I write you today on behalf of Frontiers of Freedom to express our concern over the Puerto Rican Government’s $46 billion in severely underfunded pension liabilities.
Recently, a Puerto Rican Government-sponsored coalition published a report claiming that the Commonwealth may have violated its own constitutional debt limit in borrowing up to $30 billion from creditors. The commission asserts that, if this is the case, the island would not be obliged to repay the money it borrowed, despite the fact that it did not warn bondholders of the sale’s potential illegality at the time it sold bonds to them. This report, which was authored in part by a major labor union, is a thinly-veiled attempt to ensure preferential treatment for Puerto Rico’s public pension system, which congressional Democrats, members of the Obama Administration, and Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla have sought to retroactively prioritize over the island’s other creditors. Continue reading
One week ago today, the U.S. Department of Justice bestowed a gift upon Americans everywhere heading into the new year — albeit a reluctant one. The department announced that due to budget cuts, it would stop sharing with state and local governments the assets seized through civil forfeiture in joint federal investigations.
For practical purposes, this means that a glaring loophole in state civil forfeiture laws has been closed, at least temporarily.
State and municipal law enforcement agencies make big money seizing property from owners who have not been convicted or often even charged with a crime, on the pretext that it was somehow involved in criminal activity. The burden falls upon property owners to prove it wasn’t, and they might have to go to great effort and expense to recover what’s theirs. It sounds terribly un-American, but it is a routine practice in most states. Some states, such as New Mexico, have already begun to reform it, requiring a criminal conviction before property can be lawfully seized. Continue reading
A recent study conducted by NetNames found that in one month alone more than 430 million unique Internet users sought or downloaded copyright infringing music, movies, book, and other materials. This industrial scale theft chills creativity, innovation and investment by depriving creators of a market based return on their investments.. So how do these cyber-thieves steal music, movies, books, and other materials? One tool that is growing in popularity is the shadowy cyberlocker which is designed to sell, not store stolen content.
With so much attention to the “cloud” in today’s online world, it is important that we distinguish between the legitimate cloud storage services like DropBox, Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud, to name only a few. These services allow consumers to store, share, backup, and access data. The so-called cyberlocker business model is very different. Cyberlockers incent users to upload stolen files that are copyrighted and which they have no right to distribute, and then profit by selling subscriptions and advertising. The fact that they pay nothing for the product they sell allows them to enjoy profit margins approaching 90%.
The cyberlocker model is predicated on theft and distribution of stolen property. Continue reading
by Mark Schultz & Adam Mossoff • TechPolicyDaily.com
A handful of increasingly noisy critics of intellectual property (IP) have emerged within free market organizations. Both the emergence and vehemence of this group has surprised most observers, since free market advocates generally support property rights. It’s true that there has long been a strain of IP skepticism among some libertarian intellectuals. However, the surprised observer would be correct to think that the latest critique is something new. In our experience, most free market advocates see the benefit and importance of protecting the property rights of all who perform productive labor – whether the results are tangible or intangible.
How do the claims of this emerging critique stand up? We have had occasion to examine the arguments of free market IP skeptics before. (For example, see here, here, here.) So far, we have largely found their claims wanting. Continue reading
If a man’s home is his castle, then his land is his kingdom.
Property boundaries, of course, must be respected, and trespassing across them becomes a legitimate matter of government’s concern. So, too, if you build a huge bonfire that rains toxic ash onto your neighbor’s land. Or hurl water balloons at his house using a giant, rubber-tubing slingshot that requires three people to operate.
And as old as the law itself are rules governing the use of water from flowing streams and rivers to ensure that landowners downstream are not denied their right to have and use water for their own benefit. These laws have never been designed to deny anyone the use of flowing water, but rather to ensure that everyone owning land along the waterway is able to enjoy reasonable use of the water. Continue reading
One of the most important parts of the Constitution is one of the least recognized. While American’s appreciate the importance of free speech and free elections, few realize that America may well have become the world’s unmatched economic superpower because the Founders wisely authorized Congress to protect intellectual property rights. This, in turn, provided the incentive to innovate and create.
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries….” With this under-appreciated constitutional provision, the Founders made the U.S. the engine of innovation that drove technological, economic, and medical advances for the entire world. Continue reading
The Hon. Rob Wittman
2454 Rayburn HOB
United States House of Representatives
Washington. D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Wittman:
On behalf of the members and supporters of Frontiers of Freedom, let me say that we welcome the introduction of your legislation H.R. 3063, the Healthy Fisheries through Better Science Act.
Your leadership in this vital area will help in the effort to extend property rights as a tool for species conservation and sound environmental management over the now-discredited command and control approach still practiced by many parts of the United States government.
If enacted, your legislation will produce improvements in stock assessments through the increased involvement of fishermen and non-federal partners. Fisheries science will be enhanced and the costs of compliance and monitoring will be reduced. Continue reading
In late July, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing to examine the role played by copyright law in spurring American innovation. It’s long overdue.
The rise of the digital age has made it too easy for people with malicious intent to profit from the creativity of others without providing appropriate compensation. It’s up to the marketplace to determine what that compensation should be, not the government. Nevertheless, the president and Congress both have a constitutional obligation to make sure that the products of a man’s mind receive the same commercial protection as what some refer to as real property. Continue reading
The recent arguments before the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Act raised questions about whether some states are not being treated on an “equal footing” with respect to others. These arguments prompted some thought about what equal footing might mean with respect to the so-called “public lands” states.
Assuming that many of my readers (further assuming that I have “many” readers) may not be familiar with the term, let me take time out to explain: “public lands” states are states where much of the real estate is not privately owned, or even owned by the state, but by the federal government. And when I say “much,” I really mean “most.” Champion in this sweepstakes is Nevada, where about 81% of the total land area is owned by Washington. In Alaska, which is number two, north of 60% of the land mass is federally-owned. Continue reading
by George Landrith
Property rights and economic freedom are the fertile soil in which all other rights grow and thrive. John Locke wrote eloquently of three basic rights – life, liberty and property. The Founders considered the right to own and control one’s property to be of sufficient importance to include it in the Bill of Rights – along with freedom of speech and press. Hence, the Fifth Amendment states, “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Continue reading