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From my other site: The “If you own something, that implies that you can sell it; if you sell something, that implies you must own it first” Fallacies


Disinvited From Cato

From my other blog:

Disinvited From Cato


Here comes a lot of background, just to lead up to a few final paragraphs that get to what I want to say.

As I’ve recounted before,1 I started my legal vocation and libertarian avocation2 around the same time, almost twenty-five years ago, in 1992. That year, I started practicing law, and also published my first scholarly libertarian article.3 In 1994 my wife and I moved from Houston to Philadelphia for a few years, and around that time I started attending Mises Institute and other libertarian conferences. The contacts I was making with various libertarian thinkers and organizations started to increase, partly because of the rise of email and then the Internet around that time. At the time, I would devour everything libertarian-related that I could get my hands onto—The Freeman from FEE; Liberty magazine; Reason magazine; The Free Market, the Journal of Libertarian Studies, and the Review of Austrian Economics from the Mises Institute; Cato Journal; Reason Papers; Objectivity; Jeffrey Friedman’s Critical Review; various other newsletters and journals; and so on. In college I would go to the LSU library and photocopy old Ayn Rand related newsletters. In grad school in London, 1991–92, I found a copy of Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty in the University of London library. It was then out of print and hard to find. So I paid something like 10p a page to photocopy it by hand, vellum bound it, and for years that was my main marked-up copy of that classic text, until the 1998 edition was released by the Mises Institute with an amazing introduction by Hans-Hermann Hoppe.4

Yeah, I was that kind of geek. Copying Ayn Rand newsletters and Rothbard books from college libraries. But I somehow got a normal woman to marry me anyhow.

From the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, I talked with a large number of libertarian thinkers, by email, phone, in person, or even by regular snail mail. As I noted in The Genesis of Estoppel: My Libertarian Rights Theory, in law school I had become fascinated by Hoppe’s “argumentation ethics” defense of libertarian rights. This led to my exploring related material by a number of thinkers, including libertarians like Tibor Machan and Roger Pilon.5 Hoppe had developed his argumentation ethics defense of libertarian rights, in part based on the work of his PhD advisor and mentor, the brilliant and famous (and socialist) German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, and fellow German philosopher Karl-Otto Apel, along with some insights from Rothbard and Mises, plus some original insights, and a libertarian spin, by Hoppe. It was an original and brilliant new spin on libertarian rights theory that Rothbard enthusiastically adopted. Rothbard became the mentor, Hoppe his protege and intellectual colleague from the mid-1980s to Rothbard’s death in 1995.

Read more>>

  1.  How I Became A LibertarianThe Genesis of Estoppel: My Libertarian Rights TheoryMy Failed Libertarian Speaking Hiatus; Memories of Mises Institute and Other Events, 1988–2015. []
  2. See my post, Career Advice by North, discussing the distinction and interplay between career and calling, vocation and avocation. []
  3.  Estoppel: A New Justification for Individual Rights, published in Reason Papers No. 17 (Fall 1992). []
  4. See Murray N. Rothbard and the Ethics of Liberty, Introduction to Murray N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty (New York: New York University Press, 1998) . []
  5.  See links in “Argumentation Ethics and Liberty: A Concise Guide”; The Genesis of Estoppel: My Libertarian Rights Theory: namely: Pilon, “A Theory of Rights: Toward Limited Government“; Gewirth, “The Basis and Content of Human Rights“; Pilon, “Ordering Rights Consistently: Or, What We Do and Do Not Have Rights To.”  []

As is too common–these authors don’t make their article public; they agree to hide it behind a publisher’s paywall, despite being paid nothing for this. Sad.


Here is a pre-publication version at SSRN.



While policymakers often make bold claims as to the positive impact of intellectual property (IP) rights on both developed and developing country economies, the empirical literature is more ambiguous. IP rights have both incentive and inhibitory effects that are difficult to isolate in the abstract and are dependent on economic context. To unravel these contradictory effects, this article introduces an index that evaluates the strength of IP protection in 124 developing countries for the years 1995 to 2011. We illustrate the value of this index to economics study and show evidence that is consistent with IP leading to increased growth. Our results are further consistent with two causal pathways highlighted in the literature: that IP leads to greater levels of technology transfer and increased domestic inventive activity. Yet other aspects of our study fit uneasily with this simple story. For example, we find evidence suggesting that increased levels of growth lead to greater levels of IP protection, contradictory evidence in the literature linking IP with growth, a lack of evidence that increased levels of IP protection lead to actual use of the IP system, and problems with what IP indexes measure. Because of this, we suggest another – and so far undertheorized – explanation of the links between IP and growth: that IP may have few direct effects on growth and that any causality is a result of belief rather than actual deployment of IP.


From my Kinsella on Liberty podcast:

Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 220.

This is my interview by Rod Rojas of the Future Gravy show, which focuses on bitcoin and blockchain topics. We discussed how patents harm innovation and various strategies some companies use to try to deal with the patent threat, such as patent pooling, defensive patent licensing, whether Blockstream’s Patent Pledge is really a tactic that makes them a patent threat to the blockchain community, and related matters.

Read more>>


Argumentation Ethics vs. Copyright

An interesting argument against copyright based on Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s “argumentation ethics” defense of libertarian rights:

A recently published paper by Cezary Błaszczyk, University of Warsaw, “The Critique of Copyright in Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics.”


Tucker, “Knowledge Is as Valuable as Physical Capital”

Tucker is spot-on here. Take the title: “Knowledge Is as Valuable as Physical Capital” — actually this is what IP proponents say, they say that knowledge is as important as physical goods and therefore you need property rights in ideas just as we need it in physical things. Tucker turns it on its head and say that both knowledge and capital are important and therefore the state should not attack either: it should not tax and regulate or collectivize private capital, and it should not restrict the generation and flow and use of knowledge by IP law:  

“It harms prosperity and future progress to attack private capital. In the same way, it harms prosperity and future progress to restrict information flows and their uses, through whatever means: censorship or intellectual monopolies.”


See also my

Knowledge Is as Valuable as Physical Capital

Jeffrey A. Tucker



One of the greatest errors made by opponents of free economies is to disparage and attack the idea of private capital. Without capital, production is only about immediate consumption, not about building for the future. You cannot have a complex economy with advanced technology, rising wages, and many stages of production, in the absence of capital, which requires security in private property.

This is why even today you find very poor countries around the world. What has gone wrong? People are not lazy, unenterprising, uncreative, or unambitious. On the contrary, people in poor countries work harder and longer—even more creatively—than people in developed economies. What’s missing is that crucial thing: security in the cumulation of capital, intended to provide for future consumption. If you look carefully, what you find is that the state steals it (there is always some excuse) before it can be employed for social uses. [continue reading…]


(Adapted from a couple of conversations with Facebook friends.)

I’ve observed before that information is a guide to action, not a means of action. Means of action are scarce and ownable so as to prevent conflict over the use of those means. The same is not true of knowledge or information, which merely guides action.1

Another way to see this is to understand that ownership may be viewed as the right to possess or control something, and is distinct from possession or control.

Possession is actual control of a resource — “the factual authority that a person exercises over a corporeal thing,” in the words of a renowned legal scholar A.N. Yiannopoulos.2 Or as the Louisiana Civil Code puts it, “Possession is the detention or enjoyment of a corporeal thing, movable or immovable, that one holds or exercises by himself or by another who keeps or exercises it in his name.”3 [continue reading…]

  1. See, e.g., Intellectual Freedom and Learning Versus Patent and Copyright, and many talks e.g. KOL217 | Intellectual Property is the Bastard Child of the Gatekeepers. []
  2. A.N. Yiannopoulos, Louisiana Civil Law Treatise, Property (West Group, 4th ed. 2001), § 301 (emphasis added). []
  3.  Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 3421, emphasis added.  See also my article What Libertarianism Is for citations and further discussion. []

CAFC Chief Judge Bashes Patent System

Well, sort of. Not bad, for a patent specialist and federal government employee.

Techdirt Podcast Episode 96: Death Knell For Software Patents

“Software patents have been dubious since their inception — not just in principle, but legally too. Past rulings have called their validity into serious question, and now an opinion from a prominent pro-patent judge has called for people to admit that they simply shouldn’t exist. This week, we discuss what this opinion means for the (hopefully short) future of software patents.”


To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.