[ExI] Intellectual Property — A Libertarian Critique

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat May 16 15:23:11 UTC 2009

On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 6:06 PM, zuzu <sean.zuzu at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.

I do no know what you mean with a "state monopoly" - in fact, patents
correspond to temporary private monopolies against very low taxes paid
to the states where the patent is extended - but yes, business models
is the crucial issues.

For instance, amongst different solutions experimented or envisaged
one is to part way with market financing of R&D altogether, and
keeping people motivated with "inventor prizes". Another is to have
revenues collected on an independent basis (say, for copyright, a tax
on broadband and support) and distribute it on the basis of some kinf
of usage measurements. Another may be in some circumstances the
possibile sale of related services, etc.

Now, some of them may work in some circumstances, other may require a
dramatic shift in our social and economic system, other are rather
theoretical for the time being. But everything is well and fine as
long as one keeps in mind that IP issues have nothing to do with
"natural laws" and "fundamental fairness", but rather with workable
business models for innovation.

> 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.)

This is just a cliché. In fact, I do not believe in the least that
"excludability" automatically justify a real property regime in all
places, ages and circumstances. An issue on which I certainly part
ways with anarco-capitalists is the idea that property would be a kind
of sacred, self-evident, primordial right. In fact, I consider it just
a tool which may be appropriate or not, and assume different forms,
depending on the circumstances and the goals of a given society.

Stefano Vaj

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list