The term “Intellectual Property” implies a specific set of rights over a work of art. Even if this is not exaclty the case, when we say Intellectual Property, most people consider this a form of ownership much like owning a piece of land. Using the word “property” implies in most cases (and for most people) rights like:
- “it’s mine and I can do whatever I like with it”
- “I can choose who is allowed to step on it, and who isn’t”
- “It’s mine, it will always be mine, I can pass it on to my children”
The truth is that, even in the current state of “Intellectual Property” rights, some of these assumptions are not right. For example, the ownership goes away after 50 or 70 years, depending on which part of the world you are.
And, for some strange reason, this property is not subject to taxes, no matter how valuable it is, unlike most other kinds of ownership in most countries.
I take for granted that the creator, the artist, has some explicit set of rights over his work. But instead of “Intellectual Property”, I would like to suggest the term “Intellectual Parenthood”. That’s not as novel as some may think: just consider the phrase “giving birth to an idea” commonly used when we talk about art.
How is Intellectual Parenthood different than Intellectual Property?
Well, the truth is giving birth to anything is hard work. But we don’t own our children. We invest a lot in them: time, money, emotions. But we know that they will be free after 18 or 20 years. We have the first word on how they will be raised and how they should be educated, and what they should eat, but if we don’t do it right, the authorities have the right to take them away from us. And we obviously, can’t sell them, even if we have invested a fortune and a considerable percentage of our life on raising them up.
We say “my child”, but it’s not a property. We are doing our best to create something we will be proud of, but we don’t expect a return on our investment. And yet, we do it. And it’s a good thing our parents did the same, or we wouldn’t exist.
I feel that replacing the term Intellectual Property with Intellectual Parenthood, would make us see creation as a human need and not as a job. It has been like that for thousands of years.