Posts Tagged: IP


Where Books Are Banned, The Internet Can Be a Lifesaver

The censorship or banning of books is a phenomenon that occurs in countries around the world. Books that are considered “scandalous” or inciteful in some way are often targets of censorship by governments, schools, libraries and other entities.

In the United States, as NPR explains, books have historically been banned for violence and sexual content, as well as profanity, and continue to be banned by individual school districts. In Australia, the sale of certain books—such as Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho—is restricted to readers 18 and over. In Egypt, books challenging the political status quo are often targets of censorship. Amazon maintains a list of countries where particular books cannot be shipped. And the list goes on.

For individuals living in countries with high levels of censorship, the Internet has become a means for circumventing restrictions on book sales. Access to online bookstores and platforms like Kindle have, for example, helped people in China get around the infamous Great Firewall. New platforms like Oyster provide reading materials in English that might not be available for purchase, either due to censorship or lack of demand. And free platforms like Project Gutenberg create access where cost or censorship is an issue.

But for some, these workarounds have restrictions as well. …


More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free

It’s hard (if not impossible) to know just how prevalent this practice is, but some college students around the country are uploading their expensive college textbooks onto the Internet so other students can download them for free and avoid the hefty fees that are sometimes more than $200 a book. has a story titled “Why College Students are Stealing Their Textbooks,” which notes that some students are even downloading them for ethics classes.

The cost to students of college textbooks skyrocketed 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress. As a result, students have been looking for less expensive options, such as renting books — and, now, finding them on the Internet, uploaded by other students.

In August, an organization called the Book Industry Study Group, which represents publishers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, librarians and others in the industry, released a survey of some 1,600 students and found, according to a release on the data, that “students continue to become more sophisticated in acquiring their course materials at the lowest cost as illicit and alternative acquisition behaviors, from scanned copies to illegal downloads to the use of pirated websites, continue to increase in frequency.” …


EFF to Testify at Congressional Hearing on Unintended Consequences of DMCA

'Anti-Circumvention' Provisions Harm Users, Researchers, Innovators, and More

Washington, D.C. - Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry will testify Wednesday at a congressional hearing on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the dangerous “anti-circumvention” provisions that harm users, researchers, innovators, and more.

The anti-circumvention language of Section 1201 of the DMCA has been used to threaten those who unlock or jailbreak their phones, block aftermarket competition in toner cartridges and video came console accessories, and narrow the public’s fair use rights. In her testimony Wednesday, McSherry will argue that the costs of this law far outweigh the benefits, and that best way to fix Section 1201 is to get rid of it entirely. Short of that, the anti-circumvention provisions should be reformed so that it is focused clearly on copyright infringement.

Wednesday’s hearing is part of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. …


"Why am I making such a big deal of this? Surely, Rothbard understood that if you mix your labor with inputs you legitimately own, then you necessarily also own the outputs. My concern is that his repeated references to the producers’ ideas, as though they are essential to establishing ownership, introduce confusion into his analysis. He inadvertently reinforces the erroneous notion underlying patents and other forms of so-called intellectual property (IP). Someone who believes that ideas are essential to establishing ownership of products might be tempted to think that ideas themselves are products subject to ownership. Ridding ownership theory of the intellectual element will help to avert the IP mistake. (Again, this is not to deny that ideas are important to all human action.)"


C4SS Feed 44 presents Dawie Coetzee's “There is More to Industrial Enclosure than Patents” read and edited by Nick Ford.

I wonder about the motivation in forgoing these patents, given that many are relatively toothless. Tesla obviously wishes to play the heroic underdog, to imply solidarity with the open-source movement despite operating in an industry legally effectively prohibited from embracing open-source methods in any meaningful way. Open-source becomes trivial when subject to the sort of model conformity which a type-approval regime requires. The resulting lack of diversity of possibility and ad-hoc flexibility is analogous to the difference between representative democracy (let’s all vote on what same things all of us are going to be required to do) and anarchy (let’s all do different things, as and when we variously choose.) Hence, no technological change but only political change is capable of changing the motor industry. Tesla’s very existence counts against them.

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How “Intellectual Property” Impedes Competition

Any consideration of “intellectual property rights” must start from the understanding that such “rights” undermine genuine property rights and hence are illegitimate in terms of libertarian principle. Real, tangible property rights result from natural scarcity and follow as a matter of course from the attempt to maintain occupancy of physical property that cannot be possessed by more than one person at a time.

“Intellectual property,” on the other hand, creates artificial scarcity where it does not naturally exist and can only be enforced by invading real, tangible property and preventing the owner from using it in ways that violate the supposed intellectual property rights of others. As Stephan Kinsella points out, had a particularly gifted Cro-Magnon man been able to patent the building of log cabins, his heirs today would be entitled to prevent us from building cabins on our own land, with our own logs, until we paid whatever tribute they demanded. …


These four articles include provocative looks at the copyrighting of digital culture and the rising global struggle against it. “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto” is the work of Aaron H. Swartz (1986–2013), a young brilliant hacker and information-justice activist driven to suicide in January 2013 by a long campaign of abuse by an out-of-control federal prosecutor. Additional essays include “Thoughtcrime” (2003) by market anarchist philosopher Roderick T. Long, the“Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” (1994) from the Cypherpunks FAQ, and the memorial “Aaron Swartz and Intellectual Property’s Bitter-Enders” (2013) by Thomas L. Knapp.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations… . Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable. ‘I agree,’ many say, ‘but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, and it’s perfectly legal – there’s nothing we can do to stop them.’

“But there is something we can do: we can fight back. … It’s called ‘stealing’ or ‘piracy,’ as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative… . There is no justice in following unjust laws.

“We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take the stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerrilla Open Access… .”

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C4SS Feed 44 presents Grant Mincy's “IP is a Hurdle to Self-Direction” read and edited by Nick Ford.

This is the curse of IP – excessive restrictions upheld by laws used to protect the “economic rights” of authors. Instead of promoting scientific progress we are instead beholden to copyright. Instead of allowing human innovation to flourish, we are told ideas should be owned. IP reserves itself the monopoly of coercion. It does not exist to ease, facilitate and grant social innovation – it prevents such progress. IP is a hurdle to self-direction and thus the inclined labor of human beings. The solution is to question and dismantle this authority, furthering our progress towards a free society.

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These selections from the “Property in Ideas” debate, taken from the pages of Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty (1890–1891), include provocative essays on property, anarchy, equal liberty and copyright from some of the leading individualist Anarchists of the 19th century. Includes articles by Benjamin Tucker, Victor Yarros, J. William Lloyd, Tak Kak, A. H. Simpson, John Beverley Robinson, and William Hanson.

“My understanding of my environment is my idea of it. … Everything that I understand I discover, just as much as the first man who understood it and discovered it… . I must discover it for myself. My understanding of another’s idea, as before shown, is not his idea, but my own, and my discovery of his discovery is original discovery so far as I am concerned, no matter how many thousand times discovered by others before. So, if original discovery gives exclusive right to copy, very well, all discovery is original; all understanding is original discovery for the individual making it, and beyond the individual we, as egoistic Anarchists, have no need to go… .

“Do I, then, deny copyright? Yes and no. I deny false, legal copyright, which is the privilege of the first man who exercises his faculties in discovery or production to forbid others to imitate without permission. This is really not copyright, but the invasion of true copyright, which is the inalienable right of every man to copy whatever he pleases if he can, a part of that complete natural liberty of the inoffensive for which we An­archists persistently stand. That there is no offence in copying is proved by the simple fact that, even if I think a thought similar to the thought of my fellow, he is not thereby at all prevented from thinking it; if he copies my hoe, he does not by so doing take away my hoe, or prevent my using it, or making as many as I please like it. This consideration alone is all­sufficient to make true Anarchists endorse free copyright, inasmuch as all action not invasive is truly free and justifiable.

“Legal copyright, patent-right, is only one form of that hydra headed monopoly which is reducing us all to slavery. This is the true copyright, my right and your right to copy and reproduce everything our senses comprehend; anything less than this stops human growth and blocks the wheels of progress. If I am free to copy all men’s thoughts and deeds, I am a man among men; if I may do freely only that which I am first to do, I am a pauper or a slave… .” — J. William Lloyd, “Copyright”

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The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights

“It would be interesting to discover how far a seriously critical view of the benefits to society of the law of copyright … would have a chance of being publicly stated in a society in which the channels of expression are so largely controlled by people who have a vested interest in the existing situation.” — Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Intellectuals and Socialism”

A Dispute Among Libertarians

The status of intellectual property rights (copyrights, patents, and the like) is an issue that has long divided libertarians. Such libertarian luminaries as Herbert Spencer, Lysander Spooner, and Ayn Rand have been strong supporters of intellectual property rights. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, was ambivalent on the issue, while radical libertarians like Benjamin Tucker in the last century and Tom Palmer in the present one have rejected intellectual property rights altogether.

When libertarians of the first sort come across a purported intellectual property right, they see one more instance of an individual’s rightful claim to the product of his labor. When libertarians of the second sort come across a purported intellectual property right, they see one more instance of undeserved monopoly privilege granted by government.

I used to be in the first group. Now I am in the second. I’d like to explain why I think intellectual property rights are unjustified, and how the legitimate ends currently sought through the expedient of intellectual property rights might be secured by other, voluntary means. …