Great question by Sheldon Richman:
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The Randian case for intellectual “property rights” is that all value-productive action (which is necessary for life) proceeds from a creative idea, and therefore all property is ultimately intellectual property. Deprive a person of the exclusive right to his idea and you attack the very foundation of life.
That case prompts a thought experiment: Imagine a primitive tribe in which one member does painstaking research on which wild berries are good for human consumption and which are not. (The Randian case emphasizes that such knowledge is not automatic as it in the case of lower animals, but has to be discovered by intellectual effort.) He learns through his work that when he eats one particular berry he gets healthier and more energetic — better in every way. He also discovers that other berries are best avoided. The rest of the tribe observes and takes notes.
Question: Under Randian IP law, would the others need the innovator’s permission before they may consume the healthful berries? Or does the innovative have an exclusive right to the fruits of his effort. (Pun intended.)
If not, why not?