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Brian Martin’s “Against Intellectual Property” (1995)

I just came across a 1995 article by Brian Martin, “Against Intellectual Property,” with the exact same title as my own 2001 JLS article,  “Against Intellectual Property.” Martin’s piece was first published in  Philosophy and Social Action, Vol. 21, No. 3, July-September 1995, pp. 7-22. I was unaware of this article when I wrote my own, and have just now heard of this. My first anti-IP writing also appeared around 1995, coincidentally—Letter on Intellectual Property RightsIOS Journal 5, no. 2 (June 1995), pp. 12-13 (as did that of Roderick Long).1 Martin is still writing on this topic—see, for example, his 2012 article Unleashing Creativity and his 2011 The wrongs of copyright.

As Martin wrote me, his special interest is in strategies to challenge injustice; see his page Backfire materials, which states: “The backfire model is a framework for understanding tactics used by perpetrators of injustice and how to oppose them.” See also his article Sharing music files: tactics of a challenge to the industry, which provides an analysis of tactics for anti-IP struggles.

I haven’t read the main paper or the others all closely yet, but from an initial skim, it seems like a fairly unsystematic and positivistic presentation, but motivated by the right intuitions, more or less. Ultimately, in my view, the only way to get the IP issue fully right is to be radical (i.e. not merely advocating tepid reform, but getting to the root of the issue, normative and principled (not merely empirical and utilitarian), and libertarian (based on sound economics and libertarian-propertarian principles).

  1. See, e.g., Roderick Long: Bye-Bye for IPMy IP OdysseyRoderick Long Finally Realizes IP is Unjustified. Also: The Four Historical Phases of IP Abolitionism and The Origins of Libertarian IP Abolitionism.  []
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