How SOPA and PIPA violate property rights

Being the property rights lover I am, I can’t resist going through how SOPA and PIPA erode property rights and subvert our system of property rights enforcement.

Trials work

First, let’s remember that there already exists a pretty good system for prosecuting theft. Companies can bring charges against or sue thieves. The content industry sues thieves now. But the stealing is so widespread, and the winnings from the suits so small, that lawsuits alone can’t restore their pre-file-sharing levels of profit.

So now they want to shut down, without a trial, any site that any person uses to share protected content.

Property rights are good

The bills allow the content industry to deprive other sites of their ability to do business online. Stealing a site’s domain and shutting  it down is a clear violation of property rights. The system now dictates that you can’t deprive someone of their property without a trial.

Content has gotten less profitable

So to what end are we relieving each other of property without a trial? The content industry has said that so many people are stealing from them that they can’t profit within the existing system. Why give up due process to restore this business’ profit margin? Due process is essential to a functioning society. The content industry isn’t.

The solution to widespread theft within an industry isn’t to give up on due process. Theft is only part of the reason the content industry is having a hard time making a profit. Not only is content theft rampant, but competition in content is at unprecedented levels. Everyone with a computer is a content creator.

What’s next for the dying industry? Are they going to sue people for creating original, competitive content? A changing marketplace means industries adapt, move or die. Giving companies the ability to deprive each other of property rights creates more problems than it solves.

Image by boltron.

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