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Free State: Intellectual Property Protection is 'Natural'

Free State Foundation has just published "The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property," a book that argues that intellectual property rights--specifically copyrights and patents, and including digital rights--are "grounded in the natural rights of authors and inventors."

The book, written by the Foundation's president, Randolph May, and senior fellow, Seth Cooper, espouses the "foundational" premises that "That each person has a natural right to enjoy the fruits of his or her own labors, including intellectual labors; and (2) That [it] is a primary purpose of civil government to protect this natural right through laws that protect private property."

The book leans on everyone from John Locke to James Madison and Noah Webster to argue that among the "natural rights of man, and woman, is the fruits of their intellectual property labors.

One of the challenges in the digital age is to convince the a new generation that digital content is a property with a right inhering in the creators, and not that there is somehow some natural right to free access to that content.  

The book is an effort to do some educating. "over the past number of years, it became increasingly clear that a large number of people, including those who proclaim themselves supporters of property rights or even constitutionalists, do not believe that intellectual property is property at all," said May in introducing the book, "And that others don’t believe anything that appears online constitutes “property” that should be safeguarded."

The book is available on (

The foundation, a free market think tank, launched the book at an event at the National Press Club Monday (Oct. 26).