@How smart men act dumb
You have described clearly and succinctly the root of the problem. The problem is that many, many people like you haven’t got the foggiest clue about what constitutes “ownership” in our society. You glibly accept that the right to possess particular knowledge automatically gives one the right to deny others from possessing it.You also confuse “the right to make money” with the “right to own something”. Because of this you are able to make absurd statements like; “…in a culture founded on the ownership of private property…”.
Private property has nothing to do with culture; it’s a social necessity! It exists because we humans have proved, over and over again, that we are unable to share things equitably and peacefully. I agree that it as a necessity, and I agree that we must protect it because the alternatives have been shown to be disastrous. But your implication to extend this protection to “intellectual property” for the sake of our society is rubbish.
The whole concept of intellectual property is a manufactured notion, which has no basis in any fundamental rights and is a bad and corrosive concept. The original formulations of Western patent laws, for example, make it very clear that the legislators considered the associated monopoly rights to be a necessary evil, and formulated limitations in time and extent to mitigate it. They felt that the benefits of stimulating innovation by appealing to creative self-interest were worth paying the price. But this trade-off was never, ever conceived as a form of ownership. (Disclosure: I have my name on nine patents. They will never see the light of day—they are what's known as blocking patents; taken out by my ex-company to stop others innovating. Corruption on a grand scale! And don’t start me on patents…please.)
Copyright hasn’t even got this small public policy element. The current copyright regime in the United States, which mandates lifetime plus 70 years, is a grotesque perversion of any notion of public benefit or fair play. It clearly illustrates that copyright has nothing to do with any social policy and is now simply here to enrich a layer of parasitic shysters. I note with interest that “copyright holder” has quietly replaced the words “artist” or “creator” in news and literature.
So I’m afraid I don’t agree with you at all. Lessig is not nearly as dumb as you make him out. In fact, I think he understands ownership rights a lot better than you do.
The Register is an excellent forum for airing these concerns because both creators and consumers of intellectual works read it. I am sorry about my strong views on this subject, I do not wish to offend anyone. But as a person who has watched the increasing corruption of the public domain over the decades, I think my contribution may be helpful.