Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Copyright: Freedom or Socialism?

In a free society, groups of socialist-minded people would free to voluntarily experiment with socialism.  They could congregate in some geographical area, and agree to donate their possessions to the community, and to share all produced goods according to some bylaws, or decisions of some elected or appointed governing body, etc.

However, the reverse is not true. In a socialist society, groups of free-market minded people would not be allowed to experiment with capitalism. Socialism requires, by its very definition, the surrendering the means of production to the collective.

In a world with copyright, content creators are still free to release their works to the commons, if they so desire. They might do so in hopes of increasing brand visibility, or in an altruistic desire to enhance culture with their entertainment or educational contribution.

However, the reverse is not true. In a world without copyright, content creators do not have the ability to exert control over their works. By whatever name, a society without copyright would entail the automatic surrender of intellectual capital goods to the commons.

So which model functions most like a free society, and which functions like socialism? The answer is clear: A world with copyright is like a free society, and a world without is like socialism. A world without copyright might properly be referred to as "intellectual socialism".

1 comment:

  1. Let me decompose your argument:
    1) property rights on physical stuff make room for quasi-socialistic arrangement
    2) denying property rights on intellectual stuff restricts us to societies where ideas cannot be owned, which is akin to a socialism
    3) therefore there should be property rights for intellectual stuff

    In short, it is saying that socialism is bad, something looks like socialism, therefore this thing is bad too.
    But maybe this something looks like socialism in one way, but it differs from socialism in some other/significant way, which makes the analogy inapplicable.
    Maybe IP should not be property (regardless of having some analogy to socialism) because of its nature.

    I don't know the best illustration of the fallacy of reasoning by analogy, but here's a naive illustration to show that it is a weak reasoning:
    Cold is generally unpleasant. Ice cream is cold. Therefore ice cream is bad. Except that ice cream is tasty.