[thelist] it's intellectual, but is it property? (was RE: GNU / GPL)

Joel D Canfield joel at streamliine.com
Fri Oct 26 10:59:05 CDT 2007

> - None of these inventions would have been possible without 
> generations
> and generations of scientists accumulating fundamental knowledge in
> physics, mathematics, electronics, ... . 
> - Most if not all of these "inventions" patented nowadays are next to
> nothing in terms of "innovation", compared to the sheer amount of
> knowledge the "inventors" just simply and unconsciously used without
> thinking twice whether or not this used to be someones "intellectual
> property". 

I can't agree with describing this as 'hypocrisy' - I don't even think
those discoveries, the 'fundamental knowledge', could be considered
'property' - how would Newton have taken legal control of gravity, for
instance? How would Watson and Crick have done so with their discoveries
of DNA?

If I find a brilliant application for a fundamental bit of knowledge,
though, that's the creative part that matters. If someone else simply
steals my brilliant application, that's not the same thing.

It's very much the difference between me seeing some functionality at a
website, and figuring out how to create something like it, versus
copying their code and reusing it without permission. They don't own the
idea of 'dragging this here makes that happen' any more than they own
the color blue.

The ability to synthesize something new, even if it's a small thing, is
still creative. The songs I write sound a lot like Roger Miller and John
Fogerty, but I still created them - I didn't just copy their lyrics or
melodies, but I couldn't have created them without those and other
musicians. I haven't stolen their work, so it's not hypocritical for me
to ask others not to steal mine.


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