THE LAW OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY- OBJECTIONS ANSWERED

CHAPTER II.

OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.

The objections that will be urged to the principles of the preceding chapter, are the following.

SECTION I.

Objection First.

         It will be said there can be no right of property in ideas, for the reason that an idea has no corporeal substance.

         This is an ancient argument, but it obviously has no intrinsic weight or soundness; for corporeal substances are not the only things that have value; they are not the only things that contribute to the welfare of man; they are not the only things that can he possessed by one man, and not by another; they are not the only things that can be imparted by one man to another; nor are they the only things that are the products of labor. Indeed, correctly speaking, corporeal substances are never the products, (that is, the creations,) of human labor. Human labor cannot create corporeal substances. It can only change their forms, qualities, adaptations, and values. These forms, qualities, adaptations, and values ate all incorporeal things. Hence, as will be more fully shown hereafter, all the products- that is, all the creations- of human labor, are incorporeal.

          To deny the right of property in incorporeal timings, is equivalent to denying the right of property in labor itself; in the products of labor; and even in those corporeal substances, that are acquired by labor; as will now be shown. [*32]

         1. To deny the right of property in incorporeal things, is equivalent to denying the right of property in labor, because labor itself is incorporeal. It is simply motion; an action merely of the faculties. It has no corporeal substance. To deny, therefore, that there can be any right of property in incorporeal timings, is denying that a man can have any right of property in his labor; and, of course, that he can have any right  to demand pay for it, when he labors for another. Yet we all know that labor is a subject of property. A man's labor is his own. It also has value. It is the great dependence of the human race for subsistence. It is of ten thousand thousand kinds. Each of these kinds, too, has its well understood market price; as much so as any corporeal substance whatever. And each of these various kinds of labor is constantly bought and sold as merchandise.

         Labor, therefore, being incorporeal, and yet, by universal confession, a subject of property, the principle of the right of property in incorporeal things is established.

          2. To deny the right of property in incorporeal things, is equivalent to denying the right of property in the products, (that is, in the creations, ) of human labor: for these products, or creations, are all incorporeal. Human labor, as has already been said, cannot create corporeal substances. It can only create, and give to corporeal substances, new forms, qualities, adaptations, and values. These new forms, qualities, adaptations, and values are all incorporeal things. For example- The new forms, and new beauties, which a sculptor, by his labor, creates, and imparts to a block of marble, are not corporeal substances. They are mere qualities, that have been imparted to a corporeal substance. They are qualities, that can neither be weighed nor measured, like corporeal substances. Scales will not weigh them, nor yard sticks measure them, as they will weigh and measure corporeal substances. They can be perceived and estimated only by the mind; in the same manner that the mind perceives and estimates aim idea. In short, these new forms and new beauties, which [*33] human labor has created. and imparted to the marble, are incorporeal, and not corporeal things. Yet they have value; are the products of labor; are subjects of property; and are constantly bought and sold in the market.

         So also it is with all the new forms, qualities, adaptations, and values, which labor creates, and imparts to the materials, of which a house , for example, is composed. These new forums, qualities, adaptations, and values, are all incorporeal. They can neither be weighed, nor measured, as corporeal substances. Yet without them, the corporeal substances, out of which the house is constructed, would have failed to become a house. They, therefore, have value. They are also the products of labor; are subjects of property; and are constantly bought and sold in the market.

         The same principle holds good in regard to all corporeal substances whatsoever, to which labor gives new forms, or qualities, adapted to satisfy the wants, gratify the eye, or promote the happiness of man- whether the substances be articles of food, clothing, utensils for labor, books, pictures, or whatever else may minister to the desires of men. The new forms and qualities, given to each and all these corporeal substances, to adapt them to use, are themselves incorporeal. Yet they have value; are the products of labor; and are as much subjects of property, as are the substances themselves. And the destruction or injury of these forms and qualities, by any person not the owner, is as clearly a crime, as is the theft or destruction of the substances themselves. In fact, correctly speaking, it is only the incorporeal forums, qualities, and adaptations of corporeal substances, that can be destroyed. The substances themselves are incapable of destruction. To destroy or injure the incorporeal forms, qualities, and adaptations, that have been given to corporeal substances by labor, destroys or injures the market value of the substances themselves; because it destroys or impairs their utility, for the purposes for which they are desired. How absurd then to say that incorporeal things are not subjects of property. [*34] The examples already given, of labor, the products, or creations of labor, (by which is now meant those forms, qualities, adaptations, and values, imparted by labor to corporeal substances,) would be sufficient to prove that incorporeal things are subjects of property. But, saying nothing as yet of ideas, there are still other kinds of incorporeal timings, that are subjects of property. For example. A man's pecuniary credit, or reputation for pecuniary responsibility, has value; is the product of labor; and is a subject of property. Various other kinds of reputation are also subjects of property. A magistrate's reputation for integrity; a soldier's reputation for courage; a woman's reputation for chastity; a physician's reputation for skill; a preacher's reputation for sincerity, &c., &c., are all subjects of property. They have value; and they are the products of labor. Yet they are not corporeal substances.

         Health is incorporeal. Strength is incorporeal. So also the senses, or faculties, of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and feeling are incorporeal. A person might lose them all without the loss of any corporeal substance. Yet they are all valuable possessions, and subjects of property. To impair or destroy them, through carelessness or design, is an injury to be compensated by damages, or punished as a crime.

         Melody is incorporeal. Yet it has value; is the product of labor; is a subject of property; and a common article of merchandise.

         Beauty is incorporeal. Yet it is a subject of property. It is a property, too, that is very highly prized-whether it be beauty of person, or beauty in those animals or inanimate objects, which are subjects of property. And to impair or destroy such beauty, is acknowledged by all to be a wrong, to be compensated in damages,- or a crime, to he visited with penalties.

          A ride, and the right  or privilege of riding, or of being carried, as, for example, on railroads, in steamboats, and public conveyances of all kinds, are incorporeal timings. They cannot be seen by the eye, nor touched by the hand. They can only be perceived [*35] by the mind. Yet they have value; are Subjects of property; and are constantly bought and sold in the market.

         The right of going into a hotel, or a place of public amusement, is not a corporeal substance. It nevertheless has value, and is a subject of property, and is constantly bought and sold.

         Liberty is incorporeal. Yet it has value; and if it be not sold, it is because no corporeal substance is sufficiently valuable to be received in exchange for it.

          Life itself is incorporeal. Yet it is property; and to take it from its owner is usually reckoned the highest crime that can be committed against him.

         Many other kinds of property are incorporeal.

         Thus it will be seen that thoughts are by no means the only incorporeal things that have value, and are subjects of property. Civilized society could hot exist without recognizing incorporeal things as property.

         3: To deny the right of property in incorporeal timings, is equivalent to denying the right of property even in corporeal things.

         What is the foundation of the right of property in corporeal things? It is not that they are the products, or creations, of human labor; for, as has already been said, human labor never produces- that is, it never creates- corporeal substances. But it is simply this - that human labor has been expended upon them- that is, in taking possession of them . The right of property, therefore, in corporeal things, has its foundation solely in human labor, which is itself incorporeal. Now it is clear that if labor, which is incorporeal, were not itself a subject of property, it could give the laborer no right of property in those corporeal substances, upon which he bestows his labor. A right  cannot arise out-of no right . It is absurd, therefore, to say that a man has no right of property in his labor, for the reason that labor is incorporeal , and yet to say that that same labor, (which is not his,) can give him a right  to a corporeal substance, to which he confessedly Las no other might, than that he has [*36] expended labor upon it. If labor itself be not a subject of property, it follows, of necessity, that it can give the laborer no right of property in any thing else.

         The necessary consequence, therefore, of denying the right of property in incorporeal things, as labor, for example, is to deny the right of property in corporeal things; because the right  to the latter is only a result, or consequence, of a right  to the former. If, therefore, we deny the right of property in incorporeal things, we must deny all rights of property whatsoever.

         The idea, therefore, that incorporeal things cannot be subjects of property, is simply absurd, since it goes necessarily to the denial of all property; and since also it is itself denied by the common sense, the constant practice, and, above all, by the universal necessities, of mankind at large. On the other hand, if 'we admit a right of property in incorporeal things at all, then ideas are as clearly legitimate subjects of property, as any other incorporeal things that can be named. They are, in their nature, necessarily personal possessions; they have value; they are the products of labor; they are indispensable to the happiness, well being, and even subsistence of man; they can be possessed by one man, and not by another; they can be imparted by one man to another; yet no one can demand them of another as a right; and, as has before been said and shown, they are continually bought and sold as merchandise.

         The doctrine, however, that corporeal substances only could be subjects of property, was a somewhat natural one in the infancy of thought; when men's theories about property were superficial and imperfect, partaking more of the character of instinct, than of reason, and when things visible by the eye, and tangible by the hand, would naturally be regarded, by unreasoning minds, as of a very different character, in respect of susceptibility of ownership, from such incorporeal things as ideas, of which few men had any worth setting a price upon. The distinction, however, between corporeal and incorporeal things, as subjects of property, is one entirely groundless in itself, and entirely unworthy of the [*37] advanced reason of the present day; or even of any modern day; although modern days have seen the argument urged. <fn3>

         Mankind have doubtless never consistently adhered to the theory that only corporeal things could be subjects of property. Probably in the darkest barbarism - certainly since the earliest history of civilization - incorporeal things, of various kinds, have been subjects of purchase and sale. The illiterate have sold their labor, which is incorporeal; and the learned, powerful, and artful, as, for example, the law-givers, magistrates, priests, physicians, astrologers, and necromancers, have sold their ideas. And the nature of men assures us, that there was never a the known among them, when the injury or destruction of various kinds of incorporeal property, as, for example, strength, sight, health, beauty, liberty, and life, was not considered and treated as a wrong to be avenged.

         In modern times, with the advance of civilization, incorporeal things in a thousand forms, ideas included, have come to be among the most common articles of traffic; and contracts, based solely upon the ground of property in incorporeal things- as, for example, contracts to pay lawyers, physicians, preachers, teachers, editors, &c., for their ideas- are continually enforced by courts of justice, with the same uniformity as are contracts for corporeal things; while at the same the, the very tribunals, who enforce these contracts- tribunals composed, too, of men, who earn their official salaries only by giving their ideas in exchange for them- deny the principle of property in ideas. Such has been, and still is, the inconsistency of men's opinions on this subject- an inconsistency that strikingly illustrates the immaturity of reason, the low state of legal science, and the imperfection of political and judicial institutions.

         One obstacle to the universal acknowledgment of property in ideas, has been this. Mankind freely give away so large portion of their ideas, and so few of their ideas are of sufficient [*38] value to bring anything in the market, (except in the market of common conversation, where men mutually exchange their ideas,) that persons, who have not reasoned on the subject, have naturally fallen into the habit of thinking, that ideas were not subjects of property; and have consequently been slow to admit that, as a matter of sound theory or law, men had a strict right of property in any of their ideas. And yet these same doubters have themselves been, and now are, in the constant practice of buying ideas, in various ways, of magistrates, lawyers, physicians, preachers, teachers, editors, &c., and paying their money for them, without once dreaming that there was any more hardship or injustice in their being necessitated to do so, than in their being necessitated to buy their food or clothing.

         Another reason, why the absolute right of property in ideas, has not been, earlier, more consistently, and universally acknowledged, has been that, in the infancy of civil society, and even until a comparatively recent date, owing to the general ignorance of letters, and the want of records for that purpose, there has been a nearly or quite insuperable difficulty in maintaining that right  in practice, by reason of there being no means of proving one's property in an idea, after the idea itself had gone out among men. But that. difficulty is now removed by the invention of records, by which a man may have his idea registered, and his right  to it established, before it is disclosed to the public.

         But what must settle, absolutely and forever, this question of the right of property in incorporeal things, is this- that the right of property itself is an incorporeality. The right of property is a mere incorporeal right of dominion, or control, over a thing. It is neither tangible by the hand, nor visible by the eye. It is a mere abstraction, existing only in contemplation of the mind. Yet this incorporeal right of dominion or control over a thing, is itself a subject of property- of ownership; one that is continually bought and sold in the market, independently of possession of the thing to which it relates.

         To make this point clear to the unprofessional reader. There [*39] are two kinds of property, which pertain to every corporeal thing that is owned. One is the right of property, or ownership, in the thing owned - that is, the right of dominion or control over the thing. The other is the possession of the thing owned. These two kinds of property are the only kinds of property, that any man can have in any corporeal thing. Yet these two kinds of property can exist, and often do exist, separately from each other. This one man may own a thing- that is, have the right of property in a timing- as a house, for example and another man have the possession of it. One man has the abstract incorporeal right of dominion, or control, over the house; the other has, for the time being, the actual dominion- that is, the possession- which he holds, either with, or without, the consent of the owner, as the case may be.

         Now, any one can see that this incorporeal right of the true owner, is itself a subject of property. It is a thing that may be owned, bought, and sold, independently of the other kind of property, viz.: possession. It often is owned, bought, and sold, independently of possession. For example, a man often buys, pays for, and owns, a house to-day, which he is not to have possession of until next week, next month, or next year. Yet, though out of possession of the house, his incorporeal right of property in it, is itself a legal and bona fide property, of which he is possessed. It is a property, which he himself may sell, if he so choose.

         This incorporeal right of property is the property, that is principally regarded by the laws. Possession is comparatively of little importance. It is comparatively of little- importance, because if a man own the right of property in a thing, he can then claim the possession, solely by virtue of that right, and the law will give it to him. On the other hand, if a man have possession of a thing, without the right of property in it, the law will compel him to surrender the possession to the one who owns the right of property. Hence, in nearly all controversies, in law, about property, the question is, Who has the right of property? [*40] Not, Who has the possession? These facts show that the right of property, in any corporeal thing, is itself a subject of property, of ownership, independently of possession; and is so regarded by the laws. Yet it is but an incorporeality.

          This incorporeal right of property is also the property, which is of chief consideration in the minds of men, in all their dealings with each other. It is what one man buys, and the other sells. They care little for possession; because they know that the right  will, sooner or later, give them the possession. On the other hand, they know that possession, without the right , will be insecure, and of little value. For these reasons, in all legitimate traffic, the purchaser is careful to know that he buys the right of property- that is, that he buys of one, who really owns the property- has the abstract incorporeal right  to it; and not of one who merely has the possession of it. This fact, too, shows that the right of property is itself a subject of property- of ownership- independently of possession of the commodity to which it relates; and is universally so recognized by mankind, in their every day dealings. Yet it is but an incorporeality.

          To accumulate evidence on this point. That this right of property is itself a subject of property, and an incorporeality, is proved by the fact, that it is transferred from one man to another, simply by consent- by a mere operation of the mind- without any corporeal delivery of the thing, to which the right  attaches. Thus two men, in New York, may exchange their respective rights of property, in two ships, that are, at the time, in the Pacific ocean. And this incorporeal transfer, of the incorporeal right of property, in the ships, enables each purchaser afterwards to claim the possession, dominion, and control of the ship itself; that be has purchased. Here it is clear that the incorporeal right of property, or dominion, is a legal entity, and a subject of property, of ownership; one, which is transferred, from one man to another, by an incorporeal act, a simple operation of the mind, viz.: the act of consent. Manifestly this incorporeal right of property, or dominion, is, of itself, independently of possession [*41]  of the commodity to which it relates, a subject of property, of ownership.

          Again. This incorporeal right of property, being, of itself, a subject of property, it follows that no man can assert that he has a right of property even in a corporeal thing, without, at the same the, asserting, that an incorporeality is a subject of property, of ownership.

         To conclude. The right of property being incorporeal, and being itself a subject of property, it demonstrates that the right of property may attach to still other incorporeal things ; for it would be plainly absurd to say, that there could be an incorporeal right of property to a corporeal thing, but could be no incorporeal right of property to an incorporeal thing. Clearly an incorporeal right of property could attach to an incorporeal thing- a thing of its own nature- as easily as to a corporeal thing, a thing of a different nature from its own. The attachment of this incorporeal right of property, to a corporeal thing, is not a phenomenon visible by the eye, nor tangible by the hand. It is perceptible only by the mind. And the mind can as easily perceive the same attachment to an incorporeal thing, as to a corporeal one.

          It will now be token for granted, that this point is established, namely, that on principles of natural law, incorporeal things are subjects of property. If that point be established, it is self-evident that ideas are naturally subjects of property; that their incorporeality is no objection whatever to their being owned as property.

SECTION II.

Objection Second.

         The second objection, that is urged against the right of property in ideas, is, that, admitting, (what cannot with the least-reason be denied,) that a man is the sole proprietor of an idea [*42] so long as he retains it in his exclusive possession, he nevertheless loses all exclusive right of property in it the moment he communicates the idea to another person, because that other person thereby acquires as complete possession of the idea, as the original proprietor.

         This is a very shallow objection, since it is founded wholly on the assumption, that if a man once intrust his property in another man's keeping, he thereby loses his own right of property in it; whereas men are constantly intrusting their property in other men's hands, in many different ways, and for many different purposes, as for inspection, for hire, for sale, for safe keeping, for the purpose of having labor performed upon it, and for purposes of kindness and accommodation, without their right of property being in the least affected by it. Possession has nothing to do with a man's right of property, after that right  has once been acquired. He can then lose his right of property , only by his own consent to part with it.

         This impossibility of losing one's right of property, otherwise than by his own consent, is involved in the very nature of the right of property, which is a right of dominion- that is, a right  to have a thing subject to one's will. It is an absurdity, a contradiction, to say that a man's right to have a thing subject to his will, can be lost against his will; or can be separated from him by any other process than his own- will that it shall be separated from him. Hence a man can never sell, or give away, any thing that is his, by any other process than an act of his will, namely, his consent to part with his right of property in it. Otherwise a man would lose his right of property in a thing, every the he suffered another to take possession of that thing. He could not intrust an article of property in another man's hand for a moment, for any purpose whatever, without losing his right  to it forever. Yet men habitually intrust their property in each other's keeping, with perfect freedom, without their ownership, or right of property, being in the least impaired thereby.

         No assertion could be more utterly absurd, in regard to any [*43] corporeal thing, than that a man loses his right of property in it, by simply parting with his possession of it; for every day's and every hours experience, both in business and in law, would give the lie to it. And yet the assertion is equally absurd, when made in respect to incorporeal things, as when made in respect to corporeal things. There is not so much as an infinitesimal difference between the two cases.

          The admission, therefore, that a man owns an idea, as property, while it is in his exclusive possession, is an admission that he owns it forever after, in whosesoever possession it may be, until he has consented to part, not merely with his exclusive possession, but also with his right of property in it.

         The only question, then, on this point, is, whether it is to be presumed, simply from the fact that a man voluntarily parts with the exclusive possession of his idea, that lie therefore consents to part also with his exclusive right of property in it? In other. words, whether it is to be presumed that a man consents to part with his exclusive right of property in his idea, simply from the fact that he makes that idea known to another person?

         To answer this question requires a little analysis of the nature of the act, on which the presumption, if it exist at all, is founded.

         In the case of a corporeal commodity, the act of making it known, and the act of giving possession of it, are distinct acts- the first not at all implying the last. But in the case of an idea, the act of making it known, and the act of giving possession of it, are necessarily one and the same act; or at least one necessarily involves the other. Yet, although the act of making an idea known, and the act of giving possession of it, are, in reality, one and the same act, still the act has two distinct aspects, in which it may be viewed, viz.: first, that of simply making the idea known (as in the case of making known a corporeal commodity); - and, secondly, that of giving possession of it. And the question proposed will be simplified, and more easily and conclusively [*44] answered, by considering the act in each of these aspects separately.

         The first question, then, is, whether it is to be presumed that a man intends to part with his exclusive right of property in an idea, simply because, he makes the idea known to another person?

         Obviously there is no more ground, in nature, or in reason, for presuming that a man intends to part with his right of property, in an idea, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person, than there is for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property, in any corporeal commodity, simply because he describes it, or makes it known, to another person. If a man describe his horse to another person, nobody presumes therefrom that he intends to part with his right of property in his horse. And it is the same of every other corporeal commodity. What more reason is there for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property in an idea, simply from the fact that he describes the idea, or makes it known, to his neighbor? Certainly there is none whatever, if we but regard the act, (as we are now attempting to do,) simply as making known the idea, and not as giving possession of it. On any other principle than this, men could not talk about their property to their neighbors, without losing their exclusive right  to it.

         Nothing, therefore, could be more entirely farcical, than the notion, that a man loses his exclusive right of property, in an idea, simply by making the idea known to other persons- provided, always, that the act of making the idea known, be regarded simply as such, and not as giving possession of it.

         Let us now look at the act of making known an idea, in its other aspect, viz.: that of giving possession of it.

         Here the question is, whether it is to be presumed that a man intends to part with his right of property in an idea, simply because he puts the idea into the possession of another person?

         Here, too, there is manifestly no more ground, in nature, or in reason, for presuming that a man intends to part with his right [*45] of property, in a valuable idea- that is, an idea having an important market value- simply because he gives it into the possession of another person, (without receiving any equivalent, or otherwise indicating any intention to part with his right of property in it,) than there is for presuming that he intends to part with his right of property, in any corporeal commodity, of the same market value with the idea, simply because he gives such commodity into the possession of another person (without receiving any equivalent, or otherwise indicating any intention to part with his right of property in it). It is just as improbable, in reason, and in nature, that a man would gratuitously part with his right of property in an idea, that was worth in the market a hundred, a thousand, or a hundred thousand dollars, as it is that' he would gratuitously part with his right of property, in a corporeal commodity, of the same market value.

          The legal presumption, therefore, as to whether a man does, or does not, intend to part with his right of property in an idea, when he puts that idea into the possession of another person, will depend very much upon the market value of the idea. In short, the legal presumption will be governed by precisely the same principles, as in the case of a corporeal commodity.

          To illustrate these principles. If one man give to another the possession of. a corporeal commodity, of so small value as a nut, an apple, or a cup of water, for example, without saying whether he also gives the right of property in it, the legal presumption clearly is that he does intend to give the right of property. Such is the legal presumption, because such is clearly the moral probability, as derived from the general practice of mankind. But if a man were to give to another the possession of a corporeal commodity, of so large value, as a horse, a house, or a farm, without receiving any equivalent, and without specially making known that he also gave the right of property in it, the legal presumption clearly would be, that he did not intend to give the right of property. Such would clearly be the legal presumption, solely because such would clearly be the moral probability, as derived [*46] from the general practice of mankind. But where the value of a corporeal commodity is neither so great, on the one band, nor so small, on the other, as to furnish any clear rule of probability, as to whether the owner intended to reserve his right of property in it. or not, no absolute legal presumption, as to his intentions, can be derived solely from the fact of his giving possession of the thing itself; and consequently his intention, as to parting with his right of property, or not, may need to be proved by other evidence.

          In the case of intellectual property, the legal presumption would follow the same rules of moral probability, as in the case of material property- that is, it would follow the rule of probability, where the probability, as derived from the general practice of mankind, was clear. But where the probability was not clear, the intention of the owner would be a fact to be proved by circumstances. If, for example, one man gave possession to another of an idea, that either had a merely trivial market value, or no market value at all, (like the ideas which men usually give freely to each other in conversation,) without otherwise indicating any intention as to parting with his right of property in it, the legal presumption, like the moral probability, would be, that he did intend to part with his exclusive right of property in it. But if, on the other hand, he gave possession of an idea, that had a large market value, without otherwise indicating his intention as to parting with his right of property in it, the legal presumption, like the moral probability, would he that he did not intend to part with his right of property. But where the value of the idea was neither so small, on the one hand, nor so large, on the other, as to furnish a clear rule of probability as to the owner's intentions, the fact of his intention would he open to be proved by circumstances.

         Of course a man could always reserve his right of property, in ideas of the smallest value, or part with his right of property, in ideas of the largest value, by specially making known that such were his intentions. [*47]

          Whether, therefore, the act of making known an idea, be regarded simply as making it known, (as in the case of making known a corporeal commodity,) or as also giving possession of it, it affords no ground for presuming that the owner intended to part with his exclusive right of property in it, provided the idea be a valuable one for the market; because it is naturally as improbable, that a man would gratuitously part with his right of property, in an idea, that would bring him an important sum in the market, as it is that he would gratuitously part with his right of property, in a corporeal commodity, that would bring the same sum in the market.

         If it were possible for the law to regard the act of making an idea known, simply as making it known, (as in the case of making known a corporeal commodity,) and not also as giving possession of it, it would clearly be the duty of the law so to regard it, when ever the idea was one that had an important value in the market. And why should the law so regard it? First, because such would clearly be the intention of the owner of the idea. When he describes his idea to his- neighbor, he no more intends to convey to him any valuable property right  in the idea itself, beyond a mere knowledge of it, than he intends to convey a valuable property right  in a corporeal commodity, beyond a mere knowledge of it, when he describes such commodity to his neighbor. His intention, in either case, is simply to convey a bare knowledge of the idea, or of the corporeal commodity, and nothing more. And his intention should be taken for what it really is, and for nothing else, if that be possible.

         A second reason to the same point is this. The one, to whom the owner communicates an idea, had no claim to it . He did not produce it. He pays nothing for it. He had no claim upon the owner to furnish it to him. The owner did him a kindness, by giving him a simple knowledge of the idea, without any other right. These are sufficient reasons why, after the idea is made known to him, lie should claim no further rights in it, than the owner intended to convey to him. They are also sufficient reasons [*48] why the law should, if it be possible , give such a construction, and only such a construction, to the act making known the idea, as the owner intended.

         But since the act of making an idea known , necessarily involves the giving possession of it, the law must, perhaps, necessarily regard it as giving possession of it. If so, the owner, when he makes an idea known , must take all the consequences that necessarily follow from giving possession of it. We have seen what those consequences are, to wit. Where the idea has a merely trivial market value, the presumption clearly is, that the owner intends to part with his exclusive right of property in it. Where the idea has a large market value, the presumption clearly is, that he does not intend to part with his exclusive right of property in it. But where the market value of the idea is neither very important, nor really unimportant, no very strong presumption either way can arise from the simple fact of giving possession; and the owner's intention will be open to he determined by other circumstances.

          But there are very weighty reasons of policy, as well as of justice, why the fact, that a man makes known an idea, or gives possession of it, should, in no case, where his intentions are at all doubtful, be construed unfavorably to his retaining his right of property in it; and why the rule should at least be as stringent, in favor of the owner, in the case of ideas, as in the case of material commodities of the same market value. These reasons are as follows.

         First. Because it is manifestly contrary to reason and justice to presume that a man intends any thing, adverse to his own rights are his own interests, where no cause is shown for his doing so. This reason is as strong in the case of an idea, as in the case of a material commodity.

         Secondly. Because men will be thereby discouraged from producing valuable ideas; from making them known; from offering them for sale; and from thereby enabling mankind to purchase, and have the benefit of them, The law should as much [*49] encourage men to produce and make known valuable ideas, and offer them for sale, as it does to produce and make known valuable material commodities, and offer them for sale. It should therefore as much protect a man's right of property in a valuable idea, after he has produced it, and made it known to the public, mind offered it for sale, as it should his right of property in a valuable material commodity, after he has produced it, and advertised it to the public. It would be no more absurd or atrocious, in policy, or in law, to deprive a man of his right of property in a valuable material commodity, as a penalty for exhibiting or offering that commodity to the public, than it is to deprive a man of his right of property in a valuable idea, as a penalty for bringing that idea to the knowledge of the public. If men cannot be protected in bringing their valuable ideas into the market, they will either not produce them, or will keep them concealed as far as possible, and strive to realize some profit by using them as far as they can, in private. In short, they will do just as men would do with their material commodities, if they were not protected in making them known to the public- that is, either not produce them, or keep them concealed, and use them in private, instead of offering them for sale to those who would purchase and use them, for their own benefit, and the benefit of the public. The law cannot compel men to produce valuable ideas, and disclose them to the world; it can only induce them to do it. And it can induce them to do it, only by protecting their right of property in them, or by making some other compensation for them.

         Thirdly. The law ought not only to encourage mankind to trade with each other, but it ought to encourage them to trade honestly, intelligently, and therefore beneficially; and not knavishly, blindly, or injuriously. It ought, therefore, to encourage them to exhibit their commodities, and make known their true qualities in the fullest manner, to those who propose to become purchasers. If, therefore, a man have an idea to sell, he should be encouraged to make its true character and value fully known to the intended purchaser. But this time can do only by putting [*50] the idea into the possession of the proposed purchaser. This act, then, which the interests of the proposed purchaser require, and which the owner consents to for the satisfaction, safety, and benefit of the proposed purchaser, certainly ought not to be construed against the rights of the owner; any more than the fact, that the owner of any material commodity gives it into the hands of a proposed purchaser, in order that the latter may inspect it, and judge whether it be for his interest to purchase it, ought to be construed unfavorably to the rights of the owner.

         No law could be more absurd in itself, or hardly more fatal to honesty in trade, or even more destructive to trade itself than a law, that should forbid the owner of a commodity to exhibit it, submit it freely to inspection, or even give it into the possession of a proposed purchaser, for examination and trial, except under penalty of thereby forfeiting his right of property in it. Commercial society could not exist a moment under such a principle. In fact, neither civil, social, nor commercial society could exist under it. And the principle is just as absurd, fatal, and destructive, when applied to ideas, as it would be if applied to material commodities.

         In the traffic in material commodities, the law encourages honesty, confidence, disclosure, examination, inspection, and intelligence, by protecting the rights of the true owner, even though he surrender the commodity into the exclusive possession of a man, who proposes to purchase it. This is more than is ever necessary in the case of an idea; for there the owner always retains an equal possession , with the individual to whom he communicates the idea. How absurd and inconsistent, then, is it to say that the owner of the idea, loses his right of property in it, by allowing another simply to participate with himself self in its possession, while the owner of a material commodity retains his right of property, notwithstanding he surrender to another the exclusive possession.

         If the owner of a house admit a person into his house, either on business, or as a friend, or for inspection as a proposed purchaser [*51]  he thereby as much admits such person to an equal possession with himself of the house, as the owner of an idea, admits a man to an equal possession of it, when he admits a friend, neighbor, or proposed purchaser, to a knowledge of that idea. And there is as much foundation, in justice, and in reason, for saying that the owner of the house thereby loses his exclusive right of property in his house, as there is for saying that the owner of the idea thereby loses his exclusive right of property in his idea.

         So also, if the owner of a farm admit a man upon his farm, in company with himself, for any purpose whatever, he as much admits such person to an equal possession of it, for the time being, as the owner of an idea admits a man to an equal possession with himself, when he admits such person to a knowledge of that idea. And there is as much foundation, in justice, and in reason, for saying that the owner of the farm thereby loses his exclusive right of property in his farm, as there is for saying that the owner of the idea thereby loses his right of property in his idea.

         It cannot be said that there is any want of analogy between these cases of the house and the farm, on the one hand, and of the idea on the other, for the reason that, in the cases of the house and the farm, the joint possession is temporary, but that, in the case of the idea, the joint possession is necessarily perpetual- (inasmuch as a man cannot at will be dispossessed, or dispossess himself, of an idea, after he has once become possessed of it). This difference in the cases is wholly immaterial to the principle, for the reason that, if equal possession were to give equal right of property, it would give it on the first moment of possession; and the one, who should thus acquire an equal right of property, would have thenceforth as much right  to make his possession perpetual, as would the original owner.

        This conclusion is so obvious and inevitable, and would be so fatal to all rights of property, that where one man thus admits another upon his premises, the law does not even consider it a [*52] case of joint possession, for any legal purpose whatever, except to protect the person admitted from violence during, and on account of, such occupation as he has been voluntarily admitted to. But for any purposes of property, control, use, ownership, or dominion, against the will of the true owner, it is not, in law, a case even of joint possession. And if this be a sound principle, in the case of the house, or the farm- as it unquestionably is- and one indispensable to the co-existence of social life and the rights of property- it is an equally sound principle, when applied to an idea.

         On this principle, then, a person admitted, by its owner, to the knowledge or possession of an idea, without any intention, on the part of the owner, to part with any right of property in it, is not entitled even to be considered a joint possessor of the idea, for any legal purpose whatever, beyond the intention of the owner, except for the simple purpose of giving him a lawful protection from violence during, and on account of, such a possession as the owner has voluntarily admitted him to. For any of the purposes of property, control, use, or dominion, against the will of the true owner, he is no more in the legal possession of the idea, than, in the cases before supposed, the man admitted by the owner into a house, or upon a farm, is in legal possession of such house or farm.

         In short, the general principle of law is, that where one man intrusts his property in another man's possession, the latter has no right  whatever to use it, otherwise than as the owner consents that he may use it. Not being the owner of it, he can exercise no kind of dominion over it, except such as the owner has given him permission to exercise. If he do use it, without the owner's permission, and any inconvenience be occasioned to the owner thereby, or the property come to any harm in consequence, he becomes legally liable to pay the damages. Or if he use the property for purposes of profit, without the owner's permission, the profits belong to the owner of the property, and not to the one having possession of it.[*53]

         These are the general principles of the law of nature in regard to property intrusted by one man to the keeping of another. And they are as applicable to incorporeal property- ideas, for example- as they are to corporeal property.

         The only exception to these principles, that is of sufficient importance to be noticed here, is where the keeping of another's property is attended with expense, as a horse, for example, which must be fed. In such a case, if the owner have made no provision for the support of the horse, the man having possession of him may use him enough to pay for his keep. But the principle of this exception would not apply at all to intellectual property-an idea, for example- which one man had intrusted to another; because the keeping of it would be attended with no expense. The man having it in his possession, therefore, would have no right  to use it, without the owner's consent.

         The conclusion, therefore, is, that when one man communicates a valuable idea to another, without any intention of parting with his exclusive right of property in it, the latter receives a simple knowledge, or naked possession, of the idea, without any right of property, use, control, or dominion whatever, beyond what the true owner intended he should have.

          To conclude the argument on this point. There is one monstrous inconsistency, or more properly one monstrous absurdity, in the laws, as at present administered , relative to intellectual property. It is this- that unknown ideas are legitimate object of property and sale; but that known ideas are not.

         Thus the law, as now administered, holds, that if a man can makes a contract, for the sale of his ideas, without first making them known, or enabling the purchaser to judge of their value, or of their adaptation to his use, they are a sufficient consideration for the contract, and consequently legitimate objects of property and sale; and the contract is binding upon the purchaser; and the seller, upon the delivery of the ideas, can compel the payment of the price agreed upon for them. But if he first make his ideas known, so as to enable the proposed purchaser to see what [*54] he is buying, and judge of their value, and their adaptation to his uses, they are no longer legitimate objects of property or sale; are an insufficient consideration for a contract; and the owner thereby loses his power of making any binding contract for the sale of them; and loses his exclusive property in them altogether.

          Thus the principle of the law, as now administered, clearly is, that if a man buy ideas, without any knowledge of them, he is bound to pay for them. But if he buy them, after full inspection, and proof of their value, he is not bound to pay for them. They are then no longer merchandise. In short, the principle acted upon is, that unknown ideas are objects of property and sale; but known ideas are not.

         To illustrate. If a man contract with the publisher of a newspaper, to furnish him a sheet of ideas, daily or weekly, for a year, for a given sum- the ideas themselves being of course unknown at the time of the contract, and their intrinsic value being necessarily taken on trust- such ideas are legal objects of property and sale, and a sufficient consideration, for the contract; and the contract is therefore binding upon the purchaser, even though the ideas, when they come to be delivered, should prove not to be worth hail the price agreed upon. So, too, if a man contract with a lawyer to furnish him legal ideas; or with a preacher to furnish him religious ideas; or with a physician to furnish him medical ideas - the ideas themselves being unknown at the time of the contract, and their value therefore necessarily taken on trust- such ideas are a sufficient consideration for a contract; and consequently legitimate objects of property and sale; and must be paid for, on delivery, even though they should prove to be not half so valuable as the purchaser had anticipated they would be. But if a man have a mechanical idea to sell, and for the satisfaction of the proposed purchaser, exhibit it to him, and demonstrate its value, and its adaptation to his purposes, before asking him to purchase it, the law, as now administered, holds that it is no longer the exclusive property of the original [*55] owner; no longer an object of sale between these parties; but has already become the joint property of both, without any consideration for it having passed between them.

          Now, it is plain that this principle is as false in policy, as false in ethics, and as false in reason, as would be the same principle, if applied to corporeal commodities- making them lawful objects of property and sale, provided contracts for them be entered into before the purchaser sees them, or knows what they are; but no longer objects of property or sale, after those, who wish to purchase and use them, shall have inspected them, and become satisfied of their value, and adaptation to their purposes.

         It cannot be said that there is a difference between the two classes of cases- that in the case of the lawyer, the preacher, and the physician, they sell not their ideas, but the labor of producing them, and of making them known, or delivering them; whereas in the case of the inventor, he seeks to sell, not the labor of producing, or making known, or delivering his idea, (for that labor has already been performed on his own responsibility,) but the idea itself. This cannot consistently be said, because it is really the idea only that is paid for, or for which pay is claimed in either case. The labor, neither of producing, nor of making known, or delivering ideas, has any intrinsic value, independently of its products- that is, independently of the ideas produced, made known, or delivered, by it. We pay for labor, whether intellectual or physical, only for the sake of its products. We do indeed call it paying for labor, instead of paying for its products. And, in one sense, we do pay for the labor, rather than for its products; because we pay for the labor, taking our risk whether its products will be of any value. Yet, in reality, it is only the products of the labor, that we have in view, when we buy the labor. No one buys labor for its own sake; nor for any other reason than that he may thereby become the owner of its products. By buying the labor, one makes himself the owner of its products; and this is the whole object of buying the labor itself. The difference, therefore, between buying labor, and buying [*56] the products of labor, is a difference of form merely, and not of substance. The products of labor are all that make labor of any value, and all that are really had in view when the labor is purchased.

          This difference in the two cases- that is, between selling ideas themselves, and selling the labor of producing, and making known, or delivering, ideas- is immaterial for still another reason, viz.: that it would be absurd to say that the intellectual labor of producing ideas, or the physical labor .of speaking, printing, or otherwise delivering them, was a legitimate object of property or sale, unless the ideas themselves, thus produced and delivered, were also legitimate objects of property and sale. To say this would be as absurd as to say that the labor of producing or delivering corporeal commodities, was a proper object of property and sale; but that those commodities themselves were not proper objects of property or sale.

         To be consistent, therefore, the law should' either hold, that the labor of producing, and making known, or delivering, ideas, is not an object of property and sale; or else it should hold that the ideas themselves are objects of property and sale.

         The object of buying known ideas, and of buying the labor that produces, and makes known, or delivers unknown ideas, is the same, viz.: to get ideas for use. And to say that an idea is not as legitimate an object of property and sale, as is the labor of producing or delivering it, is just as absurd as it would be to say that wheat is not itself a legitimate object of property or sale, but that the labor of producing and delivering wheat is a legitimate object of property and sale.

          All intellectual labor, therefore, that is employed in producing ideas, and all physical labor, (including manuscript writing, and printing, as well as speaking,) that is employed in making known ideas, should be held to be no subjects of property or sale, and no sufficient considerations for a contract; or else all the ideas produced by intellectual labor, or delivered or made known by physical labor, should also be held to be legitimate subjects of [*57] property and sale, and sufficient considerations for contracts. And if they are legitimate subjects of property and sale, and sufficient considerations for contracts, before they are made known to a proposed purchaser, and before he can see what they are, or judge of their value, or of their adaptation to his use, it is absurd and inconsistent to say that they are not at least equally legitimate subjects of property and sale, and quite as valid considerations for contracts, after they have been made known to a proposed purchaser, and he has examined them, seen what they are, and ascertained their value, and their adaptation to his use.

         The argument of possession is of no force against this view of the case, because, as we have seen, the possession given, is simply the knowledge, or naked possession, of the idea, without any right of use, property, contract, or dominion, beyond what the true owner intended to convey, when he made the idea known.

SECTION III.

Objection Third.

         A third objection, that has been urged against a right of property in ideas, any longer than they remain in the exclusive possession of the originator, is, that ideas are of the nature of wild animals, which, being once let loose, fly beyond the control of man; thus interposing an obstacle, in a law of their own nature, to the maintenance of any dominion over them, after they have once been liberated.

        This objection is utterly fanciful and unfounded. The resemblance between a flying thought, and a flying bird, may be sufficiently striking for purposes of poetry and metaphor, but has none of the elements of a legal analogy. A thought never flies. It goes only as it is carried by man. It never escapes beyond the power of men; but is always wholly under their control; having no existence, nor habitation, except in their minds. [*58]

         Renouard, in his argument against the right of property ii ideas, asks, "Who can doubt that thought, by its own essence, escapes exclusive appropriation?" <fn4> I answer the question by asking, Who can pretend, for an instant, that thought does, "by its own essence," or by any law of its own nature, escape exclusive appropriation ?  Nothing is, by its own essence and nature, more perfectly susceptible of exclusive appropriation; than a thought. It originates in the mind of a single individual. It can leave his mind only in obedience to his will. It dies with him, if he so elect. And, as matter of fact, doubtless ninety-nine out of every hundred of every man's thoughts do really die with him, without having ever been in the possession of any other than his single mind.

         When a thought does go beyond the mind of its original possessor, it goes only to such minds as he wills to have it go to. And it can then leave their minds only in obedience to their wills; and can go only to such minds as they choose to deposit it with.

         A thought, then, never, "by its own essence," or by any law of its own nature, goes out of the exclusive possession of the mind that originated it. It never "escapes" from the custody, either of its first owner, or of any subsequent owner or possessor. If it be regarded as a living creature, it is no wild animal; but one thoroughly domesticated; neither capable of going, by its own powers, nor ever seeking to go, beyond the limits assigned for its habitation.

         Is not a thought, then, "by its own essence" and nature, a subject of "exclusive appropriation?" Nothing is more self-evident than that it is. Neither wood nor stone is more susceptible of "exclusive appropriation," than a thought. And if it be susceptible of exclusive appropriation, it is a legitimate subject of property. [*59]

         This conclusion is not impaired at all by the fact, that, if the owner of an idea do but once give it into the possession of another person, it is then liable and likely, not to go of itself, but to be carried, to millions of minds. The owner understands all this when lie makes his thought known; and in many, perhaps most, cases desires and intends it- knowing that no right of property or use will go with the idea; but that the more extensive the knowledge or possession of it, the more numerous will be those, who will come to him to buy the idea itself, or the right of using it.

         But perhaps it will be said that an idea, once disclosed, though in confidence, to a single individual, may be given by him, against the will of the true owner, into the possession of mankind at large. This is true, but it can only be done wrongfully; and then no right of property or use goes with the idea, unless in the case of what the law calls an innocent purchaser for value. And the wrong-doer is responsible for the wrong, if any injury accrue to the owner in consequence of it. The principle is precisely the same as in the case of a corporeal commodity, intrusted by its owner to the keeping of another. If the person thus intrusted, prove false to his trust, and deliver the commodity over to a third person, against the will of the owner, no right of property goes with it, (unless to an innocent purchaser for value,) and the wrong-doer is responsible for his wrong, if the owner of the commodity sustain any loss in consequence. And this principle is just as sound, when applied to an idea, as when applied to a corporeal commodity.

SECTION IV.

Objection Fourth.

         It is said that ideas have no ear-marks, by which their ownership may be known. And hence it has best inferred that ideas cannot be subjects of ownership; though it would doubtless [*60] puzzle any one to show any connexion between the premises and the conclusion.

         This objection is as frivolous as the others; for neither has corporeal property usually, if ever, any ear-marks by which the world at large can know who is the owner. Nevertheless, when mankind see corporeal wealth, as a horse, a house, or a farm, for example, which bears evidence of human labor, and which has too much market value to justify the idea that the owner would voluntarily abandon it, they infer that it has an owner, though he may be at the time unknown to them. So it should be with an idea. When a man has communicated to him an idea, or a device, that he never knew before,- as that of a steam engine, for example- or any other that has such market value, that he cannot reasonably suppose the owner would gratuitously part with his right of property in it, he ought, as a rational man, to infer that it has an owner, though- it have no proprietary mark, by which its owner can be known to a stranger. On the other hand, if the idea be one that has so little market value, that the author would not be likely to make it an article of merchandise, or to set any value upon it as an exclusive property, he may reasonably infer that it is free to any one who chooses to use it.

         If it be said that an idea has no mark, by which its own producer or proprietor can know it, the objection is unfounded; since a man does know his own ideas, as well as he knows either the faces of his children, the animals he has reared, or the house he has built. In this respect ideas have the advantage over very many kinds of corporeal commodities. For example, a man cannot distinguish his own piece of coin, from the hundreds of thousands of others stamped in the same mould. Neither can a man often, if ever, identify his own wheat, oats, or other grain, by a simple inspection of the grain itself. He can identify it only by circumstances. And it is the same with a very great variety of corporeal commodities.

         If it be said that, for want of ear-marks, the producer of an idea cannot establish his authorship of it, to the satisfaction of [*61] the legal tribunals, the answer is, that, notwithstanding the want of ear-marks, that very thing is now done every day; partly by means of records, where men sometimes register their ideas, and thus make the evidence, before making the ideas known to the world; and partly by a great variety of other evidence, which such cases generally admit of.

         If, however, either from the nature of ideas, or any other cause, a man fail to identify an idea as his, to the satisfaction of the tribunal that tries the question, he must lose his right of property in it; the same as men must do, when they lack evidence to establish their right  to corporeal commodities, which are really theirs. But because a man may sometimes, for want of evidence, fail to identify an idea as his, when it really is his, that is no reason why he should not hold his property in, all those ideas, which he can prove, to the satisfaction of the legal tribunals, to be his. In short, the same rules, on this point, are applicable to ideas, that are applicable to corporeal commodities.

SECTION V.

Objection Fifth.

         A fifth objection, that is urged to a man's having a right of property in his inventions, is, that the course of events, and the general progress of knowledge, science, and art, suggest, point to, contribute to, and aid the production of, certain inventions; and that it would therefore be wrong to give to a man an exclusive and perpetual property, in a device, or idea, which is not the unaided production of his own powers; but which so many circumstances, external to himself, have contributed and aided to bring forth.

         This objection is as short-sighted as the others. If sound, it would apply as strongly against the right of property in material, [*62] as in intellectual wealth. But has a man no right of property in the gold he finds and gathers in California, because the course of events pointed him thither ? and the general progress of knowledge, science, and art supplied railroads and steamboats to carry him there and tools to work with after he arrived? As well might this be said, as to say that a man should have no property in his idea, because the course of events, and the progress of knowledge, pointed him to it, and enabled him to reach it.

          The course of events, and the general progress of knowledge, science, and art, as used in this objection, have no other meaning than this- They mean simply all the various kinds of knowledge that have come down to us from the past- (including in the past, not merely the ancient time, but all past the up to the present moment).

          The sum of this argument, therefore, is, that authors and inventors have the benefit of all the knowledge that has come down to us, to aid them in producing their own writings and discoveries; and therefore they should have no right of property in their writings and discoveries.

          If this objection be sound, against the rights of authors and inventors to their intellectual productions, then it will follow that other men have no right of property in any of those corporeal, things, which the knowledge, that has come down to us, has enabled them to produce, or acquire. The argument 'is clearly as applicable to this case as the other.

         It is no doubt true, that the course of events, and the general progress of knowledge, science, and art, do suggest, point to, contribute to, and aid the productions of many, possibly all, inventions. But it is equally true that the course of events, and the general progress of knowledge, science, and art, suggest, point to, contribute to, and aid the production and acquisition of, all kinds of corporeal property. But that is no reason why corporeal things should not be the property of those, who have produced or acquired them. Yet the argument is equally strong against the right of property in corporeal things, as in intellectual [*63] productions. If, because authors and inventors, in producing their writings and discoveries, bad the advantage of the course of events, and the general progress of knowledge, in their favor, they are to be denied the right of property in the fruits of their labors, then every other man, who has the course of events, and the progress of knowledge, science, and art in his favor, (and what man has not?) should, on the same principle, be denied all ownership of the fruits of his labor- whether those fruits be the agricultural wealth he has produced, by the aid of the ploughs, and hoes, and chains, and harrows, and shovels, which had been invented, and the agricultural knowledge which had been acquired, before his time; or whether they be the houses or ships he has built, through the aid of the axes, and saws, and planes, and hammers, which had been devised, and the mechanical knowledge and skill that had been acquired, before he was born.

         But has the farmer no right of property in his crops, because in producing them, he availed himself of all the agricultural implements, and agricultural knowledge, which other men had devised, and left for his use? Has a man no right of property in his house, or his ship, because, in building it, he availed himself of all the axes, and wheels, and saws, and planning machines, which other men had invented? Have the manufacturers of cloths no right of property in their fabrics, because, in the manufacture of them, they use all the looms, and spindles, and other machinery, which were invented and furnished to their hands by others? Has the printer no right of property in his books or newspapers, because, in producing them, he had the aid of the arts of paper making, the inventions of letters, of types, and of printing presses? Or because the public demand for books and papers, the course of events, and the progress of knowledge, suggested, pointed to, and enabled him to command capital for, the production of such articles as ho manufactures?

         The course of events and the progress of knowledge, science, and art- in other words, all the various kinds of knowledge that have come down to us- are mere tools, which the past has put [*64] into the hands of the present, for doing the work that is now to be done. These tools, so far as they are now common property, are free to all; and each one avails himself of such as he finds best adapted to the work be has in hand; whether that work be the growing of agricultural products, the building of houses or ships, the manufacture of clothing, the printing of books, or the invention of steam engines, or electric telegraphs. And no one, of the present day, can be justly denied his right of property in the fruits of his labor, because, in producing them, he used any or all these tools which the past has supplied for the benefit of those who are now alive. The dead have no right of property in either the intellectual or material things they have left to the living; yet they only could have the right to object to the use of 'what once was theirs. The living all stand on the same level, in regard to their right  to use these now common tools, for the production of wealth. And their individual rights, to the products of their labor, are not at all effected by their use of these tools.

 

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