Re: Prick (v.)

Kragen Sitaker (
Tue, 24 Aug 1999 21:10:31 -0400 (EDT)

You write:
> [Kragen wrote:]
> > Intellectual property is going to take its place alongside genocide,
> > oppressive pseudo-religion, feudalism, totalitarianism, and terrorism
> > as the latest of the greatest crime against humanity.
> ... this strikes me as over the top. The Associated Press isn't
> pointing guns at anybody.
> And while there are corporations who can be legitimately criticized
> for killing people off with IP policies in the name of greed --- the
> pharmaceutical industry comes to mind, with agribusiness in a strong
> second place --- I've haven't heard of a "crime" along these lines
> *yet* which compares to, say, the hiring of private armies and
> overthrow of legimitate governments, a la Shell Oil in Nigeria or
> United Fruit in Guatemala, or even, say, the conditions in your
> typical Nike-funded sweatshop. Furthermore, the IP abuses may be
> easier to remediate than some of these other things; IIRC, the South
> African government has threatened to use its statutory immunity from
> its own patent laws to produce anti-AIDS drugs itself if it can't get
> them from the patentholders at a reasonable price.

I don't think IP currently deserves a place in history alongside
totalitarianism and terrorism. I think it will soon.

As for overthrow of legitimate governments: I am given to understand
that some South American countries have been pressured into setting up
special 'expedited' court systems to handle IP claims brought against
citizens by US corporations. I should find out if this is just a rumor
before talking about it, I suppose.

I expect that governments will be overthrown in the near future and
replaced by puppet regimes in order to defend IP -- and possibly not by
private armies, but by national armies. (The US's foreign policy
throughout this century has mostly consisted of attacking countries
that posed an economic threat to its major industries. Is that likely
to change?)

As for sweatshops: billions of people will end up working in sweatshops
because IP laws make educating them expensive and make innovation (and
therefore jobs involving innovation) the province of the wealthy few.

As for 'easier to remediate': feudalism and totalitarianism are just as
easy to remediate if you have a government that wants to remediate
them. You're probably right about pseudo-religion and terrorism, though.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Tue Aug 24 1999
76 days until the Internet stock bubble bursts on Monday, 1999-11-08.