One of the most unpopular phrases I’ve spoken, so unpopular that it has won me many negative karma points online and in person causes some people to turn and walk away, is the phrase “Intellectual Slavery Laws”.

I think perhaps the best term for copyright and patent laws is “Intellectual Monopoly Laws”. When called by that name, it is self-evident that there should be careful scrutiny of these kinds of laws.

However, so many people insist on using the false term “Intellectual Property Laws.” Instead of wasting my breath trying to pull them away from that analogy, lately I’ve decided to go the other way and complete the analogy for them. So let me explain “Intellectual Slavery Laws”.

As far as I can figure, you cannot have Property Rights and “Intellectual Property” rights. Having both is logically inconsistent. My computer is my property. However, by law there are billions of peaceful things I cannot do on my computer. Therefore, my computer is not my property.

Unless of course, the argument is that my computer is my property, but some copyright and patent holders have property rights over me, so their property rights allow them to restrict my freedom. I still get rights over my property. But other people get rights over me. Property Rights and Intellectual Slavery Laws can logically co-exist! Logical inconsistency solved!

We can have a logical debate about whether we should have an Intellectual Slavery System, Intellectual Slavery Laws, Intellectual Slavery Law Schools, Intellectual Slavery Lawyers, etc. But we cannot have a logical debate about Intellectual Property Laws. Because the term itself is not logical.

I know, having now said this term aloud to a number of people, that this is a not a popular thing to say. But I think someone needs to say it. Do we really think we are going to be an interplanetary species and solve the world’s biggest challenges if we keep 99+% of the population in intellectual chains?

Errata

  • “They are stealing my IP.” What would your “IP” be if you weren’t “stealing” inventions like words, the alphabet, numbers, rules of physics, etc, that were developed and passed down over thousands of years?
  • “But shouldn’t creators be paid for their work?” Yes. Pay them upon delivery. No need for monopolies. Does a janitor, after cleaning a room, get to charge everyone who enters a royalty for 100 years?
  • “Not a big deal—rights expire after a certain time.” The fact that Copyrights and Patents expire on an arbitrary date is more proof that these should not be called property rights.
  • “This is not an urgent problem.” I think Intellectual Slavery Laws have deep, direct connections to major problems of our time including healthcare, education, and inequality problems.
  • “This is anti-capitalist.” This is pro-property rights.
  • “What about trademarks?” Centralized naming registries like Trademarks are fine, as long as anyone can start a registry. Posing as someone else isn’t an IP violation, it is fraud. Already consequences for that.
  • “If you think the U.S. is bad, go visit China.” I acknowledge that we have tremendous intellectual freedoms in the U.S., especially compared to other countries. I don’t take freedom of speech and freedom of press for granted. However, I believe we are capping ourselves greatly by not legalizing full intellectual freedom.
  • “This is offensive to people suffering from physical slavery or its lingering effects.” The people who would benefit the most from abolishing Intellectual Slavery laws are the same people who have suffered the most from physical slavery systems.
  • “I am an Intellectual Property lawyer and this offends me.” The phrase “Intellectual Property” offends me.
  • “What about Trade Secrets?” Trade secrets and private information are fine. No one should be forced to publish anything. But once you publish something, let it thrive.
  • “Can’t we just copyleft our way to the promised land?” Perhaps, but why lie about the system in the meanwhile?
  • One difference between Physical Slavery and Intellectual Slavery is in the latter it is slavery from a million masters.
  • This woman is amazing.

Published 2/21/2020