Collective Ownership vs. Non-ownership: A Primer

by on November 28, 2008 · 15 comments

It’s sad that it even needs to be said, but Mike Masnick reminds us that if you’re writing about “Digital Socialism and the Tyranny of the Consumer” then you’re deeply, deeply confused. The “tyranny of the consumer” is the distinctive feature of free-market economies. And if we were going to label someone in the copyright debate “socialist,” it would be those who advocate government-granted monopolies in the reproduction of creative works, not those who want to repeal them. The author of this piece seems not to grasp the distinction between collectively-owned resources and unowned resources. Here’s a handy cheat sheet:

Collectively Owned Unowned
The US Post Office
The British National Health Service
American public schools
The Cuban economy

The Bible
Tom Sawyer
War and Peace
The TCP/IP protocols

If you’re a supporter of the kinds of institutions we find in the first column, it might be reasonable to call you a “socialist.” If you support those in the second column, not so much.

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