Austin Corbettseems to be a perfectly legitimate statement. As Ayn Rand stated, “Patents andcopyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right tothe product of his mind.”
But while this is a simple and clean answer, it’s also wrong.As Lawrence Lessig points out in
“If creative property owners were giventhe same rights as all other property owners, that would effect a radical, and radicallyundesirable, change in our tradition.”
At the most basic level intellectual property is notthe same thing as physical property, and never before have the two been equated as equal.The effort to equate the two has nothing to do with tradition or law, but instead representsan attempt to drastically change the meaning of IP.The US constitution has many safeguards on private property. Under the FifthAmendment, the government must pay “just compensation” in order to acquire private property.
Yet in the section discussing Intellectual Property the same rights are notaccorded to IP. Instead the Constitution
that after a limited time IP rights bereleased to the public, without any sort of compensation. The Constitution never statesthat “creative property” is an inalienable right. Instead, in the “Progress Clause” it statesthat,
Congress has the power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securingfor limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respectiveWritings and Discoveries
Adam Thierer and Wayne Crews, eds.,
(Washington D.C.: Cato Institute, 2002), xvi.
U.S. Constitution, art. 1, sec. 8, cl. 8