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Key Books on the Philosophy of Intellectual Property 

This page contains links to some useful books about the philosophy of intellectual property law. The books are organised according to their main themes. This bibliography is not exhaustive (eg. only books with cover art available could be included), but it is reasonably comprehensive. It should provide a good starting point for research into various areas of intellectual property theory, policy and philosophy.

The books on this page have been split into two categories. 

The first group contains books that discuss what intellectual property is, how it is justified (often known as 'normative arguments' for intellectual property), how it came about (its history), and how its operation fits within economic theory. Many of these books are critical of intellectual property law and argue for change. Others simply analyse the nature of this area of law. 

The second group of books contains analysis of the 'authorship' concept, which can be found in copyright ('the author'), patents ('the inventor') and designs ('the designer'). This concept has a crucial role to play in various areas of intellectual property law, so much philosophical attention has been paid to it. This group also contains books dealing with the 'public domain' or the 'commons', which is sometimes seen as the antithesis of intellectual property, as it describes material that is not covered by intellectual property laws and is thus more likely to be free for anyone to use. The final section in this group contains books about intellectual property 'as property'. Some of these books deal with general property theory, rather than intellectual property specifically, but all of them do address intellectual property and they are valuable for the broader legal context in which they place intellectual property law.

To use this interactive bibliography, spin the wheels of books using the arrows, and hover over a book with your cursor for author, title and price details. Clicking on a book will open it in another window, where you can view further publication details and reviews. This will also allow you to purchase the book(s) if you would like to delve further into their insights, analyses and arguments about intellectual property law. Alternatively, enter the book's details into the WorldCat search box to find it in a library.

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