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From the Wright Brothers to Microsoft: Issues in the Moral Grounding of Intellectual Property Rights

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Chapter Summary

Having denied the linkage between intellectual property and the belief in free market values, this chapter explores more extensively additional ethical arguments that could be used to support IP rights in software. It discusses the possible relationship between IP rights and innovation, including the alleged linkage between research and profits as realized within the software industry. Currently the industry consists of two dominant players: Microsoft and Apple, with the former clearly holding the greater share of the market. Following Christman?s distinction between control and income ownership, the chapter point outs that intellectual property rights, secured through copyright and patent, really relate to the income right aspect of ownership rather that the control right aspect that includes the right to exclude, use, and alienate. It considers the utilitarian perspective associated with John Locke and more recently H.L.A. Hart.

Keywords: control ownership; free market values; income ownership; intellectual property rights; John Locke; Microsoft



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