Law professor Lawrence Lessig has famously challenged recent extensions of intellectual property law and defended the importance of a public-domain “cultural commons” through his books such as Free Culture.

Some libertarian theorists and economists have gone even further and proposed that we should abolish intellectual property, particularly copyrights and patents, entirely. I’ve summarized some of these views in my book, Libertarianism Today, in a chapter that the Ludwig von Mises Institute has made available online for free.

I also had an opportunity recently to present some of these ideas to the Federalist Society chapter at Whittier Law School, as part of a debate that you can listen to here. As I told the students, I couldn’t possibly make the entire case against intellectual property in a 15-minute debate presentation, but perhaps it may lead some people to reconsider whether we need intellectual property, or at least whether we need as much as we have now.  

For more detail, I recommend two books that are available online for free: Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella and Against Intellectual Monopoly by economists Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. And I should add that co-blogger Timothy Sandefur has made an original contribution to this literature in his “Critique of Ayn Rand’s Theory of Intellectual Property Rights.”

Incidentally, Shon suggested that I also share this speech that I recently gave at the Mises Circle in Chicago on how libertarians can best advance their ideas.