Absurd Arguments for IP

by Stephan Kinsella on December 10, 2010

I’ve noted before “There are No Good Arguments for Intellectual Property,” and I’ve begun to collect some of the sillier arguments I’ve heard for IP. Here are a few:

  1. “Thank goodness the Swiss did have a Patent Office. That is where Albert Einstein worked and during his time as a patent examiner came up with his theory of relativity.” —Patent attorney Gene Quinn
  2. “It is true that other means exist for creative people to profit from their effort. In the case of copyright, authors can charge fees for reading their works to paying audiences. Charles Dickens did this, but his heavy schedule of public performances in the United States, where his works were not protected by copyright, arguably contributed to his untimely death.” —Willliam Shughart1
  3. If you are not for IP, you must be in favor of pedophilia. —Sasha Radeta
  4. If you oppose IP, you are advocating slavery. –Wildberry
  5. “Patents are the heart and core of property rights.” —Ayn Rand
  6. Song piracy and file-sharing are the cause of stage collapses at concerts. (Insurers blame stage collapse on copyright piracy)
  7. Postwar Japan prospered because it had a patent system; countries with the most IP are the most prosperous; America’s prosperity and growth since its inception is due to its patent and copyright systems (typical correlation is causation fallacy)
  8. IP contributes $5 trillion to the economy (because industries that  IP is inflicted on generate $5T).
  9. Because you “can” treat IP as a form of property, it’s okay to do so (no offense, chattel slaves)
  10. a confused anarcho-socialist argument that “intellectual ownership” is needed, even though property rights are generally bad, to reward “the individual who laboured to discover,” but not “the owner of the idea itself, being an abstract piece of property”. Hunh? (The Worst Argument for IP Ever?)
  11. Copyleft advocates are like homophobic, anti-gay marriage bigots (some commentor at Techdirt)
  12. “To make a distinction between things which are ownable or not ownable with the difference being whether they’re constructed out of molecules or pixels is to create a new kind of apartheid, in which some kinds of property are just niggers.” –J. Neil Schulman
  13. If IP isn’t legitimate, then it’s okay to steal other people’s babies.

Update: See Intellectual Nonsense: Fallacious Arguments for IP (Libertopia 2012).
[Mises]

  1. He also wrote, “To paraphrase the late economist, John Robinson, patents and copyrights slow down the diffusion of new ideas for a reason, to insure there will be more new ideas to diffuse.” []
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