Copyright Holders Are Landlords and it's Not OK

16 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2020

Date Written: June 26, 2020


In April, Brian L. Frye released “OK Landlord: Copyright Profits are Just Rent”, an article I absolutely adore that expresses an idea I absolutely agree with. Brian insists that if copyright holders wish to treat their copyrighted works as real property and insist on their right to be paid for it as a use of their real property, then we should take them seriously. We should regard them as we do landlords. Nobody loves a landlord in a crisis, while everyone seems to love a copyright holder as long as we call them “artists” or “Authors.” However, Brian closes the article with a paragraph that qualifies his assertion by saying he has nothing against landlords or copyright holders. His point is that they are the same, not that they are bad. My point is that they are the same and bad. The corollary of Brian’s piece is clear: if you love copyright holders and hate landlords, then you contradict yourself.

Copyright holders are landlords and we must despise them for it. The class conflict between copyright holders and "consumers" perverts our way of life, paralleling the class conflict between landlords and tenants in a startling number of ways. I call for a revolution against the rhetoric of landlordism that has pervaded copyright law discussion for far too long.

Keywords: copyright, landlords, property, intellectual property, land reform, anarchism, tenant rights

JEL Classification: K11, R20

Suggested Citation

MacTaggert, Michael, Copyright Holders Are Landlords and it's Not OK (June 26, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Michael MacTaggert (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

Tacoma, WA
United States


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