Reminder: Patent trolls are among the least bad features of IP

johnoliver_hbo[Originally posted on]

Patent trolls are companies whose entire business model is to file patent suits against legitimate businesses, in order to extort them for money. Patent trolls are bad.

However, they are not the worst thing about the current intellectual property regime.

In fact, they may be one of its best features. Continue reading “Reminder: Patent trolls are among the least bad features of IP”

To Taylor Swift, Love Freedom

Originally posted to

imageDear Taylor,

You recently wrote an open letter to Apple, Inc. (To Apple, Love Taylor) where you spelled out your decisions on why you will not be allowing them to stream your album, 1989, without paying you for the privilege. Your letter was clear and eloquent, and provides a strong emotional case for why you feel Apple needs to pay artists during the three-month trial period for their new streaming service.

As I understand your letter, your grievance with Apple can be summed up with your statement that “it is unfair to ask anyone to work for no compensation.” In a biting kicker, you conclude, “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

If Apple is truly asking you (and other artists) to provide them with labour or products with absolutely no compensation, then I agree that would be an unfair deal. In order to acquire your property, it’s only fair that the richest corpor
ation in the world offers some of theirs. But what if Apple has already compensated you for your work (or more accurately, your property), and you are now double-dipping—asking for even more compensation? Wouldn’t that be unfair? Continue reading “To Taylor Swift, Love Freedom”

A Guide to Intellectual Property So Simple, a Monkey Would Understand

[Originally posted on]

Macaca_nigra_self-portrait_0These days, everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion on intellectual property. This has its positives and negatives.

The positives are that the more people are aware of the issues affecting society, the more likely they are to take a stand to demand change or protect the status quo. This applies to everything from police militarization to laws governing the administration of voting.

The negative is that, when it comes to intellectual property at least, nearly everyone is utterly confused by what intellectual property is on a fundamental level. This can lead to misguided outrage and result in even more destructive legislation.

So just what is intellectual property? Continue reading “A Guide to Intellectual Property So Simple, a Monkey Would Understand”

Cleaning up after Robert Wenzel’s Drive-by against IP

Originally posted at on February 28, 2013

The following is adapted from a recent presentation at a Mises Toronto Pub night.

Let me start off by saying I have a lot respect for Robert Wenzel.

Robert Wenzel is the editor and publisher of, a very popular–and very Austro-libertarian–finance and economics blog. Mr. Wenzel hosts “Morning Coffee with Murray Rothbard”, and his posts are littered with quotes from Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, and many others. He seems to always have a great quote from a great thinker ready. He is also a very interesting person. He is full of stories, from fending off muggers, to picking up women, and making $100,000 with drunken homeless bums.

Wenzel is a ruthless defender of Austrian and libertarian ideals. He has viciously (and correctly, in my opinion) attacked prominent figures many consider to be libertarian, on the grounds of them holding decisively unlibertarian, or even anti-libertarian ideas. Some people he has attacked on these grounds include Megan McArdle, Gary Johnson, Bruce Bartlett, Tyler Cowen, and Rand Paul. Many criticize him for it, but I believe it necessary to distinguish between libertarian and non-libertarian ideas, so when those who are new to libertarianism hear new ideas, they can better distinguish between libertarian and non-libertarian values. He has also compiled the very useful 30 day reading list on becoming knowledgeable libertarian. Continue reading “Cleaning up after Robert Wenzel’s Drive-by against IP”