What is Patent in a World of Replicators?

by Nox

on 07.16.12

It will soon be just as easy for consumers to create physical copies of patented products from the comfort of their own homes as it is for them to illegally download copyrighted music, movies, and software. Don’t believe me? The Pirate Bay now has a “physibles” section for doing just that—downloading “Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical.” Although the capabilities of consumer oriented 3D printers are still mostly relegated to prototypes and toys, the likelihood of printing complex 3D products at home is increasing in reasonability and decreasing in cost every day. There are already some fairly complex items available through the print on demand Etsy analogue, Shapeways, and it won’t be long before these machines are capable of replicating themselves from start to finish. How about pirating a design for a pair of brand name shoes, printing them on your home printer, and paying only for the 3D ink? As an ardent capitalist, this does trouble me, regardless of my love for the corporations that thrive on fucking me in the ass with their veiny cocks of fairness on a daily basis.

a cock with wings

Ever read a EULA?

Some years ago, I would have agreed with you that piracy is wrong, that artists deserve compensation for their songs, and that directors deserve compensation for their films. They may still, but legal, explicitly compensatory purchases have now become the exception in many markets. This is more than a trend, and it’s beyond the control of the RIAA, MPAA, and anyone else who would like it to be otherwise. Welcome to the future.

If I steal a CD from the store, shoot me in the head, please. I'm a piece of shit. But if I download a song, how can you blame me? What have I taken? Have I done anything other than exercise the natural human desire to maximize happiness and minimize pain? Nothing has actually gone missing. A copy has been made, and nothing was lost, save for an infinitessimal amount of energy burned in copying the digital content from another computer to my own. There is a difference between theft and copying, but all considered, the difference is largely undefinable, and both are quite illegal.

Though the sale of copyright, patent, and trademark encumbered goods continues to be the prevailing method for the monetization of commodities, there are an infinitude of methods as of yet undiscovered, and it is imperative that they be discovered. After all, if we accept money as necessary, then how are we going to continue making it in the coming years if “free” becomes the norm in all markets, as it certainly will?

One thing is clear, laws are invalid when it becomes de facto to break them, and copyright in a world of the Internet is the same as patent in a world of replicators—superfluous by virtue of its unenforcability.

The times have changed, and so too has the morality of the people. The change is permanent, and piracy is theft no longer. Perhaps my drug habit will soon be similarly embraced.