Last week on the American Conservative, Jordan Bloom posed the question Do any Conservatives strongly support today’s copyright regime? The post is continuation of a dialogue that re-emerged in the wake of a memo posted and retracted by the Republican Study Committee. Bloom’s post received a number of thoughtful responses. Below are postings from academics and authors who also shared their views with the Copyright Alliance (reprinted with authors’ permissions).
Mr. Bloom, here are several thoughts. First, the RSC correctly disowned the anti-private-property rhetoric of the laughably flawed Three Myths about Copyright paper. I have replied to it here.
Second, you have framed your question so the only reasonable response to it is to refuse to respond. No smart conservative responses to this question: “Have conservative supporters of copyrights stopped beating their wives yet?”
Nevertheless, here, I have reframed your inquiry so it states a question that I can answer:
“Say, Tom, during the 20 years that you have been practicing law, and the decade in which you have been studying the intersection of copyright law and Internet technologies, have you met any socialist, progressive, liberal, Democrat, Independent, Republican, conservative, or libertarian who was basically happy with almost all aspects the existing US copyright system?”
My answer to that question is “no.” I will provide more comments later. For now, these will have to do.
First, thanks to Tom Sydnor for explaining that Jordan Bloom commits the fallacy of false alternatives in his post. I reject the question as Mr. Bloom has framed it for the reasons that Tom explains.
As a legal academic with a long history of working with free market organizations, I’m happy to affirm that, yes, many conservatives and libertarians do support copyright for principled reasons. While those organizations have included IP skeptics such as Stephan Kinsella, my experience has been that pro-IP sentiments have been the mainstream view among the free market advocates with whom I have worked.
Why? Well, I give a brief explanation in response to the RSC controversy here.
I don’t have time to give a long exposition on the principles or offer numerous examples of conservatives who support copyright. Besides, long comments on somebody else’s blog tend to inspire TL; DR reactions. Nevertheless, and despite that risk, I’ll make a couple of comments.