I make no secret of the fact that I don’t subscribe to the concept of intellectual property. The biggest reason I don’t subscribe to the concept is because the concept itself is an oxymoron. Property implies ownership and ownership implies absolute control. Intellectual property takes the form of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. If you create a song and are granted a copyright, does that mean you own it? No. The copyright is granted by a government agency. The agency dictates the terms of the copyright. Usually it dictates limitations such as a time frame (for example, your copyright is only valid for so many years). The same is true of trademarks and patents. Receiving a copyright does not grant absolute control, it grants limited controls. Under the concept of intellectual property the only ownership that can be said to exist is government ownership over all creative works.
Things are even worse for consumers. Consider Nintendo’s recent announcement:
For nearly three years now, creators who wanted to make money from videos that included footage of Nintendo games had to go through the onerous approval and content requirements of the Nintendo Creators Program, which also gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of any ad revenues. Today, Nintendo announced it would be halting that program at the end of the year, in favor of a new set of “basic rules” for video creators. If those rules are followed, Nintendo now says, “we will not object to your use of gameplay footage and/or screenshots captured from games for which Nintendo owns the copyright.”
In addition, Nintendo says video creators can only monetize these videos through a number of official partner programs on a handful of platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.
When you pay for a Nintendo game, you’re only paying for the privilege of playing it as far as Nintendo is concerned. If you dared to record yourself enjoying “your” game and clicked the monetize button on YouTube, you could expect a take down notice from Nintendo’s legal department because, as far as the company was concerned, it owned any footage made of its games and determined that it wouldn’t allow anybody to profit from “its” footage. Nintendo eventually eased up a bit and announced that it would allow you to profit from “its” footage so long as you gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of the profits. Now it’s changing the rules again because as the owner of the games and, according to it at least, all footage of the games, it has the legal authority to do so. While you don’t have to become part of Nintendo’s Partner Program, you are restricted on where you can post footage from which you want to profit.
Imagine if these restrictions allowed under the concept of intellectual property were expanded to actual property. The construction company that built your home might be able to restrict you from monetizing any footage you made of the house. The manufacturer that built your vehicle might not allow you to post pictures of it on Instagram but only on Flickr. The manufacturer that built your computer might prohibit you from making an unboxing video. If any of the rules that apply to the concept of intellectual property were applied to actual property, most people would probably recognize how ridiculous the situation is.
In my opinion if you purchase a copy of a game, you should own that copy. You should be allowed to do whatever you want with it. If you want to record yourself playing it while you’re snorting coke off of a hooker’s ass and monetize that video, you should be allowed to do so (I also believe that you should be allowed to snort coke off of a hooker’s ass). There shouldn’t be a loophole that says any footage of that game is owned by the developer nor should there be any restriction preventing you from profiting from the game you purchased.
If you display a Nazi flag, you’re probably going to be persona non grata in your neighborhood (and will likely receive a visit from your local Antifa). This makes sense. The government that that flag represent murdered millions of innocent people. But why isn’t the same true if you display a Soviet Union flag:
This is the nub of the issue. While Naziism is intrinsically linked to the crimes of its followers, communism can always be separated. No one would tolerate a t-shirt emblazoned with Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini, yet the wildly oppressive Che Guevara is easily detached and morphed into a symbol of revolution.
The only real difference between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is that Nazi Germany got its ass handed to it and therefore wasn’t around long enough to rack up the same body count as the Soviet Union.
As the article points out, “Nazis, rightfully, are seen as hateful and vicious because their ideology is built around the idea that one group is superior to the other.” This is the excuse more communist sympathizers give me when I ask why they’re so starkly against displaying Nazi symbology but willing to wear Soviet symbology. The argument doesn’t hold up though. Marxism, like Nazism, is built around the idea that one group, the proletariat, is superior to the other, the bourgeois. Like Nazism, which is built on the conspiracy theory that the Jews have oppressed the Aryan race, Marxism is build on the conspiracy theory that the bourgeois have oppressed the proletariat. And like Nazism, which results in the “oppressed Aryans” killing the “oppressor Jews,” Marxism results in the “proletariat” killing the “bourgeois.”
One should have as much revile for the Soviet Union and its symbology as one has for Nazi Germany and its symbology. Both were horrible, oppressive regimes that murdered millions.
Senator Ron Wyden has had enough of consumers’ privacy being violated and has decided to do something:
The Senator’s proposal would dramatically beef up Federal Trade Commission authority and funding to crack down on privacy violations, let consumers opt out of having their sensitive personal data collected and sold, and impose harsh new penalties on a massive data monetization industry that has for years claimed that self-regulation is all that’s necessary to protect consumer privacy.
Wyden’s bill proposes that companies whose revenue exceeds $1 billion per year—or warehouse data on more than 50 million consumers or consumer devices—submit “annual data protection reports” to the government detailing all steps taken to protect the security and privacy of consumers’ personal information.
The proposed legislation would also levy penalties up to 20 years in prison and $5 million in fines for executives who knowingly mislead the FTC in these reports. The FTC’s authority over such matters is currently limited—one of the reasons telecom giants have been eager to move oversight of their industry from the Federal Communications Commission to the FTC.
I read through his proposal [PDF]. Strangely enough the proposal doesn’t mention any punishments or penalties for politicians or other government agents who violate people’s privacy.
Rules are for thee, not for me, ya fuckin’ plebs.
When it comes to surveillance my primary concern is government surveillance. The main reason I’m concerned about private surveillance is because it can turn into government surveillance (either by payment or by a subpoena). If that weren’t the case, I’d be far less concerned because, unlike government surveillance, I can opt out of private surveillance. Moreover, if private surveillance couldn’t turn into government surveillance, a company seeing me do something it didn’t like wouldn’t result in men with guns busting down my door at oh dark thirty to either kidnap or murder me. So any legislation that doesn’t curtail government surveillance is, in my opinion, worthless.
There are certain rules in the universe. Light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second, the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time, and arguments about voter fraud become more frequent as election dates near. An election is drawing near here in the United States so politicos are arguing about voter fraud. As is tradition the Republicans are arguing that voter fraud is a major problem while the Democrats are arguing it isn’t.
What amuses me most about this argument is that everybody involved in it uses the term voter fraud as if voting itself wasn’t a form of fraud. According to Wikipedia, “fraud is deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.”
When people go to the voting booth, what are they trying to accomplish? They’re trying to get their preferred candidates into office. Why would they care about what candidates are in office? Because they hope that their preferred candidates will reciprocate by giving supporters special favors.
Mind you, no self-respecting voter will admit to this, which is where the deception comes in. If you ask 10 voters what they hope to accomplish by voting, you’ll probably hear 10 people tell you that they’re trying to make their nation, state, and/or local community better for everybody living in it. They don’t claim to being voting for themselves but for the greater good. Isn’t that so magnanimous?
If the claim to be voting for the benefit of everybody is a lie, what special favors might a voter hope to gain if their preferred candidates get into office? A business owner might hope that their preferred candidate will pass regulatory legislation that will hinder their competitors. An anti-gun activist might hope that their preferred candidate will pass legislation that prohibits nongovernmental entities from possessing firearms. A religious individual might hope that their preferred candidate will pass legislation that gives their religious beliefs force of law.
Voting is nothing more than a deception to realize unfair gain or deprive individuals of legal rights. When somebody commits what is commonly referred to as voter fraud, they’re simply cheating at cheating. That being the case, I believe that the term voter fraud is redundant and should instead simply be referred to as voting.
Is Facebook private or public? This is currently being hotly debated, even in libertarian circles where Facebook was by and large considered private up until it silenced a large number of libertarian-leaning groups and pages. I believe that in order to debate this topic, the definitions of public and private must first be established.
What distinguishes a private entity from a public one? I would argue that the characteristic that most distinguishes a private entity from a public one is whether or not you’re allowed to stop participating in it. If, for example, you stop participating in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you will likely be awakened some early morning by the sound of men with guns breaking down your door. If you’re lucky, they’ll kidnap you. If you’re unlucky, they’ll summarily execute you.
What happens if you stop participating in Facebook? You stop participating in Facebook. That’s it. No men with guns will kick down your door and kidnap or execute you.
Since participation in Facebook is voluntary, I will continue to argue that it is a private entity. Even if it does collect user information for the expressed purpose of selling it to government agencies (as many self-proclaimed libertarians have been arguing as of late), it’s still private because you’re not being cohered into participating in the information collection (until the IRS’s information collection).
Apocalyptic financial predictions are a staple of libertarianism. This isn’t without merit. Governments around the world implement financial policies that can lead to nowhere but ruin. However, the mainstream media has always laughed at these libertarian predictions… until now:
Financial experts noted several ominous economic indicators, including skyrocketing student loans and U.S. household debts, that could predict a crash “worse than the Great Depression,” according to a report in the New York Post.
Goldman Sachs predicted that this year’s U.S. fiscal outlook would be “not good,” and that U.S. household debt had been increasing since the 2008 housing crisis led to American taxpayers bailing out the big banks.
In 2018, experts said, a $247 trillion global debt will be the greatest cause of the next cataclysmic financial crash. Additionally, low wages and the U.S. national debt’s steady rise are expected to drag down the economy.
This is from Newsweek of all sources.
Granted, the only reason the mainstream media is jumping onboard of the SS Financial Meltdown is because Trump is in office. If Hillary had won and implemented the same policies that Trump has, the mainstream media would still be laughing at predictions of financial meltdown. Regardless of their reasoning it’s still funny seeing this kind of story appearing.
Yesterday Zuckerberg unleashed his inquisitors and they found a lot of heretics:
Facebook said it was removing the publishers and accounts not because of the type of content they posted, but because of the behaviors they engaged in, including spamming Facebook groups with identical pieces of content and using fake profiles.
“Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the company said in a blog post. “People will only share on Facebook if they feel safe and trust the connections they make here.”
So what kind of pages were removed? As of this writing, Cop Block’s main Facebook page has been unpublished along with a number of its state affiliate pages. Gun Laws Don’t Work, V for Voluntary, Punk Rock Libertarians, and many other anti-state pages were also found guilty of heresy.
This is where most libertarians flip their shit about Facebook’s censorship… on Facebook. I won’t debase myself in such a manner. Instead I will point out that it was foolish for so many anti-statists to centralized their content on a site owned and operated by a statist. While I recognize how easy Facebook makes it to reach a large audience, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. In exchange for accessing Facebook’s audience you have to submit to Facebook’s policies and those policies are (probably purposefully) vague and in a constant state of flux. One minute Facebook takes a hands off approach to content, the next it erases dissenting voices like the black plague erasing Europeans.
Of course this entire mess could have been avoided by simply doing the pre-Facebook status quo. Had all of these organizations kept their audience focused on their own websites and forums, there would have been nothing for Zuckerberg’s inquisitors to censor. Instead they opted for the ease of relying on Facebook. They pushed their audience to Facebook and thus put themselves under the rule of Zuckerberg. Now they’re paying the price. Some of these organizations are fortunate enough to still have their own websites and forums so they haven’t been completely erased but most weren’t so smart.
Once again I find myself beating this bloated corpse of a horse that is advocating for individuals and organizations to stop relying on centralized technologies and instead rely on their own infrastructure. Sadly, I know that the innards of this corpse are going to burst forth and spill all over the place before anybody follows my advice.
When referring to communicable diseases, it’s common to say that they’re spreading.
Considering that, I think the phrase “spreading democracy” is particularly apt.
The Trump administration has decided to devalue your dollars even more by placing additional tariffs on Chinese goods:
The US is imposing new tariffs on $200bn (£150bn) of Chinese goods as it escalates its trade war with Beijing.
These will apply to almost 6,000 items, marking the biggest round of US tariffs so far.
Handbags, rice and textiles will be included, but some items expected to be targeted such as smart watches and high chairs have been excluded.
The Chinese commerce ministry said it had no choice but to retaliate but is yet to detail what action it will take.
The US taxes will take effect from 24 September, starting at 10% and increasing to 25% from the start of next year unless the two countries agree a deal.
The upside of trade wars is that they don’t start out as shooting wars. The downside of trade wars is that they’re a war on consumers. Every tariff means that consumers are stuck paying more for less. A bag of rice that costs $5.00 can suddenly cost $6.25 for no reason other than where it was produced. A cell phone that costs $500 can suddenly cost $625. What makes tariffs a real gut punch though is that since they’re usually calculated by the price of a good, they increase as inflation causes prices to increase. If that $500 cell pone begins to cost $600 due to inflation, the cost with the tariff tax included will be $750.
The only winner in a trade war is the government because it pockets the tariffs.
A popular meme amongst socialists is “Capitalism is having to,” followed by something that one needs to do to survive. For example, capitalism is having to enslave yourself to a corporation just so you can eat. This meme would be a lot more effective if the alternative was actually better but as Robert Higgs points out, the alternative sucks:
All honest people recognize that when push comes to shove, state functionaries will kill people who steadfastly refuse to pay the tribute (“taxes”) that the rulers demand. Yet people whose very survival hinges on their paying what amounts to rent on their own lives persist in calling themselves free.
Under a capitalist system you have to sell your labor to an employer, become an entrepreneur, appeal to a patron, or find some other means of obtaining the means of survival. Under a socialist system the State is supposed to provide your means of survival but it needs the resources to do so since nobody has figured out how to conjure food, water, shelter, and clothing from ether. It acquires those resources through a system of taxation. The difference between the capitalist and socialist systems is that the capitalist system puts your survival in your own hands whereas the socialist system requires you to first pay rent on your very life and only then can you hope that the State will deem you worthy of receiving the resources you need to survive.