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Re: gpl licensing

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: gpl licensing
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2006 01:18:02 +0100

On 5 Dec 2006 22:07:04 GMT (Richard Tobin) wrote:

> In article <>,
> Stefaan A Eeckels  <> wrote:
> >No, it just means that they have not yet been universally accepted as
> >property. We have no problems considering land (real estate)
> >property, but traditionally Bantu societies do not consider that
> >land can be owned by an individual. There are no "natural"
> >characteristics of property, just accepted ones.
> There are natural characteristics of physical objects, which are
> related to the laws we have about them.  It is a characteristic of
> physical objects that if one person owns them, another person doesn't.
> That some societies don't allow land to be owned doesn't change that
> fact.  However so-called "intellectual property" does not have this
> characteristic, because a copy is readily made and as good as the
> original.  The law gives abstract works that characteristic by
> granting monopolies such as copyright and patents.

The law gives that to real estate as well. If the law does not make
land "ownable", it is no longer property. 

> To reiterate: the distinction between physical property and
> intellectual property arises from facts about the world, not just
> conventions of society.

There is are classes of property that is tangible, and there are (ever
more) classes of property that is intangible. Money on a bank account
is just as much property as bullion. You can exchange digits on a bank
account for bullion, and vice versa. 

I'm not claiming that there are no differences between apples and
the copyright to a novel, but both can pay for the family dinner, and
both represent the work of a human. One is tangible (and edible to
boot!), the other mere symbols on a sheet of paper or bit patterns on a
CD. Without intangible property (like money), we'd all be subsistence
farmers. I grew up in Central Africa - you don't want to be a
subsistence farmer, believe you me. 

> >> Naturally, various
> >> interests would like this to be the case, and using the term
> >> "intellectual property" plays into their hands.  The same goes for
> >> using terms like "theft" and "stealing" when referring to copyright
> >> infringement.
> >
> >Of course. People will try and protect what butters their bread. 
> Some people will.  People organised into companies are particularly
> liable to this.

Because we (as society) have given companies a lot of obligations, like
paying their employees even if sales are below expectations, or paying
dividends to people who've entrusted their savings (which happen to
represent the work they've done) to these companies, etc.

It's not all rosy out there, but not all dim and dark either.

Take care,

Stefaan A Eeckels
The mushroom philosophy of product sales and support:
Keep your customers in the dark, feed them a lot of manure and
hope they will grow and flourish. 

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