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The Evils of Real-World IP

This comment by nate-m on the Mises blog thread Mossoff: Why Should Business Leaders Care About Intellectual Property (Objectivism) is worth reposting in its entirety:

Also I’d like to remind everybody that while it’s all fine and dandy to debate a theoretical framework for ethical IP under libertarian dogma, the negative effects of existing IP law are large and wide ranging.

Right now there are lawyers and groups suing successful capitalists for products that the plaintiffs had no hand in creating and had produce no competitive product. There are millionaires right now that did nothing but sue other people for being successful.

IP laws are a multi billion dollar drain on our economy. This is stifling competition and favoring companies who invest in lawyers and bureaucrats over ones that invest in engineers and products.

Laws related to maintaining copyright are becoming increasingly draconian and punitive. People are being sued tens of thousands of dollars for distributing songs which can be listened to for free on any radio or downloaded for pennies from websites legally. Individuals are being threatened, harassed. DRM laws have ruined companies, caused people to be sent to jail for sharing nothing but information, and are a affront to property rights and personal liberty.

In a world were we now have the ability to freely share all of human knowledge and the collected works of all humans from all of recorded history with all people alive today… for pennies per person… we have governments propping up fascist laws to protect the profitability of a handful of politically connected corporations running obsolete business models that originated when we required people to actually print and physically transport media.

They are the buggy whip manufacturers of our time and their profitability is now enforced by law. Houses are raiding, property is seized, old women and families are terrorized by lawyers and law enforcement for their children breaking laws that harmed no person. The government is engaging in secret international negotiations to force these evils on third world nations and undermine constitutional protections. Obama and friends are seeking ways of leveraging copyright enforcement schemes for wiretapping and monitoring of individuals.

Companies are no longer able to produce hardware and software products freely. They need to pay patent fees, support design decisions that undermine the quality of their products, increase prices, and are forced to undermine the ownership rights of their customers. Corporations are using patents as shields to stifle innovation and competition.

The loss of individual liberty and economic activity directly and indirectly to IP and IP enforcement is staggering. It’s large, it’s ongoing, and it is increasing.

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