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(Minor) Criticisms of Kinsella


For an Austrian II class we read Kinsella's famous "Against Intellectual Property." I generally found it to be every bit worth the hype, but naturally I can't help but offer a few criticisms. I do so here on this blog because I don't know of a more appropriate forum:

(1) On pages 18-19, Kinsella paints a horrifying picture of an IP world. But isn't this a utilitarian argument, that Kinsella had earlier denounced when coming from pro-IP people? Also, isn't it a cheap shot to talk of the "lucky, rich" heirs of those who have good ideas (when castigating an IP world)? I could just as easily denounce the homestead principle by saying ten generations from now, anyone who wants to grow food must first receive permission from the lucky, rich heirs of people who stumbled across virgin farmland.

(2) On page 43, Kinsella says that someone actively soliciting a trade secret could be punishable, in the same way that a mafia boss who orders a hit is committing a crime. But doesn't this give far more scope to contractual copyright infringement? E.g. kids downloading songs know that they're facilitating somebody's breaking of a contract with the music label, etc.

(3) I was a bit disappointed with the appendix, and its list of absurd IP claims. I have heard of far more ridiculous claims than the ones Kinsella lists. Is it just that they occurred after his article was written? (Again, these are the only 3 problems I had with what was an otherwise amazing article.)

Robert P. Murphy is a Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute and Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University. He is the author of many books. His latest is Contra Krugman: Smashing the Errors of America's Most Famous Keynesian. His other words include Chaos Theory, Lessons for the Young Economist, and Choice: Cooperation, Enterprise, and Human Action (Independent Institute, 2015) which is a modern distillation of the essentials of Mises's thought for the layperson. Murphy is co-host, with Tom Woods, of the popular podcast Contra Krugman, which is a weekly refutation of Paul Krugman's New York Times column. He is also host of The Bob Murphy Show.

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