Natural Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Domain

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Breakey, Hugh
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2010
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Abstract

No natural rights theory justi⥳ strong intellectual property rights.More speci⣡lly, 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 diᥲences, all these natural rights theories endorse some set ofmembers 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.

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The Modern Law Review

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73

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2

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© 2010 The Modern Law Review Limited. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The definitive version is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/

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Intellectual property law

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