Make vs. Take

The underlying class war behind issues like intellectual property protection. – Ed

(Ed.note: We got a number of emails, usually not too positive, about this recent article. Here’s one of them:


I know this is not your work, but, sheesh, I am truly glad copyright doesn’t work like that.

BTW, I am a professional writer… MFA: Creative Writing, publisher & college English instructor, so I DO know a bit about the laws as they are currently.

I will not bend your ear here, but something needs to be said. Art is not “public domain” while it is under copyright. Nor does the public have any “right” to EVER use art under copyright, unless it is paid for, or released by the artist. THAT’S IT in a nutshell.

(You can read an FAQ on copyrights here).

Successful legislation like that would virtually ensure the end of poets, writers & many artists—-which is a hard enough gig already.

I write 30-70 stories a year, more than 50 poems, and am working on other things too. I make a few hundred $ a year. I couldn’t afford to write given the copyright proposal made. Or if I did, it would have to be for free because I couldn’t afford to register copyrights for my work. My most successful story didn’t make me any money until it had been out there for a few years. How could I afford copyright upkeep on all those “older” works too?

And if I let the copyrights slip away how would I later publish a collected work?

This steams me because, like the news, people sometimes think they have a “right” to other peoples’ privacy or private property. Can you imagine a law that says, “You have owned your house long enough, give it to the public now”? (Doesn’t that sound communist?)

Thankfully, I don’t see any changes happening in international copyright law soon.

Thanks for listening.

Kris Kurrus

Ed. comment: We have here somebody who is making stuff asking “What right do any of you have to take what I made without paying for it?”

The only answer I’ve seen so far is “You’ve made enough from it.”

Funny how often we hear, “{Somebody else} makes too much money,” but so rarely “I make too much money.”

That might be not applicable (at least not yet) to the author of this piece, but how about Harlon Ellison? He has this problem, too.

The more comment I get on intellectual property issues, the clearer the class elements of this argument become in my mind.

Not to say all, or even most of those who’ve written me look upon the matter that way, but there’s enough out there whose real gripe is not copyright or copy protection or website pricing errors, but rather other people being richer than them.

These have-nots believe they have the “right” to take from the “haves.” This is especially true when it comes to types of property the have-nots will never ever make themselves.

There are makers and there are takers. The makers want to keep what they got and get more. The takers just . . . want to take.

A single person can be both in different areas of his or her life. I have no doubt some, if not most, of those who want to play Robin Hood to some evil corporation would rail just as much when some politician plays Robin Hood for the poor, and it’s their ox being gored.

“It’s OK to take somebody else’s stuff, but don’t touch mine” is a common human belief, but it’s logically absurd. You are “somebody else” to the rest of the planet, and everyone of them is “me” to themselves.

Of course, there are excuses. There are always excuses, rich or poor or inbetween. “It’s different for me.” Sure it is; it’s always different when it’s coming from you. Man always sees himself as the victim, even the Nazis did.

Can you (and most of mankind) say “I’m a hypocrite?” I knew you couldn’t.

“But the rich are greedy!!!” My friends, the rich are the same as you and I; they just have more money. The rich have no monopoly on greed, but they do play with bigger poker chips.

Generally, they get to play with bigger poker chips because they’re better players. They did something that was valuable according to the rules of the poker game. Sometimes they were fortunate enough to be dealt a bunch of good hands. Occasionally, rarely, it’s dumb luck.

True, sometimes they start off life with a big stack piled in front of them. True, they get to go to better poker schools. Nonetheless, unless they prove to be at least decent poker players themselves, the pile of chips they inherited usually dwindles away in a couple generations.

But usually, that pile of chips is due to a lot of hard work, and often the willingness to take risks, sometimes huge risks. If they end up winning a big pot, it’s because they were willing and the other players weren’t.

They did more. You did less. If they get no more from doing more, why do more? The more-doers, the makers, pretty much stop. See any Communist society, past or present, for proof. While I think the average person I’ve read is more inspired by Robin Hood than Karl Marx, if Robin Hood had been a better thief, the same thing happens.

Sure, sometimes the rich use skullduggery or worse to make the pile bigger than it would be otherwise, but so do the poor, and that doesn’t mean the rich never would have had a pile otherwise.

Sometimes a society rewards some things more than others. Playing for the NBA is considerably more remunerative than teaching elementary school. Not too many people can play in the NBA, many people can teach. Many people will play good money to watch NBA games, not too many will pay extra to watch teachers teach.

The players of the WNBA are probably roughly as skilled as those in the NBA, yet the difference in pay is almost as big as the NBA-teacher gap. Unfair? I suppose so, but you can’t pay people money that isn’t there.

Breaking rocks takes more physical effort than writing software, but a pile of well-broken rocks has less value than a well-written program, just as a pair of jacks beats a pair of twos. When you think about it, that’s unfair, too. There’s just as many twos as jacks in the deck; why should jacks beat twos? Because those are the rules of the game.

The point of all this is not that the rich are all angels and should be able to do anything they want.

But if you think just being rich is automatically illegitimate and undeserved, if you think that anyone and everyone with a big pile of chips in front of them must be cheating all the time, and if you think it’s their fault and anybody and everybody else’s fault but yours that you only have three chips in front of you, I have a suggestion for you.

Maybe you should try to look at yourself more than a little and consider the possibility that you might be a lame, lazy, or just limited poker player, and maybe you ought to spend less time hating the rich and more time imitating them.

It’s the only game in town.

Nothing wrong with deciding the price is too high for you to play the game much or at all, just don’t begrudge those who were willing to do what you weren’t (or at least picked their ancestors better).


P.S. What does this have to do with overclocking? Not a damn thing, but it has a lot to do with at least some of the overclocking audience.

When you see folks with what you know are self-defeating attitudes, I personally find providing at least the opportunity for them to get their wetware right at least as important as them getting the right hardware in their box. The computer components will soon be obsoleted. Your wetware won’t, and impotently whining and bitching about the unfairness of life is not a lifestyle of the rich and famous (well, except maybe for a few musicians :)).

Consider this and other efforts a sort of BIOS flash. Maybe you need it, maybe you don’t, maybe it will take, maybe it won’t, but at least this type can’t hurt.


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