Subject: Re: The term "intellectual property" considered harmful
From: Santiago Gala <>
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 23:15:56 +0200
Mon, 01 May 2006 23:15:56 +0200
El lun, 01-05-2006 a las 16:26 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull escribió:
> >>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <> writes:
>     ...Trade secrets are a form of intellectual
>     property...
>     rms> The term "intellectual property" spreads confusion, which
>     rms> people mistake for deeper understanding.  I therefore urge
>     rms> that people decide, as I have done, to reject use of the
>     rms> term.
> I urge that people decide, as I have done, to eschew the phrase
> "intellectual property rights" as confusing, and the moral equivalent
> of a troll.  "Right" strongly connotes "natural" and/or "inalienable",
> and many (including me) believe that the rights conferred by
> possession of intellectual property are neither.  Others believe they
> are.  Neither view is very useful in understanding application of
> existing law.
> Because such rights do exist in our legal system[1], the term
> "intellectual property" is useful.  Indeed it is an indispensible aid
> to understanding how lawyers and courts think about issues crucial to
> the interpretation of free software licenses, and related legally
> enforceable rights.  In turn, we must understand how lawyers and
> judges think, because they are the ones who make the arguments and
> decision that determine those interpretations.  True, the abstraction
> of "intellectual property" is an imperfect reflection of the
> commonalities of patents, copyrights, and various trade rights, yet
> were there no such term, we would need to create it.
> I hope that everyone will continue to use "intellectual property"
> sparingly (since it upsets some free software advocates whose input I
> value), but not avoid it when it is appropriate.  Avoiding it when it
> is the accurate and precise term creates confusion.

It is never accurate and precise. It groups several different
traditional rights, which you can actually find in Dictionaries:
derecho de autor (in Napoleonic right) HTML=2&LEMA=derecho&SUPIND=0&CAREXT=10000&NEDIC=No#derecho
de autor.
patente de invención HTML=2&LEMA=patente&SUPIND=0&CAREXT=10000&NEDIC=No#patente
de invenci%C3%B3n.
marca registrada HTML=2&LEMA=marca#marca registrada.

if you look at the (Spanish) definitions, marks "have legal protection";
patents are "documents which recognize an invention and the rights that
proceed from it", and author rights are "those that the law recognizes
to the author to participate in its benefits..."

The word "property" does not appear a single time in those concepts, and
the neologists have only been aple to make it appear associated to the
"registry": HTML=2&LEMA=registro&SUPIND=0&CAREXT=10000&NEDIC=No#registro
de la propiedad intelectual.
i.e, the "place where authors, translators and editors register their
rights on scientific, literary and rtistic works".
separate from "industrial registry": HTML=2&LEMA=registro&SUPIND=0&CAREXT=10000&NEDIC=No#registro
de la propiedad industrial.
"where invention patents are registered..."

the Real Academia de la Lengua is the recognized authority for the
Spanish language.

> Footnotes: 
> [1]  They differ among jurisdictions, of course, but they exist in
> some form everywhere free software does.
Santiago Gala <>
High Sierra Technology, SLU

["application/pgp-signature" not shown]