Monday, May 18, 2020

Narrative Warfare: Intellectual Property Is A Weapon

The Excellence of Elocution cut a video on the Public Domain.

He's not a fan.

It's not a bad argument. The position that weakening intellectual property protections--he talks mostly of patents and copyrights, but this can be applied to trademarks also--is a major reason for American decline in critical fields isn't one to be dismissed easily. The cause-and-effect relationship between strong enforcement and speed of development is present, but I think that's more due to being a signal over government confidence than anything else; the comparison between ChiCom domestic enforcement vs. international predation is the point that is most telling of this being the case.

But I'm reminded of Beige Shiba and that dog's Schmitt posting of late. That's Carl Schmitt, by the way, the man who had to do the work to break down intellectually what most people do by instinct.

The degree to which intellectual property is respected is subject to friend/enemy distinctions. In most political operations, enforcing or denying them is a signal that a target is a friend or an enemy, and the actual effects of (non-)enforcement are either ignored or desired. The ChiComs enforce the rights of those subservient to them, and deny those of enemy actors or designated prey. The West is more sly about doing this, but does it nonetheless; the entire legal framework for reverse-engineering is evidence of this.

The only thing protecting most small-timers' IP is the need to maintain the confidence with the public that the system works. This means just enough general enforcement has to happen to keep the machine churning, but push come to shove if you're on the wrong end--even if your ducks are in a row and the rules say you're more solid than granite--you're going to get screwed Because Reasons without being strong enough to do your own enforcement the old-fashioned way.

That's the reality here. The drug patents are being targeted because the political conflicts push the pharmaceuticals into an enemy distinction, and enemies don't get the protection of law. We see this with ChiCom copies of Western technologies (badly done, most of the time), including Russian ones; we saw this previously with American copies of enemy technologies (e.g. illegal copying of the Mauser rifle design), and there are others. Further complicating matters are that judges and lawyers, in addition to often being tech-illiterate, are just as vulnerable to friend/enemy distinction as anyone else and acting accordingly; this reality makes blindly trusting the courts to be a foolish thing. (Let me emphasize "blindly" here; it's something else to know what you're dealing with.)

But, so long as that distinction isn't tripped--this is a disagreement between insiders and not in/out conflict--then Razorfist's argument has its merit. Public Domain has not been kind to what is within it, save for those faithfully reproducing works falling within it to keep them being available, and those faithful are few and far between. Keeping a work perpetually under copyright may be better in the long run, but that's something to be seriously argued once the present Civilizational crises are resolved.

1 comment:

  1. Bradford

    Perpetual copyright raises many issues
    1) a rentier mentality where a family or entity does no innovation but merely is extractive. How does that contribute to the common good?

    I have in mind software. Has the world really benefitted with MS literally blackmailing OEMs to install Office in order to obtain the Window license. Are we really better off without Wordstar,Lotus 123 etc?

    2) how does the public domain undermine the common good?
    3)public domain and copyright aren't an either/or but both/and
    Some content benefits coming to the public domain.

    4) how to organize public domain/ copyright so everyone's rights are protected?


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