IP “Law” and Free Societies

From a fan:

HI David, Love your content on youtube. I’d be very interested to hear your take on how IP law has distorted the entertainment industry, in particular, the Star Wars movies. I’m an anarchist and advocate of the dissolution of all intellectual property law. Although my main argument is principled, I also think that IP law is has had negative effects on every industry; including books, movies, music, and tv. I’d be stoked to hear back from you, or see a video inspired by this topic. Keep up the great work.


IP law is something I talk about frequently (5 stages of corporate IP ownership, etc).

First – does IP exist independent of “law” the way that other property rights exist.

Short answer – yes. It can proven empirically, and also socially.

Ex – EMPIRICAL 1) If you burn a copy of my book, you haven’t destroyed the ideas within it, you’ve just destroyed the physical copy that you did own. 2) You own what you create 3) Only I can own the ideas I create because a) had I never written them, they would exist for nobody (temporal proof of creation) b) I was the only one who could destroy the ideas prior to publication. What is left is to decide if publishing an idea destroys ownership – socially, this is not true

SOCIAL 1) If Metallica contained four new members – would it be Metallica? Socially, the fans would recognize that it is NOT Metallica. 2) Would people believe that you had written Harry Potter if you offered it for sale, or would they consider you a fraud? They would consider you a fraud. Thus, people recognize at least two kinds of IP – trademark (Metallica) and copyright (harry potter).

Beyond this, the question is what this means in a stateless society. How does a free society manage creative ownership? Let’s examine Metallica

If four new people payed James Hetfield and co. some fee to perform as Metallica, would people recognize them as Metallica, or as frauds? Frauds. Those who have tried (CCR, Misfits, etc) even with members other than the primary member, are often rejected. Replaced membership is unheard of due to survival bias – nobody would accept 4 new people as Metallica.


Creative properties can’t be readily traded to those who did not take part in the creation of those properties (social proof).


People believe Disney can “own” Star Wars and make star wars movies. It’s exactly the same thing as the Metallica example, but perhaps people have been trained to believe that corporations can own IP. We don’t know how the social attitude would adjust in a stateless society.

Last thing: You can look at the music industry to see what happens when a large portion of the social base rejects copyright. Post Napster, the industry essentially collapsed and there is no way to make money recording music; you record music so people will buy concert tickets, something which can’t be readily replicated and pirated at will. This, I think, has more to do with privacy and anonymity removing consequences, rather than a real belief that copyright doesn’t exist. This is because people murdering in secret doesn’t disprove that murder is wrong; the removal of the social structure is more the problem.

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