Update: For more update lists, see Classical Liberals and Anarchists on Intellectual Property.
Two sets that you would think are exceedingly rare. Over the years I’ve noticed when someone falls into either group. My notes are not comprehensive, to be sure, but here is what I’ve gathered so far.
As for the second category: I collected them previously here: Patent Lawyers Who Oppose Patent Law. They include me, my friend Tony Diehl, and a few others. However, to be honest, of everyone I’ve listed—as far as I know only Tony and I qualify as as (a) being actual practicing, registered patent attorneys who are also (b) completely opposed to the patent system. As far as I know we are the only two people in the whole world who actually understand IP and oppose it completely and on private property grounds. Everyone else either only understands IP incompletely (non-registered patent attorney) or is in favor of “reform” but not abolition or is against IP on leftish grounds. Well, two out of 7 billion people—that’s a start. I guess. But it’s always shocking to me someone can pose as a radical anti-state libertarian, and then turn around and argue for state-granted monopoly rights. Amazing.
As for the former. It’s always surprising to me when someone who claims to be an anarchist—and a libertarian anarchist, no less—still supports IP…. even though IP is a state-granted monopoly, requires the state, requires legislation, and is utterly incompatible with free markets, libertarian property rights, etc. Prominent examples include:
- Lysander Spooner (Tucker on Spooner’s One Flaw)
- J. Neil Schulman and L. Neil Smith (Replies to Neil Schulman and Neil Smith re IP; Kinsella v. Schulman on Logorights and IP; Schulman: Kinsella is “the foremost enemy of property rights” ; Query for Schulman on Patents and Logorights)
- Sharon Presley
- Jan (J.C.) Lester (Anarchist Libertarian Jan Lester’s Argument for Intellectual Property)
- even Benjamin Tucker was right on IP, but for the wrong reasons
- And possibly: Proudhon (Proudhon: For Intellectual Monopoly)
- And some less-known more modern soi-disant anarchists who are nonetheless confused and bad on IP: Bob Wenzel, for example,1 as well as other lesser/modern figures such as Chris LeRoux,2 Shayne Wissler,3 Silas Barta (aka John Sharp, “Person,” Richard Harding).
(I am not even including here non-anarchist and utilitarian libertarians, since so many of them have been horribly wrong on IP, namely Ayn Rand, Jan Helfeld, and … most others.)
Libertarians who were surprisingly good on IP before the Internet era include:
- Benjamin Tucker
- Sam Konkin III (Remembering Samuel Edward Konkin III; Copywrongs)
- Wendy McElroy (see e.g McElroy: “On the Subject of Intellectual Property” (1981); and Copyright and Patent in Benjamin Tucker’s periodical Liberty)
- Tom Palmer (“Intellectual Property: A Non-Posnerian Law and Economics Approach,” “Are Patents and Copyrights Morally Justified?: The Philosophy of Property Rights and Ideal Objects”)
- Leonard Read (Leonard Read: What Makes Ideas Different?; Leonard Read on Copyright and the Role of Ideas
- Hans-Hermann Hoppe (Hoppe on Intellectual Property; Hoppe Interview on Anarchy and Intellectual Property)
- [Update: See my post: Classical Liberals and Anarchists on Intellectual Property]
(In the post-1995/Internet era, more libertarians starting paying attention, and getting it mostly right, namely me, Roderick Long, Jeff Tucker, Sheldon Richman, and a few others—collected here.)
And honorable mentions:
- Israel Kirzner (Cordato and Kirzner on Intellectual Property)
- LeFevre on Intellectual Property and the “Ownership of Intangibles”
- William Leggett (William Leggett on Intellectual Property)
- Böhm-Bawerk on Patent and Copyright
- David Hume (Hume on Intellectual Property and the Problematic “Labor” Metaphor)
- KOL 038 | Debate with Robert Wenzel on Intellectual Property. [↩]
- KOL076 | IP Debate with Chris LeRoux ; Can you own ideas? Chris LeRoux debates Daniel Rothschild. [↩]
- “Locke’s Big Mistake: How the Labor Theory of Property Ruined Economics and Political Theory,” Liberty in the Pines Conference (March 2013) ; [↩]