Against intellectual property

There is a saying that man cannot really own things. That property is merely an illusion. Many an economist would argue that this is really the case; property is an abstraction created to tackle the limited nature of resources. I don't truly claim to own this laptop I'm currently typing on, but to call it mine is a useful abstraction. It is an agreement with the rest of the society. Everyone agrees that I am responsible for the use of this laptop, for better or worse. Intellectual property is also an abstraction, much more so than real property.

An economic system deals with the problem of production and distribution of goods. In the case of scarcity (there's more demand than supply), you need to decide who gets the goods. Capitalism and centrally planned economy are some of these systems. However, there is no economic basis for capitalism or any other similar system in the case of non-scarce goods. For example, there is no market (yet :) for air.

We live in interesting times, in the sense that technology is being developed to work against other technological developments. I'm pretty sure it has happened before; the current example is copy protection and/or DRM. An essential ingredient of a technological utopia is the free flow of information, and now that we are finally reaching it with the Internet, many are opposing it. It's probably what car manufacturers initially faced from the horse-carriage industry; an optimistic comparison because we know that technology won after all.

My basic arguments against extended copyright (and patents)

Original intent

Fairness against other professions

Most people get paid by the hour/month/etc. of work they do. At the end of that period, they get a fair compensation. However, the owner of creative rights may get compensated by work done many decades earlier. Of course, not every song turns out an international hit, so creative work is like lottery. Those who get lucky can make their living on something the worked on in their twenties.

This sort of a situation is hardly in accordance with the original intent of copyright. It is not encouraging people to create new things. Quite the contrary.

Due to the nature of creative works, though, some protection is probably in order, compared to other kinds of work. By my previous argument, the period should be less than 14 years, perhaps something like 5. If your work isn't selling during five years, maybe that's a sign to create something else.

Transfer of rights

A transfer of copyright dilutes the intent of promoting new creations.

Further resources

In summary I would like to go a step further: I believe the ideas of copyright, patent and trademark are bad. They had their moments, but they are no longer appropriate with today's society and technology. For just one example, they force people to reinvent wheels and thereby waste resources. In this spirit I shall rant no more, but let those who have put it better speak:

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