"The argument seems simple: (a) If every time you put apples out
on your fruit stand, they’re immediately stolen, pretty
quickly you’ll stop putting out apples. (b) What’s true
of your physical property is also true of your “intellectual
property.” (c) Therefore, without a system of strong
copyright, creators will have no incentive to create.
"The nice thing about that argument is that it makes a factual
claim: Weaken copyright and you decrease innovation. That the facts
so resoundingly, enthusiastically, thumpingly dispute that
conclusion tells us that the syllogism is wrong. Indeed, the facts
say the syllogism has it backwards. Current copyright laws are
holding back the innovation they were intended to spur.
"The argument gets one crucial point exactly right: Copyright
grants creators temporary monopolistic control over the publishing
of their works in order to serve a larger social goal: to maximize
cultural innovation, production, and sharing. But the syllogism is
wrong because it misunderstands the role of incentives, and it
misunderstands them so blatantly that it seems unlikely to be
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