Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On IPR Abolition 18: Patent, Copyright and Jeffrey Tucker

Reposting below the exchange I had this morning in facebook. With permission from Mike Perez, Stephen Cutler and Dong Abay. A bit long, more than 2,300 words, 5 pages, enjoy.

"If patents for inventions were part of the free market, to make and sustain them would not require legislation, constitutions, bureaucracies, filings, armies of attorneys, and years of litigation." -- Jeffrey Tucker,

Nonoy Oplas This is simplistic thinking. One, physical assets like cars, houses, shoes, laptops, etc. are part of the free market, and they require legislation, constitution, bureaucracies.. And so IPRs are also part of the free market, they are property rights that need respect and enforcement.

Two, private property rights can be enforced by the private sector or civil society, with or without govt penalties. If thieves and shoplifters are caught inside a mall, they are apprehended by private security guards, they can be photographed and their faces plastered in the mall in a wall of shame, other schemes. That is private punishment against violation of private property rights.

The same way, thieves of IPRs like patent, trademark and copyright can be penalized by an industry association, a civil society org. If someone sells burgers wrapped with fake McDo or Burger King wrappers and trademark, and the consumers get good poisoning, who will they sue -- (a) the orig McDo/BK, (b) the IPR thieves like those sellers, or (c) IPR abolitionists like Jeff Tucker? Obviously (a) and (c) will not accept responsibility so (b) must be prosecuted for misleading the public and consumers. If people get food poisoning after consuming food from the orig McDo/BK store, then they can be held accountable. But these companies take care of their trademark so carefully, they can assure the public of 0.00% possibility of food poisoning as they know the consequences of damaged brand and trademark.

IPR abolitionists like Tucker are just simplistic minded.

Joshua Gallardo Roa Woww you had stipulated it clearly....thank you for this info Nonoy Oplas

Nonoy Oplas There was a case of a local burger shop named “Mang Donalds” with logo somehow similar to MacDonald. The latter did not like this, so it sued the former over trademark issue, the former later closed shop, resurfaced as another food shop with a more unique name and encountered no legal issues, prospered. IPR forces people to be more unique, more innovative and creative. IPR abolition favors the lazy, un-imaginative and plain copycatters,

Stephen P. Cutler Nice work, Nonoy. These kinds of discussions keep us, as a nation, stronger. So many of us are intellectually lazy and just accept the ideas of others without question. Or we make personal attacks against the proponent of the idea,and fail to point out the weakness of that idea. THAT should be the focus. Thanks, again.

Nonoy Oplas Thanks Steve. The IPR abolitionists, mostly from the libertarian anarchists and government abolitionists, do not realize that they are peddling the culture of laziness and non-innovativeness. If copyright for songs was not invented, then possibly we will have no Eraserheads, Parokya ni Edgar, Bamboo, other known Pinoy rock bands. All they have to do is copy the songs of The Beatles, U2, RollingStones, Bon Jovi, etc., make records, do concerts as if they were also the composers of those songs. But the copyright law prohibits them from doing this, they have to pay a royalty to the original composers, and it can be costly. So instead of copying and being lazy, these Pinoy rock bands composed and invented their own songs, unique songs, and that is how they become famous and rich.

IPR abolition, an infantile and simplistic philosophy.

Nonoy Oplas Ironically, IPR abolitionists argue that IPR protection is anti-small business. Weird. Facebook was a nobody before compared to friendster or yahoo or other early social networking sites. With idea exclusivity, clear and explicit trademark protection, facebook worked its way up with endless innovation and creativity. Lazy copy-catters are prevented from free-riding on facebook's growing popularity. They must invent their own sites and brand. And that is how other social networks were invented and became popular, like linkedin, twitter, google+, etc.

If there was no patent and trademark on Walt Disney products like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc., then Elmo, Barney, Barbie, Handy Manny, Dibo, Ipin and Upin, and dozens, or hundreds, of other cartoon characters may not have been invented. Why create new cartoon characters and face market uncertainties when you can be lazy and just copy the existing Mickey Mouse, make separate stories and sell comics and tv programs for a nice profit.

Many of the current "big" businesses used to be small businesses. Only innovation, endless innovation, can propel a business and an idea to success. IPR protection is only a tool for protecting innovative ideas against lazy copy catters.

Perez Michael Bautista IPR must be reformed. Everything is interdependent with everything, example: samsung, apple, huawei, etc. etc. uses the same parts and components, softwares, etc. Technology, Modern Production and Management practices makes IPR looks like a school girl.

Nonoy Oplas Hi Mike, IPR reform, yes, but abolition, no. Notice how the world famous brands in gadgets, appliances, etc. were almost ALL born and invented in countries where IPR is respected and protected -- US, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, etc. Almost nothing came from "all physical and intellectual properties are owned by the state and the collective" countries like N. Korea. Even socialist countries like China and Cuba respect IPRs. Of course there are copycatters in those countries and here in the PH. That is because those that prospered a lot were innovators, so copy-catters come to free ride on those products' popularity.

There are other factors that hound and restrain small businesses, usually government taxes and bureaucracies. Not IPR.

Perez Michael Bautista You can't stop people from copying, when top brands like samsung outsources their designs down to production they are aware they can easily be copied, and the only one thing that protects their name is: QUALITY. Sane people can easily identify the genuine from the fakes and get the best deal out of their money, whereas there are people who sacrifices quality over price.. IPR can't stop them from themselves.

IPR is about designs, engineering, production. Bureacrats, politicians hands-off!!! Let the engineers, scientists, designers, and artist community decide its future. I want to see IPR reformed and looked like CERN, imagine if we let these politicians operates these large hadron colliders? End of the world? 

Nonoy Oplas Right, I agree that copying cannot be stopped, and it's part of human nature. I think what is being prevented or prohibited, is commercial copying. If I sing Hey Jude in front of drinking friends, no problem, no one will sue me. If I sing Hey Jude and do records and assuming that I have a good voice, I can make money and pay no royalty, I can be sued.

As I posted above Mike, property rights can be protected and enforced by the private sector -- through private security agencies, industry associations. A thief caught in a mall is not immediately turned over to the police, but to the mall's security office. They are photographed, shamed and their faces are plastered. Public shame is worse than being sent to prison actually.

McDo or Jollibee can deploy their own private security agencies to clamp down on a fake resto bearing a copycat McDo and Jollibee logo and trademark. The police or the courts can come later. The first question really is IPR need to be protected or not, even by the private sector. The presence of the state is a secondary issue in the debate.

I authored a book, "Health Choices and Responsibilities." It's copyrighted. It's up to me whether to share my book for free or for sale. I opted to share it for free, freely downloadable. So let the IPR owner decide whether to share his works freely or for a fee. If people unilaterally dictates that ALL IPR must be shared for free, that is dictatorship too, don't you think.

Here's a good test for IPR abolitionists. Approach Parokya, Dong Abay, Bamboo, Kamikaze, 6 cycle mind, etc. Do not bring the police, the IPR or any other government bureaucrats. Just go to them as a private individual or group. Ask them if they are willing to share their songs to other artists for free, meaning the latter can record for free, do concerts for free, no royalties to those named and famous rock bands. If they say Yes, well and good. If they "No, they must pay us a royalty for each song", then respect it. That is the role played by IPR.

Perez Michael Bautista Exactly. The presence of a formal state is the final solution, the issues should be resolved with us the informed citizens first. I see self-governance is vital on this issues. 

Nonoy Oplas When someone, armed men, steal your car or your house or farm or computer by force, guns and bombs, you need government (police, the courts, etc.) to intervene. If you say you don't need government as you can bring in your friends with guns to get back at those armed criminals, the criminals will come the next day with plentier men and plentier arms. So there is need for government to enforce the rule of law.

The same for IPR. If someone will put up a copycat stall of Starbucks, Chowking, McDo, Figaro, etc. the real Starbucks, etc. can swamp on them with armed private guards to close their shops, for violation of trademark and IPR law. If these copycatters respond with armed men too, then government comes in later. So there is need for government to enforce the rule of law.

Dong Abay Hi Nonoy. "No, they must pay us a royalty for each song", should be an ideal statement. Will surely like if it will be that way.

Perez Michael Bautista It can't happen.  You can copy mcdonalds logo.. recipe.. etc.. but you can't copy the whole production, logistics and supply chain and the interactions that evolved through time. You don't need government force on this one, people will be happy to vandal your fake store anytime because your food made people sick.

Nonoy Oplas Thanks Dong. Real song inventors like you, you wish to be recognized for each work that you composed. The same way that you respect other artists and rock stars, you don't just copy their songs and make money out of them without paying them a royalty. That is why real inventors want IPR protection. Lazy "inventors" hate IPR protection. They want easy money without spending many nights, looking for inspirations, just to compose one song.

Wrong Mike. You can't also stop McDo, Jollibee, etc. from using guns and violence against copy-catters of their logo and food processes. So barilan na lang ng barilan, not good. There is need for government to enforce the rule of law and protect private property rights. That is called limited government. Govt need not venture into running banks, casinos, lotto, etc.

Dong Abay hirap maging Dong Abay , Nonoy.

Nonoy Oplas hahaha, I can imagine Dong. Famous stars and their compositions will be copied. Ok lang if they sing your songs in small parties, they are helping you popularize your songs. But if they copy your songs and do records as if they were the "orig composers" because they disrespect copyright and IPR, then that's the problem.

Perez Michael Bautista My point is, government will be the last to arrive on scene after they got all the beatings from strangers. 

Dong Abay it exists.

Nonoy Oplas Sabi na nga eh. Well, make lemonade out of lemons na lang. If they copy and record your songs, do concerts out of your songs, no royalty or even "thank you Dong Abay", they just want quick money out of your hard work, just take it as a compliment na lang.
Btway Dong, Stephen, permission to quote you. I will blog this exchange. Mike gave permission already 

Perez Michael Bautista Anyway, choose where you get the most benefit. Choose IPR if you want to keep your designs in private, private R&D, private funding. Choose public domain if you want other people to get involved and improve your work (of course you get the credit). Its more of a cost and profit strategy other than the political debate or social issues. Befriend an IPR lawyer know the details.

Stephen P. Cutler Nonoy Oplas, quote as you feel appropriate.

There are many good artists who want to simply perform, and THAT is the pay they want. So they should be able to upload to YouTube, and let others sing their songs as much as they like. Their choice. But they should not force everyone to do as they do. Many of us don't have other sources of income beyond our intellectual output. That is how we feed our families, as much as the farmer grows and sells crops to feed his. Thus, we should have as much ability to do that as anyone else. Perez has a point,but it depends on the kind of work. Writing computer code and so on works in the open source world, although I generally have no idea who else has contributed and am rarely left agog at how good an individual is. In other areas, though, asking people to get involved reduces my work. A Picasso or Manansala with my inputs becomes junk.

Interesting side note about the IPR of the vast majority of Filipino artists: almost none are protected in any way. Thus, they can be copied at will by anyone. Sadly, the copiers are not always true to the original, so that people around the world now see malproportioned figures and believe our artists are less capable than they are in reality. This is the real loss to the nation and the artist, putting aside the fact that there is a monetary loss. See the really well done article in October 2012's ROGUE magazine at

See also:
IPR Abolition 14: Mises Group and Anti-IPR Propaganda, April 19, 2012
On IPR Abolition 15: Motorcycle Patents, June 13, 2012
On IPR abolition 16: Debate with Teddy Boy Locsin, August 24, 2012 

On IPR Abolition 17: Copyright by a Government Corporation, September 07, 2013

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