One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
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One of the ongoing ridiculous myths that exists on the Left – and, even more maddeningly, with some on the alleged Right – is that stealing intellectual property (IP) is…not stealing.
In this warped worldview, entering a Best Buy and stealing a DVD movie – is bad. Downloading-without-paying-for the exact same movie – is somehow less bad. It is, in fact, not bad at all.
The weak and feeble argument for this – is that you are not stealing anything physical, so you aren’t stealing. You aren’t depriving anyone of anything tangible.
Which is absurd. You aren’t stealing the DVD from Best Buy to get the shiny, flat piece of plastic. You are stealing the DVD from Best Buy – to get the IP that is imprinted on the shiny, flat piece of plastic.
We outlaw both forms of theft – in fact, all forms of theft – for, in large part, one overarching, underlying reason. You are depriving creator(s) – from monetary compensation for his/her/their creations.
Which leads to another overarching, underlying reason. We want creators to continue creating. In fact – we NEED creators to keep creating. It is what continues to make our lives better, last longer and be more fulfilling.
And if you want creators to keep creating – you’d best protect their ability to be compensated for their creations. No matter the format in which their creations are delivered.
Because human nature – is human nature. As we’ve previously noted:
“If you’re a farmer, will you plow and plant, fertilize and till – if any and everyone can steal your crops after the fact? Of course you won’t. This is yet another example to be emplaced in my proposed DC Department of Duh.”
Let us now delve a little into the inanity and insanity that is the defense of IP theft. This New York Times extrusion – is emblematically typical of the pro-IP theft case.
When Stealing Isn’t Stealing: “With intangible assets like information, patents and copyrighted material playing an increasingly important role in the economy, lawyers and lobbyists for the movie and music industries, and their allies in Congress and at the Justice Department, sought to push the concept of theft beyond the basic principle of zero sum-ness.”
Yes. Because old principles apply to new technologies. The reason our Information Economy has become our Information Economy – is because un-addled people acknowledged that IP is (at least) as important as P(roperty). And thus have always included IP theft protection – in theft protection. Which is even more fodder for our Department of Duh.
And this person’s prescription for legalization of theft – is a guaranteed way to crash and crush our Information Economy. If a farmer can’t sell what he grows – he’ll stop growing. If a creator can’t sell what he creates – he’ll stop creating. Because: human nature.
We have ALWAYS protected IP. Although “intangible assets like information, patents and copyrighted material” are now “playing an increasingly important role in the economy” – this wasn’t an unanticipated development by our ancient Founding Fathers.
“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;”
So protecting IP isn’t just an obviously, inherently good idea – it is an expressly enumerated duty of the federal government. The Constitution demands it.
So does our economy. So does human nature. So does common sense. So does Reality.
Other than all of that – stealing IP isn’t stealing.
[Originally Published at RedState]