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Copywrong: copyright as censorship

An old post of mine from LRC in 2005–a good example of how copyright is–literally–censorship. (For other examples, see my Mises blog post The Patent, Copyright, Trademark, and Trade Secret Horror Files.)


Posted by Stephan Kinsella on July 12, 2005 03:43 PM

So a grocery store in Canada mistakenly sells 14 copies of the new Harry Potter book a few days before its official release this Saturday, July 16. So last week a British Columbia Supreme Court judge “ordered customers not to talk about the book, copy it, sell it or even read it before it is officially released at 12:01 a.m. July 16.”

Yeah, copyright is just another type of property right.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Mr Civil Libertarian November 18, 2010, 9:06 am

    Is this really an Intellectual Property issue? Could it not be a matter of contractual agreement?

    • Crosbie Fitch November 18, 2010, 9:33 am

      Why do people assume that if copyright cannot abrogate the right to free speech, that contracts can?

      Property is alienable, liberty isn’t. Calling a privilege that derogates the right to copy from one’s liberty ‘intellectual property’ doesn’t actually make liberty as alienable as property. It simply enables the privileged (those notionally holding that suspended right to copy) to transfer their state granted monopoly (ability to prosecute those enjoying their own liberty), to the highest bidder.

      That an unethical privilege can be exchanged by contract doesn’t mean individuals have the power to alienate themselves from their liberty by contract.

      Of course, corporations being unnatural entities have no right to liberty, so can contract its analogue to kingdom come, but we’re arguing whether human possessors of a book can surrender their liberty and right to read the writing in their hands.

      Not ethically they can’t, though corrupt judges will surely let them.

To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.