Copy Rights
The existence of copies results in legal conundrums of which there are a number of possible alternative solutions.

One approach would be to give rights to all individuals - if you copy yourself, you and your copy have equal rights to your property and are both legal persons. In some jurisdictions you might be the same legal person - copying creates a kind of corporation of you and your copy, where you have equal say and ownership of the shared resources. This corporation can be split using standard legal means if you and your copy part ways.

Another approach would be to say that a dividual has rights - rights are given to the collective, not the individual being. This means that erasing copies of me is nothing more than vandalism (if done illegally) and a kind of physical fine (if done by the law), and property is owned by the dividual. Likely all actions of any individual will reflect on the dividual legal persona - if my copy robs the bank, the whole dividual will be dragged into court.

Other jurisdictions might have intermediate views. For example, copies might be recognized as having the right to life, so you are not allowed to delete them against their wishes, while they might not have a right to property. Some jurisdictions separate the copies from the original (or "prime individual"), giving the prime more rights than copies.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 24 September 2001.