A brief point about IP

I think there is a subtle but interesting dichotomy in intellectual property that sometimes gets missed, and that is the distinction between copying a work and claiming that you produced it. In conventional terms, "theft" and "fraud". I think these two are very different with regard to IP.

Our protection of property stems from the fact that only one person can generally be using a piece of property at a time. If you take my car, I can't drive to work. Hence our moral intuitions tend to see property as having exclusive ownership, and our formal and informal legal systems tend, to a large degree, to evolve to protect it.

Now as many people have pointed out, this property does not hold for ideas. Many people can listen to a song without taking away from each other's experience. Does this mean utter IP anarchy? I think not. The key is that this property *does* hold for reputation. If you write a book, and I publish it under my name, some people will think that I wrote it instead of thinking that you wrote it. They cannot think both. Thus the reputation for having created something is a property of the physical type.

Hence I argue that we should treat authorship like a physical good, but not the work itself. Arguments for the one do not apply to the other, as they are fundamentally different.

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That's an interesting

That's an interesting distinction I hadn't considered--thanks.

So what is your stance in respect to non-physical IP?

If you don't have any

If you don't have any special rights to your intellectual product then what's the damage? If someone swipes your toaster you are entitled to recover it from them. What should your recourse be if someone else claims authorship of your work?

Scott - the part I am sure

Scott - the part I am sure about is that it has substantial and important differences from physical property. How to deal differently with those differences is an interesting question. I recommend the section on patent and copyright in David Friedman's _Law Order_ for a good intro to the economic analysis thereof.

JTK - Since I don't really believe in rights, let alone "special rights", or "entitled to recover" it's hard to answer this. My moral intuition says that it is fraud. My economic intuition says that I can't predict exactly what rules will be efficient, but that it seems reasonable that a suit for fraud might be filed with damages to the true author and the customers. And my anarchic intuition says that reputation systems can easily handle both establishing true authorship and pointing out plagiarizers.

"What should your recourse

"What should your recourse be if someone else claims authorship of your work?"

Surrender of that claim?

"Scott - the part I am sure

"Scott - the part I am sure about is that it has substantial and important differences from physical property. How to deal differently with those differences is an interesting question. I recommend the section on patent and copyright in David Friedman’s Law Order for a good intro to the economic analysis thereof."

I've read it. David Friedman is far to fair when he approaches issues--he leaves us without presenting a clear solution, and the reader is forced to use his own brain to solve the problem.

I've been unable to come up with any real convincing reason one way or the other save my own moral intuition, which--unfortunately--I've got into the habit of listening to.

Isn't this the basis of the

Isn't this the basis of the distinction in IP between copyright and the "moral rights of the author"?

sorry Patri but I can't

sorry Patri but I can't agree with you on this one. The work is as important as the authorship when it comes to IP. Take the research that goes into developing a new drug. As a patient, I don't care what pharmaceutical actually designed the pill as long as I can get it. But new drugs won't get developed if their IP isn't protected. According to your logic though any company could reverse engineer a pill and create a generic version and simply say "Company X designed this drug but we are selling it for a fraction of the price" We will all lose if IP is not protected as both the authorship and work.

Spoonie- What is elided in

Spoonie-

What is elided in the case of applying IP to drug manufacture is that there are several artificial aspects of the drug market that complicate things-

1. Regulations and FDA testing are responsible for, what, 40-60% of the cost of the drug?

2. Drug companies, shielded by monopoly protections, freely disclose chemical information about their drug such that its not hard to "reverse engineer" at all.

Remove the FDA regulatory burden and costs fall dramatically. Lower cost = potentially lower time to profitability regardless of R&D cost. Eliminate the guarantee of monopoly protection and then so-called drug IP becomes good ol' "trade secrets", theft of which and use of same (and profits from) are all easily dealt with by the vanilla legal system as opposed to any strange IP regimen.

The pharmaceutical market is severely distorted by government intervention, so its very hard to say one way or the other what a non-IP regimen would entail as far as consequences for drug discovery and development.

Patri, Since I don’t

Patri,

Since I don’t really believe in rights, let alone “special rights", or “entitled to recover” it’s hard to answer this.

You believe in property, but not rights? Not sure what that means.

Let's say I wiped your toaster. Wouldn't you be entitled to take it back? Consider the two acts:

1. Me swiping your toaster.

2. You recovering it from me.

Don't those acts have a different character?

You speak of moral intuitions and apparently grant some weight to them. But why grant weight to moral intuitions if you don't believe in morality?

You believe in property, but

You believe in property, but not rights? Not sure what that means.

This article explains it nicely.

That's an article about

That's an article about rights.

granted the drug industry

granted the drug industry has a lot of complications but the statement I made still holds true for a number of other industries as well. For example, Microsoft puts out a new version of Office. Some guy with a CD burner and blank CDs makes copies and sells it for a few bucks each. Or the same guy buys, copies and sells music CDs. just naming the author doesn't protect the author's rights.

You guys really don't need

You guys really don't need to reinvent the wheel. There has been a ton written about this already; see collected material here.

As I have noted myself (see, e.g., In Defense of Napster and Against the Second Homesteading Rule, and Against Intellectual Property, available here).

There are numerous flaws in the questions and propositions above. For one, a failure to define "fraud" in a way that can be justified as being tantamount to crime. Second, a seeming unawareness that laws the protect reputation (libel, slander, defamation) are not valid under libertarianism. See www.WalterBlock.com for a ton of material on this.

By the way, you are free to publish the Nichomachean Ethics tomorrow under your own name. Why does no one do this? Because they would be laughingstocks.

You cannot have rights in intellectual property without in effect diminishing property rights in scarce resources. To recognize an IP right is in effect a way of transferring wealth or property rights from the orignal owner to the IP owner. IP is theft.

I have spoken.

Nom.

"You cannot have rights in

"You cannot have rights in intellectual property without in effect diminishing property rights in scarce resources. To recognize an IP right is in effect a way of transferring wealth or property rights from the orignal owner to the IP owner. IP is theft."

I've often heard liberals say the same thing about physical property.

Cf. Hale's famous essay.

http://www.law.du.edu/russell/lh/alh/docs/hale.html

Leftists, Scott, not

Leftists, Scott, not necessarily or properly liberals...

Self-described liberals.

Self-described liberals.

Kinsella, "IP is theft." Do

Kinsella,

"IP is theft."

Do you personally collaborate with clients in such theft?