Intellectual Property : Intellectual Property Without the State

Enforcement Mechanisms Outside the State

There are a variety of ways one might protect or enforce intangible property in the absence of a state, including alternatives which have yet to be discovered. Not all of the enforcement mechanisms listed below will work for all types of intangible property, nor are they perfect, however the responsibility of intangible ownership protection is the sole responsibility of owners.

  • Respect The strongest and most effective means of intangible ownership "enforcement" is voluntarily respecting the ownership of intangibles, and treating them the same as one would treat any other product or service. Voluntarily paying for intangible products and services one uses, or voluntarily not-using products/services one doesn't wish ti pay for. Further, engaging in informative discourse about the destructive nature of poaching intangible property, and treating it as a socially-undesirable activity can further reduce the negative effects and availability.
  • DRM and Encryption: Second to individuals voluntarily not 'stealing' is having a good lock. Depending on the nature of the intangible wealth, one might use server-side data, encryption, DRM. or somilar methods for obscuring or making replication difficult.
  • Convenience: A person may make it more convenient to simply purchase the product or data, perhaps by bundling the intangible with other incentives, such as easy access, customer service, frequent updates, new content, and reputation.
  • Contractual Agreements: Another means of enforcing I.P. is a network of contractual agreements, where businesses and individuals agree to respect intangible ownership, in exchange for their intangible ownership being respected, and the ability to access a large quantity of intangible wealth. Those that opt-out may find themselves only able to access *"black market"* intangible wealth, or blacklisted from certain activities or transactions.
  • Voluntary Removal: Due to the vital nature of intangible property, reputable online distributors may voluntarily remove or block content that infringes on ownership. For example, an app store may remove infringing content as to protect the developers it wishes to incentivize to create and distribute more content through their service. App stores which do not remove infringing content may find themselves unsupported by developers, and generally treated as a black-market business.
  • Arbitration and Enforcement A person may be sued (i.e. Tort Law) for various I.P. violations, in the same way a person might be sued for fraud, theft, trespass, violence, careless harm *(i.e. traffic accidents)*, or a variety of other harmful behaviors. In 'worse' cases where cooperation is refused, more direct measures might be taken such as viruses or physically shutting down the activity.

Of the above enforcement measures, typically only the last one is heavily disputed by those who seek to abolish I.P. is the Arbitration and Enforcement section, which treats IP-violations the same as one might treat theft or traffic accidents.

Intellectual Property under the State

With the exception of promoting the concept that IP-violations are "illegal," the state does very little to help most I.P. authors. An average I.P. owner may at best be able to shut down an infringing activity after significant cost, or sue someone over a signed contract. Otherwise, IP under the state is relatively useless.

Where I.P. does rear it's ugly head the most is on a corporate level; where many of the entities involved are politically connected, and use that influence to distort or abuse I.P. law to their advantage, and at the disadvantage of others. Invasions of privacy, SOPA, DCMA, insane RIAA lawsuits, patent monopolies/trolling… many of these questionably related to IP and of little use to an average IP owner, and instead are little more than disguised favoritism and power-grabs.

Overall, it is highly questionable that the state does a good job managing intellectual property ownership.

Cost of Enforcement

It is important to note that in a polycentric legal system, or non-governmental society… the costs of enforcing I.P. are the sole burden of those who wish to protect or enforce IP. An anti-statist who supports intangible ownership is not appealing for a state-like entity to enforce I.P. and impose taxes, but instead is advocating for intangible property to be treated similarly to any other type of property.

Also of note, Libertarian Minarchists and Objectivists view the state as their "rights enforcement agency," and as such, the protection of I.P. by the state is ethically similar to their desire to have the state to protect against fraud, murder, and theft.

Does I.P. Require the State?

Fallacy: "By definition, the only way to enforce IP laws is through the creation of a state."
Fallacy: "The state is the cause of intellectual property. IP can not exist without it's apparatus."

This is an identical argument, and error as the claims:

"The state is the cause of physical property, and physical property cannot exist without government's enforcement apparatus"
"By definition, the only way to enforce Property laws is through the creation of a state."

It would be far more accurate to say you are *"unaware of any means to enforce IP without the creation of a state"* There are variety of ways for content creators to protect intangible ownership (as this article describes) in the absence of a state. While these protections may be imperfect, the exact same can be said of any other property.

Further, the existence of theft, violence, or piracy merely implies it's existence, but fails to provide a justification for why piracy is permissible.

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