Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Newton's Fig

Interesting blog musings on IP by Vincent McAffrey, in "Newton's Fig."

I cannot tell whether he is anti-IP or not, but he seems to be leaning that way.


The important thing though is whether he's against monopoly.

There's not much point in abolishing monopolies over IP, if you then find that you can't sell your IP in a free market - because an anti-IP legislator has gone and abolished intellectual property too!

Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I don't need a monopoly over the reproduction of the new drug I've designed, but I'd at least like it recognised as my property so I can sell it to the highest bidder.


How could an anti-IP legislator abolish someone's intellectual property (so called)? Presumably he would vote against patents and copyrights, etc. If he were on the winning side of an anti-IP vote, and patents and copyrights, etc. were thereby abolished (excuse me while I let out a PRIMAL SCREAM), how would this prevent someone from selling his IP in a free market?

If you invent a drug, the absence of a patent on it in no way negates the fact that you were its inventor. And if you did patent it, it might in fact be true that you weren't the inventor of it, for someone else could have beaten you to it and not have patented it. That person might not even be known to have invented it.

Presumably, in the absence of IP rights, you could try to sell the tangible property containing your IP on the free market.

In the absence of property rights in houses, I could still try to sell the soil it was built on for a higher price.

In the absence of property rights in wine, I could still try to sell the bottle.

So, the absence of a property right in intellectual works doesn't prevent all trade per se. Still, a property right in intellectual work is useful.

If there's no such thing as intellectual property how can I sell it?

Otherwise, I'll try and someone will simply fail to carry out their end of the bargain: "Oh, sorry, what did you want this money for? IP? Sorry mate you've been suckered - I ain't paying you for that software. Here have your DVD back (your material property). What do you mean I've kept a copy of your IP? IP doesn't exist - haven't you heard the news?"

One doesn't need an unethical monopoly in software, but one still has a natural right for it to be recognised as one's intellectual property.

Let's not allow the abuse of IP to cover the extension of natural IP with the unnatural privilege of a reproduction monopoly.

If there's no such thing as intellectual property how can I sell it?

You equate anything with an intellectual component (like there are things that are not created with any thought, although I have no idea what they are, and neither do you) to IP. That means there is IP, in your version of how the world works. So if you offer some such good (like a book, which is IP in your view) for sale, and someone buys it, you have sold it, where it is IP. QED.

I think you are playing unhelpful and frankly confusing word games.

I ask again (the the umpteenth time) how do you distinguish a good which is IP (like a book) and one which is not IP? You still haven't answered this question. I claim there is no valid or useful distinction between the two sets of goods absent a law granting someone a monopoly over producing or copying something, which is then defined as IP.

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