Rights out of Reach? : Justifications of Intellectual Property Rights in Relation to the Fulfilment of Socioeconomic Human Rights
Abstract: In this thesis, three perspectives on the justification of intellectual property rights are investigated in the light of conflicting socioeconomic human rights. This is done by using a comparative method, where the perspectives chosen are reviewed through the lense of rights as legitimate claims, as well as accessibility of rights. The purpose is to review as to how the ownership of ideas and inventions can be justified in relation to the socioeconomic challenges faced in many parts of the world. The principal research question is: How can intellectual property rights be justified and how can it be evaluated against the backdrop of socioeconomic rights and moral obligations? To answer this question, I posed three sub-questions: First, how are intellectual property rights justified in the existing research chosen as an entry point for this thesis? Drawn from this, how can the justification of intellectual property rights be understood as a moral concern in a socioeconomically unequal world? Taking a cue from this, what questions need to be answered to better understand the transnational moral obligations linked to intellectual property rights? By reviewing the perspectives presented on the justification of intellectual property rights, I make three concluding statements — intellectual property rights cannot be justified in cases where they affect other individuals’ socioeconomic rights negatively; excessive benefits gained for creators is not morally reasonable; and the unequal distribution of power and opportunities in relation to transnational moral responsibilities need to be recognised.
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