Lessig Blog takes a good look at the dispute between John McCain and Fox News.

When in April we launched the campaign to get the candidates and political parties to require that any network televising a presidential debate do so freely, a friend wrote, “Oh come on. Do you really think a network is going to threaten a presidential candidate over a copyright claim?” I did, though I confess I thought it was more likely a network would be the cat’s paw for another candidate. The Fox network has now proven me wrong.

Lessig is always worth reading; this piece is no exception. To me, the critical point here is, how did we let the notion of intellectual “property” invade our consciousness to such an extent that a presidential candidate must specifically reserve the contractual right to re-broadcast images of himself at a debate? How does it seem normal and ordinary to us that a network should have total control over the republication of a critical part of the quintessential public debate?

In American history, the norm was for intellectual “property” not be protected; the norm was for the market of ideas to be protected and made as free as possible. Our property-based view of ideas didn’t really start until the 1920s, and to this day has never been fully justified by any legal or economic analysis.