Friday, January 15, 2016

Four Reasons to Reject Piracy of Movies

If you haven't seen Rob Atkinson's response in HuffPo to a piece by Reason's Nick Gillespie defending, if not extolling, piracy of movies, then you really should. Rob's piece is titled, "No, Piracy Is Not the Sincerest Form of Flattery."

Rob makes these excellent points in response to Gillespie's wrong-headed defense movie piracy:
  • "First, these films were pirated because they were popular, not the other way around."
  •  "Second, Gillespie's claim that filmmakers rarely lose money to piracy is patently false."
  •  "Third, Gillespie's argument that piracy helps keep movies circulating in the public 'long after the industry PR machine has shut down' ignores the bevy of legal alternatives that consumers have to easily find legal versions of just about any content they want."
  • "Finally, one would expect the editor of a libertarian publication like Reason to not only respect the property rights of content holders, but also to respect the free market."
In support of this last point I was pleased, and grateful, that Rob referred to the new book, The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property - A Natural Rights Perspective, co-authored by Seth Cooper and me. In our book, I think we demonstrate that, in large part, the Founders were motivated to include the Intellectual Property Clause in the Constitution to protect the fruits of the labors of authors and inventors and other creators -- which fruits, as a matter of natural right, become the property of those who labor to them.

One of our chief motivations in writing the book was to invite those who call themselves conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, or the like -- but, who, for whatever reason, don't respect IP rights -- to consider the reasons why the IP Clause is included in the Constitution and to respect intellectual property just like other forms of property. And surely not to dismiss the need to safeguard intellectual property just because it finds its way online.

I respect Nick Gillespie, I've read many of his works, and I share some of his views. But I certainly don't agree with his paean to piracy of IP, and I don't see how it is in any way compatible with a respect for property rights and a functioning free market.