Hi Stephan,I just read your article on Intellectual Property and Libertarianism at mises.org. I’m an engineer and so am well aware of the farce we call the patent system. I also see the absurdity of US copyrights.The are some things I don’t yet fully understand, even after reading Mises for a year or so. How can we get rid of copyrights and patents while still allowing there to be an incentive to create ingenious works?
I understand your metaphor with the marble statue, but much IP created today is absolutely disconnected from physical entities. Software, and the designs of hardware, movies and so on come to mind. Why would anyone one or any company spend money to make a movie if they have no hope of selling it, since it can be copied and redistributed worldwide for free. Why would any engineer bother creating software if someone is just going to copy and distribute it around the world?
Juts look at it simply: in the absence of IP people will still maek movies and music and write books and design products and write software. Surely you can’t say it will go to zero. So there will be SOME. So your only concern is there is not ENOUGH. This is the concern of a central planning socialst. Just forget about it.
Existing hardware engineering companies could still make money with new ideas, (but no patents), the same way they do now, by being first to market.
However small companies and inventors would have a hard time, as soon as a big fish saw that they were profitable, they could steal the idea and run with it. What then would be the motivation of small fish?
I don’t see how software makers, movie and music makers could survive at all without copyrights, now matter how fast they were to market the capital required to reproduce and redistribute what they make is nearly zero.People feel violated if their bodily person is violated or their property is stolen, feeling of violation is a natural human emotion under such circumstances. Having your idea stolen feels no different.
And, people who steal ideas for their own are generally regarded as liars, or somewhat deviant, depending on the circumstances.
I think that there is some ownership of ideas which naturally decays with time. I guess I base this on how people feel about certain actions, I can’t offer a lofty philosophical argument for this.
J. Neil Schulman does, in his article on logorights, which I think is fatally flawed. See On J. Neil Schulman’s Logorights.
I believe 17 years is too much time, and whatever mickey gets is way too much time for ownership of IP. I also believe the scope of what people claim in patents is too broad, such as Monsanto patenting living organisms. But I think 5 years for copyright and patent would be fair and useful.
I don’t see practically or philosophically how IP could be thrown out.