Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A car thief's manifesto

By Stephen Bernstein of The Licensing Plate:
Sure, they’ll come after us. Some of us they’ll find. Some of us they won’t. Some of us they’ll even wrongly accuse. But don’t stop. Keep doing it. We’ll protect you. We’ll write articles and blog posts about how it’s a bad business model for auto dealers to prosecute their customers (of course by stealing their product we are not really their customers, although we are their fans. We like their product. We just don’t want to pay for it.) But we’ll yell louder than they will, so nobody will be able to make that point.
Read the whole thing.


  1. Of course, intellectual property isn't real property. Stealing a car is a pretty easy moral question. Copying the design of a car is a much harder one.

  2. Unless the article is intended to be a parody of IP-maximalist positions, it appears that Mr. Bernstein does not understand fundamental economic principles, such as the distinction between rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods. (This confusion is probably perpetuated by the use of the word "property" in the phrase "intellectual property.")

    Furthermore, while cars (the comparison the author uses) are both rivalrous and excludable goods by their very nature, IP "goods" are only excludable by choice of government policy (and corresponding legislation).

  3. Of course intellectual property isn't the same as real property; I'm quite sure Bernstein knows that perfectly well (as do I). But that truism doesn't affect one of his points in the passage I quoted, namely that having once been a "customer" (and continuing to call yourself one) does not get you off the hook from your wrongdoing.

  4. Ben (8:49 AM), while I may agree with your statement, I don't think "morality" should be a question to be considered in either the development or application of copyright law. Development and application of such law should be based on economic analysis of net public welfare.

    How people "feel" should - in general - not be a valid basis for the statutory granting or restricting of rights.

  5. He picked a strange analogy, in terms of timing--not sure that Detroit would be much worse off with the business model he proposes. At least people would be driving American cars.


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