To The YouTube Thieves …

      146 Comments on To The YouTube Thieves …

An alert reader sent me an email today informing me that Fat Head was on YouTube – again.  I believe that’s somewhere around a dozen times I’ve had to notify YouTube to take it down.  I run searches for it now and then, but somehow missed this one.  It had been online since May.

If anyone reading this has uploaded Fat Head or is considering it, let me point out a couple of things:

First off, it isn’t your film.  It’s mine.  Uploading it so others can watch it for free is stealing my work, period.  I realize some of the younger folks out there have grown up believing it’s somehow okay to share anything digital with a few thousand of your closest friends, but it isn’t.  It’s theft, pure and simple.

The latest bozo to upload the film even put FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY in the description.  As opposed to what, bozo?  Commercial purposes?  Naw, you wouldn’t want anyone to use my work for commercial purposes… that would be stealing.  Idiot.

Secondly, despite what some goofballs commenting in cyberspace believe, I didn’t receive funding from McDonald’s or anyone else.  I worked long hours as a programmer and financed the film myself.  By the time I paid for post production, animations, music, news footage, insurance, digital masters, etc., I had invested more than $100,000 in this project.  A good chunk of that was borrowed, and I carried the debt with interest for two years — not exactly what I had expected, since we had two distributors waving optimistic sales figures in front us when I signed with them.

As some of you may know from reading the comments, our original DVD distributor went bankrupt last year and never paid us what they owed.  It was rather a lot.  For some reason, the accounting department continued sending us quarterly reports until the company went belly-up.  Very nice of them … when you screw over an independent filmmaker, you want to put an exact dollar figure on it.

The money they collected was supposed to go in account with my name on it, but obviously they used the proceeds from Fat Head (their top seller) to fund their day-to-day operations while they were mismanaging themselves into failure.  Apparently they thought they’d catch up at some point, but never did.  I appreciate all of you who bought copies from Amazon and other vendors when the film came out, but we never saw a dime from those sales.

Meanwhile, our international (ahem) distributor has turned out to be a den of thieves.  Despite the many TV airings overseas early on, they kept claiming large and mysterious losses on their reports.  Oddly, those supposed losses increased by $24,000 last year, despite no new sales and no apparent effort on their part to make any sales.  I guess they must be paying horrendous rent somewhere to store a half-dozen digital master tapes.

For reasons I can’t figure out, they refuse to relinquish the rights.  Given the supposed large and growing losses, you’d think they’d want to dump the film before it sinks the whole company, but nope … they won’t let it go.  They’ve also refused to send me an accounting of what expenditures produced the mysterious losses.  They’re in Canada, I’m in the U.S., and (as I found out after spending $7,000 in legal fees) there’s pretty much nothing I can do to them unless I want to pony up another $25,000 or more to sue them in Canada.

(Perhaps someday I’ll post a couple of emails I exchanged with the den of thieves to elaborate.  When we were still engaged in legal maneuvers, my attorney said that would be a very bad idea.  Now I don’t much give a @#$%.)

Get the picture?  I produced a popular film, financed it myself, worked ungodly hours to finish it, and then two distributors used it to either fund their failing enterprises or line their own pockets while claiming bogus losses.  That’s why we started selling our own DVD version through the blog.  Our first DVD sale through the blog was also our first income from the film.  We never saw a check from a distributor until Gravitas (an honest distributor) released Fat Head on Hulu and Netflix.

The last thing I need after paying interest on much of the production cost for two years is for a bunch of bozos to give Fat Head away for free online.  If you want to see the film, buy a DVD or watch it on Hulu.  If you think other people will benefit from watching it, buy DVDs for them.

If you upload my film, you’re not stealing from some millionaire producer.  If I’d made a million dollars on the film, I wouldn’t still be working as a programmer.  And frankly, even if I had made a million dollars on Fat Head, point number one would still apply:  it isn’t yours.  Don’t be a thief.

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146 thoughts on “To The YouTube Thieves …

  1. Bo

    Another one?

    Did a search on youtube: fathead the movie found it here: http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DevcNPfZlrZs

    you have to log in to see it, I don’t have an account so I dont know if it is the real movie. I live in Sweden don’t know if the search engine gives the same result around the world. but the URL is accesseble from anywhere I belive, the length of the film seems to be 1.44.41

    Thank you for an interesting blog.

    That’s a legitimate advertiser-supported version uploaded by Gravitas. I’ll get paid when people watch that one.

    Reply
  2. Leta

    This is something I cannot wrap my head around. Fat Head is available, for free, in good quality, on Hulu. You get paid from that. Everybody wins! Who needs it on YouTube in a zillion parts? Just… why?

    Beats me.

    Reply
  3. Sally Myles

    Sorry I am another one who bought the region one version from Amazon.com as it wasn’t released here in the UK yet. Gutted you’ve been shafted, and so royally. I do believe in karma though, so you’ll get your reward one day and so will the sharks.

    No apologies necessary. Everyone who bought the Amazon DVD was attempting to support the film. Those sales also helped convince Gravitas to take a chance on Fat Head.

    Reply
  4. SabreCat

    Hmm. The folks uploading these videos to YouTube are your biggest fans. They saw your film, thought, “holy crap, this is important. More people need to see this,” and used YouTube to spread the message.

    Have you considered reaching out to these people instead of playing DMCA whack-a-mole? If their YouTube channels linked to fathead-movie.com, for instance, that’d provide a clear avenue for people to see the content, then come here and buy merch, DVDs, etc. Free advertising! Then you’d be gaining sales, and building goodwill with fans, rather than demonizing fans and customers as “thieves” and trying to prevent people from hearing what you have to say.

    I’ve put enough content on YouTube, including bits from the film, to draw people to our site. People who upload the entire film aren’t giving anyone a reason to buy a copy.

    Reply
  5. SabreCat

    The reasons to buy copies come from you, not the film. People buy because they like you and want to support you. If they just want to watch the film, they can and will–you’re never going to stamp out every unauthorized source (thus “whack-a-mole”). Reaching out gives people more reasons to like you and want to support you; shutting things down and ranting at people turns customers off and encourages them to spend their time and money elsewhere.

    I’ve made my speeches online available for free, I’ve posted several informative videos on YouTube, I write a lot of blog posts without expecting to get paid for them — I don’t even accept advertising. I give away enough of my efforts. I don’t care if asking YouTube to take down an illegally uploaded version of a copyrighted work makes people mad. I don’t care if people who want to watch a pirated version film online instead of buying a DVD or watching on a commercial site get mad about it either. They’re not customers. Customers are people who pay you.

    Reply
  6. Jennifer Snow

    @norpan: by that same reasoning, if you don’t produce *physical objects*, you don’t deserve to be paid. So if you work in, say, a service industry, it’s *not stealing* for people to consume your service and then not pay you for it. After all, “time” is a non-physical thing.

    I’m going to go down to Harvard and demand my free education immediately. Not to mention I’ll stop tipping waiters ASAP.

    Non-physical things have value, and they take just as much effort to produce–not to mention the ENORMOUS intellectual effort it takes to reach a stage where you’re CAPABLE of producing intellectual value. It is one of the greatest aspects of true capitalism that it recognizes the ultimate wellspring of human values: ideas, and seeks to protect the originator’s right to their work.

    Anyway, I did watch Science for Smart People on Youtube, is that okay?

    Of course; I uploaded the speeches myself.

    Reply
  7. gallier2

    You know that copyright laws were invented to protect the authors from the printers in the 18th century, didn’t you?

    The original crooked distributors?

    Reply
  8. Ej

    Hey, Tom! If someone wanted to play ‘Fat Head’ continuously all day today, which website would profit you more per view: Netflix or Hulu?

    All day? Well, in that case it would be Hulu. They pay per viewing. Netflix pays quarterly for rights to keep it in their catalog.

    Reply
  9. Mike G

    I also bought my copy from Amazon, unfortunately. I’ll buy two copies from your site: one for the other biology teacher at my school (he’s now no longer a vegetarian), and one for the health teacher who’s trying to shut me up…

    I have a feeling you won’t be intimidated into shutting up. Thanks for the support.

    Reply
  10. Mark Sundstrom

    It seems Amazon is still selling it. That’s where I bought my copy in Sept. 2009. I am sorry you never got the money from that sale. Fat Head has made a huge difference to me. I’m off to your Paypal link to make a donation. Thanks!
    –Mark

    Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Bo

    Another one?

    Did a search on youtube: fathead the movie found it here: http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DevcNPfZlrZs

    you have to log in to see it, I don’t have an account so I dont know if it is the real movie. I live in Sweden don’t know if the search engine gives the same result around the world. but the URL is accesseble from anywhere I belive, the length of the film seems to be 1.44.41

    Thank you for an interesting blog.

    That’s a legitimate advertiser-supported version uploaded by Gravitas. I’ll get paid when people watch that one.

    Reply
  12. norpan

    I’m sorry but saying something is your property does not make it so. Thera are specific physical properties that need to be fulfilled for something to be property and bits of information dö not qualify. You can’t control other poeple’s data in this way. You can ask nicely for money donations but that’s it. If there is no contract, how can you claim anything?

    The contract is the copyright notice on the film. Distributors of copyrighted material aren’t required to sign an individual contract with everyone who buys the work. A copyright is the right to copy. If you’re not the copyright owner, you have no right to copy. Does the publisher of a best-selling book sign a contract with with everyone who buys the book? Of course not. Does the lack of a contract mean anyone can start copying and distributing the book? No.

    The film is my intellectual property because I say so and the US copyright office says so. And no, if you read the legal definitions, physical properties aren’t required for intellectual property to be legally owned by the creator.

    Let me put it this way: suppose Apple spends millions of dollars designing, testing and perfecting something called the iPad. After it’s released, are you going to claim that anyone else can buy an iPad, examine how it’s built, go out and buy exactly the same parts, put them together in exactly the same way, and then start mass-producing the same product? Would you accept their claim that it’s not stealing because Apple doesn’t own the physical parts they used to create a clone? Would you say that Apple can ask for people to buy their iPad bt can’t control other people’s arrangement of electronic parts?

    Reply
  13. Sally Myles

    As soon as I get a full time job again, I’ll donate more money via Paypal to make up for what you didn’t get the first time around. this message is too important to not get out. And if I ever win the lottery, I’ll be funding a research study that debunks the bullshine currently accepted as nutrition fact. With your help, I hope. They can take your royalties, but they can’t take your freedom (of speech)

    I appreciate that, but I didn’t write the post to gin up donations. I just want people to understand why it enrages me when a few bozos decide to give away my film online.

    Reply
  14. Sally Myles

    Sorry I am another one who bought the region one version from Amazon.com as it wasn’t released here in the UK yet. Gutted you’ve been shafted, and so royally. I do believe in karma though, so you’ll get your reward one day and so will the sharks.

    No apologies necessary. Everyone who bought the Amazon DVD was attempting to support the film. Those sales also helped convince Gravitas to take a chance on Fat Head.

    Reply
  15. ThatPaleoGuy

    I have to agree with norpan. Your rant was totally inappropriate, especially for a libertarian that you claim to be. Sure, you got screwed by your distributors and I can understand your anger about that, but your approach to online “piracy” and “intellectual property” is very counterproductive. Claiming ownership to ideas and having governments enforce it is appalling, but even if you don’t agree with that, your rant is only making it worse. There are basically three kinds of people who copy stuff without paying for it.

    The first is just collecting or using the free opportunity and would never even consider buying it. They would just ignore it, if it weren’t available for free. And you should ignore them. Fighting them leads to nothing and is just wasted time.

    The second group is doing it for a free trial or because it is not (yet) available and is usually paying afterwards to support you if they like it. You shouldn’t mind them either, because the “illegal” copy is basically free advertising in this case. And those are usually the most loyal supporters.

    The last group are those who really want to see your movie without paying for it. For whatever reason. But this is usually the smallest group, especially if you’re a small and independent producer. It’s the same with indy game developers. Using the stuff they put a lot of effort and personal risk in without supporting them is usually not appreciated. You may choose to fight them, but how? You cannot prevent it, even if you check Youtube 24/7 and scream for your rights. There will always be a way.

    So by ranting like this and calling people thieves, you only discourage those of the second group. Those who initially copied but decided to support you because they liked it. I read many of the comments on your blog and from that I assume that’s a lot of people. You know, for example the people saying it wasn’t available in their country or they couldn’t afford it, but bought a DVD as soon it was possible. And if you discourage them, you’re actually losing true supporters, who might otherwise spread the word and buy other stuff to support you. But if you insult them, them might as well just say, well, fuck it.

    How is supporting the concept of intellectual property against libertarian principles? It’s no more anti-libertarian to use government to prevent people from stealing my intellectual property than it is to use government to prevent them from stealing my car. Libertarians are big believers in property rights — that’s why we don’t support government confiscating one person’s property to provide benefits for others. If there’s no protection of intellectual property rights, there’s no incentive to produce. Why the hell would someone invest $100,000 to make a film if a bunch of bozos consider it public property the day it’s released and distribute it for free?

    As for your second group, if I decide it’s to my benefit to make Fat Head available for a free viewing to boost sales, that’s my decision. People who take it upon themselves to make that decision for me are stealing my property, period. The fact that I can’t stop them all doesn’t make it right. The police are able to prevent very few car thefts and rarely catch the thieves, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t theft.

    The film has a clear copyright notice on it. Anyone who ignores that copyright and distributes it without my permission is stealing, no matter how much people in the post-Napster generation attempt to rationalize the theft.

    Reply
  16. Paul Eilers

    I would add a button/tab at the top of your blog explaining much of what you wrote in this post. Educate your readers and supporters about why they should buy your DVD directly from you and also to be on the lookout for pirated versions of “Fathead” online.

    Not a bad idea.

    Reply
  17. norpan

    I’m sorry but saying something is your property does not make it so. Thera are specific physical properties that need to be fulfilled for something to be property and bits of information dö not qualify. You can’t control other poeple’s data in this way. You can ask nicely for money donations but that’s it. If there is no contract, how can you claim anything?

    The contract is the copyright notice on the film. Distributors of copyrighted material aren’t required to sign an individual contract with everyone who buys the work. A copyright is the right to copy. If you’re not the copyright owner, you have no right to copy. Does the publisher of a best-selling book sign a contract with with everyone who buys the book? Of course not. Does the lack of a contract mean anyone can start copying and distributing the book? No.

    The film is my intellectual property because I say so and the US copyright office says so. And no, if you read the legal definitions, physical properties aren’t required for intellectual property to be legally owned by the creator.

    Let me put it this way: suppose Apple spends millions of dollars designing, testing and perfecting something called the iPad. After it’s released, are you going to claim that anyone else can buy an iPad, examine how it’s built, go out and buy exactly the same parts, put them together in exactly the same way, and then start mass-producing the same product? Would you accept their claim that it’s not stealing because Apple doesn’t own the physical parts they used to create a clone? Would you say that Apple can ask for people to buy their iPad bt can’t control other people’s arrangement of electronic parts?

    Reply
  18. Sally Myles

    As soon as I get a full time job again, I’ll donate more money via Paypal to make up for what you didn’t get the first time around. this message is too important to not get out. And if I ever win the lottery, I’ll be funding a research study that debunks the bullshine currently accepted as nutrition fact. With your help, I hope. They can take your royalties, but they can’t take your freedom (of speech)

    I appreciate that, but I didn’t write the post to gin up donations. I just want people to understand why it enrages me when a few bozos decide to give away my film online.

    Reply
  19. ThatPaleoGuy

    I have to agree with norpan. Your rant was totally inappropriate, especially for a libertarian that you claim to be. Sure, you got screwed by your distributors and I can understand your anger about that, but your approach to online “piracy” and “intellectual property” is very counterproductive. Claiming ownership to ideas and having governments enforce it is appalling, but even if you don’t agree with that, your rant is only making it worse. There are basically three kinds of people who copy stuff without paying for it.

    The first is just collecting or using the free opportunity and would never even consider buying it. They would just ignore it, if it weren’t available for free. And you should ignore them. Fighting them leads to nothing and is just wasted time.

    The second group is doing it for a free trial or because it is not (yet) available and is usually paying afterwards to support you if they like it. You shouldn’t mind them either, because the “illegal” copy is basically free advertising in this case. And those are usually the most loyal supporters.

    The last group are those who really want to see your movie without paying for it. For whatever reason. But this is usually the smallest group, especially if you’re a small and independent producer. It’s the same with indy game developers. Using the stuff they put a lot of effort and personal risk in without supporting them is usually not appreciated. You may choose to fight them, but how? You cannot prevent it, even if you check Youtube 24/7 and scream for your rights. There will always be a way.

    So by ranting like this and calling people thieves, you only discourage those of the second group. Those who initially copied but decided to support you because they liked it. I read many of the comments on your blog and from that I assume that’s a lot of people. You know, for example the people saying it wasn’t available in their country or they couldn’t afford it, but bought a DVD as soon it was possible. And if you discourage them, you’re actually losing true supporters, who might otherwise spread the word and buy other stuff to support you. But if you insult them, them might as well just say, well, fuck it.

    How is supporting the concept of intellectual property against libertarian principles? It’s no more anti-libertarian to use government to prevent people from stealing my intellectual property than it is to use government to prevent them from stealing my car. Libertarians are big believers in property rights — that’s why we don’t support government confiscating one person’s property to provide benefits for others. If there’s no protection of intellectual property rights, there’s no incentive to produce. Why the hell would someone invest $100,000 to make a film if a bunch of bozos consider it public property the day it’s released and distribute it for free?

    As for your second group, if I decide it’s to my benefit to make Fat Head available for a free viewing to boost sales, that’s my decision. People who take it upon themselves to make that decision for me are stealing my property, period. The fact that I can’t stop them all doesn’t make it right. The police are able to prevent very few car thefts and rarely catch the thieves, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t theft.

    The film has a clear copyright notice on it. Anyone who ignores that copyright and distributes it without my permission is stealing, no matter how much people in the post-Napster generation attempt to rationalize the theft.

    Reply
  20. Coble

    AHAHAHAHA!!!

    I just love you guys with your “all information should be freeeeee!” anarchist garbage who love to tell us libertarians that we aren’t libertarian enough if we make you actually pay for Radiohead MP3s and episodes of Game Of Thrones.

    The core tenet of libertarianism is that your freedom to swing your arm ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.

    That means this guy’s pocketbook. If you don’t buy his product but consume it anyway…you have stolen. Save your high flown gab about how enforcing laws is immoral. I’m sure there are a few 24-hour-old infants who would love it, and a few more stoners working behind the counter at 7-11. The rest of us grasp the basic concepts of work and compensation.

    However: If you like, you can always feel free to give me your employer’s information. I’ll call her myself and tell her you are perfectly willing to have your paycheck taken away since the work you do can’t be owned by anybody.

    Spot-on. Libertarians believe the most legitimate role of government is to protect us against those who would deprive us of life, liberty or property. Property rights are fundamental in free-market economics.

    I think what’s happened in the past decade or so is that millions of young people have gotten into the habit of “sharing” music, software, movies, video games, etc., and then convinced themselves it’s not actually theft because 1) everyone is doing it and 2) thieves are bad people … and gosh, I’m not a bad person, so this can’t possibly be theft.

    Reply
  21. Paul Eilers

    I would add a button/tab at the top of your blog explaining much of what you wrote in this post. Educate your readers and supporters about why they should buy your DVD directly from you and also to be on the lookout for pirated versions of “Fathead” online.

    Not a bad idea.

    Reply
  22. Jennifer Snow

    @ThatPaleoGuy

    It’s been my experience that this “second group” of people who copy and THEN pay does not, in fact, exist. A very few may purchase an ADDITIONAL copy, but they never pay for their initial one. Or they may purchase other swag.

    There’s a reason why department stores and other businesses who advertise by giving away samples call this a “loss leader”–because you never make money off that product. Your hope is that the free stuff will induce *enough* people to pay for *something* that you’ll still run a profit. However, this doesn’t work well when the free stuff is unlimited.

    But, hey, by all means go live in a country with no copyright protection. It’s a country where the only new books, movies, TV programs, and games are the ones you make yourself or come from other countries. You’re absolutely free to make as many copies as you want. But there’s nothing worth copying. Enjoy.

    Reply
  23. Coble

    AHAHAHAHA!!!

    I just love you guys with your “all information should be freeeeee!” anarchist garbage who love to tell us libertarians that we aren’t libertarian enough if we make you actually pay for Radiohead MP3s and episodes of Game Of Thrones.

    The core tenet of libertarianism is that your freedom to swing your arm ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.

    That means this guy’s pocketbook. If you don’t buy his product but consume it anyway…you have stolen. Save your high flown gab about how enforcing laws is immoral. I’m sure there are a few 24-hour-old infants who would love it, and a few more stoners working behind the counter at 7-11. The rest of us grasp the basic concepts of work and compensation.

    However: If you like, you can always feel free to give me your employer’s information. I’ll call her myself and tell her you are perfectly willing to have your paycheck taken away since the work you do can’t be owned by anybody.

    Spot-on. Libertarians believe the most legitimate role of government is to protect us against those who would deprive us of life, liberty or property. Property rights are fundamental in free-market economics.

    I think what’s happened in the past decade or so is that millions of young people have gotten into the habit of “sharing” music, software, movies, video games, etc., and then convinced themselves it’s not actually theft because 1) everyone is doing it and 2) thieves are bad people … and gosh, I’m not a bad person, so this can’t possibly be theft.

    Reply
  24. Jennifer Snow

    @ThatPaleoGuy

    It’s been my experience that this “second group” of people who copy and THEN pay does not, in fact, exist. A very few may purchase an ADDITIONAL copy, but they never pay for their initial one. Or they may purchase other swag.

    There’s a reason why department stores and other businesses who advertise by giving away samples call this a “loss leader”–because you never make money off that product. Your hope is that the free stuff will induce *enough* people to pay for *something* that you’ll still run a profit. However, this doesn’t work well when the free stuff is unlimited.

    But, hey, by all means go live in a country with no copyright protection. It’s a country where the only new books, movies, TV programs, and games are the ones you make yourself or come from other countries. You’re absolutely free to make as many copies as you want. But there’s nothing worth copying. Enjoy.

    Reply
  25. Cindy D

    My husband and I created an online training site. People pay a monthly membership fee for access to the members-only content. We do give away some free training videos and smartphone apps. The info in our blog is free.

    Why would anyone expect us to give away EVERYTHING for free? How would we make any money? Why would we have any incentive to continue offering our expertise so others can learn for a very small price every month?

    I’ve had to learn all of the software programs and pay Adobe a ton of money to buy their products to make the videos and audio programs. It took years for us to become experts in our field so we can train others, for a very inexpensive fee no less.

    I’m a Libertarian and if you enter my house to harm or steal from us, be prepared for the dogs and guns inside. And if someone tries to steal my intellectual property, I will use the copyright laws to protect that property as well.

    I once had some arrogant little pissant send me an angry email after I had YouTube take down his illegally uploaded video of Fat Head. He told me I needed to read Predictably Irrational to understand that in the “new economy” you’re supposed to give away free stuff to build your brand, so he was actually doing me a favor. I replied that I had indeed read Predictably Irrational, and unlike him, I’d actually understood it. The message of the book wasn’t to give away your primary product for free, and it sure as heck wasn’t to give away someone else’s product.

    Reply
  26. traderpaul

    Libertarians may big believers in property rights but on ‘intellectual’ property rights, there is much more debate.

    For anyone interested in libertarian views against IP see the following articles by Stephan Kinsella

    http://libertarianstandard.com/articles/stephan-kinsella/intellectual-freedom-and-learning-versus-patent-and-copyright/

    http://mises.org/journals/jls/15_2/15_2_1.pdf

    Yes, there are those on the fringe who don’t believe in intellectual property rights. That means they don’t believe in trademarks, patents or copyrights, which in turn would mean that according to them, I can:

    1. Burn 10,000 copies of Microsoft Office and give them away at my local mall
    2. Scan “Wheat Belly” into a PDF and distribute it free on the internet, or copy nearly everything Dr. Davis wrote in that book into my own book and call it “Wheat Gut” and sell it
    3. Open a restaurant and call it McDonald’s, or Denny’s, or Applebee’s and put up a sign using the exact same logo as any of those chains
    4. Use “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” as the opening song in my next film without getting permission from Lennon/McCartney’s publisher or paying a license fee
    5. Re-record all of Bob Dylan’s songs in my home studio and release them on iTunes as my own
    6. Clone my Mac Pro (both the hardware and the operating system), open a store and name it The Apple Store (complete with Apple’s logo) and sell the computers I’ve cloned, again with the Apple logo on them

    … and in none of those cases would I be violating anyone’s property rights, since I haven’t stolen physical property. Sorry, but that’s ridiculous.

    Reply
  27. Rebecca Latham

    I am appalled, Tom. Not at you, obviously, but at the three or four people who are saying here that you have no legal rights to your property. I just don’t get it. And even after you patiently explain your legal reasoning, they come back and say even more.

    And to the person who said that many people are offended by what you wrote: “Hey! Include me out of your ‘many people’ who are offended. You are offended, but have no business speaking for me or anyone else.”

    I bought from Amazon, because I did thought that buying it directly from you would cause you more work in processing my order, etc. Duh. I guess it would have been a good thing if I had read something here that said that you would prefer it that way.

    If I watch Fat Head on Hulu more than once, do you get paid more than once, or do they see that I have already watched it once and won’t pay you again?

    Interesting question. I’m not sure if Hulu excludes second viewings from the same IP address in their calculations. My guess is that they don’t.

    Reply
  28. Steve

    I agree with @norpan in that copyright laws are anti-ibertarian. Once I have paid for something I am now the owner. Once I have bought a DVD, it is now my property and I should not be restricted in how I use it.

    There are plenty of ways for content creators to make money without getting paid for their content. I own a publishing/media content. For more than 80 years the content in my magazines and on my websites has been free. We make money from advertising. Others have stolen our content but aren’t successful in the long-term because people know our brand. Also, just look at the Grateful Dead and Phish. Yes there albums had copyright protection but they didn’t need. Ultimately I don’t think the Dead cared because they realized the record producers were making all the money on the albums anyway. They figured out a business model where copyright protection didn’t matter and by allowing their content to be dsitributed at will actually created a larger following and business for themselves.

    Tom – you might want to check out some books highlighted at lewrockwell.com that are against copyright laws and intellectual property laws. Some interesting thoughts in them. While you are correct that individuals are breaking the law by posting your video on Youtube, that doesn’t mean the law is valid and doesn’t violate the non-aggression principle.

    I disagree about copyright protection. When you buy a DVD, you are now the owner of THAT ONE COPY. That’s what you paid for, that’s your property. The film contained on that DVD isn’t your property and isn’t yours to give away to others. If you want to give the one DVD you purchased to someone else, that’s your business. If you don’t like the terms of your purchase — terms that state specifically that you can’t make a COPY because you don’t own the COPYRIGHT — you are free to decline the purchase.

    Yes, there are ways for content creators to make money without charging fees. Yes, some people have designed business models where copyright protection doesn’t matter. That in no way makes it okay for anyone to decide that someone else’s copyright isn’t valid. If I decide I don’t need copyright protection for my work, that’s my decision to make, not anyone else’s.

    Reply
  29. Steve

    By the way, I have never watched your movie or any other on Youtube. I watched your movie on Netflix and have told many about how good it is.

    Reply
  30. Cindy D

    My husband and I created an online training site. People pay a monthly membership fee for access to the members-only content. We do give away some free training videos and smartphone apps. The info in our blog is free.

    Why would anyone expect us to give away EVERYTHING for free? How would we make any money? Why would we have any incentive to continue offering our expertise so others can learn for a very small price every month?

    I’ve had to learn all of the software programs and pay Adobe a ton of money to buy their products to make the videos and audio programs. It took years for us to become experts in our field so we can train others, for a very inexpensive fee no less.

    I’m a Libertarian and if you enter my house to harm or steal from us, be prepared for the dogs and guns inside. And if someone tries to steal my intellectual property, I will use the copyright laws to protect that property as well.

    I once had some arrogant little pissant send me an angry email after I had YouTube take down his illegally uploaded video of Fat Head. He told me I needed to read Predictably Irrational to understand that in the “new economy” you’re supposed to give away free stuff to build your brand, so he was actually doing me a favor. I replied that I had indeed read Predictably Irrational, and unlike him, I’d actually understood it. The message of the book wasn’t to give away your primary product for free, and it sure as heck wasn’t to give away someone else’s product.

    Reply
  31. Steve V.

    I think to simply say that violating a copyright is “theft” is a poor way to describe the damage done because it’s obviously different than theft of physical objects. Theft of labor is maybe closer, but labor and value aren’t tied. Just because something is pirated has little to say about whether someone would have been willing to pay for it.

    I’m not sure it particularly matters whether sales go up or down as a result of piracy, as I think the creator of IP generally has earned the right (in the sense of it’s justice.. it’s their due) to decide how that IP is distributed, and if it were technically possible to protect information while distributing it, I don’t think most anyone would begrudge an IP author their right to use that technology. (if it ever becomes technically possible this all goes away.. but not sure this is solveable) Certainly I can’t see any libertarian claiming that merely by creating IP I now owe it to the world. If I made a movie and decided to keep the only copy in a safe somewhere that’s my right no?

    In any case, an author generally creates IP with some understanding that they will be able to attempt to recoup their investment. It’s not up to random other parties to say how that should be done or what the value of the IP is.

    If sharing/copying is not really “theft” in the physical sense then what is the potential damage? I’d think I’d liken it to a kind of devaluing by inflation. The value of the product is diminished by making it widely available. The people who distribute may be damaging the potential of the product and the authors ability to monetize it. In this sense the author is hurt. It’s true that nobody loses their original copy, but to claim there’s no damage in all cases is naive. (and again does it even matter if it’s the author’s due?) What percentage damage can a pirate distributor do to the value of someone’s creation that doesn’t count? I would think that argument would ring true with libertarians. How many times have you been told a small tax doesn’t count or that taking a percentage of your labor isn’t theft? When you make someone’s IP available you’re potentially taxing the value of their work.

    Why do I use may, and potentially everywhere? Because I acknowledge that the exact effects of piracy can vary depending on the scenario. In some cases it might help. But I would say again, that it’s the authors due to decide whether they want to try that experiment.

    Bingo. The people who have tried to convince me that putting Fat Head on YouTube for free would boost sales are missing the point: it’s not up to them to decide what to do with my property.

    Reply
  32. traderpaul

    Libertarians may big believers in property rights but on ‘intellectual’ property rights, there is much more debate.

    For anyone interested in libertarian views against IP see the following articles by Stephan Kinsella

    http://libertarianstandard.com/articles/stephan-kinsella/intellectual-freedom-and-learning-versus-patent-and-copyright/

    http://mises.org/journals/jls/15_2/15_2_1.pdf

    Yes, there are those on the fringe who don’t believe in intellectual property rights. That means they don’t believe in trademarks, patents or copyrights, which in turn would mean that according to them, I can:

    1. Burn 10,000 copies of Microsoft Office and give them away at my local mall
    2. Scan “Wheat Belly” into a PDF and distribute it free on the internet, or copy nearly everything Dr. Davis wrote in that book into my own book and call it “Wheat Gut” and sell it
    3. Open a restaurant and call it McDonald’s, or Denny’s, or Applebee’s and put up a sign using the exact same logo as any of those chains
    4. Use “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” as the opening song in my next film without getting permission from Lennon/McCartney’s publisher or paying a license fee
    5. Re-record all of Bob Dylan’s songs in my home studio and release them on iTunes as my own
    6. Clone my Mac Pro (both the hardware and the operating system), open a store and name it The Apple Store (complete with Apple’s logo) and sell the computers I’ve cloned, again with the Apple logo on them

    … and in none of those cases would I be violating anyone’s property rights, since I haven’t stolen physical property. Sorry, but that’s ridiculous.

    Reply
  33. traderpaul

    I am amazed that you consider Rothbard, Hoppe, Tucker, McElroy, Kinsella fringe libertarians!

    You think building a fake McDonald’s would be a problem without government enforced copyright and patent protection?

    There are basically three outcomes

    1. The fake McDonald’s is found out to be a fraud as their food quality, efficiency, etc. is sub-par. The fake McDonald’s quickly goes out of business costing the owner buckets of money.

    2. Some aspects of the fake McDonald’s meet with approval from patrons but the restaurant goes out of business anyway because it is uneconomic as a standalone operation, not having access to the real McDonald’s infrastructure. Real McDonald’s franchises learn from the failed business and adopt the positive aspects of the fake McDonald’s, providing their customers a better product.

    3. The fake McDonald’s improves on the real McDonald’s concept making the owner buckets of money and has all of the real McDonald’s franchises clamoring to copy the improvements the fake McDonald’s introduced. Both the fake and real McDonald’s are now offering their customers a better product.

    To claim that the real McDonald’s is harmed by the fake startup you have to believe that individuals will mindlessly patronize the fake McDs with no ability to discern differences from the real McDs. Of course you know individuals have the ability to decide for themselves. It is one of the constant themes of your blogs and movie.

    You can apply these outcomes to your other examples.

    Yes, I consider anyone who doesn’t believe in intellectual property rights to be promoting fringe ideas. I’ve noticed Rothbard doesn’t invite people to copy his books and distribute them at will. I also noticed that one of the first pages of his book on the Depression warns the reader that no part of the book may be reproduced in any form except for brief excerpts quoted by a reviewer.

    Rothbard believes in no government whatsoever. That is indeed a fringe position within the libertarian community. Most of us believe government is, as Jefferson said, a necessary evil — the “necessary” part being to protect us from those who would deprive us of life, liberty or property.

    It isn’t necessary to violate McDonald’s trademark in order to produce a better product and produce the benefits of competition you described. Those benefits are more likely to be realized if my restaurant isn’t disguised as a McDonald’s, since people would now be telling each other that Tom’s Burgers sells a superior product, which would put a scare into McDonald’s.

    And how exactly would those outcomes apply to my example of cloning my Mac Pro? If I steal the exact design, load up the exact same operating system, and apply the exact same logo, how are the customers going to discover the fraud? How are they going to distinguish between the real Apple computer and the clones I’m producing? How would those outcomes apply to me giving away 10,000 copies of Microsoft Office? How is the person loading my pirated copy going to decide it’s inferior? How would any of the three outcomes you described apply to me using a Beatles song in my next film without permission? How would they apply to me giving away a PDF of “Wheat Belly”?

    If you’re going to cite economic outcomes as your justification, let’s try this one on for size: what would be the economic outcome of declaring that patents, trademarks and copyrights are no longer valid? Who is going to invest untold hours of effort and large sums of money to produce products that anyone else can clone the day they’re released? What would be the economic incentive?

    Nor is it necessary to prove economic damage to enforce property rights. If you show up in my front pasture every day and have a picnic, then politely clean up after yourself and leave, I don’t need to prove that you’re causing me harm to order you to stay off my land. I can order you to stay off my land for the simple reason that it’s my property and I don’t want you on it.

    Since you can’t bring yourself to support intellectual property rights, I’ll put it this way: surely you understand that libertarians believe in contracts. When you load software, you click the “I agree to these terms” button, and those terms prohibit making copies — that’s a contract. When you buy a DVD, you buy it with specific language on the product prohibiting you from copying it or using it for anything other than personal use — that’s a contract. So whether you believe in the concept of intellectual property or not, when you copy software or a DVD, you’re breaking a contract. The libertarian view here is that no one forced you to buy the product under those conditions. If you don’t like those conditions, don’t buy the product.

    Reply
  34. Dragonmamma/Naomi

    Get back to us if you find out that you get paid for multiple viewings on Hulu. Heck, I’ll be happy to put it on every day when I head out to work.

    Reply
  35. Rebecca Latham

    I am appalled, Tom. Not at you, obviously, but at the three or four people who are saying here that you have no legal rights to your property. I just don’t get it. And even after you patiently explain your legal reasoning, they come back and say even more.

    And to the person who said that many people are offended by what you wrote: “Hey! Include me out of your ‘many people’ who are offended. You are offended, but have no business speaking for me or anyone else.”

    I bought from Amazon, because I did thought that buying it directly from you would cause you more work in processing my order, etc. Duh. I guess it would have been a good thing if I had read something here that said that you would prefer it that way.

    If I watch Fat Head on Hulu more than once, do you get paid more than once, or do they see that I have already watched it once and won’t pay you again?

    Interesting question. I’m not sure if Hulu excludes second viewings from the same IP address in their calculations. My guess is that they don’t.

    Reply
  36. Steve

    I agree with @norpan in that copyright laws are anti-ibertarian. Once I have paid for something I am now the owner. Once I have bought a DVD, it is now my property and I should not be restricted in how I use it.

    There are plenty of ways for content creators to make money without getting paid for their content. I own a publishing/media content. For more than 80 years the content in my magazines and on my websites has been free. We make money from advertising. Others have stolen our content but aren’t successful in the long-term because people know our brand. Also, just look at the Grateful Dead and Phish. Yes there albums had copyright protection but they didn’t need. Ultimately I don’t think the Dead cared because they realized the record producers were making all the money on the albums anyway. They figured out a business model where copyright protection didn’t matter and by allowing their content to be dsitributed at will actually created a larger following and business for themselves.

    Tom – you might want to check out some books highlighted at lewrockwell.com that are against copyright laws and intellectual property laws. Some interesting thoughts in them. While you are correct that individuals are breaking the law by posting your video on Youtube, that doesn’t mean the law is valid and doesn’t violate the non-aggression principle.

    I disagree about copyright protection. When you buy a DVD, you are now the owner of THAT ONE COPY. That’s what you paid for, that’s your property. The film contained on that DVD isn’t your property and isn’t yours to give away to others. If you want to give the one DVD you purchased to someone else, that’s your business. If you don’t like the terms of your purchase — terms that state specifically that you can’t make a COPY because you don’t own the COPYRIGHT — you are free to decline the purchase.

    Yes, there are ways for content creators to make money without charging fees. Yes, some people have designed business models where copyright protection doesn’t matter. That in no way makes it okay for anyone to decide that someone else’s copyright isn’t valid. If I decide I don’t need copyright protection for my work, that’s my decision to make, not anyone else’s.

    Reply
  37. Steve

    By the way, I have never watched your movie or any other on Youtube. I watched your movie on Netflix and have told many about how good it is.

    Reply
  38. Joel Dole

    Waaa wa waa wa wa, waaaaaaa wa waa, waaaa waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.

    Signed, The One Percent.

    Heh, joking. Bet you never thought that you and the porno industry would share ANYTHING in common but there you go.

    Well, when I grow a mustache without a beard I look like a 1970s porn actor (according to my wife), so I’ve got that going for me.

    Reply
  39. Steve V.

    I think to simply say that violating a copyright is “theft” is a poor way to describe the damage done because it’s obviously different than theft of physical objects. Theft of labor is maybe closer, but labor and value aren’t tied. Just because something is pirated has little to say about whether someone would have been willing to pay for it.

    I’m not sure it particularly matters whether sales go up or down as a result of piracy, as I think the creator of IP generally has earned the right (in the sense of it’s justice.. it’s their due) to decide how that IP is distributed, and if it were technically possible to protect information while distributing it, I don’t think most anyone would begrudge an IP author their right to use that technology. (if it ever becomes technically possible this all goes away.. but not sure this is solveable) Certainly I can’t see any libertarian claiming that merely by creating IP I now owe it to the world. If I made a movie and decided to keep the only copy in a safe somewhere that’s my right no?

    In any case, an author generally creates IP with some understanding that they will be able to attempt to recoup their investment. It’s not up to random other parties to say how that should be done or what the value of the IP is.

    If sharing/copying is not really “theft” in the physical sense then what is the potential damage? I’d think I’d liken it to a kind of devaluing by inflation. The value of the product is diminished by making it widely available. The people who distribute may be damaging the potential of the product and the authors ability to monetize it. In this sense the author is hurt. It’s true that nobody loses their original copy, but to claim there’s no damage in all cases is naive. (and again does it even matter if it’s the author’s due?) What percentage damage can a pirate distributor do to the value of someone’s creation that doesn’t count? I would think that argument would ring true with libertarians. How many times have you been told a small tax doesn’t count or that taking a percentage of your labor isn’t theft? When you make someone’s IP available you’re potentially taxing the value of their work.

    Why do I use may, and potentially everywhere? Because I acknowledge that the exact effects of piracy can vary depending on the scenario. In some cases it might help. But I would say again, that it’s the authors due to decide whether they want to try that experiment.

    Bingo. The people who have tried to convince me that putting Fat Head on YouTube for free would boost sales are missing the point: it’s not up to them to decide what to do with my property.

    Reply
  40. traderpaul

    I am amazed that you consider Rothbard, Hoppe, Tucker, McElroy, Kinsella fringe libertarians!

    You think building a fake McDonald’s would be a problem without government enforced copyright and patent protection?

    There are basically three outcomes

    1. The fake McDonald’s is found out to be a fraud as their food quality, efficiency, etc. is sub-par. The fake McDonald’s quickly goes out of business costing the owner buckets of money.

    2. Some aspects of the fake McDonald’s meet with approval from patrons but the restaurant goes out of business anyway because it is uneconomic as a standalone operation, not having access to the real McDonald’s infrastructure. Real McDonald’s franchises learn from the failed business and adopt the positive aspects of the fake McDonald’s, providing their customers a better product.

    3. The fake McDonald’s improves on the real McDonald’s concept making the owner buckets of money and has all of the real McDonald’s franchises clamoring to copy the improvements the fake McDonald’s introduced. Both the fake and real McDonald’s are now offering their customers a better product.

    To claim that the real McDonald’s is harmed by the fake startup you have to believe that individuals will mindlessly patronize the fake McDs with no ability to discern differences from the real McDs. Of course you know individuals have the ability to decide for themselves. It is one of the constant themes of your blogs and movie.

    You can apply these outcomes to your other examples.

    Yes, I consider anyone who doesn’t believe in intellectual property rights to be promoting fringe ideas. I’ve noticed Rothbard doesn’t invite people to copy his books and distribute them at will. I also noticed that one of the first pages of his book on the Depression warns the reader that no part of the book may be reproduced in any form except for brief excerpts quoted by a reviewer.

    Rothbard believes in no government whatsoever. That is indeed a fringe position within the libertarian community. Most of us believe government is, as Jefferson said, a necessary evil — the “necessary” part being to protect us from those who would deprive us of life, liberty or property.

    It isn’t necessary to violate McDonald’s trademark in order to produce a better product and produce the benefits of competition you described. Those benefits are more likely to be realized if my restaurant isn’t disguised as a McDonald’s, since people would now be telling each other that Tom’s Burgers sells a superior product, which would put a scare into McDonald’s.

    And how exactly would those outcomes apply to my example of cloning my Mac Pro? If I steal the exact design, load up the exact same operating system, and apply the exact same logo, how are the customers going to discover the fraud? How are they going to distinguish between the real Apple computer and the clones I’m producing? How would those outcomes apply to me giving away 10,000 copies of Microsoft Office? How is the person loading my pirated copy going to decide it’s inferior? How would any of the three outcomes you described apply to me using a Beatles song in my next film without permission? How would they apply to me giving away a PDF of “Wheat Belly”?

    If you’re going to cite economic outcomes as your justification, let’s try this one on for size: what would be the economic outcome of declaring that patents, trademarks and copyrights are no longer valid? Who is going to invest untold hours of effort and large sums of money to produce products that anyone else can clone the day they’re released? What would be the economic incentive?

    Nor is it necessary to prove economic damage to enforce property rights. If you show up in my front pasture every day and have a picnic, then politely clean up after yourself and leave, I don’t need to prove that you’re causing me harm to order you to stay off my land. I can order you to stay off my land for the simple reason that it’s my property and I don’t want you on it.

    Since you can’t bring yourself to support intellectual property rights, I’ll put it this way: surely you understand that libertarians believe in contracts. When you load software, you click the “I agree to these terms” button, and those terms prohibit making copies — that’s a contract. When you buy a DVD, you buy it with specific language on the product prohibiting you from copying it or using it for anything other than personal use — that’s a contract. So whether you believe in the concept of intellectual property or not, when you copy software or a DVD, you’re breaking a contract. The libertarian view here is that no one forced you to buy the product under those conditions. If you don’t like those conditions, don’t buy the product.

    Reply
  41. Sally Myles

    Blimey there are some proper dicks about aren’t there?? Whiny, self-indulgent ‘it’s mine and I’ll do what I like with it coz it’s all about ME’. It’s one thing buying a dvd and loving it and lending it to a friend (which I have done with Fat Head and Wheat Belly – and saved a family friend from soiling herself on public transportation because she’s given up wheat), or selling it on at a car boot sale, it’s quite another to stick it on teh internets where everyone and his dog can bogart it ad infinitum.
    Surely one of the tenets of libertarianism is that you’ve got the right to speak and act freely and not have your speech, thoughts and actions used against you. I would suggest that having someone deprive you of the products of your labour goes against that. You’re free to earn a living and then some douche decides to take it away. Yes, information should be free. That is why we’ve got this blog. That’s why we can comment on what we know with anyone who drops in.
    As far as I’m concerned, someone deciding unilaterally that they’ve got the right to donate other people my stuff is exactly the same as coming home to find you’ve been burgled. You did not give consent to it.
    The number of people these days that seem totally lacking a moral compass staggers me and makes me want to go live in Antarctica so I could be away from the fuckwittery. And eat seal blubber like an Inuit. Yay.
    Oh and I’ve now got a mental image of Tom looking like Ron Jeremy. Send for the mind bleach. It’s not as disturbing a thought as Spurlock alleging that a couple of Big Macs made him impotent but it’s pretty close.

    I once saw Ron Jeremy at the airport in L.A. I sure hope I don’t look like that, even with a mustache.

    Reply
  42. Dragonmamma/Naomi

    Get back to us if you find out that you get paid for multiple viewings on Hulu. Heck, I’ll be happy to put it on every day when I head out to work.

    Reply
  43. ThatPaleoGuy

    “If you’re going to cite economic outcomes as your justification, let’s try this one on for size: what would be the economic outcome of declaring that patents, trademarks and copyrights are no longer valid? Who is going to invest untold hours of effort and large sums of money to produce products that anyone else can clone the day they’re released? What would be the economic incentive?”

    The economic incentive would be the same as always: create a better and/or cheaper product than your competitors. If you sell a better product first, you can benefit from being the first and from the experience you gained, which allows you to further improve it.

    [Riiiiiiiight. Gosh yes, that just makes perfect sense, PaleoGuy. So I spend $100,000 to produce a film, then sell DVDs for $16.95 that net me a $10 profit each. I need to sell 10,000 copies just to break even. But some jackass can buy one copy for $16.95, decide he can do anything he wants with that DVD because hey, you know, he PAID for it, so it’s his property now! So he makes copies and sells them on Amazon for $8.95 each. He only makes two bucks on each sale, but that’s fine … he only has to sell nine of them to break even in his bold venture. Anything after that is profit.

    So let’s test how your brilliant analysis of the economic incentives would work here. Well, obviously I was FIRST IN THE MARKET! Wowzers, that could mean I get a couple of dozen sales while it takes my competitor nearly a week to gear up his operation. My vast experience in that week will certainly allow me to crush him, even though he’s selling exactly the same product at less than half my price. No, wait … the point is to encourage me to serve the customer by producing a CHEAPER PRODUCT!! Oh, okay … I must now lower my price to meet the price offered by the jackass who copied my film. Brilliant! So I now make two bucks a copy, and now I only have to sell 50,000 of them to break even. Yes, I see how the economic incentives here will encourage me to keep producing films.

    But wait … I can also win by FURTHER IMPROVING THE PRODUCT!! Yes, that’ll do it! After having a thousand copies of Fat Head made and then realizing some jackass is selling them online for less than half my price, I’ll clean his clock by improving those thousand DVDs! Oh, wait .. they can’t be improved. Okay, I’ve got it! I’ll improve FAT HEAD! I’ll spend another $40,000 shooting more, editing more, doing more post production, paying for another DVD run, etc., etc., to make MY copy of my film better than the one he ripped off! Now I’ll beat him in the market!

    Oh, but wait … he can just buy a copy of that new version and start duping them and selling them for $8.95 each.

    “The economic incentive would be the same as always: create a better and/or cheaper product than your competitors. If you sell a better product first, you can benefit from being the first and from the experience you gained, which allows you to further improve it.”

    Really nice recitation of some words you read somewhere. But frankly, if you think those economic incentives apply in this situation, you’re a friggin’ moron.]

    That’s the case with every single product that is not patented. For example a hamburger, to stay with the McDonald’s example. If Tom’s Burgers creates better burgers than McDonald’s, they will probably sell more. That’s already the case and nobody would ever assume that Tom from Tom’s Burgers needs a patent on his new burger creation to prevent others from offering a similar product to achieve that. Their competitors would have to figure out the recipe or come up with an even better one anyways.

    [That isn’t the situation. The situation is that Tom can’t open a restaurant and call it McDonald’s and use the McDonald’s logo to draw people in and taste his burgers. ]

    Of course, if Tom gets a patent on burgers that would be helpful for him and he can sue everyone who makes a similar one, but that would stop all competition and all improvement until the patent expires.

    [Are you seriously trying to compare getting a patent on a burger to copyrighting a film?]

    Patents, trademarks and copyrights may offer an incentive to invest heavily into something, because government guarantees no competition for a certain time. Without that you may only have smaller improvements, but they will be done continuously.

    [What small continuous improvements would we see in filmmaking if the filmmakers were convinced they didn’t stand a chance of recouping the production costs? A pharmaceutical drug costs $800 million on average to develop. Who’s going to develop them if they can be ripped off the day they’re released? You want to tell me how the people who ponied up the $800 million would recoup all that by being in the market first and learning from their experience and improving the product?]

    You came up with several examples how a government granted monopoly is harmful yourself in your other blog, where you debate with Paul.

    [You’re comparing apples to oranges. A monopoly means others can’t legally compete with you. A copyright or patent means some else can’t steal the product of your intellectual labor then use it to compete with you or sell it for their own benefit. A monopoly in this case would mean the government prohibits anyone but me, or Disney, or Warner Brothers, etc., from producing films.]

    What about the aviation industry being shut down by the Wright brothers’ patents?

    [I’ve noticed we have a thriving aviation industry. If other aviation firms could figure out another way to fly without stealing the Wright brother’s exact designs, great. There’s your incentive to produce a better product. If they can’t, then they can decide whether or not it’s worth paying the Wright brothers to license the patent. Take away the patents, and you’ll have very few Wright-brothers types toiling for years to create valuable inventions that others can immediately steal.]

    What about the film industry moving to Hollywood to evade Edison’s patents?

    [See above. Pay the man or develop your own methods.]

    You wrote yourself that some of Disney’s greatest successes are based on “stolen intellectual property”.

    [Say what? When did I write that?]

    That Hollywood’s film industry has become successful by evading those laws, until they have become powerful enough to lobby for laws protecting their own business.

    [You don’t have to convince me Hollywood is populated by thieves.]

    It occurs to me that you only support free markets as long as they don’t hurt your own business and that would be quite some hypocrisy.

    [Now you’re just being a jackass. I’ve been opposed to stealing other people’s intellectual property for as long as I can remember. I’m the guy who didn’t pirate songs and put them on my MP3 player — I bought the songs I wanted. I believe the songwriters and musicians should be compensated for producing songs I like. I’m the guy who always said no thanks if someone tried to offer me pirated software — I buy the software I want. I once bought what I thought was legitimate software on eBay, realized it had been pirated when I saw the disc, sent it back and reported the seller. Then I bought a legitimate copy of the software somewhere else for quite a bit more money.

    You don’t believe intellectual property is property, based on some goofball notion about how if you buy a copy of a film or song, you now own the film or song and can distribute it. I do believe in intellectual property rights. That’s the difference. Opposing the theft of someone else’s intellectual property doesn’t mean I’m against free markets any more than opposing stealing and selling someone else’s car means I’m against free markets. I means I believe property rights, including intellectual property rights, are the foundation of a free market. Property rights are what makes a free market free — I get to decide to whom and for how much I’ll sell my property, not the government. Anyone who makes his or her own film should be able to compete with me in the DVD market, the Netflix market, the iTunes market, etc. That’s what a “free market” means. But they don’t get to compete with me by stealing intellectual property that cost me $100,000 to produce, making copies for pennies, and selling them.]

    Reply
  44. SnowDog

    Have you seen this Youtube version?

    No need to respond with the link, but it’s still running.

    That’s the Gravitas version.

    Reply
  45. Joel Dole

    Waaa wa waa wa wa, waaaaaaa wa waa, waaaa waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.

    Signed, The One Percent.

    Heh, joking. Bet you never thought that you and the porno industry would share ANYTHING in common but there you go.

    Well, when I grow a mustache without a beard I look like a 1970s porn actor (according to my wife), so I’ve got that going for me.

    Reply
  46. SnowDog

    Rothbard believes in intellectual property.

    From ‘The Ethics of Liberty’, page 123:

    “Violation of (common law) copyright is an equivalent violation of
    contract and theft of property. For suppose that Brown builds a better
    mousetrap and sells it widely, but stamps each mousetrap “copyright
    Mr. Brown.” What he is then doing is selling not the entire property right
    in each mousetrap, but- the right to do anything with the mousetrap except
    to sell it or an identical copy to someone else. The right to sell the~rown
    mousetrap is retained in perpetuity by Brown. Hence, for a mousetrap
    buyer, Green, to go ahead and sell identical mousetraps is a violation of
    his contract and of the property right of Brown, and therefore prosecutable
    as theft. Hence, our theory of property rights includes the inviolability
    of contractual copyright. ”

    “A common objection runs as follows: all right, it would be criminal
    for Green to produce and sell the Brown mousetrap; but suppose that
    someone else, Black, who had not made a contract with Brown, happens
    to see Green’s mousetrap and then goes ahead and produces and sells
    the replica? Why should he be prosecuted? The answer is that, as in the
    case of our critique of negotiable instruments, no one can acquire a greater
    property title in something than has already been given away or sold.
    Green did not own the total property right in his mousetrap, in accordance
    with his contract with Brown-but only all rights except to sell it or a
    replica. But,therefore Black’s title in the mousetrap, the ownership of the
    ideas in Black’s head, can be no greater than Green’s, and therefore he
    too would be a violator of Brown’s property even though he himself had
    not made the actual contract.”

    Reply

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