Congressional Issues 2010
T HREATS TO C IVIL L IBERTIES Intellectual Property
Congress should: repeal intellectual property laws, even though the Constitution allows them.
(The Constitution permitted slavery, too.)
Intellectual ideas cannot be “property.” Patents and copyrights are government-granted monopolies. They are designed to impede competition and increase prices for consumers. There is a significant number of studies which show that these monopolies hurt creativity and invention, and are damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty.
"In the beginning was the Word...."
Every new idea is the connection between two previous ideas. When a stand-up comic in Los Angeles creates a joke, he connects two ideas that we had never connected before, in a way that makes us laugh. When a stand-up comic in New York connects the same two ideas at exactly the same time as the comic in L.A., he has his lawyer draw up copyright papers which are filed in Washington D.C. That night, in two separate night-clubs, the comics recite their jokes. The next day, the New York comic sues the L.A. comic for infringement of copyright. The L.A. comic stands his ground, denying that he plagiarized the New York comic. But in court, the New York comic proves he filed his papers
first, the L.A. comic loses, and if he refuses to pay the extortion demanded of him, he will be locked up in a federal
prison with a psychopath who will inflict unspeakable violence on the comic.
George Washington is
reported to have said,
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence —
it is . Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. . . . force
Intellectual property laws are the use of force and violence to restrict the spread of ideas. Of words.
Intellectual property laws are government-granted monopolies designed to impede competition in a Free Market.
Intellectual Property, Spring 2001, Vol. 15, no. 2 Journal of
Libertarian Studies, Stephan Kinsella
In Defense of
Napster and Against the Second Homesteading Rule, September 4, 2000, LewRockwell.com,
Stephan Kinsella (summary version of some of the arguments presented in
“Against Intellectual Property”)
Morality of Acquiring and Enforcing Patents, Stephan Kinsella
Murray N. Rothbard, Man,
Economy, and State and Power and Market, Scholars Edition, liv, 745-54,
Murray N. Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty, pp. 123–24
Wendy McElroy, The Voluntaryist, June 1985
The Libertarian Case
Against Intellectual Property Rights, Roderick T. Long, Formulations 3,
no. 1 (Autumn 1995)
Property: Copyright and Patent in Liberty (from The Debates of
Liberty, Wendy McElroy
My Suggestion On Patent Law | Mark Cuban
Copyrights: Do the Benefits Exceed the Costs?, Fall 2001, Vol. 15 Num. 4
Journal of Libertarian Studies, Julio H. Cole
Abuse of Patents as Economic Indicators, Winter 1998, Quarterly
Journal of Austrian Economics, Pierre Desrochers
Ludwig von Mises, Human
Action 3rd rev. ed. Chicago: Henry Regnery (1966), chap. 23, section 6,
pp. 661–62; see also pp. 128,
The Case Against the
Patent System, Pierre Desrochers, Le Québécois Libre, Sept. 2, 2000
pp. 388-89 & 417-20; also 40, 96, 187, 216, 233
Patent Law, July 18, 2000, Mises.org, Gene Callahan,
Wrongs, March 29, 2001, Mises.org, Ilana Mercer
Shortage: An Invented Scarcity, October 25, 2001, Mises.org,
In Support of the Concept of Intellectual Property... George Reisman argues that if you believe "identity theft" is wrong, you must believe that theft of "intellectual property" is also wrong.
You may find these blog posts of interest:
Other miscellaneous posts on IP:
Patents v. Blackberry and Palm ... Enter: Google (November 7, 2006) Mor IP law "abuse": NFL Player Sends Mom Cease and Desist Letter for Using His Likeness (November 3, 2006)
Britain's copyright laws, based on a 300-year-old statute, desperately need reshaping for the digital age (November 2, 2006)
Some intimate details on the Google YouTube Deal (October 31, 2006)
The "tolerated use" of copyrighted works (October 27, 2006)
Richard Epstein on "The Structural Unity of Real and Intellectual Property" (October 4, 2006)
Copyrights in Fashion Designs? (September 27, 2006)
IP Imperialism (Russia, Intellectual Property , and the WTO) (September 22, 2006)
Software Patents are not that harmful! (September 20, 2006)
Patents and Utilitarian Thinking Redux: Stiglitz on using Prizes to Stimulate Innovation (September 19, 2006)
Microsoft, Open Source Patents, and Incentives (September 15, 2006)
Apple Pays Creative $100 Million To Settle Patent Suit (August 24, 2006)
Patent Hypocrisy (August 2, 2006)
Patent Rights Web Poll (July 31, 2006)
Russian Free Trade and Patents (July 15, 2006)
The Growing Anti-IP Movement (July 13, 2006)
Intellectual Property: The New Backlash (July 11, 2006)
Woops, sorry, Blackberry! (June 22, 2006)
Battling the Copyright Monster (June 19, 2006)
Heroic Pirates (June 12, 2006)
Drug Patents and Welfare (May 31, 2006)
Thoughts on Intellectual Property, Scarcity, Labor-ownership, Metaphors, and Lockean Homesteading (May 26, 2006)
Objectivists on IP (May 3, 2006)
Hope you don't like your DVR (April 14, 2006)
Watch out, Gwyneth (Apple v. Apple) (March 29, 2006)
Elaborations on Randian IP (January 5, 2006)
The Quagmire of Intellectual Property (December 28, 2005)
For Blackberry Users out there ... (December 1, 2005)
Patents and Innovation (November 9, 2005)
IP vs. Antitrust (September 8, 2005)
Patents and Blood Cells (July 14, 2005)
Copyright and Birthday Cakes (June 16, 2005)
Heroic Google Fighting Copyright Morass (June 2, 2005)
Copyright Gone Mad (April 14, 2005)
Patents and Peanut Butter Sammiches (April 8, 2005)
Big Blue Discovers New Way To Leverage Patents (April 8, 2005)
There is No Such Thing As A Free Patent (March 6, 2005)
Condemning Patents (February 27, 2005)
Patents and Utilitarian Thinking (February 25, 2005)
Copyright and Video Games (February 25, 2005)
Improving Copyright Law: Baby Steps (February 24, 2005)
Cato, Lessig, and Intellectual Property (January 31, 2005)
Amazon and Poetic Justice (November 8, 2004)
Copyright and Freedom of Speech (November 8, 2004)
Intellectual Property at Mises.org (March 29, 2004)
Various materials are linked at Stephan Kinsella's
IP Policy wiki. Non-normative IP law info can be found at Stephan Kinsella's
PatentLawPractice wiki. Stephan Kinsella's IP
writings, including especially: (comprehensive libertarian case against IP); Against Intellectual Property "There's No Such Thing as a Free Patent" (arguing that utilitarian advocates of patents have not met their burden of proof); "The Intellectual Property Quagmire, or, The Perils of Libertarian Creationism" (speech, 2008); "Yet Another Study Finds Patents Do Not Encourage Innovation" (collection of studies concluding IP does not accomplish its stated goals); "What are the Costs of the Patent System?" (estimate of the costs of the patent system); "$30 Billion Taxfunded Innovation Contracts: The 'Progressive-Libertarian' Solution" (disturbing arguments to use taxes to reward innovators); "How To Improve the Patent System" (forthcoming); "Intellectual Property and Libertarianism," a speech delivered at Mises University 2009, Auburn AL, July 30, 2009, adapted version forthcoming in magazine; Liberty "What Libertarianism Is," Mises Daily (August 21, 2009).
, by economists Michele Boldrin and David Levine (a superb demolition of various utilitarian and practical arguments for IP). Against Intellectual Monopoly
Economic and Game Theory Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine Jeff Tucker's
excellent commentaries on Boldrin and Levine's . Against Intellectual Monopoly
Against Monopoly blog, run by Boldrin and Levine.
Intellectual Property Page, by Boldrin and Levine (various resources).
Mike Masnick's frequent and excellent anti-IP commentary on Techdirt. Mike Masnick, "The Case For Patents Harming Innovation" (Techdirt).
"The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights," Roderick T. Long, Formulations 3, no. 1 (Autumn 1995) — an excellent, principled libertarian argument against IP. "Contra Copyright,"
by Wendy McElroy, The Voluntaryist (June 1985) — another excellent, principled libertarian attack on copyright.
"Copyright and Patent in Benjamin Tucker's Periodical Liberty," by Wendy McElroy (from ). "Perhaps the essence of Tucker's approach to intellectual property was best expressed when he exclaimed: 'You want your invention to yourself? Then keep it to yourself.'" The Debates of Liberty: An Overview of Individualist Anarchism, 1881–1908 "Intellectual Property: A Non-Posnerian Law and Economics Approach,"
Hamline Law Review 12 (1989) and "Are Patents and Copyrights Morally Justified? The Philosophy of Property Rights and Ideal Objects," Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 13, no. 3 (Summer 1990), by Tom Palmer (an excellent, principled libertarian case against IP; but see recent comments here and here in which the author seems to be retreating somewhat from his previously principled opposition to the wealth-maximization arguments for patents). "What Is Property,"
by Boudewijn Bouckaert, 13, no. 3 (Summer 1990). Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
Sheldon Richman on Intellectual Property versus Liberty (2009). Julio H. Cole's Patents and Copyrights: Do the Benefits Exceed the Costs?,
Journal of Libertarian Studies 15, no. 4 (Fall 2001) and "Would the Absence of Copyright Laws Significantly Affect the Quality and Quantity of Literary Output?" The Journal of Markets and Morality 4, no. 1 (Spring 2001).
Intellectual Property — A Libertarian Critique, by Kevin Carson (2009) (a left-libertarian approach).
Money and Banking