Subject: RE: The term "intellectual property" considered useful
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Thu, 4 May 2006 21:23:04 -0700

Richard Stallman wrote:
> Terms embody presuppositions.  When a term embodies a political 
> presupposition, the use of the term presumes it, and invites those who 
> hear or read it to join in the same presupposition.  That is how 
> propaganda works: instead of making the crucial claims explicitly, 
> which makes it easy for people to question them if they wish, it slips 
> them in as presuppositions, so that people may fail even to notice 
> them.

That is exactly right. That is how the terms "free software" and "open
source" and "open standards" have come to be. Congratulations to all of us,
and to you especially! I mean that sincerely. Propaganda (in the good sense)
is very useful to achieve righteous goals. [1]

But in law the term "intellectual property" has come to be used to encompass
the entirety of copyright, patent, trademark and trade secret concepts--all
of which touch free and open source software in difficult ways. That term is
a great convenience at least to lawyers who are certain to keep those kinds
of intellectual property (and their associated legal rights, limitations,
exclusions and conditions) separate in their minds. Please don't deny us our
terms of art for fear of propaganda. We can see beyond such simple attempts
to confuse us and don't need to have our language policed.

/Larry

[1] Propaganda: "Information or publicity put out by an organization or
government to spread and promote a policy, idea, doctrine, or cause"
(Microsoft's Encarta Dictionary)

Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com) 
Stanford University, Lecturer in Law
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
707-485-1242  *  fax: 707-485-1243
Author of "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and 
                Intellectual Property Law" (Prentice Hall 2004)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Stallman [mailto:rms@gnu.org]
> Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2006 12:43 PM
> To: Stephen J. Turnbull
> Cc: KAnderson@dentrix.com; fsb@crynwr.com
> Subject: Re: The term "intellectual property" considered useful
> 
>     Your use of the term "propaganda" is propaganda, too.  No term, by
>     itself, is propaganda.
> 
> Terms embody presuppositions.  When a term embodies a political 
> presupposition, the use of the term presumes it, and invites those who 
> hear or read it to join in the same presupposition.  That is how 
> propaganda works: instead of making the crucial claims explicitly, 
> which makes it easy for people to question them if they wish, it slips 
> them in as presuppositions, so that people may fail even to notice 
> them.
> 
>     In this case, the whole point of "property" in general is that you
>     have the right to protect it, by force in some cases, but preferably
>     by appeal to the government.  If any form of "property" is at issue,
>     of course advocates are going to use the word "protect".
> 
> Yes, exactly.
> 
> 	I see
>     nothing propagandistic about that.
> 
> It is propaganda to speak of "protecting" a copyright, just as it is 
> propaganda to speak of the copyright as "property".  Both bias the 
> consideration of the copyright issue.  Copyright is supposed (under 
> the US constitution) to be an artificial system of incentives.  When 
> people treat it as a "property right", they systematically judge all 
> copyright issues on the wrong basis.
> 
> But it gets worse: people talk about "protecting the program" and use 
> that to mean prevention of copying.  This is as much as to say that 
> copying the program destroys it.