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Property - Intellectual Property

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Intellectual property brings together many of the themes from the discussions above: conceptual complexity, global variation and convergence, and lively debates over values. Intellectual property rights are rights to control the use or transmission of intellectual creations. There are three basic categories. Copyright covers "expressive" works (such as books, musical compositions, films, paintings, computer programs) as well as performances, sound recordings, and broadcasts. Patents protect inventions. Trademarks and marks of geographical origin (for example, "Champagne") make distinctions among the goods and services that are brought to market. The wide historical variation in intellectual property law across the globe narrowed in the 1990s when intellectual property standards (such as that a copyright endures for fifty years after the death of the author, and patent protection lasts for twenty years) were built into the treaties establishing the World Trade Organization.

The origins of copyright law lie in the desire of the English crown in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to censor publications by granting printing monopolies to selected publishers; patent monopolies over inventions emerged in Renaissance Italy. In the modern era the main justifications for intellectual property rights have been three. By far the dominant justification (enshrined, for example, in the U.S. Constitution) is that the prospect of exclusive control gives creators incentives to create works that will be pleasing and useful to others. A secondary justification, usually associated with continental Europe, is that intellectual property rights protect the personality interests of artists in the integrity of their expressions. A third justification, relating mostly to trademarks and geographical marks, is that these rights assure consumers by associating a product with known producers.

Global intellectual property law has become extraordinarily elaborate as its framers have tried to balance all of the values at stake. Many disputes remain. For example, many have argued for weakening the patent protection of pharmaceuticals so that sick people in poor countries can get the medicines they need. The pharmaceutical industry has countered that such weakening would lessen the incentives they have to create new life-saving drugs in the future. Another dispute has been over emerging technologies such as the Internet, whose potential, as legal theorist Lawrence Lessig maintains, is shackled by national regulations designed to favor powerful industries.

Given that the fates of millions of lives, the rate of global economic progress, and huge profits drive controversies such as these, it is not surprising that they have moved from the legal into the political arenas. On these issues, as with so many other issues concerning property, the most basic interests and values are at stake.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1766.

Farmer, Paul. Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Friedman, Milton, with Rose D. Friedman. Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.

Grey, Thomas. "The Disintegration of Property." In Property, edited by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman. New York: New York University Press, 1980.

Hayek, F. A. The Essence of Hayek. Edited by Chiaki Nishiyama and Kurt R. Leube. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1984.

Hughes, Justin. "The Philosophy of Intellectual Property." Georgetown Law Journal 77 (1988): 287–366.

Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. New York: Random House, 2001.

Marx, Karl. The Poverty of Philosophy. Translated by H. Quelch. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1995.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Edited by Frederic L. Bender. New York: Norton, 1988.

Milanovic, Branko. "True World Income Distribution, 1988 and 1993: First Calculation Based on Household Surveys Alone." Economic Journal 112 (2002): 51–92.

Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic, 1974.

Paul, Jeffrey, ed. Reading Nozick: Essays on Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.

Pipes, Richard. Property and Freedom. New York: Knopf, 1999.

Posner, Richard A. The Economics of Justice. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. A Discourse on Inequality. Translated by Maurice Cranston. New York: Penguin, 1984.

Ryan, Alan. Property. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Shapiro, Thomas M. The Hidden Cost of Being African-American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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Titmuss, Richard M. The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy. Expanded and updated edition, edited by Ann Oakley and John Ashton. New York: New Press, 1997.

Waldron, Jeremy. The Right to Private Property. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Leif Wenar

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