|2.1||Copyright: Guardian of Intellectual Property|
have certainly heard the word property before: it is generally used
to mean a possession, or more specifically, something to which the owner
has legal rights. You might have also encountered the phrase intellectual
property. This term has become more commonplace during the past
few years, especially in the context of computer ethics. But what exactly
does it refer to?
Before we explore the answer to this question, we must first discuss the existence of a very important organization: the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This organization was founded in 1967 as one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations organizations, and it has since remained responsible for the protection of intellectual property.
Because the WIPO is the leading authority on this matter, we turn to the text of the Convention Establishing the WIPO for a definition of intellectual property. The treaty states that intellectual property generally refers to rights relating to, among others, the following:
1. literary, artistic, and scientific
In other words, intellectual
the most general sense, encompasses creations of the human intellect (hence
the term itself) and their protection, usually by copyright.
This brings us to the purpose of the WIPO. It is internationally responsible
for both the protection of intellectual property (by means of cooperation
among its member nations) and the legal and administrative aspects of it.
To this end, it administers various treaties,
all which attempt to better the protection of intellectual property.
1. literary and artistic works, which includes
every production in the literary, scientific, and artistic domain, whatever
the mode of expression
The United States of America, one of the member states of the WIPO, has established similar guidelines in its Copyright Law, for example. It is also generally agreed that the owner of the copyright (and only the owner!) is authorized to do the following with the work:
1. reproduce it
In summary then, copyright
laws protect intellectual property.
It should be noted, however, that copyright protection extends to
expression and not to ideas, procedures, or methods of
operations (as stated in the WIPO
Copyright Treaty of 1996).
|Last revised: 7/23/99|