Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Copyright at The Daily Bell

This is in response to two article at The Daily Bell, listed here:


Until recently, I have purposely avoided internally addressing this subject of IP, in whatever form (copyright, patent, etc.). For some time, at Mises by Kinsella and others, it had been addressed, but I ignored the subject - I think for two reasons: 1) on my "change the world if I could" list, I had several items far more valuable than this to me (for example, the four planks of the Daily Bell Platform all carry much more import), and 2) I didn't want to have challenged my belief that such protections were necessary in the forms currently practiced.

Over the last week or two, I have begun to cross into this swamp of my own creation. Therefore I found TDB's article today and yesterday quite timely.

It was the feedback from yesterday’s article that helped to clarify the issue for me. Such condemnation of TDB – aggressive and angry. And often, complete support that the state’s enforcement was necessary in this instance. This was quite disheartening to me. Feedbackers coming out foursquare on the positive benefits of government force in this matter.

Eventually, I went from disheartened to some real peace on this issue. Indulge me while I share my journey....

The state is the monopoly of legalized violence over a given geographical jurisdiction. For the moment, I avoid addressing my view of the "right" answer for protection of IP (if any), but I know the wrong one. For me, there is no cause that justifies praying to the state for the answer. The monopoly of legalized violence. I let that sink in while I read the feedback advocating a desire for this (inherently uncontrollable) beast to provide salvation.

This worship is most dangerous on items such as IP (also climate change, financial regulation, etc.). Inherently, the solution must be global. To allow a "leak" in the state's protection services of IP in any jurisdiction inherently leaves the floodgates open (as pointed out in today’s article) - unlike localized, "physical" crimes that may or may not be illegal in other jurisdictions (e.g. drugs, prostitution). These "preferences" can be quite localized.

Not IP. It must be enforced globally or it doesn't do the trick. (Perhaps one reason, for those who wonder why the PE “allowed” the internet, that they “allowed” the internet). Therefore, those praying to the state for salvation of IP are praying for the continued path toward one world government. I don't see how this is avoided. But even if it can be "localized", it is still praying to the state - the monopoly of legalized violence.

What is the private solution? I have some thoughts, but the reality is - I don't know. Thank God, like almost everything around me, human action has brought forth solutions to many problems I knew I had, and human action has created conveniences I never dreamed of. I don't have to have "the" answer for how a market might protect IP, just like I didn't have to come up with the answer for almost everything I enjoy in modern life. However, I am certain the answer does not lie in the state.

Philosophy does matter. Not "whatever works" or "expediency of the moment." Granting some people a monopoly of legalized violence is agreeing to your own death wish. People who are drawn to such positions in government are never agreeable to limiting the applications of force. We see this around us every day, and even those who see it most clearly can become blind to it if the subject is too close to home.

So there it is. Thank you feedbackers - not so much the ones who supported the DB's view (although you were quite wonderful in your comments) - but to those who so aggressively attacked the DB's position while advocating state force as the only/best solution. It was this attitude that reminded me that even the most seemingly rational people with monopoly power cannot be trusted to lord over the rest of us.

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