Episode 23: Patents and Paywalls: How IP Stifles Scientific Innovation: Stephan Kinsella

February 12, 2018


The accepted wisdom tells us that intellectual property (IP) laws encourage innovation. Without legal protection for their discoveries, scientists would have no incentive to conduct research and we would lose out on "...life-changing and life-saving new treatments that bring hope to doctors, patients, and patients' families worldwide. "


That's a nice story, but my guest today says this seemingly self-evident truth is entirely incorrect. Far from fostering innovation in the sciences, patent attorney and legal scholar Stephan Kinesella argues that intellectual property hampers competition and thus stifles the discovery of new medicines and other technologies. Every year businesses waste millions of dollars in court defending their patents and divert resources away from research and development. This perverse system keeps smaller companies from out-competing established firms and severely limits consumer choice throughout the economy.


Moreover, copyright protections allow major publishers to lock original scientific research behind paywalls and charge obscene prices to anyone who wants to access the content, even though much of the work is financed by taxpayers. Paradoxically, then, IP laws have allowed giant corporations and federal bureaucracies to tightly restrict the production and distribution of scientific knowledge.


Listen in as Stephan and I discuss how this broken system came to be and what we can do to replace it. 




Against Intellectual Property

Gene patents: socially acceptable monopolies or an unnecessary hindrance to research?

Are Biotechnology Patents Dead?

The Myth of Natural Monopoly






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