Recognizing the Public Domain
In a celebrated lecture on the law of copyright, Zechariah Chafee suggested that objections to intellectual property are probably rooted in a more general distaste for private property. He acknowledged, however, that differences among species of property can justify differences in their treatment in law. In this brief essay, I will recall some of the attributes of intellectual property that justify particular concern when new rights are being recognized or existing ones enlarged. I will argue that the growth of intellectual property in recent years has been uncontrolled to the point of recklessness. And I will suggest that recognition of new intellectual property interests should be offset today by equally deliberate recognition of individual rights in the public domain.
David L. Lange, Recognizing the Public Domain, 44 Law and Contemporary Problems 147-178 (1981).