Is Copyright Property? Comments on Richard Epstein's Liberty versus Property

By Adam Mossoff
February 03, 2007
In his essay, Liberty versus Property, Richard Epstein offers a Lockean justification for intellectual property rights generally, and copyright specifically. Epstein’s thesis is profoundly important and basic: all legal property rights, including tangible property rights and intangible intellectual property rights, are born of important policy  considerations. In proving this, he surveys the justification and development of property rights in the West, and he reveals with great clarity that many of the traditional (and tread-worn) policy issues concerning the definition of tangible property rights are eerily similar to the issues implicated in the now-raging debate concerning the defi nition of intellectual property rights, especially copyright in digital content....