[ExI] Intellectual Property — A Libertarian Critique

zuzu sean.zuzu at gmail.com
Fri May 15 16:06:18 UTC 2009

On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 11:40 AM, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 6:47 AM, Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Intellectual Property — A Libertarian Critique
>> tl;dr, but it looks interesting.
>> http://c4ss.org/content/521
>> "In this study, Kevin Carson reviews libertarian perspectives on
>> “intellectual property”; the ethics of the practice itself and the
>> harms resulting from it. He finds that IP is an artificial, rather
>> than natural, property right.
> I am always amazed how much some libertarian thinkers owe to religious
> biases, such as a view of law based not on political choices of a
> given community based on its chosen goals, but rather what "nature"
> would dictate.
> Intellectual property is only a tool, no less and no more than land
> property or toothbrush property. In particular, it has been
> established in order to provide remuneration to R&D research
> investment which would be otherwise prevented by a typical "free ride"

The "free-rider problem" isn't a problem at all.  The problem is the
need for _business models_ that remunerate the act of R&D itself,
rather than relying on a state monopoly for exclusive use of that R&D
after it's already been done.

In other words, imagine people with cancer today paying $100 each for
a lab to discover its cure, the lab agrees, and they do find the cure.
 Everyone currently with cancer who paid the $100 gets the cure, but
the cure isn't limited to them.  Anyone who subsequently gets cancer
receives the cure "for free".  Does this diminish the cure for those
who paid the $100 to begin with in anyway?  At the time (and
time-preference is key), paying $100 was the only way to be cured of
cancer, even if everyone else gets to "free ride" later on.  As for
the lab, they presumably profited from the initial $100-per-person
payment for discovering a cure, and they are now free to discover
other cures likewise in the future.  They are not entitled to
_rent-seeking_ on this cancer cure in perpetuity.

Furthermore, referring to the monopoly privileges of copyright,
patent, and trademark as "intellectual property" conflates it with
real property law.  (As has been said, there's no actual rivalry or
excludability with ideas as there are with material goods.)

> unraveling. Now, there are no doubts that today it may hinder here and
> there innovation more than stimulate it (as latifundium used to reduce
> agricultural output). But *this* is the issue that needs to be
> discussed.
> In particular, why transhumanists of all possibile people should care
> about what is "natural" and what is not?

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