Tim O’Neil is proposing a hard reboot of all our thinking about intellectual property laws. Here are his four proposed rules, quoted in full:
Ideas belong to their creators.
Any permanent transfer of IP ownership from a creator to a corporation is and always has been morally wrong.
Permanent IP transfer under any circumstances is and has always been theft.
All money made by corporations from the exploitation of stolen IP is and will always be stolen money.
O’Neil admits from the get-go that there are situations in which it makes sense for a creator to sell his or her intellectual property rights, but he sees these rules as a goal to strive for, not a set of absolutes. If nothing else, they make for an interesting thought experiment, as they turn the old model of work-for-hire on its head.