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The Growing Anti-IP Movement

July 13, 2006

It's really something how much growing opposition there seems to be to intellectual property, particularly patent and copyright. I suspect one thing that is happening is as technology ever-more-rapidly changes and becomes part of our world, and with the digitization of information and media, and the Internet, the costs and injustices that have been caused all along by patent and copyright are becoming more visible and perhaps more extensive. So there is a rising chorus of people—especially young people—who just say, "That's just BS!" Think about it: pretty frequently there is some commentary about some IP abuse or horror story; but you almost never hear any defense of IP, or any example of its supposed success stories. The only advocates of IP seem to be Disney's lawyers.

Case in point to the changing IP climate—I just received, out of the blue, a call from Jesse Brown, the host of the Canadian CBC (their version of NPR) radio program "The Contrarians" — "a radio show about unpopular ideas that just might be right. Each week, host Jesse Brown invites listeners to step outside of their intellectual comfort zones and try an unorthodox opinion on for size. You may be surprised by what starts making sense."

He was aware of my anti-IP views (no doubt due to the growing prominence of Mises.org) and that I'm a patent lawyer, and interviewed me for about 20 minutes, furiously taking notes. I think they are considering doing a show on this. What I found striking was how intelligent his questions were, and that he was perfectly okay with my focus being based on a principled, libertarian, property rights view—not the standard wealth-maximization/utilitarian type argument. Anyway, stay tuned!

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