Mixed Metaphors in Cyberspace: Property in Information and Information Systems

40 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2004  

Jacqueline D. Lipton

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law


Many scholars have commented on the use of real and personal property metaphors to describe aspects of cyberspace, often expressing concern about inappropriate uses of such metaphors. If the focus of cyberspace law debates becomes too entrenched in notions of whether we should be utilizing real and/or personal property metaphors, we risk losing focus on some of the more important issues. These issues include questions about exactly what subject matter should be regulated by cyber-laws, and how approaches to protection might be appropriately harmonized between different jurisdictions in an increasingly globalized society. This paper focuses on some of these issues, utilizing a case study involving a framework for a new approach to regulations prohibiting unauthorized 'bad faith' incursions into information and information systems. In so doing, it advocates some reliance on personal property concepts in relation to information, and aspects of information systems. However, it argues that real property metaphors should be avoided in cyberspace. It also compares legal approaches to unauthorized interferences with proprietary information/information systems between the United States and the European Union.

Keywords: Intellectual property, computer trespass, information, information systems

Suggested Citation

Lipton, Jacqueline Deborah, Mixed Metaphors in Cyberspace: Property in Information and Information Systems. Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 35, pp. 235-274, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=493642

Jacqueline Deborah Lipton (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-383-3207 (Phone)

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