Copyright is copyright is copyright
By Edwin Meese III
Saturday, January 1, 2005
If John Adams and James Madison were alive today, they surely would marvel at how swiftly information can be exchanged via the Internet. But they also would be alarmed, I believe, to see ordinary citizens using this extraordinary technology in growing numbers to shoplift copyrighted intellectual property. The Founders possessed, after all, a keen understanding of the threat this type of theft poses to a free society.
Property rights are not a novel concept. After some deliberation, our constitutional Framers signaled how important it was to protect intellectual property by instilling the concept in our nation's charter in Article 1, Section 8, with a provision authorizing Congress to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts."
So deeply did the Framers, in their founding document, embrace the concept of "progress" advanced through devotion to intellectual labor, that they mention it 24 separate times in the Federalist Papers.
As John Adams warned, "The moment an idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." I fear that moment has come.