Lincoln, Labor and Intellectual Property Rights
Today’s digital technologies have made the task of protecting intellectual property more difficult, but no less important. Labor Day is a good time to recall Lincoln’s commitment to what he called “free labor.” Lincoln was a strong defender of intellectual property rights. Indeed, he was a patent holder. And, as a lawyer, he was involved in at least five patent cases. Importantly, Lincoln connected IP rights to a person’s natural right to the fruits of his or her own labor. “I always thought that the man who made the corn should eat the corn,” Abraham Lincoln once quipped. It is useful to recall the way Lincoln connected protection of intellectual property rights to an individual’s natural right to enjoy the fruits of his or her labor.