Friday, April 26, 2013

Understanding Intellectual Property as Property

Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) celebrate every April 26 as World IP Day. 
On April 25, Richard Epstein Distinguished Adjunct Senior Scholar at the Free State Foundation and NYU Law Professor spoke at the Institute for Policy Innovation's World Intellectual Property Day Forum in Washington, D.C., on the "Rule of Law and the Net."
In early 2011, FSF published "Property, Regulatory Policy, or Hybrid? The Elusive Status of Intellectual Property," a Perspectives from FSF Scholars paper by Professor Epstein. That paper contains some bedrock insights regarding intellectual property that are worthy of consideration on World IP Day. Here's a short preview:
At the methodological level, the best way to understand intellectual property is to treat it as a part of the broader class of property relationships that embraces land, chattels, animals, and, yes, intangibles. Once the generic features of property are well understood, it becomes possible to tackle the narrower question of how to make the appropriate doctrinal and institutional adjustments that capture the distinctive features of intellectual property.