Stephan Kinsella On Intellectual Property, Part II

Oct 26, 03 | 12:28 pm by John T. Kennedy

In response to my recent questions about how his Terms of Use notice squares with his views on IP, Stephan Kinsella writes:

None of you guessed the obvious: I am simply stating what the law is–as a matter of law, I have a copyright in things I write, whether I register it, put a notice on it, or even want it. You do too. And as a matter of law, legally, you may not republish my stuff without my permission. I didn’t write the law. It’s similar to me saying “you may not exceed 65 mph on a segment of Interstate so marked.” It’s just legal advice. It does not mean I condone the facts.

Just legal advice? In his notice Kinsella clearly is not simply acknowledging the law, he explicitly grants readers some rights to use his material while retaining other rights for himself. How is the legal granting of limited permission to use his work at all consistent with his moral position that nobody needs his permission? Kinsella was perfectly free to legally grant unlimited permission to use his work, which would seem rather more consistent with his moral view.

On the matter of consistency Kinsella writes:

Surely it is not inconsistent to drive on public roads, avail oneself of public military, police & fire department services, use public libraries, attend public schools, fly on a publicly-inspected airplane, eat publicly-inspected food, and so on, by virtue of opposing such public functions. If so, what is the argument that it is is “inconsistent” to oppose IP but to recognize the legal terrain we actually have to cope with?

Here’s the difference: In the absence of government interference it would be perfectly moral to procure any of these goods or services in a free market. But in his legal notice Kinsella reserves rights and privileges which by his own moral theory he could not procure in a free market.

One Response to “Stephan Kinsella On Intellectual Property, Part II”

  1. No Treason! Says:

    …to pursue such a claim. I’ve written about this problem for Kinsella here and here. Kinsella has been quite explicit on the matter of intellectual property:One thing that is striking about advocating intellectual property rights–rights in …

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