Comment: Main idea(s)

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Main idea(s)

Thanks for the article. Not to be particularly picky, but you mention at least twice that you are going to summarize the main concepts/questions/ideas. You seem to present basically one: Can ideas be property on the basis of scarcity?

Regarding your statement:

Clearly if only a “few” people have access to it, the formula for Pepsi must be scarce.

Let me suggest that your assertion is not clear at all. It is not the formula which is scarce, but the access. The scarcity of resources may change, and of course, once many people know who have not made a voluntary commitment to restrict access (and have kept that commitment), then the access is no longer scarce.

The key question, it seems to me, is "For what resources is one morally justified in executing violence against others for possessing them?" The answer to that question is the definition of private property. I don't see any basis for the notion that one can own an idea. Can one own access? Perhaps that is possible in the presence of a contract---basically a promise to keep a secret.

If that view is correct, let me suggest that one should be very explicit about such a contract---to do otherwise would be anti-social at least and possibly immoral. Ah, but this may be the crux of the question. Rothbard even mentions above that copyright involves "implicit" theft. The presence of an implicit contract may be quite essential to all discussion of IP. If so, then perhaps that is a point: In matters of non-material private property (e.g., access, i.e., keeping a secret) it would be best if things were made very explicit. In other words, your secrets are yours to keep. If others do not keep them, apart from an explicit contract, you have no moral basis to execute violence against them.