Towards a critique of the moral foundations of intellectual property rights [1]

Papaioannou, Theodoros (2006). Towards a critique of the moral foundations of intellectual property rights [1]. Journal of Global Ethics, 2(1) pp. 67–90.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17449620600677270

Abstract

Research in recent history has neglected to address the moral foundations of particular kinds of public policy such as the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs). On the one hand, nation-states have enforced a tightening of the IPR system. On the other, only recently national government and international institutions have recognised that the moral justification for stronger IPRs protection is far from being plausible and cannot be taken for granted. In this paper we examine IPRs as individual rights founded upon natural-law, personality development, just reward and social utility. We argue that these foundations cannot be philosophically sustained. IPRs constitute morally indefensible political developments which aim to reproduce the capitalist division of knowledge and labour at national, international and global levels. The need for such a critical approach to the moral foundations of IPRs has increased in importance as a consequence of their role in justifying corporate power, globalisation policies and harmonisation of such.

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