Re: Re: Natural law theories of copyright
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Posted by Jim Coleman on January 16, 2000 at 06:18:48:
In Reply to: Re: Natural law theories of copyright posted by M. Arthur Auslander on December 06, 1999 at 13:57:24:
Our notion of copyright law, and other IP law, is grounded in Natural Law. During the Constitutional Convention, there was substantial debate, primarily between Jefferson and Madison if I recall correctly, about whether there should be such a notion as legally protection of works of authorship or invention. Here my memory is faulty (I was not there!), but I think it was Madison who opposed the idea and Jefferson, himself an inventor, favored the protection. Jefferson argued that providing protection would induce inventors, in particular, to disclose their inventions so all could benefit. Without such protection, invention would revert to the concepts of the Medieval guilds who so jealously guarded their secret methods that those who disclosed them were often murdered or had their tongues cut out by the roots. Jefferson believed that by disclosing inventions, that is, making them "open" or "patent", others could improve on the inventions and all society could benefit. Madison was opposed on the notion that no one should or could own something that you could not hold in your hand or touch ("tangible property"). A compromise was worked out. The author or inventor received exclusive rights but only for a limited time. Thus, everyone benefits. As to other notions of Natural Law, remember that in those days, the belief was that authors and inventors were divinely inspired by flashes of insight. Thus, if the insight or "inspiration" (lierally, a "breathing in" as by a deity) came from a deity, then it was that deity's gift to all of mankind. Edison succinctly put the lie to this notion with his statement that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The "flash of insight" theory has few advocates today.
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