Participating in and following discussions lately I have had the distinct impression that there are numerous people who are so well versed in the formal libertarian definitions of property that they have shown the tendency to either miss or dismiss one important aspect of property. This aspect is the ownership right to something. Again, this is my impression, not my conclusion.

     Let me first define my terms as I shall use them here.

     Labor is the sum of Time + Energy + Expenditures.

     A Creation is the product of a person’s Labor.

     Ownership is the right to exercise discretion in when your Creation is used,  and by whom.

     If a person creates wheelbarrows, they have used their Time, Energy, and Expense (resources+finances) in the manufacture, and it can not be argued logically that they should not have the right to decide when they will distribute them and to whom they will market them. This right to market as they wish is their Ownership of their product.

     If a person creates songs, they have likewise expended their Labor in the creation of these songs, and if this standard alone is used, it follows that they should have an equal claim to ownership of their songs as does the creator of the wheelbarrows.

     The problem comes in when we consider the two types of copies.

     If the wheelbarrows were manufactured by Carl, and Paul chose to buy one and replicate it at his own expense for his own marketing endeavor, that would seem fine, unless Paul marketed it as Carl’s wheelbarrow, which would be an unethical use of Carl’s name, unless Carl had first given permission.

     If Joe recorded an original song, and intended to derive an income from the use of this song, the Ownership argument above would seem to indicate that this would be proper, but first we need to distinguish between the two forms of copies.

     In the case of the first form, Fred purchases one of Joe’s original recordings, duplicates it on his computer, and sells the duplications to 100 people as “Joe’s Album.” He receives payment, but sends none to Joe. Fred has expended no Labor in the creation of the songs, he has expended Labor only in the transfer of these songs. Joe had intended that an income was to be received for the sale of his songs, but Fred sees no reason to pay Joe, as the first copy was paid for, and Joe did not assist Fred in the act of transferring the songs.

     In the case of the second form, Fred actually makes his own version of Joe’s song, a cover. This time Fred expends his own effort to elaborate on Joe’s original idea, but makes it his own, unique way.

     In both cases Joe expended his Labor in the creation of the original, but Fred only spent his Labor in the creation of a song in the second case, having only spent energy in the transfer of the creation in the first.

     If the expenditure of Labor gives the creator a claim to ownership, can this ownership be logically negated by someone’s future transfer of the product of that Labor?

     If that claim to ownership can be negated, is this not the equivalent of expecting a person to exert their Time, Effort, and/or Expense for a project for which they can not demand or expect a return?

     If a person is required to forgo a claim to profit or recompense for the product of their Labor, is this not akin to slavery?

     If they are mandated to produce for no return, this is coercive slavery.

     If they are asked to produce for no return, this is voluntary slavery.

     I voluntarily offer up this article free of charge, as this aspect of property seems to be missing from the debates, either intentionally or otherwise.

     Now it is the turn of the readers to expand on these thoughts.