Against Intellectual Monopoly seems like a must read for me. Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the review.
And if you're interested, here's some thoughts I had back in 2006 on the problem with patents.
From the Amazon.com review of the book: "intellectual property is in fact an "intellectual monopoly." No kidding; that's the point of patents and other intellectual property protections. If you put the time, effort and energy in coming up with a new way of delivering value to the world, society grants you a monopoly for a time so you can get a return on your investment.
This is not a new fangled idea. The idea of patents was centuries old when it was embedded in the US Constitution.
There is a lack of integrity today by too many people who feel free to steal the intellectual property of others. It's bad enough to violate a patent, but many people freely enter into non-compete agreements in order to secure work, and then feel free to violate those agreements. When that happens often enough, it destroys the trust and civility necessary for a free market to work.
Ripping off the ideas of others is not innovation. That's just theft, as surely as if someone stole your car out of your drive way. You often hear the pablum, "It's not the idea it's the execution." If it's not the idea, then come up with your own original ideas and don't just steal someone else's and then try to justify it that as something other than a lack of your own personal integrity.
I haven't read the book yet, so I'm not sure what specific arguments are raised. But I doubt it advocates theft.
Why can't we make patents and copyrights better? Surely the system we have can be improved -- regardless of how many centuries it has been around. Arguing the opposite is a fallacious appeal to tradition.
You sort of illustrate in your comment above why patents and intellectual property rights can be very useful protections against theft. On the flip side however there are plenty of cases where patents are grossly misused. One glaring example that comes to mind is how Monsanto and other large agriculture companies have systematically patented some plant genes. If that doesn't strike you as a problem by itself, then perhaps this fact does: winds blow said genes indiscriminately across a landscape. If you have a crop of corn that accidentally gets pollinated by winds carrying patented genes, you can be forced to pay fines and/or defend yourself in court. Oh, and of course, your crop is taken too. Using this nifty legal tool, a patent holder can put its competition out of business by just planting in a neighboring field and letting nature take its course.
Personally I think federally sanctioned monopolistic corporations are more dangerous than individual "pirates" exploiting anonymity. Dismayed by the ways that patent holders conduct business, society also has the power to un-grant monopolies.
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