[ExI] New IP thread

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Mon Jul 19 07:56:25 UTC 2010

On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 1:49 AM, Damien Sullivan
<phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 02:12:48PM -0400, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
>>    A socially progressive solution would be of course to have unlimited
>>    duration of universally binding patent protection on all new drugs,
>>    without any price restrictions imposed by illegitimate third parties
>>    (governments). In this way inventors would have the incentive and the
> No governments, no patents.
> Takes the power of a government to tell me I can't copy a book I own, or
> imitate a machine or drug I saw in public.

### Define "government".

The way I see it, it is possible to have effective IP laws without
government. In fact, any law content can be generated by
non-governmental methods, aside from laws that constitute the
government itself. It's a question of what a sufficient number of
people believe is right, not an issue of the methods/sources of
generating laws. Where there is a human desire, there is a way of
making it into law - and the desire to have strong IP protection may
lead to highly efficient outcomes, despite its current lack of

I can only advise to try to approach the problem of IP not from a
first-person perspective but to start with a comparative analysis of
efficiency of various hypothetical laws, given a range of plausible
assumptions about the properties of societies where these laws could
exist. From this exercise you might make guesses about the
laws (and supporting moral beliefs as well as technological
constraints) that are efficient, and therefore desirable. Once you
have that, ask what kind of legal methodology and what kind of social
organization would be needed to support such laws.

I do believe that a pluralistic, non-governed society consisting of
entities still recognizably human would be capable of generating
strong IP protection, and that this would be highly efficient. For a
vision of a pluralistic society with extremely strong, privately
provided IP laws see John C. Wright's "Golden Age" series.


P.S. An interesting thought occurred to me - compare a society where
all thoughts of every individual are open to control by other
individuals (unless specifically protected from external control), vs.
a society where all individual thoughts are protected from other
individuals (unless specifically excluded from protection). Draw
parallels with operating systems that allow any program to execute any
operations on the code of another program, unless specifically
proscribed, vs. systems that generally prevent programs from modifying
each other, unless specifically allowed. Which operating system is
more robust? This is a good starting point to thinking about the deep
underpinnings of IP law.

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