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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 }

Fred McTaker December 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm

@C.H. Hellström: I was actually quite fascinated with the writings of Ayn Rand during college. I read Fountainhead, Atlus Shrugged, and every essay compilation I came across (including other contributors like Greenspan). I read nothing associated with Rand with any thorough contemplation of the relation of rational adults to children, other than the broad claim that children and inheritance acted like a preferential-property right of the parent. The general sense I got is that she viewed children as property. That’s why I got over Rand. Please direct me to anything written by Ayn Rand that counters that view.

Second, I apologize for the double-post — I got an error on the first attempt, that looked like some sort of Windows file permission error.

Last, I wouldn’t mention this, but the Radio Frequency as property comments keep creeping in here. SK is correct that any EM debate is unrelated to IP. However, OFMDA encoding, as any form of frequency time-sharing, negate any arguments made here on EM ownership alone. That is sufficient to end the usefulness of further debate on the issue. Newer technologies like UWB, MIMO, beamforming, and Cognitive Radio drive the EM property argument further into the ground. This is also ignoring the basic physical fact that RF has the same properties as visible light spectrum EM, except for wavelength, meaning it is subject to the same properties of reflection and occlusion that make the camera obscura (i.e. human eyes) possible. Thus “owning RF” is no different than “owning colors”, which I hope is obviously ridiculous. The problem isn’t the nature of RF, but the current sensing and sending equipment, which is held back by both IP and attempts to force unnatural ownership rights on RF. Eliminate both, and suddenly invisible waves are a lot more useful. Google “Open Spectrum” for some succinct sources on the issue.

Russ December 20, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Fred McTaker wrote:

“Last, I wouldn’t mention this, but the Radio Frequency as property comments keep creeping in here. SK is correct that any EM debate is unrelated to IP.”

I think that Silas’…. persistence in pestering Kinsella causes many to either not see, or forget, that he does have a valid point. With *any* property right, including the normal kind that applies to physical property, a limitation on the rights of others to do as they might wish with their property is implied. For instance, my property right to my real estate implies a limit to your ability to use your bulldozer to drive through it. Part of Silas’ point, I think, is that if it is OK to limit peoples’ rights to do as they wish with their own property in the case of bulldozers, there can be no *principled* reason why the same cannot be said for radio transmitters or computers. So, I can see his point that, if I believe that it’s OK to restrict other peoples’ rights to use their bulldozers as they wish, then I should not object *in principle* to to the restriction of other peoples’ rights to use their computers as they wish, and if I argue that regular property rights are valid but IP is wrong *in principle*, then I am contradicting myself.

Having said that, I don’t find his arguments equating IP and EM spectrum rights *in practice* to be at all convincing, because EM spectrum and IP don’t have the same fundamental nature, Silas’ “pattern instantiation” argument notwithstanding.

RWW December 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Kinsella’s writings convinced me some years ago on the issue of IP. It was the last step in my movement to anarchism/voluntaryism from unprincipled minarchism (but I repeat myself).

Russ December 20, 2009 at 9:51 pm

RWW wrote:

“It was the last step in my movement to anarchism/voluntaryism from unprincipled minarchism (but I repeat myself).”

Didn’t we just recently have a discussion about the meaning of the words “intelligent and civil”?

Nick December 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I started my career as a software engineer in 1999 and by 2002 I was certain technology patents (specifically software patents) caused more harm than good. What I’ve seen over the last 6 years has only made me more certain.

DixieFlatline December 20, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I came to be against intellectual monopoly mostly on my own. The lack of scarcity in ideas resonated with me.

I was aware of Stephan’s work, but he is an imposing intellectual figure, and his style is not at the level of a layman, which I was and continue to be to this day.

Since that time, I have watched Kinsella and others debate this on the Mises blog, as well as being affected by the ideas and works of Jeffrey Tucker, Boldrine and Levin. Also, we have had many extended debates in the Mises Community Forum, which I feel is a great place to masticate ideas until they are nothing more than truth.

The arguments against intellectual monopoly are very simple. If you support monopoly or privilege, you are working against liberty.

waywardwayfarer December 21, 2009 at 1:00 am

I read Kinsella’s “Against Intellectual Property” about a year ago, very skeptical going in, and completely persuaded by the end. The indisputable fact that supposed intellectual property rights usurp tangible property rights was the major factor (but by no means the only one) in my conversion. Carrying IP to its logical conclusion would produce a situation so absurd as to render human life and action effectively impossible.

As an aspiring novelist, recognition and acceptance of the illegitimacy of IP has some pretty far-reaching implications, but I’ve reached the point that I find the possibilities exciting rather than disturbing.

Gil December 21, 2009 at 1:03 am

I believe K. Tibuk is right in saying “property rights means owning the fruits of your labour” as opposed “resolving conflicts” as J. Lakner reckons. Tibuk’s notion of property rights hones in on the ‘homesteading’ principle – you only gain ownership over unowned resources you can actually use rather than Lakner’s concept of ‘territoriality’ – the first to fence off land owns it regardless if they will then leave 99% idle except to defend it from trespassers.

At least Saerden has the honesty to say “if people can’t get return on their inventions/innovation without I.P. protection then it’s not going to get done in the free market. After all, if Libertarians hate current I.P. why would they like a similar I.P. system if it could emerge in the free market – you will still have someone telling you what you can and can’t do with your own property. If drugs couldn’t operate without I.P. as they can’t recoup their costs then their innovations won’t occur. Then again, reading what Libertarians think of disease at LewRockwell.com they assume any cure rests in their garden or doesn’t the disease doesn’t exist at all.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 1:13 am

“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.”

The reason you are making this distinction is, you still assume the main premise I am trying to refute. You have to able to check your premises and at least assume the opposite but you are not doing that.

You are still assuming rights are derived from the society. You think Crusoe can possess (whatever that really means) something he homesteaded but can not own it (owning implies property) and only after Friday comes to the island there can be some kind of social contract regarding resources.

I claim rights are natural and individual. They exist and they are carried over to the society. Crusoe doesn’t need Friday to exist or have rights, mainly property rights. Crusoe is the ultimate free man. He can not be freer if he wanted to. But he needs division of labor to better his life and that requires society. So the point is keeping the liberties he had, carrying them to the society and also take advantage of the society.

To me the premise “property rights are established to resolve conflict regarding scarce resources” is as arbitrary as “property rights are established to resolve conflict regarding movable resources” and don’t think there are nobody that thinks the second premise is true, either.

Also the premise is absurd on so many levels.

Who established this rule? When was it established? Was it established at some specific time, or is it an ongoing process? Since nobody challenged you regarding the shirt you wear, does this mean the shirt is not your property but merely in your possession now? Why would there be conflict regarding scarce resources only? Is it because scarcity is a condition of supply and it implies there should be value to things with limited supply thus a desire? Isn’t this bringing value, economics, into a field of ethics? What if something is scarce but not demanded at all? It should be property according to the premise, but whose property will it be?

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 1:15 am

Peter,

I don’t thing your knowledge in economics is sufficient for a debate on the calculation argument. We tried it and failed.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 1:20 am

Dixie,

” If you support monopoly or privilege, you are working against liberty.”

Fine. Then go to the logical conclusion and advocate full blown socialism because private property means having monopoly privilege regarding an object.

Lets abolish all property and liberate everyone.

These are all Freudian slips and you get upset when I use the term “IP socialist”

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 1:23 am

Russ,

“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.”

Nobody is talking about the right to profit. Property is about extending your sovereignty. One may profit if others value it or one may not. This doesn’t change the fact regarding ownership.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 1:27 am

Russ,

“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.”

Nobody is talking about the right to profit. Property is about extending your sovereignty. One may profit if others value it or one may not. This doesn’t change the fact regarding ownership.

waywardwayfarer December 21, 2009 at 1:36 am

I agree with the argument that property is meaningless as a concept in the case of one person living in complete isolation. That doesn’t make it a “social contract” or negate its status as natural law or anything of the sort. It simply requires the context of human interaction to have any real meaning, just as a second point is required for the concept of distance to have any meaning.

epilp88 December 21, 2009 at 2:39 am

First stumbled upon Kinsella’s arguments 2 years ago, then gradually worked my way to an anarcho-capitalist position. Property rights are (I think) derived from man’s identity (his nature). There is nothing natural about restricting the free flow of ideas/information, because ideas are not naturally scarce.

Illegitimate property is that which is gained at the expense of another. But “gaining” an idea does not diminish that idea as it is held by anyone else. It does nothing to infringe on them.

Russ December 21, 2009 at 3:26 am

Kerem Tibuk wrote:

“Nobody is talking about the right to profit.”

Well, that’s certainly what most people in the software or “digital content” industry care about.

“Property is about extending your sovereignty. One may profit if others value it or one may not. This doesn’t change the fact regarding ownership.”

I am assuming that you are coming from a sort of Lockean angle here? That is, by virtue of the labor that you put into something, you “extend your sovereignty” over it? When it comes to physical property, I would certainly agree that this is a reasonable argument, but that is because physical property is economically scarce. For instance, when the first man put his labor into a tree trunk and made a wheel out of it, he can be said to then own that wheel, and others can’t rightfully take it. If he could not, then that wheel would have been of no use to him. He did not, however, own the *idea* of the wheel. Someone else could then take that idea, and apply his labor to another tree trunk and own another wheel. To use Silas’ terminology, when the first man “instantiated the pattern” of a wheel on a tree trunk, he owned that instance of the pattern, but not the pattern itself. It’s the same with software, for instance. When you instantiate a pattern on a hard disk (you write a program), you certainly own that instance of the pattern (because it’s on your hard disk), but I can’t see how it justifies you owning the pattern itself.

In short, I think you’re applying the “labor theory of ownership”, which works well enough for regular physical property, to a case where it doesn’t properly apply. The reason it doesn’t apply is because, while regular property is a scarce economic resource (i.e. it can’t be easily copied), intellectual “property” isn’t (i.e. it can be easily copied).

Peter Surda December 21, 2009 at 3:27 am

@Kerem Tibuk:
What a convenient excuse.

Gil December 21, 2009 at 4:23 am

But Russ isn’t the ‘labour theory of ownership’ the basis of ‘homesteading’?

Bala December 21, 2009 at 4:38 am

Kerem Tibuk,

” You are still assuming rights are derived from the society. ”

Still dishing out the same “argument”. That “rights” are a moral concept defining and sanctioning man’s freedom of action in a social CONTEXT does not mean that rights originate from society. It only means that absent a society (read other people), the concept “property” has no meaning to a rational human being (sorry about the redundancy). To Robinson Crusoe, there are only “existents” and “possessions”. For instance, Crusoe himself exists as do all the plants, trees and animals as well as inanimate objects that are found on the island. They are all existents. Only those things which Crusoe has in his physical grasp constitute his possessions. He is free to take possession of any existent at any point in time (as long as it exists when he decides to take possession).

It is only the fact that one is dealing with other rational animals that can lead Crusoe (as it would any man) to the moral concept that we call “property”. It is only the question “who ought to be in possession of a given existent?” that defines the concept “property”. The “ought” here is a moral one. It is only when an existent could be in your hand or mine but “ought” to be in yours, as determinable based on a rational moral framework, that the existent is deemed to be your “property”.

Please also bear in mind that talking of a concept “property” w.r.t. Robinson Crusoe (defined here as the concept of a man who has always been isolated from other human beings) reflects a very poor epistemology.

The source of the concept “right to property” is still man’s nature – that of a rational animal with a volitional consciousness, whose values are not automatic and given but need to be gained and then kept. In the absence of a society, i.e., other men, there is no possibility of “taking” of a man’s possessions by another rational animal and hence no concept “property”.

How you take this to be a “social contract” theory still beats me!!!

Bala December 21, 2009 at 4:44 am

Kerem Tibuk,

How about stating your definition of the concept “property” (since you know mine)? I am quite certain that that would be a good point to continue the discussion.

Peter Surda December 21, 2009 at 4:49 am

Even if one approaches the property definition from the homesteading angle rather than scarcity, the argument doesn’t finish here. As I explained several times before, if you allow homesteading of immaterial features, anything causally related to an action can be potentially claimed to be homesteaded by that action. So you face the dillemma of demarcation. You need to specify where on the causality scale the property ends. If you draw it at the maximum, all positive externalities become property rights violations. Since this is not a claim IP proponents are making, it means that while causality might be a necessary homesteading condition, it is not a sufficient one and additional rules are required. IP proponents have not described those rules.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 5:14 am

Russ,

“I am assuming that you are coming from a sort of Lockean angle here? That is, by virtue of the labor that you put into something, you “extend your sovereignty” over it? When it comes to physical property, I would certainly agree that this is a reasonable argument, but that is because physical property is economically scarce”

I find the issue of scarcity irrelevant. It has no bearing on the concept of property and it is a purely arbitrary prerequisite. Also it is contradictory in the sense that it doesn’t follow cause and effect.

As I said, one can also say and has said that “property is established regarding only movable objects” and deny land can be property.

In that case I would state my case the same way and say movability has nothing to do with property and whoever advocates abolishment of land property is a “land socialist”.

And then, the “land socialist” would claim, assuming his conclusion, since land can not be property, the term “land socialist” is an insult, and this would go on and on.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 5:17 am

Peter,

I dont know what to say. I stated at the beginning of the calculation argument that,

Without private property there can be no exchanges. Without any exchanges there can not be prices. Without prices there can not be any signals, directing production regarding scarce resources. And I applied this to the production of IP:

And you talk about cost accounting and how costs determine prices.

In order for us to argue on this line we have to go all the way back and argue economic theory first, and that is a taunting task for me.

Bala December 21, 2009 at 5:22 am

Kerem Tibuk,

” Without private property there can be no exchanges. ”

Wrong right there. Only “possession” is required for exchange. “Property” is the recognition that a particular state of “possession” (by a particular person and not by any other) is morally sound.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 5:40 am

Bala,

I repeated my understanding of property many times. I assume we all agree man is sovereign over his own mind and body and this is a fact of this universe. This is generally called self ownership. Property is the extension of an individuals sovereignty (self ownership) to the external.

The defining characteristic of property is not that if the individual can protect this extension or not. If someone stronger comes and aggres against it this is a violation of natural law, just as jumping of a cliff and expecting to fly is violation of natural law. Both violations have consequences.

I define property, and Jay for example calls it “possession” and makes a distinction because he thinks rights originate in society.

You are making the same mistake. You are both talking about natural rights and also deny rights originate in isolation (from the individual not necessarily in deserted island) and they are carried to the society. If you claim rights aren’t meaningful to the individual, you are in fact claiming they originate from society.

We know there are people who actually claim rights originate from society and and individual is only a part of the society. These people mostly have inner consistency but of course their view contradict with reality.

If you claim rights are only meaningful in social context how do you think two views can be distinguished. They are saying the same thing, but they are at least more consistent and don’t just stop with the property, and extend this rights based on social context further.

If “property is established to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resources” is a type of social contract what can possible be a social contract?

What is missing when Robinson Crusoe homesteads and makes something his regarding property? What ever is meant by owning property Crusoe has it.

The only thing that is missing is the possibility of aggression coming from another individual.

And that is the twisted logic of putting effect before the cause.

There has to be a homesteading (which means means making something nature given your property) before any possibility of aggression arises. Thus possibility of aggression can not come before homesteading of property.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 5:48 am

Peter,

Your problem with IP (regarding ethical issue not the calculation argument) is your views regarding objective reality.

At least in the case of IP you don’t believe in objective reality.

As you remember, you asked me to read your book review and tell you the book in subject.

You are assuming your vagueness or my ignorance regarding the book you read prior to the review is relevant to the fact you read a certain book or not.

I can say to you that I just ate a round sweet fruit and ask you if I have in fact ate a pear or an apple.

You may know the fruit or may not know. But the fact is I ate an apple doesn’t change. That is the objective reality.

A poem written by Crusoe doesn’t depend on other people to exist. It exits where someone reads or not.

And if you mean when someone take an idea, and mixes it with something he has in his head that is unique to him, that is not different than taking someones apples and making an apple pie, or taking someones marble and making a state out of it.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 5:50 am

Should have been,

“If “property is established to resolve conflicts regarding scarce resources” is NOT a type of social contract what can possible be a social contract?

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 5:58 am

Bala,

“Wrong right there. Only “possession” is required for exchange. “Property” is the recognition that a particular state of “possession” (by a particular person and not by any other) is morally sound.”

Have you read Mises at all or at least “Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth”?

http://mises.org/econcalc.asp

Bala December 21, 2009 at 6:17 am

Kerem Tibuk,

Please explain why distress sales happen at prices far below market prices.

Please also explain sales of stolen goods because by no stretch of imagination can you call a stolen good as the thief’s “property”.

Peter Surda December 21, 2009 at 6:47 am

@Kerem Tibuk:
> Your problem with IP (regarding ethical issue not the
> calculation argument) is your views regarding
> objective reality.
Your problem is that you see objective reality where there is only subjective one. Not only that, but you even fail to characterise its features (i.e. fail to demarcate).

> At least in the case of IP you don’t believe in
> objective reality.
I believe to have proven sufficiently that immaterial goods do not have objective features.

> As you remember, you asked me to read your book
> review and tell you the book in subject.
Yes, I remember that vividly.

> You are assuming your vagueness or my ignorance
> regarding the book you read prior to the review is
> relevant to the fact you read a certain book or not.
No. I am assuming that, since having all the facts is objectively insufficient to make a conclusion, you would finally come to the realisation that the immaterial features are subjective. I read both Harry Potter and Ender’s Game. I am not hiding it. You have all the facts. There is nothing else hidden from you. Again: if you have all the facts, and that is insufficient to determine the answer, that means the connection between the answer and the facts is subjective.

The only thing you don’t know is what was happening in my head while I was writing the summary. But for you that should be irrelevant, because that would also only prove that the summary doesn’t have an objective meaning, but depends on my thought processes.

> I can say to you that I just ate a round sweet fruit and
> ask you if I have in fact ate a pear or an apple.
You horribly misrepresent my question. You claim that missing facts lead to inability to make a conclusion. Which is perfectly fine and has nothing to do with my argument.

I have already explained this before, yet you ignore it once again.

> You may know the fruit or may not know. But the fact
> is I ate an apple doesn’t change. That is the objective
> reality.
And this relates to my counterargument how?

> A poem written by Crusoe doesn’t depend on other
> people to exist. It exits where someone reads or not.
Let us assume that the immaterial entity “Crusoe’s poem” exists. How do you objectively determine its boundaries?

> And if you mean when someone take an idea, and
> mixes it with something he has in his head that is
> unique to him, that is not different than taking
> someones apples and making an apple pie, or
> taking someones marble and making a state out of
> it.
Since it is impossible to take an idea into one’s head without mixing it with something that is already there, the whole sentence makes no sense.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 6:57 am

Bala,

“Please explain why distress sales happen at prices far below market prices.”

No sale happens below market prices. Market price is the price a sale is made.

But if you mean ask the reason why some people sell below prices that have been observed in the near past, the reason is simple. They value the money more than the goods they let go at that moment. If you wonder why this happens, there can be many reasons but I don’t think it is relevant.

“Please also explain sales of stolen goods because by no stretch of imagination can you call a stolen good as the thief’s “property”.”

You are getting confused by two issues in two different contexts.

A context where private property rights are recognized and there is theft (theft implies there are property rights but they are violated) and the sale of the stolen good,

is not the same as,

A context where no private property rights are recognized and not exchange can take place. In this construct it is imagined that we are dealing with the perfect socialist man, a voluntary slave to the society with no problems of greed and motivation. Even then it doesn’t work as Mises showed.

EIS December 21, 2009 at 7:11 am

Bala,

“Please explain why distress sales happen at prices far below market prices.”

What do you mean when you say “below market prices?” Distressed sales necessarily alter the market price to a lower level. Additional buyers, who previously lacked adequate purchasing power, are now able to engage in exchange. That comment is pure confusion.

“Please also explain sales of stolen goods”

You’re presupposing the existence of property rights in order to validate your absurd argument. Either way, property rights can be violated. I can be enslaved, and my watch can be taken from me forcefully. The former condition implies that I’m not given a wage (the price of labor) for my productions. Kerem Tibuk’s argument holds.

Peter Surda December 21, 2009 at 7:12 am

@Kerem Tibuk:
> I dont know what to say.
Maybe instead of writing you should read a book about cost accounting and how it is used in order to facilitate business decisions. Even before that, maybe you should try to apply your own theory into simple things of everyday life and see if anything is missing.

> I stated at the beginning of the calculation argument
> that,
> Without private property there can be no exchanges.
Objection 1: immaterial goods cannot be exchanged, only their manifestations (B&L point that out)
Objection 2: current legal system does not implement ownership of immaterial goods
Objection 3: bundling is sufficient to allow exchange
Objection 4: cost accounting teaches you to calculate prices even if unbundling and 1 on 1 assignment is impossible or impractical

Each of the objections is sufficient to poke a hole in your argument.

> Without any exchanges there can not be prices.
This is true. But see above.

> Without prices there can not be any signals, directing
> production regarding scarce resources.
This can be interpreted in multiple ways. Allow my own interpretation: absent prices, the business owner cannot use calculations to help him make business decisions.

> And you talk about cost accounting and how costs
> determine prices.
I think you drag the discussion into the irrelevant. It would be more clear to you if you understood cost accounting and its applications in business decision making, for example how one can assign indirect costs to outputs, do a return on investment analysis or determine the optimal production plan.

> In order for us to argue on this line we have to go all
> the way back and argue economic theory first, and
> that is a taunting task for me.
You arguments fail on basic things of everyday life. Understanding economic theory has nothing to do with it.

Kerem Tibuk December 21, 2009 at 7:12 am

“No. I am assuming that, since having all the facts is objectively insufficient to make a conclusion, you would finally come to the realisation that the immaterial features are subjective. I read both Harry Potter and Ender’s Game. I am not hiding it. You have all the facts. There is nothing else hidden from you. Again: if you have all the facts, and that is insufficient to determine the answer, that means the connection between the answer and the facts is subjective.”

Me knowing the facts is irrelevant. What matters is if you can distinguish between two books, or rather distinguish a book given by nature, a book you have written and a book written by someone else.

Because ethical choice of acting regarding the three options and which is actually the case, is yours and yours only.

If it is nature given, you may homestead it.

If you wrote it, it is yours and you may do whatever you wish with it..

If someone else wrote it, it is his/her property.

EIS December 21, 2009 at 7:24 am

Peter Surda,

“Objection 4: cost accounting teaches you to calculate prices even if unbundling and 1 on 1 assignment is impossible or impractical”

You can’t calculate costs if there are not prices. Cost and supply curves are merely older demand curves–which are contingent upon property ownership.

“I think you drag the discussion into the irrelevant. It would be more clear to you if you understood cost accounting and its applications in business decision making, for example how one can assign indirect costs to outputs, do a return on investment analysis or determine the optimal production plan.”

That can only tell you the optimal production method for that period–it’s static. Without private property and free exchange you cannot have meaningful prices which allocate scarce resources in a dynamic economy.

Bala December 21, 2009 at 7:32 am

Kerem Tibuk,

All I am saying is that for AN exchange (in the singular) to happen, I need to be in possession of something you want while simultaneously you need to be in possession of something I want. All that is required for an exchange to happen is that the subjective valuations of the two individuals should be such that each thinks he gains.

No concept of property is required for this. All it requires is for both of us (you and me) to either realise that exchange is the only way of getting what we each want or to decide that exchange is a better way (“better” here meaning that which will serve my interests more effectively) of dealing with the other person than snatching that which we want using brute force.

EIS December 21, 2009 at 7:36 am

Bala,

“All I am saying is that for AN exchange (in the singular) to happen, I need to be in possession of something you want while simultaneously you need to be in possession of something I want. All that is required for an exchange to happen is that the subjective valuations of the two individuals should be such that each thinks he gains.”

Really? Do they not require possession over the goods they wish to exchange? What are they exchanging, their thoughts?

Peter Surda December 21, 2009 at 7:39 am

@Kerem Tibuk:
> Me knowing the facts is irrelevant. What matters is if
> you can distinguish between two books, or rather
> distinguish a book given by nature, a book you have
> written and a book written by someone else.
Again, you drag the discussion into the irrelevant. Allow me first finish the first part and than show the error in your objection.

My summary experiment showed that immaterial goods do not have objective features or boundaries. Since they do not have objective boundaries, you cannot claim they are natural. End of story.

Now, I also showed that under certain circumstances, you cannot distinguish between two books. Yet you claim that they are different books. Why?

The whole situation demonstrate issues with you arguments. In some cases, you claim good A and good B are the same, and it’s obvious, without any explanation or evidence. Then you claim that good C and good D are different, and it’s obvious, again without any explanation or evidence. You have yet to explain how you draw these seemingly arbitrary conclusions.

Peter Surda December 21, 2009 at 7:46 am

@Kerem Tibuk:
> You can’t calculate costs if there are not prices.
In order for that to be correct in the way you mean it, it would also apply to all goods that cause indirects costs. Which is obviously not true, cost accounting teaches you how to calculate using indirect costs.

Why don’t you address objections 1-3?

EIS December 21, 2009 at 7:46 am

Peter Surda,

“Now, I also showed that under certain circumstances, you cannot distinguish between two books. Yet you claim that they are different books. Why?”

Oh god, another attack on reason. How boring.

Stephan Kinsella December 21, 2009 at 8:31 am

overtheedge: “Patents come in two flavors: utility and design. ”

They come in three: plant patents too. And that’s just in the US–in other countries, there is a fourth–a sort of “petty” patent (sometimes called “utility model”) that has a shorter term and that is examined for formalities and novely only, not for nonobviousness (or inventive step). And then there are business method and software patents that used to not be available.

Who knows what other artificial classifications the state could come up with to protect legislatively? Maybe boat hull designs? Semiconductor maskwork designs? Maybe database rights? Perfume smells? Fashion sense? Food recipes? Mathematical equations and basic laws of physics and chemistry? There’s so much unmonopolized stuff out there left to confer “property rights” to! Let’s get going!

Stephan Kinsella December 21, 2009 at 8:35 am

overtheedge: “Though I intended to confine this to patents, another thought hit. If I have no IP right to anything I say or write, then I can’t be held accountable for anything I say or write. I could ascribe it to Stephan Kinsella, Albert Einstein or Barrack Obama. Let the market of public opinion determine the authenticity, value or what-ever.”

Patent and copyright have nothing to do with authenticity and attribution. That is more trademark and reputation rights–the latter of which are unlibertarian and the former of which are also unlibertarian to the extent they give a right to the markholder instead of the defrauded consumer.

I address a similar issue in Reply to Van Dun: Non-Aggression and Title Transfer, in the discussion about the mislabeled Rothard burgers etc.

EIS December 21, 2009 at 8:36 am

@Stephan Kinsella,

“Semiconductor maskwork designs?”

I learned in industrial economics that they already did this. See, Scherer’s “Industry Structure, Strategy, and Public Policy.”

Stephan Kinsella December 21, 2009 at 8:42 am

Sag, “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.”

This is interesting. Would you care to elaborate? How exactly did Mises on money/banking lead you to be skeptical of the orthodox position on IP?

Stephan Kinsella December 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

EIS: “@Stephan Kinsella,

“Semiconductor maskwork designs?”

I learned in industrial economics that they already did this. See, Scherer’s “Industry Structure, Strategy, and Public Policy.”"

Yes, and boat hull designs too. Database rights were proposed but the legislation never (not yet) adopted. The others in my chain of examples are not protected… yet. AFAIK. I didn’t mean to imply that all on that list was speculative. the first two are already law; the next was considered; the rest are other possibilities for the IP totalitarians.

Daniel Hewitt December 21, 2009 at 8:46 am

Hello Stephan,

In regards to your earlier comment:

Your pro-IP view is noted (and it’s convenient you are in a technical field where you or your employer can benefit from patents, right?).

This was actually the opposite in my case. I am an engineer who has worked for a patent-happy company in the past. I always thought it was rather silly to waste so much time and resources on patenting every last thing. However, I had never heard the anti-IP argument, and just thought that’s the way things were supposed to work.

I listened to a podcast of one of your speeches, and you were not even halfway through the lecture when you convinced me.

There are still several reservations I have (MBrown summarized them well in the first post) but I have not spent sufficient time working my way through them yet. Someday I will….

scineram December 21, 2009 at 10:26 am

I no longer feel any guilt when downloading. Thank you.

Jay Lakner December 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

Kerem Tibuk,

It completely baffles me that you continue to assert that there are economic calculation arguments in the absence of IP.

It has repeatedly been demonstrated that “ownership” is only a prerequisite for the exchange of tangible goods and that “possession” is all that is required for the exchange of intangible goods. Intangible goods clearly can have prices, despite being “owned” by nobody.

Despite the fact that one can produce unlimited examples to back up this claim, you stubbornly refuse to even acknowledge it, let alone attempt to disprove it.

You have some reasonable arguments for your beliefs in the fundamental origin of property. Maybe you should just stick to them. Your calculation argument is bust.

S Andrews December 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I’m for limited duration IP rights.

Andras December 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm

@Kerem Tibuk,
I admire your patience. Thank you for being sanity in the asylum. Please do not give up.

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