Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Intellectual Property Quote

You see the quote at the bottom of the post in many different places on the net. It's on the signatures and websites of those who understand what current intellectual property laws are doing to basic research and innovation. The atmosphere is being stifling and will only get worse. It may never get better. You never see this quote being bandied about by those that wish to increase the duration and strength of the current patent/trademark/copyright regime.

The quote is from Thomas Jefferson. It sums up balancing act of intellectual property and how silly it really is to consider thoughts and ideas as property to be owned and horded. Algorithms, business processes, DNA, and other such things cannot be owned. Once there out there everyone knows them. Media (music, films,etc) is just as bad. Musicians and filmmakers don't create in a vacuum. Look at the number of re-makes.

Here's the quote as I got it from SlimDevices:

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, 1813

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