Intellectual Property and liberties

In a friend’s blog I see a critic of a statement by a representative of the Spanish Ministry of Culture: “Without intellectual property, there is no free thought”.

Well… this sentence is not untrue: Let us imagine a world without intellectual property. Anything created by an individual would be nobody’s, not even the individual’s own property. There is no recognition for that individual for all the work that led to the production of that idea, of that new thing. Without acknowledgement there is no incentive to put effort into anything, and without that effort there is no thought: not free, and not captive. There is nothing.

Part of the very nature of humans is to associate ideas with people who published them. Such association is natural and it is what we call today “intellectual property”. Intellectual property is necessary, for anyone who creates a piece of music, new scientific work, a book or any writing.

A different matter is the economic exploitation of intellectual property. In most cases, such exploitation is needed and justified.

However, was the Ministry of Culture making reference to the illegal tax imposed on people by the SGAE (Spanish association of authors) in collusion with the Spanish Government? (in Spain, recording media and machinery used for copying, like photocopiers or video recorders, are taxed with a imposed royalty collected by the SGAE). As i said: on the one hand there is intellectual property, and on the other its economic exploitation, which may be just (in most cases) or robbery (Spanish Government + SGAE).

My friend also translates the words of the Ministry into: “without private property, there is no free market“, in an attempt to scorn the Ministry’s words. However, this translation is absolutely correct and an important truth.

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