Night Ripper wrote:
Namely, that my position hasn't moved an inch.
I don't doubt it for a minute.
Night Ripper wrote:
A scarce resource is a resource with a supply inadequate compared to the demand. Since human demands are infinite, any finite supply will be scarce. The reason why scarcity is relevant to property rights is because if I take a scarce resource from you then I am depriving you of that resource. The reason why art is not scarce is because if I copy some bit of art that you possess, I am not depriving you of that resource. It's the difference between taking X and copying X. Anything that can be taken from you is eligible for property rights. Anything that can only be copied from you, isn't. This last line in bold is the crux of my argument. Defeat that and I'll concede to you.
You're mixing up two very different things here. On the one hand, you've argued that something can't be owned unless it is scarce. On the other hand, you now seem to be saying that something can't be owned if it can be copied without taking away from the original.
You may think that those are two ways of saying the same thing, but they're not. The former looks at scarcity from the point of view of the potential consumer, the latter looks at it from the point of view of the owner. The former focuses on the scarcity
of the item, the latter focuses on the diminishment
of the item.
Now, it makes sense for you to back away from your earlier argument that an item can't be owned unless it is scarce
. As we've seen, that forces you into some increasingly untenable corners, like where you say that air is scarce. But by switching your focus to the diminishment of an item rather than its scarcity, you're just going from one indefensible position to another.
Private property, after all, isn't a thing
, it's a collection of rights. That's true whether the property is tangible or intangible. If I own a piece of land, my property interest isn't the land itself, it's the rights that are associated with that land. One of those rights is the right to exclusive possession. Pursuant to that right, I can allow anyone to use that land as I see fit. Furthermore, I can prevent
anyone else from using that land, even if that use doesn't do any damage to that land, and I can collect damages for violations of my right to exclusive possession. Indeed, you have already expressed your support for trespass laws as they apply to tangible property.
The same rights apply to intangible property. If, rather than owning a piece of land, I created a song or a novel or a painting, then I'm not sure why I shouldn't have a comparable set of rights to that artistic creation that I have with regard to my land. In particular, why shouldn't I have the right to exclusive possession of that song or novel or painting, and allow or prevent people from using that song or novel or painting just as I can allow or prevent people from using my land?
Presumably, you'd say that copying doesn't diminish the original -- which is true with regard to the thing
, but not true with regard to the right
. My right to exclusive possession is most certainly diminished if anyone can just make copies of my artistic creation, just as my right to exclusive possession is diminished if anyone can just walk all over my land -- and that's true even if the trespasser doesn't do any damage to the land itself. And when we're talking about private property, the proper focus is on the right, not on the thing.
Ironically, you can understand that distinction between the thing and the right when it comes to tangible property, but you seem utterly baffled by it when it comes to intangible property. The question, then, is why you support trespass laws with regard to tangible property but don't support comparable laws with regard to the unauthorized use of intangible property.