Harvesting the uncollected fruits of other people’s intellectual labour

Acta Bioethica 23 (2):259-269 (2017)
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Intellectual property regimes necessarily create artificial scarcity leading to wastage, both by blocking follow-up research and hindering access to those who are only able to pay less then the actual retail price. After revising the traditional arguments to hinder access to people’s intellectual labour we will examine why we should be more open to allow free-riding of inventive efforts, especially in cases where innovators have not secured the widest access to the fruits of their research and failed to cooperate with follow-up innovators. We will do so by questioning the voluntariness involved in consumption of objects of innovation, restating the positive social externalities that arise when wider access to the fruits of innovation is assured, and examining the eventual harms innovators face.

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Cristian Timmermann
Universität Augsburg


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