Cryptography Imaginary Property: Formalities of Cypherpunk

Troy Benjegerdes hozer at
Tue Jan 13 12:19:41 PST 2015

On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 08:31:03PM +0100, rysiek wrote:
> Hi there,
> Dnia wtorek, 13 stycznia 2015 15:14:06 Robert Hettinga pisze:
> > > The question is not about encrypted materials, but about encryption
> > > algorithms and tools, as far as I understand.
> > 
> > Patents and copyrights aren’t property. They’re government granted
> > monopolies. They’re no more property than your driver’s license.
> Well, I have posted this link on this list at least several times, but here it 
> goes again:
> tl;dr we're agreed here
> > Property is the application of mind to *matter*, to quote a great Flash
> > animation.
> Yes.
> > An idea can not be property. Ever.
> Absolutely.
> > So. Again. If it’s *encrypted*, and I have the key, it’s my property. I
> > control the physical bits.
> > Otherwise it’s not my property.
> It is not, actually. If you're going for such a strong definition of property, 
> with which I can agree, than let's stay coherent, shall we? The property of 
> yours is the physical device the bits are saved on. The harddrive, DVD, 
> pendrive, whatever. That's your *property*. The encrypted data is just this: 
> encrypted data.
> Otherwise you would find yourself in an interesting world where applying 
> encryption to data (both of which are not property, right) magically 
> transforms something immaterial and "not-property" into "property".

If I have an image I took of my farm, turn it into digital bits, and put
the DVD in a safe, so nothing can copy it, it's my property.

If encrypt the image, and keep the private key in my safe, so nothing can
copy the original image, it's my property. Now maybe I install some robots
with guns to defend the safe too....

If I slap a creative commons license on the image... well, that's asking
the government (which is a lot like a robot) to hold a gun to anyone's
head who tries to modify the image and pass it off as their 'property'.

Is the last one still my property? I guess that depends on your viewpoint
on the validity of the robots of buearocracy, and if they have their guns
pointed at you or not.

> That's the world the MPAA's/RIAA's/MAFIAA's are trying to create, look no 
> further than the DMCA, under which even the simplest encryption algorithm 
> (say, ROT13) applied to copyrighted material by the rights holder makes it 
> illegal for others to publish the key (in this case, 13), as it becomes the 
> "property" of the encrypting party. Look it up.
> Data, encrypted or not, are not property; however, they can fall under a 
> number of state-granted monopolies, as you have said. Here, I even changed the 
> topic of this e-mail for your convenience.
> And in this vein my previous mail has been written -- as far as I understand, 
> the original question was about how encryption *algorithms* (and *not* 
> encrypted data itself) should be handled from the Imaginary Property Law 
> standpoint (so: patents, copyrights, etc).
> And I have provided an answer from my perspective in said previous mail.
> -- 
> Pozdrawiam,
> Michał "rysiek" Woźniak
> Zmieniam klucz GPG ::
> GPG Key Transition ::

Troy Benjegerdes                 'da hozer'                  hozer at
7 elements      earth::water::air::fire::mind::spirit::soul

      Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,
         nor try buy a hacker who makes money by the megahash

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