Intellectual Property

Renewed Copyrights: Bad for America

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Jeffrey Tucker at the Mises Institute, who do heroic and valuable work in both digitizing and selling printed copies of long out-of-print works of Austrian economic and libertarian interest, laments how former Sen. Robert Taft's family* hurt him, and posterity and intellectual history, by the simple act of renewing his copyright.

[*edited–I originally mistakenly wrote that it was Taft himself who renewed the copyright]

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  1. how is hurting him-self, or hurting america, or hurting progress a libertarian concern? The man created something and claims exclusive right to it. Wether the exclusivity of that posession is an honest mistake or deliberate attempt to stiffle progress or hurt america, doesnt change the fact that creator should own the fruit of his labour, no?

  2. 50 years of exclusive rights, from original creation/publication, seems fair to me. I’m no anarchist, but the Clemens family shouldn’t still have rights to Samuel’s masterpieces. No renewals, into the public domain it goes.

  3. JsD
    Right you are. Or we could just scrap copyright altogether.


  4. 50 years of exclusive rights, from original creation/publication, seems fair to me. I’m no anarchist, but the Clemens family shouldn’t still have rights to Samuel’s masterpieces. No renewals, into the public domain it goes.

    Why? I still havent heard a single good reason (‘Good for america’ ‘Good for progress’ do not count). Why do you or anyone else get to say how long something should belong to its creator? I just dont see a valid moral or libertarian reason to impose any kind of limits.

  5. Gosh, the trolls at Mises are far lamer than the ones on Hit & Run….

  6. Why do you or anyone else get to say how long something should belong to its creator?

    I’d argue that as long as the creator wishes, his/her creations should stay out of public domain. However, dead people cannot own property or have wishes anymore (even though sometimes they can vote), and as such I find it logical that intellectual property of a dead person falls into public domain.

  7. val,

    He hurt America because subsequent generations of GOPers don’t know about his precedent. He hurt himself because he is an irrelevant political figure because his book is buried.

    I understand your argument is that whatever people say or do or think should be cordoned off so that nobody can ever again think those same thoughts without a stiff royalty, but surely you can at least admit that society lost out on that particular deal.

    I just can’t stand the intellectual dishonesty.

  8. “Why do you or anyone else get to say how long something should belong to its creator?”

    Why does the creator get to tell me what I can do with my own paper and pencil?

  9. dead people cannot own property

    So you can’t leave intellectual property to your surviving spouse or your estate ?

  10. How about enforcing your own damn intellectual “property rights”…?

    Where’s Coca-cola’s copyright on their formula? They seem to be doing OK.

    Copyright is BS: how else could a company like TMobile copyright the color magenta?

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/in-other-news/t+mobile-owns-magenta-319824.php

  11. “So you can’t leave intellectual property to your surviving spouse or your estate ?”

    You can because of the coercive power of the state. I think the point was that you shouldn’t be able to.

  12. I just dont see a valid moral or libertarian reason to impose any kind of limits.

    Some would vehemently argue that you can’t own words, or musical notes, or ideas. Thus patents and copyrights are immoral themselves. Others argue, you created it, you and your descendents own it, forever. The former stifles creativity. Why should I spend weeks in the studio and thousands in production costs, if Fred’s Record Emporium can make copies for pennies and profit from my work? The latter opens a pandoras box of completing claims and endless litigation. Should the Bard’s descendents be able to quash West Side Story? Do they own all, or some of the profits from it? To court, to court for a ruling! is where that leads.

    Ofttimes, policy and law must strike a balance between competing rights and claims. My 50 year proposal is hardly non-negotiable, but the principles used to reach a limited patent, copyright privilege conclusion are.

  13. So you can’t leave intellectual property to your surviving spouse or your estate ?

    Intellectual property is a bunch of zeros and ones in your brain. Unlike anything tangible, like a house or a car, I don’t think it can be effectively transfered to another person. IP is a part of you, and it dies with you. Just because you revealed your IP to another person (and thus made it public knowledge) doesn’t change that.

  14. Intellectual property is a bunch of zeros and ones in your brain

    Human brain aren’t binary computers, they’re analog.

  15. “Why should I spend weeks in the studio and thousands in production costs, if Fred’s Record Emporium can make copies for pennies and profit from my work?”

    Advertising, vanity, name-recognition, legacy…..

    I wonder why Beethoven bothered sometimes….and why people bother to still perform his public domain works….

  16. Coca-cola’s formula is a trade secret, not a patent or copyright. If it were patented, it would have expired decades ago, but as a trade secret it will remain their property for as long as it remains secret. If someone, say, stole the recipe and plastered it all over the internet (or someone reverse engineered it), the game would be over for Coke.

  17. Coca cola is a pure marketing company. The sugar water they sell is nothing special. It’s the brand that’s valuable.

    So the Libertarian view point is that intellectual property isn’t real property because it’s not a physical thing ?

  18. Careful with the language there, woofman. “Real property” is land. I think you mean “actual.”

  19. IP has a very short history, and was only really pushed as an incentive to spread knowledge, at least in the US. It is a child of statutes and enforcement.

  20. So the Libertarian view point is that intellectual property isn’t real property because it’s not a physical thing ?

    For the record, I don’t consider myself Libertarian, so don’t take what I say to be the libertarian view point. Anything I say, unless specifically market, is my opinion, and not intended to be the opinion of anyone else.

  21. “I wonder why Beethoven bothered sometimes….and why people bother to still perform his public domain works….”

    Because this is how a lot of people’s brains work:

    GIMME GIMME GIMME MONEY MONEY MONEY

    Unsurprisingly, they don’t produce great works of art. 😛

  22. Sounds about right to me. . .though I would not object to a minimum time for copyright (say twenty years?) regardless of the state of the creator.

  23. I understand your argument is that whatever people say or do or think should be cordoned off so that nobody can ever again think those same thoughts without a stiff royalty, but surely you can at least admit that society lost out on that particular deal.

    No my argument is that you cant profit by republishing my words and thoughts and profit from them. At lease not until you and I came to a mutually beneficial contract. If you want to rewrite everything I said in you diary and keep it under your pillow be my guest. (Although don’d, that kinda creepy)

  24. Careful with the language there, woofman

    1: of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (as lands or tenements)2 a: not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine ; also : being precisely what the name implies b

  25. How is it moral to own a copyright?

    Let base our property rights on a Lockean conception of mixing labor with something unowned to create personal property. Assume there is a composer of a symphony. In that case, you can argue that the creator mixed his labor with a tangible object (pen/paper/computer, etc.) and created something that is his personal property. I don’t think anyone would argue that we can force him to give up the paper on which the symphony is written. However, once the symphony is made public, if the composer is seeking copyright protection they are expecting the government to expend assets to protect his property. Is it wrong to expect the government to seek compensation or place restriction on his rights in the property?

  26. responding to Woofman at 3:18

  27. and again some the arguments come down to….

    “Stiffle creativity”
    “GIMME GIMME GIMME…..”
    “society lost out on that particular deal”

    Well what if my intent was to stiffle creativity, get one up on society and get some money in the process?

  28. drawnasunder – good point, but I have to be a pedant and point out that T-mobile _trademarked_ the color magenta.

  29. Copyright and patent lawsuits are civil rather than criminal matters. Does that make a difference ?

  30. “1: of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (as lands or tenements)2 a: not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine….”

    This is the definition of “real” not “real property.” I’m trying to maintain some clarity here.

  31. Coca-cola’s formula is a trade secret, not a patent or copyright

    That’s my point: they don’t participate in the fiction of copyright: they enforce their rights by conducting themselves in a way that maintains their exclusive control over the information and processes that is important to them: they don’t get the government to coerce other people into not doing something any fool could do: mx water and sugar.

    Not that they don’t succumb to copyright/trade marking of their log, etc. But what they’ve done with their recipe, to me, is superior to any government backed copyright scheme.

  32. drawnasunder – good point, but I have to be a pedant and point out that T-mobile _trademarked_ the color magenta.

    Corrected. But same principle applies: TradeMark is BS too.

  33. If I buy a cd of music, much like if I were to buy land, do I then have the right to do anything I want with that cd and all of its contents?

  34. Copyright and patent lawsuits are civil rather than criminal matters. Does that make a difference

    Violations of IP laws can be criminal matters, just as real property and personal property violations can be civil matters.

  35. Lamar, you’re being pedantic. “Real property” is a legal term of art.

  36. Corrected. But same principle applies: TradeMark is BS too.

    I think that TM law is overinclusive and has expanded too much, but the basic principle of allowing consumers to have some confidence about the source of products is a good policy aim. I don’t think it could be performed more efficiently by the market, but I’m willing to be convinced.

  37. Not that they don’t succumb to copyright/trade marking of their log, etc. But what they’ve done with their recipe, to me, is superior to any government backed copyright scheme.

    So your argument, is that you can own it, only if you keep in a damp dark cellar away from prying eyes?

    If I were to break into that cellar and sold your ‘secret’ to another company, I would go to jail, but you feel that the company that purchased the secret from me, should now be free to use your secret and profit from it, because nothing was stollen since you didnt own it anyway?

  38. Lamar, you’re being pedantic. “Real property” is a legal term of art.

    If you used real property in the legal term of art sense in your earlier comment, then you were incorrect. I doubt there is anyone who thinks that Intellectual property is “real property.”

  39. If I buy a cd of music, much like if I were to buy land, do I then have the right to do anything I want with that cd and all of its contents?

    Just like land (drilling rights, minning rights) etc, that purchase can be subject to terms of a ‘fair use’ contract.

  40. If I buy a cd of music, much like if I were to buy land, do I then have the right to do anything I want with that cd and all of its contents?

    That’s where “fair use” comes into play. You can take the CD and make a copy of it (for your own use), rip it into your iPod and that’s fine. You can’t copy it and sell it though.

  41. You can own it, without coercing or restraining others, or getting the state involved, if you keep your mauth shut and keep your posessions under lock and key, or market them in a sensible way, and still make billions. Under those circumstances, no one’s “rights” are harmed – in fact, “rights” don’t even come into the equation.

  42. And since copyright is legal term of art as well. Since it is inherently a legal concept, we should be using the legal definitions.

    Sulla: many copyhounds think that there should be no difference in real property rights and IP rights.

  43. You can’t copy it and sell it though.

    Understandable.

    Can I give it away for free? Can I broadcast it over the radio? What about selling the original disk to someone else?

  44. And since at the beginning of my last post.

  45. .: You know exactly what you can and can’t do with it. The question is whether we should have allowed the RIAA and MPAA buy Congress and extend copyright to its current reach. I may be a pedant, but you’re playing dumb.

  46. Copy-right is not a legal term of art. It’s an English word in the dictionary.

    Term of art

    A word or phrase used by legal professionals that has a precise meaning in a particular subject area.

  47. Sulla: many copyhounds think that there should be no difference in real property rights and IP rights.

    Yeah, which drives me nuts, because real property has restrictions like property tax and the rule against perpetuities. I would actually have no problem against indefinite copyright terms as long as copyrights (that would be protected by the government) were registered, assessed and taxed just like real property, with copyrights for which no tax was paid falling into the public domain.

  48. OK, woofman, got me. Please proceed with all the sloppy, barroom language. It’s piracy! It’s stealing! It’s robbery! IP is real property!

  49. many copyhounds think that there should be no difference in real property rights and IP rights.

    I would tend to agree with those copyhounds in theory. However way way more consideration has to go into granting IP in practice. Because things like ‘prior art’ comes into play. Or things like T-Mobile’s magenta idiocy. Magenta existed way way before T-Mobile came into the picture, infact Magenta is a natural vibration of photons.

  50. I wasn’t trying to play dumb. I probably wasn’t clear about it, but I was thinking more in terms of what should I be able to do with it. As in, should I even be able to buy a cd, listen to it, and then sell or even just give it to someone else. Because, it seems like that would infringe on IP too.

    Which, is exactly the question that you stated in your post.

  51. I meant:
    with copyrights for which the tax was not paid falling into the public domain


  52. would actually have no problem against indefinite copyright terms as long as copyrights (that would be protected by the government) were registered, assessed and taxed just like real property, with copyrights for which no tax was paid falling into the public domain.

    with copyrights for which the tax was not paid falling into the public domain

    You know that is a very reasonable suggestion. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your news letter.

  53. We’ve had these long copyright debates before. I’m wondering how the copyhounds think that the burying of Taft’s book because of IP is a good thing. I’d like to see that addressed. val seemed to think that ownership is about ownership despite the phrase in the Constitution about advancing the arts and sciences. What do the rest of you think?

  54. would actually have no problem against indefinite copyright terms as long as copyrights (that would be protected by the government) were registered, assessed and taxed just like real property, with copyrights for which no tax was paid falling into the public domain.

    I REALLY like this idea.


  55. val seemed to think that ownership is about ownership despite the phrase in the Constitution about advancing the arts and sciences

    oh, you know I didnt realize you were approaching this argument from a Constitutional point of view. Im not a strict constitutionalist, nor am I familiar with the Constitutional take on the matter.

  56. So the Libertarian view point is that intellectual property isn’t real property because it’s not a physical thing?

    That’s the anarchist’s viewpoint. Real libertarians comprehend the concept of intellectual property and understand the moral right a creator has to benefit–exclusively if he wishes–from the products of his creative mind. Creators create. Parasites steal.

  57. So does this explain why the “valuable” work of reprint books by Mises is actually the republication of texts which are under copyright and for which they do not have permission. Does their apparent lack of belief in intellectual property mean that it is good they are violating the legal property rights of others?

  58. val: there’s nothing inherently wrong with not taking the same view as the Constitution. Most of Congress has disregarded it as well!! Seriously, the Constitution authorizes IP laws as a way to encourage progress in arts and sciences. Other systems, like France, emphasize the right to own the fruits of one’s labor. I certainly don’t agree with the latter view, but it isn’t unprecedented.

  59. We’ve had these long copyright debates before. I’m wondering how the copyhounds think that the burying of Taft’s book because of IP is a good thing. I’d like to see that addressed. val seemed to think that ownership is about ownership despite the phrase in the Constitution about advancing the arts and sciences. What do the rest of you think?

    As a Constitutional matter, I disagree with the Supreme Court that the current term is consistent with the patent and copyright clause, mainly because it is not a “limited time” “promoting the progress of science and the useful arts” consistent with the understanding of the drafters. (I’m mostly an originalist, but let’s not get into con law questions TOO much). 14 yrs, 28 maybe, but not life + 70 years.

    As a policy matter, I prefer my suggestion above. I would include in the property tax scheme a minimum payment of several thousand dollars, after a certain number of years (maybe 5), to make sure that copyrighted works that were not being used very much fell into the public domain, so Taft’s book would be okay to copy now.

  60. Human brain aren’t binary computers, they’re analog.

    Binary computers are analog too.

  61. “Creators create. Parasites steal.”

    Creators just hide their stealing better.

  62. If you were a creator, you’d know that.

  63. Or: if you ARE a creator, it is disingenuous for you not to admit that.

  64. I am a creator. By the way, has anyone noticed that it’s almost
    always the nonartists who despise copyright?

  65. Yeah, yeah, Lamar, Stravinsky stole from Dvorak, who stole from Beethoven, who stole from Mozart, who stole from Bach. Not a bit of creativity in any of those old hacks, eh?

  66. “By the way, has anyone noticed that it’s almost always the nonartists who despise copyright?”

    No. Every artist I know despises the monopoly of distribution. Granted, I am a musician, and most of my friends are painters and graphic artists, but still, I don’t buy the non-artist meme. In fact, I think artists tend to have a false sense of entitlement.

  67. The only artist in your list with a shred of creativity was the first one you mentioned. @8)-

  68. Seriously, does anybody care what a 19-year-old who never spent a dime on music in his life thinks about copyright?

  69. I am a creator. By the way, has anyone noticed that it’s almost
    always the nonartists who despise copyright?

    Well, I’m not an artist. I write programs, which I believe would make me a creator as well. I do happen to think that copyright law, as it is now, is excessive.

    As far as the whole “Creators just hide their stealing better. That’s pretty true. Its very difficult, if not impossible at this point, to do something that isn’t derived (at least a little bit) from something else.

  70. Hell, everything we do is based on what the previous generation did whether its an extension of it or a reaction to it.

  71. Going back to what Jeff Tucker actually wrote:

    1) It was Robert Taft, Jr. who renewed the copyright, not Sen. Taft, who died in 1953.

    2) Taft’s “noninterventionist” policy was not all that Republican. FDR filled his war cabinet with Wall Street Republicans who believed in intervention. I wonder, in fact, if any Republican nominee for president in this century could be considered a “Taft Republican,” and that includes William Howard Taft, who ran twice and was elected once (in 1908). Much of the opposition to U.S. entry into both world wars came, unsurprisingly, from Americans of German descent, who voted for Wilson in 1916 (“He kept us out of war”) and crowded into the Republican Party in 1940 when it was clear that FDR wasn’t going to keep us out of WWII.

    3) Which leads me to a fairly gratuitous crack to the effect that some (but only some) of the “libertarian” revisionism re FDR reflects German-American resentment of FDR for being so tough on Germany.

  72. That’s my point: they don’t participate in the fiction of copyright: they enforce their rights by conducting themselves in a way that maintains their exclusive control over the information and processes that is important to them

    Which you can do with something that doesn’t need to be made public in order to be valuable. There is no way a book can both be a trade secret and be available to the public at the same time.

    Trade secrets and copyright are useful in very different situations. To say that everyone who wants to make money from an idea should just keep it secret is pretty obtuse.

    , the Constitution authorizes IP laws as a way to encourage progress in arts and sciences. Other systems, like France, emphasize the right to own the fruits of one’s labor.

    They are one and the same. Intellectual property is how you protect the fruits of your mental labor.

  73. ? There are two competing schools of thought (and people usually believe in both to an extent). One is that copyright is a good incentive to create an informed and technologically advanced citizenry. The other is that creators have a moral right to their output. They are not one and the same.

  74. It’s the old utility vs. just deserts argument.

  75. ed:
    Real libertarians comprehend the concept of intellectual property and understand the moral right a creator has to benefit

    I’ll disagree with you there. I see no moral right, but rather a practical agreement. To my libertarian mind, copyright is a practical tool to gain a maximum amount of quality works of art for a minimal price. I say this for many reasons, not the least of which is that a 100% original work is exceedingly rare. Most works, consciously or not, draw in small parts from a vast assortment of prior works. How many copyrighted films are adaptions of Shakespere, the Bible, Charles Dickes, or others? Even if I did believe in moral rights, I wouldn’t extend them past the life of the artist. But I also think tying a copyright to someone’s lifespan is also bad policy.

    R C Dean:
    The difference between the US consitution and France is that the US Constitution is framed in a context of value to society, where France frames their copyright in terms of a moral right. Read my above paragraph for why I think that’s an important difference.

    This post copyright 2007.

  76. We’ve had these long copyright debates before. I’m wondering how (Lamar’s opponents in the copyright debate*) think that the burying of Taft’s book because of IP is a good thing.

    Why should I care what outcome is “good”? What relevance would my assessment have? Or yours? I’m not out to mold society according to some personal vision about which outcomes would be “good.” I just want my individual rights. Among them happens to be my right to the fruits of my own brain.

    Taft’s work isn’t my property. I couldn’t care less what he did or didn’t do with it, so long as he didn’t use it to libel or defraud me. I don’t see why you give a damn either.

    (* I don’t know what a “copyhound” is. Neither does Google. As a neologism, it’s an ineffective choice on every conceivable front: as a description, as an epithet, as a pun, as a helpful piece of shorthand.)

  77. Taft’s work isn’t my property. I couldn’t care less what he did or didn’t do with it, so long as he didn’t use it to libel or defraud me. I don’t see why you give a damn either.

    Once Taft puts his idea into tangible form and asks the government to protect the information therein, it becomes my business because my tax dollars are going to protect it.

  78. You can’t own words on paper. You can own paper and ink, but not ideas. Intellectual property is a fraud.

  79. To my libertarian mind, copyright is a practical tool to gain a maximum amount of quality works of art for a minimal price.

    Fabulous. Why should government be in the business of encouraging quality works of art? Seems to be a very un-libertarian idea to me.

  80. You can’t own words on paper. You can own paper and ink, but not ideas. Intellectual property is a fraud.

    True dat.

    Copyright 2007

  81. You can own paper and ink, but not ideas.

    That’s right. One can’t own ideas. And copyright doesn’t allow one to own an idea.

  82. No, it just allows you to get the government to back you up when you want to penalize others for spreading your ideas – if not ownership, then at least dibs on roughing people up.

  83. Well, I’ve written both music and programs, so I guess I’m more or less a creator.

    I’m absolutely thrilled by any opportunity to get people more acquainted with my work, whether I’m getting paid directly or not.

    In either case, I’m mostly earning a living selling my reputation, not so much the goods I produce.

    Writting software, I was generally working as a salaried employee. I wasn’t getting paid per units sold. The better known and in demand my work was, the better that salary was.

    Music, likewise. I lost my ass on almost every recording project I was involved in. Where I made money was gigs where I was paid, again, not for piecework, but for a reputation for putting butts in seats.

    Any way I have of getting my work noticed increases my market value. I don’t doubt that somebody makes money off of copyrights and patents, but other than exceptional situations, it’s usually not the creator.

  84. If you look on Bookfinder.com, you can find used copies for as little as $3.20. Is copyright actually hurting the availability of this book? This seems like a very bad example to me.

  85. Used books don’t fall under this because of the doctrine of extinguishment. Once a product-with-copyright has been sold, that’s it. (This doesn’t mean that you can copy the book or anything–simply that you don’t have to pay royalties again to the author upon resale of the book.)

  86. Grumpy: I know that. It just seems to me like the book is still highly available, so I don’t understand why there is a downside to copyright here. If the book was hard to find, or outrageously expensive, then I could see it. Neither of those is the case here.

  87. Confound you, H&R, reading this item caused me to waste my time looking at the search feature at the US Copyright Office, covering copyright registrations since 1978:

    http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First

    I notice that the Reason Foundation stopped registering its works (including *Reason* magazine) with the Copyright Office in mid-1998. That could be for any of a number of reasons:

    (a) They were so distracted by the Lewinsky affair (which was just coming to light) that they forgot to register their works, and never got back into the habit;

    (b) They figured that, since registration isn’t legally necessary to establish copyright (it only means you can get bigger damages from infringers), why bother; or

    (c) They stopped believing in copyright.

    I notice that Jesse Walker registered his book *Rebels on the Air* with the copyright office, and Cathy Young registered her book *Cease Fire.* Brian Doherty doesn’t seem to have registered his *Radicals for Capitalism,* however.

    “I would actually have no problem against indefinite copyright terms as long as copyrights (that would be protected by the government) were registered, assessed and taxed just like real property, with copyrights for which no tax was paid falling into the public domain. . . .

    “I would include in the property tax scheme a minimum payment of several thousand dollars, after a certain number of years (maybe 5), to make sure that copyrighted works that were not being used very much fell into the public domain, so Taft’s book would be okay to copy now.”

    This could be a good idea, but let’s look at some possible contrary arguments:

    If we strictly followed the real property analogy, the copyright in question would be auctioned off at a sheriff’s sale. The purchaser would become the new copyright holder.

    Also, if you’re a US citizen or live in the US, you’re probably paying taxes on the royalties through income tax – assuming you’re making money off the copyrighted work. If you’re in a foreign country, you’re probably paying taxes on royalties on that country’s laws.

    Is the hostility to IP so intense as to lead libertarians to propose a new tax? When can I start practicing hockey in Hell’s skating rink?

    How about this: If I want to get permission to use someone’s copyrighted work, but a thorough good-faith search fails to identify the owner, I write to the Copyright office saying that I’m seeking permission to use the work (describing the intended use). My letter is posted on their Web site, and the owner has a year to object; if he doesn’t, his consent is presumed. Would that work?

  88. I should say, if after a good-faith search I am unable to *locate* the owner or his legal representative.

  89. Other works registered in the copyright office:

    Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, by Jacob Sullum

    For Your Own Good, by Jacob Sullum

    Works by Ronald Bailey: Eco-Scam, Liberation Biology, True State of the Planet (editor)

    Various comics by Ronald Bailey

    Bear in mind that registration does not *create* the copyright, but entitles the registrant to collect extra damages from infringers.

    Nothing wrong with this – but it shows the issue is complex, in that people of good will (eg, *Reason* staffers and contributors) can insist on copyright protection for their own work.

  90. Oops, the comics registerd in the copyright office are by Peter Bagge, not Ronald Bailey.

  91. I appreciate the comment –
    This could be a good idea, but let’s look at some possible contrary arguments:

    If we strictly followed the real property analogy, the copyright in question would be auctioned off at a sheriff’s sale. The purchaser would become the new copyright holder.

    Yeah, I think real property can be helpful in analyzing IP, but they are not that analagous, so I’m proposing a system that is not really rooted in real property tenets.

    Also, if you’re a US citizen or live in the US, you’re probably paying taxes on the royalties through income tax – assuming you’re making money off the copyrighted work. If you’re in a foreign country, you’re probably paying taxes on royalties on that country’s laws.

    Good point, but my thought was that you also often pay income tax on your earnings from real or personal property, so it’s not a terrible imposition on an IP owner.

    Is the hostility to IP so intense as to lead libertarians to propose a new tax? When can I start practicing hockey in Hell’s skating rink?

    Heh, I’m probably more of a classical liberal – I think government can be useful in some areas but that it should be limited because it does most things inefficiently.
    Let’s call it a fee, not a tax, ok 😉 But seriously, libertarians don’t object to all taxes, right? This one could be properly calibrated to only collect as much as is necessary to allow the government to enforce IP rights.

    I don’t have any real objection to your plan. I like mine because I think it encourages IP owners to make the most efficient use of their property. For example, I’m a big fan of old computer games. Many games can’t be obtained legally, but companies have no incentive to release them to the public domain. In my plan, there would be some amount the owner would need to pay to keep the copyright, so they would have an incentive to either keep selling the game or to let it go to the public domain. Still, I could see several ways to create similar incentives in your plan.

  92. Sulla,

    Yes, I support a certain amount of taxation – but not the amount we currently have. To *add* an IP tax on top of all the other taxes would not be a good idea, IMHO.

    I might get behind an IP tax if, in exchange, some other taxes were lowered or abolished.

  93. infact Magenta is a natural vibration of photons

    it is in fact, a *fab-u-lous* vibration of photons, but methinks it’s a mongrel breed.

  94. val,

    A “creator” doesn’t have any property rights in the pen, paper, hard drives or printing presses of others. You can have a property right in a physical artifact like a manuscript or a particular copy of a book. You cannot have a legitimate property right in a particular arrangement of words and letters. The only way to enforce it is to invade the actual, physical property of others and interfere with their use of it.

    Ownership of real, physical property is a direct outgrowth of possession. Copyright is a monopoly conferred by the state, a form of artificial “property” that never existed until it was created by statute a few hundred years ago.

  95. I hate to name-drop, but guess who else reserves the right to enforce his copyright?

    http://tinyurl.com/2oq2la

  96. Sorry, I should have said “reserved,” not “reserves.”

  97. Link timed out, so here it is:

    [ 1 ] Rothbard, Murray Newton, 1926- Conceived in liberty : v. IV, the Revolutionary War, 1775-1784 / Murray N. Rothbard [i.e. Murray Newton Rothbard]. 1979
    [ 2 ] Rothbard, Murray Newton, 1926- For a new liberty : the Libertarian manifesto / Murray N. Rothbard [i.e. Murray Newton Rothbard]. 1978
    [ 3 ] Rothbard, Murray Newton, 1926- Great Depression and New Deal monetary policy / Garet Garrett and Murray N. Rothbard [i.e. Murray Newton Rothbard] ; with a foreword by Robert L. Formaini. 1980

  98. Why should government be in the business of encouraging quality works of art?

    It shouldn’t be. A limited, libertarian government would and should exist to protect the rights of its citizens. It should not be promoting any private enterprises. It would not enforce copyright on the dubious principle that doing so encourages the creative process. That’s a red herring that confounds little minds and obfuscates the moral principles involved, to wit: an individual has the right to control and protect the products of his mind.

  99. “I don’t know what a “copyhound” is. Neither does Google. As a neologism, it’s an ineffective choice on every conceivable front: as a description, as an epithet, as a pun, as a helpful piece of shorthand.”

    I’m sorry if I created a word nobody likes. Should I copyright it? It is the product of my mind. I don’t think anybody is happy with the current slate of words used to refer to people who think traditional property rights should be extended to everything people say or think. I see them as akin to hound dogs, doing what they’re told like good puppies.

  100. It’s called thinking. Woof!

  101. I need to invent a computer that can take all of the words in the English dictionary, place them into every possible combination, then wait for infringement to occur. I say screw skycars, I want that computer!!!

  102. I see them as akin to hound dogs, doing what they’re told like good puppies.

    “Told”? By whom? Is this the point where you’ll tell us all about some Big, Evil something-or-other?

  103. “Is this the point where you’ll tell us all about some Big, Evil something-or-other?”

    Huh? You’re side is the one with the idea that some vague concept of droit moral should trump my right to do whatever I want with my own property (i.e., my paper and pencil). I’m not the one basing my argument on some newfangled pretense.

    But if you want me to, here goes: I’m against big, liberal Democrat in the pocket of Hollywood curtailing my rights to do what I like with my property.

    Copyhound.

  104. No, I’m just wondering who’s supposed to be doing the “telling” that makes us “do” … something.

    You said we’re doing what we’re told. I’m just curious what that’s all about.

  105. That marks my failure as a creative person. Hounds are just acting on instinct, not following written orders. It’s blind instinct that makes a dog do what a dog does.

    *Despite my poor mixing of metaphors (telling dogs to do things they do naturally on instinct) I don’t gainsay your beliefs and I don’t think “big evil anything” is telling you how to think, though I think the trade groups have been quite effective at mischaracterizing infringement (even the kind that I’m against) as piracy or robbery.

  106. Three links on libertarian views of intellectual property.

    I still believe that it is the term ‘intellectual property’ itself that bewilders libertarians into supporting it. They’d less often think to apply Rothbardian-property-right perspectives to copyright law, trademark law, and patent law.

  107. I just spoke with the grandson of Robert Taft, who knew nothing of the re-registration. He can only presume that it passed to the family — most certainly it did, but he can’t know for sure.

    Does he want it in print? Of course he does! He would love the Mises Institute to do this.

    My discussion with him again underscored the absurdity of all of this.

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