Jack Welch recently wrote a crazy-ass op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal arguing that corporations are people – they must be people, because otherwise they’d be buildings. I thought that his argument represented a false dichotomy. Corporations are legal entities, whereas people are biological entities. Both are endowed by their Creators with certain rights, but in the case of corporations that creator is a legislature and the laws that define corporations and their rights (NB: IANAL). And in a democracy, that legislature is supposed to serve the will of the people. Inverting that power structure, as the Citizens United case seems to do, is in my mind anti-American, counter to the founding principles of this country.
Michael Branson Smith writes of a disagreement with a colleague over the idea of remix/reuse vs. copyright. His colleague apparently takes a hard-line legalistic view that copyright rules should be followed strictly, and that remix/reuse = theft. But intellectual property and copyright are legal inventions, of fairly recent vintage at that, and their extent and limitations ought to be subject to the will of the people. As I understand it, even our founding fathers thought property less of an inalienable right than the pursuit of happiness (NB: IANAHistorian). The law of the land says that the whole point of intellectual property is to encourage creativity, and that intellectual property rights hold explicitly for a limited time.
The current climate, it seems to me, favors ownership and litigation over innovation and progress. That goes against the US Constitution. The revisions of copyright law over the past forty years were bought on not by the will of the American people, but rather to align US law with European standards. That sacrifices US sovereignty. We owe it to ourselves, our progeny, our forefathers and our country, to stand up for Fair Use, for “the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” and for remix/reuse culture. It is our duty as American citizens.