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Sep 12

Government failure: U.S. companies enforce their own rights in the global market

Interesting column by Steve Sherman.

It seems a U.S. company, CoStar, was allegedly the victim of theft by a competitor named Xceligent.

CoStar manages websites with information and photos of real estate properties for sale or rent. The company spends millions annually obtaining information and graphics. CoStar found that Xceligent was stealing its pics and descriptions on an industrial scale. CoStar sought regulatory enforcement of intellectual property laws.

(Note that libertarians argue with themselves over whether intellectual property is actual property. See here.)

The U.S. Justice Department–with all its resources aimed at grazing ranchers and constitutionalists–did nothing.

“So, what is a $6.6 billion company like CoStar supposed to do when the U.S. Government does nothing when a foreign company literally attacks their livelihood? At their own expense, they tracked down the hackers allegedly employed by Xceligent. The hacking operation was based in the Philippines hidden inside a company called Avion.”

CoStar’s lawyers obtained a Philippine court order and “swept through Avion’s sprawling facility — eight hours from Manila and accessible by a single road — and emerged with 262 hard drives containing 35 terabytes of data.” After they secured the data, they found something that disturbed them – evidence that this same firm, Avion, was involved in “child pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking, and links to the dark side of the internet found at Backpage.com, a site known to run a global adult ad sales operation.”

Sherman’s coloumn calls for more U.S. government enforcement of intellectual property laws. But that facts cry out with another reality: companies in the private sector can enforce their own rights more efficiently than government bureaucracies can.

And demands by government trusters that government have more power over the internet so as to protect the web from ‘cybercrime’ are shown to be without merit. Those with rights and interests in the web can protect those interests better on their own.