Magazine article USA TODAY

Property Rights in Cyberspace

Magazine article USA TODAY

Property Rights in Cyberspace

Article excerpt

The concept of "property" may be up for revision in cyberspace as the rapid expansion of the information superhighway results in a collision between public and private values, according to Stanford University law porfessor Margaret Jane Radin. She predicts that the development of new communications technology will force a rethinking of property rights in this country and elsewhere.

U.S. laws primarily treat intellectual property as an economic property right. The laws were designed to give copyrights and patents to people with creative ideas so they would have an economic incentive to produce something of value to society as a whole. Yet, poets do not primarily write poetry for money nor do most academics write journal articles with remuneration in mind, Radin notes. "Something similar is going on, perhaps, for many of the non-commercial home-page writers and listposters" on the Internet.

This doesn't mean that people who post information on the Internet choose to let go of their work to the point where it "sinks back into the great unidentified mass. Its function for personhood seems to require that it keep its identity, by which I mean both attribution to the creator and the integrity of the work. …

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