Re: royalties without copyright--the historical case

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 17:04:20 -0800 (PST)

Lee Daniel Crocker writes:
>> As this example suggests, whether alternatives to IP protection work, and
>> how well, depends on details of the associated technology. Certainly there
>> are alternatives. But I don't think one can say, a priori, whether relying
>> on them will produce plenty of intellectual property, an inefficiently but
>> not catastrophically low level, or practically none--it depends.
>That argument can apply to any government interference in the market.
>What one considers an "adequate level" of invention and writing is just
>as debateable as what one considers an adequate level of food or
>housing. Libertarians generally concede that free-market solutions
>work for all other goods. Why not for inventions? ...
>I think it is still fair to assume on principle that interference is
>unnecessary until proven otherwise, and the proof is just not there.

"Proof" is never going to be there. If this is your position, you
needn't concern yourself with all these economic details.

There must be economic models somewhere which imply that states should
provide food and housing. If the existence of models on both sides of
an issue implied we could conclude nothing about that issue, then
economic modeling would be pretty useless. The point is that there
are widely accepted standards for judging which models are more
reasonable. Some assumptions are more reasonable than others, and
some modeling techniques suggest less robust results than others.

The model David Friedman offered which may suggest state support for
IP seems more reasonable to me than any model I've every heard of
regarding state provided housing and food. A more plausible model
implies a stronger case for the model implications.

Robin D. Hanson