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Jeff Tucker: Does Creativity Alone Create a Special Entitlement?

Excellent piece by Jeff Tucker from the LFB blog. For related discussion, see my posts:

Does Creativity Alone Create a Special Entitlement?


A discussion we had last night on Adam V. The Man — Stefan Molyneux and I were guests — kept returning to an idea that we never really had time or space to take on directly, until it was briefly touched on at the end.

The more I think about this, much whole question of intellectual property rights seems to turn on this idea that we own what we create. That sounds very plausible at first. When people celebrate this idea, they talk about the great sculpture who makes a majestic piece of art out of stone, the composer of a symphony, or the lowly woodworker who makes a bench in his garage. They are said to be owners of something new.

Let’s look at a more mundane example. I’m making brownies using a conventional recipe and throw in a dash of bourbon. They turn out to be great. I call them Bourbon Brownies. What do I own in this case? I own those brownies. Why? Because I made them out of ingredients that I own. Because I created them, am I entitled to speak of having created something new that I own? Perhaps in a metaphorical sense. But nothing grants me the special right to a unique ownership right to my create that somehow allows me to extract money from anyone else in the world who adds bourbon to brownies (unless, of course, I appeal to a government bureaucracy to make it possible). I own what I own — the physical brownies I took out of the oven — and nothing more.

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