Linked by Christian Schaller on Tue 19th Apr 2005 18:26 UTC
Legal We today face the risk of software patents being approved in the EU because not enough parliamentary members will be showing up to vote. Due to this it is important for those of us who oppose software patents to make sure EU parliament members see the damage software patents cause, so they realize it is important to be there to vote providing the needed absolute majority. But sending out a clear message is also important for the process of patent reform in the US and other places who have fallen into the trap of introducing them.
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@Miles Stevenson
by A nun, he moos on Wed 20th Apr 2005 17:41 UTC

This is getting dangerously off-topic, but I'll respond anyway.

You say that my position is simply a philisophical belief, not based on any scientific theory. But I say it is simply reason. Men rely on the power of their thinking, reasoning minds to produce and to survive.

Indeed they do. However, it is fallacious to conclude that the position your propose is the natural outcome of reasoning, since opposite positions are also achieved through reasoning. The fact is that two people can reason and still come to different conclusions. Your position, on the economic left/right axis, would be to the right, while mine is on the left. At least we agree on the libertarian/authoritarian axis. Simply put, your ideological position is libertarian/right, while mine is libertarian/left.

Our minds are individual entities. We are not connected like some autonomous Borg collective from Star Trek. Everything produced and achieved by mankind has been done by individual thinking minds. Yes, these minds can work cooperatively, but they are not a connected collective acting as one mind. We are not a colony of clones.

Nobody is arguing this. If you are claiming that this represents my position, then I'm sorry to say that it's a textbook strawman argument.

When you speak of the "common good", as all socialists do, you blank out when it comes to the subject. The common good....for whom?

For the greater part of the population. This is the same argument used to defend democracy: of course democracy does infringe on the desires of monarchs, and yet it does serve the common good.

You say that without the notion of "the common good", the Internet would not exist. I say you are dead wrong.

Unfortunately, I am not. The Internet was first a government-sponsored project, financed with taxes paid by the citizenry to provide a resilient network that would help defend the country, i.e. the "common good."

I say that without the extroadinary achievements of the individual men and women who have developed technologies, written software, and corporations who have built coast to coast communications lines and satellites because they wanted to achieve, we would not have the Internet.

Sure. The probelm with your reasoning, which is common among free-market ideologues, is that they present the individual and the community as an exclusive dichotomy, i.e. either you defend individual rights or collective ones. The truth, however, is that there is no such dichotomy. A community is composed of individuals, and it is possible to benefit both. I suggest you read up on game theory for some examples of this.

Put another way: I, as an individual, benefit from the "common good" such as education, health care, unemployment insurance, and the military. Infrastructure stuff. There is such a thing as "the public", though I prefer the term "citizenry" which in my view is more accurate. There is such a thing as "the common good", and only right-wing ideologues believe that such a concept is incompatible with individual rights.

You think AT&T and Bell Labs and IBM and all the men who worked for these great companies changed the world so you and I can chat on AOL?

These companies wouldn't have changed anything if it hadn't been for tax dollars funding their research. The Internet is not a product of capitalism, but of government programs.

You say civilization would not have been achieved without "the common good"? Observe which political system is responsible for building the wealthiest and greatest city in the world, New York City: Capitalism.

That would be great if true, however as I've mentioned before the U.S. is actually quite interventionist in its economic policy, injecting billions of tax dollars to help flagging industries, or jumpstart new ones. Despite what you say, the U.S. isn't a capitalist country, at least not in the classical sense: it integrates elements from such diverse sources as Marx and Keynes (more from the second than the first, obviously).

Another problem is that, if what you were saying was as simple as you present it, then there wouldn't be any economic problems in the U.S. However, as the Economist recently pointed out, this is far from the truth. In fact, the U.S. is in fact in a precarious economic situation, and has been in perpetual crisis management since the 70s.

The main problem I have with right-wing ideologues is that they'll refuse to acknowledge simple historic realities, i.e. the fact that, if let to its own devices, "pure" capitalism will lead to two very bad things: class struggle and disastrous stock market crashes.

Observe the national and horrific failure of every collectivist attempt throughout human history to build a civilization from "the common good", the most horrifying being Soviet Russia.

Any absolutist philosophy will result in disaster, whether its capitalism or collectivism. However, economies that combine elements from each are not only healthy, but more resilient, and their standard of living is often higher than what you'll find in U.S. Examples abound, with Canada and the Scandinavian countries being prime examples.

Meanwhile, even countries that call themselves communist can have booming economies: China and Vietnam are prime examples. The case could also be made of Cuba, which has survived an economic embargo for decades and can still afford free education and universal healthcare. The illiteracy rate is actually higher in the U.S. than in Cuba!

Now, to stay moderately on-topic:

As far as patents being out of reach from individual coders, I emplore you to revisit reality. Not only can the personal bank accounts of individual coders not handle patent fees and legal fees, but they can't even handle the startup costs of a software company.

That's a fallacious argument. The startup cost of a software company represent an investment, i.e. you get something from it. Researching patents, and actually applying for one, represent huge legal costs - tens of thousands of dollars for a single patent. Patent litigation can cost millions. This is clearly geared towards large corporations, and will simply shut out SMBs and individuals out.

Funny how right-wing ideologues are always ready to defend individual rights, except when those individuals have to go against large corporations. Herein lies the inherent hypocrisy of free-market theories. While they all praise the "level playing field" that free markets allegedly provide, the truth is that the accumulation and concentration of wealth guarantee that the field will never be even, but always tilted towards the larger, richer corporations.

This is the reason why software patents, far from being tools to promote innovation, are actually business weapons for large corporations and - if implemented - would in fact prevent innovation and severely limit the chances of small entrepreneurs and individuals. This, in turn, undermines the basic argument that right-wing ideologues use to sell the free-market sham, i.e. that it promotes the age-old "american dream" where you can make it big if you have good ideas and are ready to work hard.

As usual when dealing with the propaganda pushed forth by the corporate elites, the reality is quite different from what they would have us believe.