Intellectual property does not exist

17 June 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy | 8 Comments »

Intellectual property claims, to me, come down to a claim of an exclusive right to pattern mass-energy in specific ways, which implies a right to shoot people who fail to respect such claim via refraining from so patterning mass-energy without a grant of license from the purported claim holder.

I hold that institutions of property relations to mass-energy are essential for regulating peaceful interactions among sophonts comprised, themselves, of mass-energy. Just as I have the right to say “This is my aorta, and I will shoot you if you try vigorously enough to deprive me of my use of it,” I hold that I also have the right to say “This is my atom, my molecule, my widget, my asteroid, and, should my claim achieve social legitimacy by virtue of my homesteading and non-abandonment, shoot you if you try vigorously enough to deprive me of my use of it.”

By looking at this cookie cutter, you hereby agree that should you ever make a cookie in the shape of a revolver for other than personal use, it'll be okay for me to shoot you.

By looking at this cookie cutter, you hereby agree that should you ever make a cookie in the shape of a revolver for other than your personal use, it'll be okay for me to shoot you.

I also hold, in direct opposition to intellectual “property”, that patterns are information, and that information cannot be a subject of legitimate property. Information is intangible and infinitely replicable. By extracting the information pattern from a physical subject of legitimate property — a DVD, a book, a widget — and then using that information for my own purposes, I deprive nobody of their property. Steal my DVD, my book, my widget, and I have grounds to resist that action by any means, up to and including the application of lethal force. Take a stab at expropriating my aorta and I’ll fight you to the death, and expect my neighbors to come to my aid.

In a truly free society, in a freed market, I hold that an inventor has a moral right to credit for that output of their mind which has enough social value to be replicated. If Kevin invents a fantastic new potato-slicer and Bob copies the device and runs around marketing it as his own creation, Bob is a jerk and ought to be treated as such. However, if Kevin now comes along and tries to shoot Bob for doing this, Kevin is a criminal, and I and other free people will come to Bob’s aid in repelling Kevin’s attack.

See also the terms of use for this website at “… and you agree“.

Purchase the revolver cookie cutter from Cakes Cookies & Crafts Shop.

  1. 8 Responses to “Intellectual property does not exist”

  2. By Arto Bendiken on 17 June 2009

    I’ve included some useful anti-copyright resources at, particularly a link to The Promise of a Post-Copyright World.

    Nice job on the access agreement, btw 😉

  3. By FURBjr on 17 June 2009

    I think idea about infinitely replicabability is key to the whole subject of copyright. You may have a potato, and you may replicate said potato, presumably infinitely, but you have to produce that potato with your own green thumb. You can’t just replicate a potato with a click of a mouse. A potato is not an idea, but an physical entity. You can design a potato, and then the designs are an idea, which could be infinitely replicatable, and the design would be your idea, not your property.

  4. By J. Neil Schulman on 17 June 2009


    I answered your objections to ownership of information years ago in my article “Informational Property: Logorights” at


  5. By Mr X from Planet X on 17 June 2009

    eBay was sued because someone claimed the had a patent on the idea to have an online auction. The law should really be changed to protect actual implementation, but not ideas.

    A company should also not be able to buy a patent in order to suppress it. Perhaps a company should have to show they are implementing a patent, and if they don’t bring that product to market within two years, it should be open to the public.

    A company buying a patent to suppress a technology, and then the government protecting that patent, is an example of how government colludes with corporations, restricting innovation and the freedom of the general public.

  6. By Sunni on 17 June 2009

    JPFO was—and I hope still is—selling two gun-shaped cookie cutters at Goody Guns.

    Nicely done, Mike.

  7. By stpeter on 18 June 2009

    Yum, cookies!

    But seriously, ownership of ideas or information or patterns is a difficult issue. After long reflection I’ve concluded that such ownership is impossible, but I can see why smart, creative, liberty-minded folks like J. Neil Schulman have concluded otherwise. Further ammunition here: and

  8. By CounterClckWise on 23 September 2009

    Neil, thanks for the link to your intellectual property argument. I find it unconvincing. Very quickly here, and later I’ll post a link to a more substantial counterpoint.

    It is true that people are willing to pay money for ideas but that does not mean they are conceding any rights to what goes on in their own minds (including reproducing ideas or using them to improve on others). Second, I don’t think demanding exclusivity to ideas is the only way to monetize them, as many companies are now proving.

    Best regards to you.

  9. By Simon W on 20 February 2017

    In our present coercive society the current system of protection is in itself coercive.
    In a more laissez faire society such violent measures would not be required.
    Protection of my output could be agreed peacefully and respectfully. examples might include organised boycotting, public shaming and defamation. and integrity points system awarded to companies who observe high moral values.
    Industry would soon come around to treating artists and designers (and every one else for that matter) with the respect and value that their portion of work would deserve.

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