I was a guest on Jeff Berwick’s Anarchast (ep. 51, 36 min), released today. We discussed anarchy and how such a society might be reached; the basis and origin of law and property rights and its relationship to libertarian principles, and implications for legislation versus law and the legitimacy of intellectual property; also, utilitarianism, legal positivism, scientism, and logical positivism. Description from the Anarchist site below; MP3 download. For more background on IP, see the C4SIF Resources page; on legislation vs. private law, see The (State’s) Corruption of (Private) Law.
Anarchast Ep. 51 with Stephan Kinsella
Jeff Berwick in Acapulco, Mexico, talks with Stephan Kinsella in Houston, Texas
Land Registry: Land Certificate, from A Short History of Land Registration in England and Wales
Opponents of intellectual property often point out that modern patent and copyright are purely legislated, artificial schemes. For anarcho-libertarians and libertarians opposed to legislation as a means of forming law, this is yet another stake in the heart of IP. (See my post The Mountain of IP Legislation, and my article “Legislation and Law in a Free Society.”)
So it’s not surprising that one retort of the IPers is to argue that patent- and copyright-like rights “could” evolve in common law courts. Even though they didn’t; even though the idea of statutorily enacted schemes arising from judicial decisions is more than implausible: it’s ridiculous. Some of them simply posit that there could be private “title” offices in a free society akin to real property title records in use today: you just go down and “register” your “idea”; later, when you sue an “infringer” of “your” idea in court, you can prove you “own” it by introducing evidence from the IP title records office. For example, in a recent Mises blog threat, someone suggested there might be some private invention title office (my reply). And the anarcho-libertarian Tannehills, in their classic The Market for Liberty, argue (pp. 58-59):
Ideas in the form of inventions could also be claimed by registering all details of the invention in a privately owned “data bank.” Of course, the more specific an inventor was about the details of his invention, the thought processes he followed while working on it, and the ideas on which he built, the more firmly established his claim would be and the less would be the likelihood of someone else squeezing him out with a fake claim based on stolen data. The inventor, having registered his invention to establish his ownership of the idea(s), could then buy insurance (from either the data bank firm or an independent insurance company) against the theft and unauthorized commercial use of his invention by any other person. The insurance company would guarantee to stop the unauthorized commercial use of the invention and to fully compensate the inventor for any losses so incurred. Such insurance policies could be bought to cover varying periods of time, with the longer-term policies more expensive than the shorter-term ones. Policies covering an indefinitely long time-period (“from now on”) probably wouldn’t be economically feasible, but there might well be clauses allowing the inventor to re-insure his idea at the end of the life of his policy.
One problem with the Tannehills’ reasoning was the question-begging assumption that it’s “theft” to use an idea if it’s “unauthorized”; this presupposes there is property in information. [Keep reading…]
Massachusetts fisherman Carlos Rafael pulled in what should have been a life-changing fish this week, but before he could unload it for a huge payday, his local chapter of ridiculous-rule-enforcers, A.K.A., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) enforcement division, took him down. (Whew! That was close.) You see, although Rafeal had filed all the appropriate paperwork to catch tuna, the behemoth in question was caught in his boat’s nets and not via rod and reel, as is specified, well, someplace. As a result, the authorities had no choice but to pinch the fish when Rafael’s boat returned to port. The expected $400,000 payday that could come from the sale of fish will very likely go into NOAA’s asset forfeiture fund. Nice racket. (Or, should that be, nice rod and reel?)
I am on the board of the Austin, Texas-based Foundation for a Free Society, and one of our objectives is to put out professional, artistic, catchy videos that communicate the philosophy of liberty in a succinct and fun manner. This video is one of our latest projects and was recently featured on LewRockwell.com. If you think this is a cool idea, why not become a donor to F4FS? Trust me, it’s a GREAT cause. F4FS has been a great supporter of the student group I am involved in, the Libertarian Longhorns, and I can heartily commend them to you.
Isn’t that fantastic? Share it with your friends, maybe you’ll be able to teach them about liberty soon…
Just when I thought I had heard/read it all, comes this gem out of NYC:
Efforts to tame a lawless bus industry that has left Chinatown like the “Wild West” have been introduced by neighborhood politicians.
The move, which would force buses traveling between New York and other cities to have a permit to operate, has teamed up State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Council Member Margaret Chin.
They introduced a bill before the State Legislature Friday, designed to create a permit system for the first time ever and ease what they called a “chaotic lack of rules” which puts travelers and neighborhood residents at risk.
It seems that the main problem here is that companies often do not have a designated stop; opponents say this causes traffic problems. Granted, if this is true, then it is because of true, chaos-causing rules–the rules giving the state control of the roads.
“With no rules to regulate buses, the streets of Chinatown are like the Wild West, and that doesn’t work for bus companies or the community,” said Squadron. If only.