Thank you to everyone that participated in the poll. I got 42 responses and out of those 42, here’s how it broke down:
15 (35.71%) of the respondents believe that violating someone else’s intellectual property (i.e. copying a song without the copyright holder’s permission) is theft.
20 (47.62%) of the respondents believe that it is not theft.
7 (16.67%) of the respondents are not sure.
First of all, I was pleased that the plurality supported the idea that copying a song without the copyright holder’s permission is not theft. This is actually my position. I do not believe that intellectual property is an actual property right, but rather a social construct that governments use to protect inefficiencies in the market and discourage innovation.
I’m sure that the 35.71% of you that accept intellectual property as a justifiable aspect of law have your own reasons for doing so. However, I encourage you to consider some of the following resources that I am going to post in order to at least give advocates of my position a fair hearing. I also want to encourage those of you who are not sure about IP to look at these resources as well.
I would encourage you to watch the video below, entitled “Everything is a Remix.” Technically, this is part 3 in the series, but it’s the first one I saw when I was very seriously considering a switch from the pro-IP position. The great thing about this video is that it demonstrates that almost every aspect of our creativity is based on copying some other idea. There’s practically nothing that we can do or create that is entirely unique to ourselves. Sure, we can develop a new manufacturing method, engine, or piece of art that we think no one else has thought of before, and for that, we should be able to market and profit for the products of our ideas if they are really worthwhile. But this video (for me at least) challenges the notion that it is possible to own an idea, which is at the core of IP law.
In addition the above video, I would encourage you to read an amazing article by Stephen Kinsella that was published by the Freeman entitled “How Intellectual Property Hampers the Free Market.” I actually just stumbled upon it for the first time only a few days after I put up the poll.
Lastly, I personally love pretty much anything that Jeffrey Tucker has to say on the topic of intellectual property. I first heard Tucker speak at a FEE seminar about the topic of emulation and about why emulation is one of the most important driving forces in a truly free market (very similar to the gist of the “Everything is a Remix” above). It really got me started on my re-thinking of intellectual property. If you want to listen to an excellent lecture by Tucker specifically on the topic of intellectual property, there’s a great one uploaded on YouTube here. If you’re more of the reading type, Tucker has posted many articles on the subject of IP, but a good one to start can be found here at the Mises Institute.