Intellectual property refers to copyrights, patents and trademarks. Most people are vaguely aware that such things exist but ignore them because it is more convenient to be ignorant. A little knowledge would force people to admit what they are doing is illegal. It is against the law in most cases to make copies of music or print.
Your favorite album provides a simple example. It is illegal for you to borrow a CD from a friend and make a copy for yourself. With modern technology it is easy and simple. Everyone does it. It is still illegal. You are stealing what belongs to someone else. It is not necessarily illegal to make an archive copy for yourself of something you have paid for, but to make one for someone else is taking money out of the pocket of the people who produced it.
Our Founding Fathers saw the issue. That is why we find they dealt with it. In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution you find specific powers listed for the Congress. Among them you find this,
“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;”The thinking goes like this: In order to encourage people to come up with new ideas and products they need to be able to profit from those new innovations. If you make your living writing books, then you deserve a fair compensation from your labor. This means that you have the “exclusive right” to what you wrote. You can sell it, give it away or lock it in a box. It is yours. It is part of the concern that the Founding Fathers had for personal property. Most people can understand that.
The controversy that has emerged today is in the phrase “limited times.” They did not say that your creativity was yours until the end of time, but for a limited time. Originally you had the exclusive right to profit from your creation for 14 years. After that it became public property.
This standard fulfilled two goals. First, it rewarded you for your labor. Would you keep producing if you did not have a chance to profit from your labor? It encouraged people to be creative. Second, by limiting the time you could control it, you were forced to continue producing. Other people could then take your creation and use it or build on it. It was a win for the producer and a win for the country. It was to “promote the progress.”
We are no longer promoting progress.
To be continued...
homo unius libri
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