Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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IP Debate Breaks Out at FEE

At a recent Foundation for Economic Education seminar, a debate over intellectual "property" broke out spontaneously among Ivan Pongracic (second from right), Paul Cwik (second from left), and me (left).


Good work Sheldon. I enjoyed this.
Sheldon, there is no doubt that in just 10 short minutes you completely dominated. Pongracic and Cwik adopted the amazingly naive and un-nuanced standard viewpoint (as Cwik did in his presentation at the 2008 Austrian Scholars Conference, on the IP panel on which I was a discussant; Cwik's argument was incredible weak (as several audience members noted to me), as the IP argument has to be).
BTW, Cwik's working paper, "Is There Room for Intellectual Property Rights in Austrian Economics?", is available here.
Interesting. I did not think Sheldon dominated at all. Some humorous comments. When Sheldon said he was not getting royalties, the response asked whether it was because he was not selling any (touche).

The Shakespeare example is a bit twisted. Yes, there was no copyright, but Shakespeare made his money from performance of the plays and from part ownership of the Globe theater. I doubt many people could even read in that era. Otherwise, Shakespeare might have had to be a farmer or store keeper and those works would never have been written. In any case, Shakespeare did not want his works published and was unhappy when inscrupulous publishers printed unauthorized copies of his works.

The question is how we expect, e.g., Tom Clancy or Stephen King, to duplicate what Shakespeare did? Should Clancy be performing plays of "Red Storm Rising" and have part ownership of a theater to do that in? Copyright enables things that would likely otherwise be difficult or impossible. Of course, books would still continue to be published without copyright, but the question is to what extent - which we will likely never know in our lifetime.

I also notice that Sheldon's best argument was something along the line that truth and the majority are not necessarily the same thing. That may well be true, but in order to overturn copyright (or any other intellectual property) will require a majority of people to say that copyright is no longer in the best interest of society. That has yet to happen.

Lonnie E. Holder http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition

The fact that we have copyright now is no evidence in favour of copyright.


Just because we did not have copyright centuries ago is no evidence that it should be eliminated.

That we got on fine without it, combined with the fact that it impedes liberty, is.

It is not true that "we got on fine without it." In fact, part of the reason that copyright was enacted after the printing press was created was that we had problems with unfettered, but inaccurate copying, of books and documents. By restricting printing to one licensed entity, accuracy and quality were improved.

As for "impedes liberty," if you mean "impedes ability to copy the works of others," that is true. However, that was a decision that was made by your fellow voters. If you want it changed, the appropriate action is to work to change the laws, not violate them.

So Lonnie is now becoming too cowardly to sign his name to his posts.


Of course, he's given away by his logic-free post that is chock full of ad hominems. Right off the bat he calls me a liar, and then erects some straw man claim that copyright was actually about accuracy or some such nonsense totally unsupported by the historical documents and evidence.

He closes with another ad hominem, this time borderline libelous, implying without evidence that I infringe copyrights. In fact, what I do is exactly what he says I should do, "work to change the laws", but when I do so he attacks me for it.

What he lacks in logical rigor he more than makes up for in hypocrisy.

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