'chrismcb', you wrote, "Note that it also refers to Authors and Inventors, it doesn't refer to people or corporations or groups, or anything. Just 'Author' and 'Inventor.' "
But the Constitution starts out with "We the People..."
I think that if we continue down the road of imputing personhood to every kind of grouping of persons, then we are in big trouble; and I think that if we continue down the road of conferring the rights that people have to every kind of grouping of persons, then we are in even bigger trouble.
A group of persons is not a person, just as a pack of wolves is not a wolf, a computer is not a transistor, and a brain is not a nerve cell. A group of persons has emergent properties that make is substantially different from an individual person. A person has a conscience, but large a group of thousands of persons does not. A person can put their own self interest aside and think of the greater good, but it is very unusual for a group to do that. If one were to anthropomorphize a group of persons, the group could usually be characterized as selfish and unfeeling - the characteristics of a sociopath.
Do we want the protections of the Constitution to automatically extend to such things, without some careful consideration?
Nowhere in the US Constitution does it equate protections of rights pertaining to intellectual works as "property".
The term "property" implies that it can be sold, that it can be inherited, that it can be owned - and owned by non-persons at that. Nowhere does the Constitution say these things, nor does it even use the term "property" in this context.
Rather, it says that Congress shall have the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." And that is all it says on the matter.
Note that it says "Authors and Inventors". It does not say businesses: if it had meant to include businesses, it would have said so, but the Constitution starts out with "We the People", and it is about the rights of people and the powers and limitations of government over those people (much less corporations or unions, which are not people: a group of persons is not a person any more than a human body is a cell). And note that the Constitution uses the term "exclusive Right": it does not use the term "property". A right is akin to a lease. It is not ownership of the object in question. Thus, in the term "intellectual property", the "property" is merely a lease of sorts granted to Authors and Inventors (people) - for a limited time. That does not automatically imply inheritance to me, nor does it automatically imply that it can be bought and sold as we assume that property can: those are extrapolations of the "rights" intended and we should question those extrapolations and not take them for granted: do they actually promote science and the useful arts? I therefore think that the term "intellectual property" implies extrapolations that might not have been intended.
Copyright and patent law (these terms are also not in the Constitution) have made huge leaps beyond what the Constitution intended. That is why we are off track.
BeanThere wrote, "But what you are referring to, let's be open about it, is using financial clout to purchase politicians."
Yes, that is the central problem with our system. The role of money in elections. It is too easy to influence politicians. Before every election they have $1000 plate dinners and one by one contributors tell the candidates what they want in return for their donation. It is a horrible system. Elections should be about votes, not about donations. Volunteers should go door to door, rather than all the campaign advertising in the media. There really needs to be a way to stop the advertising but I don't know a way, especially since the Supreme Court equated paid advertising by an organization as "free speech". (That case was a couple of decades back.)
BeanThere wrote, "Wow - you've never really been a shareholder or member of any real organization, have you? You'd know that the moment you have more than one person, you already start having disagreements."
I have. I was on the board of the company that I founded some years back. But I understand your point. You are right that shareholders debate and don't agree on the mission. But my point was that it is not one person one vote. The more stock you have, the more votes you have. Thus, a corporation is dominated by the largest shareholders, with a single-minded mission to make money. Corporations take on a life of their own in that they have a strong tendency to act in any way available to further their goals, irrespective of considerations for the greater good or anyone else. Just as a mob has "mob behavior", a corporation (or a union or non-profit) has emergent behavior.
You wrote, "Its one reason the was a debate on whether or not corporation should be allowed."
Really? That's fascinating. I did not know that. Can you point to a reference to this? Is it in some of the Federalist Papers?