Intellectual Property Society and Federalist Society Host Debate
Pictured above: Professor Schultz, SIU School of Law Intellectual Property Society Members, visiting Professor Irina Manta and IP Society Advisor, Professor Holte.
On Wednesday, September 7, 2016, the Intellectual Property Society and the Federalist Society of Southern Illinois University School of Law hosted a debate between our own Professor Schultz and visiting Professor Irina Manta, of Hofstra Law, on the topic of fundamental theories behind intellectual property laws.
After brief introductions from the Presidents of each student organization, Professor Manta started off the debate by introducing the utilitarian view of intellectual property, a means by which IP law is shaped to maximize social welfare. Soon, the floor was yielded to Professor Schultz whose position contrasted with the utilitarian view; Schultz criticized the very idea, arguing that social welfare is far too complicated of a concept to effectively direct IP law and that the utilitarian view opened future laws to the biases of the law makers. Professor Schultz instead prefers the “natural rights” view of intellectual property which strives for institutions to contribute to and foster human flourishing by recognizing the natural right of a person who labors to the fruits of his or her efforts.
The debate concluded with a brief response from Professor Manta in which she argued that the natural rights view, like the utilitarian view, at a fundamental level also requires some arbitrarily founded, instinctually based views about morality, and thus is open to the same level of biases as the utilitarian view is.
The event had more than 80 students in the attendance and both speakers were able to answer questions from the attendees. Students inquired about how each speaker applied their chosen policy to specific IP issues, such as the medical field and its contribution to mankind. Each speaker took a moment to weigh in on the questions and the students’ questions stimulated further debate until it was time to conclude the event.