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Jock Coats on Cathy Smith and Copyright

Jock Coats, who did the audio narration for my Against Intellectual Property, has posted a good reply to Cathy Smith’s pro-IP comments and confusions in his article Copyright – buying your time? (responding in part to her Time—Going, Going, Gone).

Jock is right to guess relation between Cathy and L. Neil Smith: she is his wife; she was involved in the debate about the Shire Society Declaration on the FreeKeene board. Some suspected L. Neil was speaking through her. She denied it, and said she was speaking for herself. All I know is they have both presented similary sketchy, incomplete and flawed arguments for IP. Their argument basicaly amounts to calling copying theft–i.e., assuming their conclusion; question-begging.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Matt C September 14, 2010, 1:23 pm

    Man that thread at freekeene is epic.

    Bad news: not only does the “owner” or the “IP” still “own” the “ideas” that “result” from her “labor”, but she still owns the physical copy that you bought.


    Long story short:
    Guy cannot resell boxed (unused) software because he doesn’t own it. The EULA reserves ownership to the publisher (almost all EULAs do this)
    He never agreed to the EULA, of course, because he never installed/used the software. But because the EULA reserves title his only way of lawfully getting rid of the software is to return it to the vendor for a refund.

    So the transfer of the physical box in exchange for money doesn’t constitute a sale because … well I guess because a not-agreed-to contract inside the box says it doesn’t.

  • Cathy Smith September 14, 2010, 3:38 pm

    It pleases me to no end to know that I’m at least as “sketchy”, “incomplete” and “flawed” as Murray Rothbard.

    Copyrights, in other words, have their basis in the prosecution of implicit theft. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant stole the former’s creation by reproducing it and selling it himself in violation of his or someone else’s contract with the original seller. But if the defendant independently arrives at the same creation, the plaintiff has no copyright privilege that could prevent the defendant from using and selling his product.


    We have seen in chapter 2 that the acid test by which we judge whether or not a certain practice or law is or not consonant with the free market is this: Is the outlawed practice implicit or explicit theft? If it is, then the free market would outlaw it; if not, then its outlawry is itself government interference in the free market. Let
    us consider copyright. A man writes a book or composes music. When he publishes the book or the sheet of music, he imprints on the first page the word “copyright.” This indicates that any man who agrees to purchase this product also agrees as part of the exchange not to recopy or reproduce this work for sale. In other words, the author does not sell his property outright to the buyer; he sells it on condition that the buyer
    not reproduce it for sale. Since the buyer does not buy the property outright, but only on this condition, any infringement of the contract by him or a subsequent buyer is implicit theft and would be treated accordingly on the free market. The copyright is therefore a logical device of property right on the free market.

    from Centre for Civil Society Liberty, Art & Culture Seminar, Patents and Copyrights * Murray N Rothbard

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