Intellectual Property Laws are Monopoly Grants of Force

One man’s defense of IP laws (Intellectual Property):

I have said, over, and over, that your use of the argument “IP is invalid because information isn’t scarce” is irrelevant an confused. People don’t fight over information; they fight over its use in physical objects. There is conflict in this dimension, ergo it is the domain of property rights. I have explained this to you multiple times and multiple ways, yet you still appeal to information’s non-scarcity as if it were ironclad proof of the invalidity of IP.

Therein “lies the rub”.

Economics concerns human activity with regard to things that are “scarce”. By example, the air in the atmosphere is not “scarce”, because everyone has access to atmospheric oxygen all the time. Murray Rothbard used the term “a general condition of mankind” to describe something that was “non-scarce”.

On the other hand, automobiles are “scarce” because you can’t just pluck them out of the air, or conjure them up from nothing. They require possession of a specific combination of materials plus a measure of human labor, plus some intelligent coordination of same, all physical things or physical activity requiring human time and effort. There is not such a great supply of these things as there is for air, or gravity.

Somebody represents a knock-off as made by a factory owned by Sony, that’s fraud perpetrated against me, and like Stephen Kinsella explains, it’s a theft by fraud when I take the knock-off and give the seller something of value, because the seller of the knock-off has violated the terms of the sales agreement. Sony did not suffer a loss, even if the product turns out to be inferior. Even if it has the same quality as the genuine Sony product, it is still a theft. The buyer is the victim, the seller is a thief.

Laws that make the transaction a theft against Sony are really laws that are meant to enforce a monopoly on the use of a name. Sony has not been a victim of anything. “Reputation” is not a right. “Trademark” is simply a right to a monopoly over some specific speech, an “utterance”.

It is also a way for political players to leverage the power of force for their own ends. For example, it has been used by some players in the corporate-government complex to muzzle some whistleblowing when some of their own have let the truth slip out, or when their own wrongdoing is exposed.

Stephen Kinsella’s writings have helped me parse out these concepts logically. It is the conversation in the comments at the following link that led to this post:


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