Copying is not stealing

April 7th, 2010

Human progress is based on the copy, the ideas materialized emulation by others in the past, improving competitive creations of others, on the combinations of various ideas with its own original contribution minimal.

ll, before you can view the DVD we had rented at the video library on the corner, we have endured this message Authorities us hammering the message that copying a movie would be robbery as ugly prying her handbag at a little old. This defense simplistic, bordering on immaturity, intellectual property is based on a false intuition and pass a basic, yet critical distinction in this debate: the tangible property are to exclusive use (if someone takes away my phone portal I can not call), while intangibles like music, inventions or ideas in general are not (a copy of a CD does not listen to it).

Basically, the function of property rights is to avoid conflicts that may arise in connection with the use of an asset or resource. According to the liberal principle of ownership, the right to decide on the use of the property belongs exclusively to one who has the fairest claim on it, that is to say who gave him the usefulness first or who has received a legitimate third.

In this framework, intellectual property has no coherence. Go back further in time and observe the man of antiquity occupy a parcel of land and start cultivating difficulty depending on local rainfall, becoming de facto owner of the land. Now let the other side of the country where the peasant has never set foot, someone who has developed an irrigation system. The implicit logic of intellectual property would entitle the latter to prevent our farmers to use irrigation technology development and then claim royalties for each use. But we immediately understand that by doing so, the developer of the irrigation system violates the property rights of peasants by forbidding it to do what he wants on the parcel of land it occupied first. Under what the peasant could not copy and use this irrigation technique on his plot?

Depending on context, copy can be inelegant or even dishonorable. It is embarrassing that we take advantage of us and it is logical to try to avoid that. But there are many legal ways to take advantage of people, from adultery to the false promise through emotional blackmail or despotism to a subordinate. The laws are there to punish crimes, not to impose good manners and protect us from our naivete innocent.

Ultimately, why raise a hue and cry on the ass on the copy? This fact, however much a part of life, we copy the behavior and continuously take the ideas of others without feeling remorse or design the quirky idea that people would feel so abused. Human progress is based on the copy, the ideas materialized emulation by others in the past, improving competitive creations of others, on the combinations of various ideas with its own original contribution minimal.

One can understand the irritation of an artist who sees his music downloaded from Internet or copied several times in succession. But if today we had to pay royalties to the heirs of the inventor of the supermarket, light bulb or the telephone, the artist would defend it or criticize it for the fact enjoy legal privileges at the expense of other competitors and the rest of society? This artist would he think that the legislation should be amended to “protect” against the copy a style of dress, a new architectural structure, a new mathematical formula or a new dance step?

Throughout the last two centuries, the United States, the trend has been to extend the time limits of copyright with the evident intention of artificially prolonged legal monopolies very profitable for certain businesses (14 years, there has been any the life of the author plus 70 years). The patent law is so far from his stated goal that emerged are the companies “trolls” who are solely dedicated to patent “inventions” and get royalties without ever producing anything or, to put it another way, to extort businesses that they produce on the basis of these ideas.

There is no “right to culture” and therefore it is perfectly legitimate that artists employ various modes of exclusion which makes it more difficult to copy – as in his time, kept jealously secret Sistine Chapel partition the Miserere of Allegri, Mozart again until this work of memory. But they have no right to appeal to the state to protect their interests at the expense of consumers’ freedom and taxing the sale of CDs or continuing users as criminals who unload the music made available by d others on the Internet. Not to mention the fact that if we paid for everything that we “copy it” routinely, we would be ruined at the end of the day.

“Copier n’est pas voler”

French…. so beautiful!

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