45 comments on “Timmy elsewhere

  1. Oh, some of us care. If companies must be destroyed in a whirlwind of creative destruction, who better than bloody pop music companies?

    I do hope that the wee labels who publish vintage jazz survive, of course, or Catalonian nose-flute music, or whatever.

  2. But that’s not what we actually care about, what we want to know is whether we the consumers have been able to consume more music as a result. Which clearly we have.

    At which point, Tim descends into the currently popular formulation of communist rhetoric.

    Look, IP is a property right. Of course widespread flouting of property rights is a boon for consumers. Ask any of the shop-rioters last year. Trainers for all!

    Therefore, we should abandon property rights because they reduce supply.

    Except we have property rights because we want a market, in which supply is moderated by the consumers’ ability to trade something for what they consume.

    You don’t want a market? Fine, don’t have property rights. You’ve discovered the Philosopher’s Stone! Production without compensation! Everyone happy! Every day the first day of Spring! Everything free for all! You have slain the free market dragon at last!

    And this from a reputed Classical Liberal? Christ.

  3. Ian, your claim that Tim is descending into any sort of rhetoric is ironic given your last paragraph.

    Intellectual property is fundamentally different from regular property. Whereas regular property has its basis in philosophical, moral grounds, IP has always been primarily a policy matter. And it should be treated as such.

  4. All property rights are different to one another. Your bodily property is different to your land property. None have ever been historically absolute- or even existed for most of human history (there are no “natural rights”) and are a matter of societal consensus and, as such, “primarily a policy matter”.

    You create a property right when you want ownership of some arbitrary class of Things. That is all there is. For instance, most societies have no concept of land ownership; our Saxon ancestors handed out temporary rights to plots of land by lottery each year. The idea of buying and selling the land itself would have been incomprehensible in their paradigm. There was also in general a concept of territory in prior societies; you fought for it and killed for it. If you could destroy a neighbouring tribe and grab their territory, all well and good and moral and legitimate. But property rights work better. Saves all that killing and shit. So, we have property rights.

  5. @Mr Civil Libertarian, should a content creator have the right to set his price and consumers the freedom to negotiate or walk away, or should consumers have the right to ignore that the content creator wishes?

  6. The difference is that it’s almost impossible to enforce intellectual property rights. Is the damage to society and to individual liberty worth it? The one IP right you’ll always have is the right to sell it in the first place, but leasing out something that’s easily duplicable always seemed iffy to me.

  7. So is the “societal cost” of not having any movies to watch, at least if, like me, you’re fond of movies.

    It just comes down to this; either you believe the communist ideal that people will produce without a marketplace, or you don’t. It Tim and others want to believe that, fine. But it sure as shit isn’t classical liberalism, and makes Tim’s other posts about free markets (e.g. in healthcare) utterly unsupportable. You can’t argue “markets are required in Sector A but not in Sector B”. What’s magic about musicians, artists, film makers, writers, etc, that makes them capable of work without remuneration? Why doesn’t this magic work in healthcare?

    Even in healthcare, we expect doctors and nurses to want to be paid, which is why the State pays them. But noooooo, musicians, artists, actors, novelists, they’re all going to do it for free!

    Well, it’s bloody stupid saying that. I mean really, bloody stupid.

    Tim pulls some statistics out of his rear end in the article but ignores the biggest statistic of all; if working without copyright can supply the market, why isn’t everyone already doing it? Nobody is forced to charge for their wares. Everyone is already free to hand them straight into the public domain. And yet, they aren’t. It is overwhelmingly the case that the people who actually produce creative property want to sell it on the free market, whereas those opposed to IP are those who do not create, but wish to consume without limit.

    If IP is really unnecessary, then just let it whither away on the vine. Nobody will use it. Nobody is forced to use it. It will just become a dead letter.

    *sits back and waits*

  8. “If IP is really unnecessary, then just let it whither away on the vine. Nobody will use it. Nobody is forced to use it. It will just become a dead letter.”
    Utter nonsense. Public choice 101, anyone?

    Intellectual property is, by the usual libertarian line, a prime example of crony capitalism- state ensured privileges for guaranteeing profit. At least, that’s the line I would expect. Even if you don’t accept that, surely you recognize that by monopolizing the ability to, say, build a certain mousetrap, the market is distorted?

    All the things you say come from the assumption that IP is property on equal terms with others. But we’re asking you to back that up, something you’re reluctant to do.

  9. Intellectual property is, by the usual libertarian line, a prime example of crony capitalism- state ensured privileges for guaranteeing profit.

    Nope. It’s a property right. If you’re going to start arguing that all property rights are “crony capitalism”, then you’re over on that step with the communists, I’m afraid. The basis of liberty is property. If the community owns everything, liberty you ain’t got.

    The point of what I quoted above is this; nobody is stopping the millions of anti-IP complainers going off and creating their own stuff and giving it away and, if they are correct, leaving the Evil Capitalist Music Industry and Movie Industry and so on in the dust. Who cares if you can’t swipe Star Wars? Make your own movie!

    But nobody ever seems to, do they? They complain about other peoples’ property, but make no effort to produce anything on their own. Where are the IP-free blockbuster movies? What are people waiting for? Is it that slight problem that they can’t afford to make movies if there are no property rights and thus no free market in movies without IP? Could that be it?

  10. “Nope. It’s a property right.”

    I would like you to back this up.

    “If you’re going to start arguing that all property rights are “crony capitalism”, then you’re over on that step with the communists, I’m afraid.”
    This is not only a massive straw man, but a leap of logic from being against IP- as many libertarians are- to being against all property.

    Intellectual property is not comparable to corporeal property, as IP necessarily requires massive state action to enforce against the property and free expression of all other people in ways any other form of property does not. Are you really saying if you patent a sword, and I mine my own iron, and use my own workshop to craft a similar sword, that property rights dictate you should seize my sword? There is a very good reason why the pro-IP libertarians are not only a recent invention, but already dwindling in number.

    But again, you are saying “IP is property” as a give, which it in no way is.

    “The point of what I quoted above is this; nobody is stopping the millions of anti-IP complainers going off and creating their own stuff and giving it away and, if they are correct, leaving the Evil Capitalist Music Industry and Movie Industry and so on in the dust. Who cares if you can’t swipe Star Wars? Make your own movie!”

    Actually, there are people doing that. Plenty. It doesn’t take much effort on google to find examples of successful writers and musicians, for instance, with a disregard for IP.

    What Intellectual Property does is allow these giant media companies to exist, despite their inherent inefficiencies. For more on that, I refer you to this paper, Intellectual Property: A Libertarian Critique.
    http://blog.mises.org/9946/kevin-carsons-intellectual-property-a-libertarian-critique/

  11. Ian B – “At which point, Tim descends into the currently popular formulation of communist rhetoric.”

    Wow. Tim Worstall is a Communist? Who woudda thunk it?

    “Look, IP is a property right.”

    But it is an odd property right. It is a property right that only exists by infringing on the rights of others. If I want to publish “I have a dream … Hills of Georgia …” etc etc on, say, a memorial to Martin Luther King, I have to pay his family. Even though he lifted the words from someone else. Why should my freedom of speech be compromised by the property rights of his fairly undeserving widow? Which right do you think should triumph?

    We say property rights, for the most part, not because property rights are sacred or more important than free speech, but because they work. They produce more great speeches ….. err, well, at least in theory they do. Thus we are all better off if we accept an infringement of our other rights. Or as TW says, we consume more music that way.

    By the way, it is likely that Mickey Mouse et al will never come out of copyright because the swine at Disney have lobbied for extensions faster than they have run out so far. They keep demanding more and more time. As someone with a fundamental belief in IP, how do you feel about a post-facto extension of copyright? Is a song that was produced under one regime entitled to the longer period that came along decades after the original work was composed?

  12. Once again we have Ian B with his usual “I can’t back up my position on intellectual monopolies, so I’m going to type ‘communist’ a lot.”

    Mr Civil Libertarian, of course, has it absolutely right.

    One thing I’ll give to Ian is this: “All property rights are different to one another. … None have ever been historically absolute- or even existed for most of human history (there are no “natural rights”) and are a matter of societal consensus”

    The problem for the supporters of intellectual monopolies is that the consensus around those privileges has clearly broken down. I suspect most people didn’t care about them in previous generations, because the laws were in effect an industrial regulation which only affected those who owned a printing press.

    Now that the laws impact on the general public’s ability to use their everyday property, those laws are being disregarded and opposed. The laws no longer upheld by consensus, if they ever were.

  13. Okay, the commies are massing haha! As usual. I will answer the pertinent points rather than per person; a collectivist approach will probably be beter understood anyway by the Red Guards here. 🙂

    “Nope. It’s a property right.”

    I would like you to back this up.

    It’s a definition of property. That is what a property right is. I cannot put it any other way. It’s like asking “back up your assertion that Tim Worstall is a human being”. All I can say is, “Tim Worstall is a human being.”

    Following this logic, Paul Lockett weighs in with the commonplace misuse of the word “monopoly” by communists. And also objects to “communist”. I’ll take the latter first; a person who believes in communalised, rather than individual, property is by definition a communist. Not necessarily a Marxist of course; but a communist. Many people are IP communists. Many others are land communists. And so on.

    Now, is the word “monopoly” appropriate here? Depends on your personal taste. But, if IP is “monopoly” then so is land ownership; the landowner monopolises his land. So is owning your toothbrush; you are monopolising your toothbrush and- as with this “IP monopoly”- in each case the State will use force to defend your monopoly. Hence, Mr CL’s claim-

    Intellectual property is not comparable to corporeal property, as IP necessarily requires massive state action to enforce against the property and free expression of all other people in ways any other form of property does not.

    -is false. All property requires similar “massive State action”; as we see in cases of trespass, or looting. In each case, if mass violation of property rights occurs, the State either ends up using massive (often deadly) force, or the property right cannot be enforced and widespread violation results.

    So, the accusations that IP is qualitatively different to other property rights are false.

    We say property rights, for the most part, not because property rights are sacred or more important than free speech, but because they work.

    Yes, all rights are ultimately justified on some Utilitarian basis, however much some may like to claim to be able to pluck them from a Platonic Plane. Specifically, as capitalists we prefer a rights framework to ensure the existence of a market and thus production. That is, they allow a trading system between strangers; the basis of any free market.

    By the way, it is likely that Mickey Mouse et al will never come out of copyright because the swine at Disney have lobbied for extensions faster than they have run out so far.

    So? What is this desperate need people have for Mickey Mouse? If you don’t want to pay for Mickey, draw your own mouse. What do you need theirs for? And this is where the whole argument gets both curious and revealing. It is claimed above that copyrights “infringe others’ rights”. But how? All you’re denied is Mickey Mouse. There are an infinitude of other possible cartoon mice, or cartoon characters. Nobody is being prevented creating any number of new mice. One can argue that for patents, one man’s patent on a telephone prevents anyone else making telephones (since the laws of physics limit the number of unique inventions). Not so cartoon mice; there cannot be a shortage, or any infringement of others’ freedoms of action at all.

    And yet, the IP brigade are most furious at copyrights. “How dare they extend copyright on Mickey Mouse?” they squeak! This is the bottom line of it. Such people are those with no capacity to create new works and thus enrich the marketplace; the best they can do is the feeble collage of “mashups” and “mixtapes”; this is the height of their capacity.

    They cannot create IP-free works because they cannot create, period. So they want the illusion of creation, by appropriating the works of others. This is the driving force behind the anger at IP. This, and the simple desire for plunder- the oldest economy mankind knows is to take. It precedes trade. You take from the environment, and you plunder your neighbours in murderous raids. That is what we had before markets were invented. That is the instinct here.

    I’ll just repeat again; liberals and libertarians support markets. That’s the basis of our system. If you want a market, you have to have that artifical creation, property rights. It took us 99% of human history before we invented them. They were the way out of a prior existence of eternal plunder. That’s the choice. Stick with markets, or go back to plunder.

    I prefer the markets, myself.

  14. Ian B – “So, the accusations that IP is qualitatively different to other property rights are false.”

    Except that you refusing to let me use your physical property does not infringe on my rights. You refusal to let me use a certain arrangement of words does.

    “Yes, all rights are ultimately justified on some Utilitarian basis, however much some may like to claim to be able to pluck them from a Platonic Plane.”

    So we are agreeing that IP is only valuable in so far as it produces a socially valuable result? Aren’t you just conceding TW’s point that the only sensible measure is the freedom of consumers to consume music?

    “So? What is this desperate need people have for Mickey Mouse? If you don’t want to pay for Mickey, draw your own mouse. What do you need theirs for?”

    This is a bizarre argument from you. I don’t need any justification for what I want to do. The default state is that it is my right to draw what I damn well please. You need to produce a good reason why I shouldn’t draw Mickey. In what sense is it theirs? When it was created, it was created under one set of property rights. They then lobbied the government to take away our rights to give them to Disney – more than once too. Successfully. You think that IP rights should last forever?

    “It is claimed above that copyrights “infringe others’ rights”. But how? All you’re denied is Mickey Mouse. There are an infinitude of other possible cartoon mice, or cartoon characters.”

    I am denied the fullest range of free speech. It is no use saying that as we have a choice of millions of words and an infinite number of sentences, it is no loss to freedom of speech that you cannot say “Down with this government”. Because it is.

    “And yet, the IP brigade are most furious at copyrights. “How dare they extend copyright on Mickey Mouse?” they squeak! This is the bottom line of it. Such people are those with no capacity to create new works and thus enrich the marketplace; the best they can do is the feeble collage of “mashups” and “mixtapes”; this is the height of their capacity.”

    No you’re being childish. Patents do not guarantee creativity. And even if they did, an ad hominem is not a valid argument. Even if we ignore the fact that many of the most creative people were creative without copyright. No one copyrighted, if that is a word, Homer’s work.

    “This, and the simple desire for plunder- the oldest economy mankind knows is to take. It precedes trade. You take from the environment, and you plunder your neighbours in murderous raids. That is what we had before markets were invented. That is the instinct here.”

    How is it plunder to insist that something that was going to be ours by now actually should be ours by now?

    “I’ll just repeat again; liberals and libertarians support markets.”

    As do I. But that is separate from IP. You are trying to conflate the two. We have not had IP until recently. But we have had markets since the dawn of time.

  15. (declaration of interest: I work in the ‘entertainment sector’.)

    Of course it is ultimately impossible to stop the sharing of digital content. I can see why particular technical measures are freedom-infringing but I don’t see why in principle the law shouldn’t be enforced against individuals who are found to break it (say those poor housewives or grannies who downloaded thousands of mp3s). What great harm or injustice is perpetrated in saying I’m not allowed to copy Star Wars?

    We now have two generations of people who are unwilling to pay anything at all, even £1 or less for a mobile app; they even ‘pirate’ free software, presumably because they don’t like the adverts used to pay the creators or the distribution method – I don’t know. Physical objects are now being reproduced absent authorisation – look up ‘physibles’. It will be interesting to see YouTube’s ad experiment, where they will only get paid if people don’t skip the ad before 20s seconds (YouTube of course was built on unauthorised sharing).

    But I think creators / copyright holders will just have to accept that some people will obtain what they want without paying for it. The Hollywood mogul will have to decide whether it is worth spending $100m on Titanic 2. GlaxoSmithKline will have to decide whether it is worth pumping similar sums into researching new drugs. We will have to decide whether IP is worth protecting.

  16. IanB:

    Give it up. Actually, I’m surprised to see that you hadn’t already realized you’re on the losing side of the argument.

    It’s a loser for one very simple reason. The other side has, as its goal, a society in which IP does not exist as a creature of the state. Theyre free to posit (theorize, imagine) many ways in which their world-to-be shall excel our present existence: they’ve got a million ways in which IP of the present is abused, etc. and opponents are reduced to trying to imagine just what faults or shortcomings will be found inherent in the new
    regime or shall be likely to crop up.

    If it’s any consolation, there are plenty who see things “our” way, of course including very many who are so inclined, not on the basis of any
    large amount of thought spent on the matter but, rather, because “that’s the way things have always been.” And it may be quite some time before persuaded majorities might effect the
    discontinuation of IP legislation, especially as we can expect holders of (and others dependent on) such “property” (especially technical and the chemical and biologically-based varieties) to “go the extra mile” and buy up all available assets ( known as politicians) in sight to man the bulwarks.

    But, I expect, eventually, they’ll win. And then, we’ll all find out who was right “back in the day.”

    I got nothing against those looking to dismantle the present arrangements-I just think they’re wrong. Not thieves nor commies (except by a stretch of imagination); and, as a matter of fact, many of that opinion are pretty solidly in the camp of free-marketeers, libertarians, etc. If they’re wrong, they’ll find that out along with the rest of us. My guess is that at least some on that side see it as a “cause celebre,” in which the “cause” makes them, personally and professionally, “celebre.”

  17. A very famous inventor–Benjamin Franklin– eschewed patents for any of his inventions, not because he’d any opposition to their legitimacy but simply that he wanted no interference with the widest possible application and benefits that might be forthcoming for the greatest number.

    He also thought that paper money was a wonderful thing; in this he might have been at least slightly prejudiced by being favored with contracts to do the printing.

  18. The reason markets are a better system than, for example, central planning, is that they have the ability to cope with disruptive shock.

    What we have, in the copyright space (not patents, trademarks, registered designs) and, to a lesser extent in the luxury goods grey import space, is the rights owners desperately trying to use the corruptability of the representative democratic system to buttress their business models against the shock introduced by digital distribution and online international trading. It won’t work.

    This is regardless of whether you are talking about breach of licensing agreements (unfair terms and conditions anyone?), onward sales, grey imports or merely burning a few songs to your iWhatever.

    Why is copyright 120 years where patents a mere 20?

    I have few problems with most limited term IP (methods patents aside). But there are too many people taking the piss. Jumping on torrent abusers with dreadfully incompetent investigations backed by really slick lawyers rather than addressing the large scale, dangerous criminal rings is just cowardice.

  19. Gene-

    Give it up. Actually, I’m surprised to see that you hadn’t already realized you’re on the losing side of the argument.

    I’m always on the losing side. I’m a libertarian. Right now, that’s about as useful as being pro-paganism under Theodosius I. So I don’t expect to “win” any arguments, because the other side are dominant.

    So here, I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of people who insist that markets, and only markets, work for land, goods, services (including state services like healthcare, education, etc) who then suddenly swap to [leftist/collectivist/communist/anti-market/whatever] arguments when they feel a sudden “right” to expropriate Mickey Mouse.

    All propertarian market systems infringe the “rights” of others to use property. That is why they work. Without them, there is no price system and [insert Von Mises et al’s debunking of socialism here]. Your land is not my land. If you own the hospital and demand payment for healthcare, maybe I can’t afford it. If you own all the food, I cannot eat. Indeed, back with land, under propertarianism, we not only have people rendered landless and thus not even able to find that most basic human requirement- shelter- we even have laws against being in that desperate landless state (“vagrancy”).

    It is the height of absurdity to support land laws on the basis of market efficiency (as I do) but to then complain that some terrible injustice is done by copyright on Mickey Mouse. It is the height of hypocrisy to declare that healthcare cannot work without a market system but somehow the movie or music industries can. And it is classic Leftist rhetoric to reduce the whole argument, as Tim has done here, to that tired old “Teh People Versus Teh Evil Capitalist Corporations”.

  20. Note that Ian is talking about “markets” and missing the usual qualifier “free” off.

    Because the IP market is very heavily, legally stacked in favour of the rights holders. But, clearly, not enough. Hence their recent assaults on our existing liberties so their rights enforcement is made easier.

  21. SE, if you’ve particular criticisms of the current state, fair enough. But every market we have in the “mixed economy” is currently heavily stacked in some way or another. There isn’t a “free” market in existence, anywhere, though some are freer than others.

    What is at issue is principles. Do you want a market at all, or do you not? That’s what matters.

    If you want to object to current legislation and enforcement methods, I would probably agree with most of what you say. But it is like arguing about the issue of whether our society should support land ownership, or whether punishments for trespass are too severe. Different issues.

  22. Ian B: “I’ll take the latter first; a person who believes in communalised, rather than individual, property is by definition a communist. Not necessarily a Marxist of course; but a communist. Many people are IP communists. Many others are land communists. And so on.”

    Communism is a term generally accepted to refer to a system based on the collective ownership of the means of production. You, in an attempt to use it as a perjorative term, are seeking to apply it to anybody who believes that an item should not be subject to exclusive property rights, be it physical property, ideas, expressions or land. What makes that so ridiculous is that, by the definition you are using, pretty much everybody is a communist. The vast majority, for example, are air communists, who believe that the right to breathe shouldn’t be privately owned. Language communists are also in the overwhelming majority.

    “So, the accusations that IP is qualitatively different to other property rights are false.”

    No, it is qualitatively different because it is an exclusive right over something non-rivalrous, which, unlike property rights over tangible goods, makes it incompatible with concepts such as the law of equal freedom. That is why liberals and libertarians oppose intellectual monopolies.

    “I’ll just repeat again; liberals and libertarians support markets. That’s the basis of our system.”

    No, liberals and libertarians support liberty, something that state granted intellectual monopolies are incompatible with. Markets are a consequence of the goal, not the goal itself, otherwise, the term would be marketarians.

  23. Ian B,

    If you want to object to current legislation and enforcement methods, I would probably agree with most of what you say. But it is like arguing about the issue of whether our society should support land ownership, or whether punishments for trespass are too severe. Different issues.

    Spot on.

  24. If you will allow me to divert your philosophical discussion into base a consumerist rant, I’m pissed off with IP.

    I’m pissed off that I bought Plants vs. Zombies on PC and now can’t play it on my PS3. I’m pissed off that I bought music on vinyl and music on CD and yet I have legal right to stream that music at work.

    Either they are selling the product and I’m free to copy it, or they’re selling the rights and I can request it in any format at any time (at cost). That these companies refuse to let me do either shows they have no belief in their own arguments.

  25. MrPotarto, the contract of sale was not £15 for “Plants vs. Zombies for all platforms”, it was £15 for PC.

    Either they are selling the product and I’m free to copy it, or they’re selling the rights and I can request it in any format at any time (at cost). That these companies refuse to let me do either shows they have no belief in their own arguments.

    You bought a game for PC. You want to play it on PS3. The publisher would like to be compensated for the development for that different platform (it’s not equal to the PC cost, because some assets will have been re-used, but it’s more than zero). Sony will require a platform holder royalty, too. We’re getting close to a tenner, here.

  26. Yes, you make a fair point about the game, but it doesn’t hold for music. They have a master track which they use to make LPs or CDs or downloads.

    The argument is that I can’t copy my purchased music because I didn’t buy the music I bought the right to listen. Yet by forcing me to re-buy the same right to listen on different formats for the same (or often higher price) than the original version, they show their argument is spurious. Either I bought the music or the right to listen to the music.

  27. Sorry – forgot about the music. I can sympathise more with such complaints about music, because music is music (but PC != PS3 != Xbox != iPhone). You ought to be free to rip CDs for personal use, e.g. making mp3s for your iPod. I think it was wrong for MBG to demand a tax on mp3 players to ‘compensate artists’. What difference does it make to ‘the artist’ if a person buys a CD and carries around a portable CD player or buys a CD and rips it to mp3 format so he can play it on an mp3 player?

  28. …it doesn’t hold for music. They have a master track which they use to make LPs or CDs or downloads.

    You know, the other week I decided to re-decorate my sitting room. I found some William Morris wallpaper that would be just the ticket. The problem was that it is £80+ per roll.

    Let’s face it, the designer did his job so long ago that he’s now dead. The technicians who made the litho plates are also now dead. So why are they charging me £80+ per roll? Free William Morris wallpaper for the masses!

    And while we’re at it, why not free Rodin bronzes for all? Hell, any caster of bronzes is only duplicating one original work. So why aren’t they free?

    Frankly, this discussion has been had several times over at Samizdata. The arguments there have puzzled me no less than the discussion here. IanB’s argument is so obviously, so self-evidently, correct that it astonishes me that anyone who calls himself a libertarian could disagree.

  29. Philip Scott Thomas, you have it the wrong way around. State granted intellectual monopolies are self-evidently incompatible with full liberty and anybody who supports them is, by definition, not a libertarian.

  30. State granted intellectual monopolies are self-evidently incompatible with full liberty and anybody who supports them is, by definition, not a libertarian.

    What does “full liberty” mean?

  31. @Paul Lockett

    Not so.

    The thing that has, curiously, been missing in all these discussions is the “result of one’s labour”. A song, a video, a piece of software, etc., is the product of one’s labour.

    When one suggests that the product of one’s labour should be available to all for free, one is effectively advocating slavery.

  32. ukliberty:

    What does “full liberty” mean?

    Liberty as defined in the Spencerian and Jeffersonian sense – the maximum amount of freedom to act that is compatible with everybody else possessing the same amount of freedom.

  33. Philip Scott Thomas:

    When one suggests that the product of one’s labour should be available to all for free, one is effectively advocating slavery.

    When that argument is used as an attempt to justify intellectual monopolies, it is a trivialisation of slavery.

    Slavery involves forced labour. Nobody is forced to produce songs, videos or software. Even if they do, they are not forced to make them available to others. Even if they do make them available to others, they are still able enjoy their own production.

  34. ukliberty – “Sorry – forgot about the music. I can sympathise more with such complaints about music, because music is music (but PC != PS3 != Xbox != iPhone).”

    And don’t forget DVDs. Region codes are fairly unjustifiable as far as I can see.

    Philip Scott Thomas

    “When one suggests that the product of one’s labour should be available to all for free, one is effectively advocating slavery.”

    Well there is nothing wrong with suggesting it. Mandating it may be another matter. But this is harder. If I take a physical product of your labour, you lose out. But if I copy music out of your sight, you have not necessarily lost anything at all. You may have lost a sale, or you may not, but at best you’re guessing what some other person may have done.

    Again, the reason we do this is to encourage people to write more music. After all, people were writing music long before patents were invented. They will continue to do so long after they have gone if they do go. But they are a limit on my freedom of action and speech.

    By the way, who lost out on “The Lion Sleeps at Night”? Who was the slave there?

  35. 20 ukliberty

    “His refusal interferes with your freedom.”

    I disagree. It only looks like it. Or rather it is not a simple arrangement – if you push freedom to that extreme, none of us are free. Property rights may be unfashionable but they are the basis of all rights. Even if a homeless man thinks he will benefit by infringing someone else’s property he will soon find he is even worse off than when he was merely homeless.

  36. 25 Ian B

    “I’m always on the losing side. I’m a libertarian.”

    Oh come on. Spare us the self pity. Libertarians often win. They have been having a good thirty years or so. Look at all the deregulation. They have not had everything their way but they have had some things their way. I am becoming more and more socially conservative. We never ever win. At best we can delay. But then I don’t expect to.

    “So here, I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of people who insist that markets, and only markets, work for land, goods, services (including state services like healthcare, education, etc) who then suddenly swap to [leftist/collectivist/communist/anti-market/whatever] arguments when they feel a sudden “right” to expropriate Mickey Mouse.”

    This is so dishonest I hardly know what to say. Of course markets work in IP. That, as I have said any number of times, is why we have them in intellectual property. Nor is the point that I want to expropriate Mickey Mouse. We, that is Disney and the rest of society, had an agreement that Disney would have exclusive rights to MM for a limited number of years. When that was up, they just lobbied Congress to extend it. And then they did it again. And now they are doing it again. The comparison here is if I let someone rent my house, but then they get the State to make me rent to them for longer and longer – all at the original rent. We had an agreement, Disney has used the State to welsh on it. How can you justify that as a libertarian?

    “It is the height of absurdity to support land laws on the basis of market efficiency (as I do) but to then complain that some terrible injustice is done by copyright on Mickey Mouse.”

    No it is not. Because you cannot use the land if I use the land. You cannot dispose of your health care assets if you’re forced to share them with me. But if I draw a picture of Mickey Mouse fighting with Daffy Duck I hurt no one. There is no “there” there. It is a social construct. It is not real property.

    “It is the height of hypocrisy to declare that healthcare cannot work without a market system but somehow the movie or music industries can.”

    I am pretty sure the movie industry may have problems – although they will have to learn to deal with it because we will probably get there no matter what they do. But music has survived for thousands of years. Without IP rights by and large. The Korean music industry has accepted that they have no chance of enforcing their IP rights – and yet they survive.

    But it is irrelevant. Let’s agree that they cannot survive without IP rights. We have those rights so that they will survive. But that is not to deny that it infringes on other people’s rights. Nor that people who then lobby for ever longer periods of protection are not seizing public property.

  37. So John Smith (and perhaps some friends) create a digital product: book, music, film, or videogame, it doesn’t matter. Some people are saying no true libertarians would object to people copying that product, share it or reproduce it, perhaps even commercially exploit it, regardless of John Smith’s wishes. Presumably it would be wrong for John Smith to seek to stop this and/or compensation for it, because this would be an unjust infringement on the freedom of speech of those people?

    I’m not saying it’s akin to slavery, far from it, I think that does trivialise slavery. But I do think it’s wrong – I think Smith should have a right to set his price and in principle enforce law against people who acquire the product regardless of his wishes (but as I say I do object to some legislation and enforcement methods). There are lots of restrictions on speech, some for good reason – I don’t think this is an unjust restriction.

    I’m struggling to find an analogy. I think it’s like using someone else’s home cinema, or garden or swimming pool while they are away, and inviting all your friends to use it, perhaps even charging strangers to use it, absent permission from the owner. The property hasn’t been damaged, no popcorn or water or grass is taken away, the visitors clean up after themselves, no ‘harm’ is done. The owner returns from holiday and has no idea anyone else was there.

    (I think in the real world, the music, film and videogames industries and authors have to accept that some people will acquire the fruits of their labour for nothing and perhaps commercially exploit it. The ‘copyright holders’ that will survive will have worked out how to live on the money they get from people who are happy to pay and perhaps ‘convert’ other people into customers of some kind or subsidise it with adverts or whatever. There is a huge re-adjustment in what people are prepared to pay for entertainment. I am seeing a decrease in risk-taking on the big budget product.)

  38. ukliberty: “But I do think it’s wrong – I think Smith should have a right to set his price and in principle enforce law against people who acquire the product regardless of his wishes ”

    Which is a matter of personal belief. All we can say from that is that you are not a libertarian/liberal as you do not prioritise liberty.

  39. Paul,

    All we can say from that is that you are not a libertarian/liberal as you do not prioritise liberty.

    Well, I’m OK with not being libertarian but to say I’m not liberal seems a bit of a stretch.

    I’m over it, though. Innit.

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