Reflecting on the common discourse on piracy and intellectual property rights : A divergent perspective

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Betty Yung


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
Journal / PublicationJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Online published2 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


The common discourse on intellectual property rights rests mainly on utilitarian ground, with implications on the question of justice as well as moral significance. It runs like this: Intellectual property rights are to reward the originators for his/her intellectual labour mainly in monetary terms, thereby providing incentives for originators to engage in future innovative labouring. Without such incentives, few, if not none, will engage in creative activities and the whole human community will, thereby, suffer because of reduced inventions. However, such utilitarian argument on piracy as de-motivation may not be necessarily justified. In fact, intellectual property arrangement is one among different institutions concerning how the society may handle new ideas and creative works. In reality, private ownership over one's intellectual product is merely a modern western concept that is being 'advertised' as being normative, which, by itself, is highly debatable. Alarming still, such normative argument assumes both justness and moral dimensions. This article will analyse whether such argument is philosophically sound. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Research Area(s)

  • Intellectual property rights, Justness, Moral connotations, Philosophical discussion, Piracy