The future of intellectual property

This paper uses two recentworks as a springboard for discussing theproper contours of intellectual propertyprotection. Professor Lessig devotes much ofThe Future of Ideas to demonstrating howthe expanding scope of intellectual propertyprotection threatens the Internet as aninnovation commons. Similarly, ProfessorLitman''s message in Digital Copyright isthat copyright law is both too complicated andtoo restrictive. Both authors contend that asa result of overprotecting individual rights,creativity is stifled and the vitality of theintellectual commons is in jeopardy. It isdifficult to evaluate the claims and policyprescriptions of these books without someappreciation for the moral foundations ofintellectual property. The utility and labordesert theories remain the two most prominentin the Anglo-American tradition. Afterexploring those theories, we argue for a secureregime of protection based on the Lockeanvision that property rights are justly deservedas a reward for labor that creates value. However, as Locke''s famous proviso implies,even a natural property right is not absoluteand must be balanced by regard for the publicdomain. But a natural right cannot besacrificed simply to advance technologicalinnovation or to achieve marginal social andeconomic gains. While we agree with Lessig andLitman that recent legislation goes too far weconclude the essay by attempting to illustratethat some of their policy recommendations errin the opposite direction by underprotectingvalid property rights.
Keywords authorship  business method patent  copyright  Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA)  Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)  enclosure  hyperlink  intellectual commons  intellectual property rights  Internet  labor-desert theory  Locke  Napster  natural law  open source code  patents  public domain  utilitarianism
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DOI 10.1023/A:1024976203396
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U. Pagallo (2010). Ethics Among Peers: File Sharing on the Internet Between Openness and Precaution. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 8 (2):136-149.

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