Guest Comic by The Muslim Agorist

Guest Comic by The Muslim Agorist

This comic was inspired by a controversy over the Shire Society Declaration.  The construction of the declaration was begun with a work by Libertarian author, L. Neil Smith.  Many changes were made after a lengthy discussion, but they remain quite similar according to a number of people.  I haven’t actually read the original work and I got turned off to the discussion for reasons described here.  I did ultimately find myself in enough agreement with the final product to sign it.

L. Neil Smith feels he has been plagiarized and has even mentioned that he CCed an email complaint to his lawyer, though I have yet to hear of any explicit threats of legal action.  This has resulted in a lengthy discussion of the notion of intellectual property and whether it’s a valid claim of property from a voluntaryist viewpoint.

One of the most eminently reasonable comments I’ve read about this controversy is from the Free Talk Live forum:

Even if you subscribe to the theory that L. Neil’s words and ideas are his even if you buy them from him, he still would not own the application of such, which is what the Shire Society did.

That would be like John Shaw writing a book on making flat screens or film editing and then claiming to own all the flat screens or films that readers may create in the future.

And in fact, it seems like he’d be really proud that someone was inspired enough to want to put his idea into motion in such a bold way.

My own views of intellectual property are a bit nuanced.  I definitely don’t believe anyone is entitled to damages or restitution because someone copied, not stole, your shit.  In that sense, I’m completely anti-IP.  On the other hand, I believe in the notion of IP in the sense that you can own an idea to the extent that you can “protect it” without violence.  You can either keep it secret or you can do a good enough job of branding it or at least date-stamping it so others will have difficulty claiming it as their own.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to make money off of copies but it might help you to counter that and make the money yourself in a peaceful manner.  I’m also a big fan of people expanding on ideas and making them better.  I think claims of damages for copying are unreasonable and they impede that creative process which many consumers stand to benefit from.  I’m also a big fan of reverse-engineering actual physical products and making your own versions of them, possibly improved or just at a lower price.  Patents are bullshit.  This is something else that consumers stand to benefit greatly from.

The work above is actually an original work by Davi Barker.  Sure, he constructed it with slightly modified pieces of my comics, but it’s an original work that I feel he deserves credit for creating.  My comics are instantly reproducible and therefore not at all scarce.  It’s my responsibility to figure out how to make money from such a product.  I do feel I deserve the common courtesy of being given credit for the building blocks of it, but that doesn’t imply damages or restitution of any sort, and he did give me credit.  He was able to construct his comic without doing any damage to me or my property whatsoever.  It seems absurd to claim “damages”.  Such a claim relies on the absurd notion that you are entitled to make money off your works.  In fact, because he did provide such an obvious credit to the building blocks of his work, his comic will most likely act as free promotion of my works!  Why should I complain about that?

Discussion (21)¬

  1. Marty says:

    Dale, you pretty much nailed my views on IP. I’ve submitted an article to TLE which, if all is well, will post right next to Neil’s. We’ll see.

  2. [...] The Revolution will be Plagiarised!By Davi BarkerPublished: 15 July 2010Posted in: Activists in Action!, Fr33 Living, Minor features, News, Philosophy, Top features, anarchyTags: anarchy, anarchy in your head, civil society, dale everett, intellectual property, new hampshire, property rights [...]

  3. Calpurnia says:

    Very persuasive treatment of this topic in last December’s Liberty magazine:

    starting from the axiom that “a property right is the exclusive right to control a scarce resource,” and showing that patent and copyright law actually result in allowing an IP owner to control property that belongs to a third party.

  4. Richard says:

    This. Is. Awesome.

    Davi and Dale, I thank both of you socialist scum™ for a perfect response to Mr. Smith’s angry confusion.

  5. H. Rearden says:

    The things I write are my IP. If AIYH is not the IP of DE then if someone were to create a website and copy the cartoons DE should be ok with that if DE does not support the concept of IP. Sure the cartoon is humorous but suppose someone really did copy AIYH cartoons. Btw, I believe that Smith over reacted and that situation could have been handled better.

  6. Dale says:

    People copy my comics already. They seem glad to give me credit for them. I’m sure the traffic to my site has been raised substantially by people seeing a comic on another site and seeing the URL and wanting to see more of them. If someone were to copy all my comics and start claiming to have drawn them, I have a fair amount of evidence to prove that’s not the case, and that would certainly be supremely rude. So no, I would not be okay with that and I would try to raise attention to the deception. However, I would not consider it a justification for violence.

    But consider this. Let’s say someone copied my comics and claimed they created them and then asked for artistic support in the form of donations. Now those who donated HAVE been defrauded and THEY might have a reasonable claim for restitution. And maybe they would turn around and donate it to me. In fact, when the word got out that someone was making money by lying about comics that were actually mine, the attention brought by the scandal might bring me even more support. :)

  7. Dinnerboi says:

    Dude, sweet!
    You’ve got people making the web-comic equivalent of fan-fics of your work.
    You’re practically famous. :)

  8. H. Rearden says:

    Harvey pekar passed away recently.

  9. Pete Eyre says:

    On-point. Nice.

  10. ChRoNo says:

    That was a viscous blow that just shut down the violent Muslim movement. I’m hiding behind a smokescreen of insanity. However, I just thought I’d deliver the Good news.

  11. ChRoNo says:

    You know what? Since we’ve been on the subject of race so much… let me just say publicly that websites like this and FreeKeene remind me of why white spirits are still smarter than the black spirits.

    My black crystal ball see’s an alliance between FTL and Infowars. It will be a powerful bond, although it will be plagued by a mutual mistrust. However, the once cold shoulder rivals shall both whole-heartedly agree on one key issue: Mutual Survival.

    The sequel to this open-ended story remains to be scene.

  12. Dale says:

    Since we’ve been on the subject of race so much…

    Who is “we”? Are you using the royal form of “we”?

  13. Amossk says:

    It’s stupid how far people take things, IP is just another example.

    Like many things, IP has a place in the world, and people have completely forgotten what that place is, and have taken it to extremes. Imagine how much more pleasant the world would be if people never took things out of context or to extremes like that.

    Things I believe IP (and similar things to it) should be used for:
    -Preventing some large corporation from stealing an invention or innovation of someone under them
    -Preventing companies from mass producing someone’s original idea/product as their own (an example being: hot topic seeing a picture of some custom “goth” pants someone made and filling their store shelves with copies of them 5 months later)
    -Making money off of someone else’s idea or creation without their consent, or even literally stealing it from under them.

    Things I think IP should NOT be used for (but often is):
    -Suing someone who uses your character in a comic, student movie, etc
    -Threatening to take someone to court who makes a character/idea even similar to yours
    -Using it to justify petty squabbles over such things in general.
    -Bringing the government and the law system into the picture over yet another thing they should have no part in.

  14. MaineShark says:

    “You can either keep it secret or you can do a good enough job of branding it or at least date-stamping it so others will have difficulty claiming it as their own.”

    Actually, if someone was claiming it as their own, that could be fraud, and you could (if you so chose) use violence to defend against that fraud. Nothing to do with IP; fraud is fraud, regardless of the content of the fraudulent claim.

  15. H. Rearden says:

    I support IP and believe everyone should respect the IP others. Not just large corporations. What about small corporations and individuals? I don’t see why only large corporations should respect the IP of others. If IP were not protected by law that would hinder technological progress. Why bother spending years inventing something if it is ok for someone to steal it and claim credit for it?

    Dale are you in this movie?

    I am surprised that someone in Keene hasn’t done what this guy did.

    “It’s just like a mini-mall.”

    - Sammy Stephens

  16. MaineShark says:

    @H. Rearden:

    Falsely claiming credit is fraud, and is unrelated to the anti-IP argument.

    As an inventor, I’m anti-IP. There are lots of inventions out there that I would like to build upon, but cannot, because some big corporation bought the patent and is sitting on it.

    IP was designed by the government to impede innovation.

  17. H. Rearden says:

    MS what inventions do you take credit for? What evidence is there for your claim that IP was designed by government to impede innovation?


  18. MaineShark says:

    “MS what inventions do you take credit for?”

    None. I’m anti-IP, remember?

    “What evidence is there for your claim that IP was designed by government to impede innovation?”

    Everything the government does is to impede progress. IP is a creation of modern governments.

  19. Mit Ailbu says:

    If you invent something, be the first to market, build a good brand and then compete or get out of the way. Patents are the reason our friggin cars still have wheels. We have wheels and use petroleum because there is still petroleum to be pumped. If we actually hit “peak oil” and start heading down the other side, there will be new technology. It is already owned by big corps, just waiting for them to find a way to dominate the market. For now, there is more money in oil.

    The one thing I don’t like about this article is that you called me a consumer repeatedly. I am a person, not a consumer. :)

  20. Sigh…here’s the tale told once more…and again…argh!

    Tom and Dick bought adjacent land and became neighbors.
    Dick helped Tom build his home.
    Dick liked the design so well he built his own.
    Tom congratulated Dick on a wonderful job well-done.
    Tom helped Dick build an aircraft.
    Tom like the design so well he built his own.
    Dick sued Tom for building his own aircraft.
    Tom’s advice to all…don’t be a Dick.

    Smash copyright, patent, and IP!

    Free your mind and your butt will follow!

    End The Aggression And Fraud Today!

    And…yep…still hard at it!

    Starving The Monkeys and Ending The Looterfest,
    John and Dagny Galt
    Atlas Shrugged, Owners Manual For The Universe!(tm)


  21. Edgaras says:

    Well, seems that I have exact same views about IP as Dale, cool. :D