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Stop calling patent and copyright “property”; stop calling copying “theft” and “piracy”

The state grants monopoly privileges, and to justify it, it and the beneficiaries of monopoly use propaganda to try to justify it: they call it “property.”1 They have no choice but to engage in propaganda, I guess, since all arguments for IP are absurd. State granted monopolies are not property rights. They undermine property rights. It’s not property. It’s monopoly.2 So what if it “can be” treated like property? That doesn’t justify it.

Then they demonize innocuous activities like learning, emulating, copying, and free market competition as “stealing,” “theft,” “piracy,” “rogue” websites. And they engage in propaganda to push this idea. But copying is not theft. Stop calling it that. Stop. 3

Update: See Who are You Calling a Pirate?: Shaping Public Discourse in the Intellectual Property Debates, by Christina Mulligan and Brian Patrick Quinn.

See also Falkvinge, Reminder 1: Copyright Monopoly Infringement Isn’t Stealing (Says The US Supreme Court), and MPAA Banned From Using Piracy and Theft Terms in Hotfile Trial.

See also Mark A. Lemley, “Romantic Authorship and the Rhetoric of Property,”  Texas Law Review, Vol. 75 (1997): p. 873, 897:  “Intellectual property cases and arguments are replete with references to infringement as “theft,” which it assuredly is not, at least in the traditional meaning of that word.” Also quoted in Michael H. Davis, Patent Politics, n. 147.

See also See Dale A. Nance, “Foreword: Owning Ideas,” Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 13, no. 3 (Summer 1990) 757–74, pp. 757–58: “intellectual property may be defined as embracing rights to novel ideas as contained in tangible products of cognitive effort. More narrowly, these rights are such that their violation does not necessarily entail physical misappropriation or fraudulent misuse of such products, or any breach of contract or fiduciary duty. Consequently, the special term “infringement” is used to refer to such violations.”

  1. See Intellectual Properganda; The State, Destruction, and Propaganda. []
  2. See Intellectual Poverty. []
  3. See Copying Is Not Theft; Don’t Copy That Floppy. []
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • David Hasellhoff January 24, 2012, 9:38 am

    Please share your bank account with me. It’s about sharing and caring.

    • Oudeicrat Annachrista January 25, 2012, 1:01 am

      the moment individual bank accounts stop being a scarce economic good, I will. Meanwhile, you stop breathing, walking, eating, speaking, writing etc. You don’t own the property rights to do those things, because someone before you did them first and you are stealing from him.

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.