Blogs > Liberty and Power > This Mind Is Your Mind

Jul 30, 2004 2:58 pm

This Mind Is Your Mind

[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]

I’ve been saying for years that so-called"intellectual property rights" are really attempts to claim ownership over the contents and activities of other people's minds -- and are thus radically inconsistent with property rights in the libertarian sense, which are grounded in the principle of self-ownership. (See the Molinari Institute's anti-copyright page for the libertarian case against IP.)

The latest salvo from the IP thought police offers striking confirmation of this thesis. The Richmond Organization, a music publishing company that owns the legal rights to Woody Guthrie's socialist anthem"This Land Is Your Land," is suing the makers of the popular Bush-versus-Kerry cartoon that uses the song to satirise the American political process.

Their grounds? The cartoon"threatens to corrupt Guthrie's classic -- an icon of Americana -- by tying it to a political joke; upon hearing the music people would think about the yucks, not Guthrie's unifying message." (See Jesse Walker's story here.)

In short, this"Richmond Organization" is claiming the right to control what people think when they hear a song. What despot ever demanded more?

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