Jeffrey Tucker: On Intellectual Property

“The phrase intellectual property just has to go. because it doesn’t actually make any sense. The only property I can really claim to have in my ideas are the ideas I am thinking or maybe staying in a room of total isolation, but the minute, the minute, the instant, the instant anybody else hears of them, yes I retain that idea but I’ve shared the idea, now that idea has been put into the commons, it is potentially at a point where anyone of the people who hears it or has recorded it, it is potentially powerful enough to take over the whole planet, for all time. That is the truth of ideas and that is the miraculous aspect of ideas. Yes I retain total ownership of it, but I share ownership rights with the whole of humanity. And no kind of preposterous law is going to prevent that as we’ve learnt in the digital age, intellectual property rights (probably regarded next to war) as the second most dangerous thing because you’ve got the State directly dealing, intervening, to control the Thing that makes History Tick. And that is an unbelievable power and some incredibly presumption and as we have seen recently is the basis of massive violation of human liberty. ”

“Property rights and ideas have essentially nothing to do with each other. IP represents an attack on property rights. Because it binds certain parties to things that don’t agree with, it always represents an attack on property rights. Now what if I as a private producer decides to, tries to, attempts to prevent my potentially infinite good restricted in its distribution? And the answer to that is of course I can. There is nothing wrong with that. Just say I decided to put this video behind a paywall. Hey better cough up some money to me. Does that make me immoral? Well No! Of course not. It’s perfectly fine but I as a private producer has to provide the means of exclusion. I can’t rely on the State to do this. It is only the State that causes the IP to exist at all or to perpetuate itself. To the extent that private producers want to restrict access to their software? To Music? To whatever they want to restrict, that’s fine. It’s no different from if I were to hold a private dinner party and I said, “Hey whatever happens at this dinner party? Let’s just keep it to ourselves.” That’s fine. If somebody says, “Hey buddy! That’s a restriction on the communism of ideas by telling me that I can’t—” …. well maybe I should kick you out of my dinner party! “

  • Jeffrey Tucker