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Justifying Intellectual Propertyby Robert P. Merges
Synopses & Reviews
Why should a property interest exist in an intangible item? In recent years, arguments over intellectual property have often divided proponents--who emphasize the importance of providing incentives for producers of creative works-- from skeptics who emphasize the need for free and open access to knowledge.
In a wide-ranging and ambitious analysis, Robert P. Merges establishes a sophisticated rationale for the most vital form of modern property: IP rights. His insightful new book answers the many critics who contend that these rights are inefficient, unfair, and theoretically incoherent. But Merges' vigorous defense of IP is also a call for appropriate legal constraints and boundaries: IP rights are real, but they come with real limits.
Drawing on Kant, Locke, and Rawls as well as contemporary scholars, Merges crafts an original theory to explain why IP rights make sense as a reward for effort and as a way to encourage individuals to strive. He also provides a novel explanation of why awarding IP rights to creative people is fair for everyone else in society, by contributing to a just distribution of resources. Merges argues convincingly that IP rights are based on a solid ethical foundation, and--when subject to fair limits--these rights are an indispensable part of a well-functioning society.
Book News Annotation:
Merges (law and technology, U. of California, Berkeley; co-founder of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology) steps up to the plate to take a big swing (his analogy) at a contentious topic of great importance. Drawing on Locke and Kant, he establishes a philosophical foundation and then suggests midlevel principles that assert his personal stance and yet leave room for differing points of view. Coverage includes case studies and analyses of creative professionals, corporate ownership, and transaction costs; property in the digital era; and patents and drugs for the developing world. This is wide-ranging nuanced study that will help clarify current practices and set the course for fair and rational treatment of creative output. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In a sophisticated defense of intellectual property, Merges draws on Kant, Locke, and Rawls to explain how IP rights are based on a solid ethical foundation and make sense for a just society. He also calls for appropriate boundaries: IP rights are real, but they come with real limits.
About the Author
Robert P. Merges is Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati Professor of Law and Technology, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and co-founder of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.
University of California, Berkeley
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History and Social Science » Law » General