yoni45 wrote:Out of curiosity, why exactly should the public be allowed any more than it has produced or been consensually granted access to?
If I own a piece of paper, and I own a pen, then the natural right of property ownership means I can mark the paper with the pen in any way I see fit, and I still own the marked paper, and I can give it away, I can sell it, I can destroy it, I can make more marks on it, it is mine. My paper, my pen, I own them, they are mine.
If I see something, I can use my pen to draw a picture of what I see on my paper. I can use my pen to write a description of what I see on my paper. Those are my rights. My property rights. The pen and the paper are mine, and the things I produce by putting pen to paper are pieces of inky paper, which are also mine.
The principle behind so-called “intellectual property” is that you are allowed to stop me
from using my pen
to make marks on my paper
in the manner that I see fit. You
are infringing on my
right to control the property I own.
This is not a matter for debate, this is not a subject of controversy or disagreement. If someone disbelieves the previous paragraph, they are absolutely, inarguably, objectively, factually wrong. Intellectually property is, in implementation, nothing more nor less than an infringement on the rights of property owners to use their property as they desire.
And we do limit the rights of property owners. I am not allowed to use my pen to stab someone, except in cases of self-defense. I am not allowed to publicize my marked-up paper if the markings include incitement for others to commit acts of violence. I am not allowed to publicize my marked-up paper if the markings include libelous untruths about people. I am not allowed to publicize my marked-up paper if the markings include false claims of medical benefits from a product or service.
The question of “How strong should IP laws be?” is, quite literally, a question of “How much should we restrict the right of people to do what they want with property they own?”
I own a piece of paper and a pen. Do I have the right to make whatever markings I want on it? Well, a priori
, yes I do. My property rights and free speech rights guarantee that. Do I have the right to share the marked paper? Again, a priori
, yes I do. But if those markings are likely to hurt other people, then my right to share my own property is restricted.
Sharing “intellectual property”, as an act unto itself, cannot ever hurt a person. It cannot ever physically harm them, it cannot ever harm their reputation as libel would, it cannot deprive them of property as incitement to riot could. Whereas every other restriction on free speech is done to protect people from being harmed, IP laws are implemented not
to prevent harm, as there was never any risk of harm, but only
to encourage creativity.
IP laws represent a trade-off between the rights of property owners to use their property and exercise their speech, and the desire to encourage the creation of new works. And the only
reason it is desirable for new works to be created, is so that people can experience them, access them, and use them. Property rights and free speech are among the most important rights of a free people. and to infringe them should never be taken lightly. Those rights should be infringed as little as possible.