Copyrights are theft

As many would know who are acquainted with political thought on the libertarian left, intellectual property is a major factor entrenching economic privilege for large corporations. However, most people (even some anti-statists) support copyrights on the grounds that illegal filesharing is theft. This is false – copying doesn’t deprive anyone of the copied work. When this is pointed out to copyright supporters, they will respond that people are being deprived of money that they would otherwise make. What this implies is that it is morally acceptable to guarantee one’s income by coercing others – something that can be called “theft” far more justifiably then copying can.


About vaguelyhumanoid

Here you can see the assorted musings of a philosophically-inclined, theoretically eclectic anarchist. My blog: a grab bag of hopefully interesting rants, raves, and various other things.
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2 Responses to Copyrights are theft

  1. Erik says:

    In addition to coercion, it seems “work” is at issue here. Persons A-C work to produce X unit(s). As you point out, if person D produces an “identical” or a derivative of X, then D has still done work, even if its the act of copying the work of A-C. A-C may complain that D did less work to make/obtain the product, but its not as if D did nothing (unless D got a gift from E who bought, or reproduced the work of A-C). In addition, how do we decide a fair price for X if A-C have already been paid in-full for their work? At what point is the resale of fully paid work theft or “depriving” consumers of money for work that’s already been paid for? Further, if A-C try to stop D, how is this a free market move, and not a move towards monopoly? Lastly, if A-C ask tribute from D for their work, how is this not theft, and/or slavery?

    Bands have always had to work, but now they are finding it harder to get paid for non-work a thousand times over. Now, more than ever, working/playing live is a necessity. We seem to actually be moving beyond file sharing and even storage as a new generation of “Digital Natives” tune into pandora, spotify, and lastfm, skipping collections of music altogether. Regardless, collector, and listener are treated the same by IP advocates, as slaves, as the songs we often have stuck in our heads make our heads the property of the copyright holder.

    IP resources galore:

  2. I believe the problem comes in separating patents from intellectual property; government-issued monopolies and preferences versus the reasonable reserved rights of an individual’s idea.

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