Commentary on:
Hegel: Remarks on Intellectual Property (1821)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: d_1821



Hegel: Remarks on Intellectual Property, Berlin (1821)

Friedemann Kawohl

School of Finance & Law, Bournemouth University, UK


Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on Hegel's Remarks on Intellectual Property, Berlin (1821), in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. References


1. Full title

Remarks on Intellectual Property as published in the First Part ("Abstract Rights") of Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Rights (Chapter: "Property", section: "Alienation", sub-sections 41-43 & 61-71) plus Hegel's own handwritten annotations (title-page, pp.47,48, 63-76)


2. Abstract

The justification of copyright through a personality argument as presented by Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel is often regarded as the "most powerful alternative to a Lockean model of property".[1] Hegel's remarks on intellectual property were printed as part of his Elements of the Philosophy of Rights, a book that was based on the lectures he gave at the University of Berlin between 1818 and 1831. The document presented in our digital archive is a private copy of the first print edition of 1821 that was annotated by Hegel himself for use in subsequent lectures. In Hegel's view, property is something that enables the exercise of subjective freedom rather than a consequence of civil liberties.[2] Thus, literary property is also a manifestation of a person's free will. Hegel's concept of individual, personal rights as a basis of copyright was influenced by Kant and Fichte and had some bearing on the later theories of Gareis, Gierke and Bluntschli, even if Hegel's legal theory was not referred to generally by German jurists in the second half of the nineteenth century.


3. References


Books and articles [in alphabetical order]

Drahos P., A Philosophy of Intellectual Property (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1996)

Hughes, J., "The philosophy of Intellectual Property", The Georgetown LJ 77 (1988): 287-366

Schroeder, J. L., "Unnatural Rights: Hegel and Intellectual Property", Cardozo Law School, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 80 (2004)

[1] Justin Hughes, "The philosophy of Intellectual Property", The Georgetown LJ 77 (1988): 287-366.

[2] Cf. Peter Drahos, A Philosophy of Intellectual Property (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1996)

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