Eugene Volokh has a cogent summary of some of the main issues surrounding intellectual property rights and whether they should be considered the same as physical property rights. Highly recommended to anyone interested in issues of copyright law, or just whether you should download that latest Norah Jones song.

He makes a brief reference to the possibility of a moral right to have exclusive control over one’s own production. I like the issues he raises, but I wish he’d written more about that part of it. That’s not his area of specialty of course, but being raised in a Rushdoonyesque home, I was always taught that the Eighth Commandment (that’s the one about stealing) was the basis of all property rights and copyright law, not public utility. Seems like public utility is a scary basis to rest property rights on. Volokh’s argument perhaps rests it only partly on public utility. But still, someone is always likely to come along and define public utility in a way that means they get to steal your stuff.

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