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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10746/ip-debate/

IP Debate?

October 1, 2009 by

As I noted here, I and others have been arguing the merits of IP law with patent attorney Gene Quinn on his blog at Reality Check: Anti-Patent Patent Musings Simply Bizarre and Responding to Critics: My View on Patents & Innovation. He’s laid down a challenge to debate about IP:

I challenge anyone to a debate on this topic anywhere, at any time, to be moderated by a mutually agreed panel or moderator. I know as well as everyone here that I will never be taken up on that offer. I wonder why? If I am so stupid and irresponsible and ignorant then someone take me up and prove to the world I am as such. Of course there will be no takers because in a true debate none of the nay-sayers stand any chance and would be exposed for what they truly are. Nevertheless, the challenge is made. I am sure the silence will be deafening. Or wait, even better… the response will be “there is no point in debating you because you are .” We all know that is what they are going to say, and rational people will understand that to be nothing more than cowardice.

I would be happy to debate Mr. Quinn. What I’m thinking is that we could do an Internet debate, under the auspices of a suitable institution, with a moderator, with audio and video, open to a live, world-wide audience. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, let me know.


bob October 1, 2009 at 1:13 am

It’s on!

Bala October 1, 2009 at 1:33 am


If this happens, I think it is a great opportunity. It is especially under such circumstances that limiting the discussion and taking the moral high ground is critical. I hope you do so.

If I may give a suggestion, do not allow the discussion to meander off the moral one. Dismiss all other lines of discussion by challenging if the imagined/claimed benefits justify the violation of Liberty. Make the guy squirm in his seat till he gives up.

Greego October 1, 2009 at 4:32 am

A possibility is that website where there are two videos side by side, and two people debate over the phone while being webcammed. For the life of me I can’t remember the site but it’s well-known – anyone know what I’m referring to? I’m sure it can be set up with an impartial moderator in a third screen.

Greego October 1, 2009 at 4:36 am

This is what I was referring to:


scineram October 1, 2009 at 5:11 am

Reason hosts online video debates, maybe they could arrange one for this.

Justin October 1, 2009 at 6:18 am

Bring him down to Houston, Stephan! Cheap and easy for people to get here.

Martin OB October 1, 2009 at 6:41 am

What I would like the most is something like Youtube videos. Real-time debate is more lively, but dirty tricks tend to win over substance.

Jason Gordon October 1, 2009 at 7:42 am

Resolution: Government (by way of constitutional authority) claims the unlimited ownership of all future intellectual creation. The current intellectual property scheme merely grants a temporary exclusive usage grant to the first claimant.

Affirmative: Stephan Kinsella

Negative: Gene Quinn

Jeff October 1, 2009 at 7:50 am

I would love to see an IP debate. As has been noted elsewhere, Objectivists are generally big IP proponents and tend to defend their views on philosophical grounds. I think one of their events would be a great choice for a debate like this. You would likely need to stick with one of the more “open” groups, such as the Atlas Society.

There have been Cato forums on this topic as well. Surely future ones will occur as well…

hezumartin October 1, 2009 at 9:33 am

Please Mr Quinn, Let the debate begin! I hope it will be public.

Silas Barta October 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

How about Stephan_Kinsella debating someone who can actually handle him? (And *has* forced him into a corner on the issue.)

Like, me, for instance.

Jason Gordon October 1, 2009 at 10:56 am

Resolution: Government claims preemptive ownership of all future intellectual creation, as well as unspecified restrictive easements on all physical property. The current intellectual property scheme grants the first claimant a temporary exclusive license to exploit these claims.

Affirmative: Stephan Kinsella

Negative: Silas Barta

Silas Barta October 1, 2009 at 11:17 am

@Jason_Gordon: Um, that’s not what Stephan_Kinsella and I argue about. I’m pretty sure he and I would both agree with that resolution.

Jason Gordon October 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Resolution: Uncompensated restrictive easements placed upon physical property by the process of registering/claiming intellectual property does not constitute a taking.

Affirmative: Silas Barta, et al.

Negative: Stephan Kinsella

Walt D, October 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

No patents, no Einstein! :-)

Silas Barta October 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

@Jason_Gordon: Getting closer! A better representation of my position would be:

“Uncompensated restrictive easements placed upon physical property by the process of registering/claiming intellectual property constitutes as much of a taking as claiming exclusive rights to use portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

And I hereby challenge Stephan_Kinsella to debate me on this issue. Via public vidchat (like bloggingheads), via one response-per-person-per-day exchange, or by alternating speech traditional debate.

Robert K S October 1, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I think the way to make this debate the most effective and helpful to the patent community is solid preparedness, which includes laying out the groundwork of the arguments of both sides in advance. That is to say, we don’t want to see dueling speeches that only repeat what has already been said in Gene’s blog and here: we would like to see arguments that get into the details and directly address the challenges that each side puts to the other, preferably using facts and information, anecdotal or statistical, that has not yet been cited or analyzed in-depth. And the basic positions of each side should be summarized and announced by the moderator in the introductory comments, so that the two parties don’t feel the need to repeat themselves. Perhaps this debate could even involve some amount of cooperative coordination between the two of you beforehand so that you can each be responsive to each others’ points, rather than ignoring them, which is what ends up happening in most live debates. Thanks for the consideration.

Beefcake the Mighty October 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Silas Barta is the intellectual equivalent of a Cleveland steamer.

Marc October 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Intellectual property is a BIG debate at SUNY Fredonia. (a college with a rather sizeable music department combined with a “music business” department)

There’d be a large and engaged audience for sure.

Oderus Urungus October 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

What the hell is Silas Bartas’ position, anyway? That IP is legitimate? Or that Kinsella is inconsistent in opposing IP and supporting rights in EM spectra? It seems like the latter, and who cares? He comes off as an Internet stalker. Get a life, man.

Libertyforall October 2, 2009 at 7:07 am

@Oderus Urungus

Yeah you are right.

Silas Barta should take his “IP” elsewhere. No reason for trespassing here!

snargles October 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

I think Silas makes a very simple mistake in his EM arguments as they relate to intellectual property.

The Electro Magnetic Spectrum is a physical thing and would be better suited to apply themselves to physical property rights.

His gong example is convoluted, and somebody hitting a gong into somebody’s property without the understanding that this is some sort of communication is an example of a violation of physical property rights.

Flattus Maximus October 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Leaving aside whether his arguments are correct, Silas Barta does no more than demonstrate a certain inconsistency between opposing IP and supporting EM spectrum rights. Why, then, does he refer to his argument as a case for IP:


Is he dishonest, or just stupid?

snargles October 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm


I commented that EM rights were actually physical property rights.

I don’t think he’s stupid or dishonest, and I’d be ashamed of myself if I said so publicly. He might be a little misguided.

But anyway, go Kinsella!
(Take Quinn and Hailing out to the woodshed some more)

Sleazy P. Martini October 2, 2009 at 7:09 pm


You’re right, Silas isn’t stupid or dishonest, he’s stupid and dishonest.

Lord Buzungulus October 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Silas Barta writes:

“It is true (as many, many will remind me) that to broadcast at the same frequency as someone else “interferes” (!) with their “signal” (!). However, your judgment that there is “interference” is itself an arbitrary value judgment about the merit of someone’s intended use. In exactly the same way, copying someone’s ideas can interfere with their intended use.”

This is totally false. An intended use is
one that depends only on my will, not
the will of others. There is no intended
use by the initial manifester of some
idea that can be precluded by a
subsequent manifester of that same
idea. I manifest some idea in some
factors of production; these factors
can be put to the same intended
use after an imitator comes along as
they could before that imitator comes
along. I can still enjoy the output from
those factors (always contingent on not
infringing someone elses physical
property) regardless of the presence of
an imitator. I can still *try* to sell those
factors, regardless of the presence of
an imitator. It is true, that I might not
get the hoped-for selling price because
of the presence of a competitor, but so
what? Libertarians don’t generally hold
that there are rights to value. I can
always unilaterally try to sell my nifty
idea, but to consumate the sale
requires the agreement of another.
Silas Barta would seem to support
preventing consumers from buying
from an inventor’s competitors; why
not simply support compelling
consumers to buy from the inventor to
begin with?

Does Silas Barta believe that there are
rights to value? If so, well, he’s wrong,
but more pertinantly, if not, his analogy
between EM and IP fails.

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