Game theory, prisoner's dilemma, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, intellectual property, content creation, optimal, iterated, multiplayer, multi-player, philosophy, payoff, escrow, trust, John Locke, Lockean theory, tragedy, commons, Machlup, Boldrin, Levine, Palmer, Stallman, Venice, guild, cost, economics, exclusive, rights, international union, Dickens, Twain, TRIPS, Hardin


In this article, 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. In brief, allowing content to be unprotected in terms of free access leads to a sub-optimal outcome where creation and innovation are suppressed. Adopting the institutions of copyright, patent, and trade secret is one way to avoid these sub-optimal results.