Why Our Choice Of Language Prevents Us From Debating The Real Issues

from the choose-wisely dept

It’s important to remember (though, very easy to forget) that language choices are not neutral. You can explain the same thing in many different ways and lead people to very different conclusions. One area where that’s clear is in the current debate over “intellectual property,” where terms like “piracy” and “theft” get thrown around like facts – when they’re weight words. As Kevin Werbach points out, you can see this in the language the Justice Department is using to announce their “Intellectual Property Task Force.” Obviously, there are very important issues to be debated concerning how we deal with intellectual property. Instead of tackling those issues, however, this task force is being built to deal with the “destructive consequences of intellectual property theft.” That’s nice, if we’re sure there’s a real problem. There’s been plenty of evidence lately that perhaps we’ve gone too far in trying to protect intellectual property – and we shouldn’t be worrying so much about enforcing intellectual property laws, as we should be discussing how those laws need to be reformed. Of course, throwing people in jail is an easier to understand goal than looking at the real issues surrounding intellectual property law.

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