Faith-Based Intellectual Property

19 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015 Last revised: 23 Apr 2020

Date Written: March 30, 2015


The traditional justification for intellectual property (IP) rights has been utilitarian. We grant exclusive rights because we think the world will be a better place as a result. But what evidence we have doesn’t fully justify IP rights in their current strong form. Rather than following the evidence and questioning strong IP rights, more and more scholars have begun to retreat from evidence toward what I call faith-based IP, justifying IP as a moral end in itself rather than on the basis of how it affects the world. I argue that these moral claims are ultimately unpersuasive and a step backward in a rational society.

Suggested Citation

Lemley, Mark A., Faith-Based Intellectual Property (March 30, 2015). 62 UCLA L. REV. 1328 (2015), Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 2587297, Available at SSRN: or

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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