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The Legitimacy of Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: The Irrelevance of Two Conceptions of an Information Commons


In this essay, I consider arguments both for and against intellectual property rights that are premised on some conception of a morally significant information commons. In particular, I consider the argument for a morally protected information commons that is grounded in Locke’s famous proviso limiting original acquisition of material property to situations that leave enough of the resource to others and Hardin’s famous argument that holding material property in common leads to overuse and depletion – a tragedy of the commons. I argue that neither argument is directly applicable to information objects.

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