15.11.06

Intellectual Property or Exclusion Rights?

Posted in Legal, Terms at 10:58 am by Jens Hardings

I am sitting in a seminar dealing with promotion of access to knowledge, mainly through the use of open licenses that provide much more access then the minimum required by law. It has become more clear than ever yo me that the term “intellectual property” is very misleading.
Several arguments say that the term is basically propaganda, just as the term “piracy” is when applied to infringement to copyright and similar laws. But it should be enough to see how misleading it is to go and change it.
Several critics of the term suggest no alternative name for “Intellectual Property”, argumenting that there is no reason why you would have to group the several unconnected legal constructs (copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial secrets) that form the group. I disagree. If you want to refer to all those legal constructs in a single name, you should just figure out what they have in common. It turns out all of them have something in common that is also very characteristic: they provide exclusion rights (whether they are justified or not). One single person gets the right to exclude everybody else to do or use something under certain circumstances.

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