By Michael Geist:
Monday October 25, 2010
The Vatican has spoken out against unduly aggressive intellectual property protection. In a statement at the World Intellectual Property Organization, it noted “on the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care.”
The Vatican is more honest and intelligent about this than IP advocates are, acknowledging that the
Economists recognize mechanisms through which Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) may stimulate economic development. These are interdependent so that a broad view of incentives associated with IPRs is appropriate. They devote much attention to this issue, but evidence to date is fragmented and somewhat contradictory, in part because many of the concepts involved have not yet been measured. A stronger system of protection could either enhance or limit economic growth. While strengthening IPRs has potential for enhancing growth and development in the proper circumstances, it might also raise difficult economic and social costs.
So the Vatican recognizes that (a) the economists have not proven their case with solid numbers;1 and (b) that there are real and significant costs to an IP system that should not be ignored.2
Jeff Tucker has also written about the incompatibility of IP and the Church’s mission: see his “Why Catholics Don’t Understand Economics ” and ”Why ICEL Needs To Put Its Texts Into the Commons.”
[Cross-posted at C4SIF]
One of the hot button issues in recent years has been gay marriage. Socially conservative people may well object to calling a gay union “marriage. That is, of course, completely understandable. Marriage and religion have been closely intertwined, and the most popular religions in the world today do not generally regard a same sex union as a marriage. I was considering the various positions taken by libertarians on gay marriage. I have seen opinions from libertarians that marriage licenses should not be issued to gays because a state marriage license enables aggression against third parties. That is true. Also, some, such as Stephan Kinsella, argue that it is a good that gays get the legal protections which come with a marriage license.
Second bests are divisive issues for libertarians. We all wish for the state to leave people alone, but we are all too painfully aware that it frequently does not, and that there are political debates raging around us where policies are promoted which have real world consequences for us all. Many of us seek to minimize the harmful effects of these policies by stating a preference of one over the other. Such is the case with gay marriage. Libertarians of varying stripes, mutualists, paleolibertarians, anarcho-capitalists, all agree that the state should get out of the way and not interfere with free interactions among people. Yet different ideologies among libertarians often cause us to differ wildly on what state policy we would prefer, from the likely choices being supported by the public.
I have long been of the opinion that state licensing should be extended to the point that it is meaningless. However, a license which allows aggression against others should give any libertarian pause. In order to consider the problem more effectively, I did a thought experiment involving a much more severe form of aggression than those normally associated with a marriage license: murder.
I offer to readers a term of my coinage: polidicy.
I construct it as “theodicy” was constructed, and I do so in the spirit of the copycat. A theodicy is a vindication of divine goodness in the context of the existence of evil. It is an important theological concept, and you will find theodicies embedded in most understandings of Providence, and nearly everyone who believes in a deity has some sort of theodicy in tow.
Polidicy, then, is a vindication of a state or government body in the context of its own obvious crimes. Most people who are loyal to some state and pretend to possess a moral sense, or conscience, have some polidicy in their head, some set of excuses for why the state’s many crimes do not amount to a moral case against the state as such, and how, even, the state can be said to be “basically good.”
The New York Times is reporting the story of Terry Jones’ plan to commemorate the 9/11 attacks by burning 50 Qur’ans. While I find his actions repulsive, and needlessly offensive to me and every other Muslim, irrespective of our political views, I must say that he nonetheless has every right to burn his own property or that which is voluntarily donated to him. In a similar manner, a property owner may build a mosque on his own property. Perhaps all people can eventually learn to either ignore such actions, or use them as springboards for conversation rather than conflict.
Copying is not Theft.
This is a syndicated post, which originally appeared at Mimi and Eunice » IP. View original post.