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Amazon Patents 'Maintaining Scarcity' of Goods 240

theodp writes "Back in Biblical times, creating abundance was considered innovative. That was then. Last Tuesday, GeekWire reports, the USPTO awarded a broad patent on reselling and lending 'used' digital goods for an invention that Amazon boasts can be used to 'maintain scarcity' of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else."
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Amazon Patents 'Maintaining Scarcity' of Goods

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  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:23AM (#42795737) Homepage

    science and useful arts.

    USPTO, please read the Goddamn Constitution.

  • by markdj ( 691222 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:38AM (#42795823)
    This has to do more with the fact that physical objects wear out and digital objects don't. Publishers have complained that when a library lends a physical book, it can only do so for a limited number of times before it has to buy another copy because the first wore out. When libraries lend digital objects, they never have to buy another again. So publishers want a limit to the number of times that a digital object can be lent before requiring a repurchase. The same goes for CDs/DVDs.
  • Re:And of course ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TarPitt ( 217247 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @09:56AM (#42795925)

    Any form of private property is a government enforced monopoly

    The owner of the property has exclusive rights to it backup up by government

    Private property is the core of "free enterprise"

    The birth of industrial capitalism was formed by the "privatization" of traditional agricultural commons, impoverishing the peasant class and creating a cheap workforce for the factories of free enterprise.

    The privatization of innovation eliminates the intellectual commons in a similar way

  • by EdgePenguin ( 2646733 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:12AM (#42796073) Homepage


    The 'free market' is not a real entity, its a social construct, and it can only exist where property rights are defined and defended - by government force. ALL property, patents or land, is created in this way. Its called enclosure (or inclosure, as it was spelt when this first happened to land in England.

    What is going on here is entirely consisted with the 'free' market (quotes because I refuse to pass on the propagandistic notion that markets have anything to do with freedom) - it is in fact what has been going on since the very dawn of capitalism. You secure exclusive access to something by force (generally via a government, which markets cannot exist without) and then you sell it back to the people you have denied it to.

  • Re:And of course ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:57AM (#42796519) Homepage

    I take it noone ever explained to you that "patents" and "free markets" are NOT that same thing?

    On the contrary ... I've read Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and all the usual stuff and drank the Kool Aid for most of a decade ... and I've come to decide it's a bad fiction. I know a lot about what makes a free market, I just don't think it works or is something we'd want.

    For all the hypothetical benefit of patents, they are a government interference in free markets.

    While it is arguable that some government interference in free markets is necessary, government interference in free markets should be treated as necessary evils.

    See, that's where I have decided the goal of a free market is bullshit, and laissez-faire capitalism is a stupid idea.

    See, without someone enforcing rules on companies, they would dump toxic chemicals into streams, put melamine in baby formula, use substandard materials in construction, sell you 'medicine' which is actually lethal (or nothing at all), and generally act like the miscreants they'd like to be. Because they would be motivated only by profit, and what they can get away with.

    A purely free market is an absolutely dangerous thing, and the belief that this notional (and fictional) market would find optimal solutions is complete and utter horseshit. Do you really think when that company was putting melamine into baby formula the 'market' would have found a solution and that people would be free to choose not to buy toxic baby formula? The only solution to prevent companies from generally screwing everybody else over is to impose regulations and laws on them.

    If the sole function of government is to enforce property law and contracts for the wealthy, and mostly allow the corporations to do as they please up to some arbitrary point -- well then the rest of the society eventually says "fuck it, this isn't working for us at all" and decide they don't like being serfs any more.

    Capitalism will never go away, because people will always own 'stuff' (which is essentially what capitalism means) -- but you really can't in the long run have some fantasy 'free' market where it's the sole job of government to protect the property and freedom of that market. You need to balance the needs of everybody else against that, and you need to make damned sure they're not fucking things up.

    People advocate for getting rid of environmental laws, banking laws, product safety laws, and all of the other frameworks which would keep us from devolving into either anarcho-capitalism or an oligarchy. But those people have their own almost religiously irrational belief that this would somehow make it so we all live in a better place with awesome outcomes -- for instance, Trickle Down Economics tells us cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations claims this solves everything, when that doesn't actually work.

    Sorry, but a world in which governments didn't regulate safety and the like would rapidly devolve into some really bad outcomes. And your notional market is going to do a piss poor job of fixing that.

  • Re:And of course ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:21PM (#42797559)

    You're making the mistake that a lot of modern Capitalist political/economic rubbish relies on: assuming that the words used to describe economic organization (in this case, "owned by"), have a universal and absolute meaning identical with their present usage.

    Yes, land just about everywhere has historically been "owned" by someone. But "ownership" is a particular bundle of de jure and de facto practices that changes with time and place --- for large segments of history, land being "owned" by some lord/king was not at all exclusive with use as "commons." Only later was the definition and practical exercise of "ownership" shifted towards our contemporary notion of "private property." But I suppose paying historical attention to the actual conditions of production "on the ground," instead of tossing around terms like "ownership" as though they were handed down immutable from God, would be too "Marxist" for you.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.