Intellectual Property Does NOT Exist (Here's Why)


Now before you get pedantic, the laws governing the concept known as “Intellectual Property” DO exist. They are very real. I mean, as real as immaterial laws governing a fictitious concept can be. And I will respect the laws as they stand as much as I am willing. I’m not interested in any Disney, Warner Brothers, or Nintendo cooperate hitmen being sent to my door OK? OK.

With that out of the way, let me say again, Intellectual Property does NOT exist. And I already hinted at why this is the case. It is because of this pen. This pen is real. Real as in physical, as in material. The plastic, rubber, metal, and ink that comprise this pen all belong to me. Let’s say for the sake of argument I designed this wonderful pen as well. If you were to take this pen away from me, I would lack a pen.

But, you now having seen this pen can reproduce it’s image, it’s design in your mind. If you were to take this knowledge and create your own pen, I would lack nothing. THIS pen in my hand is still here, it is still mine. You have now copied/replicated/reproduced this pen. You have created a clone, a derivative in a sense, or an iteration. But, you have taken nothing from me.

That is because unless I could reach inside your mind and reclaim the ideas you so rudely stole from me that manifested in the creation of this pen, I cannot stop you from “possessing” the intellectual qualities of this lovely pen. Sadly, this is the logical conclusion of Intellectual Property. The “owners” (a.k.a the rich and the cooperate with aid from the state) increasingly twist laws and meaning to own not only great material wealth, but your thoughts themselves. They fill you up with their “property” and now very cleverly own your mind.

AS A SIDE NOTE: Yes, regular people can and do own Intellectual Property, but with no financial means to prevent infringement of their Intellectual Property rights it is practically useless. Shaming the infringers in the court of public opinion (like on social media) is often a more viable option. But guess what? That option still exists without IP. The value of truly being the original creator and your credible reputation should be the backbone of your work that will bring success. But more on that later...

The issues of copyright, trademark, patent law, etc. that we see today have been exacerbated by technological advancement beginning with the printing press and into the digital age. However, I contend that this technological advancement has only further cracked a flawed foundation. The premise of argument for “owning” intellect was broken from the start.

Humans have always possessed an incredible mind capable of imagination, creativity, design, visualization, and memory. Therefore we have always recorded experience, knowledge, and intellect within ourselves. Like I said, unless you develop a means to identify unique ideas and repossess these “stolen” ideas and punish the “thieves” Intellectual Property will at best be a contrived fantasy.

And not only that, but completely arbitrary! Obviously, no one owns the “rights” to the idea of an ink-based writing utensil commonly known as a “pen”. But, why not? Why does Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Mario get a pass but other ideas don’t? Why is it only 70, 100, 120, whatever number of years an idea can be “owned” by a select person or group and not forever? There is no reason because it is ultimately discretionary, arbitrary.

“But Michael!” You cry. “If we don’t have state-sponsored monopolies how will any creative, technical, or intellectual work ever profit the creator?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is, it will profit you and the public in every way. Free your art, writing, dance, music, theatre, software, invention, etc. and allow everyone to be inspired by your work. This value does not fade, and grateful people are not greedy. Monetize production, product, person, potential, donation, anything you can think of! If your work is good and your audience is there, they will support YOU! Not the person who reprints your art on a t-shirt to sell online.

Thank you very much for reading. I tried to be as precise and concise as possible. That being said, I would like to share with you several videos that helped me come to this conclusion and expand on what I said here. Links for them will be below. It goes without saying that everything I create will be Public Domain, free and open to all. I hope this helps you understand my perspective a little bit better. If you are interested in original independent stories and other creative musings visit my website to sign up for my newsletter. Oh, and like, share, subscribe, follow, stalk, comment, and all that jazz.

Uniquenameosaurus takes the perspective that IP *shouldn't* exist. I argue that it simply doesn't. But, he has great insight and the right idea on how to fix the problem. Do as he and as I do, willingly put your work into the Public Domain. Leave the world of IP behind and encourage others to do so.

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Resident soydev extremist Luke Smith elegantly explains the baffling success of free/open software and how profitable it is. Logically, Linux can't exist.


The father (grandfather?) of GNU and free software philosophizes on his work, it's impact, the movement, and the sins of copyright.

Go Open – Richard Stallman Part 1 Full Interview

Richard Stallman Copyright Lecture at Seton Hall University

Originally composed 9/28/21