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  • Writer's pictureJesse Fenty

Exploring the Tension between Intellectual Property Law and Human Nature

Intellectual Property (IP) Law has become a fundamental part of modern society, governing the use and distribution of creative works, inventions, and other forms of IP. However, there is a growing debate among scholars and practitioners regarding the consistency of intellectual property law with the natural development of human relations.

In normal human relations, copying is a natural and often desirable behavior. People learn from each other, and imitation is an essential part of cultural evolution. For example, if someone wears a new shirt or hat, it is not uncommon for others to want to obtain the same item or style. This type of copying is considered socially acceptable and is even encouraged in some instances.

However, when IP Law is involved and when bringing products and services to market, copying is not permitted without proper permission or authorization. This creates a conflict with the natural human behavior of copying, leading to a tension between what is permissible and what is not permissible in society.

At its core, IP Law is designed to protect the rights of creators and innovators. This includes copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. These laws are intended to incentivize innovation by giving creators and innovators the exclusive right to their creations, which they can then license or sell to others.

Critics argue that IP laws hinder innovation and creativity by limiting the free flow of ideas and information. This is because once a person or corporation obtains IP rights, others are forbidden from making or using the same or sometimes similar product or service form a different company. They argue that the law imposes artificial barriers that prevent people from building on existing ideas and creating new ones.

Furthermore, some scholars argue that IP Law reinforces existing power structures and can be used to limit access to knowledge and information. This can have negative social and economic consequences, particularly in developing countries and less affluent communities, where access to information and innovation is important for development.

One technology area where this issue always brings controversy is the pharmaceutical industry, where access to IP protected new and improved drugs can be very expensive.

On the other hand, proponents of IP Law argue that the laws are essential for promoting innovation and creativity. They argue that without IP protection, inventors and creators would have no incentive to invest time and resources into developing new ideas and products.

Despite the ongoing debate, IP Law has become an integral part of modern society. However, it is important to recognize that it does create tensions with natural human behavior, and there is a need for ongoing discussion and debate about the proper balance between protecting IP rights and fostering the natural development of human relations.

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