Intellectual Property and the Information Ecosystem
MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 02-16
21 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2005 Last revised: 8 May 2023
This short essay proceeds in two parts. The first part examines the controversy surrounding the use of the term "intellectual property." It discusses the common criticisms of the term's usage, including those articulated by Richard Stallman. It also challenges the myth that intellectual property did not acquire any property attributes until the establishment of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The essay suggests that the term may remain in common usage despite its uneasy analogy to real property, and a more nuanced understanding of property law may alleviate some of the problems caused by using the term.
The second part focuses on the need for a new conceptual framework to reframe the intellectual property debate. This part articulates three reasons why the information ecosystem would provide such a framework. First, it reminds policymakers and commentators of the problems of the current bipolar intellectual property debate. Second, it highlights the different components of the intellectual property system and the interactions among these components. Third, it underscores the need to take a holistic perspective and consider intellectual property laws and policies as one of the many components of a larger information ecosystem.
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