But, Apple, copying isn’t theft

Apple's "victory" over Samsung Electronics last week is really a victory for illegitimate, state-granted monopoly privilege over dynamic, competitive enterprise. By Russell Lamberti.

Russell Lamberti

Last week a US court ruled that Samsung Electronics had to pay US$1bn to Apple for patent infringement. Samsung made a cool $6bn profit in the second quarter of 2012 on revenue of nearly $50bn, so $1bn, in the final analysis, is pretty manageable. But that’s not the point.

The Apple-Samsung patent war, which — sadly — is probably far from over, raises once again the broader question over the basic efficacy and legitimacy of intellectual property law. Is patent and copyright protection socially beneficial? Is it even legitimate property right? Although this is a divisive issue, most people regard intellectual property (IP) rights, specifically patent and copyright, as legitimate property rights. Most people are wrong, and below I’ll show why.

Before I continue, let me point out that my ramblings on IP rights are a distant second best to the expositions of a true specialist, Stephen Kinsella. Kinsella, an attorney in Houston, is a regular contributor on Mises.org, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers. More importantly, he is the author of a seminal work on IP rights which can (and must!) be read here (only 50 or so short pages and free).  You can also get into his short summary articles here and here which also have extensive links to further reading.

IP rights are a suite of privileges granted by the state to successful applicants trying to secure patent, copyright, trademark or trade secret protection. In the case of patents and copyright, people are essentially granted property rights over ideas or patterns of ideas. Patents, for example, grant an inventor a limited monopoly on the manufacture, use and sale of his invention or process. Copyright is granted to creators of “original” works and grants exclusive right to the creator to reproduce, sell, and perform those works publicly.

The supposed legitimacy of patents and copyright in IP policy discourse essentially rests on two core pillars:

  1. That creation is sufficient basis for property rights; and
  2. That higher levels of investment (time and resources) in innovative and creative processes can be achieved if innovators/creators are granted the opportunity to earn exclusive monopoly profits for a period of time.

It is relatively easy to demonstrate that proposition 1 is logically false. If I break into my neighbour’s garage, steal some items belonging to him, and fashion a product from those items, is the product I created my property? Of course not — once caught I would immediately have my creation confiscated and the component parts returned to my neighbour. Creation is clearly therefore not a sufficient condition for property ownership. Moreover, creation is also not a necessary condition for property ownership since property — say, land — can come to be owned by acquisition in voluntary exchange (gift or purchase) or by first possession (original homesteading).

“Property rights” granted exclusively on the basis of creation are therefore illegitimate.

What then is the correct basis for determining property rights? To get to an answer to this we must ask another question: why do any property rights exist at all? Asked in another way, what purpose do property rights serve mankind? It is clear that property rights exist first and foremost to eliminate conflict over scarce resources. There is no property right over the air we breathe since practically it is non-scarce. In contrast, there are property rights in physical resources since these are scarce. If there was no scarcity, if all the finished consumer goods and services humans could possibly desire were infinitely supplied and appropriated for use at zero marginal cost or effort, there would not only be no need for property rights but no “economic problem” at all.

Therefore, the raison d’etre for any right to property is scarcity. Without scarcity there is no need for a property right.

Therefore, since the “creation” of an idea is an inadequate basis solely on which to establish property rights in ideas, proponents of intellectual property rights must somehow show that, at the very least, ideas are economically scarce goods. However, ideas are clearly non-scarce. One person’s idea can be adopted by another person without the first person’s use of the idea being affected in any way. While my use of certain physical resources necessarily excludes someone else from using those very same resources, ideas or patterns of ideas are not subject to this same constraint.

If creation is neither a necessary nor sufficient basis for property rights, and if ideas are non-scarce, then intellectual property rights, particularly those embodied in patents and copyright, are nothing more than illegitimate monopoly privileges granted arbitrarily by the state.

Sensing this inherent problem, many IP rights advocates revert to the utilitarian argument of core pillar number 2, which essentially states that: more innovation is better, and IP rights lead to more innovation.

Although this is one of the most popular defences of a regime of intellectual property rights, it fails miserably on a number of levels.

  1. The first is empirical: There is scant evidence to show that rates of innovation are higher under IP regimes. In fact, most studies are either inconclusive or show that IP laws actually hinder innovation.  See here, here, here, here, here and here.
  2. Cost-Benefit analysis: There is also very little understanding of the human and financial capital costs of creating, maintaining, administering and enforcing the patent and copyright system. How much money and how many man hours are spent on litigation, fines, licensing fees, legal experts and filing patents and copyrights with patent and copyright offices? These “direct costs” are seldom considered by utilitarian IP supporters, let alone measured in a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.
  3. Progress in industries without IP protection: The utilitarian argument also fails to explain how and why innovation took place prior to the advent of modern IP law and how some industries, most notably the fashion industry, remain highly innovative, dynamic and profitable with almost no meaningful IP protection.
  4. Non-protected rewards from innovation: The utilitarian viewpoint also grossly underestimates, if not ignores outright, the ability of innovators to reap handsome rewards from their innovations without IP protection by being first to market, using secret, hard-to-replicate formulas, innovative branding strategies, and the erection of other legitimate barriers to entry such as signing long-term service contracts with clients or creating spin-off products that are exclusively compatible or highly complementary (ironically, as Apple has done). Such rewards can be, and have historically been in certain instances, substantial.
  5. Giant leaps vs incremental innovation: In addition, the utilitarian argument ignores the ability of innovative processes to proceed along an incremental path as opposed to a process that proceeds in large leaps forward every few years. The assumption of pro-IP utilitarians is that inventors need to commit enormous resources and effort into research and development and therefore require the potential to earn protected, exclusive monopoly rewards. But in a non-IP world in which information and ideas are replicable and easily assimilated at much lower cost into existing R&D efforts, it is entirely conceivable, indeed likely, that innovation would proceed on a far more incremental, fluid, and, importantly, lower cost basis, requiring lower rewards in the marketplace to clear investment return hurdles.
  6. Malinvestment or overinvestment: Finally, this line of thinking assumes falsely that more R&D, invention and creation is necessarily better. Austrian business cycle theory has shown that when certain market prices are artificially distorted for any meaningful period of time, serious “malinvestments” can occur, leading to widespread entrepreneurial error that must eventually result in a painful bust and reallocation of productive resources to the production of goods and services most desired by consumers. More R&D, if it is the result of price incentives that would not necessarily have arisen in a free market (ie. arising from state-granted IP rights), and especially once it finds expression in actual physical capital investment, can be economically harmful and set in motion distortive forces within an economy that ultimately reduces or hampers overall subjective welfare.

Even if we were to concede for the sake of argument that there was merit in the utilitarian view, the IP rights advocate would still have to concede that, in order to achieve such utilitarian ends, a society would need to abandon the fundamental basis of property rights and require the state to enforce and uphold special privileged monopoly rights. It is strange, therefore, that many libertarians support the enforcing and protection of intellectual property rights, particularly in respect of patents and copyright, which require strong subversion of legitimate principles of property rights and a high degree of state intervention.

But this is not all. The following are even more reasons why we need to ditch intellectual property rights, especially as they are embodied in patents and copyright:

  1. Legally arbitrary: Legal purists should shudder at the thought of IP law regimes. The legislation and regulation governing patents and copyrights is entirely arbitrary. Why is copyright protected for 21 years and not 14 years, or 14 months? Who decides and on what sound juridicial basis? What constitutes something original? Isn’t everything a remix? Is it the first to file a patent or the first to invent? How do you prove the latter beyond reasonable doubt? What is “enough” time to be allowed to profit exclusively from an invention? What if someone else independently invents something already patented? The sore truth is that IP advocates cannot answer these questions with any legal rigour. The reason they cannot is that patents and copyright are bogus legal constructs.
  2. Diminishes real property rights: It gets worse. By granting illegitimate property rights in non-scarce things (ideas or patterns of ideas), the state grants patent holders, for example, the right to effectively take control over other people’s physical, scarce property. How? By allowing a patent holder the right to prevent others from copying his product ideas by using their own physical property, IP rights create a perverse unnatural extension of coercive property rights over the physical property of others. We can safely say, therefore, that IP rights are not only illegitimate property rights in and of themselves, but they actually diminish true property rights within society.
  3. Creates new pseudo property rights: The granting of pseudo rights in the case of most intellectual property law begets yet more pseudo rights. Patents and copyright, for example, imply the right to some future commercial value derived from inventions/creations, but since commercial market value is determined by subjective valuations of customers, this right would have to imply control over other people’s value judgments, which is entirely erroneous. Asserting a right to future commercial value purely on the basis of creation runs into the fallacy of the communist labour theory of value by suggesting that the mere act of work or labour establishes value.
  4. Retards economic progress by creating artificial scarcity: The very essence of economic progress is the elimination of scarcity through an ever greater division of labour. Since human needs and wants are practically unlimited, the elimination (or near-elimination to be precise) of scarcity in some goods allows us to channel time, effort and resources into meeting new, previously unmet needs, allowing us to live a more pleasurable existence. This process entails bringing to bear non-scarce knowledge onto scarce resources in order to arrange those resources in such a way as to achieve the highest valued ends in the most efficient ways. Without non-scarce knowledge, resource use would be highly myopic and inefficient and the division of labour would scarcely be possible. The non-scarcity of ideas is the only reason we are able to achieve any degree of prosperity in our natural, causal world of real resource scarcity. IP rights are therefore nothing more than an attempt to artificially establish scarcity where it does not naturally exist. This can only retard economic progress.

Apple’s “victory” over Samsung Electronics last week is really a victory for illegitimate, state-granted monopoly privilege over dynamic, competitive enterprise.

Copying isn’t theft.

The world is worse off for the system of intellectual privilege that may directly benefit a privileged few in the short run, but unambiguously harms us all in the long run.

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  • Dirk de Vos

    Great piece. We should aviod the use of the word “IP” entirely because, even now, the law does not recognise the limited monopoly right as “Property” anyway. Unfortunately, the use of the word property has a feed-back loop: firstly, it lulls us into thinking that the invention/design/creation concerned is near/quasi-property then, in the return loop, gets us to accord the invention/design/creation rights akin to property rights.

    Biotech might have an argument for lengthy protection of some sort because of long, expensive and risky R&D processes but consumer electronics that have a less than 5 year product cycle? That sort of thing just creates clutter like space junk and stifles innovation even if just by preventing the apocryphal

    “guy-in-th-garage” from even trying anything out in case he gets wacked by a random patent. Surely Apple knows it is about both design and execution?

  • James White

    Well, it is in fact not as plain as you make out that proposition 1 is false.
    Research the Roman Law principle of acquisition of ownership by specification, which “occurs when a person creates a nova species (a new product) which cannot be reduced to its original form out of materials which belong wholly or partly to another without there being any legal relationship between the parties” (per LAWSA). In some instances, even *with* mala fides, specification was enough to transfer ownership.
    The “old” owner who had his component parts stolen/removed would not have a claim in law for the restoration of possession of the thing, because he is no longer owner. He only has a personal claim against the thief/taker.

  • Rob

    Russel, you seem to have wasted an awful amount of time on an awfully over complicated incorrect argument.

    If we return to the two pillars of IP that you identified:

    1. In terms of common law, creation is sufficient to establish property rights over that nova species. Your counter argument is simply wrong, as the issue of bona fides is irrelevant to the concept of ownership, only to compensation. You may want to research the Roman Law concept of specification.

    2. The opportunity to earn exclusive monopoly profits for a period of time, afforded by IP protection, anticipated by a creator is the motivation required to invest the required resources.

    Simple. The pillars still stand and your argument falls flat.

  • Tun Jie Tan

    Although I know that the current patent system is fucked up. But it is the only motivation to give investors to fund technology. Come on, this world is ran on money and will run now and into the future too. Who wants to do something if there is no return. We always argue “open source”, “equality” “fairness” etc, but hey, this world is unfair on its own basis. Why are you eating hamburger while some others starve just because they are born into the wrong place on earth? We didn’t get the chance.
    What I want to say is, no matter how we put it, there will be a paradox of wanting something and dont want to pay for it VS Do or make something and expect something in return of human nature. I am surely you are aware of this fact. And FYI, art and ideas too is something too that needs time reach or achieve. Do you think that the design of the particular icon on your particular phone is just there by itself?? Do you even know how much time and resources an artists put into the design of the icon? And for trade’s sake, you do know of trademark or trade-trait? What Apple was trying to protect is the trade-trait of its own UI on the iOS that Apple spent billions building from scratch. And mind you building an OS from ground up, a good reliable and usable one takes years and consumes a lot of money. And the look and feel that gives and OS its identity, which is through the icons displayed on the device also takes time to do. Do you think that an artist just sleep through the night and suddenly wake up the next day and just came up with the icon you are seeing on the phone out of no where? NO. ART AND TECHNOLOGY TAKES TIME AND EFFORTS TO PRODUCE. What Samsung did was just copying. When I use copying it doesnt necessary mean same down to every bit 100% but when we say ART, it is the essence that gives an identity. What Samsung did was copying that essence, the identity of the OS Apple seemed to treasure. If they mimic but didnt copied the essence and identity of iOS. I doubt Apple would have any thing against Samsung.
    Also, given in this world of free trade, for many a time we have taken for granted what companies provided us with and before we know it, we are just taking for granted everything we have. Apple introduced a new way, a new design to smartphone, that is a welcome. Yeah, but what if companies just take their phone, without permission, copied the essence and the identity of the OS and marketed as their own, earning millions and billions with just little to no effort and investments compared to what the original company that came up with it? If you are the company would you think it is fair ??
    And the worst thing of all is , they copied without permission.
    What happens if all the companies just copied each other ? I wonder how long would it take if back before 2007 if Apple didn’t take the effort to come up with iPhone to get to what we are having now? Android would have gone with Blackberry style
    OF course we want cheap things, if possible, FREE but it is the human nature of wanting something back in return for our efforts but unfortunately, it is money for our society for now. If you really want to change all this IP efforts, go back to the draft board for the replacement for money.
    We have taken for granted too much of the things around us, the ideas the designs etc.
    How do we know that the earth orbits around the sun? Galileo went against the church to get this fact out. We just know it like it is built into us now.
    How do we get to all the things around us today? It was efforts of millions of scientists, famous or not for generations to give us what we have now today. We have rules and if we take everything for granted by just copying whatever we like, then there is no value in putting out ideas anymore. Companies won’t be innovating big anymore but just copying each others and put some upgrades. That’s it.
    See what Microsoft is doing now. It is doing something radical. It is creating its own identity. Efforts and R&D is obviously going on. What about Samsung? What radical changes does the R&D in Samsung phone department have slashed out so far? IF there are why are they not successful? Selling something and being successful is not something that can be done easily. Technology, marketing strategy and execution are vital. The whole thing is a failure with just a failure in one of them.
    But people just want easy money without much effort and most of the time we need to put effort to gain money, that is the paradox of human nature. Which is why we resort to something called COPYING.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    What about Samsung? What radical changes does the R&D in Samsung phone department have slashed out so far? IF there are why are they not successful?

    The Galaxy SIII? It’s the most successful smartphone ever made, taking comparative figures since launch. Yes, even more successful than the wildly successful iPhone 4S, which it happens to look nothing like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jan-Chrzciciel/100003375333006 Jan Chrzciciel

    The problem with IP is that the patent system assumes that all ideas are unique and that there cannot be independent conception of the same idea. This is patently wrong if one looks at how many simultaneous scientific discoveries have taken place.

    Secondly, may IP patents are based on IP which wasn’t patented, a simple example is Xerox pointing device which was ‘stolen’ by Apple. It would be very interesting if all mouse manufactures were to be sued for $1 Billion each.

  • Russell Lamberti

    @Rob, thanks for your comment. Your Roman Law
    references are difficult for me to understand without deeper study. One or two other commentors also use legal Latin phrases which is a little unhelpful to non-specialists like me and I’m sure many of the TC readers. I
    stick to normative law rather than positive law, since it is clear that laws
    ‘as they are’ can be poorly conceived or unjust. I recommend looking to
    see what a true legal expert like Stephen Kinsella says about these issues.
    It would probably be fruitful to ask him some of your questions (I link
    to his site in the article). I believe the sufficient requirement for
    ownership of a creation is to previously own the materials from which it is
    constructed. Hence an entrepreneur, not his employees, owns the inventory on his factory
    floor – and rightly so – even though his employees ‘created’ it. If he fails to pay them
    wages as agreed they do not have an ownership claim on the inventory, only on
    compensatory money income.
    Some may contend that you own your body/brain and hence the ‘intellectual creations’ that flow from that body/brain can be owned. I don’t believe this succeeds because in the ordinary case tangible resources are transformed/fashioned into tangible creations, while in this case a tangible thing (body/brain) is able to conceive of (rather than transform/fashion per se) an intangible thing. The ‘owned-created’ link is not the same as with tangible resources. What are the ‘inputs’ that produce an idea ‘output’? Thought is one, but that thought is only possible because of other outside thoughts. We cannot objectively know what portion of an idea is original and what is not. Moreover, we cannot even know whether it is original at all since we cannot know what all previous idea are. This is why I backed up my discussion of the insufficiency of creation with the issue of tangible resource scarcity as the fundamental raison d’etre of property rights. Since ideas are non-scarce intangible goods there is no need or justification to grant property rights in them.
    So, I believe the argument for the insufficiency of creation for establishing a property right remains solid.

    I don’t believe your second comment is relevant to the debate since
    I’m not contending that patent monopolies don’t provide a particular
    incentive to investors who expect to be able to exploit the privilege, but rather that such state-granted incentives are
    either not necessary to boost aggregate innovation levels, may actually hamper overall innovation levels (empirically supported), may cost more than the benefits, and can create
    harmful market distortions. The onus is on the pro-IP camp to explain why, for example, industries without (or with very little) patent and copyright protection still manage to thrive, create large profits, attract investment, and generate high levels of innovation. In many ways your statement helps me reiterate some of my points in the article. You say a creator should be given the right to earn monopoly profits “for a period.” What period? How long? The decision is arbitrary. Arbitrary justice. You then say that IP creates the incentives required to “invest the required resources.” This is merely speculation on your part. Again, since IP is a contrived property right, th onus is on the pro-IP camp to show how IP helps innovation. How much are the required resources? Surely for some investments not even patents can provide the required incentives. Does that mean patent periods should be extended? By how much? When do we stop extending them? Once again, these are all legally and economically arbitrary considerations. The main point here is that your second statement disregards real world evidence that innovation thrives without patents.
    I strongly recommend the book “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Michele Boldrin and David Levine for a superb discussion and presentation on the evidence for the efficacy of IP regimes. Their survey of the evidence is impressive and is a strong utilitarian challange to the legitimacy of IP law.
    Take care.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the debate Russel. I must firstly disclose that I have a LLM (Intellectual Property) from Stellenbosch University and am still actively involved with the university as a contributor to the newly formed IP Research Fund.

    I am going to stick to the two pillars of IP identified (else this reply will exhaust any TC reader that cares to scroll this far down the page):

    1. Modern law of property is based on Roman Law of property, and, therefore, according to our law system, Roman Law remains our point of departure.

    If we now return to your attempt in proving this proposition (that creation is sufficient basis for property rights) logically false; you are incorrect. Only if the nova species (the something new that you have “fashioned” from the “stolen items”) could be reduced to its former component parts (i.e. those “stolen items”) without excessive difficulty or expense would those component parts be returned to your owner. If the nova species was irreducible, it would be held to belong to you, the creator.

    2. Let us refer to the fashion industry here. Firstly, the fashion industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars protecting their respective intellectual property (i.e. trademarks and copyright). With regard to the perceived lack of design protection afforded within the fashion industry, the World Intellectual Property Organisation recently called for stricter intellectual property enforcement within the industry to better protect small and medium businesses and promote competitiveness within the industry. The US’s New Intellectual Property Bill aims to do just this, affording protection of a design for three years after it has been produced.

    I admit that my argument may disregard the “real world evidence that innovation thrives without patents”, however, it certainly does not disregard the real world evidence that business without intellectual property would not thrive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerome-Bigge/100003095962760 Jerome Bigge

    There is also the issue of international copyright and patent laws which I suspect do hinder technical development. If copyright and patient are limited to the nation in which the holder lives, then that individual or corporation will still enjoy “protection” against anyone copying the work in the country in which the holder lives. The law would also prevent import of items created using the owner’s copyright or patent, but these items could be legally produced and sold in any other country. The same would hold true in that copyrighted and patented items say created by China could be copied by Americans and sold here in the US, but could not be exported to China. In this way every country is free to “reverse engineer” another country’s copyrighted and patented items for use in its own country, but could not export these items to back to the country that first issued the copyright and patent on the item. Each and every country could thus copy any other nation’s copyrighted and patented items, but the inventor in each country would still receive the benefits of copyright and patent protection in their own country. This was by the way the way that it used to be done at one time. The inventor was “protected” and could earn his or her “profit” off the item in question from the people of his or her country. But the copyright and patent would end at the national border. Without international copyright and patent, development would process by inventors in one country building upon the inventions from another and so forth. Overall the rate of development would be increased from what it is today. A good example of this is Internet browsers. I’m using Google Chrome because it works better than Windows Internet Explorer. If Microsoft had been able to get a patent on Internet browsers, we’d all be stuck with Internet Explorer. Nor would Microsoft have as much “incentive” to create better versions of its browser if it didn’t have competition! Something to think about at least…

  • http://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/ PeaceRequiresAnarchy

    I don’t understand what your argument is for the legitimacy of intellectual property. Did you provide an argument for IP or are are your comments here only arguing that Russell Lamberti’s arguments that IP is not genuine property fail?

    You wrote: “1. In terms of common law, creation is sufficient to establish property rights over that nova species.”

    Rather than dispute your claim, let’s just say for the sake of argument that you are correct. What bearing does that have on the IP discussion?

    My guess is that your argument for IP would be something like:

    1. Creation is sufficient to establish property rights
    2. People create ideas
    3. Therefore, people who create ideas gain ownership over said ideas.

    If that is your argument for IP then I would say that the argument fails because the second premise is false. People do not create ideas: they create physical things using information, knowledge or ideas that they either learned themselves or learned from others.

    Allow me to quote a comment by Roderick Long (http://c4sif.org/2012/06/schulman-if-you-copy-my-novel-ill-kill-you/#comment-9706):

    “In any case, what an author “creates” is actually a discovery — the
    discovery that words can be arranged in just this way with just these
    effects. The possibility of arranging words that way always existed;
    the author didn’t produce it. What the author produced is the
    particular bits of ink and paper they’ve arranged that way — which of
    course is their property, and is not imperiled by anyone else’s copying
    it. But the abstract pattern is something the author discovered, in
    just the same way that someone discovered the principle of the lever.
    And once you see me use a lever, and so you too now have that
    information, if I then forbid you to use that knowledge to move your own
    rocks around, I’m aggressing.

    Intellectual “property” amounts to the threat: “don’t use the
    knowledge in your own head to rearrange your own property as you see
    fit, or I’ll assault you.””

    Basically, the “ideas” that IP advocates claim people can own are really just possible arrangements of physical property. If I own a piece of paper and a pencil then I can put the graphite on my piece of paper in a very detailed pattern or arrangement. I can make patterns of graphite that people can recognize as words, etc. My view is that if someone owns the piece of paper and the pencil then they have the right to use their pencil to put whatever patterns of words on the paper as they want. If they happen to be the first person in the world to create a certain pattern/arrangement on the paper using the pencil that does not give them the right to prevent others from creating the same or similar patterns/arrangements using their own paper and pencil or street and chalk or computer and monitor. When someone uses their pencil to make a pattern/arrangement of graphite on their paper that nobody else has made before, that does not mean that they have created an idea. If someone thinks up an essay and writes it down, they have not created the idea of the essay. They have created a physical manifestation of the essay and have made the discovery that if they arrange their property according to the same pattern that they arranged their words on their initial piece of paper then they will achieve such and such effects. They have simply gained knowledge. If someone else gains that knowledge by independently discovering it on their own (e.g. by independently inventing something that someone else has already invented without knowledge of the original inventor/inventions), then they have the right to arrange their physical property according to that pattern. And also, if someone else gains that knowledge by looking at the physical manifestation of the pattern then the first person made by writing the essay down on the paper then hey also still have the right to arrange their own property according to that pattern.

    You have the right to write down whatever you want on your piece of paper or on your computer. You do not lose the right to write down certain things due to my act of writing things down here at my house. If you disagree, I would love to hear your reasons/arguments why. Thanks. Peace.

  • Janneman27

    I agree. @rob, your argument is technically invalid as Dirk states. You may have an LLM, but according to what I learned as part of my MA (also at SU) in formal logic, arguments based on statements a posteriori are invalid. Your arguments are indeed (or at least seem to be, as far as I can interpret) based on a posteriori evidence and thus are invalid. I hope – for the sake of humanity as a whole – that IP laws aren’t based on invalid arguments. To me it seems like it may be.

  • justin spratt

    superb post Russell

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    Great article! Russell is spot on re: ”
    There is scant evidence to show that rates of innovation are higher under IP regimes. ” I believe the IP canard is simply a way to use the coercion of the state to benefit the special interests that control the apparatus. We are wasting hundreds of billions of dollars a year in IP wars that could be better spent on developing better products. It’s no wonder we haven’t got flying cars yet.

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