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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15199/feedback-from-kinsellas-online-students/

Feedback from Kinsella’s Online Students

January 2, 2011 by

Here is some feedback provided by students of Stephan Kinsella’s online Mises Academy course, “Rethinking IP” (which ended last month):

“The class (everything) was perfect. Content wasn’t too deep (nor too shallow) – the reviewed material was just brilliant and the “tuning” was great for someone like myself (engineering background – no profound legal/lawyer experience). It provided all the material to really “understand” (instead of “just knowing”) all that was covered which I find always very important in a class.”

“Instruction was very comprehensive and thought provoking. The instructor was fantastic and very knowledgeable and answered every question asked.”

“Learned more then i expected, the professor seemed to really enjoy teaching the class, and the readings provided were excellent. Overall for the cost I was extremely satisfied.”

“Very interesting ideas I was not exposed to. Inexpensive, convenient, good quality.”

“It is a very fascinating topic and I was quite eager to learn about what I.P. is all about. I thought that Professor Kinsella was able to convey complicated issues to us clearly.”

“Professor Kinsella’s enthusiasm and extra links posted showed his true knowledge and interest in the subject. Great to see.”

Be sure to sign up for Kinsella’s next course on libertarian legal theory!

Libertarian Legal Theory with Stephan Kinsella

{ 52 comments }

Silas Barta January 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I bet there was lots of thoughtful, in-depth criticism of Kinsella’s arguments from skeptics during this class.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Silas, why is the originator of an idea justified in using force against copiers?

Silas Barta January 3, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Beefcake_the_Mighty, why is someone justified in using force against me just because I wrote my name in cursive at the bottom of a piece of paper?

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I assume you’re referring to the case of breaking a contract? Because you’re not simply writing your name on a piece of paper, you’re agreeing to perform some action, such that the counterparty can legitimately extract some compensation for your reneging upon. And of course the actual level of force that counterparty can legitimately employ himself depends on the extent to which you renege, e.g. if you agree to transfer some goods in exchange for money and simply run off with the money (which is tantamount to theft), as opposed to simply calling off the deal (which may call forth penalties, depending on how the contract is structured). If you were familiar with Kinsella’s work in this area, you might understand this point. I believe he’s often employed the very pithy phrase, the ethics of *action.*

But at any rate, please don’t change the subject. I will repeat my question to you:

Why is the originator of an idea justified in using force against copiers?

Silas Barta January 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Why does my agreeing to some action *in the past* entitle someone to use force against me *now*?

(This isn’t changing the subject; it bears directly on why you think moral obligations exist.)

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

OK, it’s abundantly clear that you’re not going to answer my question. The obvious conclusion (actually pretty clear from the sum of the many posts you’ve made here) is that in fact you CAN’T answer the question. You have NO theory of property rights that allows you to defend IP. Thank you for confirming this.

However, in the interest of being magnanamous (new year and all), perhaps you can be so kind as to post a link to your paper on IP (you know, the one that Kinsella rejected, thus setting off your never-ending online vendetta against him)? Presumably you’ve addressed the criticisms already raised against it? (Hope springs eternal.) Perhaps here we can finally discern the basis for your pro-IP theory of property rights.

I eagerly await your response.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm

And let me ask: how are my thoughts on moral obligations of any relevance? YOU have a theory of property rights justifying force against copiers, the very simple question is, why is this theory valid? I would assume you would be able to answer this question. Instead you seem to be trying to anticipate my responses to craft your answer. Again, a good indication that you really don’t know why you believe IP is legitimate.

Daniel Hewitt January 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm

(you know, the one that Kinsella rejected, thus setting off your never-ending online vendetta against him)

Ah….this explains much.

Silas Barta January 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm

@Beefcake_the_Mighty:

You have NO theory of property rights that allows you to defend IP. Thank you for confirming this.

Yes, I do, but it’s not necessary to refer to it in order to show the irreparable error in your reasoning. If you want to read about it, see this post — it integrates the contract aspect as well.

perhaps you can be so kind as to post a link to your paper on IP (you know, the one that Kinsella rejected, thus setting off your never-ending online vendetta against him)? Presumably you’ve addressed the criticisms already raised against it? (Hope springs eternal.)

Huh? The paper supports the anti-IP position, so Stephan_Kinsella would like it, if he had any serious interest in whether the absence of IP would suck or not. The basic argument can be summed up as: the profit from a new idea can be captured, without IP, by arbitraging the markets it impacts. Stephan_Kinsella did not consider this matter worth pursuing, which caused me to question his intellectual seriousness on the issue, but has nothing to do with my rejection of the anti-IP pandering.

Would you like to raise your objections to this argument now?

And let me ask: how are my thoughts on moral obligations of any relevance?

Because you’re asking a question about moral obligations, and I can derive it from moral premises you already hold, which is easier than first having to convince you of such premises.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Silas, your summary of the paper is not particularly helpful. Either post it, or I will have to assume by your own actions in witholding it that there is not much merit to it.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm

“Because you’re asking a question about moral obligations, and I can derive it from moral premises you already hold, which is easier than first having to convince you of such premises.”

Actually what you’re trying to do is use analogies derived from whatever theory of property rights you think I hold, to “derive” the validity of IP. This won’t work and has been pointed out to you countless times here, but I guess you’ll never give up your little game here. So let me just tell you: I subscribe to Hoppe’s argumentation ethics. If you think you can deduce the legitimacy of IP from this position, kindly show me.

Beefcake the Mighty January 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm

“If you want to read about it, see this post — it integrates the contract aspect as well.”

After reading this, my response is: you’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve concocted a bizarre example (Omegas? WTF?) to illustrate a very simple point about free-riders? Note that you haven’t even bothered to try to establish that there is anything enforceable against or morally objectionable about free-riding. Kinsella’s comments there were spot-on: you are really digging the bottom of the barrel here. I have to say, if this kind of stuff is better than your paper, don’t bother posting that.

Silas Barta January 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

“Silas, your summary of the paper is not particularly helpful. Either post it, or I will have to assume by your own actions in witholding it that there is not much merit to it.”

There’s not much merit to the idea that it’s possible to profit from production of useful ideas in the absence of IP? Fine with me!

Beefcake the Mighty January 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Silas, you are a fucking fraud.

Colin Phillips January 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Luckily, the trolls decided not to join, but rather waited until after the course to post pointless sarcasm. The result is that the questions asked during the course were insightful and constructive, rather than sad veiled personal attacks.

Silas Barta January 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Did you know that that’s exactly what groupthink feels like when it’s overtaken you?

Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

(crickets chirping)

Peter Surda January 9, 2011 at 5:09 am
Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I’m still waiting for Kinsella & co. to provide a system that will encourage innovation and invention after they have accomplished their goal of removing IP protection.

So far, they have provided exactly… Nothing.

Hoppe hasn’t answered this question yet either. I’ll send him another email soon just in case his response got lost in cyberspace (doubtful, but possible).

Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I actually have a couple more questions: Given Kinsella’s anti-IP philosophy, why does he charge for his courses?

Instead of charging $125, why not give them away for free?!

What, you say he needs to pay his rent? Well, why not ask for donations? Surely he should do so, if he has the courage of his convictions!

In fact, if he really did believe what he espouses, he should have no issue with someone signing up for his course, and then copying and providing all the information in it on the Internet, for all to see and distribute as they see fit!

What say all of you? Who would like participate in this? I’ll sign up, and then copy and give it all away to everyone who wants it! After all, IP is wrong… Right?! Why should you have to pay $125 for that information! I’ll pay the fee, and distribute it for free!

Stephan should have no problem with this, if he truly believes what he argues. I can’t wait for him to weigh in on this! Exciting!

Jonathan M. F. Catalán January 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Instead of charging $125, why not give them away for free?!

What does this have to do with his stance on intellectual property? The content of the course (the ideas he’s spreading) is basically given away for free already in the form of his book, and countless of free articles. The product being sold are not just the ideas, but also the fact that he’s teaching them (and thus clarifying them) to you.

If you want to set up a rival academy, there is nothing but your own ability from limiting you.

Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Where is his book posted for free online?

Can’t wait to download it. Glad I won’t have to pay for it!

Jonathan M. F. Catalán January 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm
Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

From the first comment:

“I can’t help but laugh. The book offering the argument that copyrights should be abolished is itself copyrighted!”

…Anybody else see a problem here? Lol!

Stephan Kinsella January 8, 2011 at 11:47 pm

The book is not “copyrighted.” The state imposes a copyright on it, and grants it to me. It’s not my doing. I don’t want it. Why would you blame me for something the state imposes on me? Weird.

Dave Narby January 9, 2011 at 12:23 am

“The book is not “copyrighted.” The state imposes a copyright on it, and grants it to me. It’s not my doing. I don’t want it.”

Oh, but you could have given permission to freely copy after the copyright information, chosen any of the various alternatives (Creative Commons, etc.).

But you didn’t!

And interestingly, the copyright appears to actually be held by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

I am quite interested to know why you chose to give them the IP rights for your work, seeing as how you don’t believe in it!

BTW, we are all still waiting as to how you propose innovation be compensated and encouraged in an anti-IP world. Care to finally answer that question?

Stephan Kinsella January 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Dave:

“The book is not “copyrighted.” The state imposes a copyright on it, and grants it to me. It’s not my doing. I don’t want it.”

Oh, but you could have given permission to freely copy after the copyright information, chosen any of the various alternatives (Creative Commons, etc.).

We do. The book is free now. What are you talking about? Anyone is free to do WHATEVER THEY WANT with the text. Translate it. Slap your name on it. Sell copies of it with my name on it. I don’t care.

And interestingly, the copyright appears to actually be held by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

no, it’s not. The law gives the author the copyright, and I have not assigned it by writing to anyone. If it says “(c) Mises Institute” this is simply false, and the result of common mistakes made by normal people trying to deal with the insane IP system people like you promote.

I am quite interested to know why you chose to give them the IP rights for your work, seeing as how you don’t believe in it!

I have assigned copyright before to commercial publishers. You do not need to “believe” in copyrihgt to do this. this is cheap equivocation on your part. Because of the universal application of the horrible copyright law you support, and industry has built up around it, making it impossible for me as an author to publish a work with a normal commercial publisher without assigning to them the artificial rights your system has placed in me. are you blaming me for complying wiht your unjust laws? Ridiculous!

In any case, for my libertarian writing I have never assigned it to anyone. Copyright “belongs” to me–but I refuse to enforce it. What else would you have me do? Use my Libertarian Willpower to Nullify Copyright Law?

nate-m January 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I actually have a couple more questions: Given Kinsella’s anti-IP philosophy, why does he charge for his courses?

Because people are willing to pay for them for whatever reason. That is how he knows his labor is worth it.

Instead of charging $125, why not give them away for free?!

Because he would rather make money.

What, you say he needs to pay his rent? Well, why not ask for donations? Surely he should do so, if he has the courage of his convictions!

I don’t see how one has to do with another. I doubt he advocated that anybody should do any labor for no-cost. He is, hopefully he corrects me if I am wrong, saying that it’s morally incorrect to use threats and violence to extract payments from other people’s labor and property…. which is what most IP law is about.

In fact, if he really did believe what he espouses, he should have no issue with someone signing up for his course, and then copying and providing all the information in it on the Internet, for all to see and distribute as they see fit!

I don’t see anybody threatening lawsuites here. Why don’t you test your theory, pay for the next class then redistribute the content you get?

What say all of you? Who would like participate in this? I’ll sign up, and then copy and give it all away to everyone who wants it! After all, IP is wrong… Right?! Why should you have to pay $125 for that information! I’ll pay the fee, and distribute it for free!

good luck on that one.

Stephan should have no problem with this, if he truly believes what he argues. I can’t wait for him to weigh in on this! Exciting!

I wouldn’t be surprised if he chooses not to respond to a raving loony.

Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Do you really think Kinsella would sue me if I copied his work and posted it to the Internet so anyone could copy it?

I mean, he would have the *right* to sue me… But wouldn’t that reveal him to be a complete hypocrite if he did so?

Seems to me he’s got a dilemma here. Get paid, or stick to his guns. He can’t really do both if someone chooses to distribute his work for free without his permission now, can he?

nate-m January 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

You can try it and find out.

Personally I think that people are paying money for his instruction, review of their coursework, and interaction and not the necessarily the materials he is presenting in class.

Trying to lay the claim that he depends on IP for to get people to pay him for his classes is like saying that it’s pointless to go to a math class after I purchase a math book. To put it another way: The whole experience in attending a class transcends the materials presented in the class.

Dave Narby January 9, 2011 at 12:30 am

The reason most people attend a math class is get the educational institution’s “stamp of approval” showing they completed the requirements and satisfied the course objective.

But while math, like engineering or chemistry, requires a fair amount of practical knowledge and practice, the majority of a course like that Kinsella offers consists of the material presented and the novelty of his arguments.

So the enterprising person would benefit as much from simply obtaining reading the material as he would having it spoon-fed by Kinsella!

But this is besides the point – The most entertaining (and educational) aspect of Mr. Kinsella is the questions he refuses (or is incapable) of answering. They are quite revealing.

Peter Surda January 9, 2011 at 5:30 am

The most entertaining (and educational) aspect of Mr. Kinsella is the questions he refuses (or is incapable) of answering.

lol

nate-m January 9, 2011 at 7:05 am

The reason most people attend a math class is get the educational institution’s “stamp of approval” showing they completed the requirements and satisfied the course objective.

Funny. I go to school to learn stuff. Not to have the ability to wave papers in other people’s faces. But then again higher education is lost of many people as they do go to school just to get paper work filed out in their name.

Guess this this is not the type of school for the latter.

So the enterprising person would benefit as much from simply obtaining reading the material as he would having it spoon-fed by Kinsella!

That’s a possibility, yes. That’s true for any school. It’s the fault of modern society to mistake graduation papers as a sign of competency. (quite often whether somebody has the official papers is completely irrelevant to whether or not they can actually accomplish anything of merit for a employer) It just requires more work and more time.

School is a labor saving device, ultimately. Condensing experience and work and ‘spoon feeding’ it to people. That’s why you pay for it.

Stephan Kinsella January 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

do what you want, dude. I have no objection at all. copy and distribute whatever you want.

Now what you gonna say, poseur?

Dave Narby January 9, 2011 at 12:18 am

So truly, you forfeit all claims to your IP?

Care to make this official?

Stephan Kinsella January 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm

“if he really did believe what he espouses, he should have no issue with someone signing up for his course, and then copying and providing all the information in it on the Internet, for all to see and distribute as they see fit!”

I of course have no problem with this at all. Have at it! Good luck and godspeed!

Dave Narby January 9, 2011 at 12:35 am

Really!

Then why bother charging for it at all? Why not just publish it to the Internet?

Are you claiming special value to your words and ideas over and above the cost of data transmission and replication?

Peter Surda January 9, 2011 at 5:27 am

The course gives you added services apart from the texts. It gives you, among other things, the ability to interact with the lecturer and other students at predefined times, and should you choose to take the exams, also a certificate by the Mises University. Some people are willing to pay for it.

Besides, I find it funny you suggest that you would disseminate Stephan’s work, while simultaneously objecting to the contents of it. Stephan would probably be laughing too at how instead of proving your point you would end up digging your own grave.

Peter Surda January 9, 2011 at 5:12 am

Dave,

Stephan should have no problem with this, if he truly believes what he argues.

If you were to follow your own logic, you would not post on the internet for free. So, in order to remain consistent, how about you shut up until someone pays you?

Kashyap January 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm

“Instead of charging $125, why not give them away for free?!
What, you say he needs to pay his rent? Well, why not ask for donations? Surely he should do so, if he has the courage of his convictions!”

What a truly bizarre argument. How does an anti-IP position preclude him for charging for his time and effort?

“What say all of you? Who would like participate in this? I’ll sign up, and then copy and give it all away to everyone who wants it! After all, IP is wrong… Right?! Why should you have to pay $125 for that information! I’ll pay the fee, and distribute it for free!”

Why should anyone pay, indeed, unless they… voluntarily wish to? And a dump of information is not the same as a structured course.

Dave Narby January 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Then you agree, he should have no problem with me signing up for his course, copying all information he provides, and distributing it as I see fit, yes?

Jim January 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Why are people so strangely uncivil on the issue of IP around here?

Bala January 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

History. Baggage.

Dave Narby January 9, 2011 at 12:32 am

You might want to take notice who resorts to such incivility, and under what circumstances. It’s pretty revealing.

Anthony January 9, 2011 at 1:14 am

Dave Narby,

Your comments on this thread are truly pathetic. First you ask sarcastically where you can download Kinsella’s book for free, and when the link is provided you don’t even acknowledge that you were wrong. Next you say “maybe I will join the course and share all the information” and when Kinsella says “fine” you fail to acknowledge that you were wrong, again. Your petty sarcasm and poorly argued, mean spirited posts are impressing no one.

As for your question about a “system that will encourage innovation and invention” without IP, this course was a perfect example. Even though Kinsella provided all of his work freely on the internet people STILL PAID HIM for it. He made money on “ideas” without using IP laws to protect it… I am sure he has sold many copies of his book as well, even though it is freely available on the internet.

IP is NOT necessary to make money… ask Kinsella, any number of artists and authors who provide their work for free on the internet (in exchange for exposure in hopes of concert and book sales), independent video game studios who provide free games and forgo DRM. People are subsisting off of their ideas without IP all around you. Open your eyes.

Dave Narby January 9, 2011 at 2:05 am

Anthony (no last name given),

I am not surprised that you attribute sarcasm where I offered none, and errors where I made none, as beating straw men seems to be the local pastime of the Intellectual Communists haunting Mises.org.

I am however, a bit surprised that you bring up artists who freely give away their IP for advertising concerts and book sales as an argument for compensation for innovation (not the least of which is ignores the issue of patents and trademarks entirely).

This is because it is doubtless none of those artists would approve of their work being appropriated by an individual or corporation for their own personal gain without compensation for the artist, for instance by using that art/song in an advertising campaign for their products.

Because if IP is done away with, that is the logical outcome. “Why pay the artist for that great song? Let’s just use it in our ad campaign to sell our snazzy new car! After all, there’s no IP laws stopping us!”

Can you honestly say you’re You OK with something that happening? Think about it!

I’m not, and I’m sure artists like Trent Reznor aren’t either! Just because they choose to give away their work for free doesn’t mean they have given up their IP rights!

Peter Surda January 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

[sarcasm]Yea, why should anybody produce if he has to compete for the customers? It logically follows that without eliminating all competition, there would be no production.[/sarcasm]

Anthony January 10, 2011 at 12:38 am

Dave,

If an artist’s song is “stolen” by a car company and used in an add, this would INCREASE the artists exposure, particularly if they complain publicly about the song being used without permission and the story gets picked up in the media. Also, many people would disapprove of “stealing” songs for commercial use and this could lead to a backlash against the car company.

Personally, I think that that sort of behavior from a company is immoral, and it might lead me to change my shopping preferences. However, I do not believe that it is the place of the law to regulate morality. I think that cheating on a romantic partner is immoral, but I would not pass a law against it… ditto for IP.

I brought up the examples I did because you asked for something that could encourage innovation independently from IP, and those example fulfill that requirement. Whether the artists intended to give up their IP entirely or not is beside the point… they were making money off of their creations without using IP.

Regarding patents, there is an advantage to being the first to market with a new invention, and there is another advantage to being able to forgo the huge legal risks involved in defending against patent suits.

As for trademark, abusing a trademark is illegal if you are fraudulently pretending to represent another company, so IP laws are not necessary.

Even if none of the above arguments are true, the fundamental issue is that the ownership of ideas is not possible in any way that is both logically consistent and consistent with physical property rights. Therefore any law that is derived based on the notion that ideas can be owned is unjust, regardless of how utilitarian the outcome is. If enforcing real property rights limits innovation then so be it.

Kashyap January 9, 2011 at 8:59 am

Dave Narby,
“This is because it is doubtless none of those artists would approve of their work being appropriated by an individual or corporation for their own personal gain without compensation for the artist, for instance by using that art/song in an advertising campaign for their products.

Because if IP is done away with, that is the logical outcome. “Why pay the artist for that great song? ”

Since you are so sure of yourself as to say no artist, here’s a link to one who does exactly that and still makes money out of his work: http://kalyanvarma.net/index.php
He has been cited by Rashmi Bansal in a book called Connect the Dots, as saying he makes more money now than he would have had he continued working in Yahoo India, even though he shares his work on his site for all to see. And this is a guy in India, the land of the poor and downtrodden.

If you think no one pays for free stuff, you’re mistaken. All those who donate to wikipedia have proven you wrong. All those who donate to LvMI have also proven you wrong.

nate-m January 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

Because if IP is done away with, that is the logical outcome. “Why pay the artist for that great song? ”

The logical outcome is that you don’t pay the artist for the song.

You pay for performances of the song. Why? Because there is no comparison between recorded song and seeing a live performance. If anybody fails to understand this then find a artist you like and put effort into seeing them live. Then you will understand. It’s extremely obvious.

This is how most successful musicians make most their money… performances. The studios make money from album sales and the actual artists make either a tiny fraction (less then pennies per dollar spent by the consumer) or nothing at all. There are a few artists that make a lot of money from album sales, but it’s extremely rare.

This reflects back to the reason we have of recorded albums and studios in the first place… The original purpose of singles and albums was as a promotional item for a artist to drum up excitement for live concerts. We are in a process of going full circle were music is becoming communal activity again and studios are going to reduce in importance and profitability from being masters of the music industries to being promoters under contract for the artists.

Jay Lakner January 9, 2011 at 9:54 am

Sigh.

Is this Dave Narby chap still hanging around?

He spends all his time asking for proof that IP laws hurt innovation without ever considering the fact that he also has no proof that IP laws encourage innovation.

Can’t he see that it is virtually impossible to prove that IP laws either increase or decrease innovation?

(When he finally manages to figure this point out, maybe then he will realise that the best policy is one which does not systematically trample physical property rights.)

Beefcake the Mighty January 9, 2011 at 9:56 am

“Is this Dave Narby chap still hanging around?”

Shockingly, in some ways he is preferable to Silas.

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