Andrew Westlake: Economic benefit alone is not a justification or spur for the creation of rights
“Real property like apples, are property by natural right, and this right is not ‘given’ by anyone. Intellectual property on the other hand, is a false, State created right that does not exist in nature, unlike property rights in lawfully acquired goods.
The economic and social value of real property rights are not relevant to the correctness of those rights. Economic benefit alone is not a justification or spur for the creation of rights; if economic benefit alone were sufficient to create rights, it could be successfully argued that anything beneficial to ‘society’ should be enshrined as a right by the State.
Authors and creators of things have a property right in those things; what they cannot claim is a right to control other people’s property. This is only possible today because the State enforces this idea, and of course, the origin of copyright and monopolies goes right back to the monarchy of England. Did you know that the Monarch of England retains ‘copyright’ of the King James Bible, and that this intellectual property has lasted for 400 years, and that if you wish to read from it on a stage, you must pay royalties?
Why do you think they call it ‘ROYALties’?!
Once again the difference then between normal property and intellectual property is the difference between THE STATE giving someone control of one apple and control of all apples, and this example is not so far fetched today. Monsanto and other companies are patenting forms of life (‘patenting’ meaning requesting and receiving government monopolies on who can reproduce a form of life, like an apple) which means that they can now literally own all apples of a certain type, forbidding you from growing them with the force of law.
Copyright and Patents are per se bad. by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine have demonstrated that intellectual property is entirely corrosive and in fact not needed at all to foster creativity and profitability; the main pretext that the pro IP lobby uses to justify their existence and these bad laws:
Its an unmissable and highly enlightening read.
When you say “We may therefore be willing to tolerate the ex-post costs” who exactly are you talking about? Are you talking about the people who are dying because medicines are too expensive thanks to patents, or are you talking about software developers who cannot use ‘other person is typing’ features in their products because Microsoft owns the ‘Patent’ for that? (for example).
Right and wrong are not negotiable, and evil should not be tolerated. as is demonstrated in ‘Against Intellectual Monopoly’, these bad laws are retarding progress by decades, and the cross pollination and synergetic effects of sharing ideas that is now impossible mean that the actual amount of lost progress is probably measured in centuries.”