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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16245/hoppe-best-interview-ever/

Hoppe: best interview ever?

March 28, 2011 by

Among many great points Hans Hoppe makes in this outstanding interview: “intellectual property rights and real property rights are incompatible, and the promotion of intellectual property must be seen as a most dangerous attack on the idea of ‘real’ property (in scarce goods).”

{ 125 comments }

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 8:48 am

I wouldn’t hang my hat on this comment from Hoppe; it is simply an “ideas are free” argument, which treats all IP as if it was proposing to protect ideas along all other intangible components of human thought and expression.

DixieFlatline March 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

He’s not saying ideas are free, he is saying that ideas are not property.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

What’s the difference?

Inquisitor March 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

Air is super-abundant (“free”) but can become scarce and thus can become an economic good and one subjected to property rights. Ideas are not “scarce” in that their consumption is non-rivalrous.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Do you make any distinction between “ideas” and say, an “original work of authorship”?

If so, what is the difference?

Do you mean that “scarce” means “tangible” because only tangible goods can be rivalrous, or you you agree that intangible goods can also abe rivalrous in the sense that two people can have a dipute over their exclusive use and possession?

Inquisitor March 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I don’t make the distinction, no, and as to the latter, I don’t agree, no.

nate-m March 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Property rights describes what needs to exist to resolve potential conflicts on scarce resource.

That is in order ‘use’ a resource you have to control it. Since there is a scarce amount of physical resources available then not everybody can own everything all the time.

In other words:

“Properties Rights” is the term that describes the mechanisms of ownership that are spontaneously created to resolve those sorts of conflicts that can erupt due to the nature of existing in this world and the necessities we deal with on a daily basis regarding physical goods.

Since ideas and concepts only exist as abstractions they have no true substance. As such they are not limited or constrained by the same physical realities that affect physical objects and their usage. In fact each ‘idea’ exists only as abstraction in the mind of the beholder. That is to be copied and spread each idea needs to be relearned and reinterpreted by each individual that encounters it. So ideas are naturally owned by each individual that has a variation of that idea in their mind., although certainly ideas originate somewhere by some individual or groups of individuals.

Since ideas share none of the same physical properties as real physical resources then trying to equate ‘intellectual property laws’ with actual ‘property rights’ is a exercise in folly.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

@ Inquisitor March 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I don’t make the distinction, no, and as to the latter, I don’t agree, no.

In that case you simply assume yor conclusion that intangible goods cannot be property, and that current IP laws equates IP with “ideas” (which is does not). The law makes an important distinction, which you assume away.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

@nate-m March 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Property rights describes what needs to exist to resolve potential conflicts on scarce resource.
That is in order ‘use’ a resource you have to control it. Since there is a scarce amount of physical resources available then not everybody can own everything all the time.

How about “property rights means the exclusive right to the use and possession of a good”?

Your definition requires property to be limited to tangible goods, while mine does not.

“Use” simply means dominion and control.

Using these concepts, both tangible and intangible goods can be property, and rights can be assigned for the exclusive use. Thus, conflict for the same property is avoided.

Also, I thought your concept was rivalry? Anytime exclusive use and possession of a good is contested by two people, you have a property dispute, right? Why does this dispute only apply to tangible goods?

What is wrong with this approach?

In other words:
“Properties Rights” is the term that describes the mechanisms of ownership that are spontaneously created to resolve those sorts of conflicts that can erupt due to the nature of existing in this world and the necessities we deal with on a daily basis regarding physical goods.

Why add “physical”, it is not necessary to the concept of property and assumes your conclusion that the intangible are not subject to property rights.

Since ideas and concepts only exist as abstractions they have no true substance.

Mises disagrees with you. I’ll have to look up the quote, but it has to do with his view that just because certain cognitive acts or rationalizations are intangible, does not mean they are “phantoms”. They are real and have a real impact on the material manifestations of human action, to paraphrase.

As such they are not limited or constrained by the same physical realities that affect physical objects and their usage.

This is true, but irrelevant. Intangible goods are inexhaustible in their serviceability. To grant property rights in ALL intangible goods is problem, and granting rights in NONE is a problem.

Therefore, IP laws attempt to strike a balance between the protection of the public domain, and the prevention of authors and inventors from the effects of producing for external economies.

In fact each ‘idea’ exists only as abstraction in the mind of the beholder. That is to be copied and spread each idea needs to be relearned and reinterpreted by each individual that encounters it. So ideas are naturally owned by each individual that has a variation of that idea in their mind., although certainly ideas originate somewhere by some individual or groups of individuals.

This is the tired and threadbare “ideas are free” argument. This argument relies upon equivocating “ideas” and “original works of authorship” in the case of copyrights. This is a misstatement of the design and purpose of copyright laws, and all IP laws. They make an important distinction between what is protectable and what is not. You ignore that distinction.

Since ideas share none of the same physical properties as real physical resources then trying to equate ‘intellectual property laws’ with actual ‘property rights’ is a exercise in folly.

Perhaps. How about you take a run at challenging what I’ve said and we’ll see.

nate-m March 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm

How about “property rights means the exclusive right to the use and possession of a good”?

Physical goods have the property that in order for for them to be put to use that a person must obtain them and control them exclusively in order to use them. ‘Property Rights’ helps determine how we decide who gets to use them.

‘Exclusive Rights’ may mean a lot of different things, I suppose. Like a village spoon, for example. Say we have a village with a single spoon and we all share it. It may not be accurate to say that we have a ‘exclusive right’ to the spoon, but it is certainly accurate to say that we need to be in exclusive possession of the spoon to make use of it.

Ideas and concepts do not have similar requirement or properties. I have a idea, I express it… you learn it… we can both make use of it simultaneously. Ergo they are not governed by the same laws of nature.

Your definition requires property to be limited to tangible goods, while mine does not.

My definition of a carrot may mean a ‘orange root vegetable that is usually long and thin and edible’ while your definition of a carrot may be ‘the effect felt by our nervous system caused the increased excitement of atoms in a solid mass beyond a certain level’… but it is not accurate to say that we would both be defining the same thing or that we would be both defining it correctly.

“Use” simply means dominion and control.

To ‘use’ something means to ‘make use of something’. That is take a object (abstract sense) and employ it for a purpose.

To use a physical object implies that you have ‘dominion and control’ over the physical object at the time of use. However this is only a side effect of physical reality we exist and the nature of the physical object to which we put in our employ.

However ‘use’ is not defined as ‘dominion and control’. They are two separate concepts.

Use of a idea or concept does NOT imply dominion or control of the idea, except were it exists in our own mind.

Using these concepts, both tangible and intangible goods can be property, and rights can be assigned for the exclusive use. Thus, conflict for the same property is avoided.

Only if your being very silly with your definitions.

Also, I thought your concept was rivalry?

Not really. People can have rivalries and disputes about a lot of different things that have nothing to do with property rights.

Anytime exclusive use and possession of a good is contested by two people, you have a property dispute, right?

Of a physical good, yes.

Why does this dispute only apply to tangible goods?

This method of dispute resolution only applies correctly and sanely to the use physical goods because of the fundamental nature of physical goods.

People certainly try to apply ‘property rights’ to ideas. Sure that happens. But it’s not something that is realistic. The only way ‘intellectual property rights’ can be manifested is through the restrictions and controls of other people’s property rights over physical goods. This is because ideas cannot be treated in the same manner as physical items. It’s impossible.

What is wrong with this approach?

Flawed logic? Just my opinion.

nate-m March 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm

This is the tired and threadbare “ideas are free” argument.

No it’s the result of the “tired and threadbare” examination of the nature of ideas and commenting on that nature.

This argument relies upon equivocating “ideas” and “original works of authorship” in the case of copyrights. This is a misstatement of the design and purpose of copyright laws, and all IP laws. They make an important distinction between what is protectable and what is not. You ignore that distinction.

Your attempting to manufacture a argument. That is… a ‘strawman’.

Inquisitor March 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

“In that case you simply assume yor conclusion that intangible goods cannot be property, and that current IP laws equates IP with “ideas” (which is does not). The law makes an important distinction, which you assume away.”

I don’t care what current law does or does not assume. You asked if I considered “original work of authorship” distinct from “ideas”. I do not, because there is no material difference but the configuration of ideas entailed. And ideas still are… non-scarce. It’s not hard to comprehend.

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 6:41 am

“I don’t care what current law does or does not assume. You asked if I considered “original work of authorship” distinct from “ideas”. I do not, because there is no material difference but the configuration of ideas entailed. And ideas still are… non-scarce. It’s not hard to comprehend.”

I’ll give you that, what you say is indeed not hard to comprehend. But it is not really an “argument” of any kind is it? It is simply an assertion – “there can be no rights in intangible goods”. Let’s call this proposition 1.

I would presume that you also agree with proposition 2: there can be no restrictions on your behaviour other than that you are not allowed to “invade” or “aggress” the tangible property of anyone else.

Can I ask if these two propositions are something that stand on their own (are self-evident or whatever) or are something that you have derived from other more fundamental assumptions/axioms. If the latter, can you let me know what they are so I might try the same thing myself.

If I were to suggest that subscribing to these two is inconsistent with our life in an advanced division of labour society, would you agree, disagree or not care?

Beefcake the Mighty March 30, 2011 at 6:58 am

Kid Salami,

Do you believe creators/originators are justified in using force against copiers/imitators, at least under certain circumstances? If so, why? Which circumstances?

Peter Surda March 30, 2011 at 7:35 am

Kid Salami,

if I may,

If I were to suggest that subscribing to these two is inconsistent with our life in an advanced division of labour society, would you agree, disagree or not care?

I would say that purely hypothetically it is possible, however you do not provide anything more concrete and due to my objections explained earlier (alternatives have a negative impact on the ability to estimate which actions are legal and which not, that leads to a higher time preference and that leads to a decrease in the division of labour), I think it’s unlikely. I would therefore ask you to provide something to support your claim.

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 7:36 am

Beefcake

I think my reply to Kinsella here sums up my thoughts on that.

http://blog.mises.org/16099/ideas-free-and-unfree-a-book-commentary/?replytocom=766485#comment-767294

I believe the assumptions in your question are logically equivalent to the two propositions above. I don’t, in fact, argue for IP in the way you assume – I could accept a form of copyright that could evolve in a free market but have no argument for patents. But “trademarks” are a different thing, in that they are a means to communicate. I don’t at present think you can define them away without considering the consequences – so i am attempting to work out whether Kinsella in “Against IP” and other people here have concluded they can be dropped with an argument, or have in fact just defined them away with those two propositions. This was the aim of my question – you are free to answer.

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 7:47 am

Peter

“I would say that purely hypothetically it is possible, however you do not provide anything more concrete and due to my objections explained earlier (alternatives have a negative impact on the ability to estimate which actions are legal and which not, that leads to a higher time preference and that leads to a decrease in the division of labour), I think it’s unlikely. I would therefore ask you to provide something to support your claim.”

What can I say – I suspect that the market would find mechanisms to mean this isn’t an issue. But I don’t KNOW the answer. Others who profess to know, or talk as if it is just obvious, are either bluffing or know more than me. I’m trying to find out which.

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 7:52 am

And Peter, just to be clear, I’m talking about copyright and patents then – trademarks (ie. a “signature”) are a different thing, I have not seen anything that convinces me an advanced DOL society can work with the Kinsella theory that the fraud can only be between the buyer and seller.

Maybe you think there is essentially no difference between copyrights and trademarks?

Beefcake the Mighty March 30, 2011 at 8:05 am

Kid Salami,

I’m not “assuming” anything, I’m asking you a question, which you appear not able or not willing to answer, either here or in the other thread. (I know Wildberry also refuses to do so, I’ve asked him before. I’m not going to try having a conversation with him again, having learned that lesson.)

It’s very simple, let me repeat it:

Why is force sometimes justified against copiers?

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

Beefcake

You say – “I’m not “assuming” anything,”, but you are certainly assuming a definition of “force”. So, can you define “force” and then I can answer.

Peter Surda March 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

Kid Salami,

allow me to summarise your position: you agree with an anti-IP position, you just don’t like it, so you continue objecting.

Maybe you think there is essentially no difference between copyrights and trademarks?

Whether there is a difference between a copyrights and trademarks depends on the perspective. From the point of view of property rights, I don’t see any relevant difference.

Beefcake the Mighty March 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

Peter Surda sums up Kid Salami pretty well here: he seems to be arguing just for the sake of arguing, there’s no real point.

Wildberry March 30, 2011 at 10:34 am

@Beefcake the Mighty March 30, 2011 at 8:05 am

Why is force sometimes justified against copiers?

Force used in defense of the one’s rights are justified and are non-aggression.

Of course this only begs the question as to whether these rights exist. If they do, defense is justified, if they do not, force is aggression.

If one assumes, as I believe you do, that no rights can exist in the intangible, then defense of those rights would be aggression. Therefore defense of IP rights is always aggression. That is your argument, correct?

(I know Wildberry also refuses to do so, I’ve asked him before. I’m not going to try having a conversation with him again, having learned that lesson.)

I suspect you will eventually reach this point with The Kid Salami too, but we’ll see.

For the record, this response has been made by me and others, epecially TKS, even on this thread, many times.

Many if not most arguments against the concept and princple of IP boils down to defining any potentential theory of rights out in the definition of property, which allows you to then asume that any act of defense of IP rights, like copying “protected works” is an act of aggression, violating NAP.

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

Peter

“allow me to summarise your position: you agree with an anti-IP position, you just don’t like it, so you continue objecting.”

Ha – I’ll admit there is a grain of truth in this. But what more can I say – I agree with the words of Frank Van Dun, that the concept of “unlawful” should include, but not be restricted to, Kinsella/Rothbard “invasions”. There seems little else to say on this I agree, so instead I will concur with Wildberry’s post above to save me time.

Peter Surda March 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

Wildberry

Force used in defense of the one’s rights are justified and are non-aggression.

No, no, no, Wildberry. I’m not taking pie from you, I’m giving pie to me.

The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Beefcake

Didn’t see your reply. Let’s agree my response was less than helpful, but your question is loaded. I’ve explained myself enough on this recently and I can’t really be bothered any more.

Let me say something else instead. You, and many others, all think that you just apply the Kinsella/Rothbard NAP to this problem and the answer is just obvious. Considering the passing around actual tangible stuff and also bits of paper with stuff written on them, like novels, is easy – it is just OBVIOUS what the answer is.

Ok. Except that Kinsella has stated that he disagrees with the “Against Fiduciary Media” paper that Hoppe, Block and Hulsmann wrote. That is, Kinsella and Hoppe both apply the NAP to the passing around of metal coins and peices of paper with stuff like $10 written on them – and come up with different answers. What gives?

The simplest way to describe my line of enquiry would be to find out EXACTLY where this point of departure is – and doesn’t it stand to reason that this will be a subtle and not obvious point? And I think that this is related to trademarks in that it is about the very identity of the goods being exchanged.

None of you seem to care about this fundamental disagreement between Kinsella and Hoppe on the most important good of all, money – what is the root of this disagreement? Is it semantics or does it signify something more serious? I think the latter. Kinsella could just as easily ask Hoppe “Why is the use of force justified on someone who issues fiduciary media?”

Beefcake the Mighty March 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Kid Salami, I just do not understand why you think Kinsella et al.’s position is nothing more than an application of the “NAP.” The NAP is of course empty without an associated theory of property rights, something rationalists like Kinsella et al. have provided in great detail; it’s one thing to disagree with this work, quite another to think the conclusions are implicit in the assumptions. It’s much more elaborate than that.

Apologies if you really think that’s the heart of the issue, but I just don’t see it. To me it’s your hobby horse, and you’re not going to get off of it.

Wildberry March 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

@Beefcake the Mighty March 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Pardon me for butting in on your conversation with TKS, but…

The NAP is of course empty without an associated theory of property rights, something rationalists like Kinsella et al. have provided in great detail; it’s one thing to disagree with this work, quite another to think the conclusions are implicit in the assumptions. It’s much more elaborate than that.

Yes, the NAP is empty without a theory of rights. So the theory is, “all rights require a tangible goods as their object. Since IP is intangible, there are not rights. Therefore enforcement of these non-existent IP rights is aggression, not defense.”

TKS puts his questions in terms of the issue turning on the NAP, while I put the issue as turning on the assignment of rights, which naturally then determines how the NAP operates.

In the end, Kinsella’s “elaboration” really boils down to this: All rights follow the path of tangible goods. That’s it. If it isn’t a tangible good, you can have no legitimate enforceable rights to it. If claims to some intangible good conflicts with some rights to tangible goods, tangible goods win every time.

Without getting into a pissing contest with you about it, isn’t that about it?

Wildberry March 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm

@The Kid Salami March 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Can you point me to where Kinsella disagreed with Hoppe? I’m reading the paper now, and it’s loaded with good stuff. Thanks for mentioning it.

Regards,

The Kid Salami April 1, 2011 at 5:10 am
Walt D. March 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

“Ideas are not “scarce” in that their consumption is non-rivalrous.”
Suppose I board a half-empty train without paying the fare. I could make the same argument. Empty seats on the train are “not scarce”. The marginal cost of operation in transporting me is essentially zero. My riding for free will only bother the owner of the train if he actually knows about it. No harm, no foul.

Sione March 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Walt

What a bullshit analogy you’ve provided. Do you really think readers are foolish enough to fall for that nonsense? Shame on you!

The train is scarce. Seats on the train, whether empty or not, are scarce. The cost of transporting you, a stow-away hiding in the toilet whenever the conductor appears, is not zero. The harm you are engaging in is cheating the owner of the train.

Your analogy relys on an unacknowledged premise, the pretense that IP is real property (just as a train is). Well hold on there just a moment, Walt. That is what it is you need to be proving. It is the assertion that IP is property that needs proof. Understand that proving a contention is not the same as assuming it and hoping no-one notices.

Sione

Walt D. March 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Sione:
Most of this notion of scarce is a fallacy of equivocation.
Here is another BS example.
I hire Stephan to prepare me a contract and agree to pay $2500 for a completed document.
Stephan stops off a the library and is proof reading the final draft of this document.
His phone rings and he walks away from the table to take the call.
While he is away you take a photo of the document, upload and OCR it, call me and offer it to me for $250.
I call Stephan and tell him I have changed my mind. (Assume that my contract with Stephan allowed me to do that.)
We can argue about whether or not what you provided me with is Stephan’s property.
However, your action (and my complicity) have prevented Stephan from being paid for his services.
As Clarence Darrow once said -”I do not charge $400 for an hour of my time, but for a lifetime of experience.”
I think Ayn Rand is right – John Galt will not spend a lot of his time working for free so others can freeload.

Stephan Kinsella March 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Walt D, that does not violate my rights, in the case you gave. I don’t have a property right in the money.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm

@Walt D. March 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Actually, Walt D. that’s pretty good.

The owner of the train has an economic right to the exclusive use and possession of all seats, and offers to sell them under the condition that you pay a fare and don’t claim that you actually bought the seat when you were only renting it.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

@Sione March 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Now hold on there just a moment, Sione.

Walt has provided a perfectly good illustration of how property rights work. It is you who is making a distinction betwen how property works for trains and how they work for IP.

I do not make that distinction. This is how property operates. If you ASSUME that only tangible goods are subject to property rights, then who is assuming their conclusion?

You would have to make the claim that a) only tangible goods can be treated as property (the existence of IP laws disproves this) or b) it is desirable for some reason to make this distinction between ALL intangible goods and ALL tangible goods.

Without defining “tangibility” into your justification, what is it?

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm

@Stephan Kinsella March 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

You wouldn’t claim improper method of obtaining a trade secret? You must be working on a salary.

Ironically, if we go with your vision here, it is up to you to take sufficient measures to prevent copying, so you wouldn’t dare go the library. You would do your work in a secure vault. You would make sure you got your money before you released the contract, but Walt wouldn’t want to pay you until he saw what you did. So you need a side agreement for non-disclosure. If Walt hires a photographer to take a picture over his shoulder, not being a party to the NDA, Walt could openly buy it from him and hand your contract back to you with a “no thanks”.

My, oh my, those transaction costs are really mounting up!!

Walt D. March 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Stephan – you are right (as usual !)
Besides, my argument was essentially a straw man, since the analogy is
“If Stephan prepares a contract for Walt for XYZ, should that give Stephan the right to prevent any other attorney from writing an XYZ contract for anyone else, based on the principle that Stephan is the first attorney to write an XYZ contract,and have the State enforce this “right” ?”

The Kid Salami April 1, 2011 at 5:08 am

Wildberry

Yes, it is indeed a great paper. Kinsella says here

http://blog.mises.org/5327/the-problem-with-fraud-fraud-threat-and-contract-breach-as-types-of-aggression/comment-page-1/?replytocom=98494

that he agrees FRB is “economic nonsense” but not necessarily “fraud”. Hoppe disagrees. I reckon this disagreement is not semantics but fundamental. I’m still trying to work it out and am currently reading Hayek and his knowledge problems etc. – Kinsella, Hoppe and Hulsmann all say Hayek is a confused idiot on this, but I’m not decided on this yet.

Wildberry April 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

@The Kid Salami April 1, 2011 at 5:08 am

OK, I read the paper and the article and comments.

On the issue of fraud, I tend to side with Kinsella, oddly enough. If fraud is “the acquision of property through misrepresentation”, then reliance on the representation is an implied warranty and the contract implied I the exchange is void. You could restate this in Kinsella’s terms by saying that that “consent was conditional upon” proper representation, but it amounts to the same thing.

“I’m selling you a box of oranges for $10” is an implied warranty that there are oranges in the box. If it actually contained apples, the buyer has given the $10 in reliance of the truth of the offer. Because you the buyer have changed his position in reliance of the offer, there is an injury; you paid $10 for oranges and got apples, and so you are entitled to some legal or equitable remedy.

That is fraud.

Hoppe’s argument seems to be that since two claims to title for the same property is impossible, to receive fiduciary notes on the presumption that each title is represented by the same property is an impossibility, and therefore a fraud, under Rothbard’s definition of fraud, “failure to fulfill a voluntarily-agreed-upon transfer of property” because according to Hoppe, “two individuals cannot be the exclusive owner of one and the same thing at the same time.”

As he puts it elsewhere, it is two units of title in search of the same unit of property, which is a misrepresentation of reality.

I buy Kinsella’s argument that fraud is the standard legal definition of “acquisition of property through an act of misrepresentation”. There has to be a party that is defrauded by the person who acquires property. He explains it this way:

“In other words, for the libertarian, fraud is a type of aggression (namely, theft), just because it is a means by which one party receives or uses or takes the property of someone else without their consent–and there is failure of consent because the first party’s misrepresentation meant that one of the conditions to transfer of title was not satisfied.”

My view on the FR banking issue is that, for whatever reason, a depositor places money in a deposit account, and merely relies on a promise the bank will honor his right to reclaim it on demand. The bank promises to honor that right and takes the money. If he later shows up and demands the money and receives it, there is no fraud legally or ethically.

As to fraud to the other holders of money, that is not fraud. That is a consequence of an economic policy that permits monopolistic control over the money supply. It is not a legal or ethical issue.

It is interesting to note, however that all of this discussion involves only tangible goods, including money. If you do not exclude intangible goods by definition, this discussion applies equally to IP.

In the case if FRB, it seems to contradict Rothbard’s theory of property, however, because of the title transfer requirement for transferring property by contract. If you eliminate the concept of “promise for a promise” or “consideration for a promise” from the theory of contracts, you are left with only transferring title to tangible goods. There is only transfer of title, bailment, or loans. In standard contract theory, failure to perform a promise given for consideration is enforceable against failure to perform, as long as the contract is legally valid.

To be honest, I am confused about how loans would work under Rothbards contract theory. Rather than a “promise to perform”, the debtor only agrees to “transfer future goods IF they exist and IF I have them at the agreed future date.” I interpret this as a lack of enforceability based on Rothbard’s “inalienability of will” position. Such a position severely undermines the utility of contract theory, in my view.

In banking, case law has dealt with this problem by reasoning that money is a fungible good, and that when a depositor makes a deposit, he is actually transferring title to the bank for the promise of demand rights. Therefore the bank is free to treat the deposit as its own property. As long as it meets the demand for redemption, there is no legal issue. Of course central banks were developed as a way to improve the probability that individual banks can perform against unexpected or unusual demand for redemption, and from there the real problems begin.

Because property rights are a human device, they can legitimately (legally) be treated in this way. However, the consequences of a FR/Central banking economic policy are not so harmless, as the ABC theory demonstrates. Therefore, opposition to FRB is best justified on economic grounds.

I think the point of divergence here is in Hoppe’s objections on ethical grounds. Kinsella’s argument makes him consistent with his other arguments about trademarks.

In both FRB fraud and trademark fraud, he argues that the buyer (or money holder) is not defrauded as long as he UNDERSTANDS that the good is what it ACTUALLY is; fiduciary notes, in the case of money and a “rolex knock-off” in the case of a trademark fact pattern, for example.

The distinction I think he makes is that the trademark owner has no separate cause of action because he has no property rights in a mark, on the grounds that he is asserting IP rights to it, which are illegitimate. This is consistent with his other views on the creation of rights in the intangible.

It was helpful to see how Hoppe applies his and Rothbard’s “rivalrous goods” reasoning to FRB, as he uses the assertion that “two individuals cannot be the exclusive owner of one and the same thing at the same time.”

I am wondering if it wasn’t Kinsella who took the major leap to claim that this means that since only tangible goods can be rivalrous, that property can only exist for tangible goods.

Obviously, if you have two people both claiming title to the contents of a book (the “work”), that is rivalrous. So, I don’t think it is inherent in the Hoppe statement above, since a “thing” can be tangible or intangible, and in fact copyright laws, for example, make this “thing” explicitly property, in the form of limited economic rights in the intangible work.

Regards,

Wildberry April 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm

@ The Kid Salami April 1, 2011 at 5:08 am

Here is a quote from Kinsella on the thread you cited:

Let me give you an example. Suppose I want a Louis Vuitton purse. It costs $1000. Or, I can buy a knockoff for $20. So I buy the knockoff. I *want* it to be falsely labeled. Am I defrauded? No. Who is defrauded? No one. Whose rights are violated? No one’s. Only LV’s–and only if there is a right to reputation, which there is not.
Arguably, people who see me with the purse are deceived into thinking I have an expensive purse. I am in a sense lying to them. But is this fraud? No. Mere lying is not fraud.

His treatment of trademarks ends here. He holds that LV has no cause of action because he has no rights to the trademark, and any and all causes of action rests with the consumer. It is up to the consumer to assert and prove fraud, if it exists.

If the seller represented that the purse was authentic and it was not, that presumably WOULD be fraud.

Of course the important distinction for purposes of the Kinsella IP argument is that the originator of the trademark, LV, which has created the market value for the brand that the knock-off is banking on, can do nothing to stop this type of conduct.

Trademark theory rests of this theory of fraud, historically called “passing off” as it related to a consumer’s ability to associate a trademark or dress with the origin of the products he was buying. But it vests the cause of action in the manufacturer under trademark law, in addition to the individual consumers under tort and/or contracts theories of fraud. It does not matter whether the individual consumer as a fraud action. Either way, the trademark is protected from competing uses without consent; i.e. it is a property interest.

Here is another interesting situation I wanted to share with you. An easement through land is an intangible interest in land. It does exactly what IP opponents complain about with IP rights.

Assume a person has exclusive ownership of a parcel of land. He has absolute rights to exclude all others. Assume that he creates an easement across his land and sells it to his neighbor. The easement is intangible interest in land, and exist nowhere other than the description of it on the deeds. Yet it lawfully restricts the original land owner’s rights to his tangible property.

If it is argued that it was granted by contract with he owner’s consent, what about a proscriptive easement created by the courts for a landlocked landowner?

Under those conditions, it looks very similar to the intangible interests in IP. It is an intangible economic interest, created by the operation of law, which legitimately restricts the rights of the owner of private property in a specific way, i.e. he may not exclude the easement holder from his land.

Ethically this is equivalent to Crusoe being unrestricted as the sole inhabitant of his island. Along comes Friday, and suddenly Crusoe has less liberty than he did before, as a result of having to be limited in is range of actions in deference to Friday’s rights.

This is the nature of rights and cooperation, which enables, as you point out, advanced division of labor societies.

Regards,

Kid Salami April 4, 2011 at 11:11 am

Wildberry – appreciate the comments but I can’t really respond in detail for a bit i’m afraid. I disagree about FRB – I think it is fraud. I basically agree with much of what you say, but I think so for much more roundabout reasons, related to what I say below.

Your second post contains a very insightful observation IMO, one which is not in fact news to me – it is I think one of the fundamental weaknesses with the anti-IP argument here. And even Tom Palmer in his two brilliant papers on this does not discuss it – I’ve not seen anyone do so and I’ve looked.

Wildberry April 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

@ Kid Salami April 4, 2011 at 11:11 am

No problem.

Have you read this?
Harold Demsetz, “Toward a Theory of Property Rights.”

see here: http://blog.mises.org/16224/suggested-readings-on-environmental-economics-and-law/comment-page-1/#comment-768697

Regards,

Jenner March 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

Ron Paul first introduced me to the Austrian School in 2008; and while reading Dr. Hoppe’s Democracy, it “clicked.” I can’t wait to give this interview a read. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

Beefcake the Mighty March 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

Truly outstanding.

Jkillz March 28, 2011 at 10:12 am

I just bought one of those “Privatize Everything” t-shirts that you can buy here, with Hoppe’s face silhouetted over the text. It’s one of my favorite things now. If Rothbard hadn’t convinced me — which he did — Hoppe would have, I’m sure of it.

ABR March 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Hoppe says that “intellectual property rights and real property rights are incompatible”. True to a degree. But as others have noted before, real property rights are incompatible with the right to person. Does that mean we should abandon real property rights? No.

In a world where the right to person is sovereign, any person can wander anywhere, and do anything, so long as he does not aggress against the person of others. Various cultures decided to waive this absolute right to person in favour of land as property.

Where land as property is sovereign, a person can find himself unable to exist anywhere on the planet without trespassing. Thus, land as property need be tempered by the right to person.

How to reconcile? In the absence of the State, it’s up to individuals to arrive at some form of agreement regarding property rights. It would be nice if a sparse set of 1st order axioms were sufficient to guide us in making these agreements. Unfortunately, I don’t think such a set exists.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

@ABR March 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I agree with you. I would add that “a sparse set of 1st order axioms were sufficient to guide us in making these agreements.” is exactly what we have. For example:

All rights are human devices.

All rights are limited by the rights of others.

Conflicting rights require social conventions for peaceful resolution.

Property is a human device

Property is the right to exclusive use and possession of a good.

And so forth.

I think the issue you are raising is that at the margins, reconciling first principles with the facts gets more difficult in order to arrive at the desired and consistent outcome.

I have used homicide to illustrate this. Killing of a human by another human is universally and fundamentally unethical, base on the ethics of self-ownership. Then you have the complex interpretations of facts which modify and limit that rule, such that the first principle is absolute (self-ownership) but the various rules built upon that principle are not absolute. Even self-ownership is violated for incarceration for a crime, for example.

In addition, you have various levels of analysis to deal with; ethical, legal, and economic.

So for these reasons I agree that 1st order axioms are not sufficient to construct all of the human institutions required for an advanced society which values division of labor.

Inquisitor March 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

“Where land as property is sovereign, a person can find himself unable to exist anywhere on the planet without trespassing. Thus, land as property need be tempered by the right to person.”

Then how was this person even conceived to begin with…?

ABR March 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Most likely as the product of serfs. But how did his parents become so? Well, many people today do not own land. They rent. If, at some time, owners were to conspire against renters, the latter might find themselves living the life of a serf: totally beholden to the landowners.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

@Inquisitor March 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Kathleen Touchstone dealt with this by showing that if all physical property was privately owned, there would be no opportunity for newborns to homestead a place to “be”, since dividing everything up evenly would eventually lead to each person “owning” only enough room to stand on, but they would be “landlocked”. If that person had a child that reached maturity, where would they go?

That is the limitation of a theory of 100% private ownership of all physical resources.

Nuke Gray March 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Wildberry, I hate to burst your argument, but aren’t all properties already owned by someone, or something? Don’t governments claim to own all land that is not privately owned already? Is there any land that can be homesteaded without a government telling you to stop that?
Aren’t the terms of your argument already met?
Interestingly enough, The Rwandan bloodbath, some people think, was caused by people dividing land up into smaller and even smaller lots, because local laws and customs dictated that a man divide his land up equally amongst his sons. They did not have much of a market, it seems.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm

@Nuke Gray March 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Wildberry, I hate to burst your argument, but aren’t all properties already owned by someone, or something?

No, it is possible for new goods to arise in which the ownership issue has to be determined. You seem to have a vision that there is nothing new under the sun (like land) that is not already owned. Even land does not meet this criteria of ultimate stability. Who owns the new land being created by lava flows in Hawaii?

Also, you assume tangibility as a requirement in your questions. Certainly intangible works are unlimited in their production, since they are intellectual works, so the ownership problem, as is being debated here, is contestable.

Nuke Gray March 29, 2011 at 1:29 am

The State government of Hawaii would claim all new land, wouldn’t it?

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 8:29 am

@Nuke Gray March 29, 2011 at 1:29 am

Perhaps you are right. So all land is already 100% owned by either private or public means. Homesteading as an option is out, unless land is abandoned and can be acquired through adverse possession.

Chattel is different, as raw materials continually are tranformed into consumer goods for which the original title belongs to the producer (through owning his own means of production), and title is transfered to the buyer. Would it be accurate to say that the producer “homesteads” the consumer good before it is sold?

Original works are the product of author’s means of production, which he originally fixes in the form of the original manuscript. If ownership is only recognized in the paper and ink, then it transfers in the same way as chattel. If we recognize limited property rights in the intangible work, then transfer of the copy does not transfer title to the work. This is the way IP actually works. This is what Kinsella/Rothbard opposes.

Inquisitor March 29, 2011 at 11:46 am

“Kathleen Touchstone dealt with this by showing that if all physical property was privately owned, there would be no opportunity for newborns to homestead a place to “be”, since dividing everything up evenly would eventually lead to each person “owning” only enough room to stand on, but they would be “landlocked”. If that person had a child that reached maturity, where would they go?

That is the limitation of a theory of 100% private ownership of all physical resources.”

How the fuck does she even reach that conclusion? There are so many missing steps to this argument.

“Most likely as the product of serfs. But how did his parents become so? Well, many people today do not own land. They rent. If, at some time, owners were to conspire against renters, the latter might find themselves living the life of a serf: totally beholden to the landowners.”

Right, so basically by means of absurd hypotheticals and conspiracy theory. OK.

Stephan Kinsella March 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

“real property rights are incompatible with the right to person”

No they are not. Self-ownership means each person has the right to control his body, which is a scarce resource. It’s a property right. And a human actor–a person having a body that he owns–can also appropriate or homestead unowned scarce resources, which are also his property There is no incompatibility whatsoever; in fact, as Hoppe argues in ch. 7 of Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, neither is possible without the other: if you are not a self-owner, you cannot own anything or have the right to engage in homesteading actions. And if you have no right to own scarce goods in the world, you could not survive. These things are actually complementary.

RC March 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm

“And if you have no right to own scarce goods in the world, you could not survive.”

This seems strange to me… In order to survive, a person must use unowned resources. He does not have to have a right to own them, IMHO. Animals have no rights, yet they survive. A car thief clearly has no right to own the car he stole, yet he is perfectly capable of using it.
Second, man needs only some resources to survive. What about those that are not neccessary, like (most) land?
Also, this is hardly an argument for full ownership of scarce goods… Why not, for example, 60% ownership?
If you could briefly answer Sir I would be grateful.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm

@RC March 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Animals have no rights, yet they survive.

Are you sure? An antelope is a scarce good. One animal can kill it and another can take it away. What is going on here?

All rights are first asserted and then defended. In the animal world, the first principle is “might makes right”. If the first animal asserts his own right to the kill and he cannot defend it against the second, the second has “earned the right” and the first has “lost the right” to it.

Property is merely a human device for conceptualizing the right to exclusive use and possession. Like all rights, they must be first asserted and then defended. In the human context, defense of a right might take the form of might, ethics, contracts, laws, and economics, etc.

RC March 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

I fully agree with you.

What I meant by “animals have no rights” is that animals do not have rights in the libertarian sense, i.e. the right to be free of coercion.

Sione March 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Wildberry

Please define what rights are. Also, how are they derived?

Sione

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Sione,

I will engage you on this if you wish, but you have to be fair about it.

You give me the context and I’ll give you my ideas about what the rights are and how they are derived. Please be specific so I can understand what you want to get at.

Fair?

Peter Surda March 29, 2011 at 3:49 am

Wildberry,

Property is merely a human device for conceptualizing the right to exclusive use and possession.

However, elsewhere you say that rights are limited. So can you explain how rights can be exclusive and limited at the same time?

Donald Rowe March 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

And after your starving, waterlogged, but still living body washes ashore on that idyllic island in the Pacific, where property ownership is sacrosanct, and every square inch of it is owned and posted to give the required warning to would be trespassers, you will still have every right to control your body’s motions, as long as you point it back out to sea, at least until you can purchase some of that property, perhaps by a voluntary, free trade act of selling one of your kidneys.

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

@ Donald Rowe March 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Hi Donald. You are such a poet, honestly.

Walt D. March 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I watched a program on National Geographic on the history of Easter Island.
I discovered that Cannibalism is not a culinary phenomenon, but rather a consequence of a society that does not produce sufficient resources. Cannibalism is actually an extreme form of Socialism.

Ohhh Henry March 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

This is a lifeboat situation, it has been addressed by Rothbard here.

A word about this hypothetical island …

If the island has very scarce resources then the castaway, however unfortunate and unwilling a guest on the island, has no rights to those resources simply by washing ashore. Should an owner of the island starve so that the newcomer can live? No.

If the island has more abundant resources then the owners of the island would be foolish to reject the castaway because another person added to the island means more economic workers, more exploitation of resources, more division of labor and more wealth for everyone. Since most people, most of the time, act in their own economic self-interest (as they see it), you will therefore find relatively few cases in history where castaways have been murdered by local inhabitants, and far more cases where the castaways were fed, housed, and put to work or even adopted into the families and tribes of local people.

Donald Rowe April 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Thanks OH for the link and for making it easy to review.

Rothbard is superb when he argues against the central bank and the fractional reserve banking system that it backs.

In the broad abstract, when that is his target, what he is doing is arguing against acceptance of a proposed change in the existing moral structure, one that is promulgated by a small group. Specifically, he opposes granting moral acceptability for the bank when making loans in excess of reserves, where it was not morally accepted before, even though it is legal.

Making the compelling argument in favor of a change in the moral structure, especially a theory propounded by some noisome group, or by pontificating philosophers is an almost insurmountable challenge, as it should be. That it is, is made so by the breadth and depth of the forces preserving the status quo.

People have been growing, maturing and reproducing for hundreds of thousands of years, all the while teaching and training their young by their actions, their words and their songs. Successful actions are remembered and lauded loud and long, and it is so also with those that fail, but they are lamented, not praised.

This is the dynamic process by which a culture and its morality form. It is an organic synthesis: the successful actions of the individuals in the society come to form its moral guidance, and those morals, in turn, shape the minds of the children as they grow in that culture, and in their own turn, they influence that very guidance themselves in the same way their progenitors did. This is why separate societies have differing moralities, and why cultures, and their morality, will always change over time.

If a culture’s morality can be considered its crowning achievement, so too can it be considered anarchy’s. Anarchy functions to restrain the ability of small, powerful groups to change the moral status, and anarchy also functions to restrain small groups from preventing changes. Those groups include kings, democracies and other governments, religions, bankers and even “anarchists”. Anarchy shapes the trajectory of cultural and moral development. Anarchy is a process, not a result. It is a long term process without goal, that is, there is no definitive target, and it is not even possible for it to have a target. It accomplishes what would be the most noble goals purely as side effects. Anarchy is a process of discovery, the discovery of *everything*. And it’s a process of valuing those discoveries. To be anything else would require prior knowledge of what those discoveries will be, and that is impossible.
….

Quote is from Lifeboat Situations by Rothbard: http://mises.org/daily/1628

In the first place, a lifeboat situation is hardly a valid test of a theory of rights, or of any moral theory whatsoever. Problems of a moral theory in such an extreme situation do not invalidate a theory for normal situations. In any sphere of moral theory, we are trying to frame an ethic for man, based on his nature and the nature of the world — and this precisely means for normal nature, for the way life usually is, and not for rare and abnormal situations.

I respectfully disagree with Mr Rothbard that ethics and morality and rights are to be defined for normal situations. Normal situations do not require much guidance. It is precisely the tough times where we need to quickly fall back upon tried and true guidance afforded by the morality we have painstakingly developed.

Morality is not frivolous or whimsical, nor is it accidental. It is a carefully crafted mechanism used to insure the survival of the culture, as politically incorrect as that sounds. To suggest that a behavior as a candidate for acceptance as moral be excused from a hard test, when life itself a perpetual and potentially destructive test, is just a little silly. Earthquakes, floods, famines, fires, tsunamis, droughts, solar flares, meteor impacts, errant radioactivity, coronal mass ejection and inter cultural collisions to name but a few, are all at the epicenter of human morality, or may be at the next moment. At the moment of crisis, the individual has the big choice in his hands. There is no time for logical thinking or IQ tests. The question must be answered. “Do I save myself or my culture?” Tick, tock – time’s up. Even when there is plentiful “duty to others” present in the body of the society as a result of its morality, there will still be many who choose “Me”. A society with no trained and reinforced sense of mutual responsibility would be at that much greater risk of oblivion.

To assume the persistence of a sufficient degree of mutual responsibility that is necessary to preserve our culture will continue after generations have been subjected of the express training that such thoughts are a blight on our humanity, is a hubristic display of confidence. We have evolved our culture using our mutuality, we can easily devolve our culture by abandoning it.

The morality that our society has, has already withstood a battery of harsh tests and it should not be altered based solely on the ideas of this or that genius. The notion that a society should ever grant special survival privilege to the first in line for the live boat, i.e., the fastest men, when there is an obvious better choice, the fecund, should strain the thoughtful mind.
….

It is commonly stated, in various forms on this site, that socialism fails. While that is true as seen from a narrow perspective, and I say narrow only based on the numbers of view holders, it is not believed to be true by very large numbers. And for good reason. Yes, it does indeed fail when it is scaled up to too large a population. We all can recite the reasons for this so I will dispense with them entirely. But it appears to work well in small groups, and it even supports some division of labor and free exchange. When everyone knows everyone else with but one, two or three intermediaries, resources can be efficiently distributed by the benevolent elders. And when those hard times come and the entire population cannot be sustained on the limited resources available, everyone knows any necessary eliminations will come from the pool of those people who are the least willing to be productive, and or the most obnoxious. Knowing this is in itself a powerful deterrent to prevent that behavior. That this is not actually socialism is not important. What is important is that it works for small populations, it has done so for millennia, and it is perceived to be mutualism, not individualism.

Quote is from:
Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the Impracticality of One-World Government and the Failure of Western-style Democracy:
http://www.thedailybell.com/1936/Anthony-Wile-with-Dr-Hans-Hermann-Hoppe-on-the-Impracticality-of-One-World-Government-and-Western-style-Democracy.html

“And in order to avoid all possible conflict from the beginning of mankind on, it is only necessary to have a rule regulating the first, original appropriation of previously un-owned, nature-given goods as private property.”

I take issue with the notion that it is an ideal goal to “avoid all possible conflict”. I say that a better goal is to use the small conflicts that will always occur in life as naturally occurring tools to find non-destructive ways to settle them so that we will become better able to resolve the big ones, also without destruction. To do this we will need to keep those little conflicts coming but somehow I doubt we will ever have to manufacture them.

When I was a child, the chairs we had to use were a mismatched set. Seating comfort varied greatly, to say the least. We siblings developed a rule, if you were occupying a chair it was yours but if you left the room for any reason you lost possession. If you wanted to sit in a chair when you returned you could have one of the unoccupied, i.e., broken, chairs. (Yes, we were poor, but we didn’t know it at the time.) This arrangement allowed a balance between squabbling and pursuing pleasure. In hindsight, that was a valuable lesson in claiming ownership and sharing, and I am completely sure that those experiences in my youth color my thinking when it comes to issues of ownership and morality today. Of course, the argument would occasionally come up that “I sat in it yesterday, so it’s still mine now!” Usually this came from the oldest brother, as you might expect, because he did have it first. Appeals to one or the other parental unit returned, “You’ll just have to work it out for yourselves”, and we soon abandoned that avenue. We discovered, after several of these episodes, that we could spend, by far, more time in contention, read yelling and screaming, than we did watching the damn cartoon.

We came to realize that what we wanted was not the chair itself, but the use of the chair. One is a physical object, the other not. Left to our own council, we sibs arrived at a workable solution that did not result in 100% ownership of the chair, or of the use of it. No one was satisfied all the time and neither was anyone dissatisfied, all of the time. On occasions when one of us had exclusive use of both the room and the chair there was no feeling of usurping the property of another. Sure, 100% ownership might have “ended all conflict” between us over the good chair, but the resentment would only have built to a level of hatred. All the little squabbles we had, mostly short, provided us the experience we needed to better resolve our difficulties. If all little conflicts had been eliminated once and for all by a morality that imposed 100% ownership of property by the first comer by his act of homesteading, I think we would have become a family of isolated individuals. That is not what makes us human, what does make us human is using the process of anarchy to discover mutually accepted solutions.

In my opinion, the purpose to be served as a society develops its morality is not to “avoid all conflict” but to allow a mechanism to be developed by which conflicts can be resolved at the lowest level possible and by the individuals actually involved before they grow too large and in so doing find the least costly way to maximize the survival of all members.

One hundred percent ownership of property is the polar opposite of the one hundred percent non-ownership that is communism. That the one is an obvious failure is not evidence that its opposite must be a success. I have given much consideration to a hybrid solution, one of potentially many. This post is already too long, so I will be brief.

On second thought brevity will not do it justice. It is a wild and crazy idea that is best understood by reading about it in the book length version. This hybrid is unique in that it can accommodate both communism and one hundred percent property ownership as options, if they are so chosen. It eliminates the need for a government and political boundaries entirely. Eliminating geographical boundaries is above my pay grade. Oh yes, it also solves the health care problem, welfare for the disabled, education for any who want, domestic abuse, victim restitution when the criminal is destitute, fraudulent voting (there is none), the death penalty and tooth decay, all without forced taxation. Fractional reserve banking is not eliminated but there is no support for it either. Did I mention it is set in a fictional future? You can read the whole thing at your leisure and if you happen of suffer from a bout of insomnia, this book may substitute for that pill your doctor prescribed.

The economics has an Austrian flavor but that thing about the structure of capital, well, I just could not work that in. It was boring enough with all the explaining about money and fractional reserve banking and why it will be the death of our civilization. And gold, it takes center stage, literally. The money is based on gold but in a way I have never heard of before.

The book is intended for the younger audience, high school aged and young adults to get them to think about the economy in a non-traditional mode.

Available as a free downloadable PDF at http://stores.lulu.com/Sebastianeverglover or you may purchase a printed copy. It does have a pretty cover.

Cordially,
Don

Wildberry April 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Don,

It’s been awhile, and I’ve missed your contributions. You write beautifully.

I share your views about mutuality and your objection to the exclusion of morality from the life-boat situation. You reminded me of the following:

Character is destiny. Crisis reveals character.

I will have to put you on my reading list.

Regards,

Donald Rowe April 20, 2011 at 6:32 am

Wildberry,
Thanks.

Then you admit your bias. That negates the compliment.

We laud the sagacity of the drooling idiot as long a he nods approval to our profundity.

I am but an inadequate writer of a travel guide for an undesired destination.

Cordially,
Don

Sione March 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Wildberry

Regarding the train, an example of real property, and IP you write, “Walt has provided a perfectly good illustration of how property rights work. It is you who is making a distinction betwen how property works for trains and how they work for IP.I do not make that distinction. This is how property operates.”

Walt starts out by assuming that which he needs to prove. That’s an invalid approach since an assumption is not a proof. Didn’t you notice?

You are asserting that IP is property. That is a claim to the positive. Upon he who makes positive claim rests the burden of proof. You bear that burden, so it is up to you to provide the proof for the contention. The fact is that provision of this particular proof is an exquistly difficult challenge, one that has not been met. Don’t underestimate it, as it is unlikely it ever can be successfully met. Nevetheless, do go ahead and make the attempt.

Sione

Wildberry March 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm

@Sione March 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I think Walt has given you a perfectly valid illustration of how property rights operate, and asks you to compare that operation to the claims that are being made about how IP should operate in the absence of property rights.

I realize, we all do, that you don’t think IP is protectable, and therefore there can be no rights to protect.

If you apply the rules you apply to IP to other property, the results are nonsensical. That is a good point, it seems to me.

As to the other part of your post, you are right. (see how the context matters), because it cannot be justified without an ethical theory to provide the first principles.

The problem here, say between you and I, is that your first principles eliminate any other alternative by definition.

So, like I said we can give it a go if you will be specific.

As to your assertion about burden, as I said to Kinsella, this is wrong. Both sides of any argument have a burden to support their assertions. You are assuming a “presumption of innocence”. If any position is entitled to that presumption, it would be the current status of IP as a protected limited property right. You are arguing this wrong.

How do you have less of a burden than I?

Walt D. March 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I think that one aspect of what we are arguing about is the difference between process based reasoning and outcome based reasoning.
Take my previous post about Stephan’s contract.
Now lets change the scenario.
Walt goes to Stephan’s office, with Sione waiting outside, collects the contract and gives Stephan an envelope with $2500 in cash, which Stephan puts the desk drawer.
Walt then distracts Stephan so that Sione can come in and steal the money in the envelope in Stephan’s drawer.
Afterwards, Sione gives Walt the $2500 back and Walt gives Sione $250.
From a process point of view, Sione is guilty of theft, and Walt is guilty of aiding and abetting.
However, from an outcome point of view the two situations are identical.
Walt and Sione have become unfairly enriched and poor Stephan has provided valuable services for which he has not been compensated.
The legal system is very much still process based. It is illegal for me to give a politician a $10,000 contribution. However, I can pay him $10,000 for a campaign dinner (you can assume that there is no Chateau Petrus, foie gras, truffles, or Jeff Tucker’s favorite Iberico ham being served!)
On the other hand, the Medical and Mental Health fields are moving towards outcome based procedures.
Paul Krugman is very much process as opposed to outcome based.
While Austrian Economics is axiomatic and thus process based, it is also very much outcome oriented.

Sione March 31, 2011 at 3:43 am

Wildberry

It remains invalid to attempt to prove something by assuming it at the outset. Repeating the error does not remedy it.

The burden of proof falls upon the claim to the positive. It’s a basic philosophic rule. You’ll likely come across it (and reasons for it) in a good first-year undergraduate phil course.

There are several reasons for the rule. Here an illustration of one of them. Consider the situation where Villiami states that there are magic fairies living at the bottom of my garden. Most people would respond with doubt. “That can’t be correct”, they’d counter, “There are no such.” Now Villiami goes on to insist he is relating fact. He restates that there are magic fairies living at the bottom of my garden. Even after I explain that in all the years I’ve been the owner of that property there have never been any sightings of a single magical garden fairy he continues his assertion that they are there. Eventually he is challenged to provide evidence, to prove his claims. He can’t do that. He says that the fairies are invisible, except to certain special believers under specific conditions only. Those who are not believers are not allowed to see them. The fairies, being magical, can tell who is who and they stay hidden from all those who are doubtful or skeptical of their existence. So Villiami claims.

Now things get interesting. The people around are not going to accept Villiami’s claims. I don’t. My friends, family and associates don’t. The rest of the village doesn’t. None of the local Palangi do either. So Villiami states, “Well, none of you can prove the fairies do not exist”. Note that what he is attempting is to shift the burden of proof from the positive to the negative contention. It is invalid to argue like this. He is engaging in a fallacy. Worse is what he does next when he concludes that since no-one is able to disprove his fairies his claim must be treated as factual or at the very least as equivalent to fact- call it provisionally factual.

He happens to be correct that none can prove his fairies don’t exist. There is no way to so do. On the other hand he is in error to consider that because no-one can disprove the fairies they must be accepted as being real, as existant. He is wrong to expect that his claim must be treated as though it were as good as, or even equivalent to, fact. This trick of his is not valid. If it were, then everyone would be in the position of needing to disprove Villiami’s fairies claim or else be in the position of necessarily accepting it. A little further consideration of the situation demonstrates that were Villiami’s shifting of the burden of proof to be valid, then all of his claims, now and in the future, need to be taken seriously, except in the specific situation where they can be directly proven wrong (for example, if he were to to claim to be Palangi, THAT specifically could be disproven immediately since he is Melanesian). Let’s see where this leads.

I understand that, among other things, Villiami has at various times (since receiving a right brutal hiding at the hands of some annoyed villagers- another story for another day) claimed to have encountered talking animals, singing arachnids, flying turtles, ghosts, yeti, fruit bats that fly at supersonic velocities, dogs with eyes powered by electricity and so on. In each case, according to Villiami such entities are only able to be viewed by believers, hence not able to be disproven. It gets worse than this though. If Villiami’s positive assertions are accepted as equivalent to fact regardless of proof or the absence thereof, then most every positive claim would need to be and not only his ones… The problem becomes universal. Let’s see what that all means.

This approach would provide the end result where knowledge of reality is not possible since any claim is, at minimum, equivalent to fact and is to be treated as such. A certain disaster.

To avoid the problem it is necessary to establish fact by proving it to be so in the first instance. In other words, for a claim to the positive to be accepted as a fact it must first be proven. The skeptic or doubter is under no obligation or burden to disprove the positive claim (even though in some cases that might actually be possible). All he need do is request proof from the claimant. If proof is not supplied, then the claim is dismissed as arbitrary without further consideration or thought.

Turning now to your question regarding IP. You ask, “How do you have less of a burden than I?”

The answer is that I am not making claim of positive. You are doing that by adopting the position that IP is property. Therefore you bear the burden of proof. I have no burden other than to ask you for your proof and should you provide one, evaluate it thoroughly.

Sione

Wildberry March 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm

@Sione March 31, 2011 at 3:43 am

It remains invalid to attempt to prove something by assuming it at the outset. Repeating the error does not remedy it.

The burden of proof falls upon the claim to the positive.

Thank you for your patient explanation of your view.

Yes, I agree with both of these statements, naturally.

So, what were Walt and I asserting? Certainly not “IP exists”, for that fact is indisputable. No one is attempting to prove the existence of “fairies”, to use your example. Property rights in intellectual works can and do exist. I don’t think anyone is disputing that fact.

The question being discussed here is SHOULD IP exist, is its existence JUSTIFIABLE based upon ethical, legal, and economic analysis. Don’t you agree?

In the context of economic analysis, one question is, “How does IP, and/or should IP operate, while maintaining consistency with the Austrian economic theoretical framework?”

This question presumes both an agreement that IP exists and that the Austrian framework exists. The question does not assume the positive or the negative, but it does presume certain facts for the purpose of structuring the analysis. Using praxeology, one can attempt to analyze how actors do or will behave if we change the conditions of analysis; both with the existence and in the absence of the existence of IP.

Although we cannot run a controlled empirical experiment, we can refer to an analysis of what actually occurs in the presence of IP, since that is the existing condition. We must speculate on what would happen in the absence of IP, since that condition does not exist.

I recommend that we start with an agreement of how IP DOES operate. This is why I object to arguments based on fallacies regarding its operation, including the line of reasoning which declares “ideas are free”. Since IP does not protect ideas, it is unreasonable to object to its existence on the basis that it does something which it specifically and explicitly does not do and seeks to avoid.

Given that baseline agreement about what IP is, it would be reasonable then, to speculate on how human actors WOULD operate in the absence of IPs existence, which absence you and others advocate. This position requires an argument that states that IF A (IP is absent) then B (the markets would operate thusly). You would then be required to prove this statement by providing examples and reasoning to support your thesis. The proponent of this argument has the burden of proof.

I believe it is fair to summarize your position as one of asserting that IP SHOULD NOT exist. Your assertion implies, I believe, that the absence of IP laws would not otherwise violate the principles of Austrian economic theories, which includes the private ownership of the means of production, private property rights, and the commensurate right to income from the output of private production.

These principles operate in relation to the many goods that are produced and consumed in a diverse economic system. Of those goods, two are trains and IP.

In the course of examining the operation of property, Walt offered an analogy between IP and a train. To some reasonable degree the analogy holds. It supports the premise which Mises put forward regarding the operation of production through privately owned means. To generalize, principles of private property and the privately owned means of production require that products thus produced result in income for the producer, and such an arrangement is described as an internal economy, and if this output/input relationship is broken, the producer would be producing for an external economy.

Writing specifically of IP, to paraphrase his words, in the absence of some form of IP protection, the producer of intellectual work products would be producing primarily for external economies.

Walt is pointing out that if the property “train” was to operate under the conditions that you propose for IP, in which the owner of the train would not have a right to assert his property rights against a free-rider, the owner would be producing transportation for an external economy. This conclusion is not negated by the fact that the marginal cost to the owner is minimal, or that the owner still “owns” his train. That appears to be valid, don’t you agree?

Naturally, if we change the presumption such that IP does NOT exist, then the argument for that proposition would need to prove that the problem of external economies is resolved within the framework of Austrian economic theory. I believe the proponent of that argument would have the burden of proof for such an assertion.

Each of the following presumptions are a positive assertion; 1) IP exists; 2) IP does not exist. Based on these presumptions, it is necessary to prove that the “external economy” condition is not violated. Therefore each advocate of their presumption bears the burden of proving their advocated premise. You and I have equal burdens in that regard, I for 1) and you for 2).

One source of confusion that is rampant here is the mixing of the scope and context of analysis. We desire to prove why something is “right” or “wrong”. At the foundation of this issue is always an ethical question. Laws, must be ethical to be just. Economic policy should incorporate an acceptable set of ethical principles. Ideally, ethics, laws and economic policy should all align.

To say that “rights do not exist in the form of property rights in intellectual products” is the assertion of an ethical position. Are such rights legitimate, and if so, why?

Laws operate on legal principles to achieve some result in the face of conflicting claims of rights. To say that the operation if a law violates more fundamental ethical principles, is to assert that it must be abolished, or revised to achieve re-alignment.

Economics operate according to economic principles which specify that a given means is the best method to reach a desired result. Even with efficient means, unethical results must be avoided.

In summary the three lines of arguments in support of IP are loosely expressed as follows:

Ethical- the rights to “original works of authorship” (copyrights) are derived from the principles of self-ownership and the private ownership of the means of production.

Legal- IP laws in general, are designed to strike, and do strike a balance between the following competing policies:1) insuring that producers are producing for internal economies by enforcing limited property rights in IP 2) insuring public access to IP while protecting public domain information by incentivizing disclosure and limiting protection to specific classes of information.

Economic- Producers, through privately owned means of production, produce for internal markets; i.e. the producer’s output (products) equals the producer’s income (valuable consideration received in voluntary trade). This relationship is enforced through the operation of private property rights.

Turning now to your question regarding IP. You ask, “How do you have less of a burden than I?”
The answer is that I am not making claim of positive.

I believe you are.

First, you (meaning IP opponents in general) are claiming that property rights in the intangible works of IP do not exist. You are in effect trying to argue that my eyes, experience and the empirical evidence of their existence should be ignored. Clearly this is false.

Second, you are asserting that there is no ethical justification for property rights in the intangible works of authorship, (copyrights), or the novel, useful, and non-obvious inventions of inventors (patents). However, there is wide agreement that both can be justified under the principles of self-ownership and private ownership of the means of production (i.e. the original manuscript). So the ethics of original ownership need not be debated, (the controversy only arises when instantiations are distributed beyond the property boundaries of the owner)

Third, you are arguing that the legal operation of IP law violates the property rights of others, and that this conflict should always be resolved in favor of the owner of the tangible property only, and never in favor of property rights in the intangible.

You offer a number of arguments to support this assertion. Two of the most prominent are summarized by the slogans, “Ideas are free”, and “We have IP because we have the State”. The first rests on the specific fallacy of equivocation of “ideas” and “IP”, which has been adequately disputed, even by the explicit language of the relevant statutes. The second is a general argument that asserts that since the state is “dripping with evil” anything that the state enforces is also evil, the state enforces IP, so IP is evil. This assumes the conclusion that IP is evil. An alternative argument is that the state is an enforcement monopoly which cannot be escaped, and as such any enforcement, including the enforcement of IP rights, is aggression, which violates the NAP.

Fourth, you are arguing that the lack of existence of IP will not disturb the operation of accepted principles of free markets advocated by Austrian Economic theory. This is entirely speculation, as a non-IP state clearly does not exist.

The primary objection that I raise is the external economy issue raised by Mises, and secondary is the economic policy of law question, raised by Hayek and Coase. Opponents must invent institutions which currently do not exist, postulate their operation in a free economy, and prove the conclusion that the operation they propose meets utilitarian objectives, conforms to desired outcomes, and operates within the ethical principles that are consistent throughout the ethical, legal and economic contexts. This burden has not been overcome by anyone’s measure, I believe.

Finally, you argue that it is not necessary that you prove the viability of a non-IP state, and the “irrelevance of impossibility” argument is adapted to cover for the speculative nature of the economic proof.

Because there are so many aspects to this issue, the numbers of points of entry and divergence are large. A systematic approach is called for. What we generally have here is a “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” approach, which is fine. I’m not an IP scholar and don’t intend to be. This is a blog, not an academic, scholarly enterprise. We all have to try to separate the dross from the gold in this format. It is simply an addicting form of entertainment, in large part; nothing wrong with that.

In any case, both here and in academic, legal, and economic professional circles, this is the essence of the debate, in my view.

You are doing that by adopting the position that IP is property. Therefore you bear the burden of proof. I have no burden other than to ask you for your proof and should you provide one, evaluate it thoroughly.

If I was trying to prove the existence of fairies, I would agree. Do you dispute the existence of IP?

In terms of the property rights of IP, ironically there seems to be wide agreement that IP is property at the point prior to disclosure beyond the physical boundaries of the author’s physical property. The contentious issue, in my opinion, is how the operation of those initial rights performs under the presumptions of the presence or absence of IP laws, once IP is disclosed.

Under the presumption of IP, they operate by acknowledging limited property rights in the protected work. What is protected and what is not is a matter of definition, which is provided by existing statutes and case law. It is merely a matter of convenience to refer to them as a basis for further discussion. Because protected works enjoy the status of property, the owner of that property may avail himself of the institutions of enforcement available to him, in the case of infringement. The policy goals attempt to balance protecting private property rights (internal market policy) and insuring maximum public access (public domain policy) to information in a free market context (transaction cost policy).

Under the presumption of non-IP, property rights are severed when a tangible fixation of the private property is disclosed. Disclosure in and of itself amounts to a complete and absolute transfer of title of all property rights which existed prior to disclosure. The concerns for external markets, public domain information, and transaction costs are presumed to all resolve themselves to a net-positive state through free market operations.

I would like to reiterate that I believe that each proponent has the burden of proof for their own assertions.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to summarize my current thinking on this subject. Time to put another shrimp on the barbie?

Regards,

Anti-IP Libertarian March 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

“Property rights in intellectual works can and do exist. I don’t think anyone is disputing that fact.”

THAT is wrong. Claims that there are IP rights exist. These claims are by statists, Randians and so on.
Many libertarians here DO NOT agree that there is a real property right called IP right.

It is the same with God: Many people believe in an entity they name God. But just because they believe in God does not make him exist.

So your assertion, that nobody is disputing your statement is wrong: True property rights to intellectual work cannot exist under a libertarian property theory and the NAP.

Wildberry April 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

Claiming that they DO NOT exist is not the same as claiming that they SHOULD NOT EXIST.

If they do not exist, how is Stephan earning a living?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm

You are mixing up two different things:

Many libertarians do not support the concept of IP rights. So for them (including me) there ARE no IP right. And therefore these RIGHTS cannot be. And they should not be.

How Stephen is earning his living? By fulfilling CONTRACTS. Contracts have NOTHING to do with IP rights but only with property rights.

If someone defends people from slavery by support them at the court that does not mean someone has slavery RIGHTS.

Do you understand that?

Peter Surda April 2, 2011 at 5:14 am

Helo Anti-IP libertarian,

You are mixing up two different things:

That’s Wildberry’s main main method of argumentation.

Wildberry April 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

@Peter Surda April 2, 2011 at 5:14 am

Peter, my good man. Does IP exist?

Anti-IP Libertarian April 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm

@Wildberry:

Does God exist?

Wildberry April 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm

@Anti-IP Libertarian April 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Don’t be rediculous. I am not interested in proving that God or fairies exist.

However, it is indicative of the qualtiy of your thinking if you deny that IP exists.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm

@Wildberry:

The question “Does intellectual PROPERTY” exist logically the same as “Does God exist” because both terms are referencing a concept.

In libertarian theory there is no “intellectual property” as there are no slavery rights.

Do you understand?

Peter Surda April 3, 2011 at 6:26 am

Wildberry,

Peter, my good man. Does IP exist?

There are laws that make it illegal to commit “IP infringement”, just like there are laws that make blasphemy illegal. All the theories presented to me regarding what IP is however so far have shown themselves to be self contradictory. Furthermore, regrettably, they are presented by morons and cowards that do not want to confront their contradictions. I don’t care if god exists or IP exists. What I care about is when people use fallacious logic and their emotional biases to advocate the use of force against others.

Peter Surda April 3, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Wildberry,

please stop conflating the issue. It is pointless to ask if IP “exists” or not. It’s like asking how many angels can dance on a pin head. What is important is if IP proponents can provide a consistent theory accompanying their position. Evidently, they can’t.

Let me quote one of my favourites (Terry Pratchett in Hogfather):

“You’re saying humans need … fantasies to make life bearable.”

“NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.”

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers?”

“YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.”

“So we can believe the big ones?”

“YES. JUSTICE. DUTY. MERCY. THAT SORT OF THING.”

“They’re not the same at all!”

“REALLY? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET YOU ACT, LIKE THERE WAS SOME SORT OF RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.”

Walt D. April 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

“It is pointless to ask if IP “exists” or not. It’s like asking how many angels can dance on a pin head. ”
That depends on why you would be interested in knowing how many angels can dance on a pin head. The priests who asked this question believed that places could be inhabited by evil spirits. Given their beliefs, it was of interest for them to know how many evil spirits could simultaneously inhabit a given place – hence the interest in knowing how many angels can dance on a pin head.
Suppose that a group of libertarians purchased a cruise boat with the purpose of operating in international water and being their own sovereign entity. What you are saying is that under libertarian principles, the concept of tangible physical property would naturally arise, whereas Intellectual Property would not – there is no “Property” in Intellectual Property any more then there is “Intelligence” in Military Intelligence?

Artisan March 29, 2011 at 2:21 am

I haven’t read it yet but I certainly will as this seems to be an historical publication. S Kinsella has always stressed the importance of Hoppe’s explanations for IP theory. Now Hoppe for the first time that I know explicitly confirms the Kinsella extrapollation!

Stranger March 29, 2011 at 8:35 am

Note that Hoppe does not make any statement about the ownership of information, only about the ownership of ideas. It is precisely in his extrapolation that Kinsella is dead wrong, and his wearing the mantle of Hoppe utterly unjustified.

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm

@ Stranger March 29, 2011 at 8:35 am

While I agree with much that you have said here, I wanted to question you about the following sentence in your Fallacy #1, linked above

Simply put, copyrights originate with a producer, while patents originate with the state.

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that copyrights originate with the author, and patents originate with the inventor?

In the first, it is true, that the state will enforce copyrights without any prior application, but the second requires an “award” before enforcement rights are granted. In neither case does the state originate either a “work” or an “invention”.

So, they both have in common that the state grants enforcement rights to the original producer. It is the original production that establishes the rights in the product. Isn’t that correct?

The difference you distinguish is merely the procedural process and the operation of the enforcement scheme, right?

Stranger March 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

No, it would not be more accurate, because the act of invention does not grant a patent. The patent application reviewer grants a patent, if he deems the patent application to be valid in his regard.

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

@ Stranger March 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I agree this is a bit of a symantic quibble, but I think it is important.

While it is true that an “act of invention does not grant a patent.”, it is also true that an act of invention is the subject matter of patents, and it is the act for which the patent is prosecuted.

My point is that there is not really a different ethical basis for justifying copyrights and patents. Both are acts of production, and the limited property rights arise from that act, not the act of the state. In both cases, the state is actualy granting enforcement entitlements in exchange for meeting certain criteria and procedural hurdles.

Do you disagree?

In you view, the origin of property rights differ based on the PROCEEDURE for obtaining enforcement privileges?

Stranger March 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The procedure of enforcement only matters in case of conflicts. However, before you even can claim that there is a conflict, a patent requires you to obtain a license from the state that you are the legitimate holder.

Real property does not require a state license. You do not need a state license to create and sell cars, and neither do you for copyrighted works.

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 10:23 pm

@ Stranger March 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The procedure of enforcement only matters in case of conflicts.

OK, I agree, but isn’t it the case that part of the right in property is the right to the enforcement mechanisms available to you, under the presumption of “ownership” of the disputed property? That is, under the presumption of defense of your legitimate rights?

However, before you even can claim that there is a conflict, a patent requires you to obtain a license from the state that you are the legitimate holder.

Real property does not require a state license. You do not need a state license to create and sell cars, and neither do you for copyrighted works.

So you are making a distinction on the basis of patents needing a license and copyrights and other property not needing prior state involvement until there is a dispute. Is that right?

I gather then that you are for copyrights and against patents on the basis that the former can exist without the state, which you you also favor abolishing?

So, you are in favor of the concept and principle of IP in the form of copyrights, but you think patents are wrong. Is this because you are also an anarchist, or because you believe there is some inherent difference in the justifications, or is it that you think something like patents can operate to be more like a copyright?

Do you explain this on your website?

Thank you and regards,

Peter Surda March 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Stranger,

No, it would not be more accurate, because the act of invention does not grant a patent.

And which act grants someone the right to copies made by others?

Stranger March 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The act of creating the original copy.

Peter Surda March 30, 2011 at 1:32 am

You however elsewhere disagreed with a more formal description, i.e. that that an actor has a right to prevent other people from performing causally related actions. So which is it?

Stranger March 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

No I didn’t. That statement makes no sense.

Peter Surda March 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

Stranger,

you say that if X creates an original (action A), that gives him the right to prevent other people (e.g. Y) from creating a copy (action B, causally related to A). However, when I asked you:

If X performs action A, and Y performs action B causally related to action A, and X does not like that, does it mean that Y is violating X’s rights?

Then you answer that it’s nonsense.

Then you say in a different post:

In fact, causality is all that is necessary to create rights.

So, which is it? Can you finally make up your mind? Either a causal relationship is a sufficient condition for a rights claim and then my sentence with X/A/Y/B is correct, or it is insufficient and then the author has no right to prevent other people from copying his originals. You can’t have it both ways.

Anti-IP Libertarian April 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm

@Peter:

IP proponents will not accept the logical conclusion that their theory would only then be consistent when it is causally based. And that means each piece of information has an owner.

Danny Sanchez March 30, 2011 at 7:29 am

Just amazing. You are physiologically incapable of admitting you’re wrong, aren’t you?

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

@Artisan March 29, 2011 at 2:21 am

I read that Hoppe supports his good friend, Stephan Kinsella, and then equivocates “ideas” with “IP”.

Gene Berman March 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

Wildberry (and the rest of you guys on the “pro-IP” side–which I share):

Most of the arguments against Kinsella’s position are flawed (and if there any that aren’t–they’re unimportant). But opposition to IP always end up with suppositions akin to utopianism–how much better it would be if things were as they aren’t.

But what MAY be important is how many get involved in the argument and to what extent. You see, it’s something like a joke or a hoax that Kinsella’s running on EVERYONE ELSE. And I suspect that the controversy (by now largely converted to a form of IP of HIS ownership) itself is a reasonably valuable asset, bringing (however modest) fame and fortune, gold and glamor. You’re puppets to whom he holds the strings (and need not share with any part of the “gate”). In joining the verbal fray, all serve to enhance the puppetmaster’s (present and future) book sales, speaking engagement opportunities, etc. You’re unwitting servants, a claque in wwhich “yeas” and “nays” all contribute to the only measurement: volume.

It’s a scenario reminiscent of the “intelligent design” controversy, where some really sharp, highly intellectual con artists whip up arguments against certain facets of evolutionary theory, not because they believe they have a more correct view of how life began or came to be what it is today or even because they, themselves, believe differently but entirely because they recognize the existence of a market (to which con men refer as “marks”) consisting of so many religious believers already in despair, desperate for even a little scientific-seeming “muscle” on their side.
These folks buy books, patronize speaking engagements, and in many other ways constitute a “cash cow” available on a continuing basis.

I think that even Kinsella himself would concur that the real essence of the controversy lies not in the arguments which might be brought forward on either side but, rather, whether society would fare better with or without the existence of IP laws. Who knows? Perhaps, without such laws, men would continue to have as great numbers and variety of good ideas as in the past and on the basis of which prosperity would be undiminished (or even increased); perhaps not. I (and others who generally favor IP laws) would tend to expect that in the absence of some such regime incentivizing innovation, very large numbers of those normally responsible for innovation would simply pay more attention to other matters and pursuits. Again, who knows? The nature of much genius is that it is singularly unaffected by the prospect of earthly reward. But, again, many, if not most innovations of lesser but yet important significance might simply disappear, their
progenitors drawn to entirely different efforts by such disincentivization.

Of one thing I am most persuaded (nota bene): the entirety of such controversy (including discussion) does not belong on the mises.org site; it may be of importance but not primarily to a study of economic theory. It could well be transferred to a site devoted exclusively to such consideration. In a sense, it (the entire matter) is a trespasser in the manner of cattle pasturing on a neighbor’s meadow. What’s more, the ubiquity and frequency of such discussion on the site may very well persuade visitors (mistakenly) that an anti-IP stance is an integral feature of Misesian or Austrian, or free-market economic theory, when in fact, it is only a position taken by some (whether a majority or minority, I know not).

iawai March 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

But what MAY be important is how many get involved in the argument and to what extent. You see, it’s something like a joke or a hoax that Kinsella’s running on EVERYONE ELSE. And I suspect that the controversy (by now largely converted to a form of IP of HIS ownership) itself is a reasonably valuable asset, bringing (however modest) fame and fortune, gold and glamor. You’re puppets to whom he holds the strings (and need not share with any part of the “gate”). In joining the verbal fray, all serve to enhance the puppetmaster’s (present and future) book sales, speaking engagement opportunities, etc. You’re unwitting servants, a claque in wwhich “yeas” and “nays” all contribute to the only measurement: volume.

You miss the point. The discussion, the banter and the trolling may well serve Kinsella’s personal interests, but his stance is that you are free to take all this info, compile it, and publish a book. He is not going to run to Uncle Sam for the use of the gun to stop you from publishing or to demand ‘royalty’ from his intellectual discourses. You are free to use the ideas, the “recipes” that are detailed by Kinsella. He does not demand any action from you, and does not condone you demanding any action from him. He is using his own scarce resources, and is not demanding that you use (or refrain from using) your scarce resources.

Of one thing I am most persuaded (nota bene): the entirety of such controversy (including discussion) does not belong on the mises.org site; it may be of importance but not primarily to a study of economic theory. It could well be transferred to a site devoted exclusively to such consideration.

On the contrary, the essence of economics is the study of human actors in relation to goods. What are goods? What is property? What can be owned, traded, sold? Which transactions are based in property, and which are based in statutory (gun-backed) privilege? The denunciation of IP is a core economic result of the Austrian method and the classical liberal notion of voluntary trades. The effects of IP are best analyzed with the economic method, by asking qui bono, by looking at the origin of the “property right”, by looking at the structural effects of granting these privileges, and lastly, by asking, ceteris paribus, what would the economy look like without IP?

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

@ iawai March 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

The denunciation of IP is a core economic result of the Austrian method and the classical liberal notion of voluntary trades.

This is nothing more than you assuming your conclusion and claiming the moral high ground.

Mises didn’t “denounce IP” and the last I heard, he is considered an Austrian economist.

Peter Surda March 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm

And Newton did not discover relativity. He couldn’t have been a proper scientist without it could he?

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

You are a tiresome idiot.

Newton was unaware of relativity. It hadn’t been discovered yet.

Mises discussed IP specifically and explicitly. He integrated his views on IP with his views on economics, and found no contradiction in its treatment as property or the operation of a free market, as he described it. IP had been operating in the US for over 100 years at the time of his writing.

NotSwedish March 29, 2011 at 11:43 pm

“You are a tiresome idiot.”

It seems you are. And a person with no manners too.

Newton was scientist. Some of his theories were outdated by Einsteins theories.

And the same happened here: Mises theories are the fundamental. But some of them were enhanced or substituted by more fitting ethical theories like the Rothbards and Hoppes.

Peter Surda March 30, 2011 at 1:37 am

Wildberry,

Newton was unaware of relativity. It hadn’t been discovered yet.

Just like Mises was unaware of Rothbard’s, Hoppe’s and Kinsella’s theories or did not consider them of relevance.

Mises discussed IP specifically and explicitly.

And superficially.

He integrated his views on IP with his views on economics, and found no contradiction in its treatment as property or the operation of a free market, as he described it.

And subsequently, people expanded on his theories, found them insufficient and added corrections.

IP had been operating in the US for over 100 years at the time of his writing.

The US has also had slavery, central and fractional reserve banking, social security and so on, yet he rejected them.

Wildberry March 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

@NotSwedish March 29, 2011 at 11:43 pm

And a person with no manners too.

People reap what the sow. If you want to be civil with me, I’ll return the favor.

Newton was scientist. Some of his theories were outdated by Einstein’s theories.

Last I heard, F=ma still works at the scale of human perception, but not at the scales of analysis that Einstein included in his frame of reference. They were not inconsistent with relativity, but they failed to explain physics at scales of speeds approaching the speed of light, very long distances and very large masses, or likewise at sub-atomic scales.

And the same happened here: Mises theories are the fundamental. But some of them were enhanced or substituted by more fitting ethical theories like the Rothbards and Hoppes.

Your statement about them being more “fitting” is a value judgment, not an argument.
Mises’s ideas about IP are not inconsistent with any other aspect of his economic theories. The most significant point that Mises made regarding IP is the problem of producing for external economies. This problem is not overcome by Rothbardian/Kinsellian “enhancements”.

If IP was abolished as a concept, then all IP would have to be treated as a trade secret (also an IP concept, but the weakest of the lot) under contracts, and the transaction costs would have to be incorporated into the economic calculation. Rothbard favored some form of copyrights, I believe, but they would only operate under his “title transfer” theory of contracts, which has other problems, IMHO. There is only vague speculation about how this would play out, so the arguments about “the irrelevance of the impossibility of Ancap” get put forward as a stop gap.

According to Mises, this all plays itself out such that either the production would be curtailed, and/or the market would develop a way to internalize the transactions dealing with IP in some other way. These other ways impact the issue of transaction costs, as Hayek and Coase explain.

Hayek, Coase, Friedman, and many others have discussed the issue of transaction costs and property in this context. It is not a problem that can be solved with a wave of the hand, and has Hayek says, it is as much a problem for economists as it is for lawyers.

While Mises would have rejected the concepts of “slavery, central and fractional reserve banking, social security” as harmful interventions, he did not reject either government or IP, which certainly he could have. I don’t think he just overlooked them as issues, which is why he addresses them in numerous ways.

Wildberry March 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

@Gene Berman March 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

I found your meta-perspective on this interesting. I personally think it has merit.

I would summarize my view regarding the primary spokesperson’s on mises.org, Rockwell, Tucker and Kinsella, who are adherents to Rothbard, Hoppe, et al. by saying that their primary agenda is anarcho-capitalism. Everything else is in support of that fundamental premise.

IP is a convenient tool for stirring up the rage against the state. That is why there is so much misstatement and misinformation in their the opposition to it. The more outrageous it appears the more support for the underlying premise that the REAL problem is the STATE.

This is summarized by Kinsella’s slogan, “We have IP because we have the State.”

Murphy, on the other hand, sticks pretty much to economics, which is what brought me here in the first place. I am an adherent to Mises and Hayek, so there is room in my world for some diversity of opinions about the desirability of Ancap utopia. For Rothbard and Hoppe, there is no room for dissent. Ancap is the only “real” libertarianism.

That theme underlies all opposition to IP expressed here, I believe.

Zach Bush March 29, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Thank you for this great interview with Hoppe. I used to be very unconformable when it came to IP rights. Then I read Man, Economy, and State as well as several of Hoppe’s articles.

As Hoppe correctly identifies private ownership of scarce goods is required to prevent conflict over multiple uses of the good. If I own a widget then at any given time there can only be one use for that widget. The only way someone can use the widget is if they acquire it from me either by a)voluntary exchange or b)violent exchange. Assuming this good is acquired by voluntary exchange, the new owner is free to do use the widget as he feels fit. This could even include reproducing the widget.

This holds true even for ideas and information with a critical exception. In the case of a physical good ownership is actually transferred. This transfer of ownership is impossible with ideas. Because ownership cannot be transferred they cannot be sold. This is the same reason that a slave master can never truly own a slave. He can only exploit him. Another example would be love or friendship.

A typical rebuttal to Hoppe’s argument is that not all ideas are scarce. His conclusion still holds. Let us take the highly unlikely case of a completely unique idea or invention. The idea is so unique that only I can possibly come up with it. The only way someone else can obtain this idea then is to acquire it from me. The instant I exchange the idea there are now two people that both possess the same idea and both possessors can use this idea with no conflict. It would be incompatible with a free society for me to put any restriction upon the way the new owner wishes to use this idea.

The above example of course assumed the exchange was made voluntarily. Perhaps I wrote the idea down on a piece of paper and left it in my office. Now someone breaks into my office and takes the piece of paper. Clearly this is a case of theft. No special copyright laws are needed.

One might object that in a free society I could make a contract with another person with the condition that he could not share this idea with anyone else. This is false. In a free society anyone is free to leave a contract as long as the conditions have been fulfilled up to that date. If A rents a house to B then all B must do to end the contract, in a free society, is return the house in its original condition to A and pay his balance in full for days spend there. But B could never return an idea he rented from A. B may have to return any physical paperwork or product associated with the idea, but he could never return the idea itself. The only way A could regain sole control of the idea would be to erase B’s mind of the idea altogether, a clear initiation of aggression against B. In a free society the contract could only be made over the use of physical goods related to the idea that are owned by A.

Daily Bell has stated that they do not endorse State copyrights but that it would be OK for an individual to attempt to acquire copyright services in the private market. This is like saying that in a free society it is OK to commit fraud! This is untrue. A free society, by definition, can have no crime. In a free society two users can simultaneously possess and use any given idea or invention without any conflict to one another. To prevent one party from using the idea would involve the initiation of force.

Imagine a world in which consumer and capital goods were not scarce. To create a house all one person would have to do is imagine it to exist and it would. At the same time available land would expand by the same amount. There would be an unlimited supra-abundance of goods. There would be no need for exchange other than for emotional services such as friendship and love. The conflict over the multiple uses for a single good would be eliminated and no need for private property.

The same line of reasoning is used to conclude that in a free-market there can be no such thing as fractional-reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking is fraud because, as both Hoppe and Rothbard note, its gives claim to the same specie to more than one party at the same time. There will be two notes giving claim to the same weight of specie. There cannot be 100 notes giving immediate claim to 100oz of gold when there are only 50oz of gold in existence. It should be noted here that, in “Man, Economy, and State”, Rothbard defines inflation not as an increase in the supply of specie but as an increase in the supply of notes against specie.

The most common complaint against this is that absent fractional-reserves there would be no credit system. This is nonsense. FRB refers to claims to demand deposits, not time deposits which are funded through voluntary saving.

The free-bankers argue that a bank should be free to have fractional-reserves as long as the depositor is made fully aware that his deposits will be lent out. But then this is no longer FRB because the depositor has clearly agreed to make a time deposit, not a demand deposit. Modern banking has increased the speed by which people can withdraw funds from their savings accounts, as if to appear to be available on demand, but this is only a technological issue, not a legal one.

Even Mises made a mistake when it came to the issue of free banking. In “Human Action” he concludes that to avoid charging service fees to depositors a bank could issue fiduciary media. But this is still fraud. If a bank wishes to avoid charging fees then all it needs to do is offer to place a percentage of the demand deposit into a time deposit with a portion of the interest going to pay service fees. No additional claims to specie need to be issued to do this and is therefore not FRB and not fraud.

It must be remembered that the free-market is a construct created by economists as a tool to show how exchange will occur in a purely voluntary society completely absent from violence and coercion. When considering if any service or policy would be available in a free-market, it must be determined if that service initiates violent action towards another. The enforcement of IP laws would require an entity to physical erase ones memory, a clear use of force. The issuance of on-demand claims to physical money specie in excess of physical money specie available (eg. Fractional Reserve Banking) is fraud. Intellectual Property laws and Fractional Reserve Banking are incompatible with the free-market.

nate-m March 30, 2011 at 12:41 am

IP is a convenient tool for stirring up the rage against the state. That is why there is so much misstatement and misinformation in their the opposition to it. The more outrageous it appears the more support for the underlying premise that the REAL problem is the STATE.

It’s a nice example of the sort of distortions that are created by the state’s attempt to manipulate economic forces. IP laws are doing fundamental and possibly irreparable harm to the wealth and progress of individuals living and working in not only the USA, but also abroad. It’s obvious and easily documented, but the level of intense delusion surrounding the subject is astounding. It’s extremely difficult to cut through the decades of lies and misinformation surrounding the nature and true affect of these laws.

It is not only a issue of loss of personal liberty and violations of property rights, but also one of stunting technological/economic progress and harming innovation for the sake of large companies that have political power and lawyers who make a living from IP law.

All in all they are just a really bad thing. I am a practical person and while the power of copyright law is blown all out of proportion compared to any possible benefit. It is overly punitive and far too expansive in terms of scope and length terms… HOWEVER patent law in particular is far more worrisome and negative.

The quicker the patent worm is put to death the better, wealthier, and freer everybody will be in our society. That is, except, the big companies that use patent laws to squash competition and patent lawyers, of course.

The only reason the USA had any benefit at all from patents in the past was because it was a better system then having scientists being wards of the state and all inventions were automatically owned and controlled by the state rather then the inventors (which was the common practice in Europe). However time marches on and it’s time we actually demand more freedom and liberty rather then letting modern technology drown and a morass of red tape and lawsuits brought about by loser companies and unethical lawyers.

Wildberry March 30, 2011 at 11:12 am

@nate-m March 30, 2011 at 12:41 am

The only reason the USA had any benefit at all from patents in the past was because it was a better system then having scientists being wards of the state and all inventions were automatically owned and controlled by the state rather then the inventors (which was the common practice in Europe).

Exactly.

letting modern technology drown and a morass of red tape and lawsuits brought about by loser companies and unethical lawyers.

If you were a lawyer, and you were adamantly against IP, would you practice as an IP lawyer, where you would be required to defend it vigorously?

By analogy, if you were against slavery, would you be in the trade while elsewhere protesting against it vigorously?

Is this an issue of ethics?

Walt D. March 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm

“If you were a lawyer, and you were adamantly against IP, would you practice as an IP lawyer, where you would be required to defend it vigorously?”
Unless I am mistaken, I think Stephan Kinsella does.

Anti-IP Libertarian March 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm

He doesn’t defend IP rights.

Imho he tries to defend companies from other companies in patent cases.

After all statutory IP laws exist and therefore companies who do not want to be sued for patent infringement also have to hire lawyers.

Anti-IP Libertarian March 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

hmm my comment doesn’t come through.

Anti-IP Libertarian March 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The paradox for the pro-IP supporters:

IP-Rights vs physical property rights or
Kind/Class-based rights vs instance-based rights

There can only be 1) primary rights to information patterns (=IP-rights) or 2) primary rights to certain definable matter (=physical property rights including the right to your own body – selfownership).

If ip-followers support the existence of ip-rights, then there are no primary physical property rights. Let me show you:

Consider a world only consisting of three thinking entities A, B and C
and 3 different kinds (classes) of objects (X, Y, Z) with multiple instances of these kinds of objects.

Whose property are certain instances of these kind of objects?

1) In a primary physical property rights scenario it depends on who homesteaded instances of X, Y and Z and who after homesteading traded the right to these instances.
If A owns an instance of X, he is rightfully able to decide what to do with it (as long as he does not violate Bs and Cs own physical property rights – rights to their bodies and to their physical property).

2) In an primary IP-rights scenario physical property rights are only secondary: If A eg combines instances of X together, he “earns” the ip-rights to this combination information. BUT these ip-rights are not only for HIS specific combined instance of X but for the whole kind of the X object (for ALL X whether they were previously homesteaded or not).

If A combines instances of X, Y and Z together then B and C are not allowed to use THEIR instances of X, Y and Z in this combination any more. Their physical property rights are OVERRULED by the pattern-based IP-rights of A.

The above is what happens with copyright and patents: B and C are not allowed to use THEIR property in certain ways anymore, even when C and his physical property is not harmed in any physical way.

The same goes for selfownership: If A has a IP-right to some information (which is just a pattern in his body and/or a pattern in the objects X,Y,Z) then B and C are not allowed to have that information in their body or tell themselves about it and so on (this is copyright: B is not allowed to use his body together with C and his body to exchange certain information)

Conclusion:
There can only primary physical property rights to specific instances of objects and to one-self OR
primary IP-rights to patterns and therefore to certain uses of all instances of a kind of object
and to certain uses of all the human entities themselves.

PS: “Real IP-rights” would not stop outside the human body: They would also include what one thinks, imagines and so on. Welcome to socialist utopia aka 1984

Wildberry March 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

@Anti-IP Libertarian March 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I’m just curious why you would weigh in on this when you know so little about what IP is and how it operates?

If A eg combines instances of X together, he “earns” the ip-rights to this combination information. BUT these ip-rights are not only for HIS specific combined instance of X but for the whole kind of the X object (for ALL X whether they were previously homesteaded or not).

I understand you are arguing that only tangible property rights are legitimate, but you are arguing against a phantom of your own creation.

You are saying that if I own some rights to a particular book, I own right to ALL BOOKS?

Where did you get this idea?

Anti-IP Libertarian March 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm

“I’m just curious why you would weigh in on this when you know so little about what IP is and how it operates?”

Are personal attacks all you can do? Than leave this website and take your attacks elsewhere!

“I understand you are arguing that only tangible property rights are legitimate, but you are arguing against a phantom of your own creation.”

First: we are talking about RIGHTS here and not about statutory law. Do you UNDERSTAND that?
Before discussing onwards state if you think that statutory law has anything to do with rights!

Secondly you are wrong in your statements: If you propose IP rights for example to a story (copyright to a story) than that means that all owners of any medium which could be used to store, transport, convey etc. information are not allowed to use that medium in any such way anymore, which has the information pattern of the story.

Another example: Imagine many people owning guitars: If someone has the copyright to a melody, than all that guitar owners are inhibited to use their guitar with that melody without the ip owner allowing them.

“You are saying that if I own some rights to a particular book, I own right to ALL BOOKS?”

I never said that you own ALL rights to all BOOKS, but if you owned some IP rights to a story written in a book than everyone else would be inhibited in certain ways using their property (eg their computers, their paper, their pencils, even their mouth – they would be infringing YOUR proposed ip rights by combining certain words together.)

The same goes for the other group of ip rights: PATENTS.

If someone owned an ip right to a certain combination of objects A and B others could not use THEIR instances of A and B in that way any more.

Where is the boundaries to ip rights? What about recipes? What about imagining? What about sharing in private?

TIME constraints on patents and copyright?

AND: Why should these boundaries exists when ip rights are claimed to be TRUE property rights?

Wildberry March 31, 2011 at 5:48 pm

@Anti-IP Libertarian March 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Sorry, my good man. Are you claiming that you do know a great deal about the subject?

Good luck.

Anti-IP Libertarian March 31, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Oh you play the coward game.

That just proves that you are not interested in an honest discussion.

Remember: This discussion is NOT about IP laws, but about property rights. You have to prove that IP rights are true property rights in every way.

But if you believe that the existing laws are rightful and might makes right than you will have a hard time here on this blog!

Anti-IP Libertarian March 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Something additions:

I am not talking about current IP Laws but only about IP rights in general (without statutory laws).

So where should these IP rights stop?

Why treat the case of the pattern of someone arranging his garden or his house in a special way in any other way than the case of someone writing a story or someone developing an invention or someone writing a melody and so on?

Example:
A invests months in designing a garden . He is therefore ordering/using objects in a certain pattern.
B invests months in designing melody. He is therefore ordering/using objects in a certain pattern.
C invests months in designing a recipe. He is therefore ordering objects/using in a certain pattern.

Why treat A and C in any other way than B? Why should B have an IP right and C and A not?

Why limit the copyright/patent term if those are true PROPERTY rights? Who would accept such time limitations on physical property rights?

Why limit IP rights only to the outside of human bodies?
Explanation: If A writes a melody, why should he only be allowed to forbid any other person using that melody outside their body without him agreeing to that? Why shouldn’t that also include thinking about that melody, remembering that melody, imagining that melody and so on? A is in a IP rights scenario even allowed to forbid other persons humming that melody to others. So why stop outside?

These are examples of open questions to IP right proponents and an IP right theory. After all if those questions can not be answered in a consistent way than IP rights are no real property rights.

Artisan April 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm

IMHO The best arguments have not been found yet on either side…

I’m taking the risk to prolongate this post, mentioning what two things really transformed my opinion a lot over the IP matter: It was CG Jung’s psychological approach of what “original ideas” might be, first of all. And second: the fundamental similarity between religious faith and the concept of the “original creator”, the latter which lawmakers claim to protect with IP laws.

Why do lawmakers feel art needs to be protected by the State thus, and that religious faith does not ( well at least not to the same extent – minister generally pay less taxes), I wonder?

In a way, each individual expression of faith is clearly an “original creation of the mind” isn’t it? Can an individual, claim a copyright over the way he prays God? Doesn’t that sounds very odd?

If some minister likes to pray God in a certain way, he should be able to force another minister by law, or the visitors of his Church to pay him a tribute when praying the same way, yet something feels ugly in such a claim doesn’t it?

Here people favor simple charity and moral freedom but why? the minister must live too, like the artist.

Cheers

Anti-IP Libertarian April 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

A world with full and consistent ip “rights” would mean that every thought, every piece of information, every pattern is owned by someone. It follows that there could not exist a free human mind any more because after all our brain is only an information processing (and storing etc.) machine.

Imagine that: A totalitarian world. A Randian dystopia. Horrible.

“Hey you thought about my melody. You won’t pay? You’ll go to prison for that!”

“What the! Did you just look at my car? Now you gonna pay!”

Ethan May 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I am very new at this so I will only posit a few conjectures here. It seems to me that the Austrian paradigm provides some of the greatest insights when an altered collection of incentives is theoretically played out over time. If this valuable exercise is dismissed out of hand as purely theoretical or in-demonstrable this seems to be little more than a thinly veiled apeal to fear of the unknown. Austrians embrace theory and theoretical exercises. I am enjoying this interchange a great deal, by the way. So in light the most recent sparing between wildberry and Anti-IP it occurred to me that if one were to remove the heavy handed and ongoing activist state intervention in the marketplace, in regards to IP, profit margins would shrink dramatically. This would seem to reduce the incentive for devoting a lot of resources to reverse engineering or “corporate espionage” right off the bat, ironically giving a meaningful first-mover advantage. At a snapshot in time the customer benefits from lower prices. What of the inventor or the author? Much is focused on what they wouldn’t produce now, but considder all the improved derivative works and inventions, the incrementally improved designs and tweaks that would now be available to the thinking creative mind, unhampered by the almost continuous current threat of litigation. In my opinion it is a wonder that so much gets invented, developed or improved in such a hostile environment. In our current environment the cost barriers to entry are far higher from regulation and legal costs alone, with the edge invariably given to the established or well connected. Considder that a truly inspired inventor short on cash might sell his patent and now bar himself from improving on the very thing he created. There is intriguing evidence that the collective wisdom, mood and appetites of a time conspire to conjure up simultaneous inventions. IP, by requiring that a winner be legally chosen (instead of the market doing what it already does best) seems ludacris, except of course from the perspective of the vultures taking their cut through the legal process.

One more thing. Just as a rule of thumb observation when determining what should be considdered real property and what should not; when society and the market place tends to support the protection of physical ownership and use and government seldom needs to actively intervene, the voice of the culture seems to have spoken. If government threat of punishment and huge bureaucracy is continuously brought to bear in what is essentially a definitional exercise, the stench of special interest manipulation increases dramatically. I leave the hardcore axiomatic reasoning to you experts. I love following these fabulously reasoned discussions. Thankyou, gentlemen.

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