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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6207/pro-wrestler-sues-rapper-over-hand-gesture-yet-another-example-of-how-intellectual-property-is-partial-enslavement/

Pro wrestler sues rapper over hand gesture: Yet Another Example of how Intellectual Property is Partial Enslavement

January 31, 2007 by

Page's infamous "Diamond Cutter" hand gesture

Page's infamous "Diamond Cutter" hand gesture

Yet Another Example of how Intellectual Property is Partial Enslavement: Professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page sued rapper Jay-Z claiming that he has illegally adopted Page’s trademark hand gesture, the ‘Diamond Cutter,’ as his own.”


Wirkman Virkkala January 31, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Or it could be an example of somebody trying to trademark something that cannot be trademarkable. It is the reducing to absurdity of a concept (intellectual property) that may not, in other circumstances, be absurd.

If somebody sues someone else for tresspass for looking at them funny, using lightwaves to tresspass on my property, he may be using the terminology of property rights, but he is, in the very suit, claiming too much for his own property, is himself usurping others’ rights. But this does not mean that some other forms of tresspass, such as by trampling on planted roses, or throwing piles of excrement onto a walkway, are not tresspass.

Stephan Kinsella January 31, 2007 at 5:12 pm

“Wirkman,” yeah, it “could be,” but it’s not. The examples of hideous results from trying to make something that’s not property into property abound; we see horror stories and absurdities and perversities on a daily basis. THe pace even seems to be picking up.

Sam January 31, 2007 at 11:21 pm

Huh? I presume the intolerance of Intellectual Property rights resides in the gold ol’ days nostaglia of times past. Where once-upon-a-time people didn’t write books to sell heaps of copies but rather to give their wonderful thoughts to the masses for freeing and enriching the world. But I’d say the reality is, as I’m sure it’s been pointed out before by others, that the masses of times past were illiterate, ingredients to make a book were too expensive to mass produce and there was plenty of censorship from the religious powers that were. And of course only recently do we have movies, computer software, Internet issues, etc.

However I’d thought IP met a definition of property namely someone had a basis for making a living from that starting point. In olden times these bases were physical in nature: fertile land for farming, raw metals for creating tools and weapons, fabrics and textiles to make cloths, etc. And not to mention that traditional property rights are supposed to be allowed to flow from one generation to the next if the owner so chooses.

Yet some folk seem to suggest, on the hand, that ideas that would spawn books, movies, computer software for mass production and the sale thereof shouldn’t be. Apparently believing such information and fiction should be a gift to enrichment for everyday life or something. Yet it is from these ideas and the profit from these ideas that would make anyone bother producing. Indeed the fact that people want to profit from having unique ideas with which to make books, movies, etc., means that they might, for some strange reason, think someone else getting the ideas behind the product without permission should be cosidered theft. After all, when people are free to enjoy such products for no payment there is little incentive much if at all to bother producing in the first place.

And what of this idea that IP is some sort of slavery? What, because someone has the right to own a profitable idea for movie franchise, such as the Terminator series? It’s not nice because everyone can’t make a Terminator movie if they so choosed? Elsewhere this forced relinguish of property rights would be Eminent Domain. It could easily be argued the right to otherwise open land is dubious because it prevents other from using it lest they be classed as trespassers or thieves. The counter-argument is that the farmer is using that land to begin feeding people with. And possibly if the farmer can’t make productive use of the land and packs up and leaves the land would be open to anyone who thinks they could do better. Hence the IP right is perhaps then one that owners are doing something with their owned ideas and if they can make money then hooray. However what if they can’t make anything from it? They might well give up that right. Then again just as property can be bought and sold or rented, so too if you want to use the idea, which must be presumably profitable otherwise you wouldn’t want it or you’d go create your competing good idea, you’d have either try to buy that idea or they might allow you to rent the idea, a.k.a royalties.

Heh heh. Fancy Libertarians being against property rights . . . XD

Dan Coleman February 1, 2007 at 7:35 am

Sam, you write:

However I’d thought IP met a definition of property namely someone had a basis for making a living from that starting point.

Whatever making a living and IP have to do with one another I’m not sure. But what I do know is that the definition of “property” is by no means ‘someone has a basis for making a living from that starting point.’

It is that definition that has led you to say: “Then again just as property can be bought and sold or rented, so too if you want to use the idea, which must be presumably profitable otherwise you wouldn’t want it or you’d go create your competing good idea, you’d have either try to buy that idea or they might allow you to rent the idea, a.k.a royalties.

It seems to me that your argument can be summed up as follows: If intellectual property is in fact property, then it could be used, bought, and sold just as physical property is.

Since the libertarian rejects your claim that intellectual property is in fact property, the rest of your argument doesn’t follow.

That is, after all, the point of Stephan’s post: pointing out the absurd circumstances that occur when you can “own” an idea as if it were a commodity.

Sam February 1, 2007 at 8:15 am

Actually Intectual Property must be some sort of property to justify its exclusive nature to its owner. After all the fact that with a quality IP ownership people will want to invest, produce, sell and profit from this ownership. Standard property rights grant their owner the same sort of power. The owner of a parcel of land has monopoly rights on that land. Anyone who infringes on the right to that land would be a called a trespasser or a squatter. Anyone who expected the land to a public good for all to access would be called a filthy commie. Not to mention standard property rights have unlimited existence. A standard property owner can bequeath the land to the next owner upon death and need ever enter public domain usage. Actually I’d think most people here would say that if a owner of a land bequeathes it to become a parkland for everyone to enjoy but not to be sold to an individual for development then standard reply would be: what a left-wing greeny pinko fag!

Sam February 1, 2007 at 8:25 am

P.S. I’m not claiming to know what defines IP as property from that which cannot be registered and protected, but there must be something to invest in it for people to desire such property at all.

Manuel Lora February 1, 2007 at 8:26 am

Recently at work we needed to create custom paper clips in shape of our project’s logo and found, surprise surprise, that several designs have been patented. One company even had diagrams of these patented designs along with their respective expiration dates. IP is theft.

Daniel M. Ryan February 1, 2007 at 10:24 pm

Sam does have a good point, mind you. Why should the products of purely intellectual effort be unownable? Where do these products come from?

I would like an opponent of the IP concept to explain why the posited illegitimacy of IP, as a kind of property, does not extend into assignation of credit for ideas, discoveries, and whatnot. The receipt of credit for an intellectual work is, after all, a kind of payment.

And, to pick up on Sam‘s later point, how can the anti-IP case be kept free of the economic demagogy that the Left is known for?

Peter February 1, 2007 at 11:28 pm

Daniel: read Kinsella’s magnum opus on the topic, Against Intellectual Property

Daniel M. Ryan February 2, 2007 at 7:03 am

Why does Kinsella’s argument not apply to inheritances? If I die, then anyone can enjoy what property I have without detracting from my own enjoyment of it in the least (to put it laconically.) Thus, my property is not scarce, with respect to me (the owner of it), once I die. By Kinsella’s argument, all my property should become part of the public domain once I’m no longer around to enjoy it – since removal of it no longer subtracts any utility from my corpse, once I enter the “Big Sleep.”

Plus: the learning of an idea also requires thought and effort. If IP is illegitimate, then why are property rights in teaching services, which (if beneficial) reduce the amount of thought and effort needed to learn an idea, not illegitimate? Pedagogical methods and techniques are a kind of IP too. Does this imply that they should not be property, either?

adi February 2, 2007 at 7:24 am

Perhaps it’s just best to be honest and say that economists dont know what is IP, like they dont know what is money, capital, interest etc..

I have read Machlup’s, Hayek’s and Mises writings about patents and copyrights and noticed that they all were very carefull about this issue. So carefull in fact that you cant find any a priori based sound argument for or against them.

From legal positivist viewpoint IP is not a problem; since state says something is property it can make it so. Another thing altogether is that if people will obey this restriction on their activities.

Stephan Kinsella February 2, 2007 at 10:27 am

Daniel, the decedent’s estate is scarce. There can be a dispute over who owns it. The question is settled by the will of its last owner–who, in effect, did the decedent grant it to just at his moment of death. That is what wills are for. This is not rocket science.

Person February 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm


Farmers sue airplanes for trespassing: another example of how property rights are enslavement.

Try something that hasn’t been debunked a trillion times, Stephan.

Dan Coleman February 2, 2007 at 12:14 pm

adi wrote: “From legal positivist viewpoint IP is not a problem; since state says something is property it can make it so. Another thing altogether is that if people will obey this restriction on their activities.

From the viewpoint of a legal positivist there is nothing intrinsically problematic with many (if not all) legal stances against liberty. It is meaningless to criticize any law’s legitimacy or goodness outside of its context.

Fortunately, Austrians in the ‘natural law’ school of thought do not share this problem. It is, in fact, possible and legitimate to praise liberty absolutely rather than coincidentally. IP rights are a great example of this.

Francisco Torres February 2, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Farmers sue airplanes for trespassing: another example of how property rights are enslavement.

What does one thing have to do with the other?

Sione Vatu February 2, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Person or whatever you call yourself these days

You have never presented your theory of IP so it could be examined, evaluated, tested and verified. You’ve been challenged to do this and yet every time you run away and hide behind excuses and polemic. Interesting how each time you’ve came up with some half-arse argument or a position you can actually be held to, you are debunked and disgraced. Yet here you go again.

You never debunked Dr Kinsella. He debunked you (more than once). Yet you lie about it. Is that all you are? Are lies all you have to offer? If so, how about buzzing off. You have nothing of value to contribute. Go talk to yourself.

Alternatively, you could present your grand theory of IP and illumunate the World with your knowledge. Come on then, or are you a coward as well as dishonest.


Person February 2, 2007 at 5:33 pm

Sione: I’m just pointing out the emptiness of Stephan’s latest post. That’s it. No need for any more. If you want to say something more substantive, how about mentioning how in my last post, I failed to cook everyone breakfast?

Peter February 2, 2007 at 6:04 pm

Please don’t feed the trolls.

Person February 2, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Fair enough; I shouldn’t have replied to Stephan or Sione to begin with.

Daniel M. Ryan February 2, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Steve, that reply isn’t convincing. As it stands in our culture, IP is scarce. There already are disputes over who copied what. The question is settled by proof of who came up with the intellectual product in question first – who, in effect, created it. This is what copyright notices, along with supporting documents proving first authorship, are for. That reply of yours assumes that a “will” would be recognized in a hypothetical libertarian society in the same way that it would be in ours. If it would, then why wouldn’t a notice on a work of intellectual property making the sale of it conditional upon refraining from copying, and/or reverse-engineering, it be recognized too?

Speaking of rocket science, what about the dispute potential for who discovered what (uncopyrightable or unpatentable) idea? There have been disputes in this area, even though no dollars have been at stake.

In terms of the creation of it, IP is scarce. It is scarce because action is required to come up with it, just as a certain amount of action is actually required to learn it – hence, my point about pedagogy. The fact that the production of many IP works result in a dead loss for the creator implies that there were costs in creating it. Losses don’t occur without costs.

Your theory opens up a gaping hole with respect to availability of property, as well. You should put your lawyer’s hat on again, Steve, and sketch out a defense strategy for someone charged with fraudulent conversion, a defendant whose basic defense is, “Stole it? He didn’t even know it was gone! I might-of lived high on the hog a little, but that guy checked back and all of his money was where it was – all of it. How could he go about blaming me for something he didn’t lose?” Try using your own theory of IP to construct a valid defense for this particular fellow, assuming that he did nick some of the complainant’s money but returned it before the complainant knew any funds were missing – meaning, from the standpoint of the complainant, no money of his was unavailable to him when he (specifically) wanted it. (With respect to checking the balance, he wanted to know that it was all available for his use – i.e., that none of it was stolen.)

Black Bloke February 3, 2007 at 12:18 am

Quite honestly I’m surprised that there’s been no mention of Viacom’s actions against YouTube/Google on Mises today. But then again I was surprised when there was no coverage of Chavez nationalizing industry in Venezuela on Mises.

Live and learn…

Sione Vatu February 4, 2007 at 11:41 am


Ideas are not scarce. They are common. Every person has many of them. What is scarce is the actual property that must be mobilised and employed in order to undertake actions according to ideas an individual or individuals may have come up with.

To make the case for “IP” one would need to demonstrate that it is indeed a form of property. I have yet to see that accomplished. It is not a trivial undertaking. How would you propose to attempt it?


Larry N. Martin February 4, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Ideas are not scarce. They are common. Every person has many of them.
True enough. What’s scarce are good ideas!

Daniel M. Ryan February 4, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Prima facie, I would go back to a point I’ve already made: ideas have to be produced, which entail costs of producing them. I’m hep enough to know that this line of reasoning says absolutely nothing about an idea’s potential market value.

Lots of ideas are not used as factors of production, though, or even as exchange goods. Economics has little to say about ideas that are not used in either way.

As you noted, though, an idea that is considered “productive” is merely a factor of production, as of now, and, at least presumptively, will always be. Ideas are attributes of either people or “idea machines.” Even a “pure idea” has to be put in some form accessible to at least one person’s sense perception.


Unfortunately, Sione, I would need a lot more space to complete my thoughts in this vein, so I’ll have to call it a day right now.

Sione Vatu February 5, 2007 at 11:25 am


OK, but I am keen to follow up on this some time. I’ve been interested in seeing whether a case can be made for the pro-IP position. I tried to form an argument to the positive without success. It was a surprise to see that not only is it a difficult task but that it may not be possible at all.


PS Exhaling CO2 requires one produce the CO2 and that costs of production are incurred. Similarly producing sweat requires that costs are bourne by the producer. Is the assumption of costs of production a key attribute that defines what is property?

Daniel M. Ryan February 5, 2007 at 10:11 pm

It’s an attribute, but not the essense. An item of property is an object that can be kept (“by a human being” is normally the implicit narrower of the word “kept.”)

If you found some way to keep the sweat from your body and the CO2 from your lungs, assuming that you can prove that it’s yours, yep, it’s your property. I don’t know if there’s any way you can wrest an exchange value out of it, but it is your property, if you decide to keep it.

Of course, this definition opens up some possibilities that can be ludicrous, especially for situations corresponding to times when we use the possessive case. Correctly analyze such “cases” may require a Heideggeresque level of pedantry.

BTW: if the interest of precision, I note (parenthetically) that the costs of production of the property are solely borne by the producer, at the margin.

Tom February 26, 2007 at 10:31 pm

IP is a fraud. IP is a recipe, not a thing. If I add a new flavor to an existing sausage recipe, and people like it, do I deserve a Government imposed monopoly on it’s use? No. of course not. Computer programs are recipes. They tell a processor how to interpret input and output. Music is a recipe, songs are arrangements of sounds.

Why do supposedly free market libertarians think that the almighty government must come in and create monopolies for recipe writers? The recipe writers stand on the shoulders of giants, why grant them a monopoly?

Sasha Radeta February 26, 2007 at 11:23 pm


You are a liar. Rothbard was one of the greatest libertarians, a true anarcho-capitalist, but he supported copyright. And why he supported it? Well, it comes straight from private property rights.

If you own something (fully controlling services that can be derived from your good) – you have an absolute right to determine the price for different kinds of use of your good or you can restrict unwanted use.

As far as idiotic examples of “Pro wrestler suing rapper over hand gesture” goes – the fact that some idiot sues someone does not prove anything about copyrights and trademarks, which is supported by true, intelligent libertarians. I don’t know why such nonsense is allowed on this blog… People sue people for stupid things, but mentally healthy individuals do not spend so much time on that.

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