While I think that Mr. Kinsella frames the problem in the right terms, I suggest that his argument is partially flawed, at least for the part where it does not consider any fruit of intellectual work susceptible to fall in the category of scarcity and, as such, fully deserving the protection of the property rights.
While I can’t claim any dominion over my ideas and thoughts, not more than I could over words for the simple fact that I pronounce them, if I fix them in a tangible and uniquely articulated structure such as a book, for example, then the world is confronted with an artifact, a work not less qualified in scarcity than any other tangible economic good.
I realize that the critic is subtle, but it’s not less decisive.
I can even forestall the main argument that can be unleashed against it. Well, you are the owner of THAT single artifact, but if I copy it and put my name on it I’m not stealing anything from you, because you still own that artifact.
This argument is specious and dogmatic, resembling the base-minded syllogism Rothbard used to justify the murder called abort or, for other aspects, the myopic view considering Money an unproductive asset.
In fact, as the poor soul in the womb of the mother since the very first moment of his incarnation become the owner of his body and life, every tentative to dispose of them is a clear aggression (and the fact that he can’t enforce his rights DOES NOT change anything!).
Turning back to my book, the fact that you can copy it while I still have mine does not mean that you are not stealing my property (if you put your name on it, but I’d argue also if you simply profit from it). We are not dealing anymore here with ideas, inventive and words, but with a tangible and uniquely structured sequence, a scarce resource. The simple fact that you want to copy it testifies that there is a conflict over it and that it has (subjective) value.
If you would not be stealing from me, you’d be ending up just with a tot number of blank pages with a hard cover.
Of course, we can agree that we are not facing any “intellectual property” here, just a property, but that’s a mere terminology question.
The Daily Bell – So how do you enforce your claim? You solicit the state’s resources to do it for you?
Maedhros – You enforce it as every other owner of property rights would do, in similar cases. It’s a civil matter. Turning to a Civil Court would be the only option in the current system. Private justice would be great, but how do you force the opposing party to accept it?
The Daily Bell – That’s the point. With private justice, you can’t simply impose your definition of fraud on the other person or people. It becomes a negotiation and one that can be costly if you have to enforce your definitions without state help. This would not doubt help to concentrate the mind …
Maedhros – Well, I’m not really imposing anything to anyone just turning to a Civil Court here. I am just asking for a judgement on a claim. Also remember that I have based my claim on fundamental property rights, not some special statal legislation.
Even in the case of positive pronouncement, with the Court deciding my claim has merit, you’d have no imposition, just a restoration against an aggression.
You are moving in a minefield here. If you can’t force opposing parties to submit to a judgement, why do they should negotiate at all. You’ll end up with many little States, doing evil just because they can. Everything would be reduced to mere force.
I repeat, private justice is great, but it takes two for that. If the opposing party is not interested in justice, a subsidiary binding public justice is necessary, as it would serve as a reminder for everybody that force does not constitute a legitimate way to acquire property rights.
The Daily Bell – Private justice IS force – fairly equal force on both sides which results in fewer laws, fewer prisons (none) and monetary compensation in lieu of 30 year prison sentences. What do you think civil court is? Try avoiding a civil judgment and see how long it takes before it escalates into a criminal situation.
Maedhros – Of course it is force, but it is force in response, the only legitimate use of force. But through it you do not acquire rights, you restore violated rights.
Frankly, I don’t understand your objections. I’m just saying that justice has to be binding (and accessible), or it is not!
Established that, you can choose the adjective you like the most; it wouldn’t make any difference.