Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

No, products not being made available to you on the terms and pricing you demand do not mean the market in which those products are offered is a "mess".

Perhaps not, but a product not being made available at all means the market is a mess.

We're not talking about some scarce physical product. We're talking about information and creativity, which in the modern world can be trivially reproduced at negligible marginal cost. And we're talking about applying that information in different contexts, in some cases completely unchanged and in other cases being transformed in ways that might require no additional work from the original creator.

Copyright exists in law, and I have often defended it on the basis that it serves a useful economic purpose in encouraging the creation and distribution of new works despite the low marginal cost of reproduction. But it is an economic tool, not an ethical one. If a work isn't made available by its creator for some reasonable price on useful terms, then there is a reasonable argument for removing the legal protection and letting anyone who wants a copy have one regardless, because the creator demonstrably wasn't going to benefit economically from those people anyway so no harm has been done.

It's exactly the same argument that applies to patent trolls. Patents are fundamentally an artificial legal barrier to doing something you could otherwise do. The only possible justification for imposing such artificial constraints on individual freedoms in the first place is that they serve some greater good for society (and some would argue with it even then, but let's talk about what the law actually says today). When you reach the point where patents aren't being exploited by a patent holder who is actually working to make the documented inventions, and they're just a legal club to extract money from other people or act as an artificial barrier to entry for disruptive entrants in the market, it's time to change the system so either it encourages the greater good it's supposed to or the artificial barriers are removed entirely.

There is no reasonable comparison between a patent troll, who precludes you from benefiting from your own creative work, and a type foundry.

Of course there is. If a type foundry has sold you a font, but then says you can't share work you made using that font with other people even though the PDF file is identical to what they'd let you use in-house, that has an obvious and fairly direct comparison to the situation where a patent troll says you can't do something because although you have built an entire new thing they have a patent on some part of it and won't let you licence it. I see only two major differences:

1. You actually paid the type foundry money.

2. Even patent hoarders can get hit in some jurisdictions by things like compulsory licensing, FRAND obligations, or being legally unable to prevent someone from infringing on their patent, where one way or another they can't actually stop you from using the missing link.

This is a ridiculous argument. Patent trolls deprive makers of the fruits of their own creative and engineering work based on bogus monopolies on ideas. Font foundries license their fonts.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact