The Evils of Intellectual Property
So, I invent the ultimate mouse trap that will eliminate every rogue mouse roaming the houses of the world, leaving mice to the only thing they’re good for; display in either museums or in a zoo. I pack up my design and take it to a producer for further testing and production, when, suddenly, everything is stopped. Some lawyer in a suit and tie tells you, officially, that Mr. Big Corp had already patented the mouse trap. No one else could make or even improve the original mouse trap without asking Mr. Big Corp. And, if you tried, you would have everything you own taken from you to satisfy Mr. Big Corp. So, once again, you head back for your laboratory, despairing, hoping that your next invention wasn’t copyrighted, well, out of existence.
Now we come to the crux of the matter. Can ideas be owned?
There is an old saying that goes like this; “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” Its too true. The only way you can keep a secret is if you alone have the secret. This goes for anything; even for something you can make money with. The inventor who makes a profit from an invention isn’t benefiting himself primarily if he makes a profit; he’s really benefiting society as a whole by giving them some other gadget. The profit is his reward. Who wants to withhold a great idea from the world?
Movies and books are basically information, an idea, that has been developed and given, usually at a cost, to the viewers or readers. If I pay to go to a theater and watch a movie, that idea comes into my head. I now have it. Can the government legitimately come into my head and tell me what to think and what not to think? I think not. Rather, that is an enormous violation of my property rights. I literally bought the rights to the idea in that movie when I went to the theater. No one can tell me what to do with my mind, since no one can tell me what to do with my body. People who claim that power are not just criminal but tyrannical.
If you come up with an amazing idea, and someone else has the info, it is now his knowledge. He is free to do whatever he wants with it, and whatever he does will benefit society. As Jeffrey Tucker says so well (the link to the article is below), “but what you are not permitted to do in a free market is use violence in the attempt to create an artificial scarcity,” and that is what Intellectual Property does. Rob, kill, steal, and destroy; its all that the state can do. And until people realize that, the economy and society can never be truly free.
Below is an example of how Intellectual Property destroyed an idea. The idea was great, it had a lot of traction, and then, for fear of lawsuit, they had to quit. They didn’t harm anyone, or steal anything. They just broke the arbitrary IP laws.
Go here for a good article by Jeffrey Tucker on Intellectual Property: http://mises.org/daily/2632
Apologies to everyone who’s intellectual property rights were unintentionally violated by this post.