Why Intellectual Property Rights Matter

We have spoken about copyright and the law, but what about why these laws and rights matter? There are several justifications for Intellectual Property rights. This is a non-extensive list of why many believe copyright protection to be important ...

Copyright and Intellectual Property underpins of the whole western world economy. There is a need to provide incentives and dissemination for creative works. Think about the vaccine and COVID-19 ... without protections and incentives, the number of people trying to make a vaccine would be significantly less.

- The indented beneficiary for the copyright system is the community as a whole, which demands the production of and access to, as many creative works as possible
- There is an incentive to produce, as selling price allows them to recoup the cost of production and the benefit of the goods to a purchaser
- However, creative works are held to be 'public goods' as it is hard to exclude non-purchasers from the enjoyment. The advantages of the copyright system as said to outweigh those losses

The problem with the economic justification of copyright is that there is much that can be produced and disseminated without incentive.

It is difficult to structure copyright such that the monopoly losses associated with the regime are no greater than those required to ensure production and dissemination of a given category of work, especially given the wide range of the subject matter that copyright protects

Copyright law is often enacted and implemented with the purpose of incentivising the creation of new works for public use. In exchange for the creation of new works, the government gives the author a limited monopoly over that work for a finite period of time, after which point it can be used and enjoyed by the public.

There must be an "appropriate balance between copyright protection, limitations and exceptions to copyright" Arguably, copyright should only be as strong as is actually necessary to incentivize the creation of works, and during the term of copyright limitations and exceptions to copyright should be used to serve the public interest.

Many economists believe that, in the absence of intellectual property protections such as copyright and patents, various types of intangible assets would be under-produced, because there would be insufficient incentives for commercial organisations to produce them.

From this perspective, the objective of copyright law is primarily to balance the public benefits that can arise from the widespread circulation, use and reuse of a copyrighted work with the need to provide protection, incentive and reward to the creator or owner of the copyright by granting a limited monopoly to exploit the copyright to that body or individual.

"And when it comes to Intellectual Property, there is a deontological justification!"

The major justification for Intellectual Property is John Lockes' Labour Desert Theory. In short, it is this: "People own themselves, and derived from this they also own the fruits of their labour, as otherwise, they would still be slaves."

This means that creating or inventing things can be considered labour. And therefore works of the intellect are property, just like the goods manufactured by a workman. This justification is what philosophers would call a deontological justification. It is a rights-based approach.

Copyright and Intellectual Property go hand in hand all around the world. This is why proper licensing protects both businesses and individuals from possible litigation.

If you feel inspired to find out more about anything we've said here, do call us on +44 1908 041290 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.