So, my latest audiobook recording, this time actually “commissioned” by Stephan via the Mises Institute, is Stephan Kinsella’s monograph “Against Intellectual Property”. You can get the text at the Mises.org website, or buy a dead tree version, or read it online at Scribd or in HTML at the author’s own site. Attached to this blogpost though you’ll find the audiobook version in several formats – a single MP3 that will work on more or less anything, a set of one-per-heading MP3s (and a zip file of those), and for iTunes/iPod users an m4b version that comes in one file but with chapter markers that show up in those Apple devices and you can skip back and forward to.
I find the whole area of Intellectual Property fascinating. We are so conditioned that, for example, pharmaceutical companies would never develop any important drugs ever again if they were not able to secure a twenty year monopoly in the form of a patent on their discoveries, or that the music industry is on the brink of collapse because of copyright “theft”, when actually what you have to consider is that by granting these state protected monopolies, as Kinsella explains, we are actually restricting our own rights to use our own property as we like.
Got a blank CD you want to burn the latest hits onto? No can do – your right to use that blank CD, your property, as you wish, is restricted by someone you may very well have already paid a fair price for a creation from. It’s obviously a contentious one for me as a university employee – after all, academia usually worships intellectual property rights, but it’s an important debate to be had. The “monopoly of patents” is one of the four “great monopolies” identified by the Individualist Anarchists and Mutualists with which the state conspires with select, favoured or powerful interest groups to skew markets, usually to the disadvantage of consumers and always to the disadvantage of owners of tangible property.
I may try and follow this up with an audio version of Boldrin and Levine’s recent “Against Intellectual Monopoly” which greatly expands on the subject set out by Kinsella here with responses to many of the common objections to the eradication of Intellectual Property protections. In the meantime, there’s a great website/blog that covers many of the issues involved at “Against Monopoly“.
Incidentally, yes, there is a wonderful irony currently in the recording. Since I read it straight from the printed version you get the title, and then, yes, you guessed it, the “copyright” notice for the Mises Institute. But we should make clear that actually, Mises has to declare its copyrights over it just in case someone else does and excludes them from distributing the work how they please. But since Mises gives away all its material for free, and aims at the widest possible dissemination of its work in the spirit of evangelist, you should feel free to copy, share, pass on and generally do as you please with the audiobook version too.
Oh, and I should add, you can watch a video of Stephan giving a lecture on this subject at the Austrian Scholars’ Conference last year on TheUKLibertarian blog.