Intellectual Property Laws & the Internet

The growth of the Internet has put pressure on traditional intellectual property protections such as copyright and patent. Some forms of information, when made accessible on the Internet, are easily copied. Because the costs of copying are low and because copying is often anonymous, publishers have often responded with more aggressive enforcement of existing intellectual property rights and with calls for extensions of those rights to cover additional content, new media and new forms of access.

Copyright Issues Related to the Internet
The technology of the Internet provides a new medium for dissemination of information, and this new medium presents numerous challenges to traditional norms of copyright law. Most fundamentally, the Internet provides a means of nearly effortless and essentially perfect duplication and dissemination of works such as texts, pictures, audio-visual material, and other authorship for which copyright law provides certain exclusive rights to owners.

Trademark and Related Issues
Businesses and other organizations are accessible to one another over the Internet by particular World Wide Web addresses, known as “domain” names. Because of the unstructured nature of the Internet and particularly the Web, users often locate organizations by searching for domain names that correspond to the organization’s name. Not surprisingly, numerous disputes have arisen where companies with similar names, or manufacturing the same types of products, have wanted to adopt similar or identical domain names.

Patent Law and the Internet
Unlike the copyright and trademark issues brought to the fore by the rising popularity of the Internet, fundamental patent law norms are not subject to challenge by the Internet. The Internet’s popularity has spawned tremendous interest in certain patents related to enabling technology for the Internet. The growth of the Internet has provided certain new tools for patent research and analysis that were not previously available.

Trade Secret Law Developments
The law of trade secrets continues to have strong application in Internet-related industries, but the very nature of the Internet makes maintenance of trade secret information inherently difficult. Since information can be disseminated over the Internet almost effortlessly, once information finds its way onto the Internet it will be extremely difficult to claim trade secrecy for such information.

In conclusion
Different treaties have provided different levels of protection or address only specific limited issues in countries around the world. In some countries, the signing of the treaty is sufficient to give direct effect to the protections, which can then be relied on by nationals of other states. The internet so far lacks the infrastructure to fully secure ones’ intellectual property rights.
Q. Who would police the implementation of intellectual property laws worldwide?
Q. Which nation’s law will take precedence over the other in case of infringements?
Q. Why doesn’t UN create a global infrastructure to combat the issue?
Q. What are the qualifications for protection?
Q. What are the possible limitations on rights?
Q. What steps can individuals take to protect their creation?
Q. What technological advancements have been made to identify and block copied content of various media?

What is your view on the benefits of such legal procedures and what is the gain to the business community in general? Please share your comments.