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Against Intellectual Monopoly Paperback – January 25, 2010
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"Boldrin and Levine, highly respected economic theorists, have produced a lively and readable book for the intelligent layman. In it, they challenge conventional wisdom about patents and argue that we would be better off without them. The book will open a fresh debate on the policy on intellectual property protection." - Boyan Jovanovic, New York University
"There is a growing and important skepticism about the fundamental rules we have used to regulate access to information and innovation. This beautifully written and compelling argument takes the lead in that skeptical charge." - Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School
"For centuries, intellectual property rights have been viewed as essential to innovation. Now Boldrin and Levine, two top-flight economists, propose that the entire IPR system be scrapped. Their arguments will generate controversy but deserve serious examination." - Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
"This is an important and needed book. The case made by Boldrin and Levine against giving excessive monopoly rights to intellectual property is a convincing one. Monopoly in intellectual property impedes the development of useful knowledge. I think they make the case that granting these monopoly rights slows innovation." - Edward C. Prescott, Nobel Laureate, University of Minnesota
"Boldrin and Levine present a powerful argument that intellectual property rights as they have evolved are detrimental to efficient economic organization." - Douglass C. North, Nobel Laureate, Washington University in St. Louis
"How have we come to view ideas as if they have some physical existence that we can lock up behind a set of property rights laws akin to, but remarkably different from, those we use to protect our physical property? This is the central question in Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David Levine. The answer they come to is startling: except in a few rare cases, intellectual property protection does more economic harm than good and ought to be eliminated. The technology of digital computers and the Internet, as Boldrin and Levine show again and again, has exposed long-standing moral shortcomings of current intellectual property laws in a particularly stark way." - Stephen Spear, Carnegie Mellon University
"Boldrin and Levine expose many real and costly flaws of the U.S. system of patents and copyrights.... [and] provide support for further reforms of intellectual property law." - Richard Gilbert, University of California Berkeley, Journal of Economic Literature
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Top Customer Reviews
I was pointed to this book while arguing that intellectual property is needed to overcome a public goods problem. After reading it, I've moved from confidently supporting minimal IP rights to tentatively advocating their abolition.
The authors provide plenty of evidence and a few intriguing theoretical arguments to bolster their position.
It definitely won't be the last word on this subject, but it will widen the debate and point it in new directions. Very much worth reading, if you're interested in IP issues.
The book is a simple and clear set of reasoned arguments against the existence of intellectual monopoly. Boldrin and Levine are careful to distinguish between intellectual property rights and intellectual monopoly: intellectual property is argued to be just as important as other property rights, while they eventually equate intellectual property to something close to public theft.
No difficult math or statistics are employed, so the average reader will be able to understand the arguments and agree or disagree. Each chapter also includes references to statistical and mathematical treatments of the subjects, although I wish they'd included brief outlines of these in an appendix.
The ideas themselves are impressively simple. Arguments in favor of intellectual monopoly can be made to seem very obvious. Arguments against intellectual monopoly can be a little complicated. It's easy to say that patents and copyrights are necessary to pay back authors and inventors for their risks and creativity. But how much should they be payed back? And does it occur without government intervention in the forms of patents and copyrights? Does piracy actually put the legitimate creators and inventors out of business?
One striking example from the book was the Linux company Red Hat, which distributes the open-source Linux platform and provides support. Its pirating competitors sell the same thing for cheaper (and indeed, the whole thing is available for free!) and yet Red Hat has grown and its competitors have shrunken or disappeared altogether. Boldrin and Levine point out that while something may be free, people are still willing to pay for other peoples' knowledge.Read more ›
This lack of consistency and rigor--both literary and logical--detracts from the overall punch. I, for one, am thoroughly convinced. But I'm an easy sell. Unfortunately this book is unlikely to convert intellectual property proponents or fence sitters. It's something of a missed opportunity, though I certainly appreciate and commend the authors' efforts at writing for a lay audience.
One of their strongest arguments is the following: "It is often argued that, especially in the biotechnology and software industries, patents are a good thing for small firms. Without patents, it is argued, small firms would lack any bargaining power and could not even try to challenge the larger incumbents. This argument is fallacious for at least two reasons.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very interesting read. The points made against intellectual property are very strong. The Author is very persuasive, and even after reading the book I agree one hundred... Read morePublished 5 months ago by john gjaltema
I found it a bit odd that this book opposed to all copyright and patent is in fact copyrighted, but I felt better once I learned that they've also released the full text online... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Patrick Julius
Incredible book. I cant imagine how the authors managed to make a short interesting book whith such a well founded and rock solid argument against intellectual monopoly. Read morePublished 9 months ago by jose luis
Very intriguing. You might agree or disagree with their argument but it clearly is thought provoking. Read morePublished 14 months ago by S. M
While an excellent book about the consequences of patent and copyright laws, I can't help but pause to notice the apparent hypocrisy in the distribution of this book. Read morePublished on June 21, 2013 by Zaliek
It's been ~ a year since I read this book, but I had to leave a review now since I am currently reading Rosen's The Most Powerful Idea in the World. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by David C.
I wanted to really give this book a higher rating but I feel in all honesty that I cannot. The problem here is that the book reads too much like a prosecuting attorney's case,... Read morePublished on April 1, 2012 by Thomas H. Burroughes
This is book is not a phylosophical abstract dissertation about patent systems, nor its arguments are used against software patents only, they are used against all kind of... Read morePublished on March 9, 2012 by Umberto Nicoletti
It is a book written in a form which mocks its initial bias against intellectual monopoly. This recognition, gives the authors an incentive to write in a form that is both witty... Read morePublished on November 16, 2011 by Ushiaon