10 June 2006

RMS on "IP"

As you would expect, Richard Stallman has some wise words on "intellectual property" and the trap that these words represent. He also puts things in a useful historical context:

What the [U.S.] Constitution says is that copyright law and patent law are optional. They need not exist. It says that if they do exist, their purpose is to provide a public benefit -- to promote progress by providing artificial incentives.

They are not rights that their holders are entitled to; they are artificial privileges that we might, or might not, want to hand out to encourage people to do what we find useful.

It's a wise policy. Too bad Congress -- which has to carry it out on our behalf -- takes its orders from Hollywood and Microsoft instead of from us.

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