Intellectual Property and the Concept of Dematerialised Property

MODERN STUDIES IN PROPERTY LAW, Vol. 6, S. Bright, ed., Hart Publishing, 2011

22 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2011

See all articles by Andreas Rahmatian

Andreas Rahmatian

University of Glasgow - School of Law

Date Written: May 31, 2011


A property right (ius in rem, real right) is an abstract legal concept which relates to an object, referred to as “thing” or “res,” or imprecisely, but commonly, “property.” This object of property is a product of legal categorisation; it may be represented by a physical thing or it can be an abstract legal creation itself, as is the case with an intellectual property right. In any event, for the law the “property-object” (whether tangible, intangible or purely intangible) is the product of a legal conceptualisation. The law (private law) creates any res or thing, whether corporeal or not, through the legal concept of real rights. That enables legal recognition of the res in question. The material object (if there is one) only becomes a res in law if real rights are attached to it. Therefore, real rights and res are both “property”, and particularly with (purely intangible) intellectual property, property rights and property objects merge into one. The abstract conceptual res typically has a reifier to make it recognisable in the material world and for the purpose of social interactions. This reifier can be a corporeal object, in which case it is a direct reifier (a table being a direct reifier and incident of a res, chattel), but, for example in case of copyright, a chattel may act not only as direct reifier of the notional personal (moveable) property right (e.g. a canvas of a painting, the score of a symphony, the paper of a manuscript), but also as an indirect reifier of the notional copyright (artistic work, musical work, literary work). The chattel in question represents directly the personal/moveable property (but does not constitute it, because the res remains a legal concept), and, in addition, the chattel represents indirectly the copyright in the work which is expressed and recorded in the chattel in question (a painting, sculpture etc.).

Keywords: Property Law, Property Theory, Intellectual Property, Dematerialised Property, Tangible Property

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Rahmatian, Andreas, Intellectual Property and the Concept of Dematerialised Property (May 31, 2011). MODERN STUDIES IN PROPERTY LAW, Vol. 6, S. Bright, ed., Hart Publishing, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Andreas Rahmatian (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow - School of Law ( email )

School of Law, Stair Building
5-8 The Square
Glasgow, G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

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