Libertarian thought has largely moved against IP in recent years, largely due to the groundbreaking work of Stephan Kinsella. Kinsella’s work is a powerful defense of genuine property rights and a thorough repudiation of government-granted monopolies. One of the overlooked implications of the rights violations inherent in intellectual property laws is the terrible effect of copyright laws and government spectrum licensing on culture.
Social conservatives have long attacked the media for promoting immoral behavior. This is often quite correct. Their statist worldview has made them ill-equipped to understand the nature of the problem, and the correct solution. With laws which establish monopolies, a number of problems naturally follow. Let me illustrate this by comparing the world of professional music today and about 200 years ago. During the days of Beethoven and Mozart, musicians earned a living from performances, patronage, and, perhaps most importantly, teaching. In a world without public schools, they taught the children of the wealthy. This required them to present themselves to those people in a way which would appeal to them. Contrast that with today. Musicians are promoted by a few major record labels, and intellectual property laws mean that they have to be paid whenever their works are played or purchased. There is a greatly diminished requirement for ongoing work and constant customer relations. The fact that a relatively few people who run the labels and own the radio and television stations, act essentially as gatekeepers to popular culture, means that a tiny cabal of entertainment executives are able to drive the culture down paths of their choosing. IP, spectrum licensing and other media regulations are largely to blame for the oft-cited decline of Western culture.