Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
If it's really property, then let's tax it.

By h3lldr0p in Op-Ed
Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:55:07 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Within the last couple of years I have become more than slightly aware of the issues going around with what is very loosely called "Intelectual Property". Having been a CS major, a writer, and a student I have ran all of the gambits of IP except for being a lawyer, which currently I have given orders to my loved ones to shoot me in the face if I start to travel down the path. However, that aside, it just struct me the other day. There are no direct govermental taxes upon IP that I know about. And that's just plain weird if IP is going to be looked at as a real form of property by a governement.


I mean, where I live, I have personal property taxes that I have paid, I have three major income taxes upon my salary (another form of abstract property), and sales tax placed upon goods that buy (things that after the exange of monies become my property). But all of those taxes are upon things that I can hold in one fashion or another. My car I can drive and maintain, my salary I can cash out and hold the physical represneation of money in my hot hands, and those goods I purchase at a store all have a tangable aspect to them.

But IP doesn't really have a physical form like my examples above. Sure, I can hold a device that is patented, but I can't hold the idea that is supposed to make that device unique and thusly deservant of goverment backed monopoly. Same goes for music. I can hold the CD that it's imprinted on, but I can in no way make the notes coming out of my speakers manefest and grab them. And yet these are also examples of a form of property. People attempt to make their livings off of them, and for the better or the worse industries have sprung up to take advange of these people in one way or another.

So why isn't any of this taxed? I can believe to a certain extent that those industries that make their money off of IP wouldn't want it, but how long can a goverment watch the RIAA report billions of dollars in profit and not want to take a part of that sweet pie?

Let's perform a thought experiment then.

I suggest that the goverment place a tax, like the income tax, on every copyright or patent that a company holds. The higher the number of copyrights or patents that the company holds, the higher the rate of your taxation. There could also be credits for the company towards their total number of copyrights for ever work they release into the public domian. The government can go as far as putting seperate taxes on the differnt patent types. And in thinking about it some more, there should be a separation of the copyright and patent taxes considering the duration of each. Patents reach the public domain much quicker than copyrights at the current time.

Obvious questions to think about in this experiment:

  • Does this harm innovation? The producers likely to see this as an attack on their livlihood. Is it that, or is it something else?
  • What about individual copyright/patent holders? How are they taxed? Are they taxed at all if they only hold a few copyrights or patents?
  • Who benefits the most from having this tax? The government that has more income now? The society as a whole because of the increase of works now in the public domain?

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
IP taxes:
o Good 26%
o Bad 20%
o Ugly 52%

Votes: 87
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by h3lldr0p


Display: Sort:
If it's really property, then let's tax it. | 60 comments (57 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Uh, how to assess values? (4.00 / 4) (#1)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:21:43 PM EST

With property, assessing the value is rather easy: take what people will pay for the location, add what people will pay for the improvements, and you have the price of the property. Same for cars, blenders, etc.
However, IP is almost always a future, and hard to ascertain its value. That being said, when the value is realised, the income is taxable. Property taxes are something I don't agree with. They are a zero-sum tax; they don't grow with population and they don't sink with the tides of the economy, causing people to be alternately under- and over-taxed. Income taxes are more effective, and will allow retirees to live on property without having to worry how to meet the taxes, as their property generates no revenue.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Tax on copyrighted works? (4.50 / 2) (#2)
by ODiV on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:23:21 PM EST

Any artistic work that a person creates is automatically copyrighted.* How do you expect to tax all the Geocities accounts, let alone all the other works that get created daily? Interesting discussion, it's just not practical.

* - I know this is the case in Canada and the US. Not sure about other countries.


--
[ odiv.net ]
Auto copyright (4.00 / 1) (#8)
by Vulch on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:41:29 PM EST

Copyright is automatic in any country which has signed up to the Berne Convention.

Anthony

[ Parent ]
tax on the income (none / 0) (#28)
by Wah on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:47:34 PM EST

you can't tax for individual items, since inherently they have no value. But the value that one obtains from them could certainly be taxed. If you take it to a certain level of income and say "if your organization gets over X amount of dollars from the sale of intellectual property, you must pay X percentage in taxes for it." A well-written (IMHO) law would set the first X at 50k or so and the second X at 5-10. Of course those number are pulled outta my ass.

I think something like this might be necessary if other steps aren't taken (like sane copyright terms) to compensate for the increase in funds that enforcing all these copyrights is going to take. I don't think that this is the best or even a good solution, but I think it might be a good threat to get media companies to back down and return some media rights to citizens.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Maybe the Big Corps will benifit (4.40 / 5) (#3)
by tnt on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:28:37 PM EST

In your article you said:

Who benefits the most from having this tax? The government that has more income now? The society as a whole because of the increase of works now in the public domain?
It is possible that very large corporations will be the ones to benifit from this. A tax could put IP out of the range of everyone else. And we might see very large corporation controlling virtually all the IP. [Since only they could afford it.] They then could become [more of] a virtual government; exerting their own taxes and control on the population.

I really do not like the whole idea of people being able to own thoughts and ideas.



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

Nor do I (none / 0) (#20)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:57:46 PM EST

I really do not like the whole idea of people being able to own thoughts and ideas.

Neither do I, which is part of my motivation in bringing this up here. In any society, if something is taxed, then ownership by somebody must follow. The only place that I haven't seen this princple happen is with IP. People, and typically, large corporations, claim to own ideas allready. I wonder if such claims of ownership would happen if in fact, those companies had to pay the government a tax upon that property.

Personally, I don't see an IP tax being something that would happen to an individual. This could also have the effect of making the record companies give over copyrights of songs back to the people who first wrote them to get out of this tax. Something that many people would like to see happen right now.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Now there an idea! (none / 0) (#29)
by tnt on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:24:46 PM EST

You said:

Personally, I don't see an IP tax being something that would happen to an individual. This could also have the effect of making the record companies give over copyrights of songs back to the people who first wrote them to get out of this tax. Something that many people would like to see happen right now.
Now there's an idea! The whole idea of copyrights and patents was to reward the author of the work, enough, so the could produce more works. (And thus also rewarding society.) But the way we have things, it is only corporations that are really getting any kind of reward. (And often detrimenting society.)

This would benifit the authors of works [IMO], since corporations could not throw them out, after all their hard work.

This would also benifit society [IMO], since it would likely be the norm that IP laws would stop being used to enforce corporate interests. (Well, at least not as much.)

But I still dislike the idea of people being able to own thoughts and ideas.



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
So why tax it? (4.00 / 5) (#4)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:34:07 PM EST

Your argument is based on the premise that all property must be taxed. This is not necessarily the case - there is no federal property tax in the US, and many other countries don't tax property (and some states in the United States don't either). For much of the United State's history there was no tax on monetary income, and some countries still don't have an income tax.

So basically I don't see how the statement "we must tax intellectual property" follows from the statement "intellectual property is analogous to other forms of property."

More explaination (none / 0) (#17)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:50:50 PM EST

My argument is that all forms of legitmate property that we have now runs the risk of being taxed. Why not give IP that same risk? I see this as more of a legitmatazition more than a reality. Most of the IP debates around copyright goes to the ineffatability of IP. That ideas are duboius entities to own. If a tax is created, not only do we make more concrete IP, but we also create a public enviroment that such problems can be debated about. Something that doesn't exist today.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

IP taxation (none / 0) (#25)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:15:12 PM EST

I think IP already has the ability to be taxed as assets, especially in regards to corporate ownership of intellectual property. When companies sell patents to each other that is taxed in exactly the same way as if they had sold physical assets. I'm not sure if you're proposing though that we should tax simply having intellectual property in the same way in which we tax land ownership; that would seem to be very difficult to do, because in theory every person can own an infinite amount of intellectual property (I can just sit down and write some more crappy poetry and I suddenly have a lot more copyrighted material which I own). How would you determine what to tax?

[ Parent ]
Stifiling of innovation (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by Hechz on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:34:38 PM EST

I would think that a government nor a corporation or individual would want to tax 'ideas'. Imagine if you have a really good idea, and you want to make sure no one 'steals' it, so you register your intellectual property, and the government taxes that process after already levying fees for the registration process, and taxes it for as long as you hold the registration (as far as my understanding of your hypothetical plan goes.). If that were the case, why in gods name would I ever want to come up with an original thought. I'd have to do a viability/cost-benefit analysis everytime I came up with an idea, to see if registering it would even be worth it!



Stifling of everything else. (4.00 / 3) (#11)
by marlowe on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:47:55 PM EST

By the same logic, if we have an income tax, nobody will ever want to increase his income, and if we have a cpaital gains tax, no one will ever want to make a profit, and if we have proeprty tax, no one will want to be a homeowner.

Taxes stifle. But not always fatally.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
And where does innovation come into this, anyway? (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by marlowe on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:50:29 PM EST

When has intellectual property ever led to innovation? (And don't bring up Microsoft unless you want to be laughed off the Internet.)

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Maybe for corporations only... (4.50 / 6) (#6)
by traphicone on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:39:15 PM EST

This is a really interesting idea, although I don't know if I like it. The purpose of copyright and patent laws are to protect individuals' interests and to promote production of works. The idea being that if a person's right to benefit from his or her creation is protected, more will be likely to create. This stands for everything from literature and music to scientific process and design. If a tax were levied upon a person's right to have their own creations, I think it would create a significant obstacle for individuals who might have some very good ideas to manage to gain anything by sharing them. This is counterproductive to the reasoning behind intellectual property laws.

A corporation, however, is more likely to have the resources to pay a tax on copyrights and patents. Many companies now copyright, patent, and trademark everything they can grab hold of out of the fear that another business might beat them to it. Some even stake tenuous claims with the sole intention of suing for profit. We have seen a wonderful slew of bizarre and frivolous patents in the last few years. How much of our legal system's time and effort is wasted with claims and suits made possible by these patents? This behavior is not typically engaged in by private citizens, since there is no real benefit for them to do so.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to tax corporations on their claims of intellectual property, but not individuals. A tax could be a deter businesses from filing frivolous copyrights and patents, which would likely reduce the amount of equally frivolous court cases brought up when these claims are in dispute.

"Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium

Actually, I'd rather see the reverse of this. (none / 0) (#57)
by Ummon on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:31:42 AM EST

How about only individuals are allow to hold copyrights and patents. Corporations are legal fictions with limited rights. I didn't see anywhere in the Constitution anything about corporate rights, therefore they have none but those granted by the states where they incorporated. And since states aren't handing out copyrights and patents there really shouldn't be an issue.

This whole IP issue is smoke and mirrors anyhow. IP doesn't exist, if you have an idea and do nothing with it, you have nothing. I always have been of the opinion that patents only applied to the applications of ideas not the ideas themselves.



[ Parent ]

Question for you (4.50 / 2) (#7)
by eLuddite on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:41:12 PM EST

I'm curious about the rationale for this "thought experiment." Why are you asking for the introduction of yet another level of taxation, especially on something that whose value would be extraordinarily difficult to assess.

What are you trying to prove here?

(a) do you think people dont pay enough taxes already? Normally IP is taxed when it's exchanged for money. Is there a reason for you to expect that people want to be double taxed on such a transaction?

(b) are you trying to demonstrate somehow that copyright is an legal fraud and that if it isnt possible to tax it, it should be free?

Just curious.

Incidentally, I'm not sure that IP isnt taxed. Do you know for a fact that if you die and leave an estate consisting entirely of copyrighted material and or trademarks that it wont be assessed an inheritance tax? Say you're the last remaining Beatle and you burn all your money but leave all rights to your songs to a nephew. Is that nephew going to inherit all that "wealth" without paying any inheritance "tax?" Interesting.

---
God hates human rights.

The demostration (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:29:16 PM EST

I'm trying for more of option "b" here. If large coporations want protections in the form of more strict IP laws, then there needs to be an exchange to the people the society that laws are foisted upon. In short, if IP is real property, then by all means it needs to be treated like all other properties that we have now. That includes the possibility that it could be taxed.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Re: The demostration (none / 0) (#18)
by eLuddite on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:52:20 PM EST

In other words, this article you just wrote would have to be registered at a copyright bureau for tax purposes.

I dont have a philosophical problem with that but I can see why the IRS would just as soon wait until you actually sell it to someone in return for some actual revenue.

Are we also going to make exceptions for stuff you dont charge for? Will that mean I can take it and use it as I see fit - maybe even for a profit? I mean, either IP exists or it doesnt, right? And if it does, pay up or stop expressing original thought.

Write GPL software? That'll be 2 cents per user. I _know_ MS can afford 2 cents per user but can you?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

leave most individuals out of it (none / 0) (#22)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:09:31 PM EST

If we don't think individuals can bear this tax, then let's leave them out of it. Besides, part of the idea is to try to increase the amount of previously copyright, patented, and trademarked material that the public can use without fear. Before I go further, let me also say that this should not be construded as a tax upon just the rich, or a tax just upon companies. This is a tax upon those that hold back from the public a great deal of material that would otherwise be used to make life just that much better.

That said, I think that taxing people that write stuff like this couldn't be easy or economical. Nor would be going after writers or small businesses. The GPL makes things avaible to the public more or less for free, this would IMHO constitute an exception to the tax.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Re: leave most individuals out of it (none / 0) (#26)
by eLuddite on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:56:34 PM EST

Nor would be going after writers or small businesses.

You'd only be going after people who can afford it, precisely the way the system works now. Tax is levied on wealth, not potential wealth, because potential can go either way.

part of the idea is to try to increase the amount of previously copyright, patented, and trademarked material that the public can use without fear.

I'm not sure I understand. That seems inconsistent with the definition of property. If you tax it, you admit its existence. If it exists, it's not yours to dispose of against its authors wishes. Ergo, you cannot use it without fear.

The GPL makes things avaible to the public more or less for free, this would IMHO constitute an exception to the tax.

This wouldnt tax RedHat, for example.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Even more explaination (none / 0) (#47)
by h3lldr0p on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:04:05 PM EST

You'd only be going after people who can afford it, precisely the way the system works now. Tax is levied on wealth, not potential wealth, because potential can go either way.

Right. Any more questions on this point?

I'm not sure I understand. That seems inconsistent with the definition of property. If you tax it, you admit its existence. If it exists, it's not yours to dispose of against its authors wishes. Ergo, you cannot use it without fear.

I'm a bit confused here. Part of my proposal is to give tax credits to those that release their IP into the public domain or to the original authors to do with as they please. I want to get as much IP out of the hands of corps and into people's hands for them to make money with or whatever they decide.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

The demostration (none / 0) (#15)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:37:27 PM EST

I'm trying for more of option "b" here. If large coporations want protections in the form of more strict IP laws, then there needs to be an exchange to the people the society that laws are foisted upon. In short, if IP is real property, then by all means it needs to be treated like all other properties that we have now. That includes the possibility that it could be taxed.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

a bit of confusion (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by maketo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:46:16 PM EST

You dont own the notes coming out of your speakers but you do own the notes that came out of your mind's work. You should be rewarded for that in any way you choose. Should you choose to give your notes for free, glory to you. Should you want to profit off your work or creativity, you should be able to. In one way or the other, it should be your choice since you are the creator and you "hold the rights" to your creation.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
Besides (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by maketo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:47:36 PM EST

Intellectual property is taxed. Each time you make money off it, you have to pay tax for it.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Can't be done efficiently... (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by seebs on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:50:22 PM EST

I have copyright on this post. How much will I pay in taxes for it? Well, if nothing else, I will pay enough to cover the marginal costs; labor for someone to review the post and determine its underlying value. Thus, if someone concludes that the value of this post is $.05, and the tax rate is 20%, I owe $.01 in taxes... but the government has spent $50 or so figuring this out, so I actually have to pay $50.01 or the tax isn't worth implementing.

Restrict it to registered copyrights? Bad idea; copyright must always preserve the full value of *all* creative work, not just the work people spend money to register. Trademarks? Maybe. Patents? Now *that* seems practical, I guess, but it dilutes the primary value... and anyway, we already "tax" these, by requiring you to publish, and sign away all rights come seventeen years, to get a patent in the first place.

Cool idea, but I don't think it works.


Same as law enforcement (none / 0) (#16)
by jxqvg on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:46:55 PM EST

It could be implemented much like law enforcement, where the most likely scenes of crime are more often patrolled. Sure you don't get 'em all, but you can get the biggest players.

[sig]
[ Parent ]
Your Post is free (none / 0) (#24)
by logiceight on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:13:25 PM EST

Well wouldn't your post be $.00 because I can see it for free.

[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#39)
by qslack on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:26:10 PM EST

You can see a Budweiser billboard on a highway but it's copyrighted. You can see the Jumbotron in Times Square but it's patented. You can see the Coca-Cola logo on a vending machine but it's trademarked.

I wish that everything I saw was in the public domain :)

[ Parent ]
I already pay taxes for IP (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by tetrad on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:56:26 PM EST

Most people pay taxes on IP, just like any other property. It's sales tax. Every time I buy a book, a CD, a piece of software, I pay 6% of its value in tax.

tetrad

Sales tax does not hit the owner of the IP (none / 0) (#33)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:41:32 PM EST

Okay, the sales tax is paid upon the media of the book, CD, and software. At no point is sales tax a tax of the actuall IP. The owner of the IP receives a part of the sale price for ever piece of software, copy of the book, or CD sold. And that sales tax is a tax upon you, not the owner of the IP. They don't pay that, you do.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Consider the analogy of real estate taxes (none / 0) (#37)
by tetrad on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:39:30 PM EST

Technically it's true that the buyer pays the sales tax. However, assuming the price of the property is fixed through market mechanisms, the cost of the tax is shared between the seller and buyer.

Look at it this way: if I were willing to pay $1.06 for a book, giving the seller $1 and the gov't $0.06, then in the absence of gov't I would have probably been willing to pay the entire $1.06 to the seller for the identical item. One could argue that it is the seller who "paid" the $0.06, and not me.

Anyway, this nitpicking is beside the point. Having now read more of this thread, I don't think you're arguing for a transactional tax like a sales tax or income tax (if you look closely, these taxes already apply to IP, in the US at least), but rather an tax analogous to recurring taxes paid for real estate.

Real estate taxes would be a good analgy, because the "justification" for property tax is that the property requires the support of some underlying infrastructure provided by the state. In the case of real estate, the supports include legal entities like deeds, as well as physical things like schools, sewers, and roads. The tax is sort of a recurring charge for these things. IP requires fewer physical supports, but needs plenty of legal support in the form of patents and copyrights and the courts and legislatures to back them up. You could try to justify a recurring IP tax in the same way.

The biggest problem with taxing IP like real estate, I think, is the issue of appraisal. Transactional taxes are nice, because there's little question as to the value of the thing being transacted. A book sold for $1 is worth $1, and from that the tax can be calculated easily. However: how much is a book worth if it is not sold, but simply owned? In real estate, you would look at similar houses/buildings/plots/whatever, and see how much they sold for. But in the case of a book, or piece of software, how do you define "similar"? Roughly the same length? Same "quality"? It's really hard to come up with a fair system of appraisal.

tetrad

[ Parent ]

Huh??? (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by heighting on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:06:36 PM EST

Intellectual property is effectively (just not directly) taxed. If you profit from your patents or copyrights, your income is taxed.

Maybe you could think a little harder before posting?

If you feel that IP is an issue that should be discussed, a short paragraph is infinitely preferable to a long and contrived article.

Equal Protection. (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by Andrew Dvorak on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:09:42 PM EST

In the United States every citizen is guaranteed equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. Such a law would be seen as a violation of this, assuming only "businesses" would be mentioned.

A business is under the ownership of a person or group of persons and would therefore be attacking a specific group of people, but not necessarily all individuals transacting such IP informally.

  • Copyright and Patent law is designed to encourage the creation of creative works. It offers the author an incentive to create.
  • If Copyrights or Patents Laws didn't exist, we wouldn't have near the amount of creative work as we do today, although there are many artists who would create regardless of such incentives. These works have contributed much to our economy and culture.
  • If Copyrighted or Patented IP transactions were to be taxed there would not exist so great of an incentive to create. Additionally, creators would be punished for doing so. This is no doubt a step backwards from both of the two examples, setting our society back even further.


Prove it (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:29:50 PM EST

Copyright and Patent law is designed to encourage the creation of creative works. It offers the author an incentive to create.

How does this work in today's world? How many lawsuits are there going on right now over frivilous patents are going on right now? How does this offer incentive to people now a days? Likewise when was the last time you heard of a company that allowed it's employee's keep anything they invented? I cannot count the number that I've read about where even on the employee's own time, they company came in and claimed it. This part of the Constitution has been rendered null and void for the individual anymore. There is no more of a comercial incentive for the individual. Look to Napster for an example of this. There is a new, inventive way to distribute music. Instead of embracing it, the music studios have decided to attack it, at quite a cost to their public image, I might add.

If Copyrights or Patents Laws didn't exist, we wouldn't have near the amount of creative work as we do today, although there are many artists who would create regardless of such incentives. These works have contributed much to our economy and culture.

Again, prove it. Long before any such laws existed we had people making paitings, music, and inventions WHILE MAKING A GOOD LIVING AT THE SAME TIME. Show me how these laws have actually benefitted society, show me how these laws have actually promoted what they say they do.

If Copyrighted or Patented IP transactions were to be taxed there would not exist so great of an incentive to create. Additionally, creators would be punished for doing so. This is no doubt a step backwards from both of the two examples, setting our society back even further.

See the previous. Prove it.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Think about what you're saying. (5.00 / 3) (#40)
by OriginalGTT on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:37:47 PM EST

Again, prove it. Long before any such laws existed we had people making paitings, music, and inventions WHILE MAKING A GOOD LIVING AT THE SAME TIME. Show me how these laws have actually benefitted society, show me how these laws have actually promoted what they say they do.

Long before any o these laws existed, there was also no way to make exact digital copies ad infinitum. If someone wrote a song, it was not easy to
1. Get a copy of the music, and
2. Find musicians who could play it well.

Now I can't spit without hitting a musician, and I live in Cleveland.

The same goes for books, even post printing press.

Art? Nothing until the camera, and color photography wasn't invented until well into this century.

So you are comparing the metaphorical apple and orange. Your argument is fundamentally flawed.

With regards to taxing it, i a person makes an income off of it, it is taxed. Your entire thesis is weak as it is merely an "attack big business" whining rant.

---
I'm NOT on your level. Stay there, and I will stay up here where morals are high, and the air is sweet
--Psychologist
[ Parent ]

Think about what you're thinking about. (none / 0) (#49)
by h3lldr0p on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:23:49 PM EST

Long before any o these laws existed, there was also no way to make exact digital copies ad infinitum. If someone wrote a song, it was not easy to 1. Get a copy of the music, and 2. Find musicians who could play it well.

Point One: While it may not have been as fast, music and news got around quite nicely without radio, television and the internet. Traveling minstrels, vagabonds, gypsies and churches did a very good job at this sort of thing. And most of those people involved in the music had enough talent to figure things out from only hearing passages a few times. Point Two: I feel that the world still suffers from this problem.

Now I can't spit without hitting a musician, and I live in Cleveland.

What are you calling a musician? Music has always been apart of the american household. Go back to Europe and you'll find that people spent the evening with their family singing songs to make them feel better, singing in the fields to help pass the time and so forth. Were these people musicans?

And what are you calling art? Only those things that have pictures taken of them? That's more than small minded. And have you any idea of how many people have gone through the Louve in it's day? How about the number of people that have prayed in the Cistine Chappel? People got to see the artworks of the day without the internet and photography. And they still didn't IP laws! Imagine that if you can!

Look, I think you need to review you histroy a bit better here. I am not not comparing apples and oranges, nor am I whining. I am trying to challenge some assumptions that we're living with right now to try and get people to change their minds. Think and look a bit deeper next time before you make your mind up next time, please.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Wow you're a wanker. (none / 0) (#56)
by OriginalGTT on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 06:21:21 PM EST

You don't have to wait for anything anymore, that's the difference. Minstrels were valued for what they did because most people had no other recourse. Hence the terms 'talent' and 'art'.

And what are you calling art? Only those things that have pictures taken of them?

You really need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Your premise is weak, your points are meaningless. You are whining against MS and the MPAA and the RIAA because you can't do whatever you feel like doing. Yet you choose to mask it by pretendin to be for the "poor little downtrodden American".

Get a life, grow up a little, and when you are out of high school/college you will understand.



---
I'm NOT on your level. Stay there, and I will stay up here where morals are high, and the air is sweet
--Psychologist
[ Parent ]

It's not really property (4.33 / 3) (#27)
by anewc2 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:37:34 PM EST

"Intellectual property" is really a monopoly granted by the government for a limited period of time. The "tax" on it consists of (1) the registration fee (minor) and (2) the limited time (major). "Intellectual property" is a lie put forth to promote the analogy to physical property, so the limited-time feature begins to seem less and less reasonable. Don't fall into the trap.

Here in the US, the limited time is written into the Constitution.


The world's biggest fool can say the sun is shining, but that doesn't make it dark out. -- Robert Pirsig

As far as the registration fees go... (none / 0) (#32)
by Andrew Dvorak on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:39:20 PM EST

In most countries featuring modern copyright laws, from the time of creation, a work is automatically assumed as copyrighted by the author. In the United States (I have no clue about elsewhere, though I imagine it's the same) no registration of a copyright is required but it provides a good mechanism for demonstrating copyright ownership, as well as provides the Library of Congress with a permanant copy of your work, for others to research from or even make use of the work after its copyright expires.

Copyright law is designed to protect the rights of a works creator and ensure its perpetuation once the author no longer needs it after death. Though, the time after the author's death a copyright should remain valid as part of his or her estate is a continuing debate, considering that the author no longer has any use for it. Is this just a common case of greed on the behalf of a copyright holder's heirs? I suppose that in many instances it could be suggested that it was designed to demand respect for the memory of the dead creator as a considerate measure for his or her's family.

I read the above over and over. I realize how lengthy and complex and confusing many of my sentences are. I do not care, for these are the words of a tired man. I shall sleep.----------........



[ Parent ]
Except that it's not limited (none / 0) (#45)
by mbrannig on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:59:32 PM EST

Copyrights and patents are trying to be extended. Drug companies are trying to get congress to pass laws allowing them extended use of their patents on drugs they developed. Copyright can be extended forever. It's been 50 years since Casablanca came out but it's not in the public domain. How about old jazz/swing/ragtime music? What about works from the 19th C you read about in english class?

The limited time is a joke.

matt
Matthew Aloysius Brannigan mbrannig@mbrannig.org / http://mbrannig.org
[ Parent ]
What did you mean exactly? (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by tiamat on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:50:21 PM EST

"And that's just plain weird if IP is going to be looked at as a real form of property by a governement."

How exactly is Intellectual Property not looked upon as a real form of property?

Wait, what's a "real" form of property anyway?

[Sorry I didn't paste the defn. right here but it gave me trouble.]

So based on that we see that Intellectual Property is a real form of property. (Or at least included in the dictionary defination.) So where, therefore, is the recent change in governmental position that requires this new tax? If Intellectual Property is a real (and always has been) form of propety, and there's never been a reason to tax it before, why is there a reason now?



Physical Tangability (none / 0) (#38)
by h3lldr0p on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:18:34 PM EST

Ideas, and thusly, IP lack that property that allows them to be physically manefest. Yes, the device that has a patent can be held, built, etc., but the idea that the patent covers cannot be. Same goes for ideas contained in books, music, pictures, paitings and so on. This is what I mean by "real" property.

IP itself is something that has only come about in the last couple of centuries. And quite frankly exists in a very grey area. Ownership of ideas is something that is debatable, let alone the ability to profit off of them. How long were bards and performers paid by just their performances? They surived quite nicely. How many years did music writers get paid through the method of patronship, and do well enough for themselves? IP is not something that is really needed.


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

Physical Tangability - Representation of Ownership (none / 0) (#43)
by mami on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:12:12 PM EST

May be it's not real property, but "dead capital". IP is a way to convert the "dead capital" (idea) into "live capital" (money) offering a way to draw money out of an intangible result (the idea) of a thinking process. Only if you could give title of ownership of each copy of an implementation of the idea (in form of a book or CD), you could say what is real ownership and to whom it belongs.

That is the reason why IP of open source code can never be converted in "live capital", as you can't grant title of ownership of each copy of the implementation of the source code (at least for now).

A patent (for a tangible product) might be a way ensure to that invested "live capital" (money) into the implementation of an "idea" (dead capital) can be retrieved and profits be drawn by converting the "dead capital" (idea) into property, which can be rented out.

A patent (for a non tangible product, i.e. software) might be seen as a way to ensure that a non tangible idea "dead capital" is converted into "live capital" by giving a title of ownership to that "dead capital" (labor of the developer), so that it can be rented out and draw "live capital" for the owner.



[ Parent ]
Simpler solution (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:27:32 AM EST

I like the proposed simpler solution of making IP is non-transferable, i.e. if I work on a movie, song, computer program, etc. in a "creative capacity" (one where I could be awarded IP if I did it all by myself) then I *permenently* own a portion of the rights to the product (elliminating all work for high clauses for IP ownership). You could not even will IP to your shildren, so things would enter the public domain when you died (or sooner).

Now, we would still need to see projects get funded, so limited duration exclusive distribution lissences would be permitted, i.e. it would work just like books currently work where the publishers has the right to the first printing, but the author can eventually take the book elseware. Clearly, projects like movies with hundreds of owners would need to (a) have an orginisation for voting or (b) have the financial backers force the movie into the public domain when it leaves their control (i.e. the contract between the financers and the actors, photographors, etc. would say "you agree that this will enter the public domain in two years).

Actually, this would not change the production of movies all that much, since all the money is made durring the first two years anyway, but it would significantly change the production of software where programmers would eventually regain control of their old code (or that code would be forced into the public domain by the financial backers).

Unfortunatly, my proposal is totally unrealistic since the IP monopolies control the U.S.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
why not to your kids? (none / 0) (#53)
by plonk on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:45:38 PM EST

I see a serious problem with not being able to will IP. What if you are a professional writer/musician/other creator, and you die suddenly? This presents all sorts of problems for those depending, for whatever reason, on the income from that IP. This includes your financial backers (who I understand are generally persona non grata around here), but also any and all dependents, which potentially includes your wife/SO, young children, elderly relatives, etc.

This does not mean that the term of IP should be unlimited; copyrights should run out at some point after creation -- maybe 50 years or so, so that an author or other creator can enjoy the fruits of their labors for a good long time and be taken care of in their old age. Patents are already of a limited term. Trademarks should go on forever, as long as they are used, because they often represent things that go on, such as Bass Ale.

[ Parent ]

kids (none / 0) (#55)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:50:04 PM EST

Your kids did not create the IP so why should society reward them with ownership of it? If your concerned about your kids if you die then buy life inshurance. Do not go muching about with IP laws to fix a totally irrelevent problem.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
But is IP like a kidney? (none / 0) (#59)
by jkeene on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 03:11:24 PM EST

I've got other disagreements with IP, but with your argument about children not creating IP, and therefore not being eligible to receive it I take some exception.

I could give one of my children one of my kidneys, if medically necessary and compatible. They certainly didn't create the kidney, but it is a very right thing for me to be able to give it.

I think IP should be as freely transferrable as any other ownable property, and much more attention given to returning to the "limited duration" concept that used to govern the private lifespan of IP.

[ Parent ]

Won't work (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by Woodblock on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:01:31 AM EST

This idea seems dangerous to me. For several reasons:
  1. Permission to own? -- Currently, if you create something original, you own the copyright to that immediately. (This is true at least for individuals.) If you were to tax original work, how would the government know when it was created? People would ahve to go to the government with a book, idea, etc. and ask "Is this idea okay? Am I allowed to know this?" As any freedom loving person will see, this seems quite dangerous.
  2. Poor analogy -- The analogy between normal, physical property is not as close as you think. Intellectual property is the only form of property when creating it is extremely easy. You don't have to trade with others in order to get the raw matierials, and you can share the property without losing it.
  3. Shared ownership -- How would you define who owns it, or how much someone owns it. Take, for example, a piece of GPLd software. Someone owns the copyright on one piece of it, another on another piece of it. How would you calculate what each portion is worth? And if you have a flat rate system, does it seem fair to tax a single line of code (or even a single article of punctuation for that matter) the same as an entire book?
  4. "The evil corporations" -- Generally corporations are treated no differently under law than an individual, and I see no good reason to do so.
  5. International property laws -- Many companies have signed agreements to honour patents in other countries. If we tax intellectual property in one country, the corporations will move to intellectual property tax havens elsewhere.
  6. Underground markets -- As soon as you tax something, people immediately find ways to get around it. I think having an underground market for intellectual property would be counterproductive at the least, and potentially dangerous.
While it may have the potential to fly (never underestimate what stupid policies a government can enact), I think having an intellectual property tax would not "help" the situation.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
Yes it can. (none / 0) (#46)
by h3lldr0p on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 05:53:27 PM EST

#1 -- How do come to this conclusion? Already if you want a trademark, patent, or protection for your copyright, you have to register it. Why not just tax it at that point? I never once suggested that you'd have to run it by anybody and get any sort of permission. I think that your imagination is running away with you if this is the conclusion you get from my suggestion.

#2 -- THAT'S THE FRIGGIN' POINT! Currently IP is being used in just the same way as any physical property. Look at the battle going on with Napster. I want to push it so that the ridiculous of the situation with regards to IP and hopefully get more people talking about the situation in a meaninful way.

#3 -- See this post, it should help answer your concerns.

#4 -- Corporations exists solely at the behest of the people through the laws created by their government. If they start to hurt the society more than they help it then maybe it becomes time to question those laws and regulations that allow them to exist in the first place. Besides which there already exists seperate laws of taxation for corporations. Whole families of them. How is this suggestion any different than those?

#5 -- They do this already with real world properites and profits, and yet governments still seem to get taxes out of the multinationals. What changes then?

#6 -- Hell, this happens whenever you start charging money for things, not just when you start to tax stuff. Besides which, I think we already have an underground market -- it's call Napster. See how much trouble that's caused. Let's try causing some more.

I think we need to take a harder look than just this to try and find a solution. However, I feel that this is a good start. Just letting things go as they are currently is not going end very prettily. Personally, I don't like the idea of a copyprotected HD that tattle's on me whenever I do something that might cut into a company's profits. What kind of freedom is that?


Even in victory, there is no beauty
And who calls it beautiful
Is one who delights in slaughter
[ Parent ]

A retort (none / 0) (#50)
by Woodblock on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:28:53 PM EST

If I write software, I automatically have a copyright on it. I don't have to do anything to gain permission. If we wanted to tax copyrighted property, we'd need some way of tracking who owns what property. The most obvious conclusion is that you'd have to fill out some form. Set aside the issue of how many governent employees we would need to run such an operation, and consider for a moment a world where everytime you create something original, a book, a play, some software, you'd have to get someone to give it a serial number and pay your dues. I really don't think you've thought about this enough. If people create something, and don't want to pay the h3lldr0p IP tax, they are going to sit on it. Then you will certainly never benefit from it.

You may subscribe to this silly "evil corporation" world view, but I sense that at the end of the day, all you want is more free shit. People work long and hard to create intellectual property, and they don't need your or the governments permission to benefit from it. People should be and end in themselves, not a means to h3lldr0p's ends.

About the analogy: I was trying to expose a logical fallacy in your argument. If you base an argument solely on an analogy, you better be damn well sure your analogy fits, or your argument falls apart.

Blackmarkets: Sure, underground markets exist now, however there is something inherently dangerous in driving intellectual property underground with cigarettes and bathtub gin.

As for the rest of your arguments, there is nothing terribly new or exciting there. I've heard all these arguments before and they've never worked. If you really think corporations are evil, say so and prove it, otherwise, please, don't bother telling me how you'd really like to get a Playstation 2 just because "ideas can't be owned".


-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
not exactly good (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:34:06 PM EST

first of all, copyright is NOT evil. It's abused by a few companies. Should we be taxing musicians for the music they make? Then noone would make music. Tax writers for their work? Who would write? It would have a chilling effect upon the art of the world.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Just like taxes (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by ZanThrax on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:06:05 PM EST

on income and profit have caused everyone to stop working and companies to stop producing products? Besides, much like any other tax system, there would be rather extensive (excessive?) systems of exemptions and reductions for some little garage band that plays the local bars...

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

comparing apples and oranges (none / 0) (#51)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:20:29 PM EST

You have to make money to LIVE through work. You do not have to make art to live. It would stifle creativity.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Taxes only on copyright works (none / 0) (#52)
by DrEvil on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:44:13 PM EST

The musician would not have to pay taxes on thier work until they decide to copyright it. Once they copyright it then it is assumed that they are planning on making money from it (why else would they copyright it?) and so the tax is justifyable.

I don't know however if I like this idea, however it would be fun to watch the RIAAm, and the likes, have to pay this tax!

[ Parent ]
taxing non-income generating IP (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by plonk on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:53:36 PM EST

I have a number of unfinished stories, game worlds, etc on my hard drive. Under current copyright doctrine, all of these are copyrighted by default, and therefore constitute IP. However, they are not generating income for me now, nor are they likely to in the future. Being required to pay taxes on them now would be absolutely ludicrous -- they do not provide me with any benefit generally recognized by tax law; I enjoy them, but they do not provide me an income or a place to live, nor are they required for me to conduct business of any sort. Taxing non-income producing and/or private IP is insupportable.

If I get off my ass and finish a couple of these things, I might conceivably be able to sell them. The income from that sale would be taxed as ordinary income, as well as being subjected to the self-employment tax. At that point, that IP becomes income-generating IP. Income, btw, that I am already required to pay taxes on. Taxing the IP itself is unjust double taxation.

Lastly, I do not pay taxes on most of my property. Only land and my car are subjected to property taxes. I paid taxes on many of these items when I acquired them. I do not pay property taxes on items I create that do not fall into these two categories; why should I pay taxes on the stories I pull out of my own head?

Just pass it along (none / 0) (#58)
by hardburn on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:27:12 AM EST

If IP was taxed, then IP holders would probably just pass that tax along to the consumers by upping the price. I don't think there is precident for forbidding passing along the tax to consumers, but IANAL.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


Maintenance Fees Are Easier (none / 0) (#60)
by Steve B on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 10:59:07 PM EST

It would be simpler to have an effective system of maintenance fees for registered copyrights -- you'd need to pay every decade or so to keep it. IMO, the terms should be cheap for the first decade or two, increase exponentially for a few more steps, then hit an absolute maximum at 60 years or so.

That way, out-of-print abandonware would fall into the public domain fairly soon, so that it could be republished (if anybody at all cared) before the media becomes unreadable through physical decay or technological obsolescence.

Unregistered copyrights (or the sort I automatically have for this post) should cost nothing, but should also expire in a reasonably short time (10 years, perhaps).

(IIRC, the effective difference between a registered and an unregistered copyight in US law is that the former allows you to collect monetary damages and the latter only allows you to demand that infringers ceast and desist.)

If it's really property, then let's tax it. | 60 comments (57 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!