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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5764/intellectual-property-and-think-tank-corruption/

Intellectual Property and Think Tank Corruption

October 17, 2006 by

I’ve learned from reliable sources connected with various free market think tanks around the world that various important companies, in particular pharmaceutical, have become “supporters” of such think tanks–provided, of course, that the think tank supports intellectual property rights. Could this be one reason many free market think tanks are supportive of IP despite a mounting case against it?

I wonder if this is one reason for some of Cato’s pro-patent positions. Just wondering, not accusing–but see, e.g., Cato Tugs Stray Back Onto Reservation; Jude Blanchette’s The Reimportation Controversy; Protectionist Cato?; Drug Patents and Welfare (see also Epstein and Patents and Richard Epstein on “The Structural Unity of Real and Intellectual Property”). One Cato “scholar” formerly very critical of patents seems also to have “evolved” in his view of pharmaceutical patents.

And note that Cato’s pharmaceutical donors include Eli Lilly & Company, Merck & Company and Pfizer, Inc., at least according to SourceWatch (admittedly, though, the site does not provide a source for their claim, and none of these companies are listed in Cato’s 2005 annual report).


Update: Another thought: The lead funder of the old Nafta Network, which roped in every single libertarian think tank except you-know-who, under the leadership of Cato, to propagandize for Nafta–was Eli Lilly. Hmm, I wonder if Nafta had an intellectual property component? Well, see here and here.


greg October 28, 2006 at 10:05 am

JimB, I hardly have any idea of what you’re driving at. I think it may somehow be related to what a bedrock moral priciple is and how it is recognized. Who knows? Your post was:

Better / worse, cause / effect implies natural moral law. (Are you a libertarian? If so I need say nothing else but to point out that your position is self-contradictory).

Immateriality has no bearing on this discussion (“all in the mind”). Natural laws are immaterial and you believe in them.

Survival requires mental submission. After all, you believe that engineering principles will be valid in the future although there is no logical necessity they must. (I note that the laws themselves are mystical, magical, unexplainable, immaterial).

When you say Survival requires mental submission you’re making the same upside-down mistake you already made. Human beings make nature submit, that is what makes them different. Stunningly, you don’t even understand this on your own terms:

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Do understand what it means to “have dominion over?” It is not “submission.” Also, I think you probably have a crude understanding of what it means when it is said something is a “physical law.”

greg October 28, 2006 at 10:07 am

oops, wrong thread

Sasha Radeta October 28, 2006 at 10:22 am

Not again!

If the copies are already out the door to D, E, F, …Inf, then only ill-defined profits could be recovered. D, E, F, …Inf, can then make countless copies while violating no contract. C will simply be bankrupted.

As it should be… if C intentionally violated our contract. Harsh consequences like those will be a powerful deterrent against copyright violation.

By the way, Stephan’s new thread only proves my point (I doubt he realized it):
- Not everyone in the free market wants our current one-size-fits-all copyright “protection”. Stossel did a report on 20/20 about Lime Wire and how it helps promoting new music and consequent sales of CDs.

That’s why I said: leave it to free individuals! Let them formulate their contracts any way they want to. I explained how free market could provide protection of copyright, but it would be left to individuals to negotiate their contracts. Some people would rather pay lower price than have the unrestricted copyright. That would make pricing more complex and that’s why econometricians and central planers would hate such liberty.

greg October 28, 2006 at 4:43 pm

sr> I explained how free market could provide protection of copyright,…

In your dreams.

Sasha Radeta October 29, 2006 at 1:10 am

That’s the best you could do? Pathetic.

Why don’t you stop being someone else’s cheerleader? It’s more fun when you think of a coherent argument – try it.

…But I’m afraid you are out of luck. Markets can provide a lot of things, including certain terms of product use.

Björn Lundahl October 29, 2006 at 6:02 am


1/ If person A sells his property to another person under the condition that the buyer has no right to copy it and this property has a design, construction etc which is very usual, the buyer won’t violate the contract even if he would make another sample of the same product (property).

2/ Alternatively, if person B sells his property to another person under the condition that the buyer has no right to copy it and this property has a design, construction etc which is unique, the buyer will violate the contract if he would make another sample of the same product (property).

If person B didn’t, originally, own the property and all the rights to it (including the right to copy it), he couldn’t justifiably make mentioned contract. But in this example he did, actually, completely own the property.

As person B completely owns the property and did not either transfer the right to copy it to anyone, a third party does not have, because of this, any right to copy it.

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg, Sweden

greg October 29, 2006 at 11:53 am

Björn, as far as #1 goes, it doesn’t matter how “usual or unusual” it is, because the red flags go off for subjectively rating what is “usual.” If someone agrees not to copy, that’s it — they don’t copy. Naturally one has to describe what “exactly” it is that is not to be copied. “Exactly” is in quotes because of the practical difficulty in accomplishing that descriptive task in so many cases.

The same “exact description” problem exists in #2′s “unique” language. I can’t understand paragraph 2 of #2, and there is no such thing as “a right to copy.” All that can exist is a prohibition of an agreeing party in exercising their power to copy the whatever is being described.

Regarding paragraph 3 of #2, the third party (“C”) can make whatever they want with their own property. C’s property “looking like” A’s or B’s property is completely irrelevent by itself.

I don’t mean to imply that the “exact description” problem prevents “reasonable persons” from agreeing on what constitutes a copy. People can and often do agree — but I want to say the problem always exists to some measure and can at times be significant.

Copying is a power — something people are capable of doing. It is not a right. Restricting a party from exercising their power (ability) to copy an idea requires a prohibition agreement (an NDA), since ideas are not property. People are generally at liberty (freedom in the social context) to do whatever they want with their property. But to act on reforming their property according to some idea/pattern requires ability — with ability meaning power. That’s why what is sought here is a prohibition of the use of power. (“Positive rights” are simply power deceivingly called rights. They are not rights at all. They are sometimes called privileges and licenses.).

SR> Markets can provide a lot of things, including certain terms of product use.

Shocking! It’s a good thing you’re here. I mean, who knew?

Sasha Radeta October 29, 2006 at 7:14 pm

Greg said: “Shocking! It’s a good thing you’re here. I mean, who knew?”

Well, I knew. But you obviously did not, since you tried to imply that markets (free individuals) would not be capable of resolving any demand for copyright protection. That was the root of disagreement between Stephan and I. How nice of you for paying attention on topic before you decided to share your opinion.

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