Douwe Osinga's Blog: Government Granted Monopolies

Sunday, October 9, 2005

One of the fundamentals of old school capitalism is assumption that property is absolute. Property is not something that is defined by the laws of the country, the laws of the countries are there to protect your property. In the context of of so called Intellectual Property, I think this is the source of much confusion.

Obviously one of the most important things in politics in being in control of the discourse. How can be for the Death Tax is the already classic example. The Intellectual Property People have played this very well, by calling the ideas, songs and what have you Intellectual Property. The Free Market people here Property and think, needs to be protected. Anybody against it is obviously a communist and we don't like those.

At the same time it should be quite clear that it is not really property, not in the capitalist sense. For one thing, patents and copyrights expire. Now, the Intellectual Property People would like to change that of course, but there is a reason for it. These are temporary monopolies granted by the government to promote the enhancement of science, technology and the arts. See, government granted monopolies is a bit longer than intellectual property, but it would surely make the Free Market people think.

Who can be against property in this capitalistic world? Who can be for monopolies, especially if they are created by governments? It is all a matter of branding. Of course it doesn't stop here. Property can be stolen, so that makes you a thief or a pirate if you copy a song, or write a program that uses an algorithm that has been patented. Monopoly breaker sounds a lot better. It is all a matter of branding.