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One no-name nym-wielding Silas Barta (aka John Sharp, “Person,” Richard Harding [a juvenile sexual term, “hard dick”])1 has been a perennial gadfly and pest about IP, flitting in various Mises Blog comments razzing us IP abolitionists.

His argument is a literally stupid one (not surprising as “There are No Good Arguments for Intellectual Property”; see also “Absurd Arguments for IP”). It amounts to this: Some libertarians seem to think that there should be rights in electromagnetic (EM) spectra (see e.g. my post Why Airwaves (Electromagnetic Spectra) Are (Arguably) Property [Aug. 9, 2009]). And if you believe in property rights in EM spectra, then you have to believe in IP rights. After all, “IP (intellectual property) rights have the exact same form” as EM spectra rights. Et voilà!

Here’s his old post about this. He tangles with Bob Murphy in the quotes; interestingly, they later wrote a book together on Bitcoin: Murphy and Barta, Understanding Bitcoin: The Liberty Lover’s Guide to the Mechanics & Economics of Crypto-Currencies (2015) [available free online here, at b-ok dot cc then /book/2823918/9c514f ]. I love Bob and some of his Bitcoin stuff is provocative and enlightening (see his “Bitcoin and the Theory of Money” and “The Economics of Bitcoin“), but I can’t bear to read something co-authored by this idiot pest Barta/Person/Sharp/Harding, unless Murphy assures me he wrote basically all of it and for some reason just added Barta as a pity gesture or something. But since num-nuts’ name is listed first, I assume it was the opposite: gadfly Hard Dick wrote it and persuaded Bob to attach his name to it. Since Hard Dick is so bad on libertarian theory and on the argument for EM spectra (he doens’t even give an argument), I have no reason to think he has anything sensible to say about Bitcoin or libertarianism at all.

In his “article” pretending to “argue” for IP (he nowhere does), Barta says “Unlike some other people who shall remain nameless[1], I want to see where I’m wrong.” This is a lie. He doesn’t want to see where he’s wrong because he doens’t adduce a genuine argument for IP. He has some weird monomaniacal obsession with the EM spectrum issue [which is not settled among libertarians, unlike real property rights (yes!) and unlike IP rights (no!)]. His argument is not a real one; it’s an “if-then” one. “IF you believe in EM rights, THEN you should believe in IP rights.” Well. This is simply not a case for IP. And it’s wrong. You can believe in EM rights without believing in IP rights (see my post linked above). And if he’s right that EM implies IP, then EM would have to fall too, for the same reasons IP falls.

What Silas refuses to see is that, ultimately, IP rights are a taking of property rights, a redistribution of wealth in the form of a nonconsensual negative servitude (or easement), as I explain here: Intellectual Property Rights as Negative Servitudes. And to counter his predictable next silly argument: see my posts “The Non-Aggression Principle as a Limit on Action, Not on Property Rights,” “IP and Aggression as Limits on Property Rights: How They Differ,” The “If you own something, that implies that you can sell it; if you sell something, that implies you must own it first” Fallacies.”

By the way, Hard Dick, I’ll be happy to discuss/debate this issue with you any time (this goes for any other defender of evil, socialist IP in the world).

In any case, here’s his little screed, saved here for posterity in case he modifies or deletes it out of embarrassment later.

[continue reading…]

  1. He once confirmed this to me: “I also post at these places.  (Usual handle in parentheses.)

    Asymmetric information, Megan McArdle’s blog (Person)
    Marginal Revolution (Person)
    Overcoming Bias (Silas)
    Kip Esquire’s blog, A Stitch in Haste (Silas)
    econlog.econlib.org (none, banned)
    economiclogic.blogspot.com (johnsharp9)”  []

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Yet another lame Objectivist defense of IP

I just came across this one in a Twitter thread — some rando no-name apparently named Vincent, who doesn’t even understand that copyright is automatic.

See also

***

Anarcho-Capitalism and Intellectual Property Right

DECEMBER 10, 2009

In his blog entry on Mises.org, Stephan Kinsella, an avowed student of Murray Rothbard, states the following:
[continue reading…]

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Miracle–An Honest Patent Attorney!

Old post from 2006:

Miracle–An Honest Patent Attorney!

09/07/2006 | 

In this post I reprinted a letter to the editor that I sent to a patent lawyer trade journal, IP Today, in which I responded to the comments of a patent attorney to the effect that “the patent system is necessary for there to be invention and innovation.” I explained that

There is … no conclusive evidence showing that the purported benefits of the patent system—extra innovation induced by the potential to profit from a patent; earlier-than-otherwise public disclosure of innovation—exceeds the significant and undeniable costs of the patent system…. Is the patent system “worth it”? Who knows? Apparently no one does. It seems to follow that we patent attorneys ought not pretend that we do.

I received today an email from a respected patent attorney, a senior partner in the patent department of a major national law firm. This person is not a libertarian. These are just his/her honest observations based on his/her long experience in the field:
[continue reading…]

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Patent Trolls and Empirical Thinking

Old post, from 2006:

[Update: see Miracle–An Honest Patent Attorney! (Sep. 7, 2006)]

Patent Trolls and Empirical Thinking

06/22/2006 |

[Archived comments]

Patent trolls are under increasing attack of late—patent owners who don’t actually develop or manufacture the product covered by their patents, but just sue other companies who do make it.

Normally, if company A sues its competitor B for infringement of one of A’s patents, B will look through its own stack of patents and hit A with a counterclaim for infringing one of B’s patents. The end result is often that both sides execute cross-licensing agreements and back down. In fact this is a main purpose many companies acquire patent portfolios: to establish a MAD-like system in which patentees are afraid to assert their patents against others with large portfolios for fear of a countersuit. Thus, acquiring patents is largely defensive; patents are the bombs sitting unused in your arsenal. [continue reading…]

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First Amendment Defense Act of 2021

An Open Letter to Congress

Dear Member of Congress:

Below please find some suggestions for legislative improvements to federal law in favor of American free markets, property rights, and individual liberty.
[continue reading…]

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Jammit to the wall.

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Lockean Intellectual Property Refuted, Cezary Błaszczyk

Lockean Intellectual Property Refuted, by Cezary Błaszczyk, Scienza & Politica, vol. XXXII, no. 63 (2020).

Abstract: Locke’s theory of property is irreconcilable with intellectual property. Property-like titles in ideal objects cannot be introduced within the framework of the natural law, because they could constrain others from acts necessary for their survival. Nevertheless, followers of Locke’s theory of politics choose to belittle this conclusion and even Locke himself supported early copyright legislation. The inconsistency is important, for it depicts the problem of legitimization of intellectual property as political and demonstrates liberal reification of various aspects of social life.

This paper is solid, thorough, conclusive, and full of brilliant insights. It demolishes the case that IP, propounded by some such as Adam Mossoff, is a natural right or that Lockean theory supports IP. Related:

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Or should I say “libertards”?

[Update: see Jeffrey Tucker, Backdoor Censorship through Libel Law; Techdirt Podcast Episode 266: In Defense Of Section 230 & A Decentralized Internet]

It’s understandable conservatives, who have no serious principles about liberty or property rights, want to end the “safe harbors” granted to ISPs and related social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, by §230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA) (which has to do with defamation) and the “OCILLA provisions of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (which has to do with copyright).1 This is to be expected. But it’s disheartening when even some libertarians want to do this (e.g., Tom Bell; the late Justin Raimondo).

These laws, signed by Bill Clinton at the dawn of the Internet, prevent platforms from being vicariously liable for tortious conduct (e.g. defamation law) or copyright infringement by their users. They were instrumental in the early flourishing and development of the Internet; Youtube, blogging, etc. would not have been possible without them. See The Court Case that Enabled Today’s Toxic Internet.

Some argue that these laws were premised on the assumption that ISPs and now, social media services, are mere neutral platforms, not “publishers,” and thus they should not be responsible for actions of their users, any more than the telephone company should be liable for criminal actions by individuals when they make phone calls to plan a crime. But now that Facebook, Twitter, et al. have become more woke and are censoring non-progressive speech, they are “acting like publishers” and should be treated like publishers. If the New York Times is potentially liable for libel for publishing an article or letter or ad that defames someone, so should Twitter and Facebook, since they now obviously monitor and edit the content their users post. But removing the §230 and DMCA safe harbors would just be a way of imposing defamation and copyright liability on companies that are now somewhat exempt. Since both defamation and copyright law are utterly unjust and unlibertarian (as Murray Rothbard and Walter Block have shown re defamation; and as I and others have shown re copyright), we should not urge the abolition of these safe harbors. It would be like, instead of abolishing the drug war, advocating that rich white kids suffer the same criminal penalties as the poor do, or instead of advocating an end to the draft, advocating for a universal draft so that it doesn’t disproportionately affect the underclasses. No. Abolish taxes, copyright, the draft, and the drug war for all. Don’t extend it just to reduce inequality.

But the incremental advance of IP law continues. See, e.g., Covid-19 Relief Bill Adds Criminal Copyright Streaming Penalties and IP Imperialism; and The EARN IT Act Violates the Constitution—the EARN It Act seeks to undermine the ability to encrypt data, which will expand IP enforcement and threatens Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

Some of my comments from previous posts and emails are below. [continue reading…]

  1. See Trump Threatens to Veto Defense Bill if Tech Liability Shield Stands; Tucker Carlson Interview with Senator-Elect Josh Hawley on CDA 230; Mike Masnick, Lindsey Graham’s Latest Attack On Section 230: Reform It By 2023, Or We Take It Away; other Masnick posts; Hello! You’ve Been Referred Here Because You’re Wrong About Section 230 Of The Communications Decency Act. []
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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.