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MORAL VIEWS ON IP AND IPR

We need to take a look at what moral (religious) rules and regulations say about IPR. This is so, not because morality actually makes any sense whatsoever in terms of a minimum acceptable set of rules for coexistence, but simply because it matters due to the irrationality of people.

In order to get a clearer view, we would have to poll all major religions throughout the world. Luckily, other academics have done this for us. Most religions agree that IPR are “rightful” rights; the fact that all of them own gigantic amounts of what could be considered IPs is, of course, just a coincidence.

In general terms, religions hold the position that IPR are necessary to reward creators of all kinds, but the ultimate goal is to benefit humanity as a whole. As such, IPR should not be too zealous or rigid. Religions stress the need for co-operation amongst countries and IPR points of view, particularly in the case of emergencies. Furthermore, they state that when there is a clash between IPR and fundamental human rights or large concerns of common good, IPRs should be diminished appropriately.

This is of course coherent with their tight copyright ownerships and laws (particularly The Vatican). We are absolutely sure this is just another coincidence.

The problem, as usual, is in the details.

To begin with, it is quite difficult to find definitive and authoritative religious declarations of what IPs are and what their IPR should be. Religions assume that IPs and IPR are properly defined and we have seen before that they are not.

Then, when these religions are asked to justify their positions in terms of scriptures or key religious texts they all invariably make the same mistake. This mistake is to assume that IPs are exactly the same as regular, tangible properties. This is so because all those religious text were written so long ago that the concept of IP did not exist and there is nothing else to go by. Therefore, what these religions do is to extrapolate from the rights of tangible things to IPs. Unfortunately, IPs are ideas and ideas are completely different from tangible things.

In other words, when it comes to IPs, religious points of view are completely discredited because they are based on heavy and personal interpretation. These interpretations are heavily based on personal points of view and biases.

Religions cannot justify their positions regarding IPR based on fundamental religious “truths” or “articles of faith”.  

Therefore, from a rational point of view, the morality or immorality of IPs and IPR is irrelevant. Morality simply lacks a defensible point of view and therefore it must be dismissed.

Let us be clear. We are not saying that each moral point of view does not have moral opinions on IPs or IPR. We fully acknowledge that they have them. What we are saying is that in order for moral points of view to be acceptable for most people, they must be rational and deductible; not the personal opinion of such and such scholar.  This is so because it is the only way to reach sufficient agreement among religions to allow for coexistence.

In summary, moral points of view are irrelevant when it comes to IPs or IPR.

 

LEGAL VIEWS ON IP AND IPR

Laws are formal rules designed for specific cases, therefore IPs and IPR can only be studied as existing laws and treaties. The most important IP and IPR laws are by far Copyrights and Patents. Unfortunately, we need to take a look at them in order to reach a viable conclusion.

 

Copyright Laws

In general terms, most copyright laws throughout the world are about the same:

  • The author has exclusive rights to control who makes copies. The author can also sell licenses.
  • Creative works must exist in tangible form and must be creative.
  • The purpose of copyrights is to encourage the author to make money by granting a monopoly for a defined amount of time.
  • Many laws recognize author’s “moral rights”, which are the rights to control how the work is changed
  • There are special circumstances under which copying is permitted (backup copies, education, format shifting, time shifting, etc).

 

Patent Laws

Equally as with copyright laws, most patent laws throughout the world are about the same:

  • Gives inventors the opportunity to protect their invention through the granting of a patent
  • Inventions must be non-obvious
  • In order to be granted, a patent must contain the description of the invention followed by claims defining the extent of the granted protection
  • Patent owners have the right to exclude others from making, selling and using the invention
  • Patents are granted for certain amount of time
  • Patents must be filled within certain amount of time to be valid
  • Patents are properties and as such they can be sold, licensed, mortgages, assigned, transferred, given away or abandoned
  • Patents are enforced through civil law
  • The basic concept of a patent is to grant an inventor exclusive use of the invention for a limited time in exchange for all the details. Once the patent expires, the information of the invention becomes public knowledge and so it benefits society.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

Continue to Intellectual Property Rights Are Dumb - Part 3

 

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