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January 25th, 2010 - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Jan. 25th, 2010

11:17 am - Ethics of Dupe Guns

John Cook's article, Make something and sell it was recently posted to HackerNews. He makes the case that the government should enforce copyright and patent monopolies so that people who make software, books, music, and art can make money.

Here's my response. Note that I've made the argument before, but I think this is a more a succinct version.

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Ferrari invests millions in the design and engineering of the their cars. Due to the high demand and inherently limited supply of Ferrari’s, they can sell them for $150+ thousand dollars.

However, imagine that someone invents a duplicator gun (dupegun), which can duplicate (dupe) any physical object for $0.05, without causing any harm to the original.

Now anyone who wants a Ferrari can just dupe one they see on the street. Wouldn’t this newfound duping technology be a great boon for society? Afterall, anyone who wants a Ferrari can have one for the cost of a nickel and a dupegun.

Of course, Ferrari might not be too happy about this. If anyone can dupe their cars for almost zero cost, they can’t charge $150K+ for them.

Do you think the appropriate government response to Ferrari’s unhappiness should be to give them a monopoly on the duping of Ferrari’s? To try to prevent every dupegun owner on the planet from using their dupeguns without permission and payment to Ferrari?

Or do you think the Ferrari should try to find a better way to fund their design and development efforts?

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