David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
The Monist 93 (3):450-463 (2010)
Philosophical reflection on intellectual property (IP) is still very young. Whilst much has been written by lawyers on intellectual property, the vast majority of this writing is philosophically unsophisticated. This paper aims to at least partially remedy this philosophical deficit by examining what reflection on the ontology of intellectual property can add to our understanding of how to regulate IP. I argue that ontological reflection should bring us to an important basic fact, namely that ownership of intellectual property involves the ownership of types rather than tokens. This difference in the ontological status of the objects owned makes a normative difference to how we should regulate ownership of intellectual property as compared to tangible property. The argument falls into three main parts. I begin by arguing that the type-token distinction is the best way to account for the ontology of intellectual property. I next argue that the realisation that we are dealing with ownership of types rather than tokens has important normative implications. In particular some of the standard arguments in favour of private ownership of physical property simply do not apply in the case of ownership of types, whilst some other arguments apply only in an attenuated way. The next section examines the limitations of ontology as a guide to the regulation of IP. I argue that whilst thinking through the normative implications of the type-token distinction is a necessary 1 condition for a sound regulatory approach to IP, it is certainly not sufficient. This is because many of the specific questions about the regulation of intellectual property that matter most in practice—such as how long the patent term should be, or how much someone should be able to quote from a book and it count as fair use—are not answerable by ontological reflection. Such questions concern the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits involved in the construction of public goods, rather than questions of ontology..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Darryl J. Murphy (2012). Are Intellectual Property Rights Compatible with Rawlsian Principles of Justice? Ethics and Information Technology 14 (2):109-121.
Hans Radder (2013). Exploring Philosophical Issues in the Patenting of Scientific and Technological Inventions. Philosophy and Technology 26 (3):283-300.
Similar books and articles
Paul Steidlmeier (1993). The Moral Legitimacy of Intellectual Property Claims: American Business and Developing Country Perspectives. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 12 (2):157 - 164.
Jeremy Waldron (1990). The Right to Private Property. Clarendon Press.
Lisa Geller (2010). Data Management in Academic Settings: An Intellectual Property Perspective. Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (4):769-775.
Tomas A. Lipinski & Johannes Britz (2000). Rethinking the Ownership of Information in the 21st Century: Ethical Implications. [REVIEW] Ethics and Information Technology 2 (1):49-71.
Betty Yung (2009). Reflecting on the Common Discourse on Piracy and Intellectual Property Rights: A Divergent Perspective. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 87 (1):45 - 57.
Hugh Breakey (2010). Natural Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Domain. Modern Law Review 73 (2):208-239.
John Snapper (1991). The Uses and Justifications for the Regulation of Intellectual Property. Social Epistemology 5 (1):78 – 87.
D. B. Resnik (2003). A Pluralistic Account of Intellectual Property. Journal of Business Ethics 46 (4):319 - 335.
James Wilson (2009). Could There Be a Right to Own Intellectual Property? Law and Philosophy 28 (4):393 - 427.
Added to index2009-10-28
Total downloads47 ( #29,491 of 1,089,063 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #42,757 of 1,089,063 )
How can I increase my downloads?