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Against Intellectual Monopoly

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Rarely does a book come along that prompts a wholesale revision in the way we perceive laws and legislation, social progress, and the very foundations of development economics. This is one such book, and it is destined to be a classic in the economics literature. This is the book that frames it all up and shows the way forward.
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Michele Boldrin and David Levine , two well-known economists, argue that patents and copyrights aren’t needed for economic innovation. At first glance, the thesis sounds odd. If inventors can profit by getting a patent, won’t that encourage people to innovate? Boldrin and Levine don’t deny this, but they show that this isn’t the full story. Even if an inventor benefits from a patent, his monopoly position restricts the ability of other inventors to modify and improve his product. They illustrate their claim through a discussion of James Watt, whose patents on the steam engine restricted innovation.

The authors show other problems with the patent system. People have to spend a great deal of time and energy dealing with patents. Often years of litigation result from a patent claim, and the others show in great detail the waste that results from our present monopolistic arrangements. They explain, e.g., the dire effects of the submarine patent, in which someone patents a general idea, unworkable as it stands. The holder of the patent can then block other inventors.

Surely, though, authors and publishers need copyright protection? How could a book earn a profit without copyright? Boldrin and Levine maintain that this claim is unproved. Authors, like inventors, benefit from being first in the field. Authors made money from their work long before copyright protection was established. This book contains a profusion of arguments and is must reading for anyone interested in the economic effects of patents and copyrights.

Reviews

Average Rating:
(based on 12 reviews)

Showing 1 - 5 of 12 Reviews:

by timothy
on 3/24/2013
The fact that this book is hot is proof that freedom works.
This book is so excellent, I've read it many times. It shows so many examples in the real world of how a world without intellectual property rights would work -- and wouldn't explode. Writers would still write. Inventors would still innovate. Artists would still create, and so on. Property rights protect scarcity. But ideas aren't scarce. Ideas are everywhere, and can be copied infinitely. The fact that the authors have released this book for free - available online, and that they are still raking in the cash on this book shows that the idea works. Heck, I read the book for free, and I recommend it to all my friends. Now I want to buy to book for everyone I know!
by Matt
on 6/27/2012
By the way
If you want the print version then pay for it, but if you just want to read it then it is available for free from the author's website here: http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm
by George
on 12/7/2010
FOR ALL THOSE WHO DO NOT THINK ITS FREE OUT THERE
http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm Please visit this site. They DO offer it for free.
by John V
on 8/4/2010
Hypocrits-R-Us
Why is this hypocrit selling the book? I guess he wants to exploit the government monopoly while he still can.
by Ryan M
on 2/26/2010
Great Read for IP
If you are interested in the details of why and how the current Intellectual Property laws came into being, this book is a good layman's introduction. It's also more than that: it details at length the effects of current IP practice on several industries. It won't ruin the end to let the prospective reader know that the authors make a convincing evidence-based case for changing current IP laws.
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The table of contents is as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Creation Under Competition
  • Chapter 3: Innovation Under Competition
  • Chapter 4: The Evil of Intellectual Monopoly
  • Chapter 5: The Devil in Disney
  • Chapter 6: How Competition Works
  • Chapter 7: Defenses of Intellectual Monopoly
  • Chapter 8: Does Intellectual Monopoly Increase Innovation?
  • Chapter 9: The Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Chapter 10: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly
ISBN 9780521879286
Publication Date 2008
Binding HC
Page Length 312

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