INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TODAY: OF MYTHS AND PARADOXES
AbstractIt is often claimed or assumed that intellectual property laws are necessary to encourage individual creativity and inventiveness and that society would be worse off without such laws. This article suggests that, in the field of copyrights and patents at least, such claims rest on myth and paradox rather than proof, and should be viewed sceptically. With its minimal standards for eligibility, copyright today seems less concerned with authors, art and literature than with protecting the distributors of standardized industrial products, and sometimes is even used to prevent the dissemination of knowledge by becoming a tool of censorship. Patent law too requires major rethinking if its promise of bettering mankind by encouraging socially useful discoveries and inventions and the dissemination of knowledge is to be realized. The article concludes that intellectual property laws should no longer be analyzed in terms of outmoded notions of property: more particularistic inquiries are needed to ensure that these laws adequately serve valid social ends.
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