Reasons for the limitation of copyright and patents

What is listed below is an argument for why copyright as-is should not exist, even assuming that we do not move away from market capitalism as-is. It is not to be understood as arguing against all kinds of copyright, even assuming that we do move away from market capitalism as-is.

The proliferation of expansive copyright terms and their enforcement and surrounding discourse, including particularly the use of the term intellectual property to encompass it and, among others, patents has led to a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of copyright and patents.

Copyright and patents are in some sense utilitarian laws. Their goal is not to protect natural rights, but to promote desirable activity in the form of arts and scientific progress.

By muddying the distinction between the means and the ends, we are led to assume that copyright is more natural than it actually is, and that copyright has more benefits than it actually has.

Copyright and patents do not prevent any obvious harm, since copying a work does not deprive the original owner of the work. They achieve their goals, to the extent that they do, indirectly; their immediate effects are not directly related to them.

Instead, copyright and patents cause immediate harm. By denying the right to copy works, we prevent people from enjoying a work they could otherwise enjoy, and we prohibit people from developing better or different versions of the work.

In this sense, copyright and patents are profoundly at odds with market capitalism. It prevents competition, by artifically creating a monopoly. They undermine the purpose of markets to exploit resources, by prohibiting the exploitation of certain resources available at no cost.

This is ostensibly because copyright and patents are meant to combat the shortcoming of market capitalism that societal advances and intangible gains like art are not promoted under it. However, copyright and patents as-is utilize the forces of market capitalism perversely. They not only ignore the possibility of rejecting market capitalism as-is due to this deficiency, but also inject into market capitalism forces that make other problems within it worse.

Under market capitalism as-is, copyright and patents as-is are an inequitable force that protects those with access to the law, and undermines the rights of those without. This exacerbates existing inequality.

The goal of copyright and patents is to ensure that art and progress continues to be made. It supposedly does this by ensuring inventors, engineers, and artists are financially supported by their work.

This fails to understand art and invention as a human activity, outside the constraints imposed by capitalism. It forces all art to be viewed by the perspective of monetary gain and with an end goal. In this way, it perpetuates the harm market capitalism has wrought on society by making everything competitive.

The inequity also lends power to those who do not appreciate art and progress for its own sake, being misled by monetary incentives, and thereby strengthens the dehumanization of art and progress. This can be seen when corporate copyright and patent holders intentionally withold their works to wring out profit by scarcity or other more sinister avenues. Copyright in particular is a damper on archival work, and risks large swaths of our heritage being lost, since corporate copyright holders care little about artistic merits.

This has also led copyright and patent holders to develop technologies explicitly serving the interest of enforcing copyright and patents, which is invariably detrimental to even sanctioned uses of the protected works.

This mass restriction also leads to the restriction of free speech. People use art to express themselves, and in particular the popular connotations of a work can be powerful when invoked.

Access to prior art, inventions, and discoveries is key in the production of new ones. This is currently extremely difficult and limited due to the duration of copyright and the breadth of patents.

It is not necessary for copyright and patents to give such broad rights to copyright and patent holders as it currently does. Many industries exploit copyright and patents to create unfair business models and to withhold works that clearly do not need to be withheld or are even necessary to release. This allows businesses to unfairly control their customers.

The use of licences further inhibits the agency of consumers. By giving the copyright or patent holder unnatural rights, we allow them to revoke natural rights for those who wish to use or enjoy the protected material.

Copyright and patents also facilitate the criminalization and marginalization of once normal human activities, and expand state power to suppress activity that goes against stakeholder interests.

It needs to be emphasized that even in the event of a complete abolition of copyright and patents, alternative methods of funding what they aim to protect exist. These can also be selectively employed to weaked copyright and patents selectively.

Suggestions for improving copyright and patents

Funds for rectifying any lack of financing for important work caused by this reform may be necessary, or other structural reforms to ensure artists and innovators are compensated enough.

While it generally should be ensured that these people are compensated fairly, since this is not even a goal of copyright and patent law, ensuring it is not a goal of the reform. Instead, it must merely be ensured that the quality and quantity of art and innovation produced remains roughly the same.