Wednesday, August 04, 2004
The Corporate Intellectual Property State
David P. Reed writes:
The modern idea of making every experience into "intellectual property" is more pernicious [than nazism or communism]. In communism or nazism, the state controls everything. That is totalitarianism. At least we can hold a single entity accountable.Just to be clear, David is talking about laws like the DMCA, the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, End User Licence Agreements (EULAs) that don't let you reverse engineer (or even disparage) products that they cover, the proposed INDUCE act, the broadcast flag (which turns the FCC into a device designer), and the like.
In the corporate intellectual property state, a collection of abstract persons own all experience -- those "persons" are temporary sovereigns, but have limited liability and cannot be held accountable. They have unbounded lifetimes, and even in extremis often have the power to change the terms of their existence (viz. the S&Ls). Their beneficiaries under the law are a small subset of individual human persons, whose children inherit their rights to benefit. Most other human persons are born into a world where their very life experience must be purchased from the default owner, which is not them.
The danger arises from a passive (and stupid) acceptance of the meme that an idea (rather than a particular expression of it in tangible form) is a separable unit of property that has objective existence independent of the person experiencing it or using it. This is a philosophical error, but our acceptance of it in the courts is incredibly dangerous:
If I go to a football game, and write about my experience there, do I own my own writings? The current copyright law is heading in the direction that the license grant to experience the game does not include the right to write about it, that being a translation or "copy" of the experience.
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