How personality matters in intellectual property

What justifies an author in alienating his copies of work while keeping the exclusive right of reproduction of further copies with him?

 In the previous piece the author discussed about the foundational principle of the intellectual property. The author relates to the labor theory giving Locke’s justification for the intellectual property. In brief if we try to re-conceptualize the previous article, the basic analogy was dependent on the premise that the base of any intellectual property (IP) is an “idea” that governs it. Locke’s labor theory substantially proves this very foundation. The origin of IP through structuring itself from a labor perspective and linking it to the idea provides a substantial start to deal with such foundation. The requirement of labor in one’s idea provides an insight towards the notion of “effort” being assumed for getting reward. The societal attitudes for getting motivated for rewards forms a very important role in today’s IP regime. It is due to this incentive based formula that we see an increase in the IP management and strategizing IP across corporate in the world. This is what we dealt with in the previous article. 

This piece will try to substantiate some of the valid questions which were raised in the previous piece. How the creator’s personality plays an effective role in the making of intellectual property? For the understanding of this analogy we need to study the Hegelian justification. The theory of Hegel can be said to be one of the most confusing theory if we compare with that of the modern philosophers. Before getting into how the Hegel’s theory substantiates the personality justification of IP, it is imperative to understand the Hegel’s theory in general. More importantly, we must make sure to understand this theory keeping in mind the premise of “idea” that was discussed in the previous piece so as to maintain an effective link. 

Hegel was one of the most important figures of the modern western philosophy. Hegel was influenced primarily with the Kantian philosophy. What Kant said, Hegel goes to an extent more to what he call as absolute idealism. Kant in his theory tries to explain Noumena and Phenomena. Differentiating it, Kant said that Phenomena are something which appears as it is to an observer. While Noumena, are the one which is unknowable to us as it being outside the purview of our sensibility. This is what Kant calls it as “transcendental idealism”.

 Hegel goes further. He starts from where Kant ends. According to Hegel, he did not support the idea of Kant of things being unknowable. He said that it is not about the limit of our sensibility but our capability to think. He argues that a thing which is not known is primarily not thinkable. He did not use the word of sensibility. If we don’t know ‘X’, it is highly likely that we are not able to think ‘X’. It does not matter about our sensibility but our mind. Here Hegel does tries to substantiate the very notion of Idea that comes up in the mind. IP are principally based upon the fact of invention which are novel or literary and dramatic work which are expressed in a novel way. If we go on to follow the Kantian philosophy, it is highly likely that we cannot even assume to think of a new invention as his philosophy is based on our sensibility. Hegel fills this gap by stating about mind. This is what Hegel terms it as an infinite mind which is what came into being an “Absolute idea”. Hegel said that the world is the manifestation of this absolute idea and that is why his theory was termed as an Absolute idealism. Hegel specifically opines about the idea from an infinite mind that one possesses. This way he opens the door for a foundational principle of novelty and non-obviousness that governs the IP regime. But how one achieves the perfection? Hegel argues about the contradiction principle which is very pertinent to understand the present IP regime. He gave his famous understanding of Dialectical method. 

How this is important for IP jurisprudence? Hegel said that the growth of anything is dependent upon the conflict of interest. He gave an example of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. A thesis, let’s say ‘A’ will get some contradiction. That contradiction will be anti thesis, let’s say ‘B’. Now what will be done is called as synthesis whereby A and B will be added to form a new entity which Hegel says as Synthesis. Let’s understand this with an IP example. If there is an invention (A) done by an inventor, it will definitely be opposed and more contradiction will be addressed. This opposition will be anti-thesis (B). Now the inventor will come up with another invention where he will address ‘B’ along with his ‘A’. It will be synthesis i.e. ‘C’. This is what Hegel says that this principle of contradiction is a growth in itself. We don’t have to think that the process stops there. Even the synthesis will get anti-thesis and again synthesis will be made. Hence this process is a non-stop process until we achieve perfection. This whole method is what is called as Dialectic Method.

 The above process holds much importance with IP standards. The inventions are a continuous process which is always brought into conflict and contradictions. This is what makes the inventions better for future. This is where we are always moving towards the absolute idea and an absolute perfection. Hegel never prioritizes unity over diversity. It is what every individual matters. The individual always strives for the best and it is where the individual sees his own expression while doing his work. That infinite mind and the absolute idea that the individual possess always unfolds itself to strive for the best and that is what is called as dialectical evolution. The inventions evolve with time. What Edison did at that time was a thesis by developing a bulb to which there were anti-thesis. This was followed by synthesis which continued for century and this is what where we are today having all sort of modern equipments. Wright brother thesis over a plane and its continuous process has landed us to some of the world’s best aircrafts today. This is what the foundational principle of an ever growing regime of IP development is.

 But how can an IP reflects the creator’s personality? While reading above analysis, this becomes crystal clear that an infinitive mind thinks out of the box and over our sensibility. Hegel provides a beautiful explanation to this. What he opines is that when a person develops something from his infinitive mind, he materializes his personal trait in him. A sculpture or painter physically embodies his will and his personality in the medium and produces a piece of arts. This is what explains the creators’ personality in his work. If we see any type of literary work, stories, novels etc. we find that these works clearly signifies the authors’ personality which can be expressed as persona. The individual image and what the society perceives is what is ones’ persona. This Intellectual property and personality connection focuses on the creator’s will through the medium of the creation.

 This claim over the property by the creator is because of the fact that other should identify the work with the creator. Why the creator claims his property is because in order to create that particular persona. So what a person copies another work? Is it that the person who copies it does the violation of the author’s IP? If an author alienates his copies of work, what justifies the author to retain the exclusive right to reproduce it? The answer lies to the personality justification. The alienation of the work does not entails the right to reproduce it since the reproduction will capture the unique way of expression which subjects itself with that of the creators’ personality. The reproduction of the copies is the reproduction of the creators’ personality where the society resembles the work with that of the creator.

 Well the justification absolutely entails itself with that IPs which inherently contains the personality traits. Whether Hegel’s personality justification will hold good when it comes to those inventions which does not seems to contain the inventor’s personality. We cannot imagine Edison searching his personality in a filament that will burn. But we have to understand it from an opposite side. Who comes to your mind when some talks about the invention of bulb? Edison, Isn’t? When some says the name of Dopler, isn’t that you think of sound? This is the catch. One cannot say to identify himself with anything. For identification one needs to have an “internal connection”, and that is where the role of personality plays at large. Edison and Dopler have an internal connection with what they made and hence they are recognized by the society through their work which is what defines their personality-property connection. 

This piece does try to conceptualize the understanding of IP from the eyes of personality and the continuity in the evolution of IP. Undoubtedly there are many philosophies which do contribute in the foundational principle of IP but Locke’s and Hegel’s forms the substantial part of it. The author had tried to bring in all the important discussions related to above two philosophies. But is it valid to say that incentives based approach is necessary for future developments of IP? This will be discussed in the upcoming piece. 

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