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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5437/other-top-ten-lists-of-libertarian-books/

Other Top Ten Lists of Libertarian Books

August 7, 2006 by

After our previous discussion of this topic, I published The Greatest Libertarian Books, today on LewRockwell.com.

I’ve received several emails in response, some of which provoked this idea: the standard “top ten libertarian books” lists are kind of boring by now–they quite often just list “the usual suspects”. What would be interesting would be some other type of “top ten” (or whatever) book lists for libertarians, such as:

1. Top Ten Books By Non-Libertarians That Libertarians Should Read. Example: The Sovereign States, by Kilpatrick.

2. Top Ten Libertarian Books You Have Never Heard Of. Neglected or little-known treasures (sort of like The Free Market Reader.)

3. Top Ten History Books for Libertarians. E.g., Paul Johnson, Modern Times.

4. Top Ten Libertarian Fiction (not counting Rand): e.g., Golden Age by John Wright.

5. Top Ten Pre-Twentieth Century “Libertarian”/”Prot-Libertarian” Books — E.g., our founders and precursors (e.g., Grotius, The Law of War and Peace, Cato’s Letters, Spooner, Locke, etc.)

6. Top Ten non-American or Not Originally Published in English Libertarian Books (e.g., Grotius, The Law of War and Peace; Lepage, Tomorrow, Capitalism, etc.)

Any takers?

{ 30 comments }

Chris Pruden August 7, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Someone mentioned it in the previous top-10 books thread, and I’d also have to put The Moon is a Harsh Mistress(Heinlein) on the fiction list.

sp3tt August 7, 2006 at 3:44 pm

“Top Ten Libertarian Fiction (not counting Rand)”

Well, I guess one could include Heinlein and Frank Herbert. Except for those two though, I haven’t heard of much libertarian fiction.

Aducknamedjoe March 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm

There’s a ton of libertarian fiction listed at artforliberty.com in the “Lists” section if you need some good bedtime reading. Some music and movies too.

Vernor Vinge’s short story “The Ungoverned” is my current favorite though I’m reading “Withur We” by Matthew Alexander as well and enjoying it (not as polished but not bad at all).

Person August 7, 2006 at 4:02 pm

*can’t stop myself*

*can’t stop myself*

How about “Top ten profit-earning books by libertarians who reject the validity of copyrights”:

1) Defending the Undefendable — Walter Block

2) Democracy — Hans Hoppe (note sure: he’s careful to remain silent on it, and his derivation property rights excludes them)

3) Chaos Theory — Robert P. Murphy (again, remains silent, but has praised “Against Intellectual Property”)

4) Studies in Mutualist Political Economy — Kevin Carson.

5) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress — Robert Heinlein (sp?)

6) ???

Stephan, if you have a book, I’ll list it.

Note: One book on this list isn’t actually good, but I listed it anyway.

Stephan Kinsella August 7, 2006 at 4:13 pm

sp3– um, I mention some other libertarian fiction in my article. How can you not have heard of Schulman and Smith?

Person:

Interesting. I suppose you are trying to imply some kind of hypocrisy, of something, which is of course ridiculous. This would be akin to telling Clarence Thomas he has no right to object to affirmative action since he “benefitted” from it (a racist assumption, BTW).

I suppose Block objects to copyright, but not sure where he wrote this. Hoppe does reject copyright, as I do; he told this to me, but not sure he’s written on it.

Re Murphy: yeah, not 100% sure; but was his book a “best seller”? Carson… he rejects IP? It may be on the grounds that he accepts the idea that it’s property and *therefore* rejects it; while I reject it because I think it is *not* property.

Where do you get the idea Heinlein was against copyright?

“Stephan, if you have a book, I’ll list it.”

Oh, I don’t have any best sellers, though my books all make a profit, e.g. International Investment, Political Risk, and Dispute Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide; and Digest of Commercial Laws of the World–but I’m just the editor of the latter, not the sole author.

I may publish a semi-popular book railing against copyight and patent, and I do hope it sells well. Maybe even make the mainstream bookstore shelves and have a mainstream, big publisher.

“Note: One book on this list isn’t actually good, but I listed it anyway.”

Which is that, P-dog?

And how about some real best-sellers, Tom Woods’ Politically Incorrect Guide to History, and Tom DiLorenzo’s Lincoln books–both very big sellers, and I would think both authors are probably anti-copyright (I’m not sure, but they are both smart enough to understand the argument, and honest (that’s why they are paleo-libertarians) so they probably are).

John Markley August 7, 2006 at 6:10 pm

For libertarian fiction, I’d include:
1. John C. Wright’s Golden Age trilogy
2. Poul Anderson, Mirkheim (Lots of the Technic history stuff, really)
3. Poul Anderson, Orion Shall Rise
4. Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky
5. James P. Hogan, The Multiplex Man
6. Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
7. J. Neil Schulman, Alongside Night

Anonymous August 7, 2006 at 8:50 pm

The list of Prometheus Award winners would be a good start in constructing a list of libertarian fiction. Over the past several years, I’ve discovered that the list of nominees each year makes for a pretty good reading list.

Scott Fields August 7, 2006 at 9:22 pm

James P. Hogan has strayed away from mainstream libertarianism, though he still has written some of the best Sci-Fi or political thriller libertarian books out there.

Voyage to Yesteryear
The Mirror Maze

Some other notable authors and their respective works would be the following:

H. Beam Piper – Lone Star Planet

F. Paul Wilson – (The LaNague Trilogy)

L. Neal Smith – EVERY BOOK HE HAS WRITTEN!

Radical Sceptic August 8, 2006 at 10:28 am

‘Top Ten Libertarian Books You Have Never Heard Of’

Well the one that should be right at the top of that list is ‘Escape from Leviathan’ by J.C. Lester. A work of extreme anarcho-libertarian political philosophy. Provides a pure theory of liberty and property rights that manages to avoid all the errors inherent in Rothbard, Narveson, Hoppe, David Friedman etc. This is the book that Nozick would have written if only he had been a bit brighter and better read.

This book, published by Macmillan in 2000, is woefully neglected. Libertarian scholars who endlessly work themselves into confusion about natural rights, consequentialism and other supposed justifications for liberty and property would do well to read and study this brilliant and liberating solution.

Person August 8, 2006 at 10:46 am

Stephan:

Re Murphy: yeah, not 100% sure; but was his book a “best seller”? … I don’t have any best sellers,

Where did I say “best seller”? I believe the term I used was “profit-making”, i.e. such that monetary proceeds of the book exceeded monetary production costs. (for the picky: I’m using the accounting, not economic sense of profit) I thought you were going to start reading my posts. :-(

And for anyone who’s watching: Block et. al could have turned off their IP rights in their books or otherwise not made it artificially hard to get, Clarence Thomas could not have turned off affirmative action. (And the assertion that he benefitted is wrong, anyway.)

Stephan Kinsella August 8, 2006 at 11:27 am

Person:

Why not come out and directly and clearly say what you mean, rather than leaving it between the lines. Are you saying that anti-copyright people are *substantively incorrect* — *because* they have published books that profit? What exactly is your argument? Are you saying we are “hypocrites”? If so, make the argument, and explain its relevance.

“And for anyone who’s watching: Block et. al could have turned off their IP rights in their books or otherwise not made it artificially hard to get,”

HOw do you “turn off” IP rights? Please tell me. Second, are you saying that if a publisher of the works in question somehow did disclaim copyright, that means the book would not have sold or made a profit? What exactly is your point?

Are you saying that an author can just instruct the publisher to disclaim copyright protection? Surely you are aware that this is ridiculous. If any author told his publisher he insists on removal of copyright protection, the publisher would say, “No thanks, we’ll pass on the project.” So waht you are saying (I guess?) is that any author who opposes IP has to sabatoge any publication opportunity by any legitimate publisher, and only self-publish for free on the Internet? I.e., are you saying that copyright opponents, because we are NOT getting our way (because there ARE copyright law), have to not only put up with bad law, but shut up too? Whereas, the copyright advocates who ARE getting their way–getting to have laws that force others to go along with their desires–get to have this AND they have the right to talk about it? How convenient.

Person August 8, 2006 at 11:46 am

Stephan:

What exactly is your argument? Are you saying we are “hypocrites”?

Yes. Yes, you are a hypocrite. You claim it is morally wrong to stop someone for ordering his property in a particular non-aggressive manner, yet threaten others with physical force for choosing to do so. Your actions contradict your stated preference. And it doesn’t matter that you delegate this to another, blah blah blah. (“you” here refers to those on the list I made above)

HOw do you “turn off” IP rights? Please tell me.

An IP attorney is asking me this??? When do I get to charge your rates? How about:

“This work is in the public domain.” or “Author grants permission to copy this work at will.”?

Are you saying that an author can just instruct the publisher to disclaim copyright protection?

Yes.

Surely you are aware that this is ridiculous. If any author told his publisher he insists on removal of copyright protection, the publisher would say, “No thanks, we’ll pass on the project.”

Er, yeah, for a typical book contract. That’s … kinda the point.

So waht you are saying (I guess?) is that any author who opposes IP has to sabatoge any publication opportunity by any legitimate publisher, and only self-publish for free on the Internet?

That does not follow. Be creative for a minute here. You could set up some contract in which they can charge whatever they want, market the book, not assert copyright, and then you pay them any amount below $X that they fail to earn through selling the book. That way, you’re essentially paying them to market the book, while they take a chance on being able ot make additional profit. You could also simply pay a printer to make the copies and then pay a bookstore to hold it, and then sell it at a low enough price as to make it affordable, while also encouraging people to download it for free.

Yes, adhering to principles (i.e., refraining from what you believe to be aggression) can make it more difficult to get your word out. But — that’s just the utilitarian in you complaining.

I accept your apology for adding “best-selling” to my post.

Paul Edwards August 8, 2006 at 11:47 am

Radical Sceptic,

There’s even a book review on ‘Escape from Leviathan’ here:

http://mises.org/journals/jls/17_4/17_4_4.pdf

Stephan Kinsella August 8, 2006 at 12:03 pm

Person:

“Yes. Yes, you are a hypocrite.”

So? What if this were true? How does this fact imply my claim that copyright is unjustified, is incorrect? Stick to substance.

“You claim it is morally wrong to stop someone for ordering his property in a particular non-aggressive manner,”

Did I say it was “morally wrong”? Where?

“yet threaten others with physical force for choosing to do so. Your actions contradict your stated preference.”

Not so; but even if it did, so what? So what?

“How do you “turn off” IP rights? Please tell me.

An IP attorney is asking me this??? When do I get to charge your rates? How about:

“This work is in the public domain.” or “Author grants permission to copy this work at will.”?”

Doesn’t do it. (I think the EFF or open source movements disucss how difficult it is to dedicate a copyight to the public domain) NEXT.

“‘So waht you are saying (I guess?) is that any author who opposes IP has to sabatoge any publication opportunity by any legitimate publisher, and only self-publish for free on the Internet?

“That does not follow. Be creative for a minute here. You could set up some contract in which they can charge whatever they want, market the book, not assert copyright, and then you pay them any amount below $X that they fail to earn through selling the book. That way, you’re essentially paying them to market the book, while they take a chance on being able ot make additional profit.”

This is idiotic. THe wordl does not work this way. It’s take it or leave it. Period.

“You could also simply pay a printer to make the copies and then pay a bookstore to hold it, and then sell it at a low enough price as to make it affordable, while also encouraging people to download it for free.”

Right. I could do lots of things to be a martyr, for the sake primarily of a bunch of ingrates who don’t desrve it. No thanks.

“Yes, adhering to principles (i.e., refraining from what you believe to be aggression) can make it more difficult to get your word out. But — that’s just the utilitarian in you complaining.”

NO; it’s the face without pain or fear or guilt. I didn’t make this unjust world, and I’ll be damned if I’ll accept the moral obligation to harm myself above and beyond the amount already foisted on me by you statists.

“I accept your apology for adding “best-selling” to my post.”

Dude you have got to relax.

Person August 8, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Er… WHAT?

Stephan Kinsella, is it the real Stephan Kinsella who’s actually using your account in your last post? When you disavow your theory of property — claiming you never said it was morally wrong to stop someone from arranging his property in a non-aggressive manner, when you make bizarre Rand allusions in a criticism of intellectual property, when you complain about taking up the moral obligation not to aggress against others, I have to make reasonably sure I’m speaking to that Stephan Kinsella before trying to sort through your latest.

Stephan Kinsella August 8, 2006 at 12:16 pm

Person: “When you disavow your theory of property — claiming you never said it was morally wrong to stop someone from arranging his property in a non-aggressive manner,”

I speak precisely. Where did I say it is *morally wrong*? Show me.

“when you make bizarre Rand allusions in a criticism of intellectual property,”

What?

Person August 8, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Stephan:

I speak precisely.

Prove it.

Where did I say it is *morally wrong*?

Where did you say what was morally wrong?

Show me.

Show you what?

What?

Huh?

***

See, I can play your game too.

Stephan Kinsella August 8, 2006 at 12:33 pm

Person: re morally wrong: you are misstating my views. I speak of rights and justification.

Person August 8, 2006 at 12:36 pm

Stephan: no, you don’t.

Feeling it yet?

David J. Heinrich August 8, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Person’s argument seems not to be that Kinsella’s argument against IP is wrong, but rather that Kinsella is a hypocrite. Presumeably, Person accepts Kinsella’s argument against IP. On that assumption, here’s a brief analysis…

(1) Free people don’t accept responsibility for situation’s they didn’t create. It is not the fault of Stephan Kinsella that we live in a State-run world, where the ideal libertarian way of profiting from books isn’t available as a viable option.

(2) You’re argument wouldn’t allow libertarians to use public roads. Come on, this is ridiculous.

(3) Here’s what Stephan is doing: he gets money from a publisher to provide them with a book. They then pay him money later on in the form of a certain percentage of the proceeds they make from selling the book. The fact that they copyright the book is irrelevant; the interaction between them and Kinsella is non-aggressive.

That said, I’m not so sure I agree with Kinsella completely on what he refers to as “intellectual property”. Certainly, contracts are only binding on those who agree to them, and that places practical problems on copyrights, but it hardly means they’re illegitimate in a narrowly defined sense. Furthermore, I argue that “No tresspassing” signs are valid, as would be Walter Block’s hypothetical “Killing Park” (where you put signs on the entrance to a park saying it’s a free shooting range, and anything and anyone on it is a potential target). Thus, I don’t see why you can’t place a copyright notice on the page of every book; thus, anyone opening it would know that it was covered by copyright contract, and that as a contingency of them reading it, they can’t copy it (at least not for redistribution).

This is very similar to Kinsella’s argument for limited liability; anyone doing business with a corporation knows that the “Inc” or “Corp” or whatever it is means that they only have claim to the company’s assets — asset’s under the control of the corporation — and not to any of the assets of the shareholders (that is, shareholders cannot lose more than their initial value invested). I don’t see why the same doesn’t apply to copyright.

There are also restaurants that don’t have prices listed on the food; yet, it’s presumed that you have to pay for it, at least what would be considered a reasonable amount, given the quality and quantity of foods (e.g., $12 for a hamburger would be reasonable; $1000 wouldn’t).

Angry Person August 8, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Hijacking my name — that’s a new low.

Person August 8, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Person:

“Stephan: no, you don’t.

Feeling it yet?”

Now now, if you don’t stop being silly, I’ll stop deigning to give you the pleasure of my replies. Kindly warning.

Second, re the other “Person” post, I deleted it and warned the poster.

Heinrich:
“Person’s argument seems not to be that Kinsella’s argument against IP is wrong, but rather that Kinsella is a hypocrite. Presumeably, Person accepts Kinsella’s argument against IP.”

Ha ha ha ha. Got him. Seriously, now, PErson, the point is: stick to substance. Drop the hypocrite talk unless you can tie it to some *substantive* point.

“(1) Free people don’t accept responsibility for situation’s they didn’t create. It is not the fault of Stephan Kinsella that we live in a State-run world, where the ideal libertarian way of profiting from books isn’t available as a viable option.”

Yes; I’ve also written on this: The Morality of Acquiring and Enforcing Patents, and Letter to an Anonymous Patent Attorney, avialable here.

“(3) Here’s what Stephan is doing: he gets money from a publisher to provide them with a book. They then pay him money later on in the form of a certain percentage of the proceeds they make from selling the book. The fact that they copyright the book is irrelevant; the interaction between them and Kinsella is non-aggressive.”

And actually, they don’t copyright the book. The copyight is automatic. You have a copyright in your message to me you just wrote. I write a book. A publisher prints it and sells copies to customers. They pay; the publisher pays me. Everyone is happy. No one is coerced. Who is being harmed? Some pirate publisher down the road who “coudl” publish a pirate copy if there were no copyright law? But it’s not our fault there are copyight law. And do we have some affirmative duty to “get rid of” a right the law bestows on us, even though it’s very difficult and costly to do it? It’s just ridiculous, this whole infantile idea.

“I don’t see why you can’t place a copyright notice on the page of every book; thus, anyone opening it would know that it was covered by copyright contract, and that as a contingency of them reading it, they can’t copy it (at least not for redistribution).”

Because first, at most, this gets you the right-to-reproduce. But this is only one part of the copyright bundle. For example how would you get the derivative right? No way. And without this, copryright is much less valuable.

Moreover, again, even if you could imply an agreement between the third party and the author, by virtue of the third party’s holding the page or seeing the notice, suppose the third party goes ahead and reprints it on the internet (sand notice). HOw are FOURTH parties supposed to be bound?

Finally, this argument presupposes that information is property. I deal with this at length elsewhere.

“This is very similar to Kinsella’s argument for limited liability; anyone doing business with a corporation knows that the “Inc” or “Corp” or whatever it is means that they only have claim to the company’s assets — asset’s under the control of the corporation — and not to any of the assets of the shareholders (that is, shareholders cannot lose more than their initial value invested). I don’t see why the same doesn’t apply to copyright.”

Because in the corporate context the second party’s awareness of the corporation’s status is relevant in answering what he *consented to* when dealing with the corporation. This argument does not presuppose that info is a rivalrous resource.

David J. Heinrich August 8, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Stephan,

“the point is: stick to substance. Drop the hypocrite talk unless you can tie it to some *substantive* point.”

I think Person’s point is that making profit off of copyrighted books is wrong. I think this is an incorrect argument. When directed as a charge of hypocrisy against you, it isn’t substantitive; however, when generalized (as I have stated it), it seems to be a relevant issue.

“And actually, they don’t copyright the book. The copyight is automatic. You have a copyright in your message to me you just wrote. I write a book. A publisher prints it and sells copies to customers. They pay; the publisher pays me. Everyone is happy. No one is coerced. Who is being harmed? Some pirate publisher down the road who “coudl” publish a pirate copy if there were no copyright law? But it’s not our fault there are copyight law. And do we have some affirmative duty to “get rid of” a right the law bestows on us, even though it’s very difficult and costly to do it? It’s just ridiculous, this whole infantile idea.”

I agree with this in it’s entirety. And thanks for the legal correction. We certainly don’t have any affirmative duty to “get rid of” our copyrights — irrelevant of the expense — because such would violate the non-aggression axiom (all positive duties not voluntarily accepted violate the NAA).

“at most, this [placing a copyright notice on every page] gets you the right-to-reproduce. But this is only one part of the copyright bundle. For example how would you get the derivative right? No way. And without this, copryright is much less valuable.

That’s a good point. However, I’m not sure why you couldn’t just say, in addition to “copyrighted” also that you have the right to make sequels (or 2nd, 3rd, etc editions) that could be reasonably considered “derivatives”.

Moreover, again, even if you could imply an agreement between the third party and the author, by virtue of the third party’s holding the page or seeing the notice, suppose the third party goes ahead and reprints it on the internet (sans notice). How are FOURTH parties supposed to be bound?

They most certainly wouldn’t be in that case. However, the person putting it online would be. At the very least, this measure is a measure that would make it more likely that the person viewing the book would be aware of, and hence consented to, the copyright / derivative-right notice.

Finally, this argument presupposes that information is property. I deal with this at length elsewhere.

I don’t see why you have to think information is property to have this argument. There’s no reason why you can’t sell something — e.g., a book — with only certain use-rights.

I think that two consenting parties can make whatever kind of contract they want to — so-long as it doesn’t violate the rights of anyone else — and that performance of that contract can be enforced. I know that you disagree with this position (e.g., your argument against life-long servitude contracts), but I accept Block’s argument that you can, indeed, sell yourself into slavery. This is just a specific instance of enforcing performance.

It seems to me, then, that if you think it is legitimate to enforce performance of a contract, then you can legitimately contractually create something resembling (although not as powerful as) what we today know as “copyright”. If you don’t think it is legitimate to enforce performance, then such is not possible.

Stephan Kinsella August 8, 2006 at 2:19 pm

Heinrich maneuver:

>I think Person’s point is that making profit off of copyrighted books is wrong.< Actually I don't think so. I think he is in favor of IP. Maybe he think's it's wrong for ME to make profit since I oppose IP--but this is also wrong.

>I think this is an incorrect argument. When directed as a charge of hypocrisy against you, it isn’t substantitive; however, when generalized (as I have stated it), it seems to be a relevant issue.< Yes; but he is not against IP. He is against me being against IP.

"That's a good point. However, I'm not sure why you couldn't just say, in addition to "copyrighted" also that you have the right to make sequels (or 2nd, 3rd, etc editions) that could be reasonably considered "derivatives"."

Because you are trying to bind third parties to some complex agreement, and this requires an actual agreement, not just a stamp on a book page.

>They most certainly wouldn’t be in that case. However, the person putting it online would be.< But if you agree with me here, then you have lost. Once you find some third parties who are free to disregard the copyright, the copyright is gone.

> At the very least, this measure is a measure that would make it more likely that the person viewing the book would be aware of, and hence consented to, the copyright / derivative-right notice.< I disagree anyway with the use of notice to bind third parties. Even if I find a book on a park bench that was set down by its purchaser, i am not bound by a notice. Suppose you walk around town with a large sign on your head: "Notice: I reserve the right to remember what color shirt I'm wearing." Why does that notice "bind" third parties who see you?

"I don't see why you have to think information is property to have this argument. There's no reason why you can't sell something -- e.g., a book -- with only certain use-rights."

I disagree. You can have co-ownership of a book with someone. Sure. And that can limit the purchaser's right to do things with it. But it does not imply that this private arrangement afects third parties. It's very similar to the way trade secrets work. A and B agree that B will not divulge any of A's secrets. If he does so, he can be sued for damage. Suppose one of Coca-Cola's employees publishes the formula for coke tomorrow on the internet. Yes Coke can sue him. But can they stop other cola companies from using this recipe now? No.

The only way to justfiy stopping people from using this info is to say the info is property owned by coke.

>I think that two consenting parties can make whatever kind of contract they want to — so-long as it doesn’t violate the rights of anyone else — and that performance of that contract can be enforced. I know that you disagree with this position (e.g., your argument against life-long servitude contracts), but I accept Block’s argument that you can, indeed, sell yourself into slavery.< Yes, but even if you can, it does not affect third parties who become aware of the information--wehther it be a trade secret, a word-pattern (book), or recipe or machiene design (patent-invention).

> This is just a specific instance of enforcing performance.< No. To have patent and copyright you have to have specific performance of third parties. Not just of the parties to the contract.

>It seems to me, then, that if you think it is legitimate to enforce performance of a contract, then you can legitimately contractually create something resembling (although not as powerful as) what we today know as “copyright”.<

I realy doubt it.

Manuel Lora August 8, 2006 at 2:40 pm

“Suppose you walk around town with a large sign on your head: “Notice: I reserve the right to remember what color shirt I’m wearing.” Why does that notice “bind” third parties who see you?”

This is a good point that has recently come under fire when it comes to software agreements that supposedly bind you. The problem, in my view, is that the agreement comes after you purchase the product and have opened it and are about to install it. Normally this is not a problem with ordinary products like furtinure or electronics, but stores (most likely due to government and software company pressure) will not allow you to return software that has been opened, even if you tell them that you didn’t agree to the EULA since it was impossible for you to see what it was.

You HAVE TO open the box and start installing before you agree. Granted, I guess you could go to a web page and read it, but then you’d have to have that option before you buy it (at the store, etc). That doesn’t seem to be happening.

David J. Heinrich August 8, 2006 at 3:51 pm

Stephan,

LOL @ “Heinrich maneuver”.

It seems our disagreement is over two things: (1) Enforcing performance of a contract; (2) Implicit contract.

A corporation’s “Inc” symbol implies an implicit contract, that anyone doing business with them only has claim to the assets of the corporation. Property owners can post signs on their property specifying acceptable behaviour. Why can’t someone do the same for books that they sell to others, with a copyright notice on every page? On Halloween, can we not leave a bowl of candy outside our houses, and write a sign saying, “only 1 [or 2] candy-bars per tricker-treater”? At the Mises Unviersity, for their copier machines, they have a sign requesting 5 cents per copy, with a cup next to the copier machine — isn’t this legitimate? (Sure, enforcement is on the honour system, but that has little to do with whether or not the contract is valid). So, why not the same for physical books? Books are, after all, physical things that are undoubtedly property. The person just walking by in the park, after all, has no right to open up a book to begin with — it’s someone’s private property!

I think that implicit, or one-party stated contracts for use of a physical resource, are perfectly valid. No-one has to open up a book they find in the park or in someone’s house. If they do, I think written indications within the book can place limits on what they can do subsequently. This is different from me walking down the street, yelling, “Anyone listening to my talk has to give me $5,” because people can’t avoid listening to my talk. Likewise, it is different from me going up to someone’s house and re-painting it, then demanding payment (because, as repainting it, I stated my payment terms). I do not think the kind of contract I suggest puts the onus on the accepting party to affirmatively reject the contract, in the same way that the prior examples do.

However, even if you don’t think putting a notice at the bottom of every book-page will do it, there seem to be other ways to accomplish the same thing. Firstly, let’s recognize that hardly no-one has to worry about anyone typing up their book and putting it online. This is not a practical concern. Concerns include using a photo-copier, or scanning the book into a computer and then having some software translate it. It seems to me that such could be prevented by agreement with the producers of photocopiers, document-scanning devices, and document-scanning (and OCR) software. Furthermore, I think that contractual terms with defense agencies could also take care of this.

PS: Also note, I’m arguing for something that is somewhat weaker than “copyright” as we know it today. Absent agreements with protection agencies — whereby those who accept their terms are also bound — you couldn’t enforce performance on 3rd parties who didn’t agree to the contract.

nskinsella August 8, 2006 at 4:17 pm

David,

“It seems our disagreement is over two things: (1) Enforcing performance of a contract; (2) Implicit contract.”

Well. I will accept arguend the right to compel performance; and I grant that there can be implicit agreements.

>A corporation’s “Inc” symbol implies an implicit contract, that anyone doing business with them only has claim to the assets of the corporation.< Well, I would say, that the use of "inc" makes it clear what the parties consented to. It is a contexual clue. It makes it clear that the lender (say) knew that he had security and recourse only to the corporation's assets, not those of the shareholders. So there is simply no (conditional) title transfer from shareholder-to-lender. The "Inc" is just one way of making this clear.

> Property owners can post signs on their property specifying acceptable behaviour.< And this is a slightly different matter. The owner of property has a right to decide who uses it. He can keep people out, or let them use it, or let them use it for limited times for limited purposes. The sign helps make it clear what consent (permission) he is extending.

Notice: in both cases, the person "bound" by the notice or sign, is bound *because they enter a contract* with the other person. The property-owner has a right to refuse to deal with the second party; he witholds this consent until and unless teh second party agrees to certain terms.

>Why can’t someone do the same for books that they sell to others, with a copyright notice on every page? On Halloween, can we not leave a bowl of candy outside our houses, and write a sign saying, “only 1 [or 2] candy-bars per tricker-treater”?< Well, let's be clear about this. Halloween: you can. It is your property. You are giving people implicit and limited permission (license) to enter your property, and to take candy. You are permitting them to take only part of your candy not all of it. If they take more than this, they are stealing.

But this does not apply to a notice on a page. It only works if the ideas on teh page are property. That is why I keep saying IP even by contract presupposes the ideas are property. If some book purchaser posts his copy on the internet, or leaves it on a park bench, I don't *need anyone's permission* to read it! It's just lying there, as if it's abandoned. The reason conditions above work is they are a condition of giving you something you don't already have. In this case, the book-finder does not need any permission.

> At the Mises Unviersity, for their copier machines, they have a sign requesting 5 cents per copy, with a cup next to the copier machine — isn’t this legitimate? < Yes. It's conditioning use of the copier in a certain way. But Mises I. alreayd owns the copyier, and has a right to prevent you from using it.

Even many attorneys don't realize this but the entire concept of license (permission) *depends on the licensor having the right to exclude*. The concept of a license *means that* you are *granting permission* to someone to do something they otherwise would not have the ability or right to do.

Likewise, you cannot say that the notice on teh page of a book binds the finder, unless you first say that the book owner *has a right to deny you the right to copy the information* or read the book--whcih is question begging. If I see a book on teh ground, for all i know it may be lost or abandoned. No one has a right to stop me from picking it up, or reading it. Since they don't, they can't condition my reading it on agreeing to certain conditions.

I suppose you could argue that it would be common knowlege that book publishers retain ownership of books and do not consent to anyone (even a stranger finding it) reading it UNLESS he aggrees to copyright-like-terms first. But the problem with this is several. First, it's way too much a stretch. And second, many books do not have a copyright (the author would not care). How could I find out, without first reading it; by then, I hve the idea, before I agreed to any terms. Third, even if you could bind the third party finder of the book, this only works *because the physical book is owned* by the publisher still; but *not the information*. So if someone does publish the WRODS in a new book, or on the Internet, then fourth parties reading this cannot at all ever be bound, unless you say the property right is *in the information*. Which is wrong, and questionbegging.

>So, why not the same for physical books? Books are, after all, physical things that are undoubtedly property. The person just walking by in the park, after all, has no right to open up a book to begin with — it’s someone’s private property!< How do you know? Maybe it's abandoned. Maybe it's left there by a proselytizer. Maybe the author is seeding them like those Christian comics on your windshield. Or maybe the owner would not mind if you browsed it, much like people sometiems borrow each others' newspapers?

>I think that implicit, or one-party stated contracts for use of a physical resource, are perfectly valid.< Only, in this case, if you say that my opening and viewing a lost book is *necessarily* trespass. But it is not. Books are not special; they are just objects. Are you saying that if things are lost or abandoned, no one else ever has the right to use them?

>No-one has to open up a book they find in the park or in someone’s house. If they do, I think written indications within the book can place limits on what they can do subsequently.< Perhaps. Even if so, however, as i said, "fourth parties" who merely see *the information* are not bound.

>This is different from me walking down the street, yelling, “Anyone listening to my talk has to give me $5,” because people can’t avoid listening to my talk.< Can anoyone today avoid knowing who Mickey Mouse is, or Superman, or the plot of Star Wars, or Romeo and Juliet? This is common konwledge. Yet people are restricted from acing on this knowledge by copyight law.

>Concerns include using a photo-copier, or scanning the book into a computer and then having some software translate it. It seems to me that such could be prevented by agreement with the producers of photocopiers, document-scanning devices, and document-scanning (and OCR) software. Furthermore, I think that contractual terms with defense agencies could also take care of this.< Maybe. But once it leaks out, like a trade secret, it's destroyed. Even if it was leaked in violation of rights.

>PS: Also note, I’m arguing for something that is somewhat weaker than “copyright” as we know it today.<

I bleieve that what you are arguing for, really, is nothing more than trade secret law. And that this cannot be used to generate a simalacrum of copyright.

Curt Howland August 11, 2006 at 2:28 pm

Radical Sceptic, I just looked up Escape From Leviathan. $80? Ouch! Not that I expect my local library is going to have a copy, but that’s the only way I’m going to read it.

That’s with a 20% discount on Amazon, too. Maybe there’s a used copy on abebooks…

M E Hoffer August 11, 2006 at 10:02 pm
Cy January 19, 2009 at 12:37 am

Fe Fi FOE Comes (novel) by William C. Samples

nom on http://www.goodreads.com for Libertarian Fiction, Best ScFi, Best Book

sales at Amazon other book stores

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