Access to vs. exclusion from knowledge: Intellectual property, efficiency and social justice
The main rationale for intellectual property relies on the thesis of the incentive to create. Creators and inventors are economic agents attracted by the returns they expect from their effort. This depiction is practical, but does not give due weight to the complexity of knowledge production. This work does not contest the potential benefit of the opportunity for creators and inventors to reap some profit from their work. Rather, it considers the idiosyncratic nature of knowledge, which is simultaneously input, output and productive technology, and is closely linked to the social dimension. This provides further insight into the production process and suggests a significantly different framework for policy. More specifically, because of the increasing returns governing creative technology, the efficiency criterion used to guide the economic choice calls for weak intellectual property rights, thus preserving wide access to knowledge. A stronger appropriation regime would significantly impair the total outcome of the creative processes. Interestingly, this appears to apply equally from a social justice perspective, perhaps in an effortless solution to the age-old trade-off between economic efficiency and social justice.
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