Change the Frame

Summary:George Lakoff, a linguistics professor with the University of California at Berkeley, teaches that the way to win an argument is to control how the argument is described.The note on Microsoft below reminds me of a very important verbal frame through which open source is losing the argument.

George Lakoff, a linguistics professor with the University of California at Berkeley, teaches that the way to win an argument is to control how the argument is described.

The note on Microsoft below reminds me of a very important verbal frame through which open source is losing the argument.

The frame is: intellectual property.

Lawyers who argue in court for expanded copyright, for eternal terms and total control, all call themselves "intellectual property" lawyers.

There is no such thing. A copyright is not a piece of land. Like a patent, it's a limited right, granted for a limited term, with a limited purpose -- to encourage the creation of more stuff.

By using the term "intellectual property" as Microsoft does, any alleged copyright infringement becomes the taking of property.

This is a frame open source advocates need to change. Actually they need to change it back. Because before the 1997 DMCA these lawyers were "copyright lawyers," or "patent lawyers."

Language has power. Open source advocates need to recognize this power, respect this power, and use it.

Topics: Legal

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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