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February 4, 2012
A Copyright Wars Primer for Libertarians
Copyfighter Jayel Aheram
sent me a pointer to his recently published "libertarian primer on the copyright social conflict
The essay starts with the recent defeat of SOPA/PIPA and works backward to a nice set of links to past important battles in the Copyright Wars. Aheram is clearly reacting to currents within his own libertarian intellectual-thinking tradition, where some have taken sides with the pro-SOPA forces or been "dismissive" of SOPA.
As I am not libertarian, I was interested to read their point of view. In particular, Aheram asserts that copyright itself, by virtue of its government-granted monopolistic status, is an illegitimate infringement on sovereign private property rights. I suspect that others - even other libertarians - might not agree there, though I see the logic that is being followed.
I am reminded of arguments made by Stewart Baker (whom I read through Volokh Conspiracy, itself often a home for libertarian thought). In an op-ed published in the Hollywood Reporter, Baker argues that Tea Party conservatives played a major role in swinging Republican sentiment against SOPA.
Again, there's a definite link between Tea Party streams of thought and libertarian streams of thought, particularly as applies to smaller, non-interfering government. I don't quite buy Baker's strong assertion that this wing of the populace had the most effect, but it's quite clear that when you tally up those who finally came out against SOPA the Republican party was much better represented than the Democratic, which may well be looking at how many dollars the Cartel puts in its campaign coffers.
If Baker is right, then we really do need more pieces like Aheram's to reach out to untapped or skeptical communities and help them see where their political freedoms and Internet freedoms overlap.
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