On Intellectual Property II

Here is further proof that believers in so-called “intellectual property” are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole: an owner of an idea may continue using his idea without ever becoming aware that it has been “stolen”. Try that with a wallet, or a car, or a laptop. Stealing property means removing it entirely from its owner’s ability to continue using it. You might steal someone’s property without them ever noticing, sure, but as soon as they go to use it, if it’s truly been stolen, it’s no longer where it was. It’s gone. Why is that? Because its finite and scarce, and therefore subject to conflict over its use. Ideas are neither finite nor scarce, and therefore not subject to conflict over their use. An infinite number of people may use a given idea simultaneously, all without any other user even being aware of it. “Stolen” and the owner never has to know; how’s that for misleading euphemism? And that’s today’s two cents.

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Skyler J. Collins (Editor)

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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on the official Everything-Voluntary.com podcast.

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Alex Knight

An interesting perspective that someone posted on one of your Facebook threads regarding this subject is that copyright infringment constitutes a form of trespass: No, nothing has been “stolen,” per se, perhaps — but one’s property has been used and transgressed without permission nevertheless.