Notwithstanding the fact that the most innovative and progressive space we've seen - the Internet - has been the place where intellectual property has been least respected. You know, facts don't get in the way of this ideology. - Lawrence Lessig
This is just a little something to chew on. With the Edward Snowden revelations of NSA surveillance, IRS profiling of the Tea Party and the Department of Justice investigation of leaks publicized by the Associated Press, we need to fast forward into the information age and open a broad discussion on intellectual property.
Whether it is named business strategy, digital media rights, trade secrets, state secrets, patent law, copyright, trademark, or personal privacy; they all fall under the heading of proprietary intellectual property. So for the purposes of this post, they will all be considered together as a unit. Although the property is intangible, it is still a unique product of the owner and is protected by various laws to contain and control the distribution of this property.
With all the rebuttals I have seen surrounding my previous posts about intellectual property, I have only seen two arguments that approach appearing, at least on the surface, compelling.
The first is that intellectual property cannot be stolen because the original property still remains with the author. Try telling that to someone who has had their identity stolen and have had devastating losses because of it. If something is transferred from the owner to another party without the original owners express or implied consent, it is theft. If a tangible item is stolen and then recovered, that does not undo the fact that it was stolen in the first place.
The second is that the laws concerning physical property theft do not apply to intellectual property theft. This is the usual argument from those who are unwilling or unable to comprehend that intellectual property has value, just like physical property does. Your personal intellectual property is traded every time you apply for credit, purchase an item on credit, enter a legal proceeding or apply for insurance. In all these cases, you are entrusting your personal intellectual property to your lender, creditor, lawyer, insurance company or doctor and are counting on them to safeguard it to the best of their ability.
So whether the NSA is collecting phone metadata and internet information to keep us safe from terrorist threats, the Justice Department is trying to find out who is betraying their mission as a result of leaking state secrets by getting contact information from the AP’s phone records or the IRS is trying to determine tax deductible status of the Tea Party movement that electioneered heavily during the 2010 elections; the government appears to be doing its best to do its job without the massive overreach for which they are being accused. Despite claims of oppression by the government, national intelligence and intellectual property rights laws that are already on the books are being prosecuted by the administration.
Edward Snowden is the unprecedented 7th attempt within this administration to prosecute a leaker. With the roguish sanctifications of Wikileaks and the Anonymous criminal organizations, it is no wonder that government leaks are thriving. I doubt that the information that was revealed by Snowden was anything new. The only thing that was revealed is the secrets behind the magic tricks used to keep us safe from terrorist attacks.
TBH, I don’t see why government collection of data on individuals is considered so nefarious to prosecute criminal activity when private sector of collection of data for their own profiteering, including Google photography of your home and facial recognition technology of your children, is considered to be innocuous. I will trust private sector privacy intrusions when their executive board meetings are on CSPAN.
Whether it is at a national level with security requirements down to the individual level with privacy, intellectual property will always be imbued with a sense of ownership. This property, like any property, has no purpose unless it is used and shared in some form. We need to take a serious look at how this is done with intellectual property now and in the future more than ever.