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Thursday, June 07, 2007

More Copyright Insanity

Ok, I'm playing catchup here, but I just found Mark Helprin's article about Copyright.

John Scalzi has a decent response to all that and others have gone on at length.

But there was a quote from Helprin I had to comment on:

Were you to have ushered through the many gates of taxation a flour mill, travel agency or newspaper, they would not suffer total confiscation.

Once the state has dipped its enormous beak into the stream of your wealth and possessions they are allowed to flow from one generation to the next. Though they may be divided and diminished by inflation, imperfect investment, a proliferation of descendants and the government taking its share, they are not simply expropriated.

That is, unless you own a copyright. Were I tomorrow to write the great American novel (again?), 70 years after my death the rights to it, though taxed at inheritance, would be stripped from my children and grandchildren.

This set my conservative libertarian teeth on edge. What Helprin is saying is: "When the the government removes its protection of my exclusive monopoly, they're TAXING me! OMG!" He goes so far in this intellectual dishonesty to say these "rights are stripped" away. I'm sorry, but by the same logic I should now be receiving my grandma's social security checks.

Copyright is a government subsidy to the creator. Here's how you tell that its the government giving you something; You're sitting on a chair you own, I wave my hand, the government goes away. Do you still have the chair? Now, say you have the copyright to War and Peace, I do the same thing, where did the copyright go?

When the government takes away a subsidy, it is not taxing you!