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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9344/the-book-and-music-killers/

The book and music killers

January 31, 2009 by

One theory of copyright is that it promotes the production and distribution of literary works. Well, that myth is completely shattered in chapter five of Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrine and David Levine. The chapter is pithy, thorough, dead on in its practical analysis, and deeply radical. It is the perfect illustration of why I think this is one of the most original and compelling books on economics in a generation.

Copyright is a subject replete with mythology. People toss around junk legalisms that they pick up on the street while knowing nothing about the facts or the law. They imagine that copyright is important for protecting rights, even though the practical reality is that it is a killer of ideas and a rights violator on a massive scale. Indeed, something must be done to crush this institution before it brings the creative and literary arts to a grinding halt.

We must remember that the copyright law is a just another bogus modern institution we can do without, just like the income tax and central banking. International copyright only came to exist in 1891–it was the result of lobbying not by authors but by publishers!–and has steadily increased over the century to the point of maniacal absurdity today: thanks to the U.S. Congress, an article you write today is under copyright protection until 70 years after your death.

As mentioned in earlier pieces, copyright originated as a kingly permission to publish what was politically correct. The privilege passed to individual writers in the 19th century but didn’t stay there long: the publishers inherited the right through contracts, and they now use that right to rob writers, musicians, artists, and consumers of what Jefferson considered to be inalienable.

Did the internationalization and institutionalization of copyright actually achieved its stated aim of promoting literary work? There was no increase in copyright registrations as a percentage of the population between 1900 and 1950, despite the double lengthening of the copyright term. So much for the great outpouring of creativity in literature and music.In 1998, the Sonny Bono/Mickey Mouse Copyright Term Extension Act (“the biggest land grab in history”) boosted copyright by 40 percent but with what effect on incentives to produce? None, so far as anyone knows. But the publishers and moguls who pushed for this nonsense are surely happy so they don’t have to work harder and can continue to live off the royalties of their long-dead predecessors.

Actually, what that 1998 legislation did was provide a massive boost for authors to find ways out of the chains of copyright. The development of Creative Commons, and other tools, followed because it is ever more obvious that copyright is at war with the digital age. And thanks goodness for that. But in the meantime, copyright in the 20th century has accomplished horrible evil.

Large swaths of the literary output of the last fifty years, for example, now lies buried in the vaults of large publishers who neither print them nor permit them to be printed absent some huge fee; nor will they return rights to the author. Nor will the publishers allow them to be posted. Getting them back in print is a very expensive and time-consuming operation.

In my own work at the Mises Institute, I’ve encounter a dozen such cases myself, and while most individual cases offer some possibility of a fiduciary workaround, economic considerations on the margin effectively drive these works off the market. Meanwhile, the greatest thing that could ever happen to an author is for his or her works to enter the public domain but that only happens if you wrote your book before 1963 and the copyright was mercifully not renewed.

Here is a test case brilliantly conceived of by Boldrine and Levine. The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs are right on the fence of the copyright law. Some are out of copyright. Some are in. They compared the circulation between them. The books out of copyright in the Mars series are: A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, and The Chessmen of Mars. All of these are available on Amazon, illustrated HTML versions, electronic versions to buy and see for free, and in innumerable editions in stores. Meanwhile, other books in the Mars series are under copyright, including Master of Mars, A Fighting Man of Mars, Swords of Mars, Synthetic Men of Mars, and Llana of Gathol.

Every single one of the under copyright books are out of print! This is not an accident. In this way, copyright serves as a tax on production, so of course it results in less not more.

The same is true of innumerable authors, including many classically liberal authors. The world is highly fortunate that they published with marginal firms that failed to renew their copyrights after they expired. Otherwise, their works would be unavailable. It is in fact tragic that Hayek himself had major publishers who renewed many copyrights, because that fact alone has caused them to be tethered to the point of limiting Hayek’s own influence.

What the 1998 act did was put tens of thousands of titles under copyright that would otherwise have been open to the world. All this was done to protect the work of one company–Disney–which ironically made its fortunate by making movies based on public domain stories! The authors here further point out that large companies have no incentive to bring back into print the titles for which they own copyright because they don’t want them to compete with their new hardback titles. It really is a form of legal suppression of literary work going on here, made possible only by the state’s law, and it is an outrage. A vast swath of the literary output of the West of the last 50 years has been kidnapped by private parties with the legal approval by the state.

Again, the beneficiaries of the law are not authors and not musicians and artists. Musicians themselves typically earn far more from concerts than royalties. So the conventional theory is wrong: copyright doesn’t inspire creativity. These musicians would work and create without it; in fact, no one has a greater incentive for abolishing the current system than creators.

For 2000 years, the core of musical creativity was the emulation and elaboration on existing musical forms, with composers both competing with each other and cooperating in a communal way toward advancement. They depend most heavily on sharing information. If this is stopped, cultural significant creativity is seriously impeded. Copyright shut the cooperative process down at the turn of the 19th century.

Today, serious “classical” composers have to keep returning to public domain material like folk songs to make variations on themes. The music of the 20th century is largely off limits. Meanwhile, the search for originality has created bizarre forms of music within the conservatory culture, none of which has sticking power in the culture at large because it is illegal to imitate it.

This whole scenario represents a radical attack on the very essence of cultural advancement. The repeal of copyright would result in a huge outpouring of great music that uses popular music in a variety of different forms. Composers would be unleash to write, ensembles could perform and record, and musicians of all sorts would produce with glorious new creativity. As it is, they live in a caged world in which lawyers determine what they can write, play, and record. If you understand this, you can see why musical forms have taken such a huge tumble in the last 100 years, while creativity has taken place only in sectors that eschew copyright, such as jazz and independent rock.

As for recording, the whole effort to prevent file sharing has been a disaster for artists. Again, this resulted from special-interest legislation. The tethers are so tight now that many bands are reduced to refusing any recording contracts at all, merely so that they can distribute their own music the way they want to. This has been proven again and again to be compatible with huge sales. The best selling CDs of last year were also the ones available for free download.

Whenever this subject comes up, people unthinking toss around crazy bromides. “You mean you want to allow anyone to just steal anyone’s work? Why would anyone bother to write a book or write a song.”

This kinds of questions reflect what happens to our thinking in a time of statism; we can’t imagine how freedom would work. We do not, for example, ask similar questions about other sectors.

“If you allow the private growing of vegitables, why would anyone bother to start commercial farms or open grocery stores? If you allow people to cook at home, why would anyone open a restaurant? If you allow people to just share recipes, why would anyone become a master chef? You would allow just anyone to steal the idea of a tomato or a sauce or a fancy dish that took years in culinary school to create?”

These questions only sound stupid to us because we don’t have existing laws covering these topics. Somehow everything works out. Because we have copyright, we can’t even imagine how we could get along without it. And yet we see many examples around us. Public domain works are hugely popular and firms profit from selling them, and they are more prevailent than copyrighted works.

What I find striking is that copyright operates today by state-authorized theft of creativity by large firms. Writes and composers and bands permit themselves to be looting of their own right to distribute their own work. Composers work years on a piece and then give up the results to some business corporation in exchange for their right to publicly hum the tune they wrote. It is astounding, and wholly nonviable.

Fortunately, the free market is finding a workaround to evil copyright laws in the form of Creative Commons and other institutions. In this way, at least there is a path to freedom for us, whereas the same can’t be said of patent laws.

Finally, let me say this: I know that I’ve written many articles on this book and this live blog of this one chapter is long, but the truth is that I’ve barely scratched the surface here. This one chapter has far more to offer, but I’ll end for now.

One last note: do not write me with some smarty pants remark about how, if we are serious, the Mises Institute should allow anyone to publish our books. All our new works, insofar as it is possible, will be published with a Creative Commons license as a matter of signed contract with authors. As for this article, please “steal” it. That goes for anything I write. If you can sell it and make a buck, good for you.If you become a millionaire, shame on me for not thinking of it first.

{ 68 comments }

Joe B February 2, 2009 at 2:02 am

Gil: “I beg to differ Joe B. ktibuk stated, and I would agree, that property rights come from being able to enjoy the fruit on one’s labour. He also said, to which I also agree, is that such ownership is singular and doesn’t require the input of anyone else.”

Many socialists would make this exact same argument, although I’m not arguing against it or calling you a socialist. This is a libertarian concept. However, even in socialism personal property can exist, and the rules about the owner’s control over that property are also similar to libertarinism.

My point here is that the concept of ownership is compatible with both systems if the process of acquisition is viewed as justified within the rules of that system.

Where socialism fails in this regard is integrating over time. This requires a concept like homesteading that determines initial allocations – and under socialism these must somehow allow everyone to share in the profits from unclaimed land. This of course leads to notions such as wealth redistribution to account for new people being born. So while personal property may exist and may even be respected in the same way that it is under capitalism at any frozen point in time, it is ultimately subject to the tyranny of the majority, as is the product of each person’s labor. This is one way in which socialism is self-contradictory.

The assumption of Austrian property rights that I don’t see as self-evident is that unclaimed land belongs to nobody. I believe it is right, but I think that this judgement requires some external set of ethics to validate it.

I know the arguments against utilitarianism, and I’m not defending it outright. I certainly don’t think there are any quantative aggregations that could be used to measure some bogus “utility” of a society.

My position would be more along the lines of Negative Utilitarianism. I would define the only “goal” as: “Minimize unnecessary infringement on personal liberty.”

I think this statement is consistent with the Libertarian position and could be applied fairly universally. It requires a definition of personal liberty, but this is self-evident.

So unless the very foundations of civilization are at stake, I don’t see the need to impose arbitrary laws. In fact, I think it’s morally wrong. If I had to choose between personal property and personal liberty, I would choose liberty. But Libertarianism shows us that the two complement and reinforce each other.

With regard to unclaimed land, the austrian view ultimately prevents personal liberty infringements and has the side benefit of allowing civilization to flourish.

This is just my take on it. If there are other approaches to validating this assumption, I would be happy to hear them.

I think an important concept here is considering what “the fruits of one’s labor” means. For Robinson Crusoe, this is straightforward – he enjoys full control over everything he creates. Likewise for an author who writes a journal for his own enjoyment.

However, when you trade these goods you are necessarily giving up control over these goods in exchange for control over other goods.

As I’ve said here and elsewhere, a consensual contract at the point of sale could rightfully allow you to preserve some of your control over a good that you have traded, but this may affect the price that you get in exchange. This provides the means to protect your idea and allows you, not some collective or state, to decide the value of this protection.

Rabs February 2, 2009 at 2:17 am

If the musician is giving away all of his compositions into a free domain society then what sustains the musician to carry out his work as he receives no compensation. If the public places a demand on the musician(they like it and want to hear more) then why shouldn’t they pay for it? Doesn’t copywrite protect intellectual property to some extent?

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 2:28 am

Kinsella,

“It’s not nitpicking to point out that IP has not and could not evolve on the free market any more than a tax code or Americans with Disabilities Act could.”

This is just an assertion without any proof. I claim just the opposite. Without the state IP could be better protected and it would cost much less.

“See my comments here, here, and in my Legislation and the Discovery of Law in a Free Society. And legislation is clearly incompatible with libertarianism, just as the state is. So it’s not “nitpicking” at all. You advocate something that can only be imposed by state diktat; you advocate state legislation, central planning. You dare to say here, in this den of libertarians, that pointing this out is nitpicking? You dare to show up here and call us socialists?”

You people try to use legislation to attack theory. At least this post is about that. Current legislation may have problems, this doesn’t mean you need to abolish private intellectual property. Just as legislative problems regarding tangible property back in the day want a reason to abolish all property.

“You call Jeff and others socialist. We call you socialist. Who is right? Who is right is the person with the proper view of property rights. Who is wrong is the one who is advocating infringement of property rights.”

Exactly.

“By advocating IP you ARE advocating that person A gain a right to tell person B how B can use property B already homesteaded and owned”

No I am NOT, and since you know my opinions on this matter, this is not a result of a misunderstanding but an outright lie.

All I am saying is ideas can be homesteaded by anyone and who ever homesteads an idea is the owner of that idea. And copying without consent of the owner is aggression. How hard is this for you to understand. Do you need me to write a little slower so you can comprehend?

“After IP, A can veto some uses. Your IP scheme has redistributed property rights from its first user and owner, to some third party A who was not its homesteader. This is what socialists and thieves do, ktibuk: they take, partly or completely, the property of others. They steal.”

You keep lying. My “IP scheme” has nothing to do with what you dishonestly attribute to me. There is no redistribution and there is no stealing. You are the one who claims you are entitled to someone else’s product just like a parasite. You claim a product of an individual, can not be owned by him and should freely be enjoyed by the society.

“What? Say what? come again? Do you not see how full of fertilizer this reasoning is? In the face of the hallowed, glorious, and unimpeachable Lockean homesteading rule that underpins all libertarianism, and all society and civilization–and the concomitant rule that the owner of property is now its owner until he voluntarily reliquishes it–that is, that the current or prior claimant to land always of necessity has a better claim to it than any late-comer.”

You are the one who denies the most essential part of the Lockean homesteading. You throw away “mixing your labor” and keep only “first comer” and you have the nerve to accuse me?

You throw out the individual, the producer. He is nothing to you. And of course all you are left with is socialism.

You sir, are a liar. You have no courage or backbone to take my arguments as they are and argue against them, but you first misrepresent them to your comfort and attack you straw man. Because you are intellectually weak.

You are intellectually threatened by sound arguments, because this “IP socialism” garbage is what defines you. Without this you would be just another errand boy for the Mises Inst.

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 2:50 am

Kinsella,

“You also seem unable to recognize how inane your argument is, when you continually resort to question-begging. Do you know what it means to beg the question, and why it’s an illegitimate argumentative tactic? E.g., “You just claim that you are entitled to other peoples product and you keep repeating this like spoiled children in a toy store.”

See, you are here assuming what you want to prove by classifying the patterns at issue as owned “products.” Uhm, that’s the question, ktibuk.”

Let me address this fallacy too. I am not assuming my conclusion and my claim is not begging any questions.

The question is will the individual own what he produces or not.

You may deny this, you may not see a link between producing something and owning it, and being a socialist you may claim the product should be owned by the society.

But you may not deny the fact that the product is in fact produced by one individual as opposed to being a nature given free good like “air”.

So I repeat.

“You just claim that you are entitled to other peoples PRODUCT and you keep repeating this like spoiled children in a toy store.”

or let me rephrase it and dumb it down for you.

“You just claim you that you are entitled to the products created by other people and you keep repeating this like spoiled children in a toy store”

Also about the calculation argument.

Yes I use that too, but always separately. The reason I do this is it is very hard to argue with people on ethical grounds if they lacking any ethical standards.

It is much easier to deploy the calculation argument and watch people like you to run away.

Drake February 2, 2009 at 4:12 am

@ktibuk

“It is much easier to deploy the calculation argument and watch people like you to run away.”

Your calculation argument was a sham all along. Until recently, you had been trying to con people into believing that it was Mises’ argument. When confronted with Mises’ actual words, however, you finally backed down. And while conceding defeat you gave a FALSE definition of a basic economics term in order to salvage whatever remained of your fading credibility.

If anyone on this thread is a liar, it is YOU.

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 4:57 am

@Drake,

I never claimed Mises handled the IP question with his calculation argument. He handled socialism in general and demolished it handily.

I said, Mises’ general calculation argument can be applied to IP problem. Which Silas and I have done. See, some people dont just memorize and quote past thinkers, but try to understand theit methods and apply them to other places.

If you knew anything about Mises, calculation problem and economics for that matter, before jumping into arguments about IP you would have known this.

But still if this argument helped you to that path of learning I am glad. But I suggest you start reading original material and try to understand the issues instead of running to wikipedia when you confront something you dont know.

Drake February 2, 2009 at 5:20 am

@ktibuk

I checked your definition of “free goods” on wikipedia and confirmed my suspicion that you were WRONG. But that wasn’t enough, so I checked it in “Human Action” which reconfirmed that you were WRONG. That makes you either ignorant or a liar. Pick one.

Mises NEVER said that the abolition of copyright WAS socialism or would LEAD to socialism. If that is YOUR contention, you are at odds with Mises.

If you want to claim that Mises wasn’t foresighted enough to consider the implications of technological progress and/or that your brilliant mind has surpassed his, you are free to do so.

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 5:44 am

@Drake

What you are trying to do is to “appeal to authority” which is actually a logical fallacy. I suggest you research “logical fallacies” in wikipedia too.

Mises wasn’t a God, and he probably didn’t have something to say for every possible situation.

But he introduced a method to deal with socialism. It is called the calculation argument. He personally dealt with “socialism” where factors of all production is socialized, in other words not privately owned but owned by society.

But this method can also be applied to IP problem. Which Silas and I did. I also acknowledge Mises with this method, because well, it is his.

You have no argument against this because you are not intellectually equipped but you keep appealing to authority.

If you have anything to say about the argument itself please do. Otherwise you have nothing to add to the argument.

Drake February 2, 2009 at 6:03 am

@ktibuk

Actually, I’m calling YOU out for appealing to authority. That’s why I said this:

“Your calculation argument was a sham all along. Until recently, you had been trying to con people into believing that it was Mises’ argument. When confronted with Mises’ actual words, however, you finally backed down. And while conceding defeat you gave a FALSE definition of a basic economics term in order to salvage whatever remained of your fading credibility.”

And this:

“Stop using Mises’ name to give your posts a veneer of credibility. Start taking responsibility for your own ideas by admitting that they are your own and NOT Mises’.”

Nice try though ;)

Drake February 2, 2009 at 6:05 am

P.s. Any comment on the free goods “slip up”?

Joe February 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

Why is it that people who champion the control of others thoughts and behaviors always resort to violence, whether physical or verbal, in the end? To ask the question is to answer it.

“All I am saying is ideas can be homesteaded by anyone and who ever homesteads an idea is the owner of that idea. And copying without consent of the owner is aggression. How hard is this for you to understand. Do you need me to write a little slower so you can comprehend?”

According to this logic other people can put me in idea bondage by declaring certain ideas to be their homesteaded property. Well I hereby declare that the idea of ideas as property belongs to me. This idea is (c) 2009 Joe. If anyone makes use of this idea on this thread without my permission first, I will call the cops.

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

Joe,

“According to this logic other people can put me in idea bondage by declaring certain ideas to be their homesteaded property. Well I hereby declare that the idea of ideas as property belongs to me. This idea is (c) 2009 Joe. If anyone makes use of this idea on this thread without my permission first, I will call the cops.”

See, I get frustrated because people although they quote, try to answer without thinking one bit on it.

Please, pretty please first try to understand what other people are trying to say before you jump in and put words in their mouths.

No Joe,

According to this logic people can not put you in bondage. If A homesteads an idea, he may own it but he may NOT stop you from homesteading the same idea yourself. He can just stop you from “copying”.

Lets say you invented the wheel. You own it. Someone else on the other side of the planet may invent it too and he owns it. The problem is aggression, copying without the consent of the owner. And yes, the accuser bears the burden of proof that copying took place.

And if there is any violence involved on behalf of an IP owner it is self defense against aggression, thus ethical.

Joe February 2, 2009 at 10:17 am

OK, let me see if I understand. We have 2 cavemen on opposite sides of the world who both have the idea of the wheel in their minds, and lets say they both also independently created an actual physical wheel from that idea. Both can apparently be said to own the idea, and to also own the right to indulge in the behavior of manufacturing a wheel.

However if a third caveman living near one of the 2 wheel idea originators, sees the wheel, and then makes his own copy, he has committed an aggression against both of the 2 originators.

However, the 2 originators have the burden of using caveman lawyers to show something was ‘copied’ from the them. And if they succeed in showing that something was copied from them, they have the right to use violence against the third caveman to stop him from this wheel copying behavior. The reason I say ‘something’ was copied, is because I’m not sure exactly what can’t be ‘copied.’ Is it the idea in any form such as mental, the idea in particular forms such as written/cave art, or the does ‘copying’ mean ‘the right of wheel manufacturing behavior’ or all of the above?

Also, since it appears you are claiming to argue from a natural law basis, what is the natural law procedure for determining who has ‘copied’ from who, and how does that arise from the first principles of natural law? Is thinking an idea enough to own it? Or must one speak it publicly? Or must one manufacture a written record or product from the idea?

Btw, I suspect you are violating my claim on the idea of ‘ideas are property’ by making written products based on this idea. I am clearly the first person to copyright this idea.

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 11:48 am

“OK, let me see if I understand. We have 2 cavemen on opposite sides of the world who both have the idea of the wheel in their minds, and lets say they both also independently created an actual physical wheel from that idea. Both can apparently be said to own the idea, and to also own the right to indulge in the behavior of manufacturing a wheel.”

True

“However if a third caveman living near one of the 2 wheel idea originators, sees the wheel, and then makes his own copy, he has committed an aggression against both of the 2 originators.”

Partially true. He has committed aggression against only the one who he has copied from. Since he didn’t have any access to the other persons work the other person can not claim aggression.

“However, the 2 originators have the burden of using caveman lawyers to show something was ‘copied’ from the them. And if they succeed in showing that something was copied from them, they have the right to use violence against the third caveman to stop him from this wheel copying behavior. The reason I say ‘something’ was copied, is because I’m not sure exactly what can’t be ‘copied.’ Is it the idea in any form such as mental, the idea in particular forms such as written/cave art, or the does ‘copying’ mean ‘the right of wheel manufacturing behavior’ or all of the above?”

Whoever thinks he was aggressed against have to prove it in a court of law. And yes if one proves he was aggressed against he has a right to compensation and use violence to this effect. And that something is the idea in general identification terms. This idea may be many things. Technology, novels, songs, software. Anything that is created by some individual.

“Also, since it appears you are claiming to argue from a natural law basis, what is the natural law procedure for determining who has ‘copied’ from who, and how does that arise from the first principles of natural law? Is thinking an idea enough to own it? Or must one speak it publicly? Or must one manufacture a written record or product from the idea?”

He whoever homesteads property owns it. This is the natural law. According to Lockean homesteading, whoever mixes his labor with a natural resource owns it. When it comes to scarce resources there is also a need for the “first comer” principle but when it comes to ideas, since they can be homesteaded by different individuals independently first comer is meaningless thus unnecessary.

But by procedure, if you mean technically proving, this would be handled in court.

“Btw, I suspect you are violating my claim on the idea of ‘ideas are property’ by making written products based on this idea. I am clearly the first person to copyright this idea.”

If you can prove that I copied any idea of “yours” without your consent, that means I did violate your rights. But for an idea to be “yours”, either you must have homesteaded the idea, or bought it (or received exclusively as a gift) from a rightful owner. There are also ideas by our forefathers that were given away for free as gifts. Like language, mathematics, philosophy, etc. Some were given away for charity, some for glory and some because transaction costs were high.

Not every idea has to be a part of an economics exchange just as tangible property.

Joe February 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm

OK, so according to what your saying it doesn’t matter who came up with an idea first, only that they came up with that idea on their own, without having learned the idea from someone else. I’ll guess you don’t want to outlaw learning, but rather the physical application or communication of learning without permission of the ‘owner.’ So if I see a wheel it’s not illegal for me to learn from this observation, but it would be illegal for me to explain to someone else what a wheel is without permission.

Since I learned of the idea of ‘ideas are property’ from you, I take it you would claim the right to use violence against me for producing written products based on this idea. I don’t think I’ll be revealing my address any time soon.

ktibuk February 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Joe,

You don’t need to try to find difficult situations, exceptions to try to test a theory. There are difficult situations regarding tangible property.

For example two people survive a boat accident and while they float on the sea they see an unowned raft. According to property theory the first one that gets in the raft and homesteads it owns it. And this means he can deny the other entry to the boat which means certain death to the other. Does this scenario negate property rights? No.

All you have to understand and accept is that there is a natural connection between producing something and owning it. Scarcity/non scarcity or tangibility/intangibility can not sever this link.

If you want scenarios that really cause problems look around.

For example we all know Led Zeppelin created “Stairway to Heaven”. They produced it. Without them the song wouldn’t exist. And they have every right to own it. Ease of reproduction can not sever the link between them and the song.

And no one else could and does claim they made the song. Anti IP people only claim they have a right to the song. They claim they are entitled to the product of Led Zeppelin. As if the song fell out of the sky, as if it was a free gift of nature.

This is parasitism. And it is clearly wrong.

I am not ktibuk February 7, 2009 at 4:35 pm

You know, Joe, you don’t need to try to find difficult situations, exceptions to try to test a theory. There are difficult situations regarding tangible property. For example, two people survive a boat accident and while they float on the sea they see an unowned raft. According to property theory, the first one that gets in the raft and homesteads it owns it; and this means he can deny the other entry to the boat (which means certain death to the other). Does this scenario negate property rights? No!

All you have to understand and accept is that there is a natural connection between producing something and owning it. Scarcity/non scarcity or tangibility/intangibility can not sever this link.

If you want scenarios that really cause problems, then look around.

We all know, for example, that Led Zeppelin created “Stairway to Heaven.” They produced it. Without them the song wouldn’t exist. And they have every right to own it. Ease of reproduction cannot sever the link between them and the song.

Furthermore, no one else could and does claim they made the song. Anti-IP people only CLAIM that they have a right to the song. They CLAIM they are entitled to the product of Led Zeppelin. As if the song fell out of the sky, as if it was a free gift of nature.

This is parasitism, and it is clearly wrong.

newson February 7, 2009 at 9:39 pm

“I am not ktibuk” says:
“Anti-IP people only CLAIM that they have a right to the song. They CLAIM they are entitled to the product of Led Zeppelin. As if the song fell out of the sky, as if it was a free gift of nature.”

you really are ktibuk, and you really should do your homework. “stairway to heaven” 1971 has a guitar riff almost identical to “taurus” (spirit:1968).
rolling stones “stole” chuck berry’s ip. beach boys “surfin’ usa” vs chuck berry’s “sweet little sixteen”, blah, blah, blah.

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