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Democracy, Public Goods and Intellectual Property

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Published in Journal of political philosophy. 2014
Abstract It is a platitude of democratic thought that ideas must be free. That is, they must be freely available to people to use, criticise, reconstruct and defend, without the necessity first to ensure that they meet with official approval, or that they are true. They must also be free in another sense: free of heavy taxes and restrictions that make knowledge the prerogative of the rich, just as censorship makes it the prerogative of the powerful. In both these senses, free access to ideas is critical to democracy, even though democratic governments pass laws against defamation, libel, invasions of privacy, and against ‘fighting words’, ‘hate speech’ and even against some forms of offensive speech, in the interests of protecting other things to which people are entitled, and which words can threaten. Intellectual property rights, however, are not like more familiar forms of constraint on speech, because their purpose is to make certain ideas and expressions expensive, and to create the conditions in which people are able to make money out of them. That is why IP rights are controversial and, often, bitterly opposed by people who have little if any difficulty in accepting government restrictions on Holocaust Denial, or government laws which limit the amount of money that people can give to political campaigns in order to prevent those with financial power from dominating politics. The reason is that IP rights create monopoly rights in patentable ideas and copyrightable expressions which, though temporary, enable those who hold such rights to determine the use and access to them for the duration of the monopoly. So is it possible to justify IP, consistent with democratic commitments to freedom and equality?
Keywords Intellectual propertyPublic goodsDemocracyCopyrightPatentsFreedom of expressionEqualityMass productionNiche productionCommon good
Note THIS IS NOT YET PUBLISHED. IT IS STILL UNDER REVIEW. IS IT POSSIBLE JUST TO TAKE OUT TAKE IT OFF THE ARCHIVE OUVERTE FOR NOW PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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LEVER, Annabelle. Democracy, Public Goods and Intellectual Property. In: Journal of political philosophy, 2014. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:40137

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Deposited on : 2014-09-10

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