The advent of the Internet, digital information, and easy file sharing and duplication have been met with ever more draconian enforcement of the state's IP law and with incessant lobbying for legislation to make IP stronger and longer lasting. Just as the state wants to tax everything that moves, intellectual properteers want to cover ever more subjects of life with IP protection. But everyone — the young, students, and libertarians — copies files, and we all regularly hear stories about insane patent and copyright lawsuits.
Single moms and college students are sued for file sharing. The IP barons seek three-strikes-and-you're-out laws banishing accused offenders from the Internet for life. They seek international enforcement of their national monopoly rights, in order to harass street vendors in Third World countries. The legislators, who are in their pockets, have already outlawed the possession of devices that might be used to crack encryption codes. Their propaganda — in TV commercials, video games, magazine ads, and unskippable warnings at the beginning of DVD movies — hectors kids and college students about how uncool it is to copy.
We hear regularly about multimillion- or even billion-dollar patent lawsuits, and about the millions of dollars spent by corporations on patent attorneys and litigators just to cross-license with each other, leaving smaller companies outside the walls of the barriers to entry erected on these patent arsenals. In the name of IP, books are banned, movies are ordered destroyed, singers are prevented from singing, car owners prevented from photographing their own cars, churches are prohibited from having Super Bowl parties, and imports of watches and ramparts of drugs are blocked. And a little mouse keeps getting his life extended, thanks to copyright — from the original 14 years to more than 100. Trumped-up charges of IP infringement are used as an excuse by the government to investigate political opponents.1 IP may still be arcane, but it's not boring anymore. Scary and outrageous, maybe, but not boring.
|Week 5: Integrating IP Theory with Austrian Economics and Libertarian Theory|
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|AUDIOBOOK: Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella|
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