Posts tagged Copyright

Re: The Myth That Libertarianism is a Step Child of Conservatism

Jason Bessey: Rothbard of course did a lot to popularize the term “libertarianism” in the US, and to spread the idea that American libertarianism was a body of ideas and a political identity radically distinct from the emerging political conservatism of Buckley, Kirk, et al. But he was not at all the first person to use the term in the US. Here’s Benjamin Tucker using it in passing in the 1880s, for example:, (he also used it to translate the term “libertaire” in French Anarchist writing, e.g. here: Charles Sprading’s LIBERTY AND THE GREAT LIBERTARIANS (first published 1913, was published before Murray Rothbard was born, but it was later circulated pretty widely in laissez-faire circles in the 1950s and seems to have contributed to the uptake on the term by Rothbard and a number of others in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Daniel Baber: I agree that “Intellectual Property” is a government-sanctioned monopoly, and that it ought to be abolished. But Rothbard did not. He opposed patents, but he specifically defended copyrights as a “prosecution of implicit theft.” (He also thought that in a market of total liberty (as he understands it) “Part of the patent protection now obtained by an inventor could be achieved on the free market by a type of ‘copyright’ protection.” See Man, Economy, and State, here:

I am glad that contemporary Rothbardians have more or less unanimously come out against “Intellectual Property” restrictions, and have come to see that these are in fact government privileges, not protections of any legitimate property right. They’re right to believe that. But this is a new development, and in fact a reversal of position that has happened pretty suddenly and dramatically (over the course of the past 15 years or so). There’s no basis as far as I can tell for projecting the belief back onto Rothbard himself.

Re: FeedWordPress: Content Theft with Consequences

FeedWordPress is a tool for copying hypertext from one place to another. (Specifically, hypertext stored in a handful of common machine-readable formats.) Like many other tools that can be used to copy information — such as xerox machines, optical scanners, OCR software, HTTP servers, or Bic(tm) ballpoint pens — FeedWordPress can be put to both legitimate and illegitimate uses. Like any other tool, it has no way of knowing whether or not the information being copied is being copied with or without the permission of the person who originally created it; the responsibility for using it appropriately (as many people do — for example, to create “planet” websites that contributors sign up to join, or to automate cross-posting, or to create “lifestreams” that aggregate all of their own online activity) lies with the user, not with the tool.

And, speaking of responsibility, in your article you write: “Charles John­son, the creator of Feed­Word­Press is in con­stant and fre­quent vi­o­la­tion of copyright law be­cause the ap­par­ent ma­jority of his blog’s con­tent is stolen with­out the original au­thors’ per­mis­sion.”

You then link to Feminist Blogs — a topical aggregator that I’ve run since November 2004 — as “my blog” (it’s not; my blog is at

This is a serious accusation. Do you have absolutely any evidence whatsoever that any of the feeds syndicated on Feminist Blogs are syndicated without the express permission of the author or authors? If so, what evidence do you have?

Re: Steal This Journal!


Well, the term has broad and narrow usages. You’re right that the narrow usage (popularized by the Free Software Foundation) only applies to licenses — like the GNU GPL and FDL, or the Creative Commons ShareAlike licenses — that are viral, i.e., which not only free the work itself for redistribution and derivative works, but also require anyone who produces a derivative work to also free it under the same terms.

I don’t have any particular view on what license you ought to use on Libertarian Papers. But I think that the “Attribution-ShareAlike” license would only be “less libertarian” than a plain “Attribution” license if the powers restricted by “ShareAlike” were legitimate powers for an author to exercise. But all ShareAlike requires is that authors distributing a derivative work not try to enforce copyright restrictions with respect to their own derivative work. If enforcing copyright restrictions is illibertarian (as you and I agree), then I reckon that forbidding licensees from enforcing them, isn’t.