As emphasized in the main text of this book, particularly in Chapter 2, the recent development of new IT has brought about reductions in the cost of producing, processing, and distributing information. IPP has become an important issue both in domestic and international spheres.
Ownership of conventional, as distinct from intellectual, property is well protected by property laws and social customs. There is universal understanding that conventional property protection is a basis of the free economy; there is a sound economic theory that supports this concept. For protection of intellectual property rights, however, there is no such understanding. Debates are taking place as to the extent to which protection should be extended or the method by which it should be implemented. The discrepancy between the interests of advanced and developing countries on protection is remarkable, as shown in Chapter 4. Little has been done to develop a theory of protection of intellectual property rights that could explain how these issues might be resolved.
Because information has a public-good characteristic, the social and the private benefits will be greater the wider it is copied and used. From this consideration alone, therefore, it would be best not to protect intellectual property rights but to allow free circulation of information. On the other hand, however, in order to encourage production of information, reward needs to be given to the producer. A straightforward way to do this is to