11 Arguments Against so called “Intellectual Property”

Edited reproduction of an article by Franz Schäfer which appeared in the Keimform blog.

1.) Unequal Distribution of Income

Excluding other people form access to immaterial goods does not create any wealth. What it does is it allows the people who create and those distribute these goods to demand some compensation for it. So the system of IPR is essentially a system for distributing income amongst people.

Example 1

:Lets look at the example of music production. From the price of a CD the artists usually gets below EUR 0.50 for a CD that costs EUR 15. The rest is payed as dividends to shareholders of music corporations or used for unproductive work like marketing.

Example 2:

Patents usually only benefit large companies where small ones can not afford the legal overhead and do not have the large „patent pools“ that big corporations use to stipple innovative small firms.

Conclusion: While it is often argued that IP provide compensation for creative workers it can be seen that the current system of IPRs does not provide a good service in this field and it should be clear that it should be easy to find means of distributing income to creative workers with less overhead (like over 90% in the music example!).

This is not a fair distribution of income. Among the artists some stars get really rich while most people producing good music can not make a living from their production of art.

The music industry as a whole does not produce any value for society anymore because the distribution of music could be done more conveniently and almost without costs on the internet. This industry is completely obsolete but IPR allows them to drain resources.

2.) The Consequences of Compulsory Exploitation


The pharmaceutical industry spends twice as much on marketing then on research. And about 40% of the funds that go into research are used for producing cosmetics, while on the other hand research on medicines to cure diseases like malaria which are a burden for large parts of less developed countries do not get much funding at all.

Conclusion: The art, science, technology, journalism, etc.. that is produced under the need of being commercially exploitable will look very different then the art, science, etc.. that could be created otherwise. In many cases we see that the imperative for profit does not benefit society.

3.) „Intellectual Property“ as a Tool for Neocolonial Exploitation

Global corporations try to move production into countries with low wages, low labor rights and low environmental standards. Outsourcing and offshoring labor to less developed countries also means a transfer of technology and know-how to these countries. While the corporations want the cheap labor they do not want that the people in this countries get access to the technology as this would breed competition.

The control over „intellectual property“ ensured that this corporations can offshore production to this countries while keeping a strong grip over them and ensure the constant flow of profits. This is why IPR is a tool for neocolonial exploitation. It denies access to knowledge and information to less developed countries but ensures the exploitation of the people in these countries.

4.) Excluding People from Access to Knowledge and Information Limts its Utility

Today the distribution of knowledge and information is extremely cheap and easy and many people could benefit from works of art or technological knowledge. Yet the system of IPR prevents this.

Conclusion: The capitalist system does not maximize efficiency here at all. When access to knowledge and information is cut of through copyright and patents then some people can not make use of these goods.

5. Free and Open Information comes additional Utility

The fact that information is free allows people to build search engines for that information and to give you immediate access to it in many formats and ways. Information that is free has an additional utility over non-free information.

With Free Software (Software were the source code is available and can be modified to build new software) there is the advantage that one can not only use the software build use it as building blocks to create new functionality. Something that is not possible in closed and software which is encumbered by commercial licenses and/or patents.

6. Censorship

Censorship was the godfather of Copyright. When the new printing press was invented those in power soon realized the imminent danger of that technology. To bring cut the free flow of information and to bring it under their control they granted an exclusive „Copy Right“ to selected publishers through which they could control what would be published.

Today Copyright is still used to suppress critical information.

7. The Dangers of DRM Technology

In order to „protect“ their „rights“ the big corporations do not trust the legal system but also use technical means of „protection“. Under the name DRM („Digital Rights Management“ which is more of an „Restriction Managment“) the media corporations want to establish technology that controls every aspect of our information processing.

8. Media Concentration is a Threat to Democracy

The concentration of media that goes along with their corporate dominance is a danger for the freedom of press and thus an danger for democracy. This domination is only possible because copyright law transforms information into a commodity that can be bought and sold.

Where corporations are getting more and more powerful and their lobbyists are controling more and more of our politics this is a huge problem.

9. Creativity is not an Individual Achievement but a Collective One

Most creative work is not produced by one great single mind but a lot of people. We are constantly influenced by many ideas from society and our daily conversation with friends and colleagues . Innovation is built on the free education of our childhood and the songs and mathematics and culture and everything that is free. So why should only those who do the final steps have exclusive rights and benefit from everyone else?

When someone writes an article he or she might use a lot of knowledge from books, from free websites or from Wikipedia but the current form of copyright gives all the exclusive rights to the one person who formulates an article from all those free knowledge. This is not fair.

10. Money is Not a Good Incentive for Creativity and Capitalsm can’t deal with it

Financial rewards are often not a good motivation for creativity. The recognition that rewards can have counter-productive effects is based on a variety of studies.

11. Against Private Property in the Means of Production

To read the full un-edited version, and details of the 11th argument, go here.

1 Comment 11 Arguments Against so called “Intellectual Property”

  1. Avatargregorylent

    fabulous article ..

    of course ipr is a protection racket

    and i estimate about 50 years will be required for the entire world to have matured enough to no longer reward it .. it is too costly


    gregory lent

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