Emory Law Journal


In the tradition of Locke¿s contextualist interpreters, this Comment examines Locke¿s philosophy and its context with the aim of describing a theory of Lockean copyright that is compatible with the basic tenets of American copyright law. Because the Lockean copyright theory offered here accounts for both procedural and consequential goods, it has stronger prescriptive power than the current utilitarian model and can do more work. Also, because Lockean duties lend well to bright-line rulemaking, applying Lockean thinking to legal analysis can streamline litigation. As an example of Locke¿s cash value to copyright law, this Comment expounds upon his thoughts on the natural law duties of property owners and the state¿s role in mitigating transaction costs of private ownership to assign burdens of proof at trial. This framework is utilized to outline a potential solution to the circuit split over whether the merger doctrine should apply during the copyrightability stage or the infringement stage of a copyright infringement lawsuit.