Thursday, March 12, 2009

End the Copyright?

Jeffrey Tucker of the Mises Institute has been waging a one-man campaign against the concept of Intellectual Property Rights. It's one of those ideas you initially throw out in garbage. Absurd. But then you start to think about it, and you begin to wonder how much merit is in it.

That's the stage I'm in right now. Regrettably, it's also a rather dull topic, so the "I'll consider it" stage can last a very long time.

Especially when there are more entertaining and gripping issues like Mark-to-Market Accounting occupying spare waking thoughts.

(Gaarr, I for one never thought a concept like Mark-to-Market would even break through my subconscious barriers, let alone demand to be learned. It's for the children though, and wanting to know just what kind of a barren future they will face).

But once an idea is accepted for critical review, you begin to notice references in other places. And they start to make sense.

Michael Williams writes: In the end, it's impossible to own numbers. Since numbers are used to represent everything stored digitally, it seems impossible to me that copyright as we now know it can continue to exist.

Hmmm. But what happens if our conceptions of Intellectual Property are abolished?

Jeff Tucker explains:

Consider also what the above critic presumes about how markets work in a world without intellectual monopolies. Consumers all sit around wanting something and wanting to pay for it. It could be a new song or a cool painting or something as simple as a q-tip. Entrepreneurs all over the country know that consumers want these things but they refuse to bring them to market for fear of being copied by the next guy. As a result, everyone just sits around doing nothing.

Is this really a realistic scenario? All experience suggests that in a vibrant economy, entrepreneurs go looking for unmet demands. This is what they live for. IP is not necessary to bring about this result, else there would not have been any economic growth in the entire world until recent years when IP began to its march to ubiquity.

Something to think about while the market is on a slight and temporary uptick...

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