Patri Friedman’s basic views on copyright and patents

Patri Friedman just posted a nice essay concerning his basic views on copyright and patents, which I’ll summarize as “Policy should aim for economic efficiency …”:

So an economically optimal regime would have different rules for different industries, protecting some but not others, based on their exactly supply/demand curves.

“… but don’t forget about enforcement costs.”:

But really, it doesn’t matter. There is just no fucking way that IP protection is worth the police state it would take to enforce it. And unenforced/unenforceable laws poison society by teaching people not to respect the law.

This leads more or less to my understanding of the sentiment, something like “There’s nothing wrong with copyright per se, but any civil liberties infringement in the name of copyright protection is totally unacceptable.”

I recommend Friedman’s essay, but of course the reason I write is to complain … about the second half of the essay’s last sentence:

Therefore I favor accepting the inevitable as soon as possible, so that we can find new ways to compensate content producers.

This closing both gives comfort to producerists (but in the beginning of the essay Friedman says that people love to create — I agree, see paying to create — and Tom W. Bell has a separate argument that should result in less concern for producers that I’ve been meaning to blog about, but should be obvious from the title — Outgrowing Copyright: The Effect of Market Size on Copyright Policy) and is a stretch — copyright might make alternatives less pressing and interesting, but it certainly does not prevent experimentation.

While I’m complaining, enforcement costs aren’t the only often forgotten problem.

One Response

  1. […] this is one of the correct metrics, and there’s plenty of reason to think there’s zero problem with supply. Commenter […]

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