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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » An interesting exchange regarding Intellectual Property Rights. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Howard Coberly
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Quote:
On 2006-04-08 14:14, LobowolfXXX wrote:
Quote:
On 2006-04-08 11:22, Howard Coberly wrote:

There is no differenc between re-selling a trick and re-selling anything else. I appreciate the arguments to the contrary, but in my opinion, they are not compelling enough to sway my outlook on this subject. I categorize these arguments as "Magicians Logic". They are rooted in a belief that the world of the magician should be subject to different rules of morality and economics than the rest of the world.




I think they're rooted in the fact that if I sell you the trick that I've bought from the originator, you and I can both do that trick forever and ever. If I sell you my car, I have no access whatsoever to that car from that point forward, and thus, if we both want a car, one of us has to purchase a car from the manufacturer, or find someone who is willing to forego having a car. This is an obvious distinction that has yet to be addressed by the "There is no difference" crowd.

If I sell you my copy of "Double Back," we can both still perform the trick. If I sell you my car, I don't have a car anymore. How can it possibly be argued that there's not a relevant difference?

Having said that, I fully respect the position that the difference does not justify viewing the two situations under a different moral framework. But it's still two different situations. If a magician owned a controlling interest in Toyota, he wouldn't use "magician's logic" and take the position that it was even arguable that someone who bought a new Toyota shouldn't sell it to someone else. Cars and tricks are different.




I understand your point but it is here, I believe, where some want to bend the rules of economics in order to make something appear immoral. The fact that some commodities can provide value or benefit to the original purchaser even after the commodity has been sold is of no consequence in determining the morality of re-selling the commodity. Magic videos, like textbooks, continue to provide benefit to the purchaser even after being resold by virtue of the fact that the purchaser has learned the contents and can continue to use it. I can give many examples of commodities that continue to provide benefit even after the tangible item has been sold. To assert that it is in any way immoral to continue to benefit from a commodity that you paid for in good faith is, to me, illogical.

The fact that if I sell my car to you, I can no longer benefit from it but that I can continue to benefit from a magic video after selling it falls into the realm of economics, not morality. The items may be different, but the moral issue in question is not.

As far as my use of the term(which I believe I coined)"magicians logic" I don't mean this as a derogatory term as much as a term for those people in the world of magic who believe that the realities of the non magical world should be bent for those who wish to make money off theor magic related products.

To respond to your Toyota analogy...since we are now talking about the auto industry instead of the magic industry, if this person felt the same about this industry as magicians who decry re-selling their materials, of course, I could not apply the term to them. I would now have to call it "auto manufacturers' logic"

My arguments, I believe, hold for any commodity being sold.

Thanks for the response
Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
Howard Coberly
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Hmmmmm, is it just me or has anyone else noticed that when these arguments arise on this forum, we never seem to hear from those magicians who state, with such fervor, in the magic periodicals how unethical it is to re-sell their products.

I know many of them read the forums because I see them posting regularly.
Personally, I try to avoid saying anything, especially if it's derogatory like calling someone immoral, in a medium that permits only one way communication.

I also cannot respect the opinion of anyone who states it and then refuses to defend it. I think I will also carry this under the heading of..."Magicians' Logic"

Could it be that they consider us all "laymen with rabbits on our business cards"
who are neither worthy to perform the material that they keep pushing at us nor intelligent enough to debate them because of their status in our very little world?

Could it be that they have never been expected to stand up for their beliefs and justify their assertions rather than just rationalizing them?

Could it be...could it be...NAH !!
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
Howard Coberly
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Or is it, "N'AH"?

Google time!!!
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
Howard Coberly
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Perhaps you're right. Though my opinion is that those who create and market an effect would probably expect the number of sales to correspond to the number of people performing it. Were I to create and market an effect (on a CD, say), of which I sold 100 copies, I'd be a bit put out if I found that 1000 people were performing it professionally. (QUOTE)






Hi, Dave,

I consider this as something that, "comes with the territory" when one decides to sell something.
Returning to the college text book analogy, I'm sure that the marketers of these books would like to sell their 80.00 textbooks new each semester to the many students who will use them but the fact is that a large number of students will buy them used from on and off campus bookstores or over the internet for half that price. There is absolutely nothing immoral about doing this.

Again, we cannot bend the rules of basic economics to suit the needs of magicians who are selling products. Economics dictates that the buyer, when faced with competing prices, will generally go with the lowest. The manufacturer/seller of the object in question will not recognize the sales that he would if the buyers did not adhere to this principle and only bought the items brand new from him.

My wife has worked in the retail industry all her life in several different countries and she was the first one to mention how nonsensical it is for anyone, not just magicians, to believe that they are going to earn top dollar from every item of theirs that is sold. That is not the way the market works in the face of re-selling and internet competition. Is it immoral for people to re-sell these items? Again, I say no.

Magicians are basically grasping at the proverbial straws in a futile attempt to restructure the most basic economic principle in the history of the world...the buyer will go where the best price is and that is usually with used items.

Spewing out rhetoric against people who re-sell and buy their items used as being immoral and then refusing to justify their insults when asked to do so is, in my opinion, the only immoral act in this entire situation.

To these magicians I would recommend that you stop arguing this point from emotion and start arguing it dispassionately. Historically, arguments based on emotion have proved fatal.

Thanks for the response
Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
Steve Martin
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Howard - let's take this scenario:

Jim invents a clever trick - a magical effect using a new concept or technique which has not been published before. He wants to "make a buck" from it so he mass produces it, packages it up and markets it. On the day it comes out, the first person to buy it happens to be speaking at the world's largest magic convention. Before anyone else has the chance to buy the trick, he stands up on a stage and teaches it (exactly as taught in the package he bought) to an assembly of 10,000 people, who - because they then know precisely what they need to do the trick and what props they need to make - no longer have any need to buy the marketed trick. Each one of them goes away and teaches the trick (as it is such a good one) to 10 friends. Each of them, in turn, teaches it to others. Several thousand of these people then go out and regularly earn money by performing the trick in public. The originator of the trick makes a loss, as he ends up not selling his stock to anyone.

I myself am stating no opinion (at this stage) on what has happened. However, I am curious to hear what YOU think about that scenario. Please remember it is an imaginary scenario, so I already know that "it couldn't happen" in that precise way. Nevertheless, it is a useful scenario for testing our views on the issue of teaching someone else's original trick to others (which, remember, was the original question in this thread).

In anticipation of the response...
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Howard Coberly
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Quote:
On 2006-04-09 14:46, Steve Martin wrote:
Howard - let's take this scenario:

Jim invents a clever trick - a magical effect using a new concept or technique which has not been published before. He wants to "make a buck" from it so he mass produces it, packages it up and markets it. On the day it comes out, the first person to buy it happens to be speaking at the world's largest magic convention. Before anyone else has the chance to buy the trick, he stands up on a stage and teaches it (exactly as taught in the package he bought) to an assembly of 10,000 people, who - because they then know precisely what they need to do the trick and what props they need to make - no longer have any need to buy the marketed trick. Each one of them goes away and teaches the trick (as it is such a good one) to 10 friends. Each of them, in turn, teaches it to others. Several thousand of these people then go out and regularly earn money by performing the trick in public. The originator of the trick makes a loss, as he ends up not selling his stock to anyone.

I myself am stating no opinion (at this stage) on what has happened. However, I am curious to hear what YOU think about that scenario. Please remember it is an imaginary scenario, so I already know that "it couldn't happen" in that precise way. Nevertheless, it is a useful scenario for testing our views on the issue of teaching someone else's original trick to others (which, remember, was the original question in this thread).

In anticipation of the response...

Hi, Steve,

Yeah, we did sort of get off track, didn't we?

Great scenario!! It's in keeping with the assertion (not mine, by the way)that extreme examples destroy perfect(which mine are not)arguments.
I can answer without hesitation even though I'm sure I will make more enemies with my opinion and will probably get hit in the head one day with someones "Boomerang Card of Death" but..."we pays our money and we takes our chances"

There is nothing immoral in doing this any more than it is immoral for a college professor to teach a lesson that he learned from college text books himself. It may not be a nice thing to do...but because an action is not nice does not make the action also immoral.
There is no difference (except in sheer scale) between this and my assertion that it is not immoral to teach a trick that one has paid for to another person.

As far the legalities involved...I generally assert that as long as one is keeping within the legal constraints listed on the material, he is doing nothing illegal. I cannot comment further in that regard (and I never do)because I'm not an attorney.


By the way, if you visit some of the magic clubs you'll see that, except for the number of people involved, your example is not that far fetched.


Thanks for responsing
Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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Thanks for responding.

Second scenario:

Jim is not a convention speaker. He is a magic dealer. He attends the convention and buys the trick (just one package) from the originator. Before anyone else is able to buy the trick, Jim distracts the originator and steals all 10,000 packaged tricks, leaving him with nothing to sell. Jim takes the 10,000 packaged tricks to his own stand, places them in envelopes and gives them away to convention-goers as "free gifts". In each envelope he includes a piece of paper with the instruction: "The originator of this trick has been paid in full. This trick is now public-domain. Please teach this trick to as many people as you wish!"

Howard - what do you think of this scenario?
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Howard Coberly
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Quote:
Jim invents a clever trick - a magical effect using a new concept or technique which has not been published before. He wants to "make a buck" from it so he mass produces it, packages it up and markets it. On the day it comes out, the first person to buy it happens to be speaking at the world's largest magic convention. Before anyone else has the chance to buy the trick, he stands up on a stage and teaches it (exactly as taught in the package he bought) to an assembly of 10,000 people, who - because they then know precisely what they need to do the trick and what props they need to make - no longer have any need to buy the marketed trick. Each one of them goes away and teaches the trick (as it is such a good one) to 10 friends. Each of them, in turn, teaches it to others. Several thousand of these people then go out and regularly earn money by performing the trick in public. The originator of the trick makes a loss, as he ends up not selling his stock to anyone.

Let's now make it it even more interesting. Let's say that this person didn't pay for the trick...the creator gave it to him. As my dad used to say,"that's food for thought and a toothpick, too"

He is still not acting immorally, in my opinion, because he received the video fairly. It and the material on it, are his to do with what he wants based on his conscience. Screwing the the creator over may not be nice...but it is not necessarily immoral.
Spitting on the sidewalk in front of someone may not be nice and is even illegal in some states, but it is in no way immoral. (This has nothing to do with the example. It goes to showing the difference between something not being nice and being immoral).

Howard


Posted: Apr 9, 2006 3:59pm
-------------------------------------------
Quote:
Jim is not a convention speaker. He is a magic dealer. He attends the convention and buys the trick (just one package) from the originator. Before anyone else is able to buy the trick, Jim distracts the originator and steals all 10,000 packaged tricks, leaving him with nothing to sell. Jim takes the 10,000 packaged tricks to his own stand, places them in envelopes and gives them away to convention-goers as "free gifts". In each envelope he includes a piece of paper with the instruction: "The originator of this trick has been paid in full. This trick is now public-domain. Please teach this trick to as many people as you wish!"

Howard - what do you think of this scenario?

Another good example but much easier to answer. By stating that the person "stole" the items you are automatically making the rest of the example mute.
He can do whatever he wants with the one he paid for in good faith and not be acting immorally. This is not true for the other 10,000

Stealing, as opposed to buying and re-selling or buying and giving away, is immoral in any sense. If he gives away something that he himself stole, he is now acting immorally. If, however he does not tell the buyer/receiver that he stole the item, the receiver is not acting immorally in accepting the item. If the receiver takes the item knowing that it was stolen, then, in my opinion, he is acting immorally and I believe illegally as it is against the law to receive stolen goods. Whoops, I'm not a lawyer so I shouldn't make that assertion.

I'm anticipating where this is going.

Thanks, Steve
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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In the first scenario, Jim's actions prevented the originator from selling his product. In the second scenario, Jim's actions prevented the originator from selling his product. Both outcomes were the same.

Howard - you say that you believe that stealing is immoral.

In the second scenario, Jim stole some goods, and you think that therefore he acted immorally. To quote you: "He can do whatever he wants with the one he paid for in good faith and not be acting immorally. This is not true for the other 10,000 [which he stole]."

In the first scenario, Howard, do you think that Jim stole anything?
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Howard Coberly
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Hi, Steve,

No. In the first example nothing, in my opinion, was stolen. The person may have prevented the maker from earning money due to his actions and while there may be a legal term for this, morally, he did nothing wrong. It wasn't very nice-but he did nothing morally wrong.

In order to steal something, there must, logically, first be something to steal. In this case there was not.

To your question I would give a true life example. I was peforming street magic in Santa Monica, California and many times during my performance, other performers would start their shows and lure my audience away along with the potential income that they represented to me. Were these other performers acting immorally? By your argument they were. In your example we are dealing with "Potential" income. This is income that nobody can prove would have existed whether the other man had shown shown how the item worked or not. I was once doing a coins across routine with a shell and a spectator said out loud that I was using a fake coin that fits over the other coins. I could claim that by exposing my method, this person acted immoraly and prevented me from making money. It is not so, however

We are only surmising that the seller in the first example would have made any money. What if nothing had happened and then he had not sold anything anyway??
By the audience's action of not buying anything, would he have said that they were immoral because they prevented him from making money off his product. It's not as much of a stretch as it seems on first glance. Different scenarios, same outcome: the seller made no money.

I would take this one step further: Can the seller in this case prove without a doubt, that it was entirely due to the actions of the individual that his product did not sell?

In the first example, nothing was stolen by the strict definition of the word. In my opinion, the person did nothing morally wrong and he definitely did not steal anything in any sense. Simply preventing someone from earning income is not prima facie evidence of an immoral act.

In the second example, 10,000 items were physically stolen (by the strict definition of the word. Therefore, an immoral and illegal act occured.

Because two different actions may (or may not) have resulted in the outcome of the seller losing money does not mean that they must both be immoral.


As I have stated before, it is in no way immoral, nor is it stealing to re-sell a magic video as long as I acquired in good faith. Again, everyone's opinion will vary on this as anyone following this thread will testify.


Thanks, Steve


ps Another real life example:

I was once scheduled to work over a holiday period at double time pay. At the last minute the President of the company decided that he did not want anyone working over the holiday. He essentially prevented me from earning the double time pay. Did he act immorally???

No, he did not.



In today's world, many people attach the term "immoral" to anything another person does that does not suit the first person. This, I believe, comes from the fact that most people do not study the philosophical ideologies underlying the concept of morality. Their ideas of right and wrong come from what they see on television or what they are told to believe by people whom they regard as justified in deciding what is moral for the rest of us(See "Four Arguments for the elimination of Television". "If you don't like it personally, it's immoral" seems to be the order of the day.

When asked to justify their beliefs, these same people usually cannot provide concrete, logical arguments to support their assertions. They simply want to be right and the quickest way, in their minds, to do this, is to start screaming immorality.
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
Howard Coberly
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By the way, did I actually write "Mute" instead of "Moot" a few lines above??

Yes I did and nobody corrected me! How am I supposed learn??????!!!!!!


D'OH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-04-08 15:02, Howard Coberly wrote:...some want to bend the rules of economics in order to make something appear immoral. The fact that some commodities can provide value or benefit to the original purchaser even after the commodity has been sold is of no consequence in determining the morality of re-selling the commodity. ...


In the case of magic, where the data is the product, I feel there is a legitimate question about this notion.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 07:49, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2006-04-08 15:02, Howard Coberly wrote:...some want to bend the rules of economics in order to make something appear immoral. The fact that some commodities can provide value or benefit to the original purchaser even after the commodity has been sold is of no consequence in determining the morality of re-selling the commodity. ...


In the case of magic, where the data is the product, I feel there is a legitimate question about this notion.




Hi, Jonathan,

to me, the key word here is, "product". The data is/becomes the product and the product is sold. It is now no different from any other product available for sale.
This is no different than the intellectual data that becomes a textbook. The textbook can be re-sold and purchased in good faith without any question of morality.

Thanks,
Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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Howard - thanks for your replies. Just one thing: You said: "Were these other performers acting immorally? By your argument they were..."

I will say again (as I made clear) that in my posts I was not putting forward an argument. I simply wanted to hear yours.

As regards my response now to what you have said, it is summed up by saying that you do not appear to acknowledge the same moral code as I do. You see, you talk about morality within the context of legality, but there is more to acting in the right way than obeying the law of the land.
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Howard Coberly
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 14:47, Steve Martin wrote:
Howard - thanks for your replies. Just one thing: You said: "Were these other performers acting immorally? By your argument they were..."

I will say again (as I made clear) that in my posts I was not putting forward an argument. I simply wanted to hear yours.

As regards my response now to what you have said, it is summed up by saying that you do not appear to acknowledge the same moral code as I do. You see, you talk about morality within the context of legality, but there is more to acting in the right way than obeying the law of the land.





Hi, Steve,

Actually, my arguments have nothing to do with law other than to state the basic premise that the items were purchased in good faith which is a necessary starting point for this debate.
If you will go back and read my posts, I mention several times that there is a difference between an action being legal and the same action being moral. Other than using the legality involved as a necessary starting point,I feel my assertions are based completely in my moral ideology and have nothing to do with what is legal.

The entire topic is based on the morality of what happens after the item is initially purchased in good faith. The item in question must me sold(a legal concept) before we can question the moral issue of what the buyer now does with the product that he has purchased. Hence, my legal references to the sales aspect of the question.


As far as your moral outlook being different from mine...of course it is! That's the point that I'm trying to make in my last post. I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from following their chosen moral belief on this subject. I'm simply asserting my belief that the word "morality" is actually used by many people simply to rationalize, not justify (there is a big difference)their personal feelings on this subject.

Thanks for the feedback, Steve.
I appreciate a challenge to my theories even if it never comes from the very people who constantly accuse me of being immoral simply because they say so.

I can have no respect for the assertions of an individual who makes it and then refuses to at least try to defend it.

Take Care
Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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On 2006-04-11 14:47, Steve Martin wrote:
Howard - thanks for your replies. Just one thing: You said: "Were these other performers acting immorally? By your argument they were..."

I will say again (as I made clear) that in my posts I was not putting forward an argument. I simply wanted to hear yours.

As regards my response now to what you have said, it is summed up by saying that you do not appear to acknowledge the same moral code as I do. You see, you talk about morality within the context of legality, but there is more to acting in the right way than obeying the law of the land.
(QUOTE)



By the way, Steve, I'm a little disappointed. I was really looking forward to hearing your ideas on the examples that you put forward.
"...enlighten me with your knowledge so that I may become wiser"...Socrates from Plato's "Republic"

If you would like, we can start the debate all over again using the idea that the product was stolen instead of being sold as our initial premise.

Don't leave me hang'n, Steve.

After giving some of the most thought provoking examples I have ever received when arguing this issue on the forum your just going to say that we subscribe to different theories of morality as it applies to re-selling magic items and then not explain your outlook. I don't rationalize my moral beliefs, I justify them. That means that I have no problem changing them in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.




Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 12:05, Howard Coberly wrote:...to me, the key word here is, "product". The data is/becomes the product and the product is sold. ...


Okay, for a car, the VIN is data, and the data can be sold, and its utility is attached to the vehicle. What is missing to equate the data in magic to a product that only one person can use at one time attached to a ID of sorts?
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 15:56, Howard Coberly wrote:
...the most thought provoking examples I have ever received when arguing this issue on the forum...


I'm glad you have found it helpful.

As I said, the main point in our discussion is that our view on morality is different. My view leads me to the conclusion that Jim - in both cases - acted wrongly, regardless of whether what he did in either case was "legal" (according to the laws of the land) or not. Why do I say that? Because I acknowledge an ancient code of behavior in which respect for others and for God determines everything we do.
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 16:07, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2006-04-11 12:05, Howard Coberly wrote:...to me, the key word here is, "product". The data is/becomes the product and the product is sold. ...


Okay, for a car, the VIN is data, and the data can be sold, and its utility is attached to the vehicle. What is missing to equate the data in magic to a product that only one person can use at one time attached to a ID of sorts?




Hi, Jonathan,

I'm sorry, I don't understand the question. The VIN isnothing more thatn the id number for car. I don't understand how it can be shown that utility can be added to the car by selling the VIN (????)

Sorry, maybe you could restate the idea.

Thanks
Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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I'm glad you have found it helpful.

As I said, the main point in our discussion is that our view on morality is different. My view leads me to the conclusion that Jim - in both cases - acted wrongly, regardless of whether what he did in either case was "legal" (according to the laws of the land) or not. Why do I say that? Because I acknowledge an ancient code of behavior in which respect for others and for God determines everything we do.

(QUOTE)


I sort of figured it was heading in this direction. Unfortunately, Steve, this is not the right forum to continue with this debate. Your last sentence prevents me from responding further since this is not the place to argue religious morality versus secular morality, which is a shame because my arguments in that area are even more will developed.
Thanks for the time, anyway.

Howard
"Our town used to be more fortunate...not a single winter passed without the visit of some star.
There used to be famous actors and singers, while today, God only knows! Nobody visits except magicians and organ-grinders. No esthetic satisfaction."
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ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL