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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8374/an-open-letter-to-leftist-opponents-of-intellectual-property-on-ip-and-the-support-of-the-state/

An Open Letter to Leftist Opponents of Intellectual Property: On IP and the Support of the State

August 4, 2008 by

We libertarian opponents of IP sometimes perplex IP advocates and leftists. There’s an analogy here to the way libertarians, and especially anarcho-libertarians, are treated by mainstreamers. The press does not know what to do with libertarians, for example. They typically use “libertarian” to denote civil-libertarian ACLU types; while libertarian thinkers and institutions are often described as “conservative.” And “anarchy” is usually associated with chaos, bomb-throwing, or leftist anarchists–rather than with anarcho-libertarianism, which is the only genuine form of anarchism. (See my What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist.)

There is a common assumption in society that “intellectual property” is a legitimate type of private property right. Thus socialists and leftists oppose IP because of their hostility to private property rights, capitalism, corporatism, and industrialism. Thus, many IP opponents are leftist, anti-capitalist types (for example, Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen are, IIRC, at least somewhat leftist [if I am mistaken in this, I stand corrected; in any event I would welcome email providing backup/correction, or examples of other leftist anti-IP arguments]). Likewise, many libertarians accept the fallacious notion that IP is a type of property, and thus support IP because they support property (and because many well-known libertarians, such as Ayn Rand, were strong advocates of IP).

Conversely, those who innately or independently oppose IP, are often classified as leftists, or even believe themselves to be leftists (I believe a similar phenomenon explains why the press tend to be left; they naturally tend to be pro-freedom of speech and freedom of press, but accept the mainstream dichotomy that if you are for personal liberties, you are against economic liberties, and vice-versa; they do not understand that economic and personal liberties are essential and complement each other).

The truth is that the only principled case against IP is the libertarian one, as I’ve argued in my Against Intellectual Property. The problem with IP is that it undermines and infringes on private property rights: it lets some person gain rights of control over the property already owned and acquired by others (for example, a patent or copyright gives the holder a veto right over certain uses others might put their own property (their bodies, paper, raw materials) to). To oppose IP is to uphold private property rights–libertarian rights. To oppose IP while also supporting socialism is a confusion.

And more than this. IP is not possible without legislation; legislation is not possible without the state. And conversely: with a state, you always get legislation; and legislation always leads to a proliferation of bad laws (see my Legislation and the Discovery of Law in a Free Society).

What this means is that not only is your case against IP weakened if you do not adopt libertarian principles and reasoning to undergird it. But if you support the state at all–if you are not an anarcho-libertarian–then you do not really oppose IP. If the state exists, it will legislate, and it will probably enact IP laws, along with plenty of other bad laws. So, if you support the state, you really can’t complain about IP laws. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out, “No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power—whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government—could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.

IP opponents must not oppose only the “worst excesses” of IP. They must oppose all IP, root and branch, on principled, pro-private property, grounds; and more than this: they must oppose the state itself, and legislation as a means of making law.

So shape up, non-libertarian IP opponents. If you want to make a real case against IP, you must ground it in sound political principles. For some suggested reading, see:

{ 51 comments }

theblob August 4, 2008 at 5:04 pm

A noble attempt, but sadly likely not a fruitfull one. It might spark interest in open-source writers who are not really safe in economic and political theory. But other than that…

New anonymous reader August 4, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Your terms of use on your blog indicate you support copyright. You give non-commercial copy permission provided all copyright notices remain intact. However, your article here indicates you do not believe in IP. This is inconsistent.

Ken Hagler August 4, 2008 at 5:32 pm
Inquisitor August 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Sigh, why is that repeatedly brought up? Not all the works here are the exclusive publications of the LVMi…

Curt Howland August 4, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Stallman is very much a “socialist”, but in terms of IP he wants a very strong state. He wants it to be illegal to publish anything _other_ than OpenSource software.

That would take a powerful state to enforce.

He rightly points out the abuses of restrictive copyright, and how those abuses are multiplying as the regulations increase. What he does not do is make the leap to removing the regulations completely.

Eric Raymond did, indeed, fall into the “rag-head” mind-set, unfortunately. He calls himself a Libertarian, but wants a government to enforce borders, “security”, etc.

It’s sad, really. People let fear overcome their intellect.

Joel Schlosberg August 4, 2008 at 8:17 pm

As for Stallman, Moglen, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) crowd … Stallman is actually a lot more politically moderate than his rhetoric and reputation for taking uncompromising positions makes him seem; he’s a New Deal type liberal, not a radical leftist. For example, Stallman on Ron Paul: “I have fundamental disagreements with Ron Paul. I support a welfare state and the New Deal. He wants to weaken social security and medicare, in effect throwing the poor back on their own resources. He wants to abolish income tax, which would mean reliance on taxes that fall most heavily on the poor and let the rich off lightly. This would increase concentration of wealth, which is already dangerously excessive, and the poor would pay for it. In ordinary times I would simply oppose a candidate with such views, but these are not ordinary times.” Eben Moglen tends to use leftist terminology for rhetorical or humorous effect, more than actually being radical leftist; see the discussion here. The FSF’s third party ideas page has long linked to right-libertarian articles including Kinsella’s, as well as ones by Reason magazine’s Douglas Clement, Roderick T. Long, and Faré Rideau. Plus, they specifically recommend Long’s article for showing that property rights do not necessarily lead to IP.

As for left-anarchists who are anti-IP, the best-known is probably Brian Martin — who’s not totally unsympathetic to all forms of right-libertarianism, as his remarks on voluntaryism (in an anti-capitalist book!) indicate, and as for a statist leftist who’s anti-IP, a good example is Marxist Michael Perelman.

Haas August 5, 2008 at 12:25 am

“Likewise, many libertarians accept the fallacious notion that IP is a type of property, and thus support IP because they support property” That was a TEASE!

I want you to answer us right wing proponents of IP and copyright laws- and please give me an answer different to “it originated from the state and must be evil” give me some logical reasoning because as far as I and many others are concerned we do view IP as “private property” that should be protected by the state to some degree- just because its not tangible doesn’t mean it’s not there! IP hardly slows down progress but actually gives an incentive for people to invest in new research and development- please enlighten me with an answer in your next article-don’t waste your time answering leftist arguments-they’re too easy to pick on :)- would be appreciated!

Brent August 5, 2008 at 1:13 am

“as far as I and many others are concerned we do view IP as “private property” that should be protected by the state to some degree”

If you really believe IP protects real property, than why shouldn’t it be 100% protected? Hmmm…

“hardly slows down progress but actually gives an incentive for people to invest in new research and development”

This is a seperate claim from above and it is the mainstream opinion. Of course, massive regulation, the welfare state, 40% income tax rates, etc. also dominate mainstream opinion. But more seriously, Haas, have you not followed ANY of the litany of previous discussions on this website on this subject???

Stanley Pinchak August 5, 2008 at 1:15 am

Haas,
for another teaser from Stephan, check out his talk at the Austrian Scholar’s Conference.

http://media.mises.org/mp3/ASC2008/ASC08-Kinsella.mp3

He discusses some of the failures of IP, but I felt as if he didn’t delve very deeply into the meat of his arguments. Perhaps it was lightened for the consumption of the particular audience.

I haven’t had a chance to read “Against IP,” but it is high on my reading list. Just a couple of hours left on Power and Market, in which, unless my reading comprehension is failing me, Rothbard is pro-copyright, but anti-patent. Did Murray ever change his stance on this issue?

Stanley Pinchak August 5, 2008 at 1:27 am

My personal favorite argument in the IP debate is the one that says that IP is needed because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough innovation. To which one has to ask, what is the “right” amount of innovation? The only non-contradictory answer to this question is similar to the question of the “just price.” The right amount of innovation is the amount produced on the free market. Any interventions altering this amount leads to a general impoverishment as compared to the free market state. People’s free subjective choices will determine the amount of research and investment that provides for the greatest satisfaction of present wants and expected future wants. All deviations will cause malinvestment and a lowering of the psychic gain across the society imposing IP schemes.

P.S. Am I the only person who’s text box thinks that malinvestment is a misspelled word?

nicholas gray August 5, 2008 at 1:28 am

We had a similar debate in Aus, about IP.
Our Anti-IP crowd could not satisfactorily answer this example I gave, but you might be able to-
Q.- Would a non-IP system have come up with something like Viagra?
I ask this because Pharmaceuticals often take lots of time to test and develop new drugs, and hope that IP will recoup the costs. Viagra, a very useful drug, is one product from such a process. Please, point out a similar good that is not IP-protected. If you can do that, you’ll win over many waverers.

Haas August 5, 2008 at 1:52 am

Brent: your first point was a question that i cannot answer because honestly i don’t have enough knowledge about the subject – but not all mainstream opinion is “wrong” so you really didn’t answer my point either…

The debate whether IP should be 100% protected or even exist isn’t so simple it’s not like protecting tangible property, also constant technological developments will keep changing our ideas on the subject but what i am opposed to is someone like you who over simplifies the issue- i think there is still much debate to be done here -you are protecting the right of anyone to copy while i’m saying there should be protection of one’s ideas and their freedom not to share those ideas with anyone if they don’t want to (since those ideas come from a huge investment of time and money)- maybe it should be 100% protected..who knows?

k August 5, 2008 at 2:33 am

The owner of a private city (landlord) could give a contract (for a period of time) to a invinter for his IP, and stop anyone else from selling that type of IP in his (city owner) city therefore a free market IP.

Or it could be an airlord who gives the contract to IP.

K August 5, 2008 at 2:36 am

spelling error (inventor)

K August 5, 2008 at 2:39 am

And, also

If someone owned a private city and rented land and air space to WalMart in it and it was economical to do so, the owner (landlord) could give a contract (for a certain period of time) to WalMart and prohibit other companies in the city from using WalMart’s trade-mark, therefore a free market copyright.

Or the owner in the private city might just own the air space and therefore give a contract, being the airlord.

K August 5, 2008 at 3:04 am

The Constitution did not out law me from out lawing guns on my property, it ———out lawed the government——-stoping them the government from out lawing me from having guns.

So If I owned 35sq miles of land and air space, I rented it and then had a city on it I could have IP and copyrights in it and even out law guns in my private city I might have a lot of crime in the city HaHa, and lose profit Haha, and have to eliminate the gun law haha, but it could be done all in a free market.

K August 5, 2008 at 3:10 am

K, poster is Not Mr.Kinsella

K August 5, 2008 at 3:21 am

By the way, lets go a head and privatize the deed recorder offices.

First hand, they make messes, and are supported by stolen money.

K August 5, 2008 at 3:39 am

See, IP can be a type of property in the free market without having having the government(the one by bad force) give them out.

fidel castro August 5, 2008 at 4:35 am

IP is the only real property that there exist. For example, all the land that is under your house, the people that are against IP, belongs to the American Indian, so give away your houses, and then we talke about if IP is right. Your houses are product of a very big rip oof the histiry, the same applies to latinamerica, australia, and many other countries.

long live IP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the only real property, and this idea and opinion berlongs to me (period)

fidel castro August 5, 2008 at 4:37 am

IP is the only real property that there exist. For example, all the land that is under your house, the people that are against IP, belongs to the American Indian, so give away your houses, and then we talk about if IP is right. Your houses are product of a very big rip off in history of mankind, the same applies to latinamerica, australia, and many other countries.

long live IP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the only real property, and this idea and opinion berlongs to me (period).

Please provide me with address because I will move in your houses because I lost everything due to the Venezuelan Communist Goverment. (period)

Jamie August 5, 2008 at 5:13 am

nicholas gray, why are you so sure?
Being the first ones with the drug they could charge very high prices at first, make a lot of money until competition appears, and even if competition reverse engineers your product, it may not be the same exactly (that means improvements, new analysis, new pair of eyes watching the formula,etc…) I was saying that even if the copy you, you still would be famous, the one who made it possible, the first, and that is fame, and people would choose you instead of the others, because as you said, people are interesed in investments and would gladly buy from the company who invested in i+d. And if they wouldn’t they are showing their true preferences, they don’t want theses resources being spent in the research.
There’s always going to be research, the question is how much? an arbitrary cuantity based on arbitrary laws and intervention? or the true amount society demands?

Marcello August 5, 2008 at 5:56 am

I think ideas could be treated as property as long as the intellectual is willing to protect it and that means keeping it to yourself.

I certainly don’t trust pharmaceutical corporations to make a single shot cure as they will want to make it a lifetime treatment to reap the benefits of their government monopoly. All of that malinvestment could be put towards private charity foundations that have a cause to find an immediate cure.

ktibuk August 5, 2008 at 6:43 am

So a “letter to self”.

Cute.

Brent August 5, 2008 at 6:55 am

“The debate whether IP should be 100% protected or even exist isn’t so simple it’s not like protecting tangible property, also constant technological developments will keep changing our ideas on the subject but what i am opposed to is someone like you who over simplifies the issue- i think there is still much debate to be done here -you are protecting the right of anyone to copy while i’m saying there should be protection of one’s ideas and their freedom not to share those ideas with anyone if they don’t want to (since those ideas come from a huge investment of time and money)- maybe it should be 100% protected..who knows?”

First of all, I am not oversimplifying the issue. You (still) don’t appear to grasp the basic logic of property rights, so I forced you to confront it… and then you failed to give an answer. Do you think IP should be permanent (last forever) or not? If not, you have conceded the case against granting property rights for “ideas”.

Secondly, I am not just “protecting the right of anyone to copy”. Consider two people that indpendently invent some new contraption at relatively the same time, while only one of them gets the patent. You would just tell the other guy “tough luck, but you can’t sell your design for X number of years”? You don’t think this has a chilling effect on innovation. Kinsella has written and referenced volumens of literature on these types of (enormous) costs associated with IP.

I refuse to get into a debate on the “social costs vs. social benefits” of IP — you can think it is a positively great state intervention if you want… but “ideas” are nonetheless not property properly considered.

Ron August 5, 2008 at 7:43 am

Marcello: “I certainly don’t trust pharmaceutical corporations to make a single shot cure as they will want to make it a lifetime treatment to reap the benefits of their government monopoly.”

That’s an interesting point, Marcello. Were a pharmaceutical company NOT able to obtain a government monopoly on their product, I would think there would be a greater incentive to put research into a “one shot cure”. Think about it, if a drug company can get a patent on a drug that treats symptoms but not the cause of a disease, then they can spread out the sale of the drug over the patent period. If, however, the drug company must be concerned about other companies copying their drug, it makes more sense to make a cure, thereby maximizing up-front profits. They would also, in a way, be eliminating competition by working to eliminate the disease itself as quickly as possible.

Anybody else think this viewpoint has any merit?

Jardinero1 August 5, 2008 at 10:24 am

I always enjoy the drug company canard. You have to ask who drug companies work for. Drug company R&D is guided by the willingness of health insurance carriers to buy their products at the prices they demand. This is a huge distortion in the market. It is also guided by the knowledge that they will have a monopoly on their product, another huge distortion. In the absence of these distortions the drug companies would still carry on but they would carry on in a heretofore unknown direction.

An economic actor doesn’t throw in the towel and quit working just because he lacks a state sanctioned monopoly on his product. Empirically this is true; few business owners or entrepreneurs have a monopoly but they still go on. New services and products are offered every day.

Michael A. Clem August 5, 2008 at 11:03 am

IP is not possible without legislation; legislation is not possible without the state.
A very simple and elegant argument–it could further be argued that libertarians don’t find the state an effective means of doing other things, why should it be considered effective at IP protection?
Better we should let the market work its magic and find the appropriate means and level of IP protection, if such is indeed needed.

newson August 5, 2008 at 11:05 am

to nicholas gray:
well, jenner did come up with the smallpox vaccine in 1796. i think he benefited mainly from the prestige of his discovery, and actually had to continue to work for a living.

it’s difficult to imagine what protective measures would be adopted against industrial espionage, but likewise hard to envisage private interests not being up to the task of protecting their research from theft. companies with loose lips would soon go broke, allowing more hermetically-sealed enterprises to take their place.

it may well be that companies are much smaller and more geographically isolated, such that i can find the drug i developed copied by someone else, but because the market is more fractured and less dominated by large companies, i still may be able to sell my product in my backyard very profitably. (i’d probably enjoy the prestige of actually having developed the drug, even if i don’t have a monopoly on producing it).

one wonders how much of the pharmaceutical research today is aimed merely at drug differentiation, to gain proprietary rights over what is functionally same as someone else’s drug.

K August 5, 2008 at 2:25 pm

fidel castro,

I am going to go down to the deed recorder office privatize 35sq miles of the the ground space below my air space and get a deed also to minreal rights to the dirt in it be for you do! Landlord = Airlord, Groundlord.

HAhAhahah JJ

Zefram August 5, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Many defenders of IP say that IP must be proected to ensure higher speed of technical progress. However we can be pretty sure about the outcomes of infinitely long patent enforcement, it would certainly slow the things down to zero mph. Therefore we can assume there is some point of optimum in between. Yet I do not see any IP defender to provide any theory able to find this optimal state. Then how can they be so sure about patent legislation, about its effects? Contemporary IP laws might be worse than no IP protection at all, there is no guarantee of their positive influence. Certainly not without that missing theoretical framework.

K August 5, 2008 at 3:15 pm

O yes, Fidel Castro I will sell you a right for your IP in the space I own, for 31 years for $350.00 dollars (in gold please) but if you can find a competitor I will mach or beat their price by 10% and also I have other types of IP rights for sell if your interested.

Hahaha JJ

k August 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Zefram,

I have filed for a patent before, but a person got their patent application in before me by only a few weeks so you know the story I had to stop the continuance of my patent application process,
but I did not like it when the government gave sellers monopoly rights to all the land space in the U.S.A. including the place I live to another person!

That would be like the government(the one by bad force) giving a license to WalMart allowing them to be the only retail store in the U.S.A.

Stanley Pinchak August 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

A note about the off topic subject of Native American property claims. If you haven’t read or listened to it already, I recommend Conceived in Liberty by Rothbard. He covers some of the issues involved with the purchase of property from the natives by European colonists. Long story short, even Native Americans can not claim the land is theirs if they have not homesteaded it. To claim an arbitrary amount of land is nugatory unless one has transformed it by his labor. Examples are farming, forestry, surveying for improvement and beginning said improvements, cordoning off for the husbandry of livestock or “wild” game, creating a road through the wilderness, etc. Randomly wandering through an unowned area of land is not a homesteading act. Much of the Native American land claims were as illegitimate as Christopher Columbus’s claim for Spain.

K August 5, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Haas, An invisible mathematical boundary, private space deeded to someone, consist of the space in side of that boundary. Private property, that property consisting of space and X amount of natural rights that come with it. Tangible property?
Tangible being?
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin tangibilis, from Latin tangere to touch
Date: 1589
1 a: capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch : palpable b: substantially real : material
2: capable of being precisely identified or realized by the mind
3: capable of being appraised at an actual or approximate value
So an IP object that is invisible would consist of a mathematical space that might not yet be filled with that certain matter of or certain designed matter as of yet.
So it might be called a fillers right (of that space in a certain way) the action of selling, for selling, sellers right to some or in different geographical locations.
This would be a certain space that had the ability to be moved to a different geographical location.

This is completely open, for me this is by no means completely set in concrete.

nick gray August 5, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Jamie and friends-
I gave a concrete example, but, except for smallpox, you could not provide a counter-example of a drug or product that was developed without IP. Can anyone else?
And Fidel Castro has raised the interesting point that land ownership is an aspect of IP! I’ll need to think about that.
As for indigenies, I wondered if Australia could provide compensation to the Aboriginal tribes along the same lines as for resumed land nowadays, nominating one tribe per year to be given compensation for their compulsorily acquired land. Aborigines wandered from one hunting ground to another, because Australia is a very fire-prone continent- if your village gets burnt down every few years, you develop a wandering habit. However, these spots were not random, but were tribal property, dispersed over a large area.

K August 5, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Human action originates in the brains.

K August 5, 2008 at 8:55 pm

A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
James Madison

Marcello August 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm

The Polio vaccine was not patented.

While being interviewed by Edward R. Murrow on See It Now in 1955, Salk was asked: “Who owns the patent on this vaccine?” Surprised by the question’s assumption of the requirement of a profit motive for his creation, he responded: “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” [1]

nick gray August 6, 2008 at 12:22 am

Patenting the Sun? Now there’s an idea!!!

newson August 6, 2008 at 1:01 am

to nick gray:
pasteur & penicillin – anyway kinsella goes into this particular story in detail here: http://blog.mises.org/archives/005216.asp

codeine was discovered by robiquet 1834. i don’t think he claimed ip protection.

i can’t imagine medicine going backwards for the absence of ip legislation, though sure the pharmaceutical industry would be unrecognizable in a laissez-faire environment.

K =Mancel August 6, 2008 at 1:06 am

nick gray, I have the deed to it all but not the moon, some other person owns it. Not nameing business but owner ship.

and I AM NOT JJ

Jeff August 6, 2008 at 3:37 am

“IP is not possible without legislation; legislation is not possible without the state.”

That can be said of all property and contracts.

ktibuk August 6, 2008 at 3:49 am

“IP is not possible without legislation; legislation is not possible without the state.

A very simple and elegant argument–it could further be argued that libertarians don’t find the state an effective means of doing other things, why should it be considered effective at IP protection?

Better we should let the market work its magic and find the appropriate means and level of IP protection, if such is indeed needed.”

The first sentence that belongs to Kinsella is a blatant lie, not an argument.

Copyrights are contracts and saying contracts can not be made or enforced without legislation and thus a state is a lie.

IP Socialists often resort to these fallacies. They always bundle patents, which are state creations and no libertarian defends them, and copyrights and trademarks and name it IP. And when they attack “IP” they always attack patents. It is a pathetic straw man argument.

Marcello August 6, 2008 at 5:59 am

Copyrights are not contracts.

Why the hell do people want to protect copyrights? Take a look at today. The main people who benefit from these copyrights are disgruntled leftists who can’t get a job in the real world. They don’t give a crap about Austrian economics or your free markets.

Michael A. Clem August 6, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Copyrights are contracts and saying contracts can not be made or enforced without legislation and thus a state is a lie.
I agree with Marcello–copyrights are not contracts, although it may be possible for contractual agreements to replace copyrights. But for anarchists, the argument IS simple: get rid of government, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc., and see what people will develop; see if there’s a market or compelling reasons for protecting “intellectual property”, in one fashion or another.

Nicholas gray August 6, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Re- the trouble with names. ‘Libertarian’ also has some left-leaning types, who believe in small units of government, like communes and Kibbutzim. ‘Anarcho-Capitalist’ seems, at first impression, to be a bomb-seller. I have come up with the title ‘Pan-Secessionist’. A pansecessionist believes in the right of any land-owner to be totally independent of any other land-owner. Not just nations, but all individuals, should be able to secede. “Self-rule For All!” In many ways, I think Pansecessionist is a more accurate description of the principles of the Austrian School than Anarcho-Capitalist, since you deal with ownership of land, and the -Capitalist tag implies simply accumulation of money.

P.S. Selfrule For All!

Brainpolice August 7, 2008 at 6:18 am

[quote]‘Libertarian’ also has some left-leaning types, who believe in small units of government, like communes and Kibbutzim.[/quote]

I consider myself a left-libertarian and personally advocate neither communes or kubbutzim, and would easily qualify as an “anarcho-capitalist” were it not for the fact that I don’t advocate it specifically as a system and I don’t think the outcome of a free market would produce “anarcho-capitalism” as a universal system. My opposition to IP is along the lines of that of Benjamin Tucker’s, who made a case against it that was both “leftist” and “libertarian”. So I tend to reject the terminology used in the title and in the article.

Martin OB October 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

nicholas gray:

This topic has been discussed in the Facebook Mises site.

In short:

Q: Would it be possible to fund expensive medical research without IP? How?
A: Yes, in several ways. For instance, several drug manufacturers could join their efforts to fund the same research lab, and compete in other aspects, like details of drug manufacturing and delivery techniques; or patient associations could “hire” research labs to develop the drugs.

Q: Why we don’t see all these alternative business models happen right now? Why is there no “open source” Viagra?

A: Because it wouldn’t make sense for a research lab to forgo the advantage of patent monopoly if available. The same happens with copyright, where free/open-source works are FAR scarcer than they would be without IP legislation.

Of course, it should be OK for a private fenced community to have its own “IP legislation” which everyone agrees to when they join the community. My prediction is that no-one would like to live there, and after some time, virtually all private communities would be IP-free. At first, some people may decide to have such “legislation” in their communities, and some research labs may move there to acquire a “legal” monopoly on their inventions. But they would soon realize that people in IP-free communities enjoy the same creations (either copied or reinvented with inspiration from the the originals) at much lower prices, and even some third-party refinements which would be impossibly problematic with IP. So, customers would flock to IP-free zones, and even the most pro-IP research labs would soon follow.

Stranger March 10, 2010 at 11:42 pm

It makes absolutely no sense to make an argument against IP based on anarcho-capitalism. Under anarcho-capitalism, the protection or not of a right is based on its economic value. Consider the enormous capital industries built around producing media and software. Consider that they would all be ruined if their property rights were eliminated. Consider that they have a full incentive to completely cooperate with each other in the protection of these rights.

Now consider what kind of people would benefit from the abolition of IP: open-source communists like Richard Stallman.

Weigh the value earned by property protection agencies in return for protecting the IP of the enormous media industry, against the value earned from protecting Richard Stallman’s copyright violations.

Equation simple: anarcho-capitalist protection agencies will crush all attempts to violate copyright. There is simply no money in violating it.

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