August 29 2014
Most free-market outfits recognize that property rights are the cornerstone of a prosperous society. This includes intellectual property rights (such as copyrights, which matter greatly to scribblers like me).
Still, there has always been an element of dissent in some libertarian circles, and the debate is heating up.
Mark Schultz and Adam Mossoff of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property have a good analysis of the economic benefits of safeguarding intellectual property rights.
Schultz and Mossoff are responding to a report from the Mercatus Center that attacks the notion that protecting intellectual property rights create jobs. The Mercatus report is here.
The Schultz-Mossoff paper will be of interest not only to those whose livelihood depends on intellectual property rights but to those who are interested in the issue in the abstract. As a writer who has had to deal with copyright issues--it's a long story--I can attest to the financial benefit of the copyright. Thus I read Schultz and Mossoff with particular interest.
While Schultz and Mossoff delve into the use of sources made in the Mercatus report, their excellent summary near the end makes a compelling historical argument:
Today, we are in the midst of a full-blown moral panic about the alleged evils of IP. It’s alarming that libertarians – the very people who should be defending all property rights – have jumped on this populist bandwagon. Imagine if free market advocates at the turn of the Twentieth Century had asserted that there was no evidence that property rights had contributed to the Industrial Revolution. Imagine them joining in common cause with the populist Progressives to suppress the enforcement of private rights and the enjoyment of economic liberty. It’s a bizarre image, but we are seeing its modern-day equivalent, as these libertarians join the chorus of voices arguing against property and private ordering in markets for innovation and creativity.