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KOL186 | The Great IP Debate: Stephan Kinsella vs. Alexander Baker (2014)


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 186.

The Great IP Debate: Stephan Kinsella vs. Alexander Baker  Liberty.me (July 8, 2014). From the Liberty.me description:

Intellectual property is one of the most controversial topics among libertarians. Can ideas be legitimate forms of property? Do the benefits of intellectual property laws, such as providing incentives for inventors, overcome the negatives, such as benefiting large corporations relative to newcomers in industry? Stephan Kinsella argues ideas are not and cannot be property, and that the negatives of IP easily outweigh the positives: IP amounts to a grant of government monopoly. Alexander Baker counters with a theory entitled “Intellectual Space” which argues that intangible goods (songs, movies, software, games) display all the same characteristics (homesteadable, useful, costly, scarce, rivalrous) as physical goods (bicycles, factories, diamonds), thus requiring property rights to eliminate conflict over their use.


{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Daniel W Jones August 11, 2015, 6:05 pm

    I love your debates. Two thoughts, I wish you would have made this guy admit that he wasn’t attempting to make an argument that his music was property, he was actually making a claim to control and limit the property and bodies of others. It’s like statists do with the income tax, the income is just the medium of exchange, what you’re really claiming a right to is other peoples bodies and the labor they can do with them, slavery. I also wish you just explained to him what ‘rivalrous’ meant, because everytime he tried to explain why his music is property he used actual rivalrous property as examples, and you kept letting him do it.

  • Daniel W Jones August 11, 2015, 8:22 pm

    I have a question for you, do you think that libertarians like Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, and Walter Block are correct when they make the assertion that federal reserve inflation is ‘theft’ and ‘counterfeiting’? I’ve been thinking about this lately since listening to your lectures and if they believe that there’s no property right in value then that contradictions the ‘theft’ assertion, and i don’t understand how a firm could counterfeit their own good or service, so what am i misunderstanding? I get that we’re forced to use it but i don’t see how this is theft or counterfeiting…

    • Jole James August 11, 2015, 9:00 pm

      I’ve also been thinking about that recently! I think that the federal reserve’s “theft” is more analogous to Amazon “stealing Wal-Mart’s business”. I’ve heard a lot of people objecting to the idea of no IP laws and then compare the Federal Reserve’s inflation to the music pirating industries “inflation” of copies of music, and i do think it’s a fair comparison. To call it theft is inaccurate, and if they were consistent then they’d be against any form of competition between businesses because they’re stealing eachothers business (mcdonalds moving next to burger king would produce hamburger inflation!) I hope somebody more qualified than me responds to Daniels post because that’s the main objection i hear from libertarians.

    • Stephan Kinsella September 2, 2015, 7:40 am

      I think fed reserve inflation–creating new dollars–is analogous to counterfeiting, but maybe not exactly the same. It has similar effects. As for theft–there is no property right in value, true. However, when someone commits a tort–they invade your property boundaries; they commit aggression–then this causes damage to the victim, and the victim is entitled to restitution based on the extent of the damage. In the case of the fed, the fed maintains its monopoly on money by means of aggression (the coercive enforcement of legal tender and other laws, for example). So the fedgov is committing aggression by establishing and maintaining the fed; and the price inflation is one type of damage that flows from this. So it’s justified in analogizing it to theft since it is a type of trespass that results in monetary damage to the victims.

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