ITGS Syllabus

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Topic 82

Intellectual property relating to the copying and modifying of text, images, sound and video (fair use policies) by Ken Moyer

Intellectual property is a right given to people who created something through innovation. Whoever received this right can treat their innovation like a property for a given period of time. Then during that time period, people cannot copy or use the innovation created by the right holder unless he allows it. In this essay, I would like to briefly explain the different kinds of intellectual properties, and then mention some social issues about intellectual property.

A copyright is an intellectual property that people are probably most familiar with. It is given to books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, software, or any artistic works. The owner of the copyright has the rights to control reproduction or adaption of such works for a certain time period.

A patent is an intellectual property given to a inventor who created some invention. It is given to new, useful, or sometimes even non-obvious inventions. The patent holder is given an exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention for a certain time period. This is typically 20 years but can vary due to the importance of the invention to the society.

A trademark is given to various business products or services. Businesses give their product or service a distinctive sign. This will distinguish the different products and service businesses create.

An industrial design right is given to industries. It protects the form of appearance, style or design of an industrial object for a given period of time. Examples are spare parts, furniture, and textiles. Other industries cannot copy the innovation of another industry unless they have an agreement or permmission, which is very unlikely.

A trade secret is given to a secret. The secret is a non public information that is concerning the commercial practices, proprietary knowldege of a business, or public disclosre. This may sometimes be illegal, which is a very scary thought.

Now I would like to talk about the different social issues involved in this topic. The first one is about the economy. Giving intellectual property rights to someone is like making him a monopoly. A monopoly is created because noone can copy or create the product for a certain time period. Therefore the owner of the intellectual property rights has no competition in the business world. This means that the price can be altered as the owner wishes. Then a market failure occurs because price does not reflect the society’s real price. This means that goods and services are not allocated efficiently. Consequently, some people say that intellectual properties are not good for the economy.

But some people disagree to this idea. Intellectual property rights creates more innovation because the innovation is protected by the rights. Then there will be more products in the market. This increases the standard of living of a country. Standard of living is number of choices a country can offer to their people. If more goods and services are out in the market, then people have higher standard of livings. A higher standard of living also means that the country’s GDP is higher because they are directly proportional. Consequently, intellectual property can also be good for the economy. This is a big debate.

Copying information that has intellectual property rights is said to be illegal for stealing. But the official definition of theft is taking away the property, taking of away the owner’s use of the property, or the destruction of the property. But if you copy an information, it does not take away the information away from the owner, it does not take away the owner’s right to use the information, or it is not destroying the information. Therefore, some people believe that breaking the intellectual property rights should not be illegal because it is not theft.


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