Against Intellectual Monopoly

Jeffrey Tucker of the Mises Institute has recently been blogging through the book Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine.  The supposed goal of patents and copyrights is to increase innovation.  In the introduction the authors point the reader toward the conclusion that “intellectual property is an unnecessary evil.”  I plan to read through the book and also the articles that Jeffrey Tucker has written as mises.org.

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3 Responses to Against Intellectual Monopoly

  1. Josh Jensen says:

    I like the Great Lands’ design (have I told you that?).

    I’m curious to hear about this book. I love open source software like Linux, but (contra the open source radicals), I think that putting one’s intellectual property in the public domain should be an individual choice. “Information wants to be free”?

    Over at GNU, there’s a video of Stephen Fry (http://www.gnu.org/fry/happy-birthday-to-gnu.html) talking about open source and making it sound as though everyone doing code should make that code open to everyone else. But Stephen Fry (as far as I know) has never put his work out on a share-and-share-alike basis. Why are products derived from an actor’s effort different from products derived from a programmer’s effort?

  2. Joseph says:

    From the little I’ve read about the book I think the general idea is that “intellectual property” is not property and therefore should not be treated like property. When you buy a book how is it that you only really own paper and a cover. When you buy a music CD why is it that you can’t technically play it at a party without paying royalties. What did you buy?

    Also, I think they would argue that IP laws in areas of patents, etc. have slowed innovation and generally hurt progress (no one can improve upon anything without licenses which the original inventor does not even have to give, and why would the original improve it if there is no other competition in the “unique newness” of the contraption).

    I personally would not relate this to GNU. They seem to want to “force” items to be free particularly in software. Having no copyright would not mean that you have to release your code because people would be buying compiled software. I would mean that people are actually buying that program and not just a license.

    I haven’t worked out a complete theory of this and I sense some possible problems (how does the artist make his living). At the same time there do seem to be obvious problems with IP especially in the patent area.

  3. Josh Jensen says:

    Good points. I guess I’d never bothered to wonder why we call intellectual property “property”. Do, by all means, report on the book as you read it.

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