The Grotesque Legacy of Music as Property, by Adam Neely.
The Grotesque Legacy of Music as Property, by Adam Neely.
This is a talk delivered at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, on or around April 6, 2013 by Jan Narveson. Published here for the first time (with permission). See also the entry for Narveson at Classical Liberals, Libertarians, Anarchists and Others on Intellectual Property.
Privacy, Intellectual Property, and Rights
Intellectual Property is one of the most important concepts in the world of commerce today. But there are thinkers who seriously challenge the idea. They point out that ideas do not have the property of scarcity that is required for property to make sense: If I know that p, and I tell it to you, I don’t thereby cease to know it. True, and important. On the other hand, somebody has to think up knowledge – it doesn’t fall from the heavens on us all. The work of thinkers, especially when successful, is supremely important. Without them, we would have none of the things that make life so much better for all than it was for the cavemen. The question is, how are those extremely important people to make their livings if they are not credited with what amounts to ownership of those ideas? The essentials to the solution to this problem, I am sure, lie in the distinction between ideas in the head, and ideas in Plato’s heaven. Ideas in the abstract cannot be owned or patented: nobody can own the mathematical fact that every even number is the sum of two primes, but somebody can discover it, and at the time he or she does, his is the only head having that fact in his possession. That’s scarcity enough for him to charge for the discovery. But: ordinarily a property right excludes all others forever. And yet someone else might, a week or a year later, discover that same amazing thing – latches on, as it were, to the same Platonic form. Because property is individual, there is a serious question whether the newcomer is properly excluded by the first discoverer’s right. I argue not, with some further observations on patents and copyrights. [continue reading…]
Interesting book by James O. Young, Radically Rethinking Copyright in the Arts: A Philosophical Approach (2020). He recognizes many absurdities of copyright law, and recommends many changes, but can’t quite bring himself to push for abolition.
From Mises Wire:
Proponents of intellectual property rights often rely on one of two lines of reasoning. The first is based on the misunderstanding that the frequency or volume of innovations determine economic growth. The second is captured by the question, “So if I spend $1 billion on R&D (research and development) to bring a new drug to market, anyone should be able to copy my drug without compensation?” Both are based on the same fundamental error: assuming that innovation is a matter of production. It is not. Innovation is all about entrepreneurship, and that’s why intellectual property rights do not and cannot help.
It’s the wrong question to ask, the wrong way to frame it, and of course, wrong and pro-IP as usual. It’s sad the Federalist Society keeps pushing this.
Oh well, at least they allowed a sane voice at least one time: KOL235 | Intellectual Property: A First Principles Debate (Federalist Society POLICYbrief). But as noted there,
overall the Federalist Society has presented basically the pro-IP side (More defenses of IP by the Federalist Society; Federalist Society Panel: Undermining or Preserving Property Rights? The New Administrative Patents). I pestered them over years to include more balanced treatment in their bibliography, to no avail (Anti-IP Material Needed in the IP Section of the Federalist Society’s “Conservative & Libertarian Legal Scholarship: Annotated Bibliography”).
The moronic shills at IPWatchdog, including the oafish Gene Quinn, who writes like a 9th grader and used to illiterately list his master’s degree as an L.L.M. (it’s an LL.M, genius) (see here and here), won’t stop their senseless cheerleading for IP:
Despite its longevity, the patent system is often criticized. During the pandemic, accusing eyes quickly turned to patents and voices were raised demanding that patents related to COVID-19 be “waived”. This is not an isolated event: some have argued that we would be better off without patents for various reasons in other crises of the past as well. This raises the question of what a world without patents – as we know them today – would be like. As is often the case, history gives us some valuable insight. In this article, we will look specifically at three risks posed by a world without patents in light of real examples from the past.
One of my first published anti-IP pieces: “Is Intellectual Property Legitimate?” (local copy; archived copy), Pennsylvania Bar Association Intellectual Property Newsletter 1 (Winter 1998): 3; republished in the Federalist Society’s Intellectual Property Practice Group Newsletter, vol. 3, Issue 3 (Winter 2000). See also James Stern: Is Intellectual Property Actually Property? [Federalist Society No. 86 LECTURE]
Stephan Kinsella, “Letter on Intellectual Property Rights,” IOS Journal 5, no. 2 (June 1995), pp. 12-13. This issue also contains David Kelley, “Response to Kinsella,” IOS Journal 5, no. 2 (June 1995), p. 13; and Murray I. Franck, “Intellectual and Personality Property,” IOS Journal 5, no. 3 September 1995), p. 7.
This was the journal of David Kelley’s Institute for Objectivist Studies, or IOS, which is now The Atlas Society. The letter was a response to Murray I. Franck, “Intellectual Property Rights: Are Intangibles True Property?“, IOS Journal (April 1995). Franck, and later Kelley, argued for IP; I argued against it.
See also a subsequent response from The Atlas Society to my IP criticisms in Marilyn Moore, “Ayn Rand’s ‘Patents and Copyrights,'” AtlasSociety.org (May 28, 2019).
N.b.: some back issues of IOS Journal are archived here.
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 Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.