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“The Case Against Intellectual Property” Published in Springer’s Handbook of the Philosophical Foundations of Business Ethics

I was invited some time ago to submit a paper on the libertarian approach to intellectual property for a Springer Reference work, Handbook of the Philosophical Foundations of Business Ethics (Prof. Dr. Christoph Lütge, ed.; Springer, 2013). It’s just been released and is available at the previous link.  Steep price of $949, but it’s a massive book—1582 pages, in 3 volumes, containing 20 “Parts” and 77 chapters total (flyer).

At least two of the sections were edited by libertarians: Part 17, on “Free Markets, Morality and Business Ethics,” was edited by Tibor Machan, and Part 18, on “Property Rights: Material and Intellectual,” was edited by Robert McGee. My paper, “The Case Against Intellectual Property” (PDF; HTML), appeared in this latter Part. It is based on my previous Against Intellectual Property, but omits some material in AIP that very few need to read, such as the examples in the Appendix and the lengthy bibliography. My chapter includes a Creative Commons-BY license. The Abstract is below:

The purpose of property rights is to allocate owners of scarce resources to permit peaceful, cooperative, productive use of these resources. For external, non-bodily resources, this allocation is done in accordance with the libertarian-Lockean first-use/first-own homesteading principle. So-called intellectual property rights such as patent and copyright are monopoly privileges granted by the state that dilute and undermine property rights in scarce resources. This chapter explores the nature of property rights and argues that intellectual property is incompatible with genuine private property rights. The chapter also criticizes utilitarian arguments in favor of intellectual property as being fallacious in terms of ethics, methodology, and economics.

For more updated information, see the IP articles in Legal Foundations of a Free Society (Papinian Press, 2023), and Kinsella, “You Can’t Own Ideas: Essays on Intellectual Property: A Skeletal E-book” (2023).

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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.