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Against vs For IP - Forever · Monday December 28, 2009 by Crosbie Fitch

I see in IP: The Objectivists Strike Back! that Stephan Kinsella, that notable IP nihilist, is persisting in his indulgent philosophical war against IP maximalists (especially those ‘objectivists’ or Randians who would corrupt the meaning of liberty into its opposite).

I think the dispute will remain interminable when it exists between those IP maximalists who believe intellectual property exists supernaturally (independent of the individual’s physical possession), and those who don’t recognise intellectual property at all (IP nihilists).

Property derives from the individual’s natural right to privacy, from their natural ability to exclude others from their personal space and possessions. Anything more requires power beyond that of the individual (that of a government or god).

So, naturally, intellectual works can be property as much as any material work – when the aspect of ‘property’ is properly recognised as deriving from the individual’s privacy. A novel is the IP of the author by dint of it being created within the author’s privacy. However, unless stolen (violation of privacy), there is no natural means by which the author (or an assign) can claim as their property all copies or derivatives made by others (nor even independently created works coincidently similar).

Only unnatural privileges can attempt such a folly, i.e. copyright and patent.

Unfortunately, IP nihilists and IP maximalists enjoy a tediously symbiotic relationship with each other because both can easily demonstrate the argument of the other as unsupportable (as they clearly are). In failing either to recognise that people naturally own the intellectual works they possess, or to recognise that people cannot have a supernatural ability to retain ownership of all likenesses wherever they may spring into existence in the universe, their conflict will remain interminable, a religious war removed from reality. They only know the other is wrong, but cannot recognise the wrong in their own position.

To resolve the true nature of IP it is necessary to recognise the self-evident existence of an individual’s natural exclusive right to their writings and designs, the obvious power an individual has to protect their intellectual works as their own property, and their natural right to prevent others copying them (which should be recognised and secured by an empowered government). However, even more importantly, it is necessary to recognise that this natural right is NATURAL.

That means an individual only has an exclusive right to that which is naturally exclusive to them. It is an offense against nature, the natural laws of information, and an individual’s freedom of speech to grant a reproduction monopoly to anyone that pretends they can prevent other people copying the works that have been voluntarily disclosed to them, or making and distributing works they have independently created that bear a resemblance to those of the monopoly holder.

There is no ethical sanction to thereby suspend the people’s cultural or technological liberty, even in pursuit of greater industrial prosperity, just as there is no ethical sanction to enslave individuals to the same end.



 

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