Property of Mind, Right of Access, and Trespass
I own my life. I own my body. I own my mind.
I own the product of my own work. If I use my body to create physical property, the product of my work is my property. If I use my mind to create a work, the product of that work is also my property.
If I have with my mind, created a work that other people value, I assert that it is a property of my mind. If I sell to someone the right to view that property of my mind, they may view my work, however I have not sold to them the property of my mind, I have sold to someone solely the right to view my property, it is a right of passage into my mind, it is a right of access. If I have not sold them the right to view the property of my mind, they have no right to trespass upon my property, my mind. As I have not sold them my property, merely the right to view my property, no other person may sell or give away access to my property.
If some criminal makes copies of my work and makes it available on the internet for others to view for free, obviously that person is guilty of violating my property rights. However any subsequent person who downloads and views my work, is in fact also violating my property rights, as I have never sold the property of my mind, I have only ever sold 'access' to the property of my mind. Someone downloading a pirated copy is still trespassing upon the property of my mind. Simply because it is easy for them to do so and difficult for me to enforce my rights, does not mean I no longer own the property of my mind.
The standard refrain from IP socialists is that it is not property if I haven't lost anything when they make a copy. IP socialists assert that scarcity is a necessary precondition for property and that as knowledge is not scarce, it cannot be property. There is however a fundamental flaw with this proposition. If knowledge is not scarce, why do we not have a cure for cancer? Why is there not an infinite supply of new Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes? Obviously there is a scarcity of knowledge. I own the work of my mind. Simply because it is easy for others to make infinite copies of my work, does not mean that I do not own my work. That work would not exist if I did not do the work. It is still my work, my property.
A property of mind that is a piece of music remains a property of mind. Simply because one who creates work with their mind, uses a digital medium to grant access to their mind, does not mean that others may then freely avail themselves of access to the property of their mind. The fact that the digital medium just happens to contain a full copy of that work is simply a practical matter that currently poses an inconvenience (albeit a large one) to those who do such work with their minds.
Infinite and free access to someone's mind does not make their mind no longer their property, and infinite and free access to the property of someone's mind does not make their property, no longer their property. It is still trespass if they have not granted access. If someone makes a copy of my mind, they did not create the work of my mind, they created a copy of something that can be viewed. The work remains my own, remains the property of my mind, and someone availing themselves of the copy, is still viewing the work of my mind, still trespassing upon the property of my mind, if I have not given them the right.
I assert that the idea that the product of my mind aught by right be the common property of all man kind, simply because it is easy for them to steal it, is utterly at odds with the principles of liberty. I am to be a free man if I work with my hands but if I work with my mind, I must be a slave? Or perhaps instead of a slave, the IP socialists would assert that instead I must be a saint, altruistically providing according to my ability, so that the world may avail itself of my work according to it's needs.
Obviously the IP socialists are wrong. The rest is a debate about practical matters.
I am a 50 year old, ex-student of economics, finally coming back to getting more of a clue. My studies are haphazard and unguided and the only control I have on my accuracy is my own personal attention to writing well. This because I tend to write expository, persuasive essays on the subject of economics and policy, which I post to various non-economic forums (usually in their off topic sections).
While writing my latest essay I found myself trying to write a set of 'predictions' and discovered a severe lack of understanding on my part, the detail being unimportant here. I wound up posting to the Mises forum for the first time to ask a question. It then occurred to me that I could really use the feedback of people who know more than I do on these essays I am banging out, as a way of checking for accuracy and revealing weaknesses in my argument. This 'before' I post those essays to other forums. The ideal place of course to gain such feedback being here on Mises.org.
I am a bit concerned that my degree of knowledge of economics may reveal me to be more of an idiot than I am comfortable with. However I would rather have my ignorance revealed to me in a forum where people are largely already converted to the principles of freedom, rather than have me revealed as an idiot in a forum where most posters are big brother enthusiasts. That would run rather contrary to my intent of persuading people.
Please read any essay I post with the intention of revealing to me any errors of facts or theory. I really appreciate any feedback, expecially constructive criticism. It is hard for me to know if I am making an error, unless one of you tells me.