≡ Menu

Tomkow’s Inane “Argument” for IP

I’ve argued before that There are No Good Arguments for Intellectual Property. This is why we are seeing The Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism.1 The latest competitor for the worst argument for IP comes in the section “MORAL 5: Anything can be property,” of one “Tomkow”‘s post The Origins of Property II. The argument is too insipid and stupid to spend much time on, but here are a few comments I dashed off to the author after he wasted my time by emailing me about this dreck.

He wrote me “Among the morals is that intellectual property can be property simpliciter.” My reply (edited to remove profanity and typos, because this stuff really annoys me):

Yes, you “can” treat non-scarce things as property. but “so what”? http://c4sif.org/2011/10/classifying-patent-and-copyright-law-as-property-so-what/

You “can” treat other humans as property too. So what?

The question is what property rules are justified.

“You can’t homestead on intellectual property.” Hunh? Awkward phrasing. confused. A sign of unclear thinking.

“The most rabidly libertarian sites on the internet regularly feature writers [i.e. Kinsella] who demand the socialization of intellectual property with the same fervor (and mostly the same arguments) as Marxists decrying the private ownership of steel mills.”

This is bullshit and dishonest question-begging. It’s only “socialist” if IP is property, or should be.

“The problem is usually framed like this: How can the simple fact that someone else thought of it first make it wrong for me to practice an invention or play a tune without that person’s permission?

I don’t think there is a good answer to that question, but it is the wrong question.”

It’s only the wrong question insofar as patents don’t even require you to be the first inventor to get the effing monopoly.

“in appreciation for his great service I now say to him and all of you that, from this day forward, if I should ever sing a note of that song I hereby grant permission to Wilt and everyone else here assembled to beat the crap out of me.”

Two problems here. First, in most cases today there IS no actual agreement. Second, even if this statement was made it ought not be enforceable for inalienability reasons. And by the way, not only does this “argument” for IP not even purport to justify patent, it doesn’t justify copyright either since copyright has nothing to do with contract. Nothing. Contracts is between two or some limited number of actual parties. Property rights, which IP pretends to be, is in rem–good against everyone in the world, whether there is a contract negotiated or not.

This is the worst argument for IP that I have ever seen. Just about. Completely sucks. Dishonest or shoddy or stupid, I am not sure which, but it is incoherent and moronic

  1. See also The Four Historical Phases of IP Abolitionism. []
{ 0 comments… add one }

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.