A Swedish libertarian buddy, Johan Ridenfeldt, pointed me to this article (in Swedish), which describes libertarian (liberal) arguments against intellectual property, and also includes a review of the debate in Nyliberalen (The Neoliberal). He wrote, “I find this very positive. I’m involved (somewhat) in politics, and I have noticed that most of the libertarian young ones agree with us on IP [i.e., that it is problematic and unlibertarian]. This was not the case when I first started quoting you back when your Against IP article was in draft [in 2000 or so]. I used to post and recommend your working paper draft, and back then I was pretty alone in my views.”
I have noticed a similar trend. The younger, Internet generation seems to be much more receptive to the notion that there are no property rights in information and ideas. Whether this is because they are more open minded, more libertarian, or anti-big-business, I am not sure. I have noticed that most of the older types are much more resistant to challenges to IP.Coda: Jim Newland writes:
Sheesh, Stephan. I’m an old fogey and even I know the answer to this one. It’s because they’ve grown up in the digital era, with its easily traded and downloaded electronic files. The impossibility of actually owning an idea or anything else nonmaterial is brought into sharp focus with the ubiquity of the internet. For instance, in the case of videogame pirates, they ask how they can be accused of stealing something when the original product remains with its original owner. This starts them thinking about the whole idea of intellectual property and the notion that one can somehow own something as ephemeral as a thought.
And a college student writes,
The reason is actually pretty simple. The RIAA just sued my roommate and about 10 other kids here at [my college]. The younger generation is anti-IP because we love free file sharing and hate getting sued.