Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Proof of IP Validity

I would like to convince you that copyright is a valid form of property, in accordance with libertarian principles of non-aggression and original acquisition of property by homesteading. I propose the following two axioms.

1. The existence of a mass-produced good is proof that a factory exists. 

2. The existence of a mass-produced good is proof that the factory was used. 

Is there any possible argument against those two claims? I fail to see one. In every corner of modern civilization we see mass-produced goods - food, clothing, electronics, vehicles, medicines. In every case, there is a factory somewhere, transforming some type of raw material with some type of machinery that makes more efficient use of human labor, i.e., a capital good that makes possible the mass-production of a consumer good.

Axiom 1 implies the human action of homesteading 


Factories do not occur in nature, they must be created by a homesteader. The existence of a factory implies that an act of homesteading occurred. Prior to the act, mass-production of this particular consumer good was impossible. After the act, and because of the act, mass-production is now possible. According to libertarian property theory, the homesteader rightly owns the factory, and the produce from the factory.

Axiom 2 implies the human action of using  


Axiom two states that if a mass-produced good exists, then the factory must have been used. This follows from an understanding of what a factory is. To obtain finished mass-produced goods, there must be an input of some type of raw material, energy, and human effort. Even if the factory is "completely automated", there still must be a human decision to operate.

Thus, on observing the existence of any mass-produced good, the following questions can be asked:

1. Who homesteaded (thus owns) the factory?
2. Who used the factory to make these particular instances of the mass-produced good?
3. Is the person who used the factory authorized by the owner to do so?

If the user is not authorized, then use is trespass.

Application to Copyright


Multiple identical copies of a song are an example of a mass-produced consumer good. In light of the above, this proves the existence of, and the use of a factory. When it comes to mass-producing song copies, what exactly is "the factory", and who is using it? 

Writing and recording the song must be viewed as the homesteading of a factory, because it is precisely this human action that makes mass-production possible. Before writing and recording, it was impossible to mass-produce identical song-copies. Now, with the existence of the song-master, it is possible. The creation of a new song brings into existence a mass-production capability that did not exist prior. Therefore the writer is a homesteader, and rightly owns the factory and its produce, according to libertarian theory, just as with any other mass-produced good.

Making copies of the song must be viewed as using the factory, because there is no other way for mass-produced goods to come into existence other than using a factory. The salient question is whether or not the person who made the copies was authorized by the factory owner, for exactly the same reasons as above.

If the user is not authorized, then copying is trespass.



Unauthorized copying is trespass.

Discussion Questions


Are there any examples of mass-produced goods which do not require the existence of a factory?

Are there any examples of mass-produced goods which do not require the use of a factory?

Is there some sense in which copying digital media files is not mass-production?