There is a current and ongoing crisis in intellectual property rights. With the increasing digitization of media, and the increasing public access to digital tools and resources, commerce in intellectual property has been beset by problems. The prevalence of unauthorized copying and unauthorized creation of derivative works has led government and industry to ever more harsh and extreme means of protection of intellectual property rights, and these measures are increasingly infringing upon the both the rights and the everyday lives of the public at large.
My intention here is to investigate this crisis, and its basis, from a Marxist perspective. This investigation will be broken down into two primary portions: the first being concerned with the current situation and proper action with regard to it, and the second being concerned with the elements that have brought about the current situation and their wider implications, both theoretical and practical.
In the first section I first investigate the current crisis in a Marxist light, then consider the same issues from a Utilitarian, a Kantian, and, finally, a Lockean view, in order to show that these perspectives support conclusions consonant with the initial Marxist exposition. The case that I argue throughout, on these four separate theoretical bases, is that contemporary U.S. copyright law cannot be justifiably applied to digital media, and that ethical considerations call for copyright terms with regard to digital media to be radically diminished or eliminated. In the second section, I investigate further the progression of technology that led to the current crisis in intellectual property, outlining similar potential and actual changes in other technological applications, particularly those regarding martial technologies and their applicability in international terrorism. This allows me to draw some preliminary conclusions regarding the ontology of technology having to do with Marcuse’s notion of complete automation, and what I call the monadization of power.