Magazine article Information Today

Addressing Intellectual Property Issues

Magazine article Information Today

Addressing Intellectual Property Issues

Article excerpt

Caught in a Web: Intellectual Property in Cyberspace Edited by Richard Poynder London: Derwent Information, 2001 ISBN: 0-901157-01-05

191 pages


Information professionals are more aware than most people of the importance of intellectual property (IP) laws and regulations, including copyright and patents. Copying of all sorts of materials has always been a concern for libraries. With the advent of the Internet, making copies and exchanging them has become that much easier. Applications for patents and copyrights of software and hardware have exploded. Vehement partisans favor making huge amounts of information free to all on the Web while others favor tough restrictions. For those of us who may be more used to thinking in terms of how many photocopies we can make of a journal article, this is a whole new arena. To provide a concise introduction to some of the many issues currently being debated, Richard Poynder has written and edited a number of helpful pieces in Caught in a Web: Intellectual Property in Cyberspace.

Poynder is a freelance writer specializing in intellectual property and technology. He is a former editor of Information World Review and now contributes to the London Financial Times. In Caught in a Web, he has collected individual chapters by experts like Hugh Brett (trademarks and domain names) and Paul Gosling (copyright) as well as interviews with important people in the IP field. Poynder himself has written several chapters; his journalistic background is apparent in his smooth, readable style. The international scope of the book includes references to both US. and European laws and issues.

Caught in a Web is divided into six chapters illustrating various aspects of the intellectual property debate. Each chapter includes two interviews with prominent figures who hold differing viewpoints on the chapter's topic. The first chapter introduces us to some of the basic issues and to two responses that have been taken toward protecting IP: new laws and new technology. Laws, both national and international, attempt to regulate the many possibilities of the Internet. By building in technical safeguards, new technology tries to outwit those who would use IP without permission.

Chapter Two focuses on copyright. Adapting traditional concepts of copyright to the Internet has proven difficult. Although services like Napster may be stopped temporarily, additional technology to circumvent the rules seems to develop almost immediately. The publishing and music industries are rushing to devise new strategies and business models. One alternative is open source or free software, which allows users to modify the code and then share the results.

Trademarks and domain names, the subject of the third chapter, continue to be a sticky issue. …

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