Copyright is not Property

If you make a dining room suite, it is your property and you can do what you want with it. You can bequeath it to your heirs and they to theirs. It is unique and tangible.

If you write a story, it is only your property as long as no one reads it. Once released, it can be in many places at once. It is unique but plentiful. There is nothing to bequeath to your heirs but the knowledge that you wrote it.

If you want to sell your dining room suite, you can. You part with it and accept money in return.

If you want to sell your story, you can. You keep it and accept money in return for a copy. But you have to compete with all the copies that are naturally out there already. The world is not the same for furniture and stories. While your story has some property-like qualities, it is not property in the same way as tables and chairs.

Copyright is not a natural property right. It’s a statutory one designed to compensate creators for the harsh conditions of natural law, not because they deserve it, but because we want them to continue creating.


About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.
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