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Culture rules: what’s wrong with internet piracy? and other questions in the philosophy of intellectual property

Anderson, SC; (2016) Culture rules: what’s wrong with internet piracy? and other questions in the philosophy of intellectual property. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

What is wrong with the unauthorized downloading of a copyrighted item such as a song or book? Most responses to that question can fit into two broad categories: those who think that the unauthorized taking of another’s intellectual property is wrong in itself since it violates some moral right of the copyright holder, and those who think the copyright holder has no such preinstitutional moral right, and so the wrong of unauthorized use can only be wrong (if and where it is wrong) by virtue of some extrinsic calculation or consideration, such as the overall disutility of the act, or perhaps a general obligation to obey the law. In this thesis, I look in detail at one response of each of these types. I look at Lockean or labour-based approaches, on which authors have natural rights to the control over use of their creations as a result of a special transformation in the normative landscape resulting from the labour they put into them. And I look at the dominant utilitarian account which rejects the idea of such natural rights and insists that copyright is all (or nearly all) about incentivizing the production of certain goods that would be underproduced without such intervention. I find both of these approaches to be of value but ultimately wanting. I propose a different sort of justification, which takes a broadly ruleconsequentialist structure and draws on both of the theories mentioned (as well as the work of David Hume) in an attempt at a synthetic account. One key claim of this account is that even if we grant the utilitarian’s claim that intellectual property instruments are not necessary to protect moral rights of creators, it can nonetheless be wrongful to violate a copyright even where it appears that no harm has occurred.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Culture rules: what’s wrong with internet piracy? and other questions in the philosophy of intellectual property
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1498603
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