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Post 80

Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 3:59pmSanction this postReply
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OK, it’s done.

Thanks, Aaron.




Post 81

Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 6:59pmSanction this postReply
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Jon, I don't agree with you regarding your hypothetical dispute between Peikoff's heir and Penguin Books. To begin with, Peikoff's heir is not a creator; he didn't write Atlas Shrugged, and neither did Peikoff himself. Rand herself has been dead for around twenty years, and if anybody has a claim to copyright on Rand's works, it's Ayn Rand herself. Were we on the same jury, I'd vote in favor of Penguin Books.



Post 82

Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 8:55pmSanction this postReply
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Matthew,

Sounds like you reject, at least for copyright, a power to assign inheritance. You give your reasons and I respect your position.

Do you accept a power to assign inheritance for homes, farmland, real estate generally? If so, why the difference?

Jon



Post 83

Friday, July 22, 2005 - 7:36amSanction this postReply
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Jon:

> Sounds like you reject, at least for copyright, a power to
> assign inheritance. You give your reasons and I respect your
> position.

I do, because I think that copyright is more of a privilege than a right. Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution states that the Congress shall have power "...to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

An idea is not a tangible object. I can express my idea, and thus give it to you without losing it. This being the case, it seems to me that copyright is a government-granted monopoly privilege on the distribution of an idea. I think that granting this privilege to the originator of an idea is legitimate, but not to his heirs.

I could, of course, be wrong. I'm a programmer by trade, not a lawyer.

> Do you accept a power to assign inheritance for homes,
> farmland, real estate generally? If so, why the
> difference?

I do, mainly because I am used to doing so. Putting aside mental inertia, I respect the right to grant ownership physical property to an heir because one of the rights associated with tangible property by its nature is the right of the owner to dispose of it as he pleases.



Post 84

Friday, July 22, 2005 - 10:11amSanction this postReply
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Matthew,

I am concerned about the discrimination against Rand, and all abstract creators. As you would have it, had Rand swung a hammer for 12 years and personally built a house, she would have received better property rights protection than you will give her for her book. By writing Rand created multitudes more value. She has to be rewarded correctly.

Could she sell the copyright to AS during her lifetime? If you would allow sale, would the buyer see his property disappear upon her natural death? If we give her copyright for only her lifetime, that copyright will be worth only a fraction of the value it would have if it had some longevity. If you will not allow sale, it’s vastly worse for her.

If we switch this property rights protection policy, we would have homes that cannot be assigned to others for inheritance, but instead go into the public domain upon the builder’s death. Home values would obviously be positive, but at a fraction of today’s value. Older homes, of builders now in their nineties, would sell for the equivalent of a couple year’s rent, as they will passing, unpredictably but soon, into the public domain. Despite the oddities, this would “work”; it’s just so far removed from my sense of justice. Why should the public be getting a constant supply of free public domain homes? Why should it be getting a stream of free novels? In both cases, the effect is to devastatingly lower the value of the property that is supposed to be protected.

Can you save your rejection of assignment of inheritance of copyrights from rewarding great creators less than if they had labored to create only physical values?

Jon



Post 85

Friday, July 22, 2005 - 1:35pmSanction this postReply
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Jon:


> I am concerned about the discrimination against Rand, and
> all abstract creators. As you would have it, had Rand swung
> a hammer for 12 years and personally built a house, she
> would have received better property rights protection than
> you will give her for her book. By writing Rand created
> multitudes more value. She has to be rewarded correctly.

I'm not disputing that Rand created something with value an order of magnitude greater by writing than she would have by swinging a hammer. However, as I understand the law (please remember that I am not a lawyer), a copyright is not a thing, but a privilege. As I remember, the original term for copyright in the US was fourteen years. Had Rand written Atlas Shrugged in 1790, she would have seen her novel enter the public domain in 1804.

Yes, Rand could sell her copyright while alive, give it to another, or even renounce it and place the copyrighted work into the public domain. But, unlike a piece of tangible property, what claim does Leonard Peikoff have to Atlas Shrugged? He did not write it. If he cannot claim to have written it, then why should he hold a monopoly on the dissemination of an idea that he did not originate?

Please understand that I am used to thinking in terms of physical property, like real estate or money, when discussing property rights. I'm used to thinking that the only way to steal intellectual property is to engage in plaigarism.



Post 86

Friday, July 22, 2005 - 1:42pmSanction this postReply
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Good comments, Matthew. Thanks.

Regarding, “what claim does Leonard Peikoff have to Atlas Shrugged ?” What claim would he have to a home she wanted to leave him? Just the fact that it belongs to her and it’s what she wants, right? What’s the difference?

Jon



Post 87

Friday, July 22, 2005 - 2:16pmSanction this postReply
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Jon, a best-selling novel that changed the lives of millions isn't the same thing as a house. You can take the house I left to you when I died and make of it a home of your own, but if Ayn Rand left to you the copyright to Atlas Shrugged, could you make it your own work? I certainly couldn't.



Post 88

Friday, July 22, 2005 - 3:19pmSanction this postReply
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“could you make it your own work?”

Oh, yes. God help us. I’d be much worse than Peikoff.



Post 89

Monday, July 25, 2005 - 12:17pmSanction this postReply
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Has anyone listened to Rand's speech to the West Point graduates entitled, "Philosophy: Who Needs It", and is also the introduction to the book of the same title. The speech is great, but afterwards, come the questions. One man asks something about racism, and Rand goes on and on... and she eventually addresses the "cultural genocide" against the Native Americans that occurred many years ago. Rand seems to fully support the founders taking the land in the name of progress. She says that the natives were more or less savage nomads, and enemies of progress. Thus, she supported the stripping of their land, in the name of progress.


I don't have much to say on Eminent Domain, because I'm currently unsure about it. So I thought I'd just point out this contradiction that Rand created.



Post 90

Monday, July 25, 2005 - 3:18pmSanction this postReply
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Welcome Brandon. Agreed concerning Rand (and some other Oists) sadly being apologists for conquest of the natives.




Post 91

Monday, July 25, 2005 - 3:26pmSanction this postReply
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[deleted]
(Edited by Sarah House
on 7/25, 3:27pm)




Post 92

Monday, July 25, 2005 - 4:58pmSanction this postReply
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The sadness lies in being an apologist for savages...



Post 93

Monday, July 25, 2005 - 6:17pmSanction this postReply
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"The sadness lies in being an apologist for savages..."

Meaning what exactly? Savages like de Soto, Pizarro, Jackson, Custer, Sherman?




Post 94

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 12:34pmSanction this postReply
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I haven't seen the comments Brandon Miller mentions, but, not for the first time, I'm inclined to side with Rand.  He is apparently saying that the Indians' property rights (among others, perhaps) were violated.  To have nominal property rights you have to have a written-down, publicly-promulgated legal system that recognizes them.  To have real, natural property rights someone has to have claimed the resource and put it to use, "mixed his labor" in the traditional phrase, typically by putting up buildings or growing crops.  Saying "it's mine" isn't enough.

Neither condition holds for nomads.  Not all the pre-Columbian people in what is today the US were nomads, but my impression is that whatever land you could plausibly say the natives owned, still does in the form of reservations.

Peter




Post 95

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 2:47pmSanction this postReply
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So you resolve what was done to some tribes by excluding hunting/gathering from counting as homesteading?




Post 96

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 2:54pmSanction this postReply
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Yes, I'd say that hunting and gathering don't count as labor-mixing (I think this was John Locke's theory originally).  These activities take what the land has to offer rather than using it to produce something new, which I think of as a necessary condition of establising property and the right thereto.

Peter




Post 97

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 8:11pmSanction this postReply
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I just heard an interesting song by Jethro Tull, that discusses eminent domain, "Farm on the Freeway":

Nine miles of two-strand topped with barbed wire
Laid by the father for the son.
Good shelter down there on the valley floor,
Down by where the sweet stream run.

Now they might give me compensation…
That's not what I'm chasing. I was a rich man before yesterday.
Now all I have got is a cheque and a pickup truck.
I left my farm on the freeway.

They're busy building airports on the south side…
Silicon chip factory on the east.
And the big road's pushing through along the valley floor.
Hot machine pouring six lanes at the very least.

They say they gave me compensation…
That's not what I'm chasing. I was a rich man before yesterday.
Now all I have left is a broken-down pickup truck.
Looks like my farm is a freeway.

They forgot they told us what this old land was for.
Grow two tons the acre, boy, between the stones.
This was no Southfork, it was no Ponderosa.
But it was the place that I called home.

They say they gave me compensation…
That's not what I'm chasing. I was a rich man before yesterday.
And what do I want with a million dollars and a pickup truck?
When I left my farm under the freeway.





Post 98

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 8:13pmSanction this postReply
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"To have nominal property rights you have to have a written-down, publicly-promulgated legal system that recognizes them."

Or, at the least, the means to assert that right.

"Good fences make good neighbors."



Post 99

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 10:12pmSanction this postReply
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Eminent Domain is very much justified under an objectivist view of property, as are zoning laws. Without proper governance, when subdivided over the years, lots of land can become balkanized, unmarketable little patches of dirt, not even accessible without trespass onto other property.

Suppose the following:

Mr. A. owns a 400' x 100' tract of land, with the 100' south side adjacent to a road. Otherwise, the land is surrounded by other property. Mr. A. decides to sell the North 200' feet of the property to Mr. B. A. gives B. a deed, complete with an access easement to the North lot. Because B. is a private person, he doesn't feel the need to record this deed in the local courthouse. A later sells his remaining South lot to Mr. C and moves to Florida. When C. bought A. property, he had no clue of B.'s ownership of the North lot of that he had an access easement to the property across the South lot. C. recorded his deed at the local courthouse. When C. meets B., he decides he doesn't like him, and doesn't give him access into the North lot, regardless of offers and pleas from B. Now B.'s property is landlocked.

Under modern law, this result would not be allowed to happen. A. would be required to get approval from the local zoning board before subdividing his land. B. may have an easement by necessity--C. would have to let him cross over his property regardless of what C. thought. But otherwise, C. would take free of B.'s easement, since he was a bona fide purchaser for value without notice of the deed or easement of the back property. State action is necessary so that almost an acre of land does not become worthless.

Another scenario:

An association of businesses and interested citizens in a state desire to build a highway, in order to increase their economic opportunities, livelihood, and movement across the territory. When best mapped geographically, the highway would go across several hundred different parcels of land. Most of these owners approve of these endeavors, but quite a few either don't, or no owner can be located or ascertained. One owner disapproves because of the noise and smell of automobiles. Another disapproves because he believes automobiles are tools of the devil. Another parcel of land has just had its owner die, his heirs and unknown and numerous, his estate is now tied up in probate, and may be for several years. Another parcel of property was owned by a corporation that is no longer active, and none of its former directors can be located. Another parcel just appears to be abandoned, but may not be. Without approval of all these mentioned parties, and others, the highway project would be economically and geographically unfeasible.

The solution: these independent business and free citizens have formed a democratically elected government. That government has the power of eminent domain--to take land for public use. Under this situation, the state would (1) decide the land to take, (2) give just notice to the owners and allow them to appear at a hearing to dispute the public necessity and prove the value of their property, (3) the court would make the just rulings, (4) the state would offer the owners the fair market value of their property, and (5) the state takes possession of the property.

Let me repeat (4) because I think this is commonly forgotten about eminent domain: The state is giving the owners the monetary value of their property. There is no net loss to its owners. The owners can take the money the state gives them and buy another parcel of land.. You could argue that this price would not include "intrinsic" or "sentimental" value of the property. But even if you want consider the subjective, irrational whims of some owners, a court could consider these factors is its valuation and augment what it pays the owners accordingly.

Under modern law, people can't just be allowed "to do whatever they want with their own land." If they did, they could easily wreck marketable title for all their neighbors. Thus zoning and eminent domain law--when not abused--protect property rights, and don't destroy them.




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