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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Intellectual Property is not Propety

There is no such thing as intellectual property in a free market. People have been brainwashed to believe that intellectual property is a valid form of property. There are huge marketing campaigns and evil fnords saying "Intellectual property is a valid form of property!"

I prefer to call it "intellectual theft" than "intellectual property".

Intellectual property cannot be enforced without a government. Therefore, it isn't a valid form of property. Copying an idea does not damage the original.

That is completely different than tangible property. If you steal my car, I can say "WTF? Where is my car?" If you copy an idea, the original holds its value.

There are 3 invalid forms of intellectual property:

  1. trademarks
  2. copyrights
  3. patents

For trademarks, suppose you develop "FSK blog" and trademark it. Does that mean I am barred from starting "FSK blog", even if I never heard of your business? Why does the fact that you used a name before I did, mean that I'm barred from using it? Obviously, I shouldn't pick a name that is confused/duplicated with an existing popular business. It'd be dishonest for me to start the "Jim Cramer blog", because that's confusing. In that case, my customers have a valid fraud claim (if they're fooled), and not the competing business whose name I'm using.

As another example, why am I barred from writing and selling my own "Superman" story, just because someone else owns the trademark to the character?

For copyright, suppose you develop a song or video. I have no contractual relationship with you. What right do you have to prevent me from making a copy of your song? The only way you can prevent me from copying your song is to spy on what everyone is doing all the time, or have excessive punitive fines for people caught copying. Copyright cannot be enforced without a monopolistic government. Therefore, there's no copyrights without a government.

In the present, there's a mainstream media information monopoly. Suppose a signer is promoted on MTV. This creates the illusion that singer is really good. Artificial scarcity prevents competing artists from being promoted. This creates artificial demand for that singer.

The bad guys are arguing "We spent a ton of money promoting this artist, who is under exclusive contract to us. State violence should help us recover that investment, by banning filesharing."

"We have to enforce copyright, else artists won't be able to make a living!" is silly. In a true free market, people will still pay to support artists they like. I've been considering offering a "donate" option on my blog. I'm making some money via AdBrite. Artists can also earn a living by performing live concerts. A more accurate statement is "Copyright must be enforced, so all the music/entertainment industry middlemen may earn their profit!" The mainstream media has a monopoly for promoting artists, which creates an artificial scarcity.

In the present, some spam sites republish my content. There isn't anything I can do about that. My regular readers should be smart enough to recognize me as the original source.

As an unknown independent artist, the risk is not "people will copy my stuff". My biggest risk is that most people have no idea who I am. I'm getting gradual organic growth. If I appeared as a guest on a mainstream media outlet, I'd easily get 1000x more traffic. Due to my free market ideas, I doubt a mainstream media outlet will ever carry my content.

As an unknown independent content creator, you don't benefit from copyright. The true beneficiaries of copyright are the insiders/parasites who control mainstream media corporation. It's possible to make a living without copyright. You can do it via advertising, sales for live performances, or direct donations from fans.

Patents are obviously stupid.

In the present, most patents are owned by large corporations. If I sell a new product, I probably will be infringing the patent of some large corporation. I probably won't find out about the patent until I'm sued.

Most of the time, the victim in a patent lawsuit doesn't find out about the patent until they're sued for violating it. Patents are used to stifle competition. Some patents are owned by "patent troll" corporations. They have no actual product, but merely buy patents and sue people. Such a business is purely parasitic.

In almost no patent lawsuits did the victim know about the patent beforehand.

Getting and enforcing a patent is *EXPENSIVE*. As an individual inventor, patents provide almost no protection. It isn't feasible to fund a patent application or patent lawsuit unless you have funding from VCs/banksters.

I'm planning to write my own RSS reader and forum engine. Suppose you're independently developing a forum engine and patent it. I've never heard about your business. Why does your patent place a restriction on what I can do?

Recently, I read an article about how the steam engine patent actually slowed the growth of steam engine use. The steam engine didn't become widely used until the patent expired.

Fortunately, the technology underlying the Internet is in the public domain. At the time, people thought that software wasn't patentable. Scientists thought that patenting software was silly. You can't patent Mathematics. The Internet technology was developed at universities and released into the public domain.

In most cases, the "inventor" who got public credit for a patent was really the person who most successfully lobbied the State for favors.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs were recently invented and patented. The patent owners then successfully lobbied for a ban on incandescent light bulbs. Most/all of the incandescent light bulb patents have expired. In this manner, patents encourage dishonest behavior. Patent law created an incentive for certain patent holders to lobby the State for favors.

In a true free market, science would progress under open source methods. Just like Linux was developed with no real intellectual property restrictions, in a true free market, science will progress without intellectual property restrictions.

In the present, in most fields, you need a State license to perform science. For example, suppose I wanted to develop and sell a drug-free treatment for mental illness, and perform science justifying my methodology. I don't have a State science license, so it's illegal for me to conduct such an experiment. Even if a State-licensed scientist applied for permission to conduct such an experiment, the State may deny permission or funding for the experiment.

The State artificially raises the cost of science research, via regulations and licensing requirements. The State has a monopoly for funding most research. This artificially increased cost is given as the justification for why patents are needed. Most good scientists will work for very low salaries, because they find science interesting.

In the present, the patent system means that most scientists are underpaid. The profits usually go to their corporate employers. It's practically impossible for an individual to get and enforce a patent. You usually need multiple patents in order to actually manufacture anything.

The bad guys have spent a *TON* of money brainwashing people "Intellectual property is a valid form of property!" Really, I call "intellectual property" as "intellectual theft".

Trademarks, copyrights, and patents cannot be enforced without a monopolistic State. Therefore, they are not a valid form of property.


Anonymous said...

Hey FSK,

Where is Mondays post? Where you at?

FSK said...

I'm fine.

I thought I queued something but it turns out I messed up.

Kyle said...

WRONG, IP, like anything, can be enforced as long as you have gun, with or without government.

Just because you deny IP does not mean it doesn't exist, just like I can deny the law and your property, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Dale B. Halling said...

The “scarcity theory of property rights” is being advanced by a number of scholars at the Cato and Von Mises Institutes. Using this theory they suggest that there is no justification for intellectual property rights. The logical conclusion of their theory is intellectual labor is not deserving of pecuniary reward.

Are they correct that scarcity is the basis of property rights? See

Is the conception of ideas and inventions subject to scarcity? See

Is the distribution of ideas and invention (technology diffusion) subject to scarcity? See

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