Some books on ‘Intellectual Property’

You have probably heard about, and even read Lawrence Lessig’s book – “Free Culture – How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity” (find it here).

There is another anti-ip book which Jeffrey Tucker at the Mises Blog has been doing a series of posts – reviewing, chapter by chapter – on; “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. You can find it here. I can’t comment on it since I haven’t read it yet; however, in the final post of the series, Tucker writes-

I said at the beginning of this series that it has taken me fully six years to think through these issues. The book by Boldrine and Levine broke through the reservations I had that remained. In the meantime, I’ve received hundreds of messages to the effect that other readers have made the jump too. Whatever is holding you back, I beg to you read this account. I personally consider it to be one of the most mind-blowing books I’ve ever encountered, and so now I join the armies of people who are demanding an end to a system that threatens our way of life in the most fundamental way.

For this reason, this book is seminal, not only for our times for the entire history of liberty. It has clarified a point that has been a source of confusion for many years, and put it front and center in the current debate.

It might need correcting in places and I have my own knits to pick over their neoclassical framework and talk of social costs and the like, but these are petty concerns as compared with the overall framework. What they have done is marvelous and extremely important.

My position on anything beyond basic property rights is fluid – I haven’t made up my mind. While the libertarian position on property rights – at least the few that I have read – is based on “scarcity,” I tend to agree with the moral premise of Ayn Rand’s defense of IP in her essay “Patents and Copyrights” (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal; couple of paras available here) – “Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.”, but I am not sure how it can be legally implemented. I think everyone will agree with one thing though – the modern IPR enforcement system is an unmitigated disaster.

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