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Property Rights Theory and the Commons: The Case of Scientific Research

  • Robert P. Merges (a1)

For some time now, commentators in and out of the scientific community have been expressing concern over the direction of scientific research. Cogent critics have labeled it excessively commercial, out of touch with its “pure,” public-spirited roots, and generally too much a creature of its entrepreneurial, self-interested times. In most if not all of this hand-wringing, the scientific community's growing reliance on intellectual property rights, especially patents, looms large. Indeed, for many the pursuit of patents is emblematic of just what is rotten in the republic of science today.

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Jon Cohen , “Share and Share Alike Isn't Always the Rule in Science; Many Researchers Fail to Share Materials,” Science, vol. 268 (06 23, 1995), pp. 1715–18.

Carl Djerassi , “The Gray Zone: Academic Researchers and Private Enterprise,” Science, vol. 261 (08 20, 1993), p. 972.

Robert P. Merges , “Intellectual Property and the Costs of Commercial Exchange: A Review Essay,” Michigan Law Review, vol. 93 (1995), p. 1570.

Thrainn Eggertsson , Economic Behavior and Institutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Eleanor Ostrom , Governing the Commons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Glenn Stevenson , Common Property Economics: A General Theory and Land Use Applications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)

Robert Cooter , “Inventing Market Property: The Land Courts of Papua New Guinea,” Law and Society Review, vol. 25 (1991), p. 760

Rebecca Eisenberg , “Patents and the Progress of Science: Exclusive Rights and Experimental Use,” University of Chicago Law Review, vol. 56 (1989), p. 1017

Rebecca Eisenberg , “Genes, Patents, and Product Development,” Science, vol. 257, p. 903

Reid Adler , “Genome Research: Fulfilling the Public's Expectations for Knowledge and Commercialization,” Science, vol. 257 (1992), p. 908

Thomas Kiley , “Patents on Random Complementary DNA Fragments?Science, vol. 257 (1992), p. 915

Bernadine Healy , “Special Report on Gene Patenting,” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 327 (1992), p. 664.

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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