On "Intellectual Property"

There are things that are secret and things that are not, and things in between. There are truth-tellers and liars, and people in between. I can keep my medical records and sexual fantasies secret, but not the things I say in public. I can claim to have discovered the buoyancy principle and be laughed out of town for bold-faced lying, or I can honestly say I wasn't the first. But how can one claim to own ideas, or expressions thereof? Claiming to "own" an idea or expression is akin to thought control, extortion, or despotism.

"But what about getting paid for doing intellectual work?" I hear you cry. What about it? This has nothing to do with ownership. If we value what our citizens do, we should reward them for doing it, or at least provide them with the means to continue doing it. Is it so hard to imagine that this could be done without restricting what other people do? Besides: how many people do you actually know who make a living off of royalties? Most royalties do not go to the intellectual laborers, but to the corporations who extort these so-called "property rights" from them.

I'm not sure I ever quite understood the concept of owning land, either. Oh I can see staking out a few acres, or even a few dozen acres or a few hundred if you are a farmer, and claiming most of the rights typically associated with ownership. It makes total sense to be able to largely control those things you live with or make a living with. But to own hundreds or thousands of square miles of land that you never even set foot on? By what sane right can one justly claim to control such vast tracts by personal fiat, or worse yet, by undemocratic corporate fiat?

- Marty

03-Jun-2000