell it, but neither should you. (Assuming you're talking about iTunes style downloads.) Look up copyleft (Meths posted a link).

I skimmed it and it appears to be basically letting people use your creations as long as they credit you as the creator, is that right?
Last edited by CoreysMonster at Sep 30, 2011,
#29
Quote by due 07
They should be able to cover, remix and broadcast your music if you willingly release it to the public domain. They obviously shouldn't sell it, but neither should you. (Assuming you're talking about iTunes style downloads.) Look up copyleft (Meths posted a link).

Why not? It is something a person puts work into, and is the same as any sort of physical good in my eyes.
#30
Quote by CoreysMonster
I skimmed it and it appears to be basically letting people use your creations as long as they credit you as the creator, is that right?

Close enough, but that only works for a select few examples. Most of the OP wouldn't be affected by this, not in any meaningful sense.
#31
Quote by CoreysMonster
No, I was reacting to this statement:


I skimmed it and it appears to be basically letting people use your creations as long as they credit you as the creator, is that right?


They also cannot profit from it if you've copylefted it. Their reproductions are also bound by the principles of copyleft.

Quote by Dirge Humani
Why not? It is something a person puts work into, and is the same as any sort of physical good in my eyes.


Some people don't believe in private property either.


EDIT: Patenting genes and genomes is complete horseshit by the way. Fucking American legal system.
Is it still a God Complex if I really am God?

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
Oscar Wilde
Last edited by Meths at Sep 30, 2011,
#32
Captaincrunk, I apologise, I just now realised I haven't even READ the OP

ignore what I've said and I'll come back in a little while
Last edited by CoreysMonster at Sep 30, 2011,
#33
Quote by CoreysMonster
I skimmed it and it appears to be basically letting people use your creations as long as they credit you as the creator, is that right?

yes, but it requires that they place the same conditions on the work they create.

So nobody could take your freely released work, remix it and then sell it.

Although this doesn't address the problem of commercially minded parties wanting to prevent their work being altered into a new work without some sort of reward.
Rhythm in Jump. Dancing Close to You.

Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
#34
Quote by Meths
EDIT: Patenting genes and genomes is complete horseshit by the way. Fucking American legal system.

I'm pretty sure it's most countries right now. It's just a string of characters, that's all it really is.
#35
Quote by captaincrunk
I'm pretty sure it's most countries right now. It's just a string of characters, that's all it really is.

the uk still has a relatively strict patent system.

Don't know whether a genome case has been brought before the UK courts though.

EDIT: the textbook I have mentions that UK and EU patents should not be granted for 'essentially biological processes', although whether that would cover the genome, I don't know.
Rhythm in Jump. Dancing Close to You.

Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
Last edited by Lemoninfluence at Sep 30, 2011,
#36
Quote by Lemoninfluence
the uk still has a relatively strict patent system.

Don't know whether a genome case has been brought before the UK courts though.

If your country respects US patents on genetically modified organisms, it probably accepts these too (and may grant them as well).
#37
Quote by Dirge Humani
Why not? It is something a person puts work into, and is the same as any sort of physical good in my eyes.

There's a couple reasons. The first is a moral one. If your work is going to benefit someone at no toll to you -- yet you still decide to charge for it -- it's a little selfish, imo.
Second is a more pragmatic reason: Wanting to charge for something that doesn't really exist in the material world, can be reproduced infinitely, and can even be replicated accidentally doesn't make any sense. If something can be boundlessly reproduced at no charge (a file of music, a JPEG, etc), how are you going to honestly assign monetary value to that? (Literally) Infinite supply, very little demand -- the idea in question (song, JPEG, etc) is now, economically speaking, valueless.
#38
Quote by due 07
There's a couple reasons. The first is a moral one. If your work is going to benefit someone at no toll to you -- yet you still decide to charge for it -- it's a little selfish, imo.
Second is a more pragmatic reason: Wanting to charge for something that doesn't really exist in the material world, can be reproduced infinitely, and can even be replicated accidentally doesn't make any sense. If something can be boundlessly reproduced at no charge (a file of music, a JPEG, etc), how are you going to honestly assign monetary value to that? (Literally) Infinite supply, very little demand -- the idea in question (song, JPEG, etc) is now, economically speaking, valueless.


When you buy something non-physical like that, you're not paying for a physical object, but rather the work, experience, knowledge, creativity and talent that the creator put into whatever it is he made. You are, in essence, paying for his service as an artist.

EDIT: Here's a quote from picasso that I like:

Last edited by CoreysMonster at Sep 30, 2011,
#39
Quote by due 07
Was gonna post this.

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be associated with your creation/discovery, but owning what's ultimately an abstract idea as you would physical property is dumb as hell.

This.

Also i'm probably screwed if my band ever gets anywhere and people start hassling me about copyright about riffs and notes. >_>
#40
Quote by due 07
There's a couple reasons. The first is a moral one. If your work is going to benefit someone at no toll to you -- yet you still decide to charge for it -- it's a little selfish, imo.
Second is a more pragmatic reason: Wanting to charge for something that doesn't really exist in the material world, can be reproduced infinitely, and can even be replicated accidentally doesn't make any sense. If something can be boundlessly reproduced at no charge (a file of music, a JPEG, etc), how are you going to honestly assign monetary value to that? (Literally) Infinite supply, very little demand -- the idea in question (song, JPEG, etc) is now, economically speaking, valueless.

there is a limit on supply. The time and intellectual work are still a limit on supply, because without them there wouldn't be the original to copy. But yeah, digital media should be nigh on worthless.
Rhythm in Jump. Dancing Close to You.

Quote by element4433
Yeah. people, like Lemoninfluence, are hypocrites and should have all their opinions invalidated from here on out.
Page 1 of 3