Copying is not theft

Copying is not theft and copyright is not a property right.

Here are some other things which aren’t theft.

  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Adultery
  • Perjury

And here are some other rights which aren’t property rights.

  • The right to life
  • The right to liberty
  • The right to the pursuit of happiness
  • The right to a fair trial

Copying is not theft and copyright is not a property right. It baffles me that so many libertarians (Objectivists, especially) don’t seem to get this. Perhaps it’s because anarchists release viral videos like this one which confound two distinct claims, viz., copying isn’t theft and copying is fun.

Copying isn’t theft, but neither is rape. And rape isn’t fun. So perhaps copying isn’t good, clean fun, either, even though it’s not theft.

5 thoughts on “Copying is not theft”

  1. Tim, man does not own himself. See my latest post.

    Murder takes away …deprives a man of his God given Life… For sure. But murder is not theft. Police cannot recover the stolen goods. You can’t own a second life that fell of the back of a truck. Kidnap is more akin to theft than is murder. Murder is more akin to willful damage than it is to theft.

    It may seem that I am playing hair splitting semantics but, in fact, we must narrow the definition of theft and apply the term only where it is literally applicable. I think ‘intellectual property’ is a misnomer. How can you own an idea? How can you own an arrangement of musical notes?

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    No mention of property or ownership. Just the securing on behalf of authors and inventors of temporary, exclusive rights to the use of their respective writings and discoveries.

  2. We must distinguish between Nature and convention Richard. It may be true that in nature it is impossible to ‘own’ an idea, yet Intellectual property is a conventional right. It is helpful to understand the claims to ideas as private Property. The reality is that many ideas are the product of much time, energy, and expense, and often it is the motive power of self-interest… (the potential to profit) that makes the necessary funds available to develop the Idea. This is not the only motive to innovation, not the only reason capitalist societies recognise intellectual property, but a primary consideration… a primary justification for the convention.
    Actually *a Free Society is a convention* One thing I am working on is the correlation between Nature and convention in politics. So many people are confused between these two classifications. so many people think ‘one dimensionally’… ‘either or’. They are incapable of thinking that reality may be perceived as “multi- layered”. And your assertion that ‘Christians don’t own themselves’ is a perfect example of that kind of thinking. I will be posting a comment to your post on the subject of self-ownership to show that for the sake of *Political convention* it is perfectly acceptable (indeed essential) for society to consider each individual owns himself.

  3. Ha Ha, I went to that other post on ‘Self ownership’ and I see you grant yourself ‘Self Custodianship’… Ha ha ha. Thats sort of what Im talking about regarding ‘multi diamentional thinking’. To be a Libertarian means you accept a persons ‘right’ to reject Christ, and Christian ethics, yet dont surrender your belief that that is a foolish error!…. *Wrong!* . (I have also had this conversation with Glen.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *