Re: He does have a point
Re:"Except that your original argument was that it didn't create wealth and only leachers benefited, so it does matter in that it destroys the credibility of your argument."
Net wealth and it is parasites, not creators, in my opinion, who mostly benefit from the system overall.
The beneficial effects of thalidomide are a good thing. The detrimental effects are a bad thing. The gross disparity that makes Thalidomide *net* detrimental also make it *unacceptable*. Despite the possibility of benefit, the downside was so severe it was banned. Last I heard, it had actually been approved by the FDA, within strict limits, for use because of significant additional benefits for which there is no other viable option. To get this approval, the applicants had to convincingly demonstrate both that the net benefit was high enough and (with the limits) the net risk low enough to make it a *net* viable option.
If the people promoting copyright had a case for why copyright was net beneficial, they would make it. They have the figures. Thanks to the monopoly rights we gave them, they have the funds to do the research and prove it out. They would be fools not to. I put it to you that the reason the scientific case is not being made is because it *cannot* be made. That is, whatever actual data is available does not support the case for 75 year copyrights and patents on software and it likely does not support much else. The people on the other side of this debate are not idiots. Copyright is their bread and butter. Instead of spending time and money proving the case for why they are net beneficial, they have spent their time and money lobbying governments and supra-national organizations to *criminalize* the civil breach of copyright infringement.
Re: "But you haven't yet proposed an alternative system for funding easily copyable creativity."
Why do I have to? I have not proposed a system for funding Wikipedia either, but it seems to be doing OK. I have not proposed an alternative system for funding freely breathable air for that matter. Creation happens anyway. It happened for the millenniums before copyrights existed. Heck, it happened when you had to copy a book by hand and could not even reasonably make a single extra copy of a painting. It will happen still, long after copyright is a sad little footnote in history almost impossible to explain to future generations. I have, alternatively, proposed a system that would allow people to legally sing 'happy birthday' again. I have proposed a system to unlock incredible amounts of the world's wealth and an almost dead certain system to result in an incredible growth in creativity within a few short years and wealth overnight.
Imagine what you are saying. Because it is now easy to make the world's wealth available to all, we need to impose controls to stop making it available? Are you mad? Scarcity made things expensive. We found ways to eliminate scarcity. Let' use them. People whose business models depended upon that scarcity will have to find less destructive business models. Let's get on with the new age of 3D printing, instantly accessible knowledge, miracle drugs and cheap fusion energy. Do you honestly think that the world would be a better place if we were more vigorous pursuing copyright violations on Wikipedia in an attempt to force people back to using Encyclopedia Brittanica, because 'gosh, unless somebody is being paid to make the encyclopedia it would never happen?
Wikipedia is one of the top ten destinations on the Internet used almost daily by everyone. Here are the top ten by order of Alexa rank: Facebook, Google, YouTube, Yahoo!, Baidu, Wikipedia, Windows Live, Amazon.com, Tencent QQ, Twitter. Are they funded by copyright? It is not their access to copyright that made them annihilate the competition. They don't need copyrights to survive and for the smaller players copyright is probably half strangling them.
Re: "... and of course all the small-time photographers who would see their work used, un-paid by the Daily Mail."
Can you seriously be making that case? You think we should maintain a multi-trillion dollar worldwide copyright and patent tax** because it will disrupt stuff like that? I don't know what percentage of the world's near $100 TRILLION dollar GWP that would be, all in for every freelance contribution of every type to everyone of the world's obsolete and dying media companies, but it can't be much. I seriously doubt it is big enough to survive rounding errors on a scientific calculator.
I am quite certain that people who eke out a living selling pictures to the Daily Mail will find some way to eke out a living if we free the world from abusive taxation. The only difference will be that the tiny amount they might get will go much, much farther in a world of unfettered abundance.
** In one extreme example, the RIAA claimed damages against Limewire totaling $75 trillion - more than the global GDP - and "respectfully" disagreed with the judges ruling that such claims were "absurd" -- http://news.techworld.com/sme/3267255/judge-rules-punitive-damages-against-limewire-absurd/ -- via Wikipedia thanks to not copyright.
Re: "Which lots of people do. " (apropos of patent mining)
Nobody I know does it. I submit that even if it is 'lots' in absolute numbers it is not nearly 'lots' in terms of percentages of people who could or would if there was something valuable there. I *do* know people who review patents to find prior art to defeat them, though. Feel free to provide examples of websites extolling the virtues of mining existing patents. Patents are very often in the news, but only examples of outrageous ones, trolling or destructive lawsuits that pervert the free market movement of materials and capital.
Patents were supposed to induce inventors to reveal the secrets of their amazing new inventions at the expense of giving them a limited monopoly on the idea. We have paid the cost, but we clearly have not seen the benefit. What benefit there might be in the patent system for the few good ideas are obscured by mountains of junk patents and what patents aren't junk are written in such a way that even experts have trouble figuring out what they are trying to say. If guys in the patent office can't understand the patents, I submit that the main purpose of revealing them has been ipso-facto defeated.
From what I know, patents are paid for not by people who went looking for an idea to license, but rather by people who invented something and were sued by someone else who *claims* to have a patent broad enough to somehow include their idea or likely more often who claims to have a patent on some commonplace necessary aspect that nobody reasonable would seek to patent.
Re: "the award of patents needs to be tightened up."
We agree on this. I am for a radical tightening myself.
Re: "You might not like copyright and patents, but you've yet to make a sound case for them being abolished."
The natural case in common law is to allow me to go about my business as long as it does not interfere with yours. Copyrights and patents allow people with alleged 'ownership' of the 'right' to interfere with the activities of others without offering anything of value in return. I don't mind paying a photographer to photograph my wedding. I *do* mind being held to ransom for a picture already in existence, especially common stock stuff like a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Pyramids that is sitting on my computer. Images are one of the things whose cost is falling due to ever increasing capacity to take and store photographs. Paying for photographs might make sense when it costs $50,000 to buy camera equipment, years training how to use it and an expensive ecosystem to allow pictures to be developed and transmitted. It does not make much sense when everyone in the world has a camera, even the best systems are within the reach of ordinary hobbiests and storage and transmission are essentially free. Copyrights on photographs of stuff like tourist destinations and giraffes make not sense at all. Annie Leibovitz might suffer and that would be a shame. On the other hand, I am pretty sure somebody would pay Ms Leibovitz to keep on making her magic. I would pay a shekel or two to have her do a few portraits. Copyright is not driving that.
I am not sure why you do not think that making the entirety of the worlds artistic, cultural and intellectual wealth, lowering the cost of every item in production, making education much more available and generally increasing the worlds genuine tangible wealth overnight with the stroke of a pen fails to be a sound case. How, then, about saving the lives of people who otherwise cannot afford medicine? How about reducing the cost of medical equipment generally. How about, god help us all, just weakening the forces of evil by reducing their air supply?
Is there any other thing that we could do this week to make the world a better place than to free up all this pent up wealth by simply agreeing to do so?