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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17702/the-great-ip-debate-of-1983/

The Great IP Debate of 1983

July 13, 2011 by

{ 77 comments }

Louis B. July 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Who are the participants?

Peter Surda July 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

McElroy and Schulman.

Stephan Kinsella July 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Ha, you beat me to it. I have a draft post in progress.

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Can’t wait to see it. What is the ETA?

Stephan Kinsella July 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm
Dean Wilson July 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm

J. Neil’s Randian premise is what leads, somewhat painfully, to his conclusion. Wendy does a good job of pointing this out. When property and homesteading are properly understood, IP is without a leg to stand upon. Stephan, I think your book is a pretty thorough treatment of the problem but I’m curious to see what additional insights you have.

scineram July 14, 2011 at 2:23 am

Doesn’t McElroy’s rothbardian premise lead her to her conclusion?

Dean Wilson July 14, 2011 at 5:52 am

It does, just as in any argument. However, the Rothbardian premise is much more tenable than the Randian. Neil confuses ownership with value and engages in a bizarre tangent about entropy without explaining *why* either “valuing” something or reducing entropy should lead to ownership, simply asserting that they should. Homesteading, depending on the right of the first claimant to a physical, scarce good requires no such leap.

Further, Neil has the unfortunate ability to make this listener want him personally to be wrong, regardless of his argument–by which I mean, hearing him correct and argue with the audience over minutiae wins him no points and certainly does not make him appear confident in him views.

Peter Surda July 14, 2011 at 6:55 am

I think Schulman was just reading out his logorights article. There are many issues with his claims, unfortunately he does not seem to be willing to debate them.

For example, right at the beginning he starts by explaining how books and diskettes work, but the connection to rights would only make sense if a diskette with software and book with a text would be unowned. It’s like saying that because we have apples, there should be “apple rights” and the apple farmers should be given the exclusive right to use their apples. Not only does it avoid the explanation what it actually means, it’s a non-sequitur and metaphorical. Using the same approach, you could also conclude that there is a right to a job, or to healthcare.

Dean, you are spot on in pointing out that Schulman uses value to define rights. In his approach, the act of creation, by the virtue of having value, changes the property rights of existing goods. According to him, the book with text and diskette with software is more valuable than ones without (or with a different one), therefore is covered by different property rights. That is his “proof”. The value-based approach to rights has been refuted many times by Austrians. Also as Stephan Kinsella ingeniously pointed out, this would mean there are two contradictory methods of homesteading.

As far as I can see, Schulman brings only one new benefit to the debate, in that he tries to apply the randian principle of identity to explain his position. But he’s using the value-based approach here too: because a copy has the same (or similar enough) value to someone, it has the same identity as the original. While I think this is an interesting approach, it is also obvious that it cannot be consistently applied even within Schulman’s framework. On the other hand, it makes it easier to understand why some people think there is such a thing as metaphysical identity that is separate from the physical identity.

Wildberry July 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I don’t think the “Great IP Debate” is going to be settled simply by asserting that Rothbard’s property theories are more “tenable” than Rand’s, painting Schulman as “Randian” and calling it a day.

If you are going to weigh in on one side or another of this particular debate, then in seems best to tie your criticisms to something Schulman actually says. If you are interested, he comments on this debate directly and more recently, here:

http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2011/04/my-unfinished-30-year-old-debate-with-wendy-mcelroy/

For my two cents, all of this criticism about his “identity” position is misplaced. If, as Mises says, all means of production are scarce resources, and any given literary work has a unique identity, (regardless of what methodology you employ to prove that fact), then it is the product of an individual, who is by definition a scarce means of production. The owner of the means is the owner of the products derived from those means. Private property 101.

Property rights flow not from the identity of the product, but from the identity of the scarce means. If you support the principle of private ownership of the scarce means of production, and that each person owns himself, then on what basis can you deny property rights in the products derived directly from those private means?

From this point of view, all Schulman is arguing is a methodology for proving that a given product and a given private means are linked by the identity of the author. In any other context, such a finding would be sufficient to prove property rights, even under Rothbardian “homesteading” principles, since using private means to produce something that has never before existed must certainly be a first use.

Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 1:59 am

So Wildberry,

If, as Mises says, all means of production are scarce resources, and any given literary work has a unique identity, (regardless of what methodology you employ to prove that fact), then it is the product of an individual, who is by definition a scarce means of production.

Why should then a copy have the same identity as the original? Should it not rather have a distinct, unique one?

From this point of view, all Schulman is arguing is a methodology for proving that a given product and a given private means are linked by the identity of the author.

So, is causality a sufficient condition for a rights claim or not?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

@Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 1:59 am

Why should then a copy have the same identity as the original? Should it not rather have a distinct, unique one?

The issue is whether any exact copy of an original work can be identified as a product of any scarce means of production other than those owned by the author. If you answer that question, you will answer it for all copies that will ever exist.

So, is causality a sufficient condition for a rights claim or not?

If you want to formulate a specific question, in which you define the terms in a way in which you will be committed to in future discussions, and is directly responsive and relevant to what I say here, please do. Otherwise, no amount of repetition of this vague and ambiguous question will have an meaning or relevance.

Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Wildberry,

The issue is whether any exact copy of an original work can be identified as a product of any scarce means of production other than those owned by the author.

You are avoiding the answer, Wildberry. You are using metaphors (product of scarce means of those owned by the author) to refer to causality.

If you want to formulate a specific question, in which you define the terms in a way in which you will be committed to in future discussions, and is directly responsive and relevant to what I say here, please do.

You use causality as a basis for your claim, but obscure it with metaphors and reject any attempt at clarification, and have the audacity to present this as my fault. Just in this post, you used the phrase “product of scarce means of production”.

So, what is product of scarce means of production and how do you distinguish it from causality?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm

You are avoiding my response.

If you want to formulate a question about causality in terms of an author as the means of production, then please do. To leave “causality” undefined and ask me to interpret your meaning is nonsensical.

What metaphor are you referring to? An author of an orignal work is not metaphor. That individual is the scarce means.

Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Wildberry,

you are avoiding my response.

Which response?

If you want to formulate a question about causality in terms of an author as the means of production, then please do. To leave “causality” undefined and ask me to interpret your meaning is nonsensical.

You do not know what causality is?

What metaphor are you referring to?

The metaphors you invoke whenever you are asked to clarify the connection between the original and the copy. What is this connection, Wildberry?

An author of an orignal work is not metaphor. That individual is the scarce means.

And this is relevant for evaluating the legal status of the copy because?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm

@ Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Which response?

http://blog.mises.org/17702/the-great-ip-debate-of-1983/comment-page-1/#comment-793006

You do not know what causality is?

No, it is your question. I cannot read minds, especially yours.

The metaphors you invoke whenever you are asked to clarify the connection between the original and the copy. What is this connection, Wildberry?

The author; the scarce means of production. For the third time…

And this is relevant for evaluating the legal status of the copy because?

The author, which is the scarce means of production, is owned by the author. This author is an individual, not a metphor. This is relevant because we are wondering if the author has any property interest in the copy, and typically products of a private means of production are owned by the owner of those means. You wish to make an exception for IP?

Parlez-vous anglais ?

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 1:51 am

Wildberry,

http://blog.mises.org/17702/the-great-ip-debate-of-1983/comment-page-1/#comment-793006

As I already said, what is product of scarce means of production and how do you distinguish it from causality?

No, it is your question. I cannot read minds, especially yours.

So you do not know what causality is, but expect me to know what “product of scarce means of production” is and how to distinguish it from causality? Furthermore, is the article about causality at wikipedia, section logic, inadequate?

This is relevant because we are wondering if the author has any property interest in the copy, and typically products of a private means of production are owned by the owner of those means.

So, what is “product of private means of production”, how do you distingiush it from causality, and what about atypical situations?

Parlez-vous anglais ?

Are you honest?

Wildberry July 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm

On a related point, I wanted to point out the false dichotomy issue that Wendy employs in her argument, pulled from her presentation linked to above. There, she says this:

Basically, the debate over copyright—or, more generally, intellectual property—comes down to two questions: What is property? What are the essential characteristics which make something ownable?: and, What is an idea?

First, the question of property is a fair one, not one that is settled by any means. It is true that Rothbard offers an approach, but as I said earlier, it is far from certain that even within this framework that the principle of copyrights as private property could not be secured. Even if he is wrong, his own theories of homesteading seem sufficient to justify copyrights.
But more importantly, it is wrong, inaccurate and dishonest to equate the subject matter of copyrights as mere “ideas”. This false dichotomy, between what is legitimately property and the nature of “ideas”, is not what is under debate. That particular debate is completely and finally settled.
From the Copyright Act itself, it says:

§ 102 • Subject matter of copyright: In general

(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship
extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept,
principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained,
illustrated, or embodied in such work.

If the Act itself excludes “ideas” from the subject matter of copyright protection, how can the question “what is an idea” be relevant to an argument against it?

If you ask why the right to protection of ideas should be excluded, it is for all the reasons that one would argue that “ideas are free”, inexhaustible and “public”. If ideas are excluded, then one must ask what is INCLUDED? That is the honest question concerning the nature of property, and the relationship between that nature, and the nature of copyrights.

Wendy equivocates, as does Kinsella, on this distinction. Therefore, to cast the debate in terms which depend on such an equivocation is a failure from the outset.

Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 1:56 am

Wildberry,

If ideas are excluded, then one must ask what is INCLUDED?

And Kinsella answers this question with clarity. The only thing included is other people’s property. IP is a redistributive policy. That is why explaining that author benefits from IP is insufficient, because someone else loses, and that someone else could very well be another author. Adding IP violations to the legal system also increases transaction costs so purely mathematically, it reduces the aggregate utility. However in order to make that conclusion as an Austrian, you would need interpersonal utility comparison, which the Austrians reject.

Also, you have left many questions unanswered.

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm

So, the subject matter of IP is distinguished by “ideas” on the one hand, and “other people’s property” on the other. That is a false dichotomy, and is unsupportable by any form or rational argumentation. Considering the source, that figures.

See my response to SV below to see another perspective.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Wildberry,

So, the subject matter of IP is distinguished by “ideas” on the one hand, and “other people’s property” on the other.

As I explained many times, ideas are a re-interpretation of physical property. I try to avoid referring to “ideas” when debating IP since that leads to confusion.

That is a false dichotomy, and is unsupportable by any form or rational argumentation.

There is no false dichotomy, since I claim that these are two different methods of describing one phenomenon.

Why is then what you said relevant for the debate? And more importantly, what is included in IP then when you reject both ideas and other people’s property?

sweatervest July 16, 2011 at 2:05 am

Patents are about ideas. Copyright is not the only form of intellectual property.

The “creative works” protected by copyrights are just as free and inexhaustible as ideas. You cannot exhaust the usefulness of a creative work. Therefore they should be excluded just as much as ideas should be from property rights.

Wendy and Kinsella do not equivocate. You arbitrarily restrict the definition of “idea” to exclude substantial ideas like that of an entire story to be written in a book. The debate *is* about ideas and whether they can be owned. That is, after all, why it is called “intellectual property”.

A creative work is a type of idea. What else would it be?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

An original expression that falls into one of these categories:

§ 102. Subject matter of copyright: In general28
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

(1) literary works;

(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;

(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;

(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;

(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;

(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

(7) sound recordings; and

(8) architectural works.

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#102

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Wildberry,

An original expression that falls into one of these categories:

Is the validity of economic laws determined by the acts of congress?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 11:16 am

@ Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 1:56 am

Mises makes a very interesting observation in his Liberty and Property about the claim that property rights, redistribution and government coercion, here:
http://mises.org/libprop/lpsec5.asp

The socialists must admit there cannot be any freedom under a socialist system. But they try to obliterate the difference between the servile state and economic freedom by denying that there is any freedom in the mutual exchange of commodities and services on the market. Every market exchange is, in the words of a school of pro-socialist lawyers, “a coercion over other people’s liberty.” There is, in their eyes, no difference worth mentioning between a man’s paying a tax or a fine imposed by a magistrate, or his buying a newspaper or admission to a movie. In each of these cases the man is subject to governing power. He’s not free, for, as professor Hale says, a man’s freedom means “the absence of any obstacle to his use of material goods.”[6] This means: I am not free, because a woman who has knitted a sweater, perhaps as a birthday present for her husband, puts an obstacle to my using it. I myself am restricting all other people’s freedom because I object to their using my toothbrush. In doing this I am, according to this doctrine, exercising private governing power, which is analogous to public government power, the powers that the government exercises in imprisoning a man in Sing Sing.

Those expounding this amazing doctrine consistently conclude that liberty is nowhere to be found. They assert that what they call economic pressures do not essentially differ from the pressures the masters practice with regard to their slaves. They reject what they call private governmental power, but they don’t object to the restriction of liberty by public government power. They want to concentrate all what they call restrictions of liberty in the hands of the government. They attack the institution of private property and the laws that, as they say, stand “ready to enforce property rights?that is, to deny liberty to anyone to act in a way which violates them.”[7]

This is the way you try to turn the “property redistribution” argument against the principle of IP by simply declaring it is not and cannot be property because it “limits what a person can do with his own property”. If you oppose this for all property, the you are a socialist, according to Mises.

If you only oppose this for IP, then you have to explain why you have chosen to support the “ideas are free” side of the argument, while ignoring the problems of external economies addressed by Mises here:
http://mises.org/libprop/lpsec5.asp

And discussed recently here: http://blog.mises.org/17345/stallman-an-internet-connectivity-tax-to-compensate-artists-and-authors/comment-page-1/#comment-792539

If IP opponents fail to address these issues, they are simply spitting into the wind.

Why not take crack at it? Obviously Kinsella never will.

sweatervest July 16, 2011 at 2:25 am

I searched for the word “external” in that first link and got no matches.

From the second link:

“It is unlikely that people would undertake the laborious task of writing such publications if everyone were free to reproduce them. This is still more manifest in the field of technological invention and discovery”

No it is not unlikely. No explanation is given for this assertion.

Strange that it is not true for non-fiction. Mathematical proofs cannot be copyrighted, and some of them are over 500 pages long. And yet people still produce them. They produce for external economies. It happens. Who said it wouldn’t?

“It has merely to stress the point that this is a problem of delimitation of property rights and that with the abolition of patents and copyrights authors and inventors would for the most part be producers of external economies.”

Why is this point worth stressing? Yes, they produce for external economies. So do advertisers. So do landscapers. So do deodorant wearers. That proves nothing. Production for external economies happens.

What is relevant is that authors and inventors will make money without IP. Authors who establish a reputation as being consistent producers of valuable creative work (and are not just one-hit-wonders) will be paid by manufacturers of those physical goods that are only valuable because of that creative work (i.e. speakers for music, televisions for shows and movies, etc.). Consistent inventors will be hired by manufacturing firms so they can gain the entrepreneurial edge for producing the inventions.

Kid Salami July 16, 2011 at 10:41 am

“No explanation is given for this assertion”

Ha ha – it’s not an “assertion”, it’s a quote from Mises. Do try to keep up.

“It is unlikely that people would undertake the laborious task of writing such publications if everyone were free to reproduce them. This is still more manifest in the field of technological invention and discovery. The extensive experimentation necessary for such achievements is often very expensive. It is very probable that technological progress would be seriously retarded if, for the inventor and for those who defray the expenses incurred by his experimentation, the results obtained were nothing but external economies.”

This is just flat out wrong is it? Maybe, maybe not. But before we start along these lines, I think it’s a good time to bring up a good response to a question I saw a while back on FOFOA.

Hi Pete,

Perhaps our humble host will clarify some more, but no, it has nothing to do with that.

Here’s a hint as to the right answer: Mises was real smart

http://fofoa.blogspot.com/2011/06/bitcoin-open-forum-part-3.html?showComment=1308635078441#c3158376990834403830

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

Kid Salami,

Ha ha – it’s not an “assertion”, it’s a quote from Mises. Do try to keep up.

Mises did not provide any explanation either. He merely asserted. Paradoxically, in his assertion, he used the same method he rejected just a couple of paragraphs earlier.

This is just flat out wrong is it? Maybe, maybe not.

Since it’s an assertion, it is subject to empirical falsification. And empirically, the connection simply isn’t there. IP dilutes property rights and is at least as likely to discourage innovation as it is to encourage it.

Mises was, indeed, very smart. But he evidently also erred a bit (e.g. with anarchy). Not much though. Although he said he has trouble imagining invention without IP, he also said that the existence of externalities is not a valid reason to conclude that intervention is desirable. He said it’s a question of delimitation of property rights (rather than an economic question).

Kid Salami July 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Please note his uses of the word “often” and “very probable”. I’m just noting sweatervest should think before calling Mises an idiot, and certainly should at the least try to refute what Mises actually said instead of quoting some irrelevant crap about the existence of mathematical proofs.

There are some items that simply will not be produced as they are now when we’re in ancap heaven without any form of patent and copyright – and no doubt the market will find ways round this for some things, maybe not for others. Surely we can agree on this, that there is a trade off.

My guess is that the gains will be more productive that the losses here. So i actually agree with you that, on balance, technological progress would not suffer compared to now if they were both scrapped. But i have my doubts – i don’t know this, especially with regard to items which have a long structure of production and whose outcome can be codified or substantially codified. No’one knows for sure how complex systems react to changes like this, where there is a trade-off – those who claim to know with 100% certainty are bluffing.

Mises was, indeed, very smart. But he evidently also erred a bit (e.g. with anarchy).

Well, we’ll just have to agree to differ here.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Kid Salami,

Please note his uses of the word “often” and “very probable”.

Even with that qualifier, the empirical evidence is still not very supportive.

There are some items that simply will not be produced as they are now when we’re in ancap heaven without any form of patent and copyright – and no doubt the market will find ways round this for some things, maybe not for others. Surely we can agree on this, that there is a trade off.

While this is correct, Mises himself says that the non-production is not a bad thing. That’s the whole point of his argument! The question what should be produced follows from the decisions of people acting in accordance with property rights. You can’t turn the implication the other way around and define rights by what should be produced.

Well, we’ll just have to agree to differ here.

He skipped over the assumption that there needs to be a monopoly for enforcement of property laws. From the assumption that such enforcement is necessary for the market to work, he jumped to the conclusion that the state is necessary. Now, we may disagree on whether a monopolist would be better than competition, but that does not make Mises’ argument valid.

Kid Salami July 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

“The question what should be produced follows from the decisions of people acting in accordance with property rights. You can’t turn the implication the other way around and define rights by what should be produced.”

Our disagreement is really quite clear – you think this is categorically 100% true. i think it is just a very, very good approximation. That in facts property rights are in fact sometimes defined by what “should” (ie. what people want to) be produced.

The example i recall Demsetz (I think) used is about hunting an animal – land itself was not scarce in any meaningful sense but territorial rights in land developed anyhow, in order to facilitate “fair” and sustainable hunting – that is, property rights in land (not scarce) were changed because people wanted to continue wearing fur (scarce). This actual occurrence of voluntary interaction between individuals is inexplicable in your over-simplified framework.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Kid Salami,

you think this is categorically 100% true.

Well, not really. One of the claims is positive, the other one normative.

property rights in land (not scarce) were changed because people wanted to continue wearing fur (scarce)

I could argue that they did not really change, merely they started to be applied to areas where they were not applied before.

Kid Salami July 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm

So you think you can “turn the implication the other way around and define rights by what should be produced”? I don’t really understand what you mean.

“I could argue that they did not really change, merely they started to be applied to areas where they were not applied before.”

I believe you’re missing the point – property rights in a non-scarce item were introduced in order to solve the problem of the scarcity of another item, because this second item is in a sense “dynamic” and the problem can’t be solved directly. Remember our discussions about magnesium content in soil? Dynamic processes don’t sit well with the homesteading theory.

Now you see why I keep saying that the “property comes from scarcity” mantra that is repeated to death is not in fact quite as simple as it sounds?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

@Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

Mises did not provide any explanation either. He merely asserted.

This quote is from Human Action, LVM’s most famous economic treatise and one of the foundations of AET. This site is called Mises.org for that reason. The literature from him quoted by me here is available on this site. The citation concludes a detailed discussion of external costs and external markets, in which he uses IP as an “extreme example”. Yet Peter Surda can simply dismiss this master with a wave of his hand. This is just one more explanation for why I cannot and do not take him seriously.

Mises was, indeed, very smart. But he evidently also erred a bit (e.g. with anarchy).

Here is something Mises says about government, beginning on page 34 of Liberty and Property, linked here: http://mises.org/libprop/lpsec5.asp

As regards the social apparatus of repression and coercion, the government, there cannot be any question of freedom. Government is essentially the negation of liberty. It is the recourse to violence or threat of violence in order to make all people obey the orders of the government, whether they like it or not. As far as the government’s jurisdiction extends, there is coercion, not freedom. Government is a necessary institution, the means to make the social system of cooperation work smoothly without being disturbed by violent acts on the part of gangsters whether of domestic or of foreign origin. Government is not, as some people like to say, a necessary evil; it is not an evil, but a means, the only means available to make peaceful human coexistence possible. But it is the opposite of liberty. It is beating, imprisoning, hanging. Whatever a government does it is ultimately supported by the actions of armed constables. If the government operates a school or a hospital, the funds required are collected by taxes, i.e., by payments exacted from the citizens.

If we take into account the fact that, as human nature is, there can neither be civilization nor peace without the functioning of the government apparatus of violent action, we may call government the most beneficial human institution.

Peter says:

Although he said he has trouble imagining invention without IP, he also said that the existence of externalities is not a valid reason to conclude that intervention is desirable.

Is this what he said, or is this your “translation”? Honesty is the best policy.

He said it’s a question of delimitation of property rights (rather than an economic question).

I think Peter meant “delineation”

To deny that Mises is raising an economic question in a conclusory illustration of his discussion of externalities, is laughable. It is a treatise on economics. Peter presumes he just threw it in there for no logical reason? Wow, and I asked if he was smarter than a 5th grader, and he comes back with he’s smarter than Mises! Such Chutzpah!

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Wildberry,

The citation concludes a detailed discussion of external costs and external markets, in which he uses IP as an “extreme example”.

Whether the example is extreme or not is a matter of opinion. Since there is plenty of evidence of invention occurring without IP, I see no reason to say it’s extreme.

Yet Peter Surda can simply dismiss this master with a wave of his hand. This is just one more explanation for why I cannot and do not take him seriously.

So all the empirical evidence around you, all the studies that show how IP does not promote innovation, and me writing software and not using IP can be simply dismissed by the sleight of a hand, because Wildberry commands so? What evidence do you have?

Re: Mises & government: he skipped over a gap in his argument. From the assumption that enforcement of property rights is desirable, he jumped over to the conclusion that government is necessary. This is a logical error: a non-sequitur. It people would not “behave” without a government, then who should be in the government? Aliens?

Is this what he said, or is this your “translation”? Honesty is the best policy.

Let me quote him:

A project P is unprofitable when and because consumers prefer the satisfaction expected from the realization of some other projects to the satisfaction expected from the realization of P. The realization of P would withdraw capital and labor from the realization of some other projects for which the demand of the consumers is more urgent. The layman and the pseudo-economist fail to recognize this fact. They stubbornly refuse to notice the scarcity of the factors of production. As they see it, P could be realized without any cost at all, i.e., without foregoing any other satisfaction. It is merely the wantonness of the profit system that prevents the nation from enjoying gratuitously the pleasures expected from P.

This clearly says that the existence of externalities is not a reason to intervene, because the intervention would cause consumption of other scarce resources (the theft of private property I was referring to earlier).

With regards to IP, he says:

It is beyond the scope of catallactics to enter into an examination of the arguments brought forward for and against the institution of copyrights and patents. It has merely to stress the point that this is a problem of delimitation of property rights and that with the abolition of patents and copyrights authors and inventors would for the most part be producers of external economies.

Here he clearly says that the approach to IP by analysis of markets (what he calls catallactics) is invalid.

I think Peter meant “delineation”.

I actually almost thought you were right and wanted to admit it, but the quote shows that I’m right.

To deny that Mises is raising an economic question in a conclusory illustration of his discussion of externalities, is laughable.

I deny it and clearly refute your claim by providing quotes. Are you still laughing?

It is a treatise on economics. Peter presumes he just threw it in there for no logical reason?

He threw it in for illustrative purposes. He clearly said it’s not an economic problem.

Wow, and I asked if he was smarter than a 5th grader, and he comes back with he’s smarter than Mises!

I don’ think I’m smarter than Mises, but I’m pretty sure I’m smarter than you.

So, where did Mises say that external economies justify IP? Assuming he did not say it and that’s just what you think, why should it affect IP but not other external economies?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Sweatervest:

I searched for the word “external” in that first link and got no matches.

Very good. Of course that is because the first link is to Liberty and Property, and was not cited in reference to the externality issue. If you would have taken a little time to read and understand before you fired both barrels, you would have realized that.

“Youth is wasted on the wrong people.”- It’s A Wonderful Life.

Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

Wildberry,

This is the way you try to turn the “property redistribution” argument against the principle of IP by simply declaring it is not and cannot be property because it “limits what a person can do with his own property”.

This is not what I said. I said that your approach is contradictory. If you oppose IP, IP is theft. If you support IP, then physical property is theft. Logically, if you want to have IP, you need to reject physical property, at least partially. You do not want to do this, so end up with a contradiction.

Paradoxically, you admit that IP limits what you can do with your property, yet simultaneously claim that IP is necessary so that people can fully use their property. The contradiction in this approach is clear to anyone who is taking the matter seriously.

If you only oppose this for IP, then you have to explain why you have chosen to support the “ideas are free” side of the argument,

I do not recall claiming that “ideas are free”. I try to avoid normative claims.

while ignoring the problems of external economies addressed by Mises here

I addressed the question of externalities several times and you ignored it.

If IP opponents fail to address these issues, they are simply spitting into the wind.

I addressed them several times. You, however, fail to address almost anything that is presented to you. The evidence of your behaviour is the plethora of unanswered questions all over the blog.

Why not take crack at it? Obviously Kinsella never will.

Kinsella addressed this also several times, and referenced various Austrian and non-Austrian economists.

Based on the symptoms of your behaviour (ignoring your opponent’s claims, refusal to answer questions, repeatedly presenting refuted or plainly false claims, contradicting yourself), why should anyone take you seriously?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

@ Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

This is not what I said. I said that your approach is contradictory. If you oppose IP, IP is theft. If you support IP, then physical property is theft. Logically, if you want to have IP, you need to reject physical property, at least partially. You do not want to do this, so end up with a contradiction.

How is “physical propty” theft? You are speaking in toungues. Sprichst du Englisch?

Paradoxically, you admit that IP limits what you can do with your property, yet simultaneously claim that IP is necessary so that people can fully use their property. The contradiction in this approach is clear to anyone who is taking the matter seriously.

Try fixing the grammar in this so I can try to figure out what you mean to be saying. IP limits what “I” can do with “my” property? Whose IP? Sprechen Sie Englisch?

I do not recall claiming that “ideas are free”. I try to avoid normative claims.

Then you disagree with Kinsella and McElroy on this? You cannot argue about IP without addressing this most fundamental of issues; what is the subject matter of IP, specfically copyrights. Nice dodge though.

I addressed the question of externalities several times and you ignored it.

Links please?

I addressed them several times. You, however, fail to address almost anything that is presented to you. The evidence of your behaviour is the plethora of unanswered questions all over the blog.

Who said you are the only one who gets to ask questions, Socrates-wanna-be?

Few here have been more direct and honest about their arguments here than me. Those who have been have found themselves banned. Can I ban you?

Kinsella addressed this also several times, and referenced various Austrian and non-Austrian economists.

Bull.

why should anyone take you seriously?

Don’t look now, but that appears to be a normative statement…

No one should. It is up to them, and I have a fundamental faith in the discriminating skills of the reasonable person. “They” don’t need me to tell them what makes sense and what is true. “They” are perfectly capable of figuring that out.

Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Wildberry,

How is “physical propty” theft? You are speaking in toungues. Sprichst du Englisch?

So, IP does not affect the physical property of copiers by granting the authors rights to it?

IP limits what “I” can do with “my” property? Whose IP?

If IP does not limit what the copiers can do with their property, what does it do then?

Then you disagree with Kinsella and McElroy on this?

It’s too vague a statement, I’m not even sure Kinsella phrased it this way. However, I had the impression that you agree that ideas are free, but claim that IP is about something else than ideas? If it is about something else, what exactly then?

Links please?

If I provide them and you do not address them, will it mean you concede defeat?

Who said you are the only one who gets to ask questions, Socrates-wanna-be?

So, by pointing out that you can ask questions, you negate my claim that you do not answer them?

Few here have been more direct and honest about their arguments here than me.

I cannot recall any serious IP proponents (apart from Kid Salami, who’s not really an IP proponent) since I started participating on this forum, about 2.5 years ago. They all commit logical fallacies and avoid confrontation. Who are you referring to?

Those who have been have found themselves banned.

People have not been banned for being IP proponents, but for bad behaviour. On the other hand, my posts on Stranger’s forum, for example, were deleted specifically because I asked Stranger straightforward questions which he did not want to answer. Is your interest in a debate honest?

Don’t look now, but that appears to be a normative statement…

Do statements have a question mark at the end?

It is up to them, and I have a fundamental faith in the discriminating skills of the reasonable person. “They” don’t need me to tell them what makes sense and what is true. “They” are perfectly capable of figuring that out.

So, there is no reason to take you seriously, correct?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

@ Peter Surda July 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

How is “physical propty” theft? You are speaking in toungues. Sprichst du Englisch?

So, IP does not affect the physical property of copiers by granting the authors rights to it?

Only in the sense of the socialist argument that was mentioned in the Mises reference above.

IP limits what “I” can do with “my” property? Whose IP?

If IP does not limit what the copiers can do with their property, what does it do then?

It secures limited private property interests to the owner of the scarce private means of production.

Then you disagree with Kinsella and McElroy on this?

It’s too vague a statement, I’m not even sure Kinsella phrased it this way. However, I had the impression that you agree that ideas are free, but claim that IP is about something else than ideas? If it is about something else, what exactly then?

That was exactly the question I posed. You first.

Links please?

If I provide them and you do not address them, will it mean you concede defeat?

no. If they are nonsense and you don’t answer my qestions, there is no point in dialogue that goes nowhere. This is what I expect from you. Surprise me?

Who said you are the only one who gets to ask questions, Socrates-wanna-be?

So, by pointing out that you can ask questions, you negate my claim that you do not answer them?

WTF does this mean?

Few here have been more direct and honest about their arguments here than me.

I cannot recall any serious IP proponents (apart from Kid Salami, who’s not really an IP proponent) since I started participating on this forum, about 2.5 years ago. They all commit logical fallacies and avoid confrontation. Who are you referring to?

Of course you cannot, since you consider yourself the sole judge of what is serious.

Those who have been have found themselves banned.

People have not been banned for being IP proponents, but for bad behaviour.

One, they have not banned themselves, and two, if bad behavior was the standard, you would have been banned long ago, and three, funny how no IP proponents have ever been banned, no matter what they post here. Go figure.

On the other hand, my posts on Stranger’s forum, for example, were deleted specifically because I asked Stranger straightforward questions which he did not want to answer. Is your interest in a debate honest?

Takes two to tango.

Don’t look now, but that appears to be a normative statement…

Do statements have a question mark at the end?

What kind of sentence includes the word “should”? Or do think the real issue is confusion over the difference betwen a declarative and interrogative sentence structure? You seem to consistently miss/avoid the key points.

It is up to them, and I have a fundamental faith in the discriminating skills of the reasonable person. “They” don’t need me to tell them what makes sense and what is true. “They” are perfectly capable of figuring that out.

So, there is no reason to take you seriously, correct?

Each person makes up their own mind. I know I have certainly made up my mind about you. Ënglizënya tinageraleh?

Wildberry July 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Typo…

One, they have not banned themselves, and two, if bad behavior was the standard, you would have been banned long ago, and three, funny how no IP opponents have ever been banned, no matter what they post here. Go figure.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 2:13 am

Wildberry,

Only in the sense of the socialist argument that was mentioned in the Mises reference above.

So, how do you define property rights violations if not by the effects other people’s actions have on your property?

It secures limited private property interests to the owner of the scarce private means of production.

As I pointed out several times already, this claim creates several questions. Here is a summary:
- can this be done without affecting other people’s property?
- what are “private property interests to the owner of the scarce private means of production”?
- how do you distinguish the claim that copying is coercive from the socialist claim that voluntary trade is coercive?
- with IP, are the authors exempt from the prohibition of copying?
- without IP, the authors do not have any interest in their means of production?
- with IP, the authors have full interest in their means of production?

That was exactly the question I posed. You first.

I already answered: other people’s property. Months ago, I challenged you to disprove this, but it has not happened. So, is IP not a redistributive mechanism? All the rights that it creates, are not taken from others?

If they are nonsense and you don’t answer my qestions, there is no point in dialogue that goes nowhere. This is what I expect from you. Surprise me?

So, when you do not understand a question, the honest approach is to ignore it rather than ask for clarification? And when your opponent does not understand you, is the honest approach not to clarify yourself but rather start metaarguing?

WTF does this mean?

I said: you do not answer questions. You said:

Who said you are the only one who gets to ask questions, Socrates-wanna-be?

How does that address my point?

Of course you cannot, since you consider yourself the sole judge of what is serious.

If I am wrong, how about presenting some sort of evidence?

What kind of sentence includes the word “should”?

You just presented one by the way. But the question remains: if you avoid all the necessary features of an honest debate, what’s the point of the debate?

Each person makes up their own mind. I know I have certainly made up my mind about you.

So, the purpose of a debate is not to find truth, but to build an opinion about other people?

sweatervest July 16, 2011 at 2:30 am

Wildberry,

Your socialist comparison is nonsense. You are the one grabbing at the sweater, claiming it’s yours because you made the same kind of sweater first.

sweatervest July 16, 2011 at 2:33 am

“Few here have been more direct and honest about their arguments here than me”

Is that why you dodged my refutation of your “property rights are a human device, therefore they must be defined through agreement” and instead complained that I am too sure of myself for thinking I know that 2 + 2 = 4?

Or how about what Peter is talking about, which is that not just he but I as well have addressed the external economies problem several times and you have never advanced the argument past that step.

vcif July 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

WB will simply never understand the distinction.

“copyright” is a misnomer. Government can not grant rights. It can only grant privileges enforced by coercion. The reason for establishing a government defined “right”, ie privilege, is that it is not a right at all to begin with. “copyprivilege” is a more apt term.

When one must look to statutory definitions of property and copy rights, it is an admission of the arbitrary nature of IP.

If someone takes my car and I seek restitution, there is no need for any statutory references. In a court of law, I would simply state that some person took my car from me and I suffered the loss of that car.

There is no way, without referring to arbitrary statutes, that I have suffered a loss if someone makes a copy of a book I wrote. I have nothing less. Of course, I understand the next argument about potential earnings. However, those potential earnings, or the bulk of them, depend on the arbitrary statutory scheme that you are tryimg to justify. It is a circular argument and explains the endless tangents and self-referential argumentation that occurs in every IP post that WB comments on.

There is simply no way to justify IP without relying on the assumption that it is valid to begin with.

Kid Salami July 16, 2011 at 8:51 am

You just made up the argument based on “potential earnings”. Apologies if this is intentional and you are just using this forum to speak to yourself in public, else try answering actual ones, its less fun but more productive.

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

I have raised two issues here:

1) The argument that IP “takes” the rights of others is a socialist argument in the sense articulated by Mises.

I am inviting opponents of IP to explain what is wrong with Mises argument, or why it does not apply to the subject of IP and the argument that IP “reassigns property rights”.

2) The equivocation of “ideas” and “IP” is designed to support the first (inexhaustibility), and not second issue (external economies) raised by Mises regarding IP.

I am inviting IP opponents to explain why, given the conflict between these two aspects of the IP issue they accept completely the former, and reject completely the latter.

If someone wants to address these specific issues, I’m game. I am not game to revisit the genesis of property rights, or bizarre questions about what “means of production” are, or wikipedia references on causality. And I am not going to respond to ridiculous accusations that I oppose arithmetic. And certainly, I am not going to defend arguments I’ve never made.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Wildberry,

The argument that IP “takes” the rights of others is a socialist argument in the sense articulated by Mises.

On the contrary, you are the one making the equivalent of socialist arguments. Socialists, like you, argue that the just definition of property rights is based on the assumption that because you work, other people owe you. It’s the labour theory of value. Renaming labour as property does not alter the underlying argument. We IP opponents do not make such arguments (at least I don’t). My only argument is actually that you contradict yourself, but hide that behind smoke and mirrors. My personal opinion whether IP is legitimate or not, is irrelevant to my arguments.

The equivocation of “ideas” and “IP” is designed to support the first (inexhaustibility), and not second issue (external economies) raised by Mises regarding IP.

Ideas are one way of interpreting IP. It’s not the only one. I would however like to point out that Schulman, for example, does the same thing: his “logos” is a subset of ideas. Weird that you compliment him for some odd reason. Do you agree that Schulman uses ideas to define his approach to IP?

I am inviting IP opponents to explain why, given the conflict between these two aspects of the IP issue they accept completely the former, and reject completely the latter.

Mises did not say that the existence of externalities justifies specific definition of property rights. On the contrary, he rejected such an argument. Why should then in case of IP externalities be relevant, but in other cases not?

If someone wants to address these specific issues, I’m game.

I just addressed them. Here is a summary:

Point one is not, per se, a refutation of IP, it is just an explanation that you contradict yourself. It’s up to you to resolve that contradiction, by defining property rights (which you have, so far, refused).
Point two is a mix of misinterpretation of Mises and the inability to grasp that two descriptions can refer to the same phenomenon.

Let me put this into questions:

Point one: Which is the correct way to determine a property rights violation: based on what effect other people have on the property (such as stealing it or damaging it), or based on what effect the property has on other people (such as them being richer or poorer)? In case you want to have both, I’ll address that later.

Point two: Did Mises say that the existence of external economies determines property rights?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

@Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Socialists, like you, argue that the just definition of property rights is based on the assumption that because you work, other people owe you.

Of course I’ve never said this. Care to provide a link and a quote?

I am not debating the work of Schulman, I am envoking the words of Mises. Nice diversion.

Mises did not say that the existence of externalities justifies specific definition of property rights. On the contrary, he rejected such an argument. Why should then in case of IP externalities be relevant, but in other cases not?

Is there an argument here, or just an assertion of your impressions of what he means in some general sense?

External economies is a general economic principle which he discusses in the cited section. I suppose he thought it was relevant. He used IP as an illustration of an extreme example of his point. I think you have missed his point. It is generally relevant to economics, and the allocation of property rights. It is relevant to his treatment of socialism, in which the private ownership of the means of production are opposed. Free markets, which he advocates, hold that the private ownership of the means of production must be secured, in order for consumers to be sovereign. This is one of his most famous arguments against socialism.

Point one is not, per se, a refutation of IP, it is just an explanation that you contradict yourself. It’s up to you to resolve that contradiction, by defining property rights (which you have, so far, refused).

IP is a limited form of property right. My definition of copyrights and patents can be found in the relevant statutes, which I have provided. There is no need for me to try to invent something better; that definition is adequate.

Point two is a mix of misinterpretation of Mises and the inability to grasp that two descriptions can refer to the same phenomenon.

This is an assertion without any support or reference to the citations given. The two subject paragraphs ARE different interpretations of the same phenomena; namely authorship. IP opponents belive the argument stops after the first, without considering or debating the second. How convenient to your cause, and disrespectful of Mises.

Point one: Which is the correct way to determine a property rights violation: based on what effect other people have on the property (such as stealing it or damaging it), or based on what effect the property has on other people (such as them being richer or poorer)? In case you want to have both, I’ll address that later.

Both. Property rights interact, which can be a source of conflict.

Point two: Did Mises say that the existence of external economies determines property rights?

Not that I’m aware of. But he did say this here: http://mises.org/humanaction/chap23sec6.asp

The Limits of Property Rights and the Problems of External Costs and External Economies
________________________________________
Property rights as they are circumscribed by laws and protected by courts and the police, are the outgrowth of an age-long evolution. The history of these ages is the record of struggles aiming at the [p. 655] abolition of private property. Again and again despots and popular movements have tried to restrict the rights of private property or to abolish it altogether. These endeavors, it is true, failed. But they have left traces in the ideas determining the legal form and definition of property. The legal concepts of property do not fully take account of the social function of private property. There are certain inadequacies and incongruities which are reflected in the determination of the market phenomena.

Carried through consistently, the right of property would entitle the proprietor to claim all the advantages which the good’s employment may generate on the one hand and would burden him with all the disadvantages resulting from its employment on the other hand. Then the proprietor alone would be fully responsible for the outcome. In dealing with his property he would take into account all the expected results of his action, those considered favorable as well as those considered unfavorable. But if some of the consequences of his action are outside of the sphere of the benefits he is entitled to reap and of the drawbacks that are put to his debit, he will not bother in his planning about all the effects of his action. He will disregard those benefits which do not increase his own satisfaction and those costs which do not burden him. His conduct will deviate from the line which it would have followed if the laws were better adjusted to the economic objectives of private ownership. He will embark upon certain projects only because the laws release him from responsibility for some of the costs incurred. He will abstain from other projects merely because the laws prevent him from harvesting all the advantages derivable.

And he concludes that section with this:

It has merely to stress the point that this is a problem of delimitation of property rights and that with the abolition of patents and copyrights authors and inventors would for the most part be producers of external economies.

So, I say he is making a logical connection between defining the boundaries of private property, and how a failure to do so with IP will have consequences on the economic calculations of the actors who both produce and consume intellectual goods which can be readily and cheaply reproduced.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Wildberry,

Of course I’ve never said this. Care to provide a link and a quote?

So, you never said or implied that the reason why copying should be subject to author’s permission is that the author created the original? Or maybe you could clarify, is the ownership or the creation of the original that is relevant, or something entirely else?

I am not debating the work of Schulman, I am envoking the words of Mises. Nice diversion.

So if Shulman uses “ideas” to justify IP, that’s fine, but when IP opponents do it, then it’s not ok?

Is there an argument here, or just an assertion of your impressions of what he means in some general sense?

Of course there is an argument. The argument is that Mises never implied there is a connection between external economies and property rights.

External economies is a general economic principle which he discusses in the cited section. I suppose he thought it was relevant.

Not for property rights, or for deciding what should be produced and what not.

He used IP as an illustration of an extreme example of his point.

Apart from “extreme”, that’s exactly what I said.

I think you have missed his point.

I think you missed the point.

It is generally relevant to economics, and the allocation of property rights.

Mises did not say anything like this. Where do you have this from?

Free markets, which he advocates, hold that the private ownership of the means of production must be secured, in order for consumers to be sovereign.

This claim is invariant with respect to the definition of property rights. What is the relevance of this to the debate?

IP is a limited form of property right.

So you never said that an author has “full property rights in an original manuscript”, or things like IP allows the authors to exercise the full rights to their property?

.My definition of copyrights and patents can be found in the relevant statutes, which I have provided.

So, the validity of economic laws is determined by the acts of congress?

There is no need for me to try to invent something better; that definition is adequate.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, how do the acts of congress determine the validity of economic laws?

This is an assertion without any support or reference to the citations given.

So I did not quote Mises, and I did not say in the past how to determine whether two descriptions refer to one phenomenon?

The two subject paragraphs ARE different interpretations of the same phenomena; namely authorship. IP opponents belive the argument stops after the first, without considering or debating the second. How convenient to your cause, and disrespectful of Mises.

I pointed out the flaw in your argument. You are claiming that the existence of externalities justifies a specific definition of property rights. Mises did not say that. If you disagree, provide a claim where he said that.

Both. Property rights interact, which can be a source of conflict.

Ok, we’ll skip over the first one, because we agree on that. Here comes the question: when these two approaches conflict, which one takes precedence?

Not that I’m aware of.

But that’s what you’re arguing. Or are you not claiming that the reason why IP is legitimate is that without it, there would be externalities, and that you got this from Mises?

But he did say this here:

The quote is regrettably vague in some respects. It is not possible to define rights in a way that the owner can claim all advantages and all disadvantages of it, because causality extends to infinity. He is not justifying property rights, he is merely describing how they ideally should work. Other Austrians that came after him do a better job.

So, I say he is making a logical connection between defining the boundaries of private property, and how a failure to do so with IP will have consequences on the economic calculations of the actors who both produce and consume intellectual goods which can be readily and cheaply reproduced.

This interpretation contradicts the rest of the chapter. At no point did he reverse the implication as you are doing.

If you are interested, Roy Cordato analyses externalities in more detail. For example, he divides them into those that are caused by imprecise definition of property rights, and those that are simply outside property rights.

Furthermore, empirical evidence shows that Mises’ “fears” were unfounded anyway.

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

If you are wondering what I think property is and how it arises, I subscribe completely to Mises’s treatment of the subject. In my view, he completely rebuts the significance of “first use” and consequently “homesteading” as a relevant, must less exclusive understanding of what is meant by “private property”.

This is particularly relevant to those who insist that property is only what Rothbard, Hoppe and Kinsella says it is.

Mises says this here: http://mises.org/humanaction/chap24sec4.asp

XXIV. HARMONY AND CONFLICT OF INTERESTS

4. Private Property
________________________________________
Private ownership of the means of production is the fundamental institution of the market economy. It is the institution the presence of which characterizes the market economy as such. Where it is absent, there is no question of a market economy.

Ownership means full control of the services that can be derived from a good. This catallactic notion of ownership and property rights is not to be confused with the legal definition of ownership and property rights as stated in the laws of various countries. It was the idea of legislators and courts to define the legal concept of property in such a way as to give to the proprietor full protection by the governmental apparatus of coercion and compulsion and to prevent anybody from encroaching upon his rights. As far as this purpose was adequately realized, the legal concept of property rights corresponded to the catallactic concept. However, nowadays there are tendencies to abolish the institution of private property by a change in the laws determining the scope of the actions which the proprietor is entitled to undertake with regard to the things which are his property. While retaining the term private property, these reforms aim at the [p. 683] substitution of public ownership for private ownership. This tendency is the characteristic mark of the plans of various schools of Christian socialism and of nationalist socialism. But few of the champions of these schools have been so keen as the Nazi philosopher Othmar Spann, who explicitly declared that the realization of his plans would bring about a state of affairs in which the institution of private property will be preserved only in a “formal sense, while in fact there will be only public ownership.” [15] There is need to mention these things in order to avoid popular fallacies and confusion. In dealing with private property, catallactics deals with control, not with legal terms, concepts and definitions. Private ownership means that the proprietors determine the employment of the factors of production, while public ownership means that the government controls their employment.

Private property is a human device. It is not sacred. It came into existence in early ages of history, when people with their own power and by their own authority appropriated to themselves what had previously not been anybody’s property. Again and again proprietors were robbed of their property by expropriation. The history of private property can be traced back to a point at which it originated out of acts which were certainly not legal. Virtually every owner is the direct or indirect legal successor of people who acquired ownership either by arbitrary appropriation of ownerless things or by violent spoilation of their predecessor.

However, the fact that legal formalism can trace back every title either to arbitrary appropriation or to violent expropriation has no significance whatever for the conditions of a market society. Ownership in the market economy is no longer linked up with the remote origin of private property. Those events in a far-distant past, hidden in the darkness of primitive mankind’s history, are no longer of any concern for our day. For in an unhampered market society the consumers daily decide anew who should own and how much he should own. The consumers allot control of the means of production to those who know how to use them best for the satisfaction of the most urgent wants of the consumers. Only in a legal and formalistic sense can the owners be considered the successors of appropriators and expropriators. In fact, they are mandataries of the consumers, bound by the operation of the market to serve the consumers best. Under capitalism, private property is the consummation of the self-determination of the consumers.

Emphasis added.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm

The quote does not explain how to delineate property rights, nor does it allow to conclude either for or against IP. However, it specifically says that merely labeling something property (which is what IP proponents do) does not make it so.

You assert that the acts of copying are covered by property rights, and provide the following proofs:
- encubment legal system (which approach Mises explicitly rejects in the very quote you provided)
- existence of externalities (which Mises also rejects).

You said that the act of copying is not use of private property of the copier, but rather the private property of the author (or owner of the original, you have not sufficiently clarified which of those two). So, you are leaving the open the very question which I have been asking you for over half a year: how do you determine which acts are in accordance and which are in violation of property rights, without referring to existing laws or existence of externalities?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

You assert that the acts of copying are covered by property rights, and provide the following proofs:
- encubment legal system (which approach Mises explicitly rejects in the very quote you provided)
- existence of externalities (which Mises also rejects).

And your argument that supports these assertions are where? Really, who goes for this stuff?

So, you are leaving the open the very question which I have been asking you for over half a year: how do you determine which acts are in accordance and which are in violation of property rights, without referring to existing laws or existence of externalities?

Well, I guess if you just eliminate the things that can be used to argue with your position, that leaves only those things which you approve of, and why would you approve of something that refutes your assertions? Are you kidding?

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Wildberry,

And your argument that supports these assertions are where? Really, who goes for this stuff?

If you do not accept this, then what is your argument for IP then? I eliminated all the interpretations that I could think of.

Well, I guess if you just eliminate the things that can be used to argue with your position, that leaves only those things which you approve of, and why would you approve of something that refutes your assertions? Are you kidding?

Which leaves the question, if my interpretations are incorrect, what are the correct ones?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm

They are your assertions, not mine. I will not do all the heavy lifting to support your own arguments. Get busy.

Your interpretations are incorrect, and mostly incomphrehensible. I have given you what i think is correct. You are just trying to toss your lack of understanding and lack of effort back in my court. No thanks.

Peter Surda July 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

Wildberry,

They are your assertions, not mine.

What are your assertions then?

Your interpretations are incorrect, and mostly incomphrehensible.

What specifically is incomprehensible and incorrect?

Wildberry July 17, 2011 at 12:40 pm

You apparently cannot read. Look up…

Peter Surda July 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Wildberry,

is it possible to clarify one’s position when one refuses to answer questions?

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

One more thing, you claim that IP opponents are like socialists. So what exactly is it that IP opponents want socialised? You rejected the notion that IP is about ideas, so what we are left with is the private property of the copiers, which obviously would not be socialised in the absence of IP, on account of being the private property of the copier (rather than the general public). Or is there something else?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm

So what exactly is it that IP opponents want socialised?

They want the products from the privately owned means of production to be public goods, which makes those private means public means. Socialism advocates for public ownership of the means of production.

This is the consistent target of Mises’s analysis; the consequences of choosing socialist economic principles and then using the coercive power of government to enforce them.

IP opponents pretend they can get around this by using the private coercive powers of PDAs to prevent the enforcement of private ownership of the means of production, by declaring them invalid and treating any attempt to assert private ownership as aggression.

Mises argues this is false, because the consequences are identical; public means of production replaces the sovereign power consumers to allocate resources to those producers who satisfy consumer demand.

If producers do not or cannot own the benefits of their production, they will reallocate their means to other forms of production, or cease to produce at the level of output or quality that the means are capable of. Any attempt to change this merely results in misallocation of resources, shortages and abundance in undesired areas of the economy. This is why socialism fails. That is the Mises argument.

Sorry to break this to you Peter, but Mises already thought this through. You are an amateur.

Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Wildberry,

They want the products from the privately owned means of production to be public goods, which makes those private means public means.

Can you show any example of any such public good in the absence of IP?

IP opponents pretend they can get around this by using the private coercive powers of PDAs to prevent the enforcement of private ownership of the means of production, by declaring them invalid and treating any attempt to assert private ownership as aggression.

The same thing can be said about IP proponents. This does not explain anything. It underscores that you do not comprehend the argument. If you would, then you would attempt to show an example of a situation which involves IP but does not involve the material the copies consist of.

If producers do not or cannot own the benefits of their production, they will reallocate their means to other forms of production,

Producers do own some benefits from their production with our without IP, and in neither of those cases they own full benefits. So again, this does not explain anything. I already pointed this out several times, yet you continue to ignore it. Or can you show me an example where with or without IP, a producer does not own any benefits of their production, or conversely owns all the benefits of their production?

Sorry to break this to you Peter, but Mises already thought this through. You are an amateur.

You have failed to provide any coherent argument whatsoever and reject any attempt at clarification. Your attempts to metaargue are moot.

Have you explained what IP is, without referring either to externalities or current law? Or are you claiming that current law is unerring with regards to IP, or that all externalities are property just like IP? Don’t you think that before evaluating whether IP is legitimate or not, you need to define what it is?

Wildberry July 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm

@Peter Surda July 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Can you show any example of any such public good in the absence of IP?

What are you talking about? If you mean a copy of a book that becomes a public good once disclosed by the author, then yes, that is an example. Did you actually read the Mises quotes I offered here? Did you miss that part?

If you would, then you would attempt to show an example of a situation which involves IP but does not involve the material the copies consist of.

Why do you insist this is relevant? Because by accepting this ridiculous premise, that the material a copy consists of is the only relevant factor to consider, you have assumed the conclusion.

Making a copy of a book, say, is both a use and a benefit of the author’s private means of production. Have you been following along? Socialists don’t think those private means should be private, they argue that to privatize those means and the products thereby produced, is a violation of their own liberty; “to each according to his need”. Did you actually read the relevant passage from Mises on that point?

Producers do own some benefits from their production with our without IP, and in neither of those cases they own full benefits.

I am too tired and bored with your gyrations to look up the passage, but Mises addresses this directly. Neither external costs nor external benefits are necessarily absolute, but the relative costs and benefits are what are considered in the economic calculation of the actors.

In your obscene world view, the producer (author) should calculate on the basis that what he produces from his own private means, if what he produces is an intellectual product that can be easily and cheaply reproduced, should be, FOR THE MOST PART, for external economies. What the consumer should calculate is that the acquisition, use and benefits of the author’s production is a free good. Your formula for allocation of property rights leads to shortage and poverty; i.e. SOCIALISM.

But please, don’t make an argument on my account. Feel free to skip freely along on the road to serfdom.

Or can you show me an example where with or without IP, a producer does not own any benefits of their production, or conversely owns all the benefits of their production?

I am raising Mises own words. If you are arguing with me, you are arguing with Mises. If you are dismissing me, you are dismissing Mises. Give it a shot. Like I said:

Sorry to break this to you Peter, but Mises already thought this through. You are an amateur.

You have failed to provide any coherent argument whatsoever and reject any attempt at clarification. Your attempts to metaargue are moot.

Talk to the hand. If you think Mises in incoherent, I can’t help you. If you think he is wrong, well better than you have tried to prove it, but go for it. That should be amusing.

Peter Surda July 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Wildberry,

first of all, before I forget, think I understand your argument better, so the socratic approach is showing results. So I know how to meaningfully continue.

Isn’t it true that rather than giving the owner the full benefit of the property, property rights only give those benefits that do not violate property righs of others? Isn’t it true that in order to determine who has a right to benefit from a specific use of property, you need to define property rights in the first place? Isn’t it then when you clam that that the owner of the original has a right to benefit from copies because they are a use of the original, this actually avoids the question, because it does not explain how to determine whether an action is in accordance or in violation of property rights?

Now, back to the flow of the debate.

If you mean a copy of a book that becomes a public good once disclosed by the author, then yes, that is an example.

Can you show me an example of a copy that is public property, rather than private property of the owner of the material the copy composes of?

Why do you insist this is relevant?

Because otherwise most of the pro-IP arguments are self-contradictory.

Because by accepting this ridiculous premise, that the material a copy consists of is the only relevant factor to consider, you have assumed the conclusion.

I do not claim that this is the only relevant factor. Rather I am pointing out that this explains the source of the conflict. You claim that the source of the conflict are the rights in the original. I claim that the source of the conflict are the rights in the material the copy consists of. If you cannot show a situation where my claim is wrong, then the whole approach through the rights of the author, “IP socialism” or external economies is erroneous, since it ignores that IP must always redistribute private property (i.e. exactly what Mises was criticising in his chapter about external economies).

Making a copy of a book, say, is both a use and a benefit of the author’s private means of production.

Let’s accept this so that I can finally skip over your unwillingness to clarify this. However, as I explained above, this is only relevant if the attempt of the author to claim the benefit does not violate property rights of the copier. This underscores the exact problem with your approach: you do not define property rights in the first place. Without that, it is impossible to conclude either way.

Neither external costs nor external benefits are necessarily absolute, but the relative costs and benefits are what are considered in the economic calculation of the actors.

But this equally applies to a system with and without IP. IP has, from the point of actors, both beneficial and detrimental effects and can just as well inhibit economic calculation as encourage it.

In your obscene world view, the producer (author) should calculate on the basis that what he produces from his own private means, if what he produces is an intellectual product that can be easily and cheaply reproduced, should be, FOR THE MOST PART, for external economies.

Can you show me any producer of anything whatsoever that does not, for the most part, produce for external economies? Furthermore, do you realise that Mises explicitly rejected this connection in the externalities chapter and claimed that the existence of externalities is not a valid reason to conclude that the production should occur?

What the consumer should calculate is that the acquisition, use and benefits of the author’s production is a free good. Your formula for allocation of property rights leads to shortage and poverty; i.e. SOCIALISM.

You have failed to show any example of public property in a world without IP. Unless you can do this, your claim is invalid.

Wildberry July 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Let me just give you a model of how intelligent debate on this subject might go.

Peter:

“You cited Mises, who says this…”
“You said here (exact quote of what I said) that he means this…”
“I think you are wrong because…”
“If my interpretation is correct, and yours is wrong, it means this….”
“This interpretation is relevant because if A then B, and if B then C.”

That is an intelligent argument. Playing Sacrates is not, especially if your questions are stupid or have been addressed elsewhere, which they have.

Why not put some of this inexhaustable energy you use to ask the same stupid questions over and over to better use?

Peter Surda July 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Wildberry,

I asked you clear questions and you start metaarguing. If you actually do have an argument, why don’t you explain it then?

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