Ron Paul Channel and Intellectual Property, Part 1Submitted by Marc Clair on Tue, 08/20/2013 - 10:55
Last week I had intended to post the first episode of the Ron Paul Channel after I had seen that it was posted to YouTube. This surprised me at first as I knew that Ron Paul Channel was a subscription service, but I figured perhaps they were putting out the first episode, featuring an interview with the great Glenn Greenwald, as a free preview of sorts in order to entice viewers to subscribe. However, upon some further investigation I realized that the YouTube channel that had posted the video was not affiliated with the official Ron Paul Channel. In fact, based on the links seen in the YouTube channel, it appears that it is run by the same people who run RonPaul.com, also not affiliated with Ron Paul and the subject of a controversial dispute over the use of the domain name.
This immediately struck me as a potential problem for the Ron Paul Channel. If people are able to simply post his subscription videos on YouTube the next day, would it not seriously impact the ability of Ron Paul Channel to obtain subscriptions? The more important question is – what should the libertarian view be on this?
This example with the Ron Paul Channel seems like a good case study to reexamine the issue of intellectual property, one that a few months ago became the subject of much heated debate, at least in our niche internet libertarian circles. Should Ron Paul Channel be afforded any sort of legal protection against piracy of their shows, from a libertarian viewpoint? Is there any legitimacy to the idea that a program should be the property of its producers, and that they and only they should be able to decide where, when and how it is viewed?