The Social Justice Imperative , as in the case for “Fair trade” products.
The socio-morality solution to IP ownership.
Property ownership has always been a tenuous concept. Historically, ownership has relied in personal force for its maintenance. In modern times people have relied upon governing structures to protect property rights in the interest of keeping order and fostering the stability needed for growth. In fact, property rights are still only protected by force. The difference being that legal force has replaced physical force. Because those without property have always outnumbered those with property, there has never been a strong societal support of property rights.
This proposal attempts to motivate society as a whole to give recognition for the right of ownership of Intellectual Property, on the basis of Social Justice, which is a universally supported concept.
A resolution to the dilemma of the ownership of Intellectual Property, would be to compel the recognition of the inventor or creator of a concept, by anyone who chooses to use the IP. In the case of goods, which use the IP for eventual resale to the market, there would be a readable label attached to the good, which would recognize the inventor and the amount the manufacturer paid for the use of the IP in that specific item.
This theory contends that while many people may bend or ignore inconvenient laws, society as a whole understands and respects natural laws to ownership. When a manufacturer or producer is required to post the value he assigns to an integral part of his product, then that value must be reflected in the amount paid to the owner of the Intellectual Property, which allowed the production. If the IP is assigned a very low or zero value, it automatically reflects upon the end value of the product. Any producer assigning a low value to the IP and a high value to the end product will be seen as a thief or piker. Over the broad spectrum of the market, the products of such a person would be avoided.
Obviously, there will be difficulties with such labeling in the case of highly complex products which incorporate many processes and multiple IP instances. However, a formula can be created which ranks the utility value of specific parts of a product. A cell phone with an attractive case might be appealing to the market, but would be quite useless without the tiny circuits inside. The manufacture himself in touting claims for the superiority of his product would be motivated to assign higher values to those aspects which differentiated his product.
While this may appear cumbersome, it is now quite feasible given the available computing power and supply chain management.
Thoughts on nonexclusive rights.
While there cannot be any moral justification for compelling owners of Intellectual Property to share that property, a solution resides in declaring that IP may not be sold to an exclusive purchaser. Rather, it can only be licensed into the market, and if it is so licensed, the IP must be open to all potential users on the basis detailed above.