The Copyright: History, Growth and Conceptual Analysis

The Copyright: History, Growth and Conceptual Analysis

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1131-2.ch002

Abstract

It makes sense to discuss the history of copyright before open access. This chapter will establish the background for context. In order to understand the significance of open access repositories, it would be reasonable to be aware of the relevant debate. Therefore, it is necessary to trace the historical development of the concept of copyright as a property right. The continued relevance of the rationales for copyright interests, both philosophical and pragmatic, will be assessed in the contemporary times of digital publishing.
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Introduction

As explained in the introduction, this chapter is based on the premise that to understand the significance of open access repositories, it is necessary to know the context of the debate. Therefore, it is necessary to trace the historical development of the concept of copyright as a property right. The continued relevance of the rationales for copyright interests, both philosophical and pragmatic, will be assessed against the contemporary times of digital publishing. Additionally, the reasons for the rise of open access practice and the impact of the online revolution on conventional publishing methods will be considered.

The discussion in this chapter is about the proper equilibrium between self-interest and social good. In other words, there is a need to find an appropriate means to balance individuals’ interests and the common will. Thus, the concept of property that interrelates justice (Plato), private ownership (Aristotle), labour (Locke), growth of personality (Hegel) and a bundle of rights that constitute legal relations (Hohfeld) will be considered. It is evident from the literature that the core notion of property as a concept and its subject matter stems from Aristotle’s ideas, which are about private property that leads to evolution, production and personal growth. It could be argued that the concept of property has evolved from Plato’s joint ownership theory to full liberal ownership theory and moved in the direction set by Aristotle. Following Aristotle, all philosophers similarly describe the concept of private property.

However, Plato’s concept of property for communal use helps me argue that it is a potentially more desirable model in the context of open access philosophy. The origins of the notion of property lie in his philosophy; in accordance with his ideas, the concept of property was introduced as joint ownership in terms of social justice and, moreover, as a beneficial tool to support the growth of the whole republic—the ideal republic. He argues that there should not be private property and, therefore, property under the umbrella of joint ownership forms the appropriate factor for peace and justice. Aristotle, although a student of Plato, focuses on a more individualistic aspect; he contends that private property is more effective and will lead to improvement. It is obvious that he denies his teacher’s (Plato’s) rationale about joint ownership by signaling that such extreme unification is against the diversity of personal identity and against the benefit that everyone gathers through market exchange.

This leads to a discussion of Locke’s philosophy, as he extends the aspect of private property ownership by combining it with work. Locke claims that whatever work is produced by an individual becomes his/her property. This idea justifies the connection between ownership and creation. Specifically, in his work titled Second Treatise on Government (Locke, 2016), Locke proposes an explanation of by what right an individual can claim to own one part of the world when, according to the Bible, God gave the world to human beings in common. Locke argues that individuals own themselves and thus their own labour. At this point, the connection between Aristotle’s and Locke’s logic is evident. Locke and Aristotle agree that the issue of private property is one of many intricacies. However, Locke contends a more individualistic rationale for property ownership than Aristotle.

Further on, according to Hegel’s views, the concept of property is used to comprehend it as a phase in the development of humankind and the growth of individual personality; thus, he extends the appropriate environment or surroundings of private property following Aristotle’s and Locke’s logic or reasoning. This chronological order could be an effective flow of thinking that enables me to propose justifications for the emergence of OA as additional support to current copyright regimes.

From Aristotle’s philosophy to modern times there are differences regarding traits of property and its ownership, as, one by one, philosophers added new features to their theories. Plato’s basic argument about joint ownership was neglected. However, Plato’s philosophy on property will enable me to draw on his notions about communal property or joint ownership and its significance within OA. The argumentation in this book relies on Plato’s logic, partly because later philosophers also subliminally support his ideas regarding communal use of property, as they highlight several unique aspects of community.

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