Daniel D’Amico: An Economist’s Look at Intellectual Property Law (1h18m)

This episode features a lecture by economics professor Daniel J. D’Amico from 2011 on intellectual property law. He discusses several arguments for and against government enforcement of intellectual property, including trademarks, patents, and copyrights. He explores both moral arguments (deontological) and cost benefit arguments (consequential), dedicating most of his time to consequential arguments. He finds that, in general, intellectual property is difficult to enforce and is inherently an anti-rival good. As a result, he finds no compelling case for government established intellectual property law. Purchase books by Daniel J. D’Amico on Amazon here.

Listen To This Episode (1h18m, mp3, 64kbps)

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On Intellectual Property V

The United States has a “first-to-file” patent system, which means the first person or company to file for a patent on a novel invention gets the monopoly protection. This is obviously a violation of so-called intellectual property rights. Simultaneous invention happens all the time, and so simultaneous ownership of a novel invention should be respected. Further, when one of the inventors decides to license to the entire world without cost (to release it into the public domain), which he is well within his rights as owner to do, the other inventors of that same invention are unable to stop him. All of their hard work no longer has monopoly protection. Both of these opposing ideas, “first-to-file” and simultaneous ownership, should further demonstrate the absurdity of intellectual property, and particularly here, of patents. And that’s today’s two cents.

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On Intellectual Property IV

I heard the claim recently that to use an idea that originated with someone else is to commit a trespass. This begs the question and assumes what proponents of strong intellectual property rights are trying to prove. A trespass is to enter the owner’s property without permission. If ideas cannot be the subject of a property claim, then no trespass can occur by using or copying an idea that originated with someone else. For the sake of argument, let us posit that using someone else’s idea does amount to trespass. Since every new idea is a re-mixture of old ideas, everyone is a trespasser, as I’ve already written. Where does this get us, precisely? Exactly nowhere except gobs and gobs of statecraft in the attempt to balance interests over the use things infinite and unhindered by natural scarcity. It’s all perfectly ridiculous, and insidious. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Culture, Copying, Victimless Crimes, Your Truth, & Social Media (23m) – Editor’s Break 121

Editor’s Break 121 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: the difficulty in implementing democracy in a culture not ready for it; why saying “stealing intellectual property” is a misleading euphemism; why your government is not so different than Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia; the importance of speaking your truth, right or wrong; the government and market forces pushing social media and other companies to deplatform controversial users; and more.

Listen to Editor’s Break 121 (23m, mp3, 64kbps)

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On Intellectual Property III

The private property convention is meant to reduce conflict over naturally scarce resources. When something is made artificially scarce by government fiat, say when ideas are monopolizable (copyright and patent), it is as if a wrench is thrown into the works of a machine. Suddenly, property rights no longer protect an owner’s exclusive right of control over their naturally scarce property. Every creator on earth now has a right of control over how everyone else’s property may be used, ie. may not be configured in certain ways as to implement an idea created by someone else, somewhere else, at some other time, and whether the creator knows about it or not. It’s bad enough that property rights are made less secure by government fiat in many other ways (taxation, regulation, et cetera), but to add insult to injury, ideas (or rather, information) that may be helpful for a property owner to get the most out of his or her property are now off limits as well. It’s no surprise to me that so-called “intellectual property” has statist and corporatist (mercantilist) roots; all the biggest threats to property rights do. And that’s today’s two cents.

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On Intellectual Property II

Here is further proof that believers in so-called “intellectual property” are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole: an owner of an idea may continue using his idea without ever becoming aware that it has been “stolen”. Try that with a wallet, or a car, or a laptop. Stealing property means removing it entirely from its owner’s ability to continue using it. You might steal someone’s property without them ever noticing, sure, but as soon as they go to use it, if it’s truly been stolen, it’s no longer where it was. It’s gone. Why is that? Because its finite and scarce, and therefore subject to conflict over its use. Ideas are neither finite nor scarce, and therefore not subject to conflict over their use. An infinite number of people may use a given idea simultaneously, all without any other user even being aware of it. “Stolen” and the owner never has to know; how’s that for misleading euphemism? And that’s today’s two cents.

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