Scott Adams on IP theft: “It feels like a compliment”

Recently on Twitter, I confessed a personal concern with my growing realization that the only economist who makes any sense to me is not actually an economist, but is Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip.

I’ve never been much of a reader of newspaper comics (even those online), so I’ve never been much of a fan of Dilbert. (I do have a personal Dilbert spotter who forwards me links whenever the strip makes fun of something that might be, uh, like me.)

While Dilbert, the comic strip, may be off my radar screen, I am very much a fan of Scott Adams’ blog at I don’t always agree with what he writes there, but even then, I appreciate the logical and witty, approach he takes in presenting his points of view.

Yesterday, he wrote one of the more sane and rational pieces I’ve read on SOPA and the impact of the internet on intellectual property rights. As Adams is a person whose signifiant wealth has come from intellectual property he created that generates revenues from Dilbert licensed products — revenues equivalent to that of a mid-sized third-world country — I thought his blog post is worth more consideration than, say, another post on this topic from a mere theorist like me.

Here’s a quote from it:

I have one of the most widely stolen intellectual properties in the history of the world. Emotionally, I’m okay with that. It feels like a compliment. Financially, I have no idea if piracy has hurt me in any meaningful way. I made the decision years ago to make Dilbert available on the Internet, including the entire archive. To the surprise of most observers, sales of Dilbert to traditional newspapers continued to grow briskly.

Bottom line: As a creator, my bias is in favor of protecting intellectual property. But in my specific case, SOPA probably wouldn’t have any impact on my life or income.

Scott Adams could easily do the math in a way that would suggest that every un-authorized use of a Dilbert image is piracy and theft. No doubt, he could use the same types of fake-math the music and movie companies use when making up statistics related to “piracy.”

But the creator of Dilbert is too smart for that.

Note: I’ll be writing more later about my “final” thoughts on SOPA and PIPA (including an explanation of what I mean by the word “final”).