Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mises On the Necessity of Copyright Protection

We may disregard the problem of second-rate authors of poems, fiction, and plays and second-rate composers and need not inquire whether it would be a serious disadvantage for mankind to lack the products of their efforts. But it is obvious that handing down knowledge to the rising generation and familiarizing the acting individuals with the amount of knowledge they need for the realization of their plans require textbooks, manuals, handbooks, and other nonfiction works. It is unlikely that people would undertake the laborious task of writing such publications if everyone were free to reproduce them.--Human Action, chapter XXIII, part 6.



  1. I hope you got Prychitko's permission to steal his blog post.

  2. Mr. Murphy, how can it be stealing if there were no restrictions on its use? I didn't see any on Prychitko's site. Maybe I missed it? Like any good author, Wenzel cited his source.

  3. Well I was mostly kidding, to underscore the point that it's absurd to think somebody can own an idea. Let me put it this way: Suppose Prychitkio had put up a disclaimer, saying, "Not only can you not reproduce my blog post, but in fact, no one from here on out is allowed to quote Austrian ideas without getting my permission. Nobody else to my knowledge has patented the idea of using Austrian insights on their blogs, so I am now staking out my claim. This is my intellectual property, and you need to lease it from me if you want to use Austrian insights on your blog."

    Now that's obviously ridiculous, and not merely for minor technical details. I think the real reason it is ridiculous is that you can't "own" something like "applying insights to Austrian economics."

    And so even though it seems less farfetched, the anti-IP people are saying you can't "own" something like, "A particular arrangement of English words that you type on your own computer." How can you own a combination of keystrokes?

    BTW I am not going to follow up with this, because it's a huge debate. But I wanted to explain my (perhaps not funny) joke.

  4. Bob,

    I agree that it is too big a debate for the comment section of the blog, however, you should know I have "solved" the problem you raise.

    I have also solved the problem of the patent for fire and the wheel.

    It will all be in my book.

  5. Mr. Murphy: I figured that is what you meant. Yes, it is extremely difficult to draw clear lines in this ongoing debate.

    P.S. You can quote my post anywhere, anyhow - under one condition: Send me a million bucks... :)

  6. @ The Bullion Insider

    And, make sure he pays you in bullion!