Karl Hess and Robert Anton Wilson: Thumbs Down on IP (1987)

by Stephan Kinsella on May 22, 2013

From Karl Hess and Robert Anton Wilson Discuss Everything, a Q&A session at a 1987 Libertarian Party convention, an audience member asks them about their opinion on “so-called intellectual property rights,” and Apple’s assertion of IP claims over its computer systems (at 1:13:53).

Hess first replies that he thinks IP rights are “difficult to enforce” and Wilson adds that “they’ll become impossible to enforce very shortly.”

There is then this interchange between Hess and the audience member:

Hess: “They’ve always been sort of crazy, they protect the person who gets there first. … It’s been my understanding all along that libertarians were glorified … by the fact that they very early on had attacked the copyright laws.”

Audience member: “But you’re both authors.”

Hess: “Yeah, sure, … maybe [the copyright laws] protect us in some technical sense, but I’d be happy to sell things in a free market.”

Audience member: “Would you mind if I took Death of Politics and sold it to make a profit without cutting you in?”

Hess: “People are doing it all the time. Look, I made money off that. I mean I figure, somebody bought it, it’s not mine anymore. … And people do it. People do it constantly. And I think it’s fine …  If I were asked to do it again today, I’d say I’ll do it on the condition that a lot of people read it. And this … may help it.”

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