How is intellectual property – my thoughts and ideas, as well as the physical manifestations, like books or screenplays or songs or whatever else – not property? Why should someone be able to commercially profit from my labor w/ no payment to me?
First of all, I make the distinction between “physical manifestations” and ideas themselves. I never said that tangible private property — the physical manifestations of a version of an idea — is not property. They are and rightful owners do have sovereignty over them, so that is that.
This reasoning is what leads me to my second point: ideas themselves are not tangible and unlike real property, they lack the basic trait that makes private property ownership justifiable: scarcity. Ideas are infinitely reproducible, private property is not.
Your last question proves the incoherence of intellectual property, especially copyrights. How can it be property if you define it as labor?
Alan Wexelblat from Corante’s Copyfight blog responds to my SOPA-related post:
As I am not libertarian, I was interested to read their point of view. In particular, Aheram asserts that copyright itself, by virtue of its government-granted monopolistic status, is an illegitimate infringement on sovereign private property rights. I suspect that others – even other libertarians – might not agree there, though I see the logic that is being followed.
I am reminded of arguments made by Stewart Baker (whom I read through Volokh Conspiracy, itself often a home for libertarian thought). In an op-ed published in the Hollywood Reporter, Baker argues that Tea Party conservatives played a major role in swinging Republican sentiment against SOPA.
If Baker is right, then we really do need more pieces like Aheram’s to reach out to untapped or skeptical communities and help them see where their political freedoms and Internet freedoms overlap.
As I noted before, I really hope that young libertarians will realize that copyright laws are being used vehicles to develop the tools of oppression which will pose massive threats to free speech and private property rights. With the near-passage of SOPA, libertarians of all stripes cannot afford to remain ignorant of the Copyfight.