The Mickey Mouse world of intellectual property
April 24, 2016 § 33 Comments
I don’t have strong views about intellectual property. Modern understandings of property and commerce are perverse, immoral, and unreal. It seems likely that at least some of what IP law sanctions, asserts, and prohibits goes against the natural law. But I haven’t personally done the due diligence required to credibly advance particular arguments about particular laws or practices.
The sovereign is, qua sovereign, the ‘owner’ of certain marketplaces: that is, he sets the terms upon which transactions are permitted and carried out in the marketplaces over which he is sovereign.
Cash – or more specifically, sovereign-issued currency – entitles the bearer to engage in certain kinds of taxable transactions in the sovereign’s marketplaces. (People often use it for non-taxable transactions too, and in other marketplaces owned by different sovereigns: insulin is valuable for barter in trade by non-diabetics).
Fiat currency does not authorize all conceivable transactions, of course: various transactions such as selling yourself outright into slavery are not “allowed” (that is, enforced); and usurious contracts are allowed/enforced but should not be.
Intellectual property, then, is like a lease or easement in the sovereign’s markets. Leases and easements are a kind of financial security, that is, claims against property. A patent permits the patent holder to sell the patented invention in the sovereign’s marketplaces, while forbidding other parties to sell the patented invention. A patent, then, is a financial security; the property against which it entitles a specific claim is the sovereign’s marketplaces.
It is similar to Disney allowing only Starbucks to sell coffee in Disneyland. When you are in Disneyland, you must commercially transact within the rules of Disneyland.
 Modern economists use the label “money” to refer to many essentially different kinds of security: actual paper currency, individual currency-denominated claims against the balance sheets of banks, bank claims agains the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve, etc etc. All mainstream modern economic theories — Austrian, Keynesian, Chicago, MMT, Labor Theory of Value, etc — are metaphysically anti-realist, that is, are disconnected from reality and therefore insane and incoherent. In fact I am not personally aware of any metaphysically realist economic theory (an economic theory which competently distinguishes between imaginary reality and actual reality) at all, mainstream or fringe.