The Constitution says copyright is “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.”
- Historian Garry Wills has observed that this clause in the Constitution is unique in that it states a reason – unlike the other clauses in Article I, Section 8, which merely grant the powers “to lay and collect taxes … to coin money … to establish Post Offices,” and so on.
Compared with the tea-leaf reading that often takes place in the search for the Framers’ intentions, the clause on patents and copyrights is a neon sign. If the Framers had thought they were recognizing and protecting a property right, they either would have said so or could merely have said nothing more than “Congress can do this.” Any demand for enforcement of copyright protections is therefore without foundation unless it offers a convincing connection to the promotion of scientific or artistic progress.
As I noted late last month when discussing this issue with CBS News, Bach didn’t need a record contract – or royalties – to inspire him. He had a family to feed. The present-day business model of the record companies is a temporary artifact of a transitional stage in a developing technology.
Those companies need to find new ways to add value, rather than demanding that legislators help them subtract it at the expense of technical progress and individual rights. [eWeek]