Why should a property interest exist in an intangible item? In recent years, arguments over intellectual property have often divided proponents—who emphasize the importance of providing incentives for producers of creative works— from skeptics who emphasize the need for free and open access to knowledge.
In a wide-ranging and ambitious analysis, Robert P. Merges establishes a sophisticated rationale for the most vital form of modern property: IP rights. His insightful new book answers the many critics who contend that these rights are inefficient, unfair, and theoretically incoherent. But Merges’ vigorous defense of IP is also a call for appropriate legal constraints and boundaries: IP rights are real, but they come with real limits.
Drawing on Kant, Locke, and Rawls as well as contemporary scholars, Merges crafts an original theory to explain why IP rights make sense as a reward for effort and as a way to encourage individuals to strive. He also provides a novel explanation of why awarding IP rights to creative people is fair for everyone else in society, by contributing to a just distribution of resources. Merges argues convincingly that IP rights are based on a solid ethical foundation, and—when subject to fair limits—these rights are an indispensable part of a well-functioning society.
In this book, which promises to be a landmark in the field, Merges presents a wide-ranging and highly insightful synthesis of three strands of property-related philosophy in order to provide a grounding for mid-level principles of intellectual property.
A new Bible for Intellectual Property...At the fundamental level, Merges relies upon deontological ethics derived from Locke (justification for appropriation), Kant (individual freedoms), and Rawls (distributive justice). By threading together these historic lines of thought, Merges provides an ethical foundation both for the establishment of property rights for creative contributions to society as well as for substantive limits to those rights. Justifying Intellectual Property is a fascinating book...[It] offers a new framework for understanding intellectual property with a particular focus on why it makes sense to offer property rights for creative enterprises.
- 422 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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