Information as Property

JIPITEC 6 (3) 2015, 192

6 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016 Last revised: 1 Mar 2016

See all articles by Herbert Zech

Herbert Zech

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Juristische Fakultät

Date Written: 2015


Information is widely regarded as one of the key concepts of modern society. The production, distribution and use of information are some of the key aspects of modern economies. Driven by technological progress information has become a good in its own right. This established an information economy and challenged the law to provide an apt framework suitable to promote the production of information, enable its distribution and efficient allocation, and deal with the risks inherent in information technology. Property rights are a major component of such a framework. However, information as an object of property rights is not limited to intellectual property but may also occur as personality aspects or even tangible property. Accordingly, information as property can be found in the area of intellectual property, personality protection and other property rights. This essay attempts to categorize three different types of information that can be understood as a good in the economic sense and an object in the legal sense: semantic information, syntactic information and structural information. It shows how legal ownership of such information is established by different subjective rights. In addition the widespread debate regarding the justification of intellectual property rights is demonstrated from the wider perspective of informational property in general. Finally, in light of current debates, this essay explores whether “data producers” shall have a new kind of property right in data.

Keywords: intellectual property, semantic information, syntactic information, data

Suggested Citation

Zech, Herbert, Information as Property (2015). JIPITEC 6 (3) 2015, 192, Available at SSRN:

Herbert Zech (Contact Author)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Juristische Fakultät ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, D-10099

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