The debate over copyright seems to consist of two irreconcilable poles. One side dismisses copyright as a plaything of political forces, imposing illegitimate restraints on freedom of expression. The opposing side regards copyrights as fundamental property rights that deserve the fullest protection of the law—like rights to houses, cars, and other forms of property. Neither view, however, captures the essence of copyright.
In his new book, Intellectual Privilege, Chapman University law professor Tom W. Bell reveals copyright as a statutory privilege that threatens not just constitutional rights, but natural rights as well. He proposes a new libertarian view of copyright that reconciles the desire to create incentives for creators with our inalienable liberties. From this fresh perspective come solutions to copyright’s problems and a path toward a world less encumbered by legal restrictions and yet richer in art, music, and other expressive works.