Intellectual Property and the Prisoner's Dilemma: A Game Theory Justification of Copyrights, Patents, and Trade Secrets

39 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2016 Last revised: 17 Dec 2018

See all articles by Adam D. Moore

Adam D. Moore

University of Washington - The Information School

Date Written: August 17, 2016

Abstract

Setting aside various foundational moral entanglements, I will offer an argument for the protection of intellectual property based on individual self-interest and prudence. In large part, this argument will parallel considerations that arise in a prisoner’s dilemma game. After sketching the salient features of a prisoner’s dilemma, I will briefly examine the nature of intellectual property and how one can view content creation, exclusion, and access as a prisoner’s dilemma. In brief, allowing content to be unprotected in terms of free access leads to a sub-optimal outcome where creation and innovation are suppressed. Finally, I will argue that adopting the institutions of copyright, patent, and trade secret is one way we can avoid these sub-optimal results.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Prisoner's Dilemma, Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, Copyright, Patent, Trade Secret, Guild Guilds, Tit-For-Tat, Tragedy of the Commons, Silk Road

Suggested Citation

Moore, Adam D., Intellectual Property and the Prisoner's Dilemma: A Game Theory Justification of Copyrights, Patents, and Trade Secrets (August 17, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2825252 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2825252

Adam D. Moore (Contact Author)

University of Washington - The Information School ( email )

Box 352840
Mary Gates Hall, Ste. 370
Seattle, WA 98195
206.685.9937 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ischool.uw.edu

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