I've been trying to come up with a valid, sound reason why someone would be against copyrights and patents, but I just can't see it. Property rights are the foundation of a capitalist economy. They are the foundation of a liberal society. It is the protection of such rights that is the raison d'etre of government. Property rights are, in a nutshell, paramount.
Copyrights and patents are laws designed to protect property rights. Where is the disconnect? Why are certain libertarians against this protection of our rights? I've heard the absurd idea that copyrights and patents seek to protect thoughts and words. That is ridiculous. They protect our inventions and our particular modus operandi for solving problems. They very clearly protect our property.
The arguments against copyrights and patents are baseless. They do not seek to stop people from thinking, or of using someone's existing idea to come up with another idea. For instance, Thomas Edison had a patent on a particular design of a lightbulb. Nikola Tesla won a bid to light the world's fair in 1893, but he couldn't use Edison's design for his lightbulbs. So what did he do? He came up with a another design for lightbulbs. Patent haters would have you think that a patent protects the idea of a lightbulb, but this is clearly not the case. What the patent did do, however, was encourage Tesla to become more creative and create competition for Edison. And patents are evil so we shouldn't have them?
The only reason I can think of why some libertarians would be against patents and copyrights is because laws like these prevent them from cheating. Obviously any person who swallows the libertarian dogma lock, stock and barrel cannot think for himself, but must be lead around by other people's ideas. So if libertarians can't rely on others ideas, they would be absolutely lost. Hence, they are against copyrights and patents.
Or is it because for these laws to exist, there must be some form of government to enforce them? And as these extreme, narrow-minded libertarians know, all government is evil and hell-bent on their destruction.
Now I'm sure I angered a lot of people (at least in my imagination, because for me to have angered a lot of people, a lot of people will have had to have read this entry. I'm guessing at most two will). So let me qualify this piece by saying that most libertarians are rational, sound-minded individuals with some great ideas. I am only talking about those extreme, weak-minded, blind, irrational, and yes, silly libertarians that actually believe their narrow, ignorant view of the world is truth.
© Austin Frindt, 2008.