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“Ending Copyright Could Save Art & Journalism”

Le sigh. Almost no one can ever get quite right even their criticism of copryight. This guy opposes copyright, because he thinks this would lead to “socialized copyright” and he’s in favor of socialism, just like he’s in favor of socialized medicine. No no no. Because he’s not a libertarian, and thus has no coherent understanding of the function and nature of property rights and justice, and because he’s apparently economically illiterate (otherwise he would not favor socialized medicine), he simply can’t get the analysis right.

But, it’s to his credit he somehow dimly senses that copyright is bad.

Shownotes: “The soapbox I’ve been on for 15 years, now summarized in 17 minutes with clipart. Probably the most important video I’ll ever make. ⚠️ Rough/incomplete math warning. ”

But his argument is totally confused. He wants to “relax” the enforcement of copyright and replace it with an “automated royalty system” “managed” by the government. He proposes we phase out copyright in 5 years—but not patent, trademark, or impersonation rights! (Why not? Patents do even more damage than copyright, you unprincipled hack.)1 And then, you cancel your spotify, netflix, disney.com, and find it all at a government-managed content server, “media.gov,” for free. Wow, the government giving us approved content! What could go wrong?

And the cost is low! He tallies up the cost of all these various services by looking at the revenues of various copyright-related industries: the royalties paid by or costs incurred by Spotify, Youtube, Netflix, Disney, the book publishing industry, to artists and creators, and so on. He comes up with $148B paid out to creators, amounting to $881 for every tax filer annually.

I mean he gets it 10% right or, being generous, 1/3 right. Not bad compared to most people but still… pretty sad. I mean at the end he says he wants a self-driving flying car. Yet he still supports the patent system, which impedes and distorts and blocks and slows down new technological innovations.

One would think a soi-disant “libertarian” would actually read up on, you know, libertarian critiques of IP,2 before weighing in on it in public. But alas, in this Internet age, everyone wants to be an expert without putting in the intellectual work.

  1. Patent vs. Copyright: Which is Worse?” []
  2. See Kinsella, You Can’t Own Ideas: Essays on Intellectual Property: A Skeletal E-book (Papinian Press, 2023); Kinsella, ed., The Anti-IP Reader: Free Market Critiques of Intellectual Property: A Skeletal E-book (Papinian Press, 2023). []
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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.