From my C4SIF post:
There is nothing wrong with incrementalism. Advocates of private property and free markets want patent, copyright, and other forms of IP to be abolished, but we are also in favor of measures short of abolition that move in the right direction–shortening terms and penalties, etc. Still, it’s frustrating when some commentators identify real problems with IP law but fail to make a more fundamental diagnosis. A case in point is free market economist Alex Tabarrok, who has good criticisms of the existing patent system but who nonetheless resists calls for patent abolition and advocates other statist measures to supplement or replace the statist patent system, like multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded innovation prize systems.
In the field of copyright, we have Google attorney and copyright lawyer William Patry, whose recent book is How to Fix Copyright (see his recent Volokh post, How to Fix Copyright, Part I). Our mutual publisher, Oxford University Press, sent me a copy a while back. Unfortunately, although Patry makes some useful criticisms of the existing copyright system, his diagnosis and prescriptions are confused (though not as bad as those of Dean Baker, who, like Tabarrok in the field of inventions, recommends taxpayer funded multibillion-dollar “artistic freedom vouchers” to promote artistic creation).
Patry realizes the current copyright system is rife with problems. But he is not willing to support copyright abolition. It is not for failure to understand the law. He is a renowned copyright scholar, author of the seminal Patry on Copyright treatise. Legal credentials are not enough, however. One must have a firm grasp of economics, and one’s political views must be rooted in the propertarian principles that inform libertarian analysis. Given a grounding in Austro-libertarian analysis, it is easy to see that the only legitimate laws are those that enforce individual property rights, and that the purpose of property rights is to permit productive and conflict-free use of scarce resources. The function of law is to make peaceful, productive use of scarce resources possible, by assigning owners to these resources based on Lockean homesteading principles. Copyright law, like patent law, is a grant of monopoly privilege–the remnant of mercantilism and censorship regimes of the past and is antithetical to the free market, competition, and private property.