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Excellent post on why actual property and “intellectual property” are very different and should be treated as such. For some reason, a lot of people have grown to equate them as being the same which leads to all kinds of bad laws and effects.

The post actually quotes Rand of all people. I mentioned Rand a couple of posts down, and now that I’m referring to her again, I feel as though I should promise not to refer to her or objectivism again for at least another six months. I’m really not all that Randian. It just sort of worked out this way.

Anyway, as quoted in the linked post, she says

The inheritance of material property represents a dynamic claim on a static amount of wealth; the inheritance of intellectual property represents a static claim on a dynamic process of production.

That is right. I’d take it further than she does. She does believe that a creator has right to the work that (s)he creates. In order to claim that right though, you must enforce an artificial monopoly on the creation. Supply is in actuality infinite. It’s bounded only by the time and materials needed to perpetuate it. To restrict that so that you can inflate its value is just wrong. It breaks the market if you are a capitalist. It tramples on the rights of the proletariat if you’re a communist. No matter which of the world’s major economic systems you profess to support, it’s wrong.

The typical response to that is that creators deserve to be compensated for their time. I would point out that most creators currently are not compensated for their time. This will probably always be true, but it is made worse by the current system which favors broad versus niche distribution.

The system we have right now restricts not just how many works are distributed, but how many creators are distributed as well. Marketing driven creativity must find a broad audience, and that means that a few artists must shout down all of the other artists. The ones with the most money or the loudest microphones are always going to win that battle. It serves as an editor, and a filter which you need, but it filters too much. It’s not good for the culture.

And, I should say that I’m not opposed to creators getting paid for their work. I think that work for hire is the way that most creators should accomplish that. That’s certainly the way I get paid right now. If they want more autonomy than that allows though, and they want to try to get paid, then I think a system of tipping is better than a system of artificially restricted supply.

Oh, the detractors say, but nobody will pay if they don’t have to. Well, I don’t have to tip in restaurants, but I do. Even when the service completely sucks I tip. I tip less, but I still tip. There’s too much social pressure not to. I think that in a world that values art, the same kinds of pressures could be brought to bare. Some would not pay, but enough would.

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