Protecting the digital endeavour: prospects for intellectual property rights in the information society

Cowan, Robin and Harison, Elad (2001). Protecting the digital endeavour: prospects for intellectual property rights in the information society. UNU-MERIT Research Memoranda. UNU-MERIT.

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    Author Cowan, Robin
    Harison, Elad
    Title Protecting the digital endeavour: prospects for intellectual property rights in the information society
    Series Title UNU-MERIT Research Memoranda
    Volume/Issue No. 28
    Publication Date 2001
    Publisher UNU-MERIT
    Language eng
    Abstract The impacts of the New Economy are not limited only to recently developed technologies, but involve new opportunities for more 'traditional' technologies to develop. Knowledge-based industries, and information technologies in particular, hold both promises and threats in many fields. However, as technical know-how is both an input to and an output of knowledge-based industries, IPR regimes may have a large effect on the pace of innovation in knowledge-based technologies. Knowledge is a stimulus for innovation, particularly in knowledge-based technologies where large shares of technical know-how are embedded in final goods. Information goods are described as public goods: if information is disclosed to the public, its originator loses the advantages of propriety, but a new generation of know-how and ideas is stimulated and expanded as a result of its publication. However, knowledge is not legally a public good because unauthorized reproduction can be monitored by IPR. Whether IPR regimes facilitate innovation or reduce its pace has been raised as a pressing issue by the emergence of new technological paradigms and recent economic changes, namely the New Economy. This paper discusses four technologies which are emblematic of the new economy, and which raise important issues regarding IPRs. The technologies presented in this report were selected for analysis on three criteria. First, they are predicted to see rapid evolution during the coming decade and to hold a major share of both economic activity and growth. Second, these technologies are knowledge-based and most have been developed since the mid 1980s. Third, in the context of the technologies discussed here, the current design of IPR regimes seems to conflict with their original aims, namely fostering innovation and technological diffusion by promoting knowledge disclosure and granting monopoly. This report also reviews alternative economic and business models that question the need to protect information goods by IPRs.
    Copyright Year 2001
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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