The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights

The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights

Steven Ang

This highly original and exploratory book analyses the role morality plays in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). Steven Ang builds his idea that the justification for IPRs is bound up with a simultaneous duty to share part of that intellectual resource through public rights of access and a public domain which is facilitated by the moral elements in the various dimensions of IPR. In a globalized world with globalizing IPRs where culturally assumed norms must be re-examined, this work has an urgent and important contribution to make because it takes the main features of internationally mandated IPRs as a starting point and explores the moral commitments they imply and rely on, to identify a framework for further development and reform of IP regimes.

Chapter 8: The moral dimension of reform of IPRs

Steven Ang

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, legal philosophy


The dimension of reform is a concomitant result of the moral dimensions of IPRs heretofore developed. They each require and draw our attention to this one. The justification of IPRs casts a moral duty on owners to acknowledge the just claims of others to shared access, because it is only on the basis of acknowledgement of continuing rights to some degree of access to the subject matter of the property that we have conditions for the just acquisition of IPRs and other property rights (§§3.2.4, 3.6.1 and 3.6.5). This would mean that, so long as they do want to justify these institutions, and if the positive laws of IPRs (with their conditions for acquisition and limitations and exceptions) do not adequately reflect this obligation, the moral obligation would continue to operate when the owners come to exercise their IP rights (cf. §7.2) or when they are engaged in deliberations in the legislative forum regarding reform of the laws. The dimension of reform is a concomitant of these notions for an even more basic reason, though. The idea of morality advanced here is that its principles and values are ever open to revision, reformulation and refinement of prescriptions which are universalized.

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