Gates brands IPR opponents Communists

CNET’s was able to interview Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s a pretty interesting read, if for no other reason than it gives a window into the software industry’s most well known individual.

However, in a not so subtle way, Gates likens IPR opponents to communists. I think this is very much a misnomer. Here it is in his own words:

Q: In recent years, there’s been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, “We’ve got to look at patents, we’ve got to look at copyrights.” What’s driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?

A: No, I’d say that of the world’s economies, there’s more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don’t think that those incentives should exist.

Make of that what you will, but I think his usage of the word communist here is pretty misleading, and is just trying to play upon the general public’s ignorance of what communism actually is and their misconception that communism is inherently evil.

There’s also the obligatory quote marginalising Firefox, but we’ve heard all that stuff before, so I’m not going to reproduce it.

12 thoughts on “Gates brands IPR opponents Communists”

  1. what a bastard. Somebody should seriously sock that dude in the face. I am not a communist, I think communists are idiots, because their system will never work as intended (human nature is greed). I however, understand that the **AA and software companies enjoy laws that restrict the FAIR usage of things I BUY. I don’t think you have to be a “modern-day communist” to think that “intellectual property” laws have gotten out of hand. I understand they are there for a reason, and I agree with that reason, but what is currently going on is a bit much, don’t you think?

    Kudos to you Ali for finding this!

  2. Hey looky there, I infringed on a trademark! Kudos is a registered trademark of the Mars Corporation (IIRC). My bad *starts glancing at the satellites in the sky that are reading his brain waves, and puts on his tin foil hat*

  3. Bill is just a protectionist. He loves state imposed protection as soon as he has conquered a market. Free market is only something he likes when it helps him achieving his goals, once achieved it’s easier to let the state look after your wellbeing.

    No one really believes that 70 or even 90 years of copyright protection after the creators death fosters innovation. It helps established monopolies and law firms and secures quite a few jobs at the courts. Meanwhile society as a whole suffers because *less* creative works are getting produced. Simply due to the lack of a possibility to build upon existing things.

    What’s the timeframe of nowadays companies? The next quarters results? The next year? At an absolute maximum the next decade. So bring copyright protection back to a level where businesses have a chance to overlook it. How about 20 years? No one is not going to write or finance a book, a piece of software or a newspaper article because he thinks “Oh no, in 20 years someone may legaly copy it”. It’s enough of an incentive for everyone and doesn’t protect monopolies.

    I won’t delve into the patent system right now, that’s a rant as least as long.

  4. “and their misconception that communism is inherently evil.”

    I must disagree with that. It is not a misconception that communism is inherently evil. This makes me wonder how much you know about it.
    It has been said that the only people who can understand communism are those who’ve been there.

    So I can’t say what communism is or what it’s like, but before you say it’s a misconception. Ask someone who’s been there. And fled from it.
    Or look for writings of someone who’s been there. Not the leaders of it mind you.

    And it is a very true statement that Bill Gates has no idea whatsoever, of what communism is.

  5. Arthur, then we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Suffice to say that I don’t believe that any polity is inherently evil. People can pervert any polity in order to achieve evil ends, but the presence of any specific type of polity does not prescribe with certainty such perversion.

    While democracy is less susceptible to such perversion than communism, it’s certainly not immune to it. Therefore, I also don’t believe that there is any polity that guarantees a perversion-free outcome.

  6. “So I can’t say what communism is or what it’s like, but before you say it’s a misconception. Ask someone who’s been there. And fled from it.
    Or look for writings of someone who’s been there. Not the leaders of it mind you.”

    It really depends on how you define the word “communist”. All those “communist” countries where people were tortured and had to flee had transformed into dictatorships or were dictatorships with a sign saying “communist” from the beginning on. You could easily argue that a dictatorship is inherently un-communist. It can’t be communist by the mere meaning of the words communist and dictatorship. But I don’t think it’s really worth discussing to much about it, just find different words for what you want to say if the other takes offence at your choice of words. “Communist” will remain for some the very incarnation of the evil things that came from the Soviet Union and communist China, for others it will remain an ideal never reached which never ever would have anything to do with those who have perverted the ideas of communism, while even others will look at Sweden and say “see, a communist system that works” (naturally offending some Swedes).

  7. I look at communism in a general manner.
    This is kind of off-topic but I hope you won’t mind one more post. And if you disagree that’s fine. At least you are allowed to disagree. Communism doesn’t allow you to disagree with them.

    Communism and the theory of evolution go hand in hand. The people who believe in them, or even consider them are brain washed or have reached an evil state.
    Every communist nation is against Christianity, and has or is trying to destroy Bibles. Why?
    Because according to evolution, there are stages of life. For example Hitler thought Jews were a lower form of humans and so justified killing them in order to make the world a better place. And the Bible says man was created in the image of God. There is no lower level of life. Hitler wasn’t communist but pretty close. Communism, Nazism, and evolution go well together. Not in every aspect but in the way they think.

    It always results in Dictatorship. That itself should tell you something about it. By their fruits you will know them.
    Just as you can tell how good a tree is by it’s fruit, you can tell that communism itself is bad because of it’s outcome.

    If you want to argue with me some more, it’s artooro AT gmail DOT com

  8. Given that 100 million people died under it, “communism = evil” isn’t a misinformed stereotype.

  9. “Communism and the theory of evolution go hand in hand.”

    Wow, talking about extremists… There are obviously some of all sorts. Unbelievable.

  10. “Given that 100 million people died under it, “communism = evil” isn’t a misinformed stereotype.”

    As you might have read: There are people who don’t equate those evil states which killed millions of people with communism but view communism as a concept which initself isn’t evil.

  11. If everyone in the world were sinless, Communism could work. In that sense, it’s not inherently evil. However, humans are corrupt and sinful people, and so it can never work.

    The similarities between free software and communism are closer than some people like to admit – but the vital difference is that in communism, if I take your cow, you no longer have a cow. In software, if I take a copy of your code, you still have it. That makes the economics utterly different.

  12. From what I have read, people really have no idea about Communism. No, living in a communist country does not give you any more authority on the subject of communism: most communist countries are communist *only by name*. They are essentially *dictatorships* under the perfect picture of communism. So Communism > repression, but Dictatorship == repression.

    Gates is actually sort of right in his remark, although I seriously doubt that was actually intentional. It was more or less used as an FUD tactic drawing on the general public’s ignorance of communism and its ideals.

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