Moral Groundworks for the Establishment and Analysis of Rights to 'Intellectual Property'
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Historically, there have been two moral theories which have dominated the analysis of 'intellectual property': Natural law theory and Utilitarianism. The former argues that authors have an inalienable right to control the products of their minds while the latter argues that the moral status of a law establishing 'intellectual property' is inextricably tied to the attempt to maximize societal well-being. In this thesis I argue that few justifiable natural rights to the products of our minds can be found and, subsequently, the justification of such rights must stem from the latter theory. I argue that Utilitarianism places many strong limitations on the extensiveness of the powers granted to 'intellectual property' right-holders by a moral law. Finally, I argue that independent of a given societal state-of-affairs, we have two moral obligations: to follow the trend set by moral authors, and to lend them our support.