≡ Menu

It’s A Fucking Disgrace that the Libertarian Party Platform Does Not Condemn “Intellectual Property” (Patent and Copyright)

I’ve made this point many times.

See for example this Facebook post:

As noted recently, I’ve just joined the Libertarian Party, after more than 35 years of being a small-l libertarian.
As noted there, my main goal is to persuade the party to adopt a clear platform plank calling for abolition of patent and copyright law. As I have in the past (https://www.facebook.com/nskinsella/posts/10155071618778181)
Intellectual property law is 100%, clearly and undeniably unlibertarian. Among destructive and evil state policies, it ranks among the worst, which are (in no particular order):

1. war;
2. the Fed/central banking/fiat money;
3. government schools;
4. taxation;
5. the drug war;
6. intellectual property — in particular, the federal patent and copyright laws.
Now not all libertarians are anarchists, and thus not all agree that war and taxation are always and completley wrong. And not all are Austrians, so some are not completely opposed to central banking. I’m not aware of many libertarian arguments for government schools, and there are just zero arguments for the drug war. Of all the libertarian stances, the drug war is simply not debatable. If there is a litmus test, it is the drug war. All libertarians must be completely and utterly opposed to the inhumane and evil prohibition of drugs.
And patent and copyright law also. There might be some argument for taxation or even war (especially among minarchists), but just as there is no libertarian argument at all for outlawing drugs, there is no argument at all for patent or copyright. They are as blatantly and clearly immoral and unlibertarian as the drug war is.
And in one respect IP law is even worse than other state laws and policies: unlike war, taxation, drug laws, and so on, intellectual property pretends to be a type of “property right”, and thus is far more insidious. This is why it confuses and seduces some libertarians into thinking there is a role for IP law in a free society, when it is as contrary to human freedom and property rights as the drug war is. And possibly even more destructive, since it hampers innovation and the free communication of thought and ideas, and thus impedes human progress.
Patent law is a war on innovation, and literally kills people. Copyright law is a war on speech and thought, distorts culture, stifles free speech, and threatens freedom on the Internet, one of the most important weapons against state tyranny in human history.
When Harry Browne ran on the LP ticket, as I recall, he would repeatedly, emphatically call for an end to the “insane war on drugs”! Yes. And we libertarians should also call for an end to the insane patent and copyright war on innovation, competition, property rights, artistic freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of the press!! Down with the insane IP War on thought and innovation!!
[For those libertarians not clear on why IP is so horrific, there are tons of resources easily available for you to consult — see http://c4sif.org/resources/ ]
***
And yet. And yet… if you take a look at the LP Platform, though it champions free markets and freedom of expression and the press, there is no mention at all of intellectual property law, of patent or copyright law.
The Libertarian Party, under the “Personal Liberty” section of its most recent Platform, has the courage to declaim: “We oppose the administration of the death penalty by the state.” (Sec. 1.8) Likewise, Sec. 1.9 opposes laws that criminalize gambling, the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes, and consensual transactions involving sexual services, i.e. prostitution. The LP Platform is clearly not averse to naming specific laws that we hold to be unlibertarian and unjust. The Platform is not just some broad statement of principles that is too abstract to mention specific categories of laws or state actions that we libertarians oppose, that we want reformed or abolished. Thus, there is no excuse not to condemn patent and copyright law in the Platform.
Section 1, on Personal Liberty, calls for “full freedom of expression” and communication, and opposes “government censorship”–yet no mention is made of copyright law, which clearly censors speech and the press. The very roots of copyright law lie in state control of the printing press (see http://www.questioncopyright.org/promise).
Section 2, on Economic Liberty, calls for “A free and competitive market ” and for respect for property rights, but it does not condemn patent law, which is an egregious restriction property rights and on market competition, with its roots in protectionism (see the Statute of Monopolies of 1623). Sec. 2.1 rightly condemns eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services, but not a word is said about patent law, which is arguably worse than all of these. Section 2.8 champions free markets–and yet patent law’s very purpose is to limit competition and is utterly incompatible with private property and free markets.
Therefore, I call on the LP to amend its Platform at the earliest opportunity to clearly and explicitly condemn federal patent and copyright law and to call for the abolition of both.
As a suggestion, I propose amending Section 1.2, and either 2.1 or 2.8, as follows (with the proposed amended language surrounded *by asterisks*):
***
1.2 Expression and Communication
We support full freedom of expression and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology, *and oppose copyright law.* We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others. We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.
2.1 Property and Contract
As respect for property rights is fundamental to maintaining a free and prosperous society, it follows that the freedom to contract to obtain, retain, profit from, manage, or dispose of one’s property must also be upheld. Libertarians would free property owners from government restrictions on their rights to control and enjoy their property, as long as their choices do not harm or infringe on the rights of others. Eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, *patent law*, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services (including wages, rents, and interest) are abridgements of such fundamental rights. For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties should be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable.
2.8 Marketplace Freedom
Libertarians support free markets *and competition*. We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of entities based on voluntary association. *We oppose all forms of protectionism including tariffs and patent law.* We oppose all forms of government subsidies and bailouts to business, labor, or any other special interest. Government should not compete with private enterprise.
***
Yours sincerely, Stephan Kinsella, LP member since 2018
p.s.: While we’re at it, the Platform should also condemn antitrust law.
Coda: From this post:
I will never again vote for a national Libertarian Party candidate who is not explicitly opposed to patent and copyright law. This is why I would not have voted for Hornberger if he had won the nomination (he claims to be “unclear” on the issue or whatever), and why I continue to be baffled and mortified by “libertarian” “radical” thinkers like David Friedman, Michael Huemer, and others, who feign “geez, I just don’t know WHAT to think about IP” even though they pose as anarcho-capitalist-theorist “experts.” Hey, guess what, if you are not good on IP, you are not a good libertarian. IP is one of the most evil and anti-libertarian things the state imposes on us; if haven’t figured this out yet, you are not a libertarian. http://c4sif.org/2015/10/classical-liberals-and-anarchists-on-intellectual-property/
Down with patent law, down with copyright law, down will all forms of “IP”. And down with all libertarian alleged “thought leaders” who are bad on this issue! If you are confused on it, at least have the decency to (a) shut up about it, and (b) don’t pretend you are some libertarian theory expert. Let me be as clear as possible: if you are not opposed to patent and copyright law, you are in favor of censorship, fascism, protectionism. You are in favor of utterly illiberal laws. You are in favor of destruction of human life and progress and freedom. You are afraid to oppose utter and blatant evil. Shame on you. Shame on you.
Share
{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Reply

Bad Behavior has blocked 1494 access attempts in the last 7 days.

© 2012-2020 StephanKinsella.com CC0 To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to material on this Site, unless indicated otherwise. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.

-- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

%d bloggers like this: