Who Should Pay the Costs of Intellectual Property?

I was thinking about feeds for cattle, and I was trying to remember whether I had read that soybeans cause indigestion in cattle. And, before I had thought too far on that, I remembered that most of the soybean production in the world is now subject to Monsanto's stupid IP claims.

Does your mind randomly associate like that, too?

Anyway, I was thinking about how even one bean in a large random sample contaminated with Monsanto's genes was supposed to be sufficient for patent claims to be brought, and I started thinking about how much it costs to test a soybean crop to that level.

And it occurred to me that Monsanto ought to bear those costs every time they decide that some farmer should be tested and the tests prove negative.

Then I thought about the indirect costs, in down-time, in paperwork, in legal fees. If Monsanto had to pay for those up front every time they decided some farm had to be tested, and could only recover those costs in cases where willful infringement was proven, would it cool Monsanto's greed?

(Yeah, I mean, under such a rule, for unintentional infringement, Monsanto could get an injunction, but no damages, and they would have to pay the costs for the tests anyway. Otherwise, we are punishing innocent bystanders, because, even though soybean genes don't spread on the wind like corn genes, one soybean of a large random sample is not indication of willful infringement except in the mind of someone who is pathologically paranoid.)

Of course, IP boosters say, no, they are such wonderful saviors of the world for risking (But is it such a risk any more?) the costs inherent in invention, somebody else should bear the burden of enforcing their property rights.

And suddenly my brain is imploding. When I was a kid, we owned some property that had become the common shortcut for the junior high kids on their way to the local strip mall. We tried to fence it off, so that we could use it for a vegetable garden or something else useful. We paid for the fence. We asked the city, and, no, the city had more important things to do than post a police car there on random days, in the morning and afternoon, just long enough to maybe encourage the kids to walk the extra 30 meters to the corner. The city could not foot the bill for that kind of thing.

But Monsanto, rich, hyper-rich Monsanto, wants me to foot the bill for enforcing a patent on genes that, 40 years ago, would not have been considered patentable material. Nature was once not patentable.

And it's the same way with excessive music, movies, books, software, and a lot of machines that were really just obvious, evolutionary steps, and in many cases already known and in use by the time the patent was filed, ... . The list of things people want to claim intellectual property rights on is endless. (Of course it's endless. It's your baby, it's beautiful, and heaven help the fool who says theirs is just as beautiful.) And, since intellectual property rights are not naturally enforceable, they want society to foot the bill for the new laws and various mechanisms for the enforcement they think they deserve.

(Mechanisms? HDTV.

You do understand the real reason for that huge boondoggle, don't you? HDTV has means for enforcement built in. Ineffective means, but the DMCA makes it illegal to even attempt to circumvent them, no matter how stupid and ineffective the means are.

No matter that circumvention might be attained unintentionally, either.)

So, here's the challenge.

You who want to push the edges of the envelope on intellectual property rights, who don't care that doing so destroys the very Constitution that provides the environment in which this kind of creativity is even feasible, who think that keeping people from listening to your music without your permission is somehow going to magically increase the number of people who pay to listen to your junk, here's the challenge:

If you really think your precious intellectual property is so valuable and important, you foot the bill.

You pay the cost of the technology churn that things like the HDTV fiasco induce.

You pay overburden costs you are inducing on the court systems and police systems.

And, when your complaints cause emotional distress to innocent bystanders, you pay for the emotional distress, too. Especially since you are trying to cause people to be scared to "use" "your" property (which wouldn't exist without them, by the way), you should pay ten, a hundred, a thousand times damages when innocent people get ensnarled in your nefarious schemes to profit at the expense of the rest of us.

The whole concept of intellectual property is an affront to humanity. The enforcement mechanisms being suggested are tantamount to treasonously stupid.

Yes, treasonous, because once secure mechanisms are in place to really enforce intellectual property, no bill of rights, no Constitution, no courts, no patriotic army, nothing can stand in the way of the first demagogue who decides to abuse those mechanisms to try to take over the world.

It's an inherent and intractable problem in systems, that certain kinds of security cannot be enforced in the system without destroying the system. If you don't understand what I'm saying, you need to learn and understand systems engineering.

There are reasonable rights to inventions and writings. Money is not the only right, not even the most important right. But one good invention, even lots of good inventions, does not imply the right to rule the world.

And that's what you're asking for when you insist on the kind of enforcement that is the topic of all the new laws you guys are trying to get made, from ACTA to TPP to the DMCA, to the hyper-long copyright extensions foisted on us by the Berne Convention, to the general "upgrade" of software to become patentable material, etc., all of that has a huge cost.

Who is going to bear that cost?

I think none of us should put up with it. So you bear the cost.

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