Re: Re: Very good discussion by me of Intellectual Property Rights ;-)
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 14:05:36 EST

Notwithstanding Hal's moderate and reasonable defense of intellectual property as merely one sort of property that society might create, problems plague the argument. Hal wrote:

>If society wants to define a kind
>of property that lasts only a finite amount of time, there is nothing
>inherently contradictory in that.

Societies do not want anything, however. They lack the coherence necessary to entertain intentional states. Certain individuals within a given society may want strong intellectual property rights, of course. And those same individuals may-indeed, do--persuade legislative bodies to create such rights. But that says nothing of the aggregate or individual interests of other, less politically connected parties.

>We already have other kinds of economic
>relationships with limited lifespans, like leases and loans. There is
>nothing wrong with extending this notion to property, if the participants
>agree that they are benefitted by it.

Leases and loans grow out of contract law and bind only the parties to such agreements. Intellectual property, in contrast, extends its reach to parties who take no part in legislative log-rolling. It moreover interferes with preexisting property rights in person and tangible property.

If *all* the participants to a particular body expressly agreed to create some sort of intellectual property regime amongst themselves, none of these objections would arise. But legislatures cannot boast that sort of relationship to their subjects, rendering the laws creating intellectual property somewhat suspect.

T.0. Morrow