The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights
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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.
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Chapter 7: The moral dimension of the exercise of IPRs

Steven Ang


IPRs’ dimension of exercise includes the enjoyment of the existence of those rights as social facts, exploitation of those rights for economic advantage and enforcement when those rights are flouted. These raise several questions regarding the theory of moral dimensions of IPRs that has thus far been developed. Why should those who enjoy, and seek to exploit and enforce IPRs, share the moral project of the law makers? The owners of IPRs do not directly make the laws. Nor are they, generally, judges or other officials of the legal system. Why should they share in this collective intentionality? Can they avoid the burden of justification with its moral commitments and merely rely on their rights in law? One response to this question might be that we have to justify our actions, even if only to ourselves. However, it is when we also want to make moral claims on others that we are led to admit the moral claims of others on the same basis (§2.3.2) and are drawn on the path of moral commitment towards the fundamental prescriptions and the equal right to freedom and well-being (§2.4). Do we have to make moral claims when it comes to the enjoyment, enforcement and exploitation of IPRs? This chapter identifies why people who seek to enjoy, enforce or exploit IPRs often make such moral claims, and how this provides the moral background for various laws related to the exercise of IPRs.

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