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Friday, November 13, 2009

Intellectual Property in the LP Platform

Intellectual property is a topic that divides even principled libertarians, so it would be hard to pass a comprehensive Platform statement on copyright, patents, trademarks, blackmail, libel, and slander.  However, I bet we could stake out a position to at least defend the sort of "piracy" that tens of millions of young/future American voters engage in every year.  We could add a couple sentences like the following to 1.1 Expression and Communication:

We defend the right to freely reproduce original expression when doing so does not obviously divert commercial benefit from the author to the reproducer.  Limits on the use of information technology should be decided by contracts between producers and consumers, not by the dictates of legislators and lobbyists.

More details of my views on IP are in the Free Earth Manifesto, excerpted below.  But again, I don't think we could get a NatCon to pass a substantive statement on patents or blackmail.
  • Patents. Communities may for a limited fixed term grant exclusive rights in their jurisdiction to use of an invention in exchange for a fee to the community that is a fraction of the value of the invention assigned by its owner, with that fraction increasing to unity at the end of the term. Any person may buy the exclusivity rights from their owner with a payment to him greater than the value he assigns them. Exclusivity shall include a rebuttable presumption that any use of the invention after it is publicized is not independent and therefore an infringement.
  • Copyright. Communities may recognize intellectual property in expression only to prevent unauthorized reproduction in cases of a) competition that diverts commercial benefit from the owner to the competitor, b) attributed use with unattributed defamatory modification, or c) unattributed use that misleads about who the owner is.
  • Blackmail. Communities may decide whether the truth of some information is a valid defense against charges of blackmail for threatening to reveal it.
  • Expression. Every person has the right of free expression, without any regulation of how media or technology are used for personal expression, or are withheld by their owners from such use.

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