Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


Against Intellectual Monopoly

As some reader may know, Michele Boldrin and I have been working on a book about intellectual property, titled "Against Intellectual Monopoly." There we make the case that without the artificial protection of patent and copyright competition functions best, and that patent and copyright do little or nothing to increase innovation and creation. Since they do plenty of other harm: we conclude that it would be best to do away with the entire mess. If you are interested in the details, we've just released the latest version on line at http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm.

The book is to be published (yes under copyright...but under our contract there will continue to be a free version available online) by Cambridge University Press - probably to appear in about a year's time.


Just asking for clarification of the point regarding the constitution in the introduction. The constitution states that "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries".

In the new edition you have added a point that "The U.S. Constitution is explicit that what is to be given to authors and inventors is an exclusive right – a monopoly. Implicit is the idea that giving this monopoly serves to promote the progress of science and useful arts."

My reading is that the granting of the monopoly right is dependent upon the first point, that is this granting must promote the progress of science and useful arts. Your interpretation seems to lower the value of the first statement to nothing, you seem to be saying that it is irrelevant whether the granting of a monopoly "promotes the progress of science and useful arts", it is merely an aside.

And this does make a difference as it gives a point to attack the whole basis of IP law. If the supporters of the law cannot show that their laws "promote the progress of science and useful arts" then the law is unconstitutional. And the wording seems to indicate that the onus is on the proponents of the law to prove this promotion rather than being on the opponents to prove that the law doesn't promote.

Just curious.

This wasn't intended as a legal interpretation - rather as a statement that the writers of the constitution seem to hold the theory that giving a monopoly might serve to promote the progress of science and useful arts. Rereading it - it would probably be better if we had used the words "might serve" rather than "serves," so (since I'm sure we'll get a chance to make a few corrections) we'll do that.

Unfortunately the courts - whose interpretation matters - have treated the words about promoting progress as an aside. To me you interpretation seems correct: if the laws don't serve that purpose they should be unconstitutional.

Is there any chance that this book be offered in a single PDF file, instead of 1290832?

OK, chapters 1-10 will go up tomorrow as a single (1.2M) pdf file at http://www.dklevine.com/papers/anew.all.pdf

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