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David Koepsell’s Innovation and Nanotechnology: Converging Technologies and the End of Intellectual Property

David Koepsell[Update: Koepsell on IP, including a link to the full text of this book]

Philosopher-ontologist David Koepsell, a member of C4SIF’s Advisory Board and libertarian-leaning IP opponent,1 and author of Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes (Wiley-Blackwell 2009) and The Ontology of Cyberspace: Law, Philosophy, and the Future of Intellectual Property (Open Court, 2000), has a new book out: Innovation and Nanotechnology: Converging Technologies and the End of Intellectual Property (UK: Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming 2011). The hardback version is due out this summer, but a free ebook version is already available on Bloomsbury’s site (see the Abstract and table of contents below).

I reviewed the book for Bloomsbury in manuscript; interestingly, Bloomsbury is on the forefront of “open publishing”–for a mainstream publisher, it’s amazing they publish their academic titles under a Creative Commons-NC license and offer the content for free online. My guess is that this is, somewhat ironically, due to their being perspicacious enough to be the first publisher to accept J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books; according to Wikipedia, “Rowling completed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1995 and the manuscript was sent off to several prospective agents. The second agent she tried, Christopher Little, offered to represent her and sent the manuscript to Bloomsbury. After eight other publishers had rejected Philosopher’s Stone, Bloomsbury offered Rowling a £2,500 advance for its publication.” I suspect Bloomsbury has made a mint off of that decision, and this has perhaps allowed it the financial freedom to experiment with the open publishing of academic titles. I say “ironic” since the Harry Potter profits are based at least in part on copyright, while the open model is undercutting the idea of copyright.

Innovation and Nanotechnology: Converging Technologies and the End of Intellectual Property

This book defines ‘nanowares’ as the ideas and products arising out of nanotechnology. Koepsell argues that these rapidly developing new technologies demand a new approach to scientific discovery and innovation in our society. He takes established ideas from social philosophy and applies them to the nanoparticle world. In doing so he breaks down the subject into its elemental form and from there we are better able to understand how these elements fit into the construction of a more complex system of products, rules and regulations about these products.Where existing research in the field has tended to focus on potential social harm, Koepsell takes a different approach by looking at ways in which developments in distributed design and fabrication can be harnessed to enable wealth creation by those with good ideas but no access to capital. He argues that the key challenge facing us is the error implicit in current intellectual property regimes and presents new modes of relating inventors to artifacts in this new context.In conclusion he offers contractual models which he believes encourage innovation in nano-media by embracing open source and alternative means of protection for innovators.

Table of Contents

[these links are now rotted; the online version can be found here]


  1. see David Koepsell: Another Austrian-Influenced IP Opponent; Are Libertarians For Intellectual Property?–IEET Discussion []
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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.