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Ayn Rand’s Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Rule and Intellectual Property

As noted in my post Intellectual Property Advocates Hate Competition,  IP proponents support these monopoly privileges on explicitly anticompetitive grounds. Take this explicit opening passage in an article by an ardent IP advocate, Jerome H. Reichman, a law professor at Duke:

Governments adopt intellectual property laws in the belief that a privileged, monopolistic domain operating on the margins of the free-market economy promotes long-term cultural and technological progress better than a regime of unbridled competition.

… Intellectual property laws typically provide qualified creators with temporary grants of exclusive property rights that derogate from the norms of free competition in order to overcome the “public goods” problem inherent in the commercial exploitation of intangible creations.1

This opposition to “unbridled” competition sounds like something Ayn Rand might have mocked in Atlas Shrugged. Oh, wait. She did: the villains enact the “Anti Dog-eat-dog rule”. From Wikibooks:

Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule

The Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule is passed by the National Alliance of Railroads in section 145, allegedly to prevent “destructive competition” between railroads. The rule gives the Alliance the authority to forbid competition between railroads in certain parts of the country. It was crafted by Orren Boyle as a favor for James Taggart, with the purpose of driving the Phoenix-Durango out of Colorado.

Sad that Rand, who rightly mocked the hostility to “unbridled” market competition in Atlas with her “Anti Dog-eat-Dog” rule, found a way to endorse IP, the very purpose of which is to prevent a free market and its “unbridled competition.”

[Mises cross-post; archived comments]

  1. Reichman, “Charting the Collapse of the Patent-Copyright Dichotomy: Premises for a Restructured International Intellectual Property System,” Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 13 (1995): 475; see also IP Rights as Monopolistic Grants to Overcome the Public Goods Problem. []
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