Rethinking Intellectual Property: History, Theory, and Economics

PP350 — with Stephan Kinsella

Dates: March 22, 2011 - April 29, 2011
Status: Closed

This course is taught by Stephan Kinsella, a practicing patent attorney and author of Against Intellectual Property. This is a 6-week course and will run starting March 22, 2011 and will provide an overview of current intellectual property law and the history and origins of IP.  This is the second offering of this course by Kinsella (the first offering, during Fall 2010, being very successful), and his third Mises Academy course.  For addition information from Professor Kinsella, click here to read his recent article discussing his plans for the course, and here to read his reflections on teaching that first offering.

The course will explore and offer critical analysis of various utilitarian and deontological justifications offered for IP. The course will analyze the proper relationship between property, scarcity, and ideas, and integrate the proper perspective on IP and the nature of ideas and information with Austrian economics and libertarian theory. Various legal and political reforms consistent with this perspective will be offered along with discussions of market and social institutions in a post-IP world. Optional testing will include a multiple-choice mid-term and final exam.

Here is some feedback provided by past students of this course:

“The class (everything) was perfect. Content wasn’t too deep (nor too shallow) – the reviewed material was just brilliant and the “tuning” was great for someone like myself (engineering background – no profound legal/lawyer experience). It provided all the material to really “understand” (instead of “just knowing”) all that was covered which I find always very important in a class.”

“Instruction was very comprehensive and thought provoking. The instructor was fantastic and very knowledgeable and answered every question asked.”

“Learned more then i expected, the professor seemed to really enjoy teaching the class, and the readings provided were excellent. Overall for the cost I was extremely satisfied.”

“Very interesting ideas I was not exposed to. Inexpensive, convenient, good quality.”

“It is a very fascinating topic and I was quite eager to learn about what I.P. is all about. I thought that Professor Kinsella was able to convey complicated issues to us clearly.”

“Professor Kinsella’s enthusiasm and extra links posted showed his true knowledge and interest in the subject. Great to see.”

Course Outline

Week Topics Reading Material Authors (more details TBA)
1 History: Overview of course. Overview of modern IP with examples of patents and lawsuits. Historical Origins of copyright and patent.  Justifications for IP: utilitarian and deontological
  • Kinsella
  • Boldrin & Levine
  • Rand
  • Schulman
  • Posner
2 Property, Scarcity, and Ideas (the nature of property rights, role of scarcity, and the function of the market)
  • Hoppe
  • Bouckaert;
3 Examining the Utilitarian Case for IP
  • Kinsella
  • Boldrin & Levine
Midterm exam – multiple choice (optional)
4 Examining Rights-Based Arguments for IP: creation as a source of rights
  • Kinsella
  • Long
  • Benjamin Tucker
  • Jeffrey Tucker
  • Palmer
  • McElroy
  • Locke
5 Integrating IP Theory with Austrian Economics and Libertarian Theory TBA
6 FUTURE:  Proposed Reforms; Imagining a post-IP world; the future of open vs. closed TBA
Final exam  – multiple choice and essay (optional)

Lecture Schedule

Live online lectures will be Tuesdays at 9pm EDT.

Refund Policy

If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee.

If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund.

No refunds will be granted following the second week.


Stephan Kinsella

Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Founder and Editor of Libertarian Papers, Founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom (C4SIF), and General Counsel for Applied Optoelectronics, Inc.

A registered patent attorney and former adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law, he has published numerous articles and books on IP law, international law, and the application of libertarian principles to legal topics, including Against Intellectual Property and Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (co-editor, with Jörg Guido Hülsmann, Mises Institute, 2009).

He received an LL.M. in international business law from King’s College London, a JD from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU, and BSEE and MSEE degrees from LSU.

See StephanKinsella.com for more information.

Academy Courses