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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11288/have-you-changed-your-mind-about-intellectual-property/

Have You Changed Your Mind About Intellectual Property?

December 19, 2009 by

It’s my impression that in the last 5-10 years, there has been a striking movement towards the anti-IP camp among libertarians and Austrians. This is a result of the mounting everyday evidence of injustice resulting from the digital age magnifying the baleful effects of IP that have always existed; and the mounting scholarship, from a pro-property rights, pro-free market perspective, against both the moral and principled case and the utilitarian case for IP (resources listed in the final section of my “The Case Against IP: A Concise Guide“).

I’m personally aware of dozens of people who have changed their minds or seen the light on this issue–including, say, myself, Jeff Tucker, and many others. For some things I’m writing and just for general curiosity it would be interesting to get a better idea of this trend. Please feel free to add a brief comment to this post specifying whether you have moved toward the anti-IP position in recent years.Update: Some here may also find of interest the Patent Rights Web Poll I did a while back, pasted below. Feel free to take it if you haven’t:

***

On a patent practitioner email list I posted the following:

It seems to me that many small/medium companies live in fear of a big patent lawsuit. Even if they had their own IP, I suspect many companies would gladly give up forever their right to sue for patent infringement, in exchange for some kind of immunity from patent liability–at least, if they could eliminate the threat of an injunction, so that the worst penalty they might face is some kind of mandatory royalty. Surely IBM et al. would not take this deal, but I bet a lot of other companies would. What do you think?

Second, in view of this, does this mean there is some kind of market for a service that would let a bunch of companies get together and “pool” their IP and have some kind of agreement (a) never to sue each other; (b) to have access to this pool of patents to countersue any company that sues any of the members.

This post drew some interest so I am doing a simple webpoll. I think the results might be interesting. (DIGG it here.)

Patent Rights

Would you give up your right to sue others for patent infringement in exchange for immunity from all patent lawsuits?

Yes
No



In Seen and Unseen Costs of Patents, Jeff Tucker notes, “Intel’s CEO spoke for many when he said he would be glad to cut patents to a tenth of its current rate provided that others did the same.”

{ 195 comments }

Julien Couvreur December 19, 2009 at 11:12 pm

There seems to be a change, but I wonder if it’s practical and generational rather than an actual change of opinion.
The ease of copy of digital content increased some existing practices and raises some new question around copyright. The web and the open-source movement surely had an effect on the patent debate too.

Sag December 19, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Stephan,

You might be interested to know I moved to an anti-IP position after coming across Mises on money and banking. That’s also how I discovered this site (Alta Vista-ing Mises). It might seem unrelated but Mises’ type of reasoning got me to react to pro IP arguments when I heard them. I didn’t think about them one way or the other before that and I hadn’t then come across Mises’ thoughts on the matter either. Yet, hearing pro IP arguments about how the government needed to protect IP in order for there to be innovation struck me as anti economics and anti innovation in spirit. Public (or private) IP regimes didn’t seem part of the great innovation and liberation stories throughout history. It seemed crazy to imagine innovators as concerned with restricting other people’s use of ideas. The whole notion that no one would innovate unless IP police were around seemed completely absurd and not in the least bit convincing. Later, on this site, I read more researched and sophisticated arguments…

J. Kane December 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Stephan Kinsella: “One needs to study libertarian theory too, to decide this. To say a statute enacted by a subset of a criminal gang is “drafted fairly reasonably” is to accept…”

Done that as well, and frankly I’m more interested in what works in practice than trying to deduce what might be a “purist” libertarian position on IP rights from literature or theory that does not explicitly contemplate it.

If you remove a person’s ability to generate economic value from things like written works or new inventions by guaranteeing that competitors all around the world will immediately be able to appropriate your work and commercially exploit it, that is a huge incentive removed from the self-interest equation. The school of libertarianism to which I subscribe posits that human beings respond to incentives and I believe you are far too cavalier in dismissing the consequences that scrapping IP rights would have on those fundamental incentives.

There are definitely major issues that should be debated regarding the scope of what should and should not be entitled to IP rights. But to argue for doing away with IP rights altogether because government has distorted the system, almost seems like arguing to scrap real property rights because of eminent domain abuses.

Sag December 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Stephan,

You might be interested to know I moved to an anti-IP position after coming across Mises on money and banking. That’s also how I discovered this site (Alta Vista-ing Mises). It might seem unrelated but Mises’ type of reasoning got me to react to pro IP arguments when I heard them. I didn’t think about them one way or the other before that and I hadn’t then come across Mises’ thoughts on the matter either. Yet, hearing pro IP arguments about how the government needed to protect IP in order for there to be innovation struck me as anti economics and anti innovation in spirit. Public (or private) IP regimes didn’t seem part of the great innovation and liberation stories throughout history. It seemed crazy to imagine innovators as concerned with restricting other people’s use of ideas. The whole notion that no one would innovate unless IP police were around seemed completely absurd and not in the least bit convincing. Later, on this site, I read more researched and sophisticated arguments…

Sag December 20, 2009 at 12:00 am

Sorry for the double post. Not sure how that happened. One other thing: I found many pro IP people being so because they were very sympathetic to the idea of someone clinging to their one chance of being able to make lots of money. Presumably a way to ensure economic security. Probably another effect of a massive regulatory, tax and inflationary environment.

Sag December 20, 2009 at 12:03 am

Sorry for the double post. Not sure how that happened. One other thing: I found many pro IP people being so because they were very sympathetic to the idea of someone clinging to their one chance of being able to make lots of money. Presumably a way to ensure economic security. Probably another effect of a massive regulatory, tax and inflationary environment.

T. Ralph Kays December 20, 2009 at 12:13 am

J. Kane

You are very close to saying that it might be immoral but you don’t care because it makes money. Kinsella raises very important points, and they need to be confronted on their merits. Your concerns regarding ‘practicality’ are addressed very completely by Boldrin and Levine in their book. Their book complements Kinsellas so well that they should be published in a single volume.

Les December 20, 2009 at 12:46 am

I haven’t read Mr. Kinsella’s book, but I have read Boldrin and Levine’s Against Intellectual Monopoly and, if a I had any lingering doubts about IP, their book cured me of it.

Silas Barta December 20, 2009 at 12:55 am

@Curt_Howland:

Why was interest (just to pick one) rationalized? To “reward postponing consumption“.

But it doesn’t. It rewards sitting on one’s seat and collecting interest payments.

To say that borrowing “deprives” someone ignores the fact that the person who created it has already lent it or otherwise made it available. It’s done. If they didn’t make “enough” from the original transaction, why did they lend it?

Mike December 20, 2009 at 1:37 am

I have moved completely towards the anti-IP stance. As a former professional musician, part of getting a ‘name for yourself’ was that you always wanted as many people as possible to be exposed to your music / ideas and IP (via exclusive record deals) just created monetary and geographical hurdles for people to jump to get to you. Artists have traditionally made the lions share of their money through live performances and merchandise sales anyway. Its the record companies that are the main beneficiaries of IP.

newson December 20, 2009 at 1:38 am

what’s your point silas, that no borrowing/lending took place before legislators got busy? (that no credit existed because the parties couldn’t calculate their security risk?)

Fred McTaker December 20, 2009 at 1:40 am

At first I just had a problem with U.S. Copyright for the same reason I’m against unencumbered estate transfer to progeny: it smacks of tribalism or minimally Social Darwinism, to automatically grant “ownership” of anything other than genetics based on genetic relationship status. I’m fairly libertarian when it comes to adults, but socialist when it comes to children, especially in their early formative years. That is my main aversion to Randians and knee-jerk anti-statist Libertarians — that the whole philosophy seems to forget children both exist and do not choose their parents, nor their upbringing. Any acknowledgement that children exist by Ayn Rand seems to smack of Social Darwinism, including which children live or die, are able to receive secular education, basic nutrition, and other basic development factors. Any theories of “rational actors” of any sort fall in the face of a world of people raised by the insane or acutely religious (do I repeat myself here?).

Then I was against Software Patents. For a while I thought software should be Copyright alone, but I realized that was flawed too since Copyright was so useless due to Sonny Bono, and later the DMCA. I also though Fair Use protections were stronger at the time, than they are in reality.

Before I read anything about Against Intellectual Monopoly (A.I.M.), I was well on the road to Anti-IP in general, thanks mostly to the overreach by organizations like RIAA, MPAA, and BSA against their respective users (and potential future producers). Through their evil they revealed what little was good about IP enforcement, as it is ALWAYS enforced against the weak by the strong and/or (at least) annoying bullies, and never really the other way around. The RIAA sued clueless teenagers, while big-name labels openly steal from originating artists on a whim.

By chance I also came across a BBC series last year called “Inventions That Changed the World” hosted by Jeremy Clarkson. It revealed some surprising things about how little any “inventor” really deserved any patent received, or if the *real inventive person* involved actually received the patent, how little it really helped them to profit (Charles Babbage is one easy example). The example of the thief Alexander Graham Bell receiving a patent on the telephone system he didn’t invent is representative, and I encourage everyone to look up how he stole the most important piece of the puzzle (the microphone) completely from another inventor.

By the first couple of chapters of A.I.M., that finally settled me for good. Patents and Copyright are worthless to everyone except bullies and thieves. I still believe that Trademark and Attribution rights are important, but primarily for consumer protection and transparency purposes, and they don’t necessarily constitute IP on their own. All other IP is less than worthless: it’s a drain on both true invention, discovery, and novel production of any form. Anyone who argues otherwise just doesn’t know (or refuses to see) the history — IP has always been used in the name of evil and never good. I don’t care what your politics are, other than saying IP is just as useless as religion — empirical and historical evidence is all against it.

Fred McTaker December 20, 2009 at 1:41 am

At first I just had a problem with U.S. Copyright for the same reason I’m against unencumbered estate transfer to progeny: it smacks of tribalism or minimally Social Darwinism, to automatically grant “ownership” of anything other than genetics based on genetic relationship status. I’m fairly libertarian when it comes to adults, but socialist when it comes to children, especially in their early formative years. That is my main aversion to Randians and knee-jerk anti-statist Libertarians — that the whole philosophy seems to forget children both exist and do not choose their parents, nor their upbringing. Any acknowledgement that children exist by Ayn Rand seems to smack of Social Darwinism, including which children live or die, are able to receive secular education, basic nutrition, and other basic development factors. Any theories of “rational actors” of any sort fall in the face of a world of people raised by the insane or acutely religious (do I repeat myself here?).

Then I was against Software Patents. For a while I thought software should be Copyright alone, but I realized that was flawed too since Copyright was so useless due to Sonny Bono, and later the DMCA. I also though Fair Use protections were stronger at the time, than they are in reality.

Before I read anything about Against Intellectual Monopoly (A.I.M.), I was well on the road to Anti-IP in general, thanks mostly to the overreach by organizations like RIAA, MPAA, and BSA against their respective users (and potential future producers). Through their evil they revealed what little was good about IP enforcement, as it is ALWAYS enforced against the weak by the strong and/or (at least) annoying bullies, and never really the other way around. The RIAA sued clueless teenagers, while big-name labels openly steal from originating artists on a whim.

By chance I also came across a BBC series last year called “Inventions That Changed the World” hosted by Jeremy Clarkson. It revealed some surprising things about how little any “inventor” really deserved any patent received, or if the *real inventive person* involved actually received the patent, how little it really helped them to profit (Charles Babbage is one easy example). The example of the thief Alexander Graham Bell receiving a patent on the telephone system he didn’t invent is representative, and I encourage everyone to look up how he stole the most important piece of the puzzle (the microphone) completely from another inventor.

By the first couple of chapters of A.I.M., that finally settled me for good. Patents and Copyright are worthless to everyone except bullies and thieves. I still believe that Trademark and Attribution rights are important, but primarily for consumer protection and transparency purposes, and they don’t necessarily constitute IP on their own. All other IP is less than worthless: it’s a drain on both true invention, discovery, and novel production of any form. Anyone who argues otherwise just doesn’t know (or refuses to see) the history — IP has always been used in the name of evil and never good. I don’t care what your politics are, other than saying IP is just as useless as religion — empirical and historical evidence is all against it.

Kerem Tibuk December 20, 2009 at 1:49 am

I always had problems with patents in general but I haven’t really thought about the general IP issue before being bombarded on the Mises blog about the issue.

I read Kinsellas paper, and firstly as an instinct I knew something was wrong because at the end it called for abolition of type of private property.

Then I noticed the argument was equating IP with nature given abundant, thus free goods and that didnt sound right either.

Then I noticed the problem with the whole IP socialism.

It was a premise taken from Hoppe that said,

“Property rights are established to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resources”

Firstly this premise is a positivist premise that implies humans came up with the property rights to live better lives. It is clearly against the natural rights position at the root of libertarianism. This positivist approach can be seen when you actually use a better concept than “property rights”, which is “law of private property”.

“Law of property is established to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resources.”

It is like saying, “law of gravity is established to keep things flying off to space”.

Second, this premise doesn’t cover “self ownership”. Which is odd on Hoppe’s part. Because Hoppe also tries to prove self ownership with another argument “ethics of argumentation”. In natural rights theory azll property is extension of the indivual thus it always starts with the self ownership.

Third, an economics concept was being used in the premise regarding an ethical concept, property.

“Scarcity” is an economics concept, about the condition of supply. In economics it is a useful concept no doubt because the concept of “supply” is important.

But using this concept to justify private property, or use it as a prerequisite for private property is wrong and if you follow up to its logical conclusion, contradictory. It is putting the cart in front of the horse.

All of the ultimate goal of production is getting rid of scarcity regarding as many things as possible. But the production must be based on private property(even IP production) Thus this premise is more fitting to communism that says “capitalism will produce so much, removing scarcity in everything, communism will eventually follow”. IP socialist similarly argues that, “since IP can be reproduced so abundantly there is no need for private property”, but somehow they stop right there. They are not even as consistent as the communist.

And finally, IP socialists almost always use logical fallacies while arguing. They are never able to follow a contradiction free thought process. That should say something.

All in all, I think this many libertarians are confused and support IP socialism because they dont have a good understanding of natural rights theory based on objective reality. Of course one may claim there is no objective reality, and laws must be based on the whims of the people but both claiming to be a libertarian and a supporter of private property rights and also be an IP socialist is a contradiction.

newson December 20, 2009 at 2:28 am

will someone please explain how ktibuk can approve of the socialization of costs for protecting ip, and yet have the gall to call those who don’t want to shoulder this burden “communists”? i guess when he fences his property, he sends an account to all the shire residents.

time to change epithets.

Peter Surda December 20, 2009 at 2:44 am

@Silas:
- I showed multiple times the error in your broadcasting-non-interference argument. The fact that broadcasts do not prevent each other is nothing specific to EM and completely irrelevant with regards to property violations. You can find the same behaviour with material goods (e.g. painting a wall, shooting a gun at your property, etc). The problem is that/when broadcasts prevent reception, not other broadcasts.
- calculation argument is moot, and I also explained several times why (as long as cost accounting is possible, there is no argument). It is actually double moot, because current laws do not implement ownership of immaterial goods, they only implement kind of “agreement not to sue”, they do not allow you to sell immaterial goods and do not grant anybody permission to use them. Does that mean that calculation is impossible even now and only possible in some hypothetical scenario which none of the IP proponents is willing to describe?

Peter Surda December 20, 2009 at 3:15 am

My first issue with IP began when the push for software patents and anti-circumvention copyright provisions began creeping into Europe. The reason was very simple, it threatened to suddenly make what I was doing illegal. For a while, I was concentrating my thinking about these issues. I haven’t really thought about IP in broader spectrum, but there were times when I was sceptical. After I came to this website, it was a pleasurable experience to find people sharing my scepticism. I am not sure what tipped the scales, probably trying to find theoretical backing and realising the consequences.

While I have some disagreements with Stephan Kinsella on methodology, I arrive at the same conclusions as he.

Charlize December 20, 2009 at 5:02 am

Why are libertarians always quite concerned with private property rights, but when it comes to intellectual property want to return it all to the public domain?

Should not contracts be viable? The Great Ormond Street Hospital should be entitled to royalties from performances of Peter Pan as JM Barrie designated. When did the public gain control of his work? What arbitrary number of years have you settled on? The state says life of the author plus 70 years? 120 years for corporate authorship?

It seems most Anti-IP folks are just anti-patent system from over one hundred years ago.

C.H. Hellström December 20, 2009 at 5:11 am

@ Fred McTaker

“I’m fairly libertarian when it comes to adults, but socialist when it comes to children, especially in their early formative years. That is my main aversion to Randians and knee-jerk anti-statist Libertarians — that the whole philosophy seems to forget children both exist and do not choose their parents, nor their upbringing.”

Ayn Rand was well aware of the fact that children exist and that they don’t choose their parents etc. What gave you the idea that she didn’t know that?

“Any acknowledgement that children exist by Ayn Rand seems to smack of Social Darwinism, including which children live or die, are able to receive secular education, basic nutrition, and other basic development factors.”

There is nothing within Objectivism that warrants calling Ayn Rand’s view on children Social Darwinism. She wasn’t a Social Darwinist. She did say, however, that you don’t have a claim on other people’s property for your sustenance, but that doesn’t make Rand a Social Darwinist.

“Any theories of “rational actors” of any sort fall in the face of a world of people raised by the insane or acutely religious (do I repeat myself here?).”

Rand never talked about “rational actors”, but she did refer to man as the “rational animal”; a being that is capable of being rational.

C.H. Hellström December 20, 2009 at 5:23 am

@ Kerem Tibuk

“All in all, I think this many libertarians are confused and support IP socialism because they dont have a good understanding of natural rights theory based on objective reality. Of course one may claim there is no objective reality, and laws must be based on the whims of the people but both claiming to be a libertarian and a supporter of private property rights and also be an IP socialist is a contradiction.”

Goodpost – I completely agree!

Here we clearly see how many problems that are caused by having a flawed philosophical system.

Jay Lakner December 20, 2009 at 5:29 am

Kerem Tibuk’s arguments make very little sense to me.

If there are no humans, there is no such thing property.
If there is only one human, there is no such thing as property.
There is only property if two or more humans exist.

“Property” is a logical consequence of the action axiom when applied to the existence of two or more human beings in a world containing scarce resources.

Yes “property” is a law of nature. But it only exists because the world contains multiple human beings which need to consume scarce goods to maximise their satisfaction.

Hence the statement, “Property rights are established to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resources”, is logically derived from “objective reality”.

I don’t know what other sort of “objective reality” Kerem Tibuk imagines to exist, but it certainly isn’t the same one I live in.

Ryan December 20, 2009 at 5:41 am

I’ve always been sensitive to both sides of the issue, and so I continue to be undecided. Kinsella’s arguments have not been helpful to me at all, but I think this is because – unlike most people around here – I’m not much of a Rothbard fan and I think anarchism is silly.

I do have some experience with indoctrination, and some of the comments above remind me “bearing testimony.”

I will probably never really make up my mind on this issue, but if I do, it will likely not have much to do with the discussions on this website.

Kerem Tibuk December 20, 2009 at 6:53 am

Newson,

I know the term “IP socialist” bothers you but you don’t have to be silly just to get back at me. Nobody is advocating the socialization of protection costs for IP. iP can exist in a free society and can ve protected by the producers, you don’t need to worry.

Also I am not using the term to piss anybody off. What you are advocating is socialization of privately produces property, thus you are an IP socialist. If you would advocate socialization of all property you would be called just a socialist.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 8:47 am

Absolutely, as an engineer I was naturally raised as part of the pro-ip camp. However, in the course of my study, I have come to recognize ip as a positive right telling other people what they may or may not do with their own property.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 8:53 am

i.e. you may not take advantage of that law of nature because I noticed it first.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 8:58 am

Thank goodness Newton didn’t get a patent.

Jay Lakner December 20, 2009 at 9:04 am

Kerem Tibuk,

You, and everyone else on this site for that matter, know very well that you use the term “IP socialist” is a silly ad hominem attack. The consequences of doing this are a general detriment to your credibility and other’s estimate of your intellectual capabilities. Rather than be annoyed or angered by your use of this term, I simply pity you.

Kerem Tibuk wrote:
“What you are advocating is socialization of privately produces property, thus you are an IP socialist.”

Is this intellectual dishonesty?
Or are you truely incapable of understanding the position of others?

Anyone who believes that intangible goods should be considered a form of property, but are against IP laws, could be called an “IP socialist”.
Those who argue that intangible goods are not a form of property and are against IP laws clearly can NOT have the name “IP socialist” applied to them.

By pretending that the position, ‘intangible goods are not a form of property’ does not exist, you simply demonstrate that you are either dishonest, ignorant, spiteful or a combination of these traits.

Stephan Kinsella December 20, 2009 at 9:08 am

Kerem Tibuk — you are certainly free to your opinion that IP is justified and a legitimate type of property. But you are arguing dishonestly here and simply engaged in question-begging. E.g., you write: “I read Kinsellas paper, and firstly as an instinct I knew something was wrong because at the end it called for abolition of type of private property.”

The question is whether this *is* a type of private property. Just because something is law does not mean it is justified. This is yet another example of how the Randian mentality tends toward legal positivism.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 9:20 am

The biggest practical problem I see with my position is preventing plain old theft. Reverse engineering is one thing, but what is to prevent an unscrupulous engineer from just walking away from a company with a completed design on a memory stick. This is the primary issue in my mind.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

Even if the engineer uses his own memory stick, to split hairs, I see no reason a company couldn’t write contracts with their employees too agree not to physically remove a design from the premises.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 9:36 am

Barring some other obvious solution, I would have to say my current answer to this practical problem is that it poses a fantastic business opportunity to anyone that can solve it.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 9:43 am

There would also seem to be a large market for anti-reverse engineering measures. Seems like a waste, but would also seem to be inevitable.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

And I can’t imagine what would happen to software.

Warning Label: any attempt to view the contents of this software will release a malicious viris onto your computer. you have been warned.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 10:08 am

Follow this line of thinking down a trail like biology and things get positively scary.

While I agree with the anti-ip crowd that it is a positive right. All I can say is careful what you wish for. Currently, I would be content with just constraining ip to shorter time limits.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 10:41 am

…. much shorter.

Curt Howland December 20, 2009 at 10:52 am

Silas Barta wrote,

“Why was interest (just to pick one) rationalized? To “reward postponing consumption”.”

No. Interest is the fee paid to satisfy time preference. It is agreed to up front, prior to the money being loaned.

“It rewards sitting on one’s seat and collecting interest payments.”

Correct. Prior postponed consumption has its later rewards, and bully for them! And so long as two people agree to a transaction, even if you want to call it “interest”, who am I to tell them they can’t?

The issue is the statute laws known as copyright/patent and their destructive and involuntary nature. Not voluntary transactions.

If you like, I wrote an article for The Libertarian Enterprise which just came out:

http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2009/tle549-20091220-05.html

It’s not “scholarly” so it’s likely just a bunch of stuff other people have already said somewhere else. Such is life. Hope I don’t get sued because I didn’t read their stuff first.

steve masteller December 20, 2009 at 11:08 am

Basically, I would be afraid of turning every company into a fortress of impenetrable secrecy.

Kerem Tibuk December 20, 2009 at 11:42 am

Jay,

I will try to make more sense.

“If there are no humans, there is no such thing property.”

True

“If there is only one human, there is no such thing as property. There is only property if two or more humans exist.”

False. Property doesnt need conflict or “aggression against property” to exist. That is clearly contradictory and putting the horse before the cart.

Property is extension of mans sovereignty to the external. You do not need another human being to to homestead and extend your sovereignty and make something your property.

“Property is established to resolve conflict regarding scarce resource” is false.

“Conflicts arise when one individual disregards and aggresses against anothers property” is true.

Also about “IP socialist”, I am sincerely not trying to agrevate anyone, but point out that what you argue for is a type of socialism.

You are talking about something produced by an individual and you claim it should be owned by “everyone”, the “society”. That is IP socialism.

Andras December 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm

@Steve Masteller,
I agree, testing the time limit would be a good start.
However, that would unveil that we are just social engineers and not philosophers. We are more arrogant than that, let’s talk revolution!
IP socialists of the world unite!

David C December 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I hate to say it, but Stephan Kinsella is my mini hero on this issue.

In 92, I strongly believed in IP, because I believe in property rights. However, I was in college as a computer science major, and anybody in that field could clearly see that software patents were pure evil satanic dirt. At first I took the position, that IP is good, but that patents don’t really apply to software. But that was logically inconsistent, and forced me to think about all IP in general. It took me till 98, and years of thinking about it to finally conclude that all copyrights and patents were evil.

It was a very personal and hurtful journey for me, because I so strongly believed in free markets and property rights. I always hoped that someone would make a compelling argument in favor of it. They never did. Having libertarian sympathies was already enough to isolate me philosophically from 95% of the population … and now I took a position that isolated me from 95% of libertarians.

I tried very hard to take my case against IP to the public, I even owned the ipnot.org domain for a while, which I believe at the time was the only anti-IP pro free market site on the internet. It was an exercise in uselessness. Stephan brought it to the intellectual mainstream in a way that I never could. So in my book, he’s an intellectual a legend.

Jay Lakner December 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Kerem Tibuk wrote:
**********
Property is extension of mans sovereignty to the external. You do not need another human being to to homestead and extend your sovereignty and make something your property.
**********

You are describing possession, not property.
If there is only one human being, there are things he does possess and things he does not possess. But there is no property.

It is only when additional human beings are added to the equation that the concept of property emerges.

The distinction between possession and property is clearly where this difference of opinion lies.

**********
You are talking about something produced by an individual and you claim it should be owned by “everyone”, the “society”. That is IP socialism.
**********

No I do not.
I am saying that intangible entities cannot be “owned” at all.
They can be possessed by anyone, but nobody owns them.
Once again, you need to acknowledge the difference between possession and ownership.

Let’s actually look at this ridiculous term of yours. What would be the fundamental beliefs of an “IP Socialist”?
a) Intangible entities are a form of property. (called IP)
b) IP is “owned” by everyone.

The logical ramifications of these beliefs are absurd:
- Every individual has a right to the information in every other person’s brain.
- Secrecy would be illegal.
- Privacy would be illegal.
Taken to logical extremes, absurd conclusions abound, for example, every man would have the right to view nude pictures of any woman on the planet. If you continue with these illogical assumptions, it’s obvious that physical property rights will rapidly break down completely.

I don’t know anyone who believes both a) and b). “IP socialism” is a ridiculous idea that does not in any way describe the anti-IP positions of anyone on this site. Your use of the term is either very insincere or completely ignorant of the fact that anti-IP people do not classify intangible entities as a form of property. Either way, you are embarrassing yourself every time you use the term “IP socialism”.

JL December 20, 2009 at 1:16 pm

ignore this post … trying to fix an error…

Saerden December 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Never liked the practical implications of IP, but considered it a necessary evil for progress. Changed my mind as more and more evidence (both practical and theoretical) surfaced showing that IP of all forms hinders innovation and prosperity.

I consider the libertarian case against (universal) IP to be rock solid now.

Im not sure on the inalienability of “ideas”. The same way one can (via contract) sign away his (non-)right to jump or shout on someone`s property, or agree to wear a bowler hat, one could agree to respect the contract framework for IP on a voluntary basis.

What is clear is that IP contracts could never apply to third parties who did not sign the contract. If A invents a mouse trap, and sells the plans for this trap to B under the condition that B does not, under any circumstances, reveals this information to anyone else, this contract might be viable and enforceable. However, if A and B discuss this trap (for example, in a bar), and C overhears it, neither A nor B have any right to aggress against C if he builds those traps and sells them for half the price.

Something like IP could arise naturally over time, as everyone signs in to the IP contract to get acess to the latest technology.

On a totally different note, i noticed that the pattern of libertarian resistance to abolishing IP is very similar to the statists resistance to abolishing state monopols.

The statist asks “how can there be stealth bombers in anarchy?” and the proper answer is – “there probably wont be any”.
“How can there be artists the way they are today in anarchy?” should honestly be answered with “there probably wont.” However, the same way that abolishing the government shoe monopole does not ruin the shoe market, because people still want shoes, abolishing the government innovation monopole will not ruin the innovation market, because people still want innovation.

The argument for IP is the typical “protect the market from itself” argument.

As for IP socialism – any oxygen socialists in here? If not, please consider paying fees for breathing oxygen produced by the plants on my property. Breathing is theft!

Brian Gladish December 20, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Property rights are functions of markets, and do not exist independently of them. If ways to monetize and protect ideas within a market framework are developed, they will be treated as property. If not, they won’t. Any amount of arguing beforehand is simply speculative. I tend to think that there are market pressures for such monetization and protection, but they aren’t a sine qua non for a free society.

Peter Surda December 20, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Kerem Tibuk, I think you would be taken more seriously if you wouldn’t avoid confronting counterarguments. Especially Jay Lakner and me presented you with several crucial ones.

I’ll provide you more. One I realised a couple of days ago. Current IP laws do not implement ownership of immaterial goods, merely pose restrictions on their manifestations. This is not my idea, I remember reading it long time ago somewhere, however if you look at the actual laws you’ll have to agree. Since according to you, ownership of immaterial goods is necessary for the economic calculation, does that mean calculation is impossible even now? If central planning wasn’t able to come up with a system of immaterial property, what makes you think it would happen on a free market?

If we are IP socialists, what is Andras who support patents? I guess he sees you as an IP socialist too.

Jim Fedako December 20, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I have changed, mainly due to your Against Intellectual Property.

AJ December 20, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I’ve definitely moved more strongly anti-IP since seeing Kinsella’s arguments and others.

ABR December 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I’m against the State, so in that sense I’m against State-sanctioned IP.

I think Kinsella’s argument against IP is valid, based on the premise noted earlier: “Property rights are established to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resources.” I agree with the premise as one reason to establish property rights. Not so sure it’s the only reason.

In a Stateless world, I’d be amenable to discussions regarding some form of IP. And I would favour frequency rights over a radius.

Matt Bianco December 20, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I’ve been converted! And, I’ve converted at least three more people in talking to them about it, and met at least three others who already were!

Definitely keep up the dialog!

Russ December 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Kerem Tibuk

“Also about “IP socialist”, I am sincerely not trying to agrevate anyone, but point out that what you argue for is a type of socialism.

You are talking about something produced by an individual and you claim it should be owned by “everyone”, the “society”. That is IP socialism.”

You are conveniently forgetting one little thing about IP vs. regular property. When a real socialist government decides that a person’s property should be socialized, then that person no longer has the ability to use his property. When an “IP socialist” government decides that a person’s “intellectual property” should be “socialized”, that person still has the ability to use that “property” himself. He may not be able to *profit* from it as he would like, but he can still *use* it. Only by ignoring this fundamental difference between real property and “intellectual property” can one conclude that the socializing of real property and “intellectual property” are equivalent.

Basically, what pro-IP libertarians are saying is that they would like it to be possible for the creators of “IP” to be able to profit from it, therefore we must create a legal fiction where this fundamental difference in natures between real property and “IP” is ignored. That way, an artificial scarcity of “IP” is created, and it can then be bought and sold as any other scarce economic good is. But government can’t change the fundamental difference in nature between real property and “intellectual property”.

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