[See also IP and Aggression as Limits on Property Rights: How They Differ]

If IP really were a valid right, then a person *would* have “a right to use *force* against another to prevent them from using *their own property* to reproduce the aforementioned creator’s work”. That’s what the word “property” implies! For instance, let’s say that you own a gun. Let’s say that I own a dog. By virtue of my ownership of the dog, I *do* have the right to use force against you to prevent you from using your own property (your gun) in any way you might wish (e.g. if you wish to shoot *my* dog with *your* gun). Similarly, any property right implies the right to use force to limit what another can do with their own property.

Sure. And if chattel slavery were valid, the whipping of one’s slave would not be aggression. And if pigs had wings they could fly. But chattel slavery is not valid, and pigs do not have wings–and IP is also not valid.

Your mistake seems to be the assumption that property rights give you the right to do anything whatsoever with your property.

No, the assumption is only that you may engage in whatever action you wish, except those that invade the borders of others’ property–where “property” is conceived of in the Lockean sense of scarce resources homesteaded by appropriation, based on the first-comer has better title than the latecomer principle.

The fact that some actions are impermissible because they are invasions of others’ property rights has nothing to do with any “limitation” on one’s own property. You may not commit murder, whatever the means–whether it’s your gun or not. The limitation on action is not a limitation on property rights.

They don’t. The right to swing your baseball bat ends where my front window begins. Similar, if IP rights were valid, your right to use your computer would end where my IP rights begin. Your argument just says that IP rights are invalid, because the limitations they necessarily impose on others’ property are invalid. But the limitations that IP rights impose are no different than the limitations that classical property rights impose.

Wrong. The limitations you are speaking of are not a property rights limitation but rather a limitation on one’s actions.

If these limitations are wrong, and invalidate IP, they also invalidate classical property rights.

If you want to keep classical property rights, which it seems you do, you need to come up with another reason why IP rights are invalid. I prefer an argument that is based on the fact that material objects are scarce goods, while patterns of ones and zeroes are not.

Because the question always comes down to: who owns this scarce resource–e.g., in a typical IP case, the IP “owner” claims the right to prevent A from using a scarce resource A himself homesteaded or acquired contractually from a homesteader. He claims the right to prevent this use even though A’s use–his action–does not invade any borders of A’s property. It is very different than your typical prohibition on murder etc.’

This article was originally posted on StephanKinsella.com