The Justification of Intellectual Property: Contemporary Philosophical Disputes
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 59, No. 7, May 2008
28 Pages Posted: 25 May 2006 Last revised: 12 Oct 2008
Date Written: May 22, 2006
The issue of whether the state is morally justified in affording content-creators a legal right to exclude others from the content of their creations is a sharply contested issue in information ethics. Once taken for granted as morally legitimate, intellectual property rights have come under fire in the last thirty years as evolving digital information technologies have severed the link between expression of ideas and such traditional material-based media as books and magazines. These advances in digital technology have called attention to unique features of intellectual content that seemingly problematize intellectual property protection; any piece of intellectual content, for example, can be simultaneously appropriated by everyone in the world without thereby diminishing the supply of that content available to others. This essay provides an overview and assessment of the issues, arguments, and counterarguments on intellectual property.
Keywords: information, intellectual property, legitimacy
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