0011011 [ESC]ape

27 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2015 Last revised: 17 Aug 2015

See all articles by Joshua Fairfield

Joshua Fairfield

Washington and Lee University - School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2015


The Internet of Things is here, but it is not under control.

We don't own or control our smartphones, tablets, or consoles. Data-hungry companies do. In two years, you won't own your smart television. In five years, you won't truly control your self-driving car. In ten, you won’t control your networked house. To escape, we must re-establish digital ownership at the most basic level. What you own, you must control. We have to hit [escape].

The virtues of ownership — independence, simplicity, privacy, modularity, wealth-building, and self-determination — will be necessary to escape the control companies assert over our property through intellectual property licenses. [ESC]ape will explore the social and technological developments that have driven the erosion of property rights in the digital context, and how the digital context increasingly defines physical reality. It will survey legal responses to technological progress and argue that these developments have led to a situation in which citizens do not meaningfully own or control their own property. It will explore the ramifications of the current state of property rights in digital objects and smart property, specifically with regard to rights of privacy, autonomy, and governance. The proposed solution will be to assert digital ownership. The piece will argue that developments in crypto-technology can, for the first time, make true digital ownership possible, and that this solution can allow individuals to enjoy the full positive promise of the Internet of Things while minimizing its negative consequences.

Keywords: Internet of Things, property, intellectual property, contract, license, software, smartphone, bitcoin, cryptocurrency

JEL Classification: D23, K11, K12, O33, O34

Suggested Citation

Fairfield, Joshua, 0011011 [ESC]ape (February 1, 2015). TPRC 43: The 43rd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2588181

Joshua Fairfield (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )

Lexington, VA 24450
United States

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