Two Mighty Libertarian Brains to Debate Copyright and IP?
By Staff News & Analysis - February 26, 2013

As for [Stephan] Kinsella's prediction that I won't debate him, I will walk through hell, if I have to, to debate him and chop up his defect laden anti-IP views. – Robert Wenzel

Dominant Social Theme: All Libertarians are cranks that hold the same rabid views.

Free-Market Analysis: Well, here we have an example of two "big brains" – respected free-market commentators – that have decidedly different opinions when it comes to intellectual property.

In fact, a feedbacker pointed out that we should have asked the free-market economist Robert Wenzel about his views on intellectual property when we interviewed him. His interview ran this past Sunday.

That same day, Mr. Wenzel posted a short rumination on his blog (Economic Policy Journal) that was aimed at making Stephen Kinsella look hypocritical. This debate between the two men is not just intellectual but is also becoming "personal."

Kinsella is perhaps the leading advocate for IP openness, making the observation that since no one is damaged (nothing is taken by force) when intellectual property is circulated, the idea of making such usage a civil or criminal offense (as has been done) is ludicrous.

Wenzel apparently holds to the view that intellectual property can indeed by owned and disputes Kinsella's alternative perspective. In his recent blog commentary he quoted part of an email sent to him by Kinsella, as follows:

I think we should both commit ahead of time to be respectful, sincere, and civil, and give each other adequate time. No ad hominem, no personal stuff–just an Austrian and libertarian-oriented focus on truth. I will not try to baffle you with legalistic bullshit just b/c I know the IP statutes better than you, for example. If you can agree to this, let's consider it.

Wenzel then wrote he had been made aware of a comment by Kinsella on his Facebook page:

What a clown. [A] … prediction: he will not debate me. He will find a way ot [sic] weasel out of it, like a worm.

Wenzel believes Kinsella is acting hypocritically in requesting a "respectful and civil" debate while also calling him names. Kinsella has refused to apologize, however, and thus the stage is set for what would surely be a passionate debate about the merits of Kinsella's perspective regarding IP.

While the above may seem fairly parochial in the larger scheme of things, Kinsella's perspectives arouse emotion because copyright and patent law are among various fundamental issues of the 21st century aggravated by what we call the Internet Reformation.

It seems fairly well established, historically speaking (as we have reported), that copyright (especially) was invented to control information after the advent of the Gutenberg press. Likewise, the forceful attacks on sharing intellectual property in the Internet era are likely motivated by similar concerns.

Within this context, perhaps, Kinsella has the upper hand. Copyright is not at root a legal policy but a matter of elite control. Like so many things in this world, copyright and patent law were developed for reasons that had little to do with remuneration.

However, as we have noted before, the notion that one ought to receive compensation for intellectual property is deeply rooted in modern society. With this in mind, we've offered our own "third way" when it comes to dealing with intellectual property.

Those who believe in it ought to use their own resources to enforce it. No flying 50 FBI agents halfway around the world to arrest someone like Kim Dotcom on the suspicion of copyright infringement. If you are concerned that your property is being pilfered, then prosecute people on your own dime. Let people enforce civil law personally (and until recently copyright infringement was usually treated as a civil matter).

After Thoughts

Wouldn't that put an end to some of these theoretical arguments?