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Question about Intellectual Property

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Zizzer Posted: Fri, Jan 21 2011 9:18 PM

Hi everybody, I've been hanging around this site for a while taking things in like a sponge and decided it was time to make an account.  Recently I just finished reading "Against Intellectual Property" by N. Stephan Kinsella (http://mises.org/journals/jls/15_2/15_2_1.pdf).  It made a lot of sense on most accounts, but there is something that wasn't real clear to me. 

 

He was discussing patents and mentioned how a patent in our country lasts 20 years.  He criticizes this as being arbitrary.  After all, who's to say it shouldn't be 19 or 21?  Or 10 seconds?  He goes on to say that the only way to consistently embrace the use of patents is to allow them to exist for infinity with heirs inheriting the rights to exclude the use of certain ideas.  Soon enough he shows how this would make nearly everything we use subject to the right of the heir of whoever invented it and it gets pretty ridiculous.

 

My question, which seems to have never been addressed, is what if a patent lasted until the inventor's death?  What would be wrong with that?  It's not arbitrary, and it more sense than allowing an heir who did not labor on the idea the right to exclude use of it from others.  Can anybody clear this up for me?  My friends and I have been discussing whether it's wrong to download music illegally since it's not a scarce resource and doesn't take from the musician.

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Zizzer replied on Fri, Jan 21 2011 9:22 PM

Oh and another question, would there be a reason to be opposed to copy and pasting an entire work and claiming you wrote it?  Plagiarism seems like it is a different issue, but I'm not really sure how to explain why.

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Lyle replied on Fri, Jan 21 2011 9:36 PM

Would it be safe to argue that the idea of government is the intellectual property of political entrepreneurs?  And that a Constitution is its patent?

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Zizzer:
Oh and another question, would there be a reason to be opposed to copy and pasting an entire work and claiming you wrote it?  Plagiarism seems like it is a different issue, but I'm not really sure how to explain why.

If you claim you wrote something you did not, that is fraud.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Zizzer:
My question, which seems to have never been addressed, is what if a patent lasted until the inventor's death?

Wouldn't this create an incentive to kill inventors?  wink

If a patent is a title for property [sic] of the mind, then it only makes sense the patent lasts as long as the idea does.

There really is no way around the sheer stupidity of patents.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Zizzer replied on Fri, Jan 21 2011 10:12 PM

"If you claim you wrote something you did not, that is fraud."

 

So how would I respond to somebody who says that laws against fraud infringe on his rights to make what he wants with his own tangible property?  And how do I reply in quotes on this forum?

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BioTube replied on Fri, Jan 21 2011 10:16 PM

First, there's a quote button on the full reply form; second, the markup's [.quote user="GuyYouQuoted".]Stuff you want to quote[./quote.](sans dots and the user=""'s optional); third, fraud's generally considered a form of aggression, since it's essentially theft.

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Zizzer replied on Fri, Jan 21 2011 10:22 PM

Test

 

Nothing happens when I click the blue "quote" under your text on the full reply screen.

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AJ replied on Sat, Jan 22 2011 5:49 AM

The quoting function is broken. However, at least in Chrome, if you

1) highlight the text you would like to quote

2) click the quote button

3) then go back one page in the browser and then go forward again

the quote should appear with the correct markup. Otherwise you have to insert the markup manually each time.

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AJ replied on Sat, Jan 22 2011 6:27 AM

Zizzer:
My question, which seems to have never been addressed, is what if a patent lasted until the inventor's death?  What would be wrong with that?  It's not arbitrary...

This is the problem with "justifying" a law intellectually. Taking a clue from what Danny Sanchez elucidated in the Why Capitalism? thread, especially this paragraph...

Alternative legal codes won't acquire near-universal respect just because people think, "well we've got to use some standard, and this standard is 'salient', so we might as well abide by that."  With regard to any given conflict of interests, there might be any number of "salient" standards one can choose, and individuals will always be inclined to support the salient standard that is pursuant to their own interest.  Which brings us to the point that the only kind of saliency that can command near-universal assent to a rule is an ex ante tendency for the establishment of the rule to benefit any given person.

...we can see that Kinsella misses the point by calling 20 years arbitrary but calling forever consistent. Such framing puts libertarians on a wild-goose chase for the more "consistent" position, prompting suggestions like yours: "...what if the patent lasted until the inventor's death?"

The supposed saliency, consistency, moral superiority, religious righteousness, fairness or nobility of any position always falls to self-interest. Fortunately Kinsella also makes a good case for the material benefits of abolishing IP laws, and that is where the force of his message lies.

Now I hasten to add that some of those considerations can still sometimes be a significant factor in self-interest. For example, if most people in society believe in a God who hates "theft of ideas" and punishes those who condone it, most people would believe it in their self-interest to uphold IP laws. Hence even without a state such a society would likely have some intellectual property restrictions in the customary legal order. Still, this would be balanced by the material benefits of idea sharing that Kinsella covers, if enough people were aware of them.

In the end, it all depends on what the people believe to be in their best interests (including psychic profit, afterlife, or whatever they care about); that will always determine what a society supports and what it condemns. If the people care about round numbers more than putting food on their plate, they might choose 10 years or forever or 0 years, but that premise stretches the imagination. 

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Stranger replied on Sat, Jan 22 2011 4:50 PM

Kinsella is simply resorting to fallacy #5 of the fallacies of intellectual communism, combined with fallacy #1.

Your concern for plagiarism is in fact a concern with fallacy #4.

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Lyle replied on Sat, Jan 22 2011 5:01 PM

Be sure to hit the SOURCE button before using the Markup.

Also, its

<blockquote><div><strong>GuyYouQuoted:</strong></div><div>Stuff you want to quote</div></blockquote>
 

GuyYouQuoted:
Stuff you want to quote
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