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Articles by Andrei Mincov



Published: 2011-09-12T02:13:00+00:00

 



Civilization or Mindless Helplessness

2011-09-12T03:13:00+00:00

Often when I argue the case for individual rights and radical departure from government regulation, I hear words to the effect that it is the collectively financed government regulation that creates the framework for a civilized life, from which everyone benefits. Essentially my opponents’ claim comes down to the following. Of course, they say, the achievers can only achieve so much because the government regulation saves them a huge amount of time they would otherwise have to spend trying to tell good bankers from bad bankers, good lawyers from bad lawyers, good doctors from bad doctors, good builders from bad builders, food from poison, gold from brass, and so on. What is more valuable, regulators argue, the unregulated freedom or the ability to concentrate on important things, while the government takes care of the ‘civilization’? But this is a false choice. Often when I argue the case for individual rights and radical departure from government regulation, I hear words to the effect that it is the collectively financed government regulation that creates the framework for a civilized life, from which everyone benefits. Essentially my opponents’ claim comes down to the following. Of course, they say, the achievers can only achieve so much because the government regulation saves them a huge amount of time they would otherwise have to spend trying to tell good bankers from bad bankers, good lawyers from bad lawyers, good doctors from bad doctors, good builders from bad builders, food from poison, gold from brass, and so on. Indeed, there are benefits to not having to question the quality of every single service or good that one uses or buys. Even the most independent of individualists would soon find it too burdensome to personally research the work history of every single baker, cobbler, taxi driver, or plumber. What is more valuable, regulators argue, the unregulated freedom or the ability to concentrate on important things, while the government takes care of the ‘civilization’? But this is a false choice. Henri Poincaré has once famously said, “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” It is just as moronic to always disregard the collective wisdom of the market as it is to always blindly follow it. Just because the government has determined that only goods and services meeting certain criteria can be offered, does not mean that there is no demand for goods and services that do not meet these criteria. Take lawyers for example. Admittedly, there is some value to the fact that a group of lawyers has taken upon itself to inform the public about certain standards which it deems necessary for every lawyer to meet. Admittedly, there is some value to the fact that this group informs the public which lawyers do and which lawyers do not meet such standards. Indeed, in many cases clients want to choose their lawyer from the cohort of professionals nominated by one organization or the other. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem starts, however, when the government makes it illegal for mentally competent individuals to voluntarily obtain legal services from those who are not a part of the cohort. Same with food and drugs inspections. Admittedly, there is some value to the fact that a group of people has taken upon itself to inform the public about whether certain food or drugs are safe. Many people would gladly defer to such conclusions. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem starts when a mentally competent individual is legally prohibited from voluntarily buying a product because someone else has determined that it does not meet certain standards. While most people would probably defer to the conclusion that child car seats marked with the government’s blessing are safe, it is wrong to legally prevent people who knowingly want to purchase an unapproved car seat from doing so. While there is nothing wrong with voluntary certification, there is [...]



Monument to Human Devolution

2011-06-18T01:28:06+00:00

There once was a time in human history when monuments stood for something. They used to be erected to celebrate triumphs and achievements. Sometimes, they were built to commemorate national losses and tragedies. This happens no more. We are surrounded by monuments that are glorifying human suffering or are nonsensical abstractions. Be clear: this is not a coincidence or new trend of art. It is the result of a purposeful anti-achievement agenda. There once was a time in human history when monuments stood for something. They used to be erected to celebrate triumphs and achievements. Sometimes, they were built to commemorate national losses and tragedies. I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada – a city that has somehow made it to the top of so many “livability” ratings. When I look around me today, I see dozens of new installations (I dare not call them sculptures or monuments) that celebrate nothingness. We have sculptures of giant birds, laughing freaks, marble bricks, unidentifiable silver shapes, a solar bike tree (whatever the hell that means), a swarm of walking feet, a giant dried-up head, even a statue of Lenin and Mao, of all people. Taxpayers’ money should never be used to fund art, regardless of its merits. It does not matter whether the government does it through direct grants or by forcing developers to install sculptures in front of their new buildings through the mechanism of permits. Either way, the result is equally unjust and immoral. But even apart from the issue of funding, what message are these countless piles of talentless junk supposed to convey? Some would say that this is pure art for the sake of art. I disagree. The abundance of this publicly displayed garbage and – more importantly – the tolerance and quiet approval that it receives from the people upon whom (and at whose expense) the installations are being imposed, closely follows the formula of Elsworth Toohey in Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead: you cannot convince people that something good is bad. To achieve the same result, you should instead convince people that something bad is just as good – and then nothing is going to matter anymore. Not only do these examples of “modern art” devalue the scarce examples of real art around us, they actively promote the anti-achievement agenda, so dear to the heart of so many supporters of political correctness. It is precisely this agenda that brought to life the “everybody gets a trophy” approach where competition and its corollary, inequality of results, is painted as something evil. When was the last time you saw a new monument erected to celebrate a person who had actually achieved something? A monument that would make your kids ask what the person had done to deserve a monument in his honour? A monument that would motivate people to work hard to achieve some memorable results? A monument that is neither glorification of human suffering nor a nonsensical abstraction?  With regret, I have to answer this question, “not in a long time”. Aboriginal totems may be great tourist attractions. Nonsensical statues may occasionally draw a smile. But seriously, how come there are no statues of Glenn Gould in British Columbia? He surely had done more for the arts than all totem builders combined! As I was digging for names of famous Canadians, I stumbled across an extensive list. Among that list are dozens of names whose achievements I knew pretty well but who I did not know were Canadians. I admit, I am a new immigrant to Canada, and I had not been brought up hearing some of these names during family dinners or school classes. I patiently sought for signs of the nation’s pride in individual achievements of its former or current citizens. And what do I see – giant birds and Lenin! But this article is not really about Vancouver. It is not really about monuments either. Its goal is to highlight yet another way individualism is being gradually and purposefully erased. In the words[...]



In Support of Abolition of Laws Prohibiting Private Discrimination

2011-05-29T20:05:38+00:00

Most people unwittingly consider laws against private discrimination one of the greatest social achievements of the modern times.  In this article I will explain how these laws are nothing more than a tool of everyone’s enslavement. Abolishing human rights codes and similar anti-discrimination laws should be at the top of the agenda of anyone who believes that free individuals can govern themselves through their values and personal responsibility and that they do not need the machinery of the state to scare them into obedient compliance with arbitrary rules, even if these rules are seemingly benevolent. Most people unwittingly consider laws against private discrimination one of the greatest social achievements of the modern times.  In this article I will explain how these laws are nothing more than a tool of everyone’s enslavement. Before you dismiss this “road to serfdom”[[The term was coined by Friedrich von Hayek as a title for his book where he warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning and where he argued that abandonment of individualism, liberalism, and freedom inevitably leads to socialist or fascist (which are two sides of the same coin) oppression and tyranny and the serfdom of the individual.]]  argument, consider the words of Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”. We lead our lives by constantly making choices. A few seconds ago, out of millions of other things, you chose to start reading this article. By doing this, you discriminated against all those other things that you chose not to do at that very moment. Every time we choose to exercise our judgment – we discriminate. Discrimination is nothing more than preferring some things or people over others. There is nothing inherently wrong with it. As Christopher Hitchens put it, “It especially annoys me when racists are accused of ‘discrimination.’ The ability to discriminate is a precious facility; by judging all members of one ‘race’ to be the same, the racist precisely shows himself incapable of discrimination.” For as long as humans are not brought into this world by mass-cloning, there will never be two identical human beings. We are all different – there are old and young people; male and female; kind and evil; tall and short; smart and stupid; black and white; blonde and bald; pretty and ugly; industrious and lazy; rich and poor; healthy and sick; ambitious and inert; those who are fans or Britney Spears and those who are not; those who use Twitter and those who don’t. It is possible to subdivide people into innumerable categories such as race, Zodiac sign, age, preferred diet, sexual orientation, income, family status, shoe size, religion, number of characters in one’s last name, etc. Some of these categories or characteristics are more relevant than others in our everyday choices. Complete prohibition of discrimination would mean a ban on exercising judgment. The question then becomes, should there be situations when it is appropriate for governments to restrict our freedom to differentiate among people, things and causes based on our own values, good or bad? My answer to this question is an emphatic ‘no’. In reality, the typical legal framework for all laws against discrimination (often these laws take the form of human rights codes) is that governments introduce rules that forbid distinguishing between people on certain “prohibited” grounds in certain contexts, such as provision of services or employment. The usual so called “prohibited grounds for discrimination” include race, religion, physical or mental disability, age, gender, family status etc. The idea is that, for example, an employer is legally prohibited from refusing to hire a person of a certain race because it is a person of a certain race. L[...]



Advertising on Google with your competitor’s brand

2011-04-12T03:06:00+00:00

In this article that I co-wrote with my principal, Robbie Fleming, I discuss legal consequences of using one’s competitor’s trademarks in Google Adwords advertising, using the example of two recent court decisions, California District Court decision in Binder v. Disability Group, Inc. and British Columbia Court of Appeal decision in Private Career Training Institutions Agency v. Vancouver Career College.

The two courts came to very different conclusions, but is the law around using someone else’s trademark as search keywords really all that different?

Moved to Mincov Law Blog at http://mincovlaw.com




ACTA: The Hidden Why

2010-06-23T20:17:00+00:00

As negotiations over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) progress and more and more information becomes available on the potential wording of the agreement, the usual suspects from all camps are happy to share their views on how ACTA might influence our lives. The only reason one and the same document can attract such radically differing opinions from indisputably educated and intelligent people, is that ACTA is based on the philosophy of a compromise, a balance of interests between creators and the public.

The only way to deal with mass violation of intellectual property rights on the Internet without creating a coercive mechanism of oppression, is to state clearly at the outset that intellectual property is being protected because no one has a right to use the results of another’s creative labour, other than on terms put forward by the creator or the subsequent copyright owner who voluntarily purchases said rights from the creator. It has nothing to do with whether the society benefits from such protection. Appeasement and compromise may temporarily create a “balance”, but what this balance effectively does is that it subjects individual rights of one group of people to some undefinable “common good”. It is only a matter of time until an elected or self-proclaimed representative of the interests of the whole society will make a case that, instead of vesting in authors exclusive rights to their works, the common good will be best served by nationalizing all works of art and imprisoning those who disagree.

Moved to Mincov Law Blog at http://mincovlaw.com




“Peaceful” Flotilla Parody & Copyright

2010-06-09T09:19:00+00:00

Through a weird and symbolic coincidence, on the same day when the Canadian Government tabled the Copyright Modernization Act that includes the controversial “parody and satire” exception, LatmaTV posted on YouTube a parody ridiculing the support that the world is offering to the so-called “peaceful” Free Gaza flotilla.

In this article, I discuss whether, in my opinion, the righteous cause of the parody would justify unauthorized use of a preexisting work, should the copyright owner therein have wished to bring a copyright infringement claim.

Moved to Mincov Law Blog at http://mincovlaw.com




Modernization of the Inconceivable

2010-06-08T19:24:00+00:00

The Government has finally tabled a bill to amend the Copyright Act. In this article, I explain why modernization of the copyright law based on compromise and concessions, without a good understanding of the underlying principles of copyright protection, is doomed to fail.

Copyright laws exist either for the protection of the creator, or for the benefit of the public. There is no middle ground. As long as we keep entrusting the government (any government) to find the right “balance” between the two, we are destined to keep on making up exclusions from limitations on exceptions from the rights – without even stopping for a second to question why we are doing this.

Moved to Mincov Law Blog at http://mincovlaw.com




Failed Business Models of the Past, Eh?

2010-05-30T06:28:00+00:00

Critics of today’s copyright laws often contend that instead of trying to control the use of their works through copyright, “old industries” must adopt “new business models” that would address the public’s desire to have unlimited access to content and impracticality of copyright enforcement in the context of the Internet. Usually adoption of such new business models is offered as a remedy for the growing number of copyright infringements.

In this article, I explain why adoption of new business models has nothing to do with abandonment of the underlying principle that the owner of copyright should be allowed to decide how its content is used. If a business decides to use their property in an inefficient manner, it is perfectly OK to let such a business fail. We should not “save” this business by stealing from it the property that we think it uses inefficiently.

Moved to Mincov Law Blog at http://mincovlaw.com




Copyright and the Great Socialist Degradation

2010-04-27T18:33:00+00:00

It is easy to see why the collapse of intellectual property laws would be welcomed by those who engage in unauthorized use of others’ works. It is harder to see why the idea of significant curtailment of authors’ rights in favour of “the public” also finds its proponents among many prominent scholars, who do not necessarily fit into the category of people downloading movies off torrent websites.

This article will explain how the attack on copyright is simply a piece of the big picture, how it neatly fits into the agenda of proponents of “social justice” and “collective rights”.

Moved to Mincov Law Blog at http://mincovlaw.com




Court Grants Preliminary Injunction in Salinger Case

2009-07-03T20:50:00+00:00

I am glad to report that in the Salinger v. Colting dispute the court has granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining Colting and his publishers from manufacturing, publishing, distributing, shipping, advertising, promoting, selling, or otherwise disseminating any copy of 60 Years or any portion thereof, in or to the United States.

I am glad to report that in the Salinger v. Colting dispute the court has granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining Colting and his publishers from manufacturing, publishing, distributing, shipping, advertising, promoting, selling, or otherwise disseminating any copy of 60 Years or any portion thereof, in or to the United States.

In a well thought out decision, U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts has provided a great summary of U.S. law on the treatment of parody. I am very glad that her analysis and conclusions are virtually identical to my those in my research paper and my recent article. I am especially delighted that she paid a lot of attention to the concurrence of Justice Kennedy in Cambell v. Acuff-Rose Music Inc. It is to be hoped for that her analysis withstands all stages of appeal.