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Jeff Tucker winning economist David Henderson over to the anti-IP side

From the Library of Economics and Liberty blog, a post by David R. Henderson. Henderson is joining thousands of other libertarians who have become IP abolitionists (“The Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism,” “The Origins of Libertarian IP Abolitionism”). For more on the Arnold Plant material he mentions, see Arnold Plant, “The Economic Theory Concerning Patents for Inventions,” Economica, New Series, 1, no. 1 (Feb., 1934).


[Update: As noted in The Overwhelming Empirical Case Against Patent and Copyright:

In any case — the support of patents even by some libertarians has led them to oppose reimportation–that is, to oppose free trade–e.g., Cato’s Doug Bandow, Richard Epstein, and Michael Kraus. See my posts Intellectual Property and Think Tank Corruption and Palmer on Patents; also Ideas Are Free: The Case Against Intellectual PropertyDrug ReimportationCato on Drug Reimportation; and Patents, Prescription Drugs, and Price Controls. … And now, sadly, once anti-IP David Henderson joins them. See David Henderson in the War Street Journal (2024) writing this embarrassing, cringe doozy: “Be Thankful for High Drug Prices,” by David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper (Feb. 4, 2024). Subtitle: “If Americans weren’t overcharged, we wouldn’t have innovative treatments”. The article is full-throated in defense of our insane patent system and the monopoly prices it supports. Embarrassing and ridiculous, especially as he used to pretend to be against IP, as can be seen in this post. Reminds me of the suspicious change of heart the once anti-IP Tom Palmer had when he started saying “well maybe some pharmaceutical patents are not so bad.” I’m sure Cato’s Big Pharma donors had nothing to do with that. See here.]


Jeff Tucker on Intellectual Property

Might it be that some of the users’ shared content on Megaupload was copyright protected? Absolutely. It is nearly impossible not to violate the law, as shown by SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith’s own campaign website, which used an unattributed background image in technical violation of the law. The leading opponent of piracy might himself be a pirate!

This is from Jeffrey Tucker, “Power vs. People in the Digital Age.”

I have not read every in and out on the debate on intellectual property but bit by bit I’m coming closer to the idea that there shouldn’t be any or that, at least, there should be much less protection of it than there is now. One thing that informs my view is what I learned from Sam Peltzman in my Industrial Organization class at UCLA in the early 1970s. When we got to patents, I thought we would hear the standard case for monopoly as a spur to innovation. Sam did present that case but he also put on the syllabus two articles by Arnold Plant from the 1930s that expressed skepticism about IP: one was on patents and one was on copyrights.

My Encyclopedia (first and second editions) covers both. For a full-throated defense of IP, see Stan Liebowitz, “Intellectual Property.” In the earlier edition, I wrote the article on patents and pointed out the difficulty that Arnold Plant had noted. See David R. Henderson, “Patents.”


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jim Hodge March 5, 2013, 7:00 pm

    Jim Hodge – Allied Home Mortgage have been attacked by lawyers and the liberal press. A self made man of humble means is working hard to restore the jobs lost by these baseless attacks”

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