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Soon, no one will be able to use any words without paying royalties

December 21st, 2011

If someone can “own” a word, or a particular series of words, and if they are able to slap lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters from high-priced attorneys on anyone who even approximates their protected verbiage, then in the long run we are all screwed. A friend of mine comments, “Soon, no one will be able to use any words without paying royalties…” in response to this.

the atlanta braves have a problem with the name of pixar's latest film

Mickey Mouse & Bobby Cox (AP)

The Atlanta Braves are spending lots of money “policing” their trademark (even though they do not have any trademark on the singular “Brave”) and Disney will be forced to spend lots of money countering what is by any reasonable interpretation, a frivolous assertion on behalf of the Atlanta Braves, who are spending lots of money objecting to the title of a forthcoming Disney movie called “Brave”.

Stitch Kingdom notes that “companies must actively police and enforce their trademarks and take all reasonable action to protect them otherwise the trademark may be considered abandoned and thrown into the public domain.” So perhaps this is just a case of due diligence and the Braves’ legal guys aiming to bill a few more hours. (more info…)

All of this money is 100% wasteful, and these costs, among others more-or-less frivolous and ridiculous, are ultimately built in to the prices you pay as a consumer. And this is just a silly Disney movie and a silly bunch of overpaid, politically privileged monopolists in the MLB duking it out over something inconsequential.

Multiply by infinity and you’ll have some idea of the true costs of “intellectual property” in aggregate.

Ultimately, my friend’s comment sounds perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but if you follow the intellectual property argument to its logical conclusion (to say nothing of the the practical issues about so-called “intellectual property”, the completely batshit insane arbitrary nature thereof, etc.), his concern is warranted.

Ownership & the Use of Force

September 3rd, 2011

By way of a rather lengthy example, this article at Anarchism.net discusses the difference between barter trade and capitalism, in order to arrive at the conclusion that some anarchist approximation of “capitalism” is AOK.

Since all these things are directly derived from the simple barter situation and no force is added it cannot be any less ethical or moral than the original situation. If you find this development ethically offensive you are not considering the actions or behavior of the people involved–you only take the results into account. If you want to guarantee a certain result or rules of conduct in a society you will have to rely on the use of force. Relying on force simply cannot be anarchist.

I think the idea is that the fisherman never “owned” the boat in the same sense that the capitalist “owns” the factory, or the plot of land, etc. Rather, he simply used it and possessed it, and in that regard he had some superior claims to it. But he didn’t own it, and further, even if he had made it with his own two hands he still would not have “owned” it.

Therefore the force is added when he attempts to prevent someone else from using it even while he no longer has any interest in using it.

This follows from the left-Anarchist position that “ownership” is wrong per se because it implies absolute control, which implies (and justifies) hierarchy/power imbalances. Since the consequences are undesirable, one ought also oppose the concepts of “ownership” and “property” which are inseparable.

I’m not necessarily endorsing this statement, but I think I understand it. Or am I completely missing the point?

I’m just not convinced that this philosophy isn’t simply a dogmatic, knee-jerk reaction to historical abuse. Likewise I am not at all convinced that in a free society with genuine community (a concept so foreign to most people that I will not attempt to define it here – maybe another time) such abuses would be the exception rather than the rule.

 

Petty Tyrants in Oak Park, MI

July 8th, 2011

I do not generally read or watch the local news, or even the national news. So when I heard a story out of Oak Park (MI) on Balko’s site via facebook this morning, I had to check it out.

Sure as shit, there’s a petty bureaucrat in a city not 3 miles from me, who’s intent on enforcing his standards of aesthetics even if it means pursuing criminal charges (up to 93 days in prison) against a woman who had the audacity to plant tomatoes in her front lawn.

Julie Bass' front-lawn garden

Aside from the City Planner’s questionable interpretation of the word suitable (round which this entire brouhaha revolves, apparently) I think it’s pretty obvious that anyone willing to press criminal charges against someone for growing a couple of plants is clearly mad. It’s not like she is breeding dogs or livestock or something that could conceivably pose a threat to her neighbors.

The city official’s name is Kevin Rulkowski, and his email address is krulkowski@ci.oak-park.mi.us. Feel free to send him an email and let him know how retarded it is. I did.

copy of the letter sent to Oak Park city planner Rulkowski

Here is a transcription, in case the print is too small.

I just read about Julie Bass and the vegetable garden she’s planted in her front yard (here).

I would think that the City of Oak Park has dozens of better ways of spending its very limited resources (financial and otherwise) than to harass a woman who is doing something useful and productive, and whose actions are not hurting anyone. The fact that you are seriously willing to push a criminal penalty of up to 93 days in prison ought to be taken as prima facie evidence that you are unfit to wield whatever small amount of power is bestowed upon a city planner.

It is people like you who make this world worse, every day.

What can I say? I calls ’em like I see ’em, and this one is as retarded as a football bat.

no third solution

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