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Unformatted text preview: Ethics and Information Technology 5: 116, 2003. 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. The future of intellectual property Richard A. Spinello Carroll School of Management, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract. This paper uses two recent works as a springboard for discussing the proper contours of intellectual property protection. Professor Lessig devotes much of The Future of Ideas to demonstrating how the expanding scope of intellectual property protection threatens the Internet as an innovation commons. Similarly, Professor Litmans message in Digital Copyright is that copyright law is both too complicated and too restrictive. Both authors contend that as a result of overprotecting individual rights, creativity is stifled and the vitality of the intellectual commons is in jeopardy. It is difficult to evaluate the claims and policy prescriptions of these books without some appreciation for the moral foundations of intellectual property. The utility and labor desert theories remain the two most prominent in the Anglo-American tradition. After exploring those theories, we argue for a secure regime of protection based on the Lockean vision that property rights are justly deserved as a reward for labor that creates value. However, as Lockes famous proviso implies, even a natural property right is not absolute and must be balanced by regard for the public domain. But a natural right cannot be sacrificed simply to advance technological innovation or to achieve marginal social and economic gains. While we agree with Lessig and Litman that recent legislation goes too far we conclude the essay by attempting to illustrate that some of their policy recommendations err in the opposite direction by underprotecting valid property rights. Key words: authorship, business method patent, copyright, Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), enclosure, hyperlink, intellectual commons, intellectual property rights, Internet, labor-desert theory, Locke, Napster, natural law, open source code, patents, public domain, utilitarianism The frontier of cyberspace has certainly attracted the attention of countless lawyers and legal scholars, and no issue has been treated more extensively than intellectual property protection. While practitioners ardently defend intellectual property rights in the courts, their colleagues in law schools are reexamining the breadth and scope of those rights. Some scholars question the very notion of private ownership of intel- lectual property; others insist that while intellectual property rights may be valid, the US Congress and the courts have been too generous in assigning these rights. Moreover, they contend that the consequences of such expansion will suppress innovation in cyber- space....
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This note was uploaded on 07/30/2011 for the course COP 4810 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at University of Central Florida.
- Spring '11
- Computer Science