San Diego Law Review

Document Type



This Article attempts to provide the beginnings of a viable moral justification for recognizing and providing legal protection of intellectual property. The argument follows a line of arguments that is fairly characterized as “inspired” by John Locke’s attempt to justify legal protection of what he took to be a natural, objective, moral right to material property. That is to say, it is Lockean in spirit in the following sense: Locke grounds his argument for original acquisition in the idea that a person is justified in acquiring something from the commons in virtue of an investment he makes of something that is, in some sense, “his.” In the Lockean case of original acquisition, the relevant investment is a person’s expenditure of labor.