Natural Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Domain

Breakey, Hugh. 2010. ‘Natural Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Domain’, The Modern Law Review, 73: 208-39.

59 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2016

Date Written: January 1, 2010

Abstract

No natural rights theory justifies strong intellectual property rights. More specifically, no theory within the entire domain of natural rights thinking – encompassing classical liberalism, libertarianism and left-libertarianism, in all their innumerable variants – coherently supports strengthening current intellectual property rights. Despite their many important differences, all these natural rights theories endorse some set of members of a common family of basic ethical precepts. These commitments include non-interference, fairness, non-worsening, consistency, universalisability, prior consent, self-ownership, self-governance, and the establishment of zones of autonomy. Such commitments have clear applications pertaining to the use and ownership of created ideas. I argue that each of these commitments require intellectual property rights to be substantially limited in scope, strength and duration. In this way the core mechanisms of natural rights thinking ensure a robust public domain and categorically rule out strong intellectual property rights.

Keywords: Intellectual property, property rights, natural rights, John Locke, libertarianism, copyright, public domain

Suggested Citation

Breakey, Hugh E, Natural Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Domain (January 1, 2010). Breakey, Hugh. 2010. ‘Natural Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Domain’, The Modern Law Review, 73: 208-39.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2856883

Hugh E Breakey (Contact Author)

Griffith University ( email )

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111
Australia

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