Thursday, June 22, 2006

Does It Matter if Copyright Is Property?

Does It Matter if Copyright Is Property? asks William Patry.

"The debate about the provenance of copyright as property is not new, nor has the semantic sleight-of-hand the effort attempts gone unnoticed.At the end of the 19th century, Augustine Birrell wrote:
"...If your right to turn your neighbor off your premises to keep your things to yourself – was property, and therefore ex hypothesi founded on natural justice, he who sought to interfere with your complete dominion was a thief or trespasser, but if your rights were based upon some special concession made to you upon your own merits, you find yourself dubbed a monopolist … Monopoly is always an odious word. Property is still sacred one."
But what if copyright is just a tort, as indeed courts refer to it as. Might that not lead to consideration of things in a different light, one that involves more of the balancing of interests one typically sees, say in, negligence actions, a Coase Theorem of copyright... academia aside, in the real world, one wonders whether the recent willingness of courts to decline issuing injunctions signals a shift toward a less property-oriented view."

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