Two Types of Abolitionism: IP and Chattel Slavery

by Stephan Kinsella on February 15, 2011

Runaway Slave Piracy.  It's A Crime.
Assisting in the liberation of human property was a Federal crime. Unauthorized sharing of “Intellectual Property” is a Federal crime.

Redefining Property: Lessons from American History” is a great article on showing striking similarities in the arguments made by both advocates of slavery, and of IP, against slavery and IP abolitionists, respectively. For example, advocates of both slavery and IP argued (a) that it’s blessed by the Constitution; (b) that these are “property rights,” being violated by the underground railroad/piracy; (c) punishment for both “crimes” (helping runaway slaves, pirating IP) became increasingly severe; (d) and both types of abolitionists were called extremists (and the related view that any “reform” should be moderate and gradual instead of principled, radical, and instant); and other similarities. And as the article points out, there are other similarities: namely, that slavery enslaves people, while IP enslaves thinkers.

Jack Valenti, former head of the MPAA E. N. Elliott
Jack Valenti: “We are facing a very new and a very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the video cassette recorder and its necessary companion called the blank tape.” [1] E. N. Elliott: “(W)itness…the existence of the ‘underground railroad,’ and of a party in the North organized for the express purpose of robbing the citizens of the Southern States of their property….” [2]

(h/t Rob Wicks)


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