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Stephan Kinsella
Houston
Editor of Libertarian Papers; patent attorney.
Recent Activity
It's easy to see how this happens. For example if Apple and a couple other big companies have patents on smartphones, smaller companies are dissuaded from competing. Thus they use their capital for other endeavors. They don't waste money innovating in the smartphone area, as they know thy will be sued to oblivion. Thus they make no innovations in this area. This is really easy to see. As for piggybacking--if microsoft makes information public others should of course be free to act on it.
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I am bowing out of this thread now. I am seeing no serious or civil inquiries from the people still posting, and I have been more than generous with my time. The inscincere nyms attacking me are not serious, and anyone who is really interested in inquiring further can learn more from other material, not blog comments: For those who want to inquire further, as I have noted above, I and others have written in detail on all this. http://www.stephankinsella.com/publications. I have spoken on it too -- various interviews, lectures, and speeches here http://www.stephankinsella.com/media/ -- including a 6 week online Mises Academy course, Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics http://academy.mises.org/courses/ip-reconsidered-intellectual-property-austrian-economics-and-libertarian-theory/ the audio and slides of which are online for free at http://c4sif.org/2011/12/rethinking-intellectual-property-history-theory-and-economics-audio-and-slides/. And there are various resources at http://www.c4sif.org/resources
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""First, you have no evidence that patents have been necessary for or even stimulated any net innovation at all." "Except that I have had innovators tell me that they would have never formed the company they did except if they didn't have the intellectual property to protect their innovations. Moreover, their logic was inescapable. Put succinctly, no IP = no investment. I've got my evidence …. next." Anecdotal stories from people living in a state-distorted system is not evidence. This is not hard to see. As for: no IP = no investment: this is obvioulsy untrue. There always has been and always woudl be *some* investment (say, level X), even absent IP. So your argument, at most, is that withotu a state that grants monopoly privileges in some fields, there would not be *enough* investment--it would not reach level X+Y. But how do you know X+Y is enough? How do you konw Y is positive, and not negative (as I am sure it is)? How do you know the cost of the patent system is less than the value of Y? How do you know all this because a few engineers "told you" something? This is irresponsible. It is not serious arguing at all, obviously. In fact, even if you were right--why not have X+Y+Z innovation, by having tax-funded prizes--as people minded like you have suggested? see http://c4sif.org/2011/12/tabarroks-launching-the-innovation-renaissance-statism-not-renaissance/ And what about fields that are not now covered by IP--like, say, fashion, perfumes, food recipes... must they also be covered by new forms of IP? Where will you stop? and if a 17 year patent, and a 130 year copyright, stimulate Y additional innovation/creation, why not increase them to 50 and 500 years, or more, to squeeze a bit more out? and if billion dollar fines and small prison terms as now only help a bit, why not impose the death penalty for copyrgiht infringement? Surely that would help stimulate more innovation? "you have the burden of establishing this. Isnt this fair, as a general approach?" "I'm not the one advocating a drastic change to an economic system that has been around for centuries. I cannot help it if your hatred of the state has blinded you to the fact that good things can come from the state." Ah. I see. The ultimate conservative argument. Whatever is the law must stay the law. The slavery abolitionists heard the same thing. It's really telling how weak are the arguemtns of people who pretend to be in favor of the IP system. They resort to ad hominem, evasion, ad hoc thinking, straw men, bromides, acontextual anecdotes. Wow, is that really the best you have? Obviously it is. If you had any clear evidence that the patent or copyright system produce net welfare gains for society, you would produce it. Yo udo not. You have no idea. You do not care. You just want to score cheap points. what is sad is you are literally just going throug the motions to defend a copyrgiht system which is being used to jail people (the guy who uploaded Wolverine movie got a year in prison; look at kim dot com; a student in England being extradited here and facing prison for having a website with LINKS to others' websites) and to threaten Internet freedom in the guise of SOPA, PIPA, TPP, ACTA, and the like; and a patent system hideously distorting research and development, innovation, money, and retarding innovation to boot and imposing hundreds of billions of dollars of costs and impediments on the free market in the US--and you are just laughingly justifying this hideous distortions of free and civil human life with a few handwaves to "well a few engineeers told me" nonsense. This is disgraceful. ""Let me ask you: suppose we had a good study, and it concluded that the patent system produced $2B of additional innovation, but cost $30B. Would you still be in favor of it?" "When that study comes out, then you'll have something to talk about. Until then, I'll assume that the fittest economic systems have prevailed and that included the protection of intellectual property." The studies to date are almonst unanimous: you cannot prove that the patent sytsem does any good, and there is strong reason to think it does a lot of harm. I have catalogued this. see http://blog.mises.org/14065/costs-of-the-patent-system-revisited/ and http://c4sif.org/2012/07/patent-trolls-cost-productive-companies-29-billion-in-2011-stall-innovation-and-hurt-small-businesses/ but regardless: the burden IS on you guys to prove your case. The Founders never proved it. They had a hunch. It has never been verified. It cannot be. IP is immoral and wrong. It is antiproperty. It is a huge huge mistake. "So, how do you incentivize people to create something that can be easily copied?" The purpose of law is not to "incentivize" people. The very idea of law has been distorted by the modern unprincipled utilitarian ethos, as your comment shows. You could ask this about any business: why would I build a grocery store if someone can just compete with me?? Why would I make the first computer if someone can just compete with me? Etc. Thsi is life. This is the market. You figure out a way to make a profit by selling a product or service someone wants. " How do incentivize people to create ideas/content/innovations? It is one thing to throw darts at the current system – it is another thing altogether to create a VIABLE system to replace it." The viable system exists, underneath the state regulations: it is the free market. In such a system peopel have wealth and engage in innovation for any number of reasons. You are engaging in central planning. "Maybe you need a hypothetical to loosen your tongue. I'm a film producer. I want spend $200M to make the next blockbuster film. However, all the countries in the world all simultaneously removed all the laws on intellectual property – mostly based upon your writings. I have come to you to ask you how can I make money from this $200M investment. Explain to me, under this new system, how this can be accomplished." the goal of law is not to make sure you can make your $200M blockbuster. But thre is no rason to think it would not. http://c4sif.org/2012/01/a-scene-from-return-of-the-king-the-third-part-of-lord-of-the-rings-debunking-the-argument-that-no-blockbusters-would-be-made-without-the-copyright-monopoly/ and http://c4sif.org/2012/01/conversation-with-an-author-about-copyright-and-publishing-in-a-free-society/
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Incidentally, for those who keep pestering me to keep explaining things--I have written in detail on all this. http://www.stephankinsella.com/publications. I have spoken on it too -- various interviews, lectures, and speeches here http://www.stephankinsella.com/media/ -- including a 6 week online Mises Academy course, Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics http://academy.mises.org/courses/ip-reconsidered-intellectual-property-austrian-economics-and-libertarian-theory/ the audio and slides of which are online for free at http://c4sif.org/2011/12/rethinking-intellectual-property-history-theory-and-economics-audio-and-slides/. I am getting a bit tired of answering the same questions repeatedly that i have already answered here, or elsewhere. People who are really curious about this and interested in justice-- I have provided sufficient links to let them explore further.
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"it is my position that without the patent system, there would be no new medicines. " But you have no evidence for this. You are just repeating IP propaganda. Boldrin and Levine explode this myth. ch. 9 of Against Intellectual Monopoly. Just take a look. www.againstmonopoly.org. No one can argue there woudl be NO new medicines without a patent system. At most you can argue there would be FEWER pharmaceutical innovations without the patent system. But so what? Even by your own unprincipled utilitarian standard, you would have to prove that the value of the alleged additional innovations is greater than teh cost of having a patent system. So tell us: what is the cost, and what are the benefits? Just rough dollar estimates. Of course, you will not answer, or even try; no one knws this. You people just assume there is a net positive; or, rather, you pretend to assume it; I don't think anyone really believes this. they just trot it out as an argument point. tell us, please: what is the cost of the patent system, and what is the value of the extra innovation it induces or induces-early? Just gives me some numbers. Or don't you know?
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"sn't patent infringement outlawed? Doesn't this prove the point put forth by Les?" No. It is an example of trying to protect companies from competition.
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W-anking? nice. More incivility. I guess if I had no arguments... "Why does Chile abide by a treaty with Peru, say? No one will make them." It does not take a higher court to "make them." You never heard of trade sanctions?" Yes, and in a free society there would be "sanctions"--reputational effects, etc.--from violating norms. As happened in, say, the Law Merchant.
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I won't talk to anyone who accuses me of sedition. That is the way of shutting down a conversation, since sedition means you think what the other person says shoudl be illegal, and punished by force. You cannot have a civil discussion with someone who wants you to be imprisoned for daring to voice your thoughts.
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I tried to post a lengthy reply this morning but the system is not acceping it. So I added it as an updated appended to the end of http://c4sif.org/2012/08/mossoff-patent-law-really-is-as-straightforward-as-real-estate-law/
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There is no international sovereign to make countries abide by their agreements. Can you not see the parallel? Why does Chile abide by a treaty with Peru, say? No one will make them. The logic that you have to have a state to make people follow law, wolud mean that you need a one-world super-state to make countries abide by international law. And this would mean that the one-world super-state would need a super-super-state over it, to make it follow its own constitutino. etc. This is a commonly-recognized problem in political philosophy. See Anthony de Jasay, Against Politica, for example.
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One word is not an argument. It is not serious. First, there is no proof that Crestor or other drugs woudl not be invented without patents; in fact what harms innovation is state taxes and regulations, including FDA, patents, etc. See ch. 9 of Boldrin and Levine; they explode the empirical myths. Second, even if Crestor would not have been invented, this does not justify the patent system. For example even if your implicit argument is that any law or policy that adds more wealth to society than it costs is justified (which is not true either), you would have to show that the cost of the patent system is lower than the value of the extra innovation induced by the system (you would have to show also that there is net extra innovation induced; the evidence seems that it is a negative). And there is no right to earn back your investment. If there was, we would outlaw all competition, and guaranteea ny businessman.
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Can you not be civil and respectful, and give me the benefit of the doubt that perhaps I have sincere reasons for my beliefs? When I get snarky replies like this, it is obvious my interlocutor has no interest in the truth, but rather is trying to score cheap shots. As for how I act in my own life, what possible relevance can this have for whether patent and copyright law are compatible with genuine property rights? Either they are or are not; I cannot change this by my own actions. So why inquire into this? Further, your questions are loaded and full of presumptions I do not share. It would take another mini-treatise to unpack them. YOu should not try to load the question with assumptions that are controversial and that your discourse partner might not share. It is dishonest and contrary to the nature of genuine civilized discourse. It's akin to asking, "Oh, and have you stopped beating your wife?!"
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Of cousre not. the Constitution was a coup. And it has many obviously unjust provisions, namely legitimating slavery, counting blacks as 3/5 of a person, etc. The copyright clause was a mistkae. The founders didn't know what they were doing. They were wrong. And guess what--in the 200+ years since they had their utilitarian "hunch," no one has proved the hunch to be right, with any empirical study.
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Yes, Konkin was one of the early thinkers to see the IP issue clearly. Probably the first was Benjamin Tucker. Konkin may have been next. See http://c4sif.org/2012/03/2011/04/the-four-historical-phases-of-ip-abolitionism/
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"How can it be literally impossible? You assume this for a fact yet you don't explain how it is literally impossible." I did explain it. For there to be a right, it is legally enforceable. Force. Force. Physical force. Applied by the court. To enFORCE the award. The force is always applied... physical force... against other scarce (physical) things, like the body or factory of the defendant, or against the money in his bank account. "So any law giving rights in a pattern is really transferring control-rights (ownership) to scarce goods. This is really indisputable. And you notice that whenver I mention this the IP advocates change the subject." First, why don't you distinguish communism from your proposal. I set forth an analysis why they are the same. What is your analysis." Communism is central (state) ownership of the mean of production. The means of production are scarce resources. That system is immoral and evil, for the same reasons IP is wrong: both violate property rights in scarce resources. In communism the collective/state takes property from owners, to nationalize them. In IP, the state takes property from owners (negative servitudes) and assigns them to favored state cronies (patent applicants). "As to your observation, and I can only speak for myself, but frankly, this argument doesn't resonate." That does not mean that state grants of monopoly privilege are justified. " The nature of property rights is to exclude other from doing things with your property (whatever that property may be). As such, I am untroubled by your observation." Waht i there was a law that said "Mr. Curious is hereby prohibited from using his body to drive a car." Well how can you object?After all, it's the nature of property rights to exclude people from using their property as they like--so this is just a property right! I guess any wicked or unjust law could be justified this way. If I am robbing you in your home, I can just tell you, "Oh, stop complaining, I am just limiting what you can do with your stuff--and as we know this is the essence of property rights." "Despite your belief otherwise, the common person believes that he/she owns his/her own ideas" I know that most peopel believe this, because they are confused. That does not make them right. "Your libertarian ideas seem based upon the ancient notion that the only thing of value is something that is created via the sweat off one's back" Then you have not read or understood my argument. I have elaborated on this in detail, with clarity. I can't be responsible for your inability to comprehend. "almost all property rights are the creation of the state." This is untrue, but it is understanable why most people today believe such bromides.
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The anti-IP case is not dependent on being anti-state. So let's not get bogged down itn it. And if you are serious then you can research this--but one answer is: the way the law merchant was enfroced. And the way international law is enforced now. You do realize there are 200 countries and no super-state above them to make them abide by treaties, right? If you are realy serious see Hoppe's bibliography http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe5.html
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This is not an argument for the patent system--that Stephan Kinsella has not "revealed to MaxDrei" how the pharmaceutical industry would work in the absence of state regulations. It is fine to have questions. But questions are not arguments.
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That does not prove that the "encumbering" is legitimate.
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No. I am simply saying I am more sympathetic to the left-libertarian objection to absentee ownership of unused, unimproved property, than I am to their objection to absentee ownership of property that is actually in use by the owners' employees or tenants. Because the only way to object to the latter is to ignore contractual freedom.
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I just gave you a link to a collection of studies. They conclude that patents and IP in general cannot be shown to generate net wealth, or are ambiguous,or show that they impose net costs. As for using patently-O, .... the owner linked to my blog post. What are you talking about? You are obviously not reading my comments or linked pieces.
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""Ideas are not ownable as property." "To the extent that intellectual property is considered an "idea," in almost every modern country for as long as most people today have been alive, this is an incorrect statement. Please do not confuse your view of the world, as you believe it should be, with the world, as it is. If "[i]deas are not ownable as property," then we wouldn't be having this discussion." I konw the difference between positive law and moral or normative law. I know what it means to say what the law is, and what it should be. Yes, I admit IP law is the law, and I think it should not be. But I also say that it is literally impossible to have property rights in patterns of information--in logos. So what the law really does--this is a legal-realist interpretation of the nature of patent and copyright--is use these laws as pretenses or excuses to reassign existing rights in already-owned scarce goods. For example if Elton John sues you for releasing your own version of Rocket Man (as an unlicensed derivative work), then the court will threaten (or use) physical force of state goons against you or your bank etc., to make you turn over your money to him. In other words, it's just a complicated way for Elton John to claim property in some of your money. It's no different than if the state passed a law saying "Elton John gets $100k of Ralph X's money". That is a pure redistribution of property. It is theft. All IP rights amount to this precisely because it is literally impossible to own a pattern. So any law giving rights in a pattern is really transferring control-rights (ownership) to scarce goods. This is really indisputable. And you notice that whenver I mention this the IP advocates change the subject. They never answer this directly. Never. Because they cannot.
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KNowing the state might harm you or violate your property rights doesn't justify it.
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Of cousre I'm an anarchist (anarcho-libertarian, or anarcho-capitalist)--all consistent libertarians are. We are opposed to aggression, so of cousre we opose the state. See my What It Means to Be An Anarcho-capitalist. http://www.lewrockwell.com/kinsella/kinsella15.html However, my anti-IP views, while reinforced by anarchism, are not dependent on it. Anyone who is in favor of property rights and the free market should oppose patent and copyright root and branch.
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There is no conflict between opposing patents, and favoring property rights. You are very confused. Let me guess: public school?
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