My article, Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics, was published today (Oct, 22, 2010) on Mises Daily. It details the content and purpose of my upcoming Mises Academy course, “Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics,” Mises Academy (Nov.-Dec. 2011) (discussed on the Mises Blog in Study with Kinsella Online). Sign up!
In Reducing the Cost of IP Law, I argued that one improvement to the patent system (short of abolition) would be to eliminate injunctions and provie for a compulsory licensing system. As I noted there, the compulsory licensing approach is not new. Some countries impose compulsory licensing on patentees who do not adequately “work” the patent. I discussed provisions in US patent law that do permit compulsory licenses already in some situations.1 I was reminded of this when discussing with some friends a comment to this blogpost, Pirated Software Could Bring Down Predator Drones. The commentor stated: “Just declare the IP a state secret. The market value is then zero, as the company cant sell it legally. Buy it from the company for 1 cent. Then classify the contract as top secret. If the company complains, send the people to jail or gitmo.”
As I noted in the previous posts, the feds have the authority to license third parties to manufacture patented articles, without patent infringement liability; this was threatened in the Cipro anthrax drug a couple years ago. The feds then have to pay “compensation” to the patent holder. Something similar happens if the some federal agency issues a “secrecy order” for military or other reasons for a pending patent.2
It occurs to me that the very notion of a compulsory license for IP can help to illustrate how IP is an obvious transfer of wealth. Consider: under current law, the state grants a patent monopoly to some applicant. Then, the state can declare a compulsory monopoly (or issue a secrecy order), and pay you some compensation for this “taking”. Obviously this payment comes from tax payers. So the IP step can be seen as just an intermediate step to justify transferring money from everyone else to the patentee. It’s as if you tell the state you have an idea and the state takes money from others and gives it to you. Come to think of it, this is exactly the idea behind proposals for tax-funded “innovation” awards–proposed even by some libertarians (!).3 The point is that even when the state does not issue the compulsory license, they are simply deputizing the patentee to go out and extort the money himself; it’s like taxation.
(Incidentally, in An Objectivist IP Argument for Taxation, I provide another argument for why IP could be used to justify taxes.)
As noted on my media page, I’ll be delivering a speech entitled “How Intellectual Property Hampers Capitalism” at the Mises Institute Supporters’ Summit 2010, Oct. 8-9 2010, Auburn Alabama. The conference’s theme is “The Economic Recovery: Washington’s Big Lie.” There’s a dynamite list of speakers. The heroic Jim Rogers will be awarded the Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize, “For lifetime defense of liberty, given every year, awards $10,000 to a public intellectual or distinguished scholar.” I am looking forward to the entire event, especially the black-tie-optional reception and dinner honoring Mr. Rogers.
As mentioned on the Mises Blog in Study with Kinsella Online, starting November 1 at the Mises Academy, I’ll be presenting the 6-week course Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics, with Monday evening lecture/question-and-answer sessions. An excerpt from the course description:
Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics
Length: 6 weeks
Dates: November 1, 2010 – December 17, 2010
Click here to register for this course
This course is taught by Stephan Kinsella, a practicing patent attorney and author of Against Intellectual Property. This is a 6-week course and will run from November 1 until December 17 (with Thanksgiving week off), and will provide an overview of current intellectual property law and the history and origins of IP. The course will explore and offer critical analysis of various utilitarian and deontological justifications offered for IP. The course will analyze the proper relationship between property, scarcity, and ideas, and integrate the proper perspective on IP and the nature of ideas and information with Austrian economics and libertarian theory. Various legal and political reforms consistent with this perspective will be offered along with discussions of market and social institutions in a post-IP world. Optional testing will include a multiple-choice mid-term exam and a combined multiple-choice and essay final exam. Kinsella is Senior Fellow of the Mises Institute, editor of Libertarian Papers, General Counsel for Applied Optoelectronics, and was formerly an adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law. He has frequently lectured and published on IP law, international law, and the application of libertarian principles to legal topics, including Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (co-editor, with Jörg Guido Hülsmann, Mises Institute, 2009).
Course outline and further information available at the course page: Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics.
The argument of this article is that intent, like remorse, is irrelevant to restitution. By default, intent, like any other subjective value judgment, should play the role of a restitution-discount variable determined by the victim of an aggressive act, not the arbitration company.
Jeremiah Dyke is an adjunct math professor and a libertarian writer. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website http://jeremiahdyke.blogspot.com/.
Read the Full Article by Jeremiah Dyke
Afterwards, discuss it below.