Intellectual Property (IP) In Propertarianism

[H]ere is where I end up. And it hasn’t changed much in two years.

1) Trademarking.
Yes. It’s a weight and measure. And it’s testable. Violating trademarks is fraudulent.

2) Copyrighting.
Possibly – but only if under the model of the creative commons. Meaning free for non commercial use. I don’t care about patents anywhere near as much as I care about ending copyrights on user copyable media. It is very, very, hard to argue that pop music, film and literature are a public good – and I think the evidence is the opposite.  Artists and writers will do their work regardless of compensation, and without compensation those who lack are will be dis-incentivized from producing it.

The difference between my position on copyrighting and the rothbardian, is that since high trust is necessary for the rational voluntary formation of even a moderately anarchic polity, then the criteria for moral action necessary for a high trust society will be: “Truthfully stated, fully informed, warrantied, productive, voluntary exchange, free of negative externality” – and those criteria are violated by commercially profiting from the creative works of another.

While it is hard to say that one should be cast as a criminal for duplicating a non-scarce good, it is another to say that one has the right to profit from it instead of its creator. It would violate the requirement that we all contribute to production rather than act parasitically in order for cooperation to be inter-temporally rational. (ie: Non-retaliatory.)

I can’t agree that a publisher can make money selling a book without a commission to the author. But I can agree that an author cannot prevent the copying of a book. Same for film, music, and art. And I take this position not because I like it but because I cannot logically find an alternative to it. Humans will retaliate against parasitism, and that is what defines property-en-toto.

3) Patents.
Possibly in rare circumstances, but only for very, very, specific public (Citizen-Shareholder) investments that would not be served by the market otherwise. It is arguable that such criteria is not in fact meaningfully similar enough to a patent to call it patenting. But the idea of funding off-book research and development at private expense in hope of public reward is difficult to morally argue against – particularly in medicine and physical science. If we wanted to put a ten billion dollar bounty on the invention of a fusion reactor that met X criteria it is hard to say that wouldn’t be a good investment.

Again, I am not sure that this qualifies as a ‘patent’, but to prohibit a voluntarily organized polity from offering a market bounty for the off book production of a high risk good is hard to find argument against.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine.