Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hans Hoppe Issues Statement Supporting Stephan Kinsella

I have just been made aware that Prof Hoppe has issued a statement in support of Stephan Kinsella, following Kinsella's debate with me.

It reads as follows:
I agree with my friend Kinsella, that the idea of intellectual property rights is not just wrong and confused but dangerous. And I have already touched upon why this is so. Ideas – recipes, formulas, statements, arguments, algorithms, theorems, melodies, patterns, rhythms, images, etc. – are certainly goods (insofar as they are good, not bad, recipes, etc.), but they are not scarce goods. Once thought and expressed, they are free, inexhaustible goods. I whistle a melody or write down a poem, you hear the melody or read the poem and reproduce or copy it. In doing so you have not taken anything away from me. I can whistle and write as before. In fact, the entire world can copy me and yet nothing is taken from me. (If I didn't want anyone to copy my ideas I only have to keep them to myself and never express them.)

Now imagine I had been granted a property right in my melody or poem such that I could prohibit you from copying it or demanding a royalty from you if you do. First: Doesn't that imply, absurdly, that I, in turn, must pay royalties to the person (or his heirs) who invented whistling and writing, and further on to those, who invented sound-making and language, and so on? Second: In preventing you from or making you pay for whistling my melody or reciting my poem, I am actually made a (partial) owner of you: of your physical body, your vocal chords, your paper, your pencil, etc. because you did not use anything but your own property when you copied me. If you can no longer copy me, then, this means that I, the intellectual property owner, have expropriated you and your "real" property. Which shows: intellectual property rights and real property rights are incompatible, and the promotion of intellectual property must be seen as a most dangerous attack on the idea of "real" property (in scarce goods).

(Note since anti-IPers of the Kinsella-Tucker ilk do not believe that ideas are scarce, out of respect, I will no longer provide links to their works, since you should already have in your possession their views.)

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM ET, I will post here at EPJ my view on scarcity and how Kinsella-Tucker are distorting the concept. That post was written before I became aware of Prof. Hoppe's statement. I will address the additional points made by Prof. Hoppe in a follow up post, later this week.


In a comment from Stephan Kinsella that I accidentally deleted, Kinsella reports that the above comment was from years ago. I became aware of the statement from a comment by Joseph Fetz. I didn't realize that it was made years ago. Given the wording, I under mistaken impression that it was current, since other than the link Fetz gave no indication that it wasn;t current. Regardless of when Prof Hoppe issued the statement, his points should be addressed and I will do so in a post later this week,

(ht Joseph Fetz)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Stephan, I hit the delete button by accident, feel free to repost. (Note it is only four minutes after your post)

    2. bob Hoppe has been against IP since at least 1988, as I explained already. see http://c4sif.org/2010/12/hoppe-on-intellectual-property/

      See also Hoppe on Property Rights in Physical Integrity vs Value

      The stuff you quoted is from 2 years ago: http://www.thedailybell.com/1936/Anthony-Wile-with-Dr-Hans-Hermann-Hoppe-on-the-Impracticality-of-One-World-Government-and-Western-style-Democracy.html . The idea that he would deign to "respond" to you is risible.

    3. Nice to see you again Stephan! Have not listened to the debate yet, but I hope you've improved on your arguments since I abandoned Mises.org's comments section due to the scabrous behavior of the anti-IP crowd there.


    4. No one is compelled to follow Hans Hoppe in all his opinions.

  2. "Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM ET, I will post here at EPJ my view on scarcity and how Kinsella-Tucker are distorting the concept."

    Let's hope your "view" tomorrow isn't going to be as embarrasingly obtuse and uninformed as your views expressed in your "debate" with Kinsella.

  3. It is very thoughtful, and it contributes to the full airing of the debate that you posted Dr. Hoppe's remarks, even though they do not fall in your favor.

    I have not yet had the time to listen to the debate, so have not yet any opinion on it.

    I just think it is classy that you posted it and that it contributes to the full airing of the issues at hand.

    Thank-you for participating in the debate and for promoting it. It is a most interesting topic and one that deserves exploration and exposition.


  4. "since anti-IPers of the Kinsella-Tucker ilk do not believe that ideas are scarce [...] you should already have in your possession their views."

    This is getting ridiculous, Robert Wenzel. It has been explained many times that 'scarcity' in the sense Hoppe, Kinsella, and others use it does not imply that everyone is always in possession of all non-scarce goods. You have refused not only to acknowledge the difference and defend your usage of the term, but you have refused even to acknowledge that opponents have claimed there is a difference. This goes beyond clowning and becomes intellectual dishonesty.

    1. Ideas are not scarce, but good and/or novel ideas are.

      Those in the anti-IP crowd would do better to focus on getting rid of the rest of the monopolist/corporatist/state apparatus first, as IP is one of the few things outside of civil liberties that benefits the individual.

  5. "I will post here at EPJ my view on scarcity and how Kinsella-Tucker are distorting the concept."

    Ah, I guess after over a day of waiting I spoke too soon.

  6. These comments by Hoppe are two years old (which is what I assume Stephan was saying).

  7. Bob your logical fallacies are just insane at this point.

    Equivocation. Look it up.

    Kinsella and others have clearly said "scarcity" in the economic sense does not mean "rarity".

    And I thought anyone even remotely familiar with economic concepts would be aware of the economic meaning of "rivalrous". Seriously, just do a damn Google search for the term and it's the first damn result:

    Rivalry (economics) - A rival (subtractable) good is a good whose consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers.

    Yet you insist on talking about "rivalry" as if the subject of discussion was college football or Looney Tunes characters.

    Coincidentally that's what you look like here, Bob. A looney toon.

    1. Yes, that is the definition of a rivalrous good. However, Kinsella stated that in order for a good to be scarce, it has to be rivalrous. That is clearly not the case, as the class of goods known as club goods demonstrates (cinemas, private parks, satellite television, etc.).

    2. No he didn't. He clearly said that "rivalrous" is what he meant by the word "scarce" in this context.

      I wish I could say "nice try", but simply putting words in someone's mouth is actually pretty pathetic.

  8. ...and here's Rothbard saying that IP, in the form of copyright...is compatible with property rights:

    "The common law has often been a good guide to the law consonant with the free market. Hence, it is not
    surprising that common-law copyright prevails for unpublished literary manuscripts, while there is no such
    thing a common-law patent. At common law, the inventor also has the right to keep his invention
    unpublicized and safe from theft, i.e., he has the equivalent of the copyright protection for unpublicized
    On the free market, there would therefore be no such thing as patents. There would, however, be copyright
    for any inventor or creator who made use of it, and this copyright would be perpetual, not limited to a certain
    number of years. Obviously, to be fully the property of an individual, a good has to be permanently and
    perpetually the property of the man and his heirs and assigns. If the state decrees that a man's property
    ceases at a certain date, this means that the State is the real owner and that it simply grants the man use of
    the property for a certain period of time."


    1. Bravo!

      The Great Rothbard knew his stuff. In a world without IP, there would be little point to inventing much since the incentive is gone.

    2. common law copyright has nothing to do with what people now think of as copyright. it was more like trade secret. as I tried to explain to bob. It had to do with initial publication of a previously unpublished manuscript.

    3. Like, in a world where most high-tech is built on the foundation of public-domain software written by people for free? Pure fantasy.

      Oh, wait. We *are* in such world.

    4. Hey Nick,

      I also found this web page, but I could not figure out when or where Rothbard published this article. Can anyone find that info?

    5. @ Ed U cation

      Man, Economy, & State

      Here's a more thorough link:


      @ Stephan

      Do you still contend that Rothbard is "confused"? Not only did Rothbard use the word "copyright", he went on to explain how the concept should be used in place of patents for covering machines out of respect for property rights.

      If you do think Rothbard is "confused", I would appreciate a specific explanation as to why so I can better understand your viewpoint.

  9. These comments by Hoppe are from this interview: http://www.thedailybell.com/1936/Anthony-Wile-with-Dr-Hans-Hermann-Hoppe-on-the-Impracticality-of-One-World-Government-and-Western-style-Democracy.html

  10. Just to be clear, this was a link that was posted by me to both my own and Stephan Kinsella's Facebook wall, as well as in another link on EPJ (it was posted as a comment, though I had doubts that it would get approved). The source of this link was from Conza88 on the Mises.org forums, so a hat tip goes out to Conza88.

    Admittedly, I didn't give any indication of when this statement was recorded. However, I did in fact link to the original interview with Dr, Hoppe, which is dated March 27, 2011. In any case, that is neither here nor there, the point of my posting it is the fact that Robert Wenzel attempted to use Hoppe's work as a basis for support of IP in the "debate", even though it is quite clear that Hoppe supports Kinsella's position on the topic (i.e. Hoppe is clearly anti-IP).

    In any case, it is quite clear that Robert Wenzel's position on the topic of IP is being relegated to the minority view within the libertarian movement, and this is especially true amongst those who are considered the most prominent thinkers within libertarianism. He (Wenzel) has yet to have put forth a positive theory of IP, so the burden is upon him to prove that IP is consistent within the libertarian framework. Considering the odds, as well as the great minds that are against his position, I don't think that such an outcome is probable (a positive theory in support of IP).

    1. "In any case, it is quite clear that Robert Wenzel's position on the topic of IP is being relegated to the minority view within the libertarian movement"

      In your opinion.

  11. Mr. Wenzel: I'm sad to tell you that the recording you posted does not deserve the dignity of being labeled a debate. You launched a clumsy, vicious cross-examination of Kinsella with no definition of "intellectual property" of your own. You used the f-word three times. I cringe at the thought of newcomers to Austro-libertarianism coming across this and turning away from us in disgust -- almost as much as I cringe at your repeated mentioning of publishing a decisive IP book "in the future" or a thoughtful response to someone's scarcity argument "tomorrow". I feel you should follow a template of your choice for a sincere apology and move on to topics better in your grasp. On 9/8/12 you wrote with class, "I wonder how many people in Walter's situation would make such a public apology, when it clearly shows he made a major error in his original accusations." Are you such a person?

  12. Robert Wenzel could benefit from understanding the definitions of scarcity and rivalry. Luckily for us, there is a thing called Wikipedia.

    Scarcity: "On the other hand, the ease with which some goods can be obtained or replicated (for instance, intellectual property) led to the introduction of artificial scarcity in the form of legal restrictions which limit the availability of such goods."

    Rivalry: "More generally, most intellectual property is non-rival. In fact, certain types of intellectual property become more valuable as more people consume them (anti-rival). For example, the more people using a particular language, the more valuable that language becomes."


    An algorithm isn't economically scare because it only exists inside Wenzel's head, and economic rivaly doesn't mean competition; it means that consumption of the good reduces the supply. Gaining knowledge of intellectual property doesn't reduce the supply of knowledge outstanding.

    1. Why do people make arguments like "More generally, most intellectual property is non-rival. In fact, certain types of intellectual property become more valuable as more people consume them (anti-rival). For example, the more people using a particular language, the more valuable that language becomes."?

      Value is subjective. A person creates a language called a code hoping that it won't be widely used. There is no type of intellectual property that is inherently valuable as more people consume it, since there is no inherent value.

      What this argument is is an attempt to implicitly assume that one value is the only one that matters without defending that value as being more worthy.

  13. Mr. C : "A person creates a language called a code hoping that it won't be widely used."

    That's actually not true. In order for a code to be widely used it needs to be standardized so it can communicate across networks. Similarly, you could invent your own word, but unless other people adopt it it will be meaningless. This is called the network effect.

    None of this implies "objective value." Imagine you visited an isolated island where sea shells served as money, but you brought with you gold coins. The natives refused your shiny rocks because they didn't perceive them to have value. Your gold only serves as money if other people value it as well; the network effect.

  14. "Scarcity" is not a defining characteristic of property. In reading Locke, he doesn't say that in order for something to be property it must be scarce. That is a Kinsella embellishment.

    Property according to Locke is... "The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property."

    I don't see the word "scarce" in there anywhere. And IP meets that definition. In fact, a good case can be made that one has a greater claim on IP as property than on land. That I think would be the Spencarian view on property which I share.

    The air in your lungs becomes your property. The water you drink becomes your property. The light entering your eye becomes your property. Are these things scarce?

    Property is an abstraction. A legal device we use to create a more civil and just society. Kinsella would throw IP away so that the artist, author, inventor, programmer, etc. would have the value of their labor stolen from them. How libertarians who hold to this view cannot see what a gross injustice this would be is beyond me.

    1. "In fact, a good case can be made that one has a greater claim on IP as property than on land."

      It's logically consistent that you believe that, since so-called intellectual property necessarily violates physical property rights.