Against Cyberproperty

36 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2007 Last revised: 6 Apr 2008


Ever since cyberproperty burst onto the legal scene a decade ago, courts and scholars have assumed that it is inevitable. This Article shows that it is not. Scholars have examined one element of the link between cyberproperty and property in asking whether cyberspace is the correct model for websites and e-mail servers. But remarkably, they have neglected the other property foundations of cyberproperty.

This Article shows that none of the primary theories supporting property - Locke's labor theory, Hegel's personhood rationale, and utilitarianism - justifies cyberproperty. It demonstrates that the concept lacks property's limits. And it finds that existing statutory prohibitions against spam, electronic invasion, and copyright infringement are more narrowly targeted and less likely to quash competition and speech. The Article concludes that the time has come to abandon cyberproperty.

Keywords: cyberproperty, property, cyberspace, Locke, Hegel, utilitarianism, spam, electronic invasion, copyright

JEL Classification: K11, L86, O34

Suggested Citation

Carrier, Michael A. and Lastowka, Greg, Against Cyberproperty. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 22, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Michael A. Carrier

Rutgers Law School ( email )

217 North Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102-1203
United States
856-225-6380 (Phone)
856-225-6516 (Fax)

Greg Lastowka (Contact Author)

Rutgers School of Law ( email )

Newark, NJ
United States


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