Rights, Privileges, and Access to Information

50 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2010

See all articles by Alina Ng

Alina Ng

Mississippi College School of Law

Date Written: June 14, 2010

Abstract

Protecting property rights in creative works represent a classic institutional approach to a specific economic problem of non-rivalness and non-excludability of information. By providing the copyright owner with an enforceable right against non-paying members of society, copyright laws encourage the production and dissemination of literary and artistic works to society for the purposes of learning. Implicit in the grant of property rights is the assumption that commercial incentives foster creative activity and productivity. In recent years, literary and artistic works have increasingly become the subject matter of exclusive property rights and control, particularly as new technologies emerge to provide users of creative works with greater access to informational goods. As a result of expanding property rights in literary and artistic works, society’s access to, and use of, information has, however, been severely restricted by increasing access costs despite the development of enabling technologies to facilitate greater access. This Article examines the general social claim to a right of access to information for the purposes of furthering the constitutional goals of promoting progress, and proposes that the question of access to information is a question of sustainable resource use that should not evoke the exclusionary rights of a strict property rule. The rights under copyright laws protect economic privileges in information and govern society’s use of informational resources. They do not provide copyright owners with a general right to exclude socially beneficial uses of informational works, are specifically tailored to increase social welfare, and must be distinguished from a property right to exclude others from use of a thing. Exclusionary property rights in creative works, arise, if at all, to protect an author’s creative integrity, validate the importance of authentic authorship, and provide personal and moral incentives for authors to produce creative works of social value. Property rights and economic privileges, this Article proposes, encourage the production of informational goods and are necessary to ensure the advancement of science and the useful arts in accordance with the Constitutional goals of the copyright system.

Keywords: Copyright, Property Theory, Legal Philosophy

JEL Classification: K00, K11, O34

Suggested Citation

Ng, Alina, Rights, Privileges, and Access to Information (June 14, 2010). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Forthcoming, Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1626217

Alina Ng (Contact Author)

Mississippi College School of Law ( email )

151, East Griffith Street,
Jackson, MS 39201
United States
(601) 925 7176 (Phone)
(601) 925 7113 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.mc.edu/faculty/profile_ng.html

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