The Fight against Intellectual Property
Mises Daily: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 by Jacob H. Huebert
[Chapter 10 of Libertarianism Today by Jacob Huebert (Praeger, 2010). Reproduced with permission of ABC-CLIO, LLC, Santa Barbara, CA.]
When the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wins a $1.92 million verdict against a 32-year-old Minnesota woman for sharing 24 songs online, is that good for liberty? When Disney and other big media companies got Congress to extend copyright protection for Mickey Mouse (and everything else) far into the future, should libertarians have cheered? When a patent-holding company threatened to shut down the Blackberry network unless Blackberry's creator paid it hundreds of millions in licensing fees, was this a win for property rights, or was it just extortion?
For a long time, libertarians were conflicted about "intellectual property" (IP). On the one hand, libertarians support property rights, so IP sounds like something they should favor. On the other hand, IP empowers some people to use government to limit other people's speech and actions. Libertarian giants of the past such as Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises endorsed IP, either as a moral matter (for Rand), or to encourage the production of creative works and inventions (for Mises). But more recent libertarian thinking attacks the idea that so-called intellectual property is either justified or necessary....
Continued at http://mises.org/daily/5025/The-Fight-against-Intellectual-Property