by Randolph J. May, Seth L. Cooper
Free State Foundation
May 08, 2014
Therefore, the proceedings of the First Congress inform our understanding of the underlying logic and significance of intellectual property (IP) rights in the American constitutional order. That the First Congress saw fit to include copyright and patent in its ambitious, historic legislative agenda suggests its members found intellectual property especially important to furthering the new nation’s economic, artistic, and technological progress. Passage of the Copyright and Patent Acts also indicates a consensus regarding the legitimacy and efficacy of a pro-IP rights policy—a consensus conspicuously absent when it came to Congressional deliberation on other matters. The U.S. Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 Intellectual Property Clause expressly and unmistakably conferred on Congress the power to protect IP rights. Importantly, the First Congress’s securing of copyrights and patents amidst all its other constitution-implementing business is indicative of IP’s consistency with the logic of American constitutionalism.