In a libertarian society, the government is highly discouraged from interfering with the free market, if it is even capable of doing so. In this case, where does that leave Intellectual Property?

If IP is considered part of the NAP, how do they plan to enforce it without creating artificial monopolies?

Do libertarians agree that ideas are a property that can be owned, and if so, how would they change IP?

  • Possible duplicate of Is Libertarianism in favor of intellectual property rights?
    – user9389
    Nov 1, 2017 at 20:33
  • 5
    libertarians doent even agree on what it means to be a libertarian Nov 1, 2017 at 20:48
  • Suggest you edit to focus on the policies of a particular party in one particular country, otherwise its too broad
    – James K
    Nov 2, 2017 at 12:19
  • I'm not familiar with the "NAP" acronym, if someone can help me out. Nov 2, 2017 at 17:18
  • 1
    Non-Aggression Principle is the libertarian term, and I don't know that it is the same as a non-aggression policy in foreign policy. It's an ethical stance rather than a policy choice. And it applies to things like taxes. Tax collection is aggression under NAP.
    – Brythan
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: No unified viewpoint exists among libertarians.

  • Many are against IP.
  • Some are on the fence
  • Some support it (notably, Ayn Rand supported patents)
  • Some offer market based approach such as IP insurance (e.g. Tannehill)

Wikipedia answer covers some of the notable viewpoints (I know that we frown upon link only answers but I don't see a way of meaningfully doing anything short of copy/pasting entire Wiki article).


  • 2
    "The insurance company would guarantee to stop the unauthorized commercial use of the invention and to fully compensate the inventor for any losses so incurred." Is Tannehill proposing that the insurance company protects the property (by force, essentially)? Nov 2, 2017 at 0:44
  • 1
    @PyRulez - good question! I was confused about that part myself to be honest.
    – user4012
    Nov 2, 2017 at 2:05
  • @PyRulez In the absence of government, the nature of intellectual property would ultimately be dictated by social norms. If enough individuals see a benefit to copyrights, patents and trademarks then they will voluntarily consent to them and IP insurance would be economically feasible. If not, then creation and invention will shift to focus on incremental improvement and being first to market with the foreknowledge that any invention can be quickly reverse engineered and improved upon. Jan 22, 2018 at 16:51

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