Intellectual Property

Debate: Intellectual Property Must Be Protected

Should the law respect copyrights and patents?


I.P. Holders Need the Legal System To Uphold Their Rights

James V. DeLong

Joanna Andreasson

If any gathering of people of libertarian bent becomes dull, raise the topic "intellectual property." The result will be an entertaining escalation in both outrage and decibels. The only certainty is that no minds will be changed, because the pros and the cons emphasize different values and the twain show no signs of meeting.

The case for recognizing a creator's right to his creations and his claim on the state to help protect this right rest on the same foundations as the arguments for protecting tangible property: Lockean entitlement to the fruits of one's labors; economic considerations of the importance of incentives and mechanisms for investment (and of the freedom of anyone with an entrepreneurial idea to bet on it without approval by hierarchies); the political benefits of separating people's livelihood from power structures (the old idea of the independent yeoman class, as modified for a society in which land has become less important as a factor of production and ideas more so); and the philosophical concepts of human agency and personal dignity, combined with the role of property—intangible as well as tangible—in making them a reality rather than an abstraction.

As always, it's in moving from the abstractions to the realities where the devilment lies. Defining and bounding intellectual property rights is complicated. The field is subdivided into four major domains: Copyright governs written, visual, and audio creations; patents apply to inventions; trademarks deal with brand protection; and trade secrets cover confidential information. Each has special characteristics and is subject to its own special rules.

Other than trade secrets, these domains differ from tangible property in a crucial way. Because tangible property can be locked up, nailed down, or fenced in, anyone who wants to infringe my rights must make physical contact with it. That makes self-protection the first line of defense, with invocation of state power as a backup. (Because trade secrets are much like tangible property in this respect, they tend not to rouse as much resistance.)

Intangible property, in contrast—to be either useful or lucrative—must be made available publicly and can be easily copied. Sometimes self-protection is possible by integrating tangible property with the intellectual product. Newspaper content, for example, was for decades protected by the expense of printing and distribution. But usually the holders of intellectual property must rely upon the legal system to uphold their rights.

It is not surprising that this intimate intertwinement of property with state power worries libertarians, as indeed it should. A government-enforced monopoly based on a patent or copyright looks a lot like a monopoly granted by a self-seeking officeholder to his political favorite. The founders of the American republic had experience with such preferential favoritism—the Boston Tea Party was more about the East India Company's monopoly than the taxes being levied—and the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to hand exclusive rights only to authors and inventors for limited periods of time. It also specifies that the purpose is "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." No monopolies were to be granted for importing caffeinated beverages.

On the whole, though, the system has done a reasonable job of policing the boundary. Patents are granted only for inventions that meet the criteria laid out in the first known patent law, from Venice in 1474: novelty, creativity, usefulness, non-obviousness, and a working model. Copyright is also hedged with limitations; only specific expression, not general ideas or plotlines, can be protected. Both patent and copyright are subject to rich and complicated bodies of legal doctrine, which testifies to their importance.

Things do indeed go awry sometimes, especially in times of rapid change. In the late 19th century, rural America was outraged by the "driven well patent," which covered a pipe pounded into the ground. A decade or so ago, patents were granted too freely for computerization of familiar practices, such as conducting a Dutch auction. But the system, for the most part, works.

Copyright is a bigger problem. To a large degree, the anti-I.P. forces have gotten their wish. The internet, and especially Google search and YouTube, have made people's rights to their own creations practically unenforceable for anyone who isn't a large corporation with a battalion of lawyers on call.

The results are mixed—at best. For those who use information as a tool for some other purpose, and whose business model does not depend on selling that information, the web has produced spectacular results. Commerce is now easier, and think tanks and other groups benefit enormously from the increased reach they can attain.

But for those of us who are dependent on monetizing information itself, the results have been disastrous. News organizations have been reduced to living off of the mere crumbs that fall from the maw of Google's advertising algorithms. In many ways, the traditional news business no longer exists at all. Instead, the product is the consumer, whose eyeballs can be sold and, because tailored ads are more effective and thus more lucrative, whose privacy is increasingly invaded.

In the entertainment field, individual artists have always had a hard time making a buck, but the trend, as intellectual property rights become less reliable, is toward ever-greater industrial concentration. A creator must sign on with one of the new barons, such as Amazon or Netflix, to access the necessary clout and resources to protect herself.

Sure, some artists do well in this system, but most cannot, and anyone outside the magic circle is fish bait. One of the great promises of the internet was that people on the fringes could use it to access a wider array of potential customers and become less dependent on intermediaries. Without defensible property rights, this is a pipe dream.

Time will tell how this all works out, but the current state of the news business is hardly a cause for libertarian exultation. Personally, for both news and entertainment, I mourn a lost alternative world in which strong intellectual property protections and micropayments together could have restored both consumers and producers to their proper, and more prosperous, roles.

Patents and Copyrights Are Dubious Legal Instruments

Tom G. Palmer

Patents and copyright are frequently in the news, with headlines such as "Amazon Patents Aerial Fulfilment Centers for Improved Drone Delivery" and "Elon Musk, Artist Settle Copyright Row Over Unicorn." Sometimes the conversation turns to the alleged need for legislative changes to lengthen or strengthen patent and copyright protections. The arguments in favor of such moves are propelled by moral claims about fairness and just reward but also by dubious claims about increased innovation and economic growth. (Trademark and trade secret protections are generally defended for other reasons based on contracts.)


Generally, both the very best defenses and the very best critiques of patents and copyrights were crafted by people working in the libertarian tradition. The reason isn't hard to identify: Patents and copyrights have come to be called "intellectual property," and libertarians see property and liberty as intimately connected. John Locke argued that people join in society "for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property."

Property is associated with prosperity, voluntary cooperation, and social harmony. It overcomes many "free rider" problems by creating incentives for people to take care of what is their own: In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle pointed out that "that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."

Yet as Fritz Machlup and Edith Penrose pointed out in their classic study "The Patent Controversy in the Nineteenth Century," "those who started using the word property in connection with inventions had a very definite purpose in mind: they wanted to substitute a word with a respectable connotation, 'property,' for a word that had an unpleasant ring, 'privilege.'" Patents and copyrights are privileges granted by political authorities. They were originally used to advance the interests of the rulers, not of the ruled; monopoly rights were often sold or handed out for political reasons. Only later were these instruments reformulated as attempts to create an artificial scarcity that would generate incentives for authors and inventors.

If I write a song and you sing it, you may be infringing a copyright granted to me by the state, and a court may be authorized to enjoin you from using your voice as you choose—meaning that your liberty of action over your body is lessened by my legal privilege. The problems with patents are no less severe, especially when you consider that merely filing a patent application 10 minutes earlier confers a full monopoly over the invention, regardless of the claims another inventor may have.

Merely calling a privilege "property" doesn't mean that it has the characteristics of property that libertarians find desirable. Occupational licenses, monopolies, farm subsidies, and other privileges are sometimes referred to as property (and in many cases have characteristics of property—they're transferrable, can be borrowed against, etc.), but that is no reason to extend to such privileges the traditional libertarian respect for the "lives, liberties, and estates" that were designated by Locke as property.

Thomas Jefferson, after some years as a member of the federal Patent Board, wrote that "if nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." Jefferson granted that the state may award such monopolies "as an encouragement to pursue ideas which may produce utility," but he was skeptical that they actually served that function. That skepticism has been borne out by historical experience.

Plenty of innovation takes place in fields without patent protection, including effectively the whole U.S. aviation industry from 1917 to 1975. Most firms patent to avoid having competitors register patents before them, or use the number of patents filed to measure the productivity of their R&D departments. There is no compelling evidence from empirical research that patents generate overall economic benefits, with one possible—and significant—exception: chemical compounds.

In many cases, these compounds can be easily reverse-engineered and are also relatively easy to define. In the pharmaceutical industry, the costs of R&D and of evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration can be astronomical, and the consumer benefits can be very substantial. Pharmaceuticals may be the best case (and I write "may," since there could still be other solutions in that instance) that general benefits can flow from grants of monopoly privileges—so long as the formulae are published, ensuring that generics can be made available after the patents expire, and the duration of the monopoly is limited. But one exception does not a general case make.

The power to hand out such legislative monopolies is expressly limited by the Constitution, but those limitations are under attack in ways that clearly have nothing to do with promoting the further "Progress of Science and useful Arts."

Extending the copyright of a film won't cause more of that film to be produced. The current patent system, rather than speeding up innovation, may even be hampering it, as patents are issued with barely any examination of whether the application is overly broad or whether someone else is already producing what the patent covers. "Patent mill" law firms then buy up such patents and shake down tech firms by threatening patent infringement suits that would, even if unsuccessful, cost the targets millions to defend against. The tech companies often agree to hefty settlements (accompanied by nondisclosure agreements) with the law firms because doing so is less costly than litigation would be. In discussions with CEOs of electronics firms manufacturing in the U.S., I've been told that the existing system increases the cost of doing business and that, despite their cutting-edge position, they'd prefer to be rid of the whole mess.

The future of civilization does not hinge on whether we extend, diminish, or abolish copyright and patent protections. There are other, more critical issues before us. But people who value liberty should be skeptical of moves to lengthen or strengthen legislatively granted monopoly privileges. Putting the lipstick of "property" on a pig shouldn't make it sexy.

NEXT: Here's What Congress Was Doing While You Were Watching the Kavanaugh Circus

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  1. I appreciate that some of these debates at least have good arguments from both sides from a libertarian perspective. This is a question where I think the answer is a mix of both. Claiming an exclusive right to an idea, name, or innovation in perpetuity with the full force of the law behind it stifles innovation. Holding a copyright or patent for a limited time allows the developer to profit off the idea or innovation. There needs to be a compromise point where innovators can cover development costs plus profit and then others can use the idea to innovate further. Without the former, innovation disincentivised. Without the latter, innovation is stifled. We need a bit of both for a free market to work properly.

    1. People have been creating stories and songs and paintings and statues and all sorts of thing for centuries and millennia without copyright, and inventing things without patents.

      History is replete with inventors blocking progress until their patents ran out, from Watt to the Wright Bros.

      The idea that people are only motivated by money, or that fresh ideas are so rare that they must be nourished by state-granted monopolies, is patently ridiculous.

      1. It isn’t so ridiculous in a world where it costs a billion dollars to bring a drug to market, but only a few thousand to reverse engineer the product.

        There’s already a load of needed treatments that are not going to be forthcoming because the conditions requiring them are to rare to constitute a market capable of paying for the costs of creating those treatments.

        If you reduce the amount that can be recouped to the amount that can be made selling a particular chemical compound in a competitive market, you eliminate any possibility of paying for that up-front cost. So nobody will pay it, and then many more treatments will never exist.

        That one is pretty much obvious, since the costs are so astronomically high up front and the ongoing costs are so astronomically low once you are simply selling a chemical.

        I remember back at the beginning of the first Meth panic there were stories about how you could buy a drum of chinese-produced sudafed in mexico for about $60. That was the wholesale cost of the chemical. At similar price points, none of your favorite medications would have ever existed.

        1. At similar price points, none of your favorite medications would have ever existed.

          Assumes facts not in evidence. Specifically, it assumes the current system with patents magically vanished and everyone just freezes in inaction. It assumes people haven’t got any ingenuity in the face of adversity. It assumes no consortium will ever pool resources.

          What about all those rare diseases which will never be treated under patents because the medicine would have to cost $100M per does to recoup the invention costs?

          What about technological progress such as DNA analyzers? Who would ever have predicted the price would drop so fast and the capability increase so much? Who can now predict how much medicine will be made that isn’t even imagined now?

          Human imagination is not gated by lust for royalties.

          Worst case, some medicine is created now that wouldn’t otherwise be created for another 20 years. But the unseen is all the resources wasted on patent fights which have their own way of stalling progress. How much better would life be now if steam locomotives and steam ships hadn’t been stalled for decades by Watt’s patent? How much better would airplanes be now if the Wright’s hadn’t sat on their ideas and stifled progress for more than a decade? How much better would society be without patent lawyers wasting their and everybody’s time and resources and had instead been busy inventing things?

          1. “Assumes facts not in evidence”

            Actually, just the opposite. All of the factors he discusses are easily visible in todays markets.

            Meanwhile, you’re stuck relying on magic to change the situation to one where your situation is plausible.

            1. The only facts he presents are the current system which may be facts, but he makes a lot of uninformed guesses about how bad things would be under any alternative, without actually making any guesses as to what those alternatives might be; he in effect pretends any alternative is just chaos.

              The fact he and you so magnificently ignore is that people are imaginative and markets are tremendous tools for explooting imaginations.

            2. But I suppose to you two, markets are something which fail and for governments to fix.

          2. DNA sequencers don’t require clinical trials and fda approval.

            1. …yet.

            2. Neither do computers. They are tools, improvements lead to more progress, and new kinds fo tools lead to new kinds of progress.

              1. Define progress.

                While you’re at it, define better.

                1. Nardz|9.29.18 @ 9:28PM|#
                  “Define progress.”
                  Life-extending pharms. Cheaper food. Gee, wasn’t hard at all!

                  “While you’re at it, define better.”
                  Life-extending pharms which are orally administered instead of IV.
                  I guess you’re just lacking insight.

      2. “People have been creating stories and songs and paintings and statues and all sorts of thing for centuries and millennia without copyright, and inventing things without patents.”

        Things got complicated when it became possible to mass produce other people’s work. Yeah, Tacitus may have written a story without anything like a copyright, but if they’d had the printing press, he’d have wanted all the royalties. We saw the same thing happen with Napster. It was always alright to trade books, CDs, and other copyrighted objects you own. The problem with Napster was that it effectively let you mass produce the work. You’re not just trading in your one Slayer CD. You’re letting millions of people all over the world download the contents of that CD without compensating the people who created it.

        That’s illustrative of how I think copyright does work and should work. Copyright should only be enforced insofar as it can be enforced by the people who own the copyright, and it should be more or less up to the copyright holder to find ways to enforce it. The Napster problem wasn’t only solved through lawsuits. It also took someone like Steve Jobs to invent an MP3 player that was better than the other options, create a music distribution service that was better than Napster and made sure the copyright holders were paid, etc. Meanwhile, people still swap files on Tor, etc. and there’s nothing the copyright holders can do about that, right?

      3. . . . until they invented the blockchain. In the future, I’d expect all copyrighted works to be protected through blockchain ledgers, etc.

        Again, it’s up to the copyright holder to protect their own copyrights. Meanwhile, live performance has become a more important source of revenue for artists, artists can distribute their own music without needing a record company or expensive distribution agreement, i.e., the business changes along with the technology–and that’s how it should be.

        For me, it boils down to the idea that people shouldn’t be able to mass produce other people’s work, but it should be up to the copyright holder to enforce that copyright in court. If they can’t, for whatever reason, then I’m not sure it’s the government’s job to police the world on their behalf. If somebody steals something out of your garage, but you don’t have a description of the culprit, then there isn’t much the police or the courts can do about that. The solution isn’t to put us all under constant surveillance to make sure that no one ever steals anything out of your garage again. The solution is for you to invest in an alarm, surveillance system, get a dog, insurance, etc. to protect your own property. If you get a description of the suspect, let us know.

      4. People have been creating stories and songs and paintings and statues and all sorts of thing for centuries and millennia without copyright, and inventing things without patents.

        So? The same can be said for physical property. Hell, in many places in the third world, people cannot obtain clear title to their land and therefore cannot raise capital against it. De Soto argues that this is one of the main reasons that keeps them in poverty.

        As society progresses, there is generally an increase in the types of property rights that become available. This should be celebrated by libertarians. Intellectual property is an important type of property right that protects new, innovative entrants into the market and prevents established players with economies of scale and political connections from stealing their ideas.

      5. One interesting aspect of mass producing things, the valuable aspect of certain objects can’t be mass produced.

        Authentic Shaker chairs are expensive. Recreations aren’t expensive. You can’t mass produce them and get the authentic Shaker chair price without defrauding people. It isn’t a patent or copyright that protects the design, and, yet, the Shakers were the only ones who could create authentic Shaker chairs.

        Art is often like that. Matisse made a huge number of black and white prints. The authentic ones are worth more than the prints made after his death, but consumers can’t tell the difference between them when they’re hanging on a wall. Meanwhile, the Andy Warhol foundation won’t authenticate some of the prints Warhol actually signed. He had no hand in actually manufacturing them in his “Factory”, and it’s sometimes unclear whether he had a hand in their design.…..arhol-did/

        1. The difference in price between an authenticated Warhol and something he signed can be huge, and the difference between an authenticated Warhol print hanging in the MoMA and the identical prints they sell in the gift shop can be huge. Point is, this is value the artist gave to his own art without the benefit of copyright. I don’t suppose that sort of thing transfers to all other markets, but I suspect that authenticity adding value (sans copyright) applies to items where the more creative input the manufacturer has, the more authenticity matters. And I suppose that’s the way it should be–and, again, that has nothing to do with copyright. Don’t we want the outcome to be that the artists’ compensation is a function of the value they add in the minds of consumers–with as little interference from government as possible?

          Color me conflicted.

    2. Innovation occurred long before government granted monopolies so that point is moot. You’re simply stuck in the current paradigm it’s been so ingrained into you. Instead of one trillion dollar multi national company, you would simply have many smaller companies working on smaller parts of the puzzle. In case you haven’t noticed, there is more than just McDonald’s selling hamburgers.

      Of course every time this subject is debated, people bring up pharmaceuticals as if there is any difference and while totally forgetting you are now buying into the healthcare as a right philosophy. I don’t pretend to be omniscient so I can only theorize, but drugs would most likely be produced by organizations similar to charities. If enough people need a drug, or fear they might need it in the future, they will donate to concerns that research these cures and treatments. You know, EXACTLY AS THEY DO NOW FOR DISEASES WITH SMALLER MARKETS.

      The fact there is even a debate about “intellectual” property (the clue that it isn’t really property is right in the qualified name) on a “libertarian” site just shows me there is little hope. This isn’t a libertarian site. It’s just a site that caters to a very light form of statism. Just like every other statist, most here think they know what level of statism is “best”. It’s just less than the Fox News/CNN kind, but the arguments and justification are exactly the same.

      Sigh, humans just don’t deserve to be free. They are too dumb.

    3. Good comment Master Thief. I think these essays suffer from a lack of specific examples: separating government granted privileges from actual inventions and government protection of them, the mass copying of copyrighted works, what are reasonable time frames for government protection of patents and copyrights, are bands playing cover songs infringing on copyrights say compared to a radio station playing a record without compensating the song creator, and so on. The fringes of these boundaries and rules are where the debate lies. As DeLong points out, “it’s complicated” and “it’s in moving from the abstractions to the realities where the devilment lies.”

      Government regulation also is akin to sand in the gears: e.g., FDA requirements to get a drug approved drives up development costs, driving Big Pharma to demand longer times before patents expire so developers can recoup their investments. That’s one of those “devilments”.

  2. I never even noticed there was an intended way to position the roll of toilet paper until my wife pointed it out to me and there it is. Now the idea is seared into my brain. Thanks for suffocating my carefree life.

    1. Well, if one can patent that, one can patent anything and everything!

      Speaking of such things, while bumbling about the byways of that them thar internet, I stumbled across a loverly idea documented at…..blication/ …

      Basically, have a random-words-and-phrases combiner algorithm (software program) document all known combinations and permutations of technical (and sometimes not-so-technical) terms, and publish them all on the internet; “defensively” publish them for FREE, and we now have immunity against all patent-troll parasites! Sample output of such a program are shown at the above web site, it is worth a look…

      1. To quote…

        This and similar designs are all shielded from raiding barbaric hordes of greedy-pig patent lawyers: A mint-steel-blue-colored ornithopter with rum, me-laddy! With patient, never-ending obedience to the dictates of Al Gore, this rocket engine mummifies politically demented gene patents. Ionizing electro-magnetically, the erectile filthy blame-deflecting methodology modifies politically correct persons as space-time-warped by European hypothesis. Not only does this low-fructose-metallic-oxide-free ionizer incorporate tectonic-plate theories, it is also Satan-approved as a cone head. Also donated to the public domain is this: A civet-nibbled salad and garnishes with hazelnut topping.

        These designs are all off limits to parasitical patent pigs: Not only does this legal computer interpret planets, it can also, in an emergency, serve as a robotic surgeon. Percolating in the Realm of Dungeons and Dragons, the low-current random vortex rectifies jet engines tortured by degraded races. Orbiting around the 15th law of gravity, this variable geometry engine mineralizes organically cached patients. Furthermore, greedy patent lawyers are hereby served notice that I have already documented this: A bacteria-chowder and lemon with fried spam.

        1. Agile Cyborg, is that you?

        2. Agile Cyborg, is that you?

          1. I’m worried that AC may have overindulged to a dangerous extent. He sometimes alluded to hospitals in his posts.

    2. Everyone that has ever lived with a cat knows that there is only one right way to put the toilet paper in the holder.

  3. There’s no such thing as “Intellectual Property”. Ideas cannot be held inside a fence, they are non-rivalrous and non-exclusive. If you see a wheel, the idea of the wheel spawns in your mind. Even if you don’t see a wheel, inspiration can lead to two minds think of the same thing. Who can say owns that idea? How can you assign “property rights” on minds you don’t own?

    Saying that Intellectual Property stimulates innovation is like saying that unions stimulate employment. IP is merely a government-created fiction meant to stiffle competition in the marketplace, not unlike licensing laws and other state-promoted charters which are similar in intent.

    1. inspiration can lead to two minds think of the same thing

      Exactly. The idea that Bell deserved 100% of the telephone patent and Gray nothing, due entirely to losing a close race to the patent office; or that all of the predecessor inventions had nothing to do with it, is ridiculous. Why did Watt get a patent and not Newcomen? What justified the decades-long patent wars over the integrated circuit? The Wright Bros patent over wing warping led to Curtis inventing ailerons and the patent fight dragging on for so long that the US government finally forced a settlement just so they could build planes for WW I — 14 years later! meanwhile the US, home to the first powered controlled flights, fell way behind Europe.

      Is that innovation in anything except legal chicanery?

      1. Also, there’s too much focus on the debate on which system provides more innovation. It’s irrelevant. The free market does what it does and libertarians shouldn’t be in favor of the government manipulating it for what “should” be (who gets to decide that anyway?)

        If all IP protections (outside of enforceable contracts) went away tomorrow, you bet business and revenue models would change! The pro-IP side tends to make that a central argument for copyrights and patents. But it’s trivially obvious that lots of revenue models would shift to something else (or go away). However, it is not a reason to accept that ideas should be treated as property.

        Disclaimer: it would be disastrous to remove the IP enforcement mechanisms overnight. I don’t advocate that.

        1. There’s also the incredible resources wasted to take advantage of the current IP regime: defensive patents, patenting every trivial idea just to have more arrows in your quiver in case someone sues your for a patent you didn’t know existed. Samsung got pasted for hundreds of millions of dollars for violating a design patent for how rounded were the corners of their phones. Does anyone seriously believe that was worth even warm spit? I know people who have been awarded patents for ordinary things they did in teh course of normal work, but which some IP lawyer wanted to patent in case other work violated some competitor’s equally trivial patent.

          Few people want to even admit that is a waste of resources, let alone admit a free market would not allocate such wastage or that is only possible due to government-granted monopolies.

          1. There’s also the incredible resources wasted to take advantage of the current IP regime: defensive patents, patenting every trivial idea just to have more arrows in your quiver in case someone sues your for a patent you didn’t know existed.

            Waste to you, not to the companies that decided to spend to money on those patents. Subjective theory of value and all that.

            1. It is still a waste in the existential sense.

            2. This is a waste of a comment.

            3. So let’s create more bureaucracy and more laws and more regulations and more people to deal with them. It should have no effect in progress, if you are right.

          2. “I know people who have been awarded patents for ordinary things they did in teh course of normal work, but which some IP lawyer wanted to patent in case other work violated some competitor’s equally trivial patent.”

            This is a criticism of the Patent Office, not the lawyers. I work with numerous IP lawyers on many inventions sent to the USPTO. Some Examiners are thorough and diligent, but many are lazy and incompetent. Estimates are that 85% of patent claims are invalid. Hence the flood of Applications because it’s a crapshoot in the USPTO.

    2. IP is merely a government-created fiction meant to stiffle competition in the marketplace,

      ALL property can be said to be government-created fiction.

      As for two people coming up with the same idea, how is that any different than two people coming upon a nugget of gold at the same time? Such instances are rare. When they do happen, however, we have mechanisms in place to settle the dispute.

      1. ^First sentence is supposed a quote from Old Mexican.

      2. No. Physical property is a natural outcome self-ownership. If you try to extend this to intellectual property, you run into such a pile of arbitrary hypocrisy and paradox as to render it nonsense. That is how IP lawyers were conceived.

        1. I am talking about the enforcement of property rights. All arguments that I have seen (and I have studied this issue a lot), which try to derive physical property from some first principles, while, at the same time, attempt to prove that IP is illegitimate, end up being circular arguments that start with definitions that assume IP is illegitimate and then try to prove this same point from those definitions. It’s a pointless exercise.

          1. You get worse circular arguments by assuming that ideas can be property.

  4. There is no compelling evidence from empirical research that patents generate overall economic benefits, with one possible?and significant?exception: chemical compounds.

    The only way one could possibly assert that chemical compound patenting generates overall economic benefits is to ignore the real world. Notably the completely different patent models of UK/US vs Germany – 19th century in particular.

    US/UK allowed patent protection on the chemical itself. That destroyed innovation because it obliterated the economics/scale of synthesizing processes. The result was a limit to petrochem and a global monopoly there because they had the monopoly over the crude. Refining itself became an impossible business until patents expired. So the only ‘innovation’ ended up being financial consolidation and control of distribution to turn the entire industry into a monopolized trust (Rockefeller).

    Germany did not allow patents on the chemical. Only on the particular synthesizing process. The invention – NOT the discovery. The result was that Germany’s entire industrialization was built on scaling up chemical process facilities researching new compounds like crazy in order to push them though that process. The chemicals – and chemistry – they innovated then are STILL the basis for many chem/pharma patents we are issuing today.

    1. Pharma largely relies on process and formulation patents as the development process takes longer than the life of a composition of matter patent.

      And almost all Pharma compounds today are novel molecules invented by a medicinal chemist and not discovered in nature.

      1. Pharma has a legitimate unique issue re safety/efficacy since it is ingested. That is going to have to involve govt in some way – but that’s not really an IP issue but a health/safety issue.

        And post-WW1, those different models get muddy because a)we stole Germany’s entire chemical industry knowledge twice and b)they threw much of it away once more to go down their ‘Aryan’ track and c)after WW2 (the 1960’s I think) we forced them to adopt our patent model anyway.

        1. “And post-WW1, those different models get muddy because a)we stole Germany’s entire chemical industry knowledge twice”
          Since it wasn’t patented, how could it be stolen?

          “and b)they threw much of it away once more to go down their ‘Aryan’ track”
          They ‘threw it away’?

          “and c)after WW2 (the 1960’s I think) we forced them to adopt our patent model anyway.”
          Cite missing.

          1. Since it wasn’t patented, how could it be stolen?

            They had no problems using our patent system when selling products in the US. And they had plenty of trade secrets related to both the processes and ‘unsuccessful’ compounds-in-research. The US was a big market with technical talent so they had both production and research facilities here. We stole what was here in WW1 – stole what was there when we occupied in WW2.

            Cite missing


            Those were Europe creating a common patent system that complied with the dominant patent system (the US). Not Europe going down its own path or keeping its older systems. And Germany adopted ‘European’ at that point.

            1. “They had no problems using our patent system when selling products in the US. And they had plenty of trade secrets related to both the processes and ‘unsuccessful’ compounds-in-research. The US was a big market with technical talent so they had both production and research facilities here.”
              So what?

              “We stole what was here in WW1 – stole what was there when we occupied in WW2.”
              Cite(s) missing

              “Those were Europe creating a common patent system that complied with the dominant patent system (the US). Not Europe going down its own path or keeping its older systems. And Germany adopted ‘European’ at that point.”
              So they weren’t “forced”; they chose what they thought was a better system.
              Got it.
              Why don’t you try being honest once?
              BTW, I’m still waiting on that other thread for you to provide some evidence for your bullshit.

              1. Eat your dingleberries asshole. And keep waiting for whatever the fuck you want to wait for

                1. JFree|9.29.18 @ 11:52AM|#
                  “Eat your dingleberries asshole. And keep waiting for whatever the fuck you want to wait for

                  I’m waiting for this:
                  “JFree|9.23.18 @ 11:43AM|#
                  HAHAHAHA. The propaganda spewing puppet voices his individual opinion.

                  Sevo|9.23.18 @ 3:15PM|#
                  Only responding to the imbecile as the imbecile deserves.
                  Tell me, you fucking ignoramus, when was the last time a KKKorpurashun demanded your information at gun-point?”
                  Keep bullshitting and keep getting called on your bullshit, you fucking lefty ignoramus.

                  1. Thank you for remaining on hold. You are very special. A customer service rep will be with you shortly

                    1. Great link. Left it on as an experiment. Past the 20 minute mark, it became uncomfortable, increasing to low-level anxiety…surely something was going to happen!

                      But nothing did, just more mild elevator music>department store music>hold music.

                      Nowadays, you never hear anything like that, for any of those purposes. Instead, I hear those wild rebels, Led Zep and the Stones, in the grocery store.

        2. Fun fact, the FDA is premised on a fiction.


          An elixir had an undisclosed toxin. The fear was that if the company had properly included the toxin on the label then the government would have been powerless to intervene.

          This assumes that people would have consumed a product that was labeled to contain a toxin.

          The better conclusion was that labeling requirements were sufficient since they already had authority to punish the guilty.

          1. The problem is that that is NOT the better conclusion.

            100 people were dead. Unequivocally killed by Massengill’s product.

            They had no legal recourse on their own – regardless of the label.

            The company/owners response was – overtly – FYTW for at least the next 35 years until it was acquired by someone else. The chemist who worked for that company – he committed suicide in remorse.

            You can say the govt didn’t do the right thing in response. You gotta be insane to think that relying on the market would have been better.

            1. No legal recourse? Riiight, because poisoning people by mistake was legal until the FDA was created. No recourse to civil suits either. Perhaps you missed this little gem:

              But under the regulations of the time, Massengill hadn’t really done anything wrong:

              Oh gee, looks like the government made it legal to kill people by accident.

              You can say the govt didn’t do the right thing in response. You gotta be insane to think that relying on the market would have been better.

              You gotta be bat shit crazy to not recognize the government prevented the market from punishing the perpetrators.

              1. I didn’t miss that gem. There was no law against Massengill selling raspberry-flavored antifreeze as an antibiotic medicine. That (no reg) is what you advocate. That is what they did. That is what killed their customers in Sept/Oct 1937.

                The co wasn’t required to test toxicity. As long as they refused to test, they had no reason to believe they were selling anything dangerous. No fraud.

                My chemists and I deeply regret the fatal results, but there was no error in the manufacture of the product. We have been supplying legitimate professional demand and not once could have foreseen the unlooked-for results. I do not feel that there was any responsibility on our part. The chemical sulfanilamide had been approved for use and had been used in large quantities in other forms, and now its many bad effects are developing. – Oct23 press release

                Blaming the deaths on sulfa (someone else) not antifreeze (themselves). Could not have foreseen what we didn’t look for. A classic bit of corporate bamboozle and lawyering. Even that doesn’t get issued absent the bad publicity forced on them by FDA.

                You cultists are deluded about how actual organizations work and what deregulation actually is.

                The company used a JAMA research article in Jan 1937 as a free marketing/PR tool to lend credibility to a different formulation (sulfa – dissolved in antifreeze) that turned out to be not the same thing at all.

                1. JFree|9.29.18 @ 7:16PM|#
                  “I didn’t miss that gem. There was no law against Massengill selling raspberry-flavored antifreeze as an antibiotic medicine. That (no reg) is what you advocate. That is what they did. That is what killed their customers in Sept/Oct 1937.”

                  Oh! Oh! Bullshitter JFree can find one example of a lack of regs causing harm. Therefore, bullshitter assumes regs are GOOD!
                  Bullshitter JFree isn’t real bright.

              2. And yes – EVERYTHING is legal unless you (a dead person) can prove the opposite in a court of law – with the burden of proof on you. They are the defendant with the very big pockets and eternal life and limited liability. You drank the actual evidence – which is how you died.

                Yeah – good luck with recourse on your own.

      2. And I kinda disagree that pharma is really relying purely on process patents in isolation. The IP disputes with Brazil/India/etc re generics/etc center on pharma attempts to control long-known (but unstudied) compounds from ‘traditional’ medicine. If those disputes were solely about the synthesizing of them, there would be no disputes because one entity synthesizing those compounds does not diminish the ability of a different entity to synthesize them differently. Only the control of the compound itself eliminates all others ability to synthesize

        1. Largely. Not purely.

      3. Big Pharma is an exception, because of the large cost of R&D in the pharma world. However, in most other industries, patents protect the small, new, innovative companies, not the established large corporations.

        1. Both assertions are wrong, and I will not provide citations because google will find plenty of them. Patents have screwed over far more solitary inventors and small companies because big companies have the resources to mangle the system in their favor.

          1. Dude, you are completely wrong on that. Trust me.

          2. Look here: Who are the members? Corporate giants? No. Small companies and independent inventors.

            And look here:…../id=85597/ Who is lobbying to weaken patents? The corporate giants.

            1. PhRMA opposes weakening patents.


    2. Indeed – one of the more interesting economic case studies would be to study the impact of the wholesale theft of all the patents and trade secrets of the German chemical industry during WW1. Via Trading with the Enemy Act and the Office of Alien Property Custodian. Certainly that was the origin of the US Merck, the fermentation capabilities of Pfizer (which became important later with antibiotics) – and prob the rest of the US pharma industry

    3. Hey, JFree! Still waiting!

      “JFree|9.23.18 @ 11:43AM|#
      HAHAHAHA. The propaganda spewing puppet voices his individual opinion.

      Sevo|9.23.18 @ 3:15PM|#
      Only responding to the imbecile as the imbecile deserves.
      Tell me, you fucking ignoramus, when was the last time a KKKorpurashun demanded your information at gun-point?
      I’ll be checking back; pretty sure it’s going to be crickets.”

      1. Thank you for remaining on hold. You are very special. A customer service rep will be with you shortly

    4. About those German chemical companies.

      1. That might apply re bromine – but only because of what is mentioned in passing in that article – German control of the potash FEEDSTOCK. That is exactly the same dynamic as US/UK control of the crude oil feedstock – and leads to the same place – monopoly/trust/cartel. It has nothing to do with intellectual property but with control of land/resources.

        But ‘control of feedstocks’ is not even remotely what characterizes the German chemical industry then. At best it’s the exception that proves the rule. Or maybe a very good explanation for why the German govt sought to eliminate the British Empire and went into an arms race to do so. But the German chemical industry was almost entirely about searching for substitutes for things that they DIDN’T control.

        And no I don’t expect that ANY American nowadays has the slightest interest in actually understanding how those different patent models worked. Because we are American and even our shit smells great and we have absolutely nothing to learn from anybody else because everything great that has ever been great has only been great if it is American in origin.

        1. “German control of the potash FEEDSTOCK. That is exactly the same dynamic as US/UK control of the crude oil feedstock ”

          Ok we’re done taking you seriously. That’s just fuckong moronic.

        2. Honestly, I never did take you seriously after ypu proved you were too stupid to click a working link, but now you’re making a fool of yourself.

  5. What is the mechanism by which a company chooses to invest in an expensive development process that is cheaply replicated?

    $1B in development for a $1 pill.

  6. Property rights are just an extension of self-ownership, and they entail both the right and the duty to control one’s possessions. If you own a car, it is your duty to set the parking brake, curb your wheels if parked on a hill, etc, so your property does not harm anybody else.

    Part of this duty also includes marking your property so others know what it is. Throw out some old WiFi router, and it is no longer your property, it now belongs to the garbage company or landfill owner. Put it out on the curb in a box marked “FREE!” and it belongs to whomever wants it. Fence in your land, or at least mark the boundary with “No Trespassing” signs, so that others may know not to trespass, and prosecute those who do, lest an easement be created.

    I suggest you intellectual property faddists follow the self-ownership principle: control your property! Once you publish a story or song, you have put it out on the curb with a “FREE!” sign; you have certainly lost control of it. You do already recognize easements, insisting that even the slightest trespass must be prosecuted lest the trademark or copyright vanish.

    1. So how does that notion work for pharmaceuticals?

      Are you going to have people report to drug care facilities in order to take their medication, and only allow them to leave when the drugs have left their system? That doesn’t really work for maintenance medicines.

      And if a potential competitor can get his hands on even a small sample of your compound, recreating it is almost certainly quite simple. So now drugs can only be sold for the cost of synthesis, plus markup in a competitive arena. There’s no room in there to pay for developing the drug in the first place.

      And so much for the home movie market. Absent government protection, it is back to chains of theaters to display films and no more blu-ray distribution. And probably no more cable, at least not for a long time after release. But it would probably be really, really good for theater owners. And cable TV and subscription streaming producers too, I suppose.

      1. And absent patent protections on high-tech stuff, who’s going to go into the high-tech stuff inventing business? An iPhone is pretty easy to copy. My son has a chinese phone that runs android but is otherwise a pretty much piece for piece copy of the iPhone. It cost about 20% of the price of the iPhone. It is even manufactured by FoxCon.

        The same thing would be true for a new fuel injector or oxygen sensor…. the idea is very often the hard part. Some things can be trade secrets (a new way of producing carbon fiber car parts), but other things are useless if secret.

      2. Hollywood films are an aberration. They only cost a fortune because monopolies allow such high wages and production costs. There are a zillion actors out there, and while some may be motivated by the one-in-a-million shot at getting paid $20M per picture, most do it for the love of the theater.

        Half the cost of pharmaceutical is marketing, or fussing with trivial changes to extend patents or get around them. How would new medicines be financed absent monopolies, you ask? Here’s an idea, although I have no doubt markets would come up with others: trade secrets! Gosh, maybe they would just keep it secret and recoup their capital cost during the several years it takes competitors to reverse engineer the process and start their own plant.

        There are also reputations. People buy, say, Nike shoes because they’ve been making good shoes for some time. Or Fords or Chevies. Same with medicine. If Company XYZ has a reputation for effective medicines, their new medicines will automatically be favored over new company ABC, even if ABC spends a fortune advertising their new pill as an exact copy of XYZ’s new pill.

        There’s money to be made selling new pills. People will find ways to sell those new pills. The idea that clever people will freeze in their tracks, withdraw into their shells, and never invent anything new, just because the government doesn’t grant a monopoly, is really just another example of socialist thinking that the world is static and unchanging.

        1. It is physically impossible to protect a drug as a trade secret. In order to use it, you have to have it in your possession.

          If you have a pill in your possession, you can take it to any competent chemical lab and they can identify the exact chemical composition and design a synthesis pathway to recreate each compound perfectly. All for thousands of dollars, not millions.

          And even if the originators never spent a nickel on marketing, they’d still have born the entire cost of development, all for a head start of, what?, months?

          1. How is that any different from any other product that is readily purchasable and can be physically reduced to the component parts in such a way as to allow a new party the ability to reproduce?

            I can disassemble a new engine that features some new breakthrough that cost the originator lots of time and money to figure out. But once one person buys this new engine and is physically in possession of it, how do you stop them from analyzing their new property and ingesting the “intellectual property” into their mind so as to allow them to replicate it?

            The underlying principles between chems and other physical constructions are identical. By using IP arguments we simply impose our own subjective moral value on these two items and conclude that because we favor saving lives over new cars we can therefore impose on all people our value of lives over cars. If it were any other two items libertarians would easily, and rightly, say “let the market decide” which venture is valued more than the other.

            And given that people create all the tile for various reasons, we can not assume that all creation requires monopoly privelage and the suppression of other peoples’ physical and mental capacity.

          2. Trade secrets are a different type of IP. The whole point of a patent is to provide the invention to the public in return for a limited right to exclude others from using it. If there were no patents, everything would be a trade secret. We would see companies devote large amounts of resources to protect their inventions and to spy on their competitors.

            1. I have worked at companies who routinely bought competitors products to analyze and reverse engineer. In almost every case, we learned nothing really new, just things we either had already discarded for better ways or things we were already in the process of implementing. We always assumed our competitors did the same to our products.

              Trade secrets are just another government-inspired monopoly. They give KFC and Coca-Cola advertising tricks and that’s about it.

              1. I don’t think there are any government protections for “trade secrets”, beyond those protecting against breaking and entering, trespass, etc.

                1. There are, both at the state level, and, recently, at the federal level as well.

                  1. No. There are prescriptions for procedures to maintain trade secrets, but no protection.

                  2. No, there are rules for identifying trade secrets, not protections.

        2. And it is not about freezing in your tracks or withdrawing into your shell.

          A new drug compound today costs thousands or millions to come up with. A couple of chemists in a lab can do that. Figuring out if it actually works at all costs millions. Finding out if it works in humans in a safe and effective way costs hundreds of millions.

          Nobody is going to invest that money if they have the certain knowledge that after having risked all that capital on an uncertain outcome, they will be selling into a market that is price competitive with people who only had the cost of designing a commercial synthesis of the drug.

          On the other hand, if we remove the government restrictions on selling compounds, I’m sure we’ll inspire loads of chemists to come up with compounds and skip the “safe and effective” step. (such people exist today as unscrupulous snake-oil salesmen. But most of them stick to legally safe snake oil).

        3. And it is not about freezing in your tracks or withdrawing into your shell.

          A new drug compound today costs thousands or millions to come up with. A couple of chemists in a lab can do that. Figuring out if it actually works at all costs millions. Finding out if it works in humans in a safe and effective way costs hundreds of millions.

          Nobody is going to invest that money if they have the certain knowledge that after having risked all that capital on an uncertain outcome, they will be selling into a market that is price competitive with people who only had the cost of designing a commercial synthesis of the drug.

          On the other hand, if we remove the government restrictions on selling compounds, I’m sure we’ll inspire loads of chemists to come up with compounds and skip the “safe and effective” step. (such people exist today as unscrupulous snake-oil salesmen. But most of them stick to legally safe snake oil).

          1. Over and over again, you show an incredible lack of imagination, not only that other people are just as imaginative as the few who get patents, but that societies, economies, businesses, and people in general will easily adjust to other ways of inventing things.

            Just because no one invents new expensive medicines under the current regime does not mean there are no other ways of inventing those medicines.

            Just because you can think only of the current regime and its expensive drawn0out processes doe snot mean that there are no other processes possible.

            Just because you see only the current expensive regime and its outputs does not mean that there are unseen wasted resources which would be diverted to more productive seen uses.

            Your lack of imagination is appalling. It’s the hallmark of statists and socialists who think life is a zero sum game and it is up to them to properly allocate resources. You have the saving grace of thinking the current regime works because private enterprise allocates those resources well enough, but it’s also obvious that you don’t really believe in markets or alternative regimes which could allocate those resources better.

            1. Please tell us these wonderful ways to recoup a billion dollars of R&D that produce a $100 pill. We are awaiting your genius.

  7. Thanks for the debate. This is always a sticky topic in libertarian circles.

    I work in the computer software industry, where patents are often granted for ideas that are “obvious” to those well skilled in the field.

    But I can tell you from experience, figuring out how to do something is often 90% of the work. Or more. Once you come up with the new algorithm or even an outline of how something will work, actually engineering and building it is usually pretty obvious.

    The same is true for pharmaceuticals and other chemicals (if in a different way). Figuring out that this one particular compound will safely cure influenza is really, really, hard. Figuring out how to synthesize it is usually within reach of any chemist with a B.S. or M.S. degree.

    That’s what makes a lot of these things so contentious. A few pennies worth of a white powder can cure this dreaded disease, and any competent chemistry lab can make it. But amortize the cost of finding that fact out over all of the potential customers and it is thousands of dollars each. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens if there are no protections for that development.

    1. I think the debate avoids the real issue which is the contentious nature of IP with regards to the government selling indulgences.

      Even if the US were to end all IP tomorrow, most countries wouldn’t, and there would be a case of brain drain as researchers flooded to other countries and strict controls on selling innovative technologies here. That would be worse than bombing us back to the stone age. The other part of IP regimes is assurances international agreements have due process. Can’t have that if there is no recognition of IP.

      That being said, the US system is rife with corruption and abuse, with very little thought in libertarian circles given towards improvement and better government.

      It is just another example where limited government libertarian thought is self-defeating.

  8. There is no compelling evidence from empirical research that patents generate overall economic benefits, with one possible?and significant?exception: chemical compounds.

    You changed the evaluation standard. “To promote the progress of science and useful arts” is the standard, not overall economic benefits.

    Explain to me how the intermittent windshield wiper provided an economic benefit? I see none, but I do see it as being a useful invention which the creator was justly rewarded for….after suing in court to force the automotive companies to recognize his patent over it. Sometimes there’s things you can’t measure purely in GDP terms, at least in the short run. In the long run, everyone benefits from these creations.

    Although, for purely economic items, explain to me where Hollywood would be without copyright over the productions? Spend a few million making a movie, then someone else copies it and sells it for half the cost. The upfront development costs need to be offset somehow, economics is not just about the production costs.

    1. Or that little pop-out turkey thermometer. We were fine without it. It costs pennies. But the guy made a fortune on his idea, and making thanksgiving dinner just became a tiny bit easier. And safer, since it probably reduces the risk of salmonella infections from undercooked meat.

      The ones on the other side of the ledger are pretty easy to relate to…. like exactly why should a book publisher retain the rights to a character indefinitely. Or why should “Lord of the Rings” be solely the property of the Tolkein estate for the next 500 years?

      But there’s lots of little innovations that might never see the light of day without patents. I’m talking about people who come up with a cool idea and get a patent for it and then license it to a company that can use that idea. Absent patent protection, it would be really, really difficult to make that transaction. But with patents, a reasonable licensing fee can be negotiated and both parties benefit.

      1. Intermittent wipers and popout thermometers are terrible examples; if they are the best you can come up with, you have proved the point that patents are worthless. It assumes that only one person was capable of such ideas. It assumes that the only way such ideas were even possible was the lure of patent royalties.

        Reasonable license fees? That assumes without evidence that clever ideas are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and that without the incentive of years of patent royalties, no one can be bothered to come up with clever ideas, that they will instead just sit on their hands in dead end jobs.

        I can’t begin to imagine the throwaway ideas I have had which eventually showed up on grocery shelves. Everyone has. People can’t help but think of better ways to do things, and making those ideas work for themselves. They freely share such ideas with friends. They might joke about patenting it, but it’s a joke, and they know damn well that others have thought of the same thing.

        Popout thermometers and intermittent wipers! Good grief.

        1. No it doesn’t. It demonstrates that “economic advancement” is not a good measure.

          Those little doo-dads in turkeys probably wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a way for the guy who invented them to protect his idea. They are cheap and easily replicated. But because he had a patent, he could shop his idea around to various companies and license his idea.

          That particular guy makes his living coming up with neat ideas like that. He doesn’t have an interest in starting manufacturing companies and competing with turkey producers.

          That is precisely the niche that patent protections creates.

          And no, an idea does not have to be earth-shattering to be helpful. Nor does it have to be something that only one person in history could have come up with. (I contend that there is no such thing).

          I could have invented that thermometer. Easily. I had all of the requisite knowledge to have the idea, and enough knowledge to know where to go to develop the idea into something that works. But I didn’t. And I would not have done it either. Because I would have said, “what is the problem with using a thermometer?”

          Sure, in this case it is possible that some dude working at butterball would have come up with the idea eventually. But there are millions of products that have little features that are licensed under patent that makes them better. And a lot of those little things wouldn’t be there without the patent.

          1. Those little doo-dads in turkeys probably wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a way for the guy who invented them to protect his idea.

            What an incredibly sterile imagination you must have to think that popout thermometers and intermittent wipers are a stroke of genius which shows up only once in billions of people per century!

          2. And what an incredibly sterile life you must have had to never have known friends or co-workers who continually come up with clever ideas, if you really do think that popout thermometers and intermittent wipers are rare once-in-a-lifetimes feats of imagination.

            1. The intermittent wiper is featured in the movie Flash Of Genius. Good movie that illustrates the importance of patents.

              1. Good or bad, all the movie shows is the incredible wastage in the patent system, how government interference distorts markets, and the ridiculousness of any person collecting millions of dollars for such an obvious invention.

                Do you actually think intermittent wipers would never have been invented without that one person being first? Do you really think no one else wanted to control the speed of their wipers?

                1. Obvious? Don’t you remember how he worked on the solution for months and how the motor companies tried and failed to come up with a good solution? And then when he demoed his solution, they stole it from him?

                  1. Brilliant solutions are often “obvious” after the fact.

                  2. Oooh, months!

                    I have worked on many many projects which took years to come to fruition. None of them were worthy of patents.

                    It is beyond belief that no one else had any interest in wanting to control wiper speed.

                    You ought to at least pick some truly inspirational invention, like pogo sticks. But regulating wiper speed?

                    1. “I have worked on many many projects which took years to come to fruition. None of them were worthy of patents.”

                      Perhaps you shoul have patented your new, efficient way to dig ditches. You could be rich in addition to stupid.

      2. This paperback edition, and no other, has been published with my consent and co-operation. Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it and no other.

        – J R R Tolkien on the covers of the Ballantine Bookd paperbacks, brought out to compete with the unauthorized Ace editions. see: Kirkus Reviews – article by Andrew Liptak.

        1. Bought Fellowship of the Ring the week Ace put it out…which was the week after Tolkein’s original copyright expired. It was like, 50 cents or something. That was half my allowance.

          Worth it, though.

    2. Intermittent wipers were invented by someone whose eyesight had been damaged in an accident as a safety improvement. Is that not “science, and a useful art?” A good challenge to the patent would be to argue that it doesn’t improve safety, and is just a cosmetic change.

      Here’s a 1993 New Yorker article about Kearns and his legal fight over the wiper pattern. Or see:

  9. …the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.

    A college acquaintancem had never heard the implausible story of a certain actor and gerbils. I informed him of the urban legend and he was appalled that I would even know that information. I congratulated him on his new membership in that appalling club.

  10. Related:
    Pretty sure Benioff thought he’d bought off the lefty imbeciles, but NO!

    “Salesforce’s Hawaii Obsession Provokes Debate Over Appropriation”
    “ Inc. co-founder Marc Benioff has suffused his software company with the Hawaiian “Aloha spirit,” which guides everything from corporate values to office decor. But now, in the age of heightened workplace sensitivity, some employees are starting to debate whether the obsession honors the culture ? or is cultural appropriation.
    New employees at Salesforce are adorned with a lei and welcomed into the “ohana” -? the Hawaiian word for family and what the company calls its workforce….”

    Dunno about the “appropriation”, but it sure sounds creepy…

    1. Its reportedly a horrible place to work. Makes sense.


      Remove the s.

    3. Well, he has the right to tell them that while THEY have the right to not like it, he has a right to not give a shit that they don’t. (Or, for potential employees who find it “problematic”, don’t work there.) He should just tell them that.

      Because it’s always amazing to see the overwhelming power of a Twitter rage mob crush even the possibility of such a defense.

      Why do the comments of a small percentage of people on a service that 7% of the people use, carry such ridiculous power? Oh, yeah, the MSM reports on such things as if they were big legitimate news. Something very wrong in that dynamic.

  11. I’d have no problem with self-organized consortiums honoring copyrights and patents and trademarks and other IP. Suppose a bunch of publishers all agree to honor each other’s copyrights. Doesn’t give them any authority to go after rogue publishers who haven’t signed the contract. It does give them the right to sue each other for contract violations.

    Manufacturers may create consortiums to honor trademarks. They won’t copy other members’ trademarks. Maybe they will extend this to not selling products to retailers who don’t sign up. Or maybe retailers will have their own consortiums for the same purpose.

    All fine by me. But I’d predict such consortiums would disintegrate in short order entirely due to disagreements about what is too similar, or from some member wanting exclusive marketing rights to some snazzy new product and other members objecting about violating the spirit of the consortium contract.

    State monopolies are the only real monopolies and they are as unnatural as any such state control.

    1. Trademarks don’t really fit in the IP debate, because using another manufacturer’s trademark would be fraud. You are saying “this is made by SuperStuff”, when in reality it was made by SR&C.

      1. Oh no, they are part and parcel of IP. You don’t get to disown them just because they make the pettiness so obvious. There have been tremendous legal battles over how close two songs can be before infringing, same with patents, same with trademarks. They are just different rings in the same circus.

        1. Songs are copyright.

          Trademarks are “Pepsi”. You can make a cola. Calling it Pepsi is saying “this is a cola made by the Pepsi-Cola company”. That would be fraud.

          So even without direct trademark protection by fiat, you can arrive at Trademarks via a libertarian argument.

          Other areas of IP are much more difficult for libertarians arguing from first principles. Writing a song that sounds suspiciously like “Rocket Man”, but isn’t “Rocket Man” isn’t really fraud. So you can’t arrive at “similar works” copyright protection by that line of reasoning.

          The same goes for making a drug. Copying Viagra and saying “this is the same compound as found in Viagra” does not defraud the customer or the maker of Viagra. So arriving at patent protections for drugs via the fraud line of reasoning does not work.

          That is how they are different.

          1. Trade dress is somewhere in the middle. A pair of cheap knockoff shoes that look exactly like expensive Prada shoes…. is that fraud? If the customer knows they are cheap knockoffs made of inferior materials? I suppose people looking at them have been defrauded if they think you sprung for the good stuff.

            But what if I start making sneakers with the Nike swoosh? I don’t put NIKE on the label. I call them AirSport shoes. Now it is a lot closer to defrauding the customer. So trade dress gets a little stickier. The swoosh could be a trademark. And if Nike didn’t use the swoosh, dang, they sure look exactly like NIKE. And they say AirSport. Isn’t that what Nike uses? Air something?

            That would be pretty difficult to parse. But the first principle would be easy for a libertarian. Defrauding the customer would be illegal.

          2. There are constant trademark battles over how similar a name can be. Look up the Nikola electric company and Tesla electric car company for an example of how petty these can be and how much resources they waste.

            You don’t get to disown trademarks as the red-headed step child.

            1. That doesn’t even make sense. “there are edge cases, therefore it is all stupid?”

              Trademark is clearly something that can be arrived at directly from first principles. Putting Pepsi on a bottle and selling your version as Pepsi is fraud.

              You can call it by another name and discard the Trademark label if you want. But that doesn’t make any difference.

              And of course there will be edge cases. Like the McDougal’s Arcs from Coming to America. How similar something must be to constitute fraud is inherently a judgement call, whatever the regime one devises.

              I suppose you could argue for a world where I can go around pretending to be SR&C, going to your bank as you, posting to forums as you, etc., and your only protection is to physically show up at the time and defend your honor, but that kinda limits the scope of personal and business interactions.

              I’m going to stick with the idea that making fraud illegal is a perfectly libertarian idea, and that presenting your product as if it were another company’s product is fraud.

              1. There have been plenty of copyright cases over “similar” songs.

                There have been plenty of patent battles over “similar” patents.

                I pointed out that there have been disputes over “similar” trademarks. You deny that has any connection to IP.

                1. No I don’t.

                  I stated the argument clearly. You can derive trademark protection from libertarian principles. Fraud is a concept libertarians can agree upon. It is that simple.

                  Saying “but these other things have cases where stuff is just similar and people sue about that!” is a non-sequitur.

                  I don’t know how to derive copyright protection from ordinary libertarian principles. I understand copyright from a utilitarian perspective. Perhaps there is a good libertarian argument from first principles. I’m just not aware of what it is.

                  The same goes for patents. I don’t see an argument from first principles. But I can understand a practical argument.

                  None of those arguments rely on “every case is clear”. And “sometimes cases are ridiculous and should be rejected” is not a counter argument to reasoning from first principles. It is an utilitarian argument that these IP protections are impractical due to abuse or confusion about edge cases. And it is a pretty weak argument at that.

        2. Oh no, they are part and parcel of IP.

          Just because you choose to lump a bunch of unrelated ideas (copyright, patent, trademark) together doesn’t actually make “IP” a meaningful concept.

          They are just different rings in the same circus.

          Nope, they are not. They are, in fact, pretty much unrelated to each other.

          1. Yes of course, trademarks are physical property, unlike copyrights and patents. or is it that trademarks are NOT physical property, unlike copyrights and patents? How silly of me.

  12. Debate: Intellectual Property Must Be Protected

    I don’t understand why Reason keeps on having these absurd debates. I’m an ancap libertarian conservative and believer in the teachings of Jordan Peterson and follower of Donald Trump. I’m also a libertarian. As such, of course I recognize that the concept of libertarianism requires carve-outs the are demanded by the concepts of positive liberty and natural law. Thusly, we cede little in the way of moral authority to our ideological enemies? totalitarians in the libertarian socialist camp who support Venezuela? by arguing that personal freedom must be tempered by reasonable exceptions dictated by our collective ideas about how society should be operated. I’m talking about, of course, such issues as abortion, border walls, defense spending, gay rights and, yes, intellectual property laws, which we need. The dubious liberties fought for by Marxists in the Civil Rights and Gay Liberation movements have obscured the fact that libertarianism simply promises higher economic growth and societal harmony through beneficial tax policy aimed at unleashing the potential of America’s most productive and dynamic sectors? i’m Referring here to the financial and equities trading sectors? by beneficial tax policy. That’s what libertarianism is about. Surely we can debate more substantial matters as to whether it is better to let Poor and sick people die at home or on the street. Thank you for your consideration.

    1. Excellent. Now just add some hashtags and you got this parody thing down.

      1. Parody is, by definition, an invention utilized by Marxist postmodernists to underseat JudeoChristian norms that are undergirded by classical texts like the Bible. I’m an atheist, of course, as implied by my mentioning of my belief in ancapism, but I thoroughly stand behind the archetypes supplied by this text that enable us to organize our modern society under the beneficial reign of President Trump. As such, I would never employ parody, which again is used by postmodernist trans activists designed to bring us back to the Zulu culture that postmodernists such as Justin Trudeau want us to revert back to. I believe you have me confused with Cathy Newman, sir. I’m not her

        # PreserveKavanaugh

  13. I’m no expert or futurist or psychic. I have no degree in economics. But something about these arguments about the upfront costs of drugs and movies doesn’t sit well with me.

    We know the costs for things are based on supply and demand (offset by govt intervention, but we will address that on its own). If IP goes away, wont the demand for the goods needed in the production phase of new drugs and movies go down? Will that not force the price down as supply grows relative to demand? At some point, supply will also fall when the return is not as lucrative as other things, but this flux will eventually normalize. Is it not conceivable that the value placed on these goods (and thereby the cost) would come in line with people’s risk tolerance as seen in their willingness to invest in new drugs/movies? As such, it is not correct to say “it is expensive NOW, therefore it must be expensive THEN” when the conditions for the expense changes… right?

    And govt intervention is just another aspect of what causes costs to go up so much. In a free market the cost of development would be much less and thereby reduce the advantage of the reverse-engineer (or data share in terms of movies etc) over the originator. On the margins this would mean an increased number of originators would stay in the market thereby reducing the disincentive created by the generic.

    1. In a word, no.

      The problem with drug development costs isn’t that there is a limited supply of drug development. It is that it is a long and laborious process that involves things that are inherently expensive. You have to have thousands of laboratory animals kept in relatively expensive conditions of an animal lab. You have to pay for lab techs that don’t make a huge salary (they are often B.S. biology degrees or even tech degrees), but you have to have a lot of them. The supplies are pricey because they are specialized and not widely used and require high levels of quality control, which is expensive.

      The most expensive part is the clinical trials. This requires thousands of study participants and lots of healthcare workers to run the trial. Doctors, nurses, lab techs, blood tests, etc. A lot of that work is the same as you get at the hospital, but specialized – more thorough blood tests, etc. Some are one-off tests just for the trial – like blood levels of the test drug.

      So if you were to reduce the number of drugs in development, what economies of scale you have will be lost.

      The conditions that would change the expense would be requiring less evidence of safety and effectiveness before going to market – which has a different cost.

      1. But there IS a limited amount of drug development. The multitude of demands on the numerous parts of production you mention would all undergo supply/demand disruption. Yes, economies of scale may be less efficient. But my point is that you can not assume that the current pressures and circumstances that drive the cost up must and will necessarily be static when IP is removed. There would be a massive disruption in the whole latticework tou keep referring to. My point is that this disruption would bend towards new levels of demand based on new sets of incentives/disincentives. For any other industry a libertarian would say, “The outcome is not moral or immoral, it just is what it is.” Why do we treat one physical thing differently simply because we have a higher subjective value for the thing? That is arbitrary and not logical or reasonable. I’m not arguing about efficiency but underlying principles, despite the gain or loss of efficiency.

        1. “For any other industry a libertarian would say, “The outcome is not moral or immoral, it just is what it is.””
          Not true. We would see the success or failure of Ford or Benz as morally neutral; we would see truly more efficient or safer automobiles as a positive. Similarly, less expensive food is a positive, as are life saving meds.

          “Why do we treat one physical thing differently simply because we have a higher subjective value for the thing?”
          It’s not subjective; it’s objective.

          “That is arbitrary and not logical or reasonable.”
          It is perfectly reasonable.

          1. I am open to being moved on the topic but I need something to believe rather than being told you dont believe me.

            Morally neutral is the same as neither moral or immoral. Benz succeeds in a free market? So what? He fails? So what. Yeah, the outcomes may be more or less desirable in a selfish sense, but that desire does not give a license to advocate for the imposition of one outcome over the other. We can try to influence without violating rights, but we haven’t been wronged if our desired outcome doesn’t bear out. Same with drugs. We may WANT to cure cancer… but my desire of that doesn’t grant me license to impose on others in order to see it happen. If the whole of the market decides that the allocation of resources should go elsewhere, nothing wrong has happened. That’s my point. If it were any other industry we would see that. So it is subjective to want to cure cancer over building a better mousetrap. YOU may want the mousetrap. I want to cure cancer. Should I be allowed to use force (the govt) to create incentives/disincentives that would not exist naturally and thereby impose on you (or others who may want to synthesize my findings) in order to see my desired outcome at the expense of yours (or theirs) just because mine saves lives? No.

            And given that you didn’t actually lay out an argument in your favor, I can not attempt to show fault in your logic.

  14. Patent attorney, will obviously be a biased in the debate, but Mr. Palmer does not make sufficiently clear that an idea or an innovation, in the abstract, is not protectable under any IP framework. Misunderstanding this cheapens the notion of IP.

    Vast minority of patents are ever enforced through judicial proceedings, we won’t know how many disputes are resolved through cease and desist letters or amicable licensing arrangements. Even less known is the effect that a technology being patented, alone, dissuades a potential infringer from practicing the invention, and further how the potential infringer further develops (to the market’s benefit) his would-be infringing tech. if only to vitiate an infringement claim.

    It is also important to remember that copyright protection – even in something that has been registered with the Copyright Office – only extends to the protectable features of that work. Good luck enforcing your “rights” in something generic (17 U.S.C. s 505, despite its permissive text, very often resulting in the loser paying).

    “The future of civilization does not hinge on whether we extend, diminish, or abolish copyright and patent protections.”

    Not solely, but it doesn’t take Phillip K. Dick to imagine a technologically-decelerating society where there is no financial motivation to innovate (and reduce to practice, express, etc.), and perhaps only a giant corp. or gov. interest, which can bring-to-market anything almost immediately, would benefit.

  15. All intellectual property is theft.

    DId I get that right?

    1. That’s what the IP communists claim, at least.

      1. Yes. Individuals’ intellectual labor must be free to all for the common good.

        1. Yes and given what we know about intellectual labor it should be done by White male intellectuals unshackled from involuntary celebacy and enforced by mandatory coupling determined by a computer. I don’t want to live in the Swahili culture that people who don’t believe biotech CEOs should get paid a gazillion bucks a year want to live in, do you


          1. I am having much confusion about this reply.

            1. I don’t understand. Was not my reply just as clear as Jordan Petersen’s lectures on the connection between jazz and the attempts to emasculate masculinity through transphillic sexual movements in Canada? I think what i’m Saying is pretty self-evident… hmmpff.

  16. Sorry everyone! I totally forgot yesterday was International Safe Abortion Day. Let NARAL explain:

    This International #SafeAbortion Day, abortion rights everywhere are under attack. Not only has Trump cut off safe abortion access across the globe with the #GlobalGagRule? he wants Brett Kavanaugh on SCOTUS so they can criminalize abortion here at home. #StopKavanaugh #Sept28

    I’ve often described how Drumpf is literally turning the US into The Handmaid’s Tale. However, it’s even worse than that. Access to abortion care isn’t just vanishing in this country, it’s vanishing worldwide. If we don’t get Democrats back in control soon, the entire planet Earth ? yes, even places like Scandinavia and Venezuela and Cuba ? will effectively be under the control of a theocratic dictatorship.


    1. Like you guys really care about the 80 million black babies being murdered every day at the behest of the master of the modern African-American? the liberal. Ancap libertarian Trump supporting libertarians like me care about the unborn child of the African American and we want to protect those African-Americans by the establishment of a libertarian government council that will decide any reasonable exception to outright child birth (because a zygote is human and thus have natural rights these exceptions will be vanishingly small, of course)

      All liberals care about is power. How high of the body count of African-American babies is enough for you, slaver? Aren’t you filled with shame for supporting this genocide, which is like Hitler and Stalin rolled together?

    2. The conservatarian sockpuppets altruistically volunteer to provide for all 150 babies added to the world population this past minute. They also offer classes on how the world population would look now if not for those Satanic Pills of the 1960s changing the sign on the derivative of the population growth curve. Differential Equations 601K and Population Biology 101 are prerequisites.

  17. Is this supposed to be a debate about how a one-size fits all philosophy of government doesn’t really work in reality and that sometimes a better solution is to adopt a solution to a societal problem by conforming that solution around what works for everyone? Because if it is, I hate it. Except for abortion,border walls, gay marriage, IP protection, and, of course, whatever works for President Trump i’m For no government at all. Taxation to pay for anything outside the Constitution is theft. Get it straight or i’ll Have to blow up a federal building and invade Iraq to show you guys, ok?

  18. Led Zeppelin is back in court over Stairway.

    How does this work legally? Of course the band has been influenced by other musicians. They have settled with Willie Dixon (whole lotta love), muddy waters, Joan Baez, others like Otis Rush were attributed.

    There is no question that Stairway was a Led Zeppelin original recording, the studio version recorded in sessions. The song is not what Spirit recorded. It is actually very difficult to replicate.

    Well art is art isn’t it? Then again east is east and west is west… you all know the Groucho quote.

    1. I thought the jury ruled for Zeppelin.

      1. Oh, I see – supposedly the judge’s instructions to the jury were wrong.

        1. Well, it’s not to late to arbitrate – there’s still time to change the road they’re on.

          1. Sure. Those offbeat sixteenth note triplets by Bonham, the lyrics, Page just ripping the solo. Sure nobody owns A or G#.

            Lawyers sucking again. Taking money from the rest of us.

            1. OK, but, hypothetically speaking, let’s say neither side backs down.

              Maybe one side should, I’m saying what if.

              In such a case, a quick arbitration might seem less expensive than another round of jury trial and appeals.

              But I’m just thinking at random here, not from any special knowledge of the situation.

              1. If I were one of the three remaining members I would not back down.

                They are older now and money has nothing to do with it.

                Nope this was their creation. They should protect that. Started from some riffs Page played at Bron Y Aur. Then they had studio sessions and produced the song on the next album. They should not give that up.

            2. G# was one of my many nicknames in college

  19. I think we need to do a better job of protecting IP. But on the other hand I’m all for reducing the protection time period.

  20. Is intellectual property necessary for innovation or just another grant of state privilege?

    As with all these debates on Reason, it’s two illiberal, non-libertarian position.

    Try analyzing such questions from a libertarian point of view for a change.

  21. Beto O’Rourke is the kind of politician the nation needs now, and for one reason above all: He is full of grace

    As a libertarian, this is one of the races I’m watching closely. Beto would make an excellent Senator, and I’m confident he will beat Cruz.

    Of course, conservatives pounce on his drunk driving incident from long ago. But that’s an unfair attack. We in the progressive – libertarian alliance believe in forgiveness and second chances. People can change a lot over the years.


    1. That drunk driving arrest was in 1998 – really, how screwed up would we have to be to hammer someone for what he supposedly did that long ago?

    2. Cass Sunstein wrote that? It’s such a fawning, drooling portrayal, it’s like he originally submitted the article to Teen Vogue but they rejected it for being too over the top.

    3. “We in the progressive – libertarian alliance believe in forgiveness and second chances.”

  22. Imagine if software companies were unable to distribute their software as compiled programs. They had to distribute the source code of their software to their customers. That in a nutshell is the problem of IP associated with chemical discovery.

    1. “Imagine if software companies were unable to distribute their software as compiled programs. They had to distribute the source code of their software to their customers. That in a nutshell is the problem of IP associated with chemical discovery.”

      Uh, yeah, sure….

  23. Lots of discussion of patents – what of copyrights? Do I have to listen to the podcast or something?

    1. What do you know, they’re articles, not podcasts. This doesn’t mean I skipped immediately to the comments and didn’t even check the articles, that would have been just weird.

  24. My goodness!
    Stanfoo/ND football, and the half-time has the schools doing the normal self promos.
    ND chooses to take the entire time (2 minutes?) to flog its cooperation with the investigation of Rooski-influence in US politics, featuring a oh-so-very sincere prof of Engineering….
    I have to admit some guess-work here as the sound was off, but the visuals an the copy made it pretty clear.
    I think the admin at that school needs this:
    “Treating the Six Known Symptoms of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome'”

    1. It’s important never to forget that a hostile foreign power (Russia) hacked the election and helped a Kremlin asset cheat his way to “victory” over the most qualified candidate ever. Acknowledging this as the biggest scandal in human history is not “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” It’s just being a member of the reality-based community.


  25. “Debate: Intellectual Property Must Be Protected
    Should the law respect copyrights and patents?”

    Debate: Government Granted Monopolies on Ideas Are Good
    Should the government shoot people to stop them from using ideas they have granted another a monopoly to?

  26. A childish debate by people who really dont know what they are talking about.
    The ip protections afforded by patents have driven both the industrial and information revolutions. History is ridiculously clear on this for anyone versed in the topic.

    Achieving a patent is difficult. Defending a patent is extremely difficult and costly. They are tools in the process of defining and defending property. No different than holding a deed to land you purchased or a bill of sale and title on a car.
    Intellectual property is no different that physical property. No one would think spending ones time and money building a house only to have squatters legally move in is an appropriate way to control property rights. its ridiculous to expect companies to spend their resources created new technology that is then freely copied by others. And no, patents do not restrict knowledge. They teach it.
    The very essence of a patent, is the ability to teach a technology to the world freely and openingly. All it restricts is others ability to profit from in commercially for a small amount of time

    1. Patents do no prevent others from exploring or researching a technology. They do not prevent others from taking to another level. They do not in any way prevent others from using the full value of the knowledge and invention. To think that they restrict or stifle learning and innovation is absurdly ridiculous.

  27. And relative to Trade Secrets discussed inthe comments. They are only relevant to how one protects information, internal ro an organization. trade secret protections do not apply outside of a company…they are solely relative to what ex-employees can take with them. If The formula for X is held as a trade secret, a company must clearly document and maintain tight control of that information internally. If an employee steals that information and takes it to another company, that is then legally actionable and typically the other company will be restricted from practicing it.
    One could work for a company and learn how they operate, all the details, etc, and leave and use that knowledge freely. But if they go into the locked file cabinet and take the formula for X, that is actionable. But only actionable if formula X was documented as a Trade Secret and not discussed openly within the company.

  28. You compose a song. I hear it. Based on my new knowledge I recreate the song for others.

    Did my actions constitute a positive initiation of force that put your life at risk?

    Did my actions constitute a positive initiation of force that limited your ability to act as you wished?

    Did my actions constitute a positive initiation of force that deprived you the use of a limited resource you had just claim upon?

    Seems to me no victim no injustice. No injustice no need to codify anything as law.

    1. If I spend $10K to buy a used car, I own it. No one can take it away. If I spend $10K to support myself while I’m writing a song, the government can take it away and give it to whoever wants it. If I’m a songwriter, an act of force by the government has absolutely resulted in a theft of my property. You are clearly not an artist, sparkstable. If you were, you would view the government’s behavior as unjust.

      1. If you spend the money, then it is not yours and therefore the govt can’t take it from you. If you are referring to taxes, then I agree that taxes are theft. That’s not the issue. The issue is should you, the artist, be able to use govt to limit my ability to use my mind, faculties, skills, and resources in a way that does not deprive you of any of your rights via I.P. laws. Since my actions do not constitute an initiation of force on my part towards you, I fail to see how you can justify the use of govt force against me.

        And being an artists has nothing to do with one’s ability to reason through the issue. In fact, the personal benefit an artist gets from IP law is likely to make the artist less apt at having a rational conversation about the subject. It would be like talking to a senior citizen about the injustices of social security. They COULD be dispassionate but they are less likely to be than someone not recovering a benefit from the state.

  29. If I spend $200K on a vintage auto or a vacant lot, I own what I’ve bought. I can pass it along to my children. If I spend $200K to sustain myself while I’m writing a novel, at the end of my life span the copyright vanishes and the value of my investment is reduced to zero, irrespective of the value of the novel. That’s a ridiculous intrusion by government in the affairs of ostensibly free people. In addition, this approach to IP doesn’t encourage the exchange of “ideas.” It devalues and discourages intellectual activity.

    1. The govt is artificially propping up the value of your work by imposing on others and forbidding them of using their resources in a way that produces a similar (or identical) product. Removing that artificial aspect of the market and letting the free market value be expressed is not robbing you of anything. You have no right to demand others to value your work in any way shape or form.

  30. Of patents I can convincingly profess ignorance. Of copyrights I point to Canada’s King Solomon, who raised his sword and clove the idiotic American copyright brat down to size. As a result, we can read George Orwell essays on the Australian and Canuck internet. Their copyright law is not only more reasonable, but actually benefits writers by prompting them to get off their butts and publish before the parking meter runs out.

  31. I own a business in the entertainment industry. Won’t go further than that…

    People who make nonsense arguments about copyright not being needed don’t seem to understand that artists, musicians, etc have to feed themselves… If they can’t, they can’t create art, because they’re dead. If they have to work a day job, that’s less time making less art. Period.

    Sure, people would write songs with no copyrights… But there’d be a lot fewer of them, and lower quality. There would also be INFINITELY less pre-recorded music, music videos, etc because those all cost a lot of time and money to produce. One can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, creating a truly amazing high quality album. You can also do it for merely thousands with lesser equipment, lesser producers and engineers helping, etc. Still not free though. Writing a novel requires tons of time, but less direct capital.

    It is a 110% fact that far less art of all forms would be produced without copyright. Period. Even though it would benefit me if copyright lasted forever, I think there should be limits on length. This is the bargain we make that provides incentive and monetary compensation to allow the creation of art, and societies ability to eventually reproduce it without paying.

    1. There is a lot of room to debate specifics, but with zero copyright, the world would be shittier… I know, because I would not have been able to release hundreds of projects I have worked on if I was not able to get paid for it. If compensation had not cratered in recent years thanks to the internet, I would have produced hundreds more projects for the world to enjoy. I’m not complaining, but it’s simply a statement of fact that reduced income DIRECTLY reduced my ability to produce more projects. That’s just the way it is, people gotta get paid.

      The argument that art, inventions, etc would be done anyway is akin to saying that somebody would come along and say build a sewer system for a whole city because it needs to be done… Not gonna happen. People might built a septic system for THEIR house (AKA write a song for their buddies to jam on), but if there is no incentive to do the big job (spend 100x more time/money to record an album), it will not happen. BUT with private property rights respected for a developer (artist), and the worker getting paid to do the work (copyright income), you can bet that somebody will build that sewer system with a profit motive in mind.

    2. Without the ability to profit we would end up with less invention/art, PERIOD. When you apply this to stuff like developing 500 million dollar medical devices etc I don’t see how people cannot see that you cannot invest 500 million in a thing with no profit coming through the door… It’s ridiculous. Utopian nonsense I suppose.

      So, how about we simply debate what reasonable specifics are? Reasonable terms, reasonable limitations on what others may do with the IP while under copyright, etc.

  32. There’s a BIG difference between earning a “work-earned” profit on a creation and compulsively hoarding. MOST intellectual property claims beyond a year or so are just lazy hoarders. I worked for a technology company that would patent anything! Some of the stupidest idiotic things a person can imagine all in the hopes of “hoarding” the world of profit through some bogus patient infringement. Things as stupid as using a pocket knife to sharpen a pencil — “Hey, that’s my idea and I patented it; so I’m gonna sue anyone who uses a pocket knife to sharpen a pencil!”

    I say 2-years. If a creator cannot recuperate their cost within 2-years; they’re either just hoarding the world, are piss poor business men who puts everyone’s innovation on hold because they can’t work the market right (usually just too dang greedy) or the creation ain’t worth anything anyways and someone else should be allowed to better it.

    2-year LIMITS!

    1. That is idiotic.

      Do you really think there is a way for Intel to constantly be making the fastest processors on earth, and recouping all the R&D money in 2 years, AND having enough to pile into making the next gen chips from the previous ones profits? If Intels chip architecture could be copied by anyone 2 years after release, they’d be out of business in no time, and advances would grind to a halt. Same with pharma, and damn near anything else.

      There are bogus patents, it’s a real thing… But if you want to address that issue ADDRESS THAT ISSUE.

  33. Hi, I am a blogger and blogging is my bread & butter.
    My point against Tom is that Intellectual property rights should be respected, because people’s incomes may rely on them. Writers and other creators earn their living by stringing together words or other media forms to develop ideas, usually for a form of residual income. This is very different than a factory worker who sells their time in exchange for an hourly wage. Taking away intellectual property rights would be the same as stealing paychecks from traditionally employed individuals.
    Hope I am clear.

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