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Copyrights, Fundamental Rights, and the Constitution

From Freedom to Tinker, on the “liberal” IP fascist Scott Turow:

Copyrights, Fundamental Rights, and the Constitution


There was a lot to take issue with in Scott Turow’s recent op-ed in The New York Times. Turow, who is currently President of the Authors Guild, took to The Times to criticize the Supreme Court’s decision inKirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, which brought physical books manufactured and sold abroad within the protective scope of copyright’s first sale doctrine. Turow cast the Court’s decision as another blow to authors’ rights, which, by his account, are being pitilessly washed away by the digital tides. He blames the usual suspects: e-books, Amazon.com, pirates, Google, and—this last one may surprise you—libraries. The coup de grace, he asserted, will be the extension of first sale rights to digital copies of books. (It may comfort him to know that the possibility of that happening is more remote following Redigi’s recent defeat in federal district court.)
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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Crosbie Fitch April 23, 2013, 5:35 am

    Pamela Samuelson also does this trick of seguing from:

    a) “Exclusive rights in intellectual property are not natural rights”


    b) “Copyrights are property only if and to the extent that Congress chooses to say they are.”

    thus insinuating that she’s talking about the same thing, i.e. insinuating that ‘rights Congress is empowered to secure’ and ‘the privileges Congress granted’ are one and the same.

    Being a transferable monopoly, it’s easily arguable that copyright constitutes legal property. But, of course, it vanishes in a puff of pixie dust upon abolition.

    Being a priori inalienable, rights are not property – unless by ‘right’ one means ‘legislatively created right’ or ‘state granted right’, i.e. privilege.

    It is not up to Congress to say what is or is not property, but nature. Even copyright supporters are having to recognise that saying their monopoly constitutes natural property doesn’t actually make it so – even if it lends a veneer of justification to the prosecution of the monopoly.

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