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Don Burleson Blog 








Intellectual Property Rights in a Global Market

An IP Survey by Donald Burleson


This is a WORK IN PROGRESS and not yet completed.


Enforcing copyright and patents has always been expensive and time consuming, and the internet has added a whole new layers of expense, as enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights across a global jurisdiction can be nearly impossible.


Enforcing IP rights in a global economy is a nightmare because of conflicting laws and enforcement rules that often make it impossible to stop web thieves.


At the most simple level, capitalist governments started the practice of allowing patents and copyrights as an incentive for individuals to profit from unique inventions and creative works.  On the other hand, communist governments find it offensive that someone can become hugely wealthy:

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs - Karl Marx

The enforcement of IP rights is all about money and the capitalist notion that the creators of intellectual property to profit from their work.  Obviously, social mores toward protecting wealth vary widely, and therein lies the problem with the enforcement of global IP rights.


In todays global economy we see that some countries do not share the USA standards for patent and copyright protection, and this opens the door to blatant theft and piracy.

  • The length of copyright protection varies wide by country.  The first English copyright law (dating from 1710), only allowed protection for 14 years.

  • Not all countries recognize USA intellectual property rights, and here is a list of adhering countries.  It's worth noting that it was not until 1891 that foreign content could be copyrighted within the USA.

  • Efforts to globalize copyright have failed.  The USA did not accept the Bern Convention of 1887, which provided for automatic international copyright between the member countries.

A history of international copyright enforcement

The instant access and zero cost of the internet have created a significant threat to any Oracle database that is deployed on the web, especially from poor countries and countries that do not honor copyrights.

Oracle data online is constantly threatened, and data thieves write ?Hoovers? (a Hoover is a data vacuum) to simulate online database transaction to siphon-off valuable information.  Major online Oracle customers such as eBay have had to block Hoovers to prevent data theft, but the crooks just keep on coming, determined to steal your valuable online information. 

But it's the lack of enforceability of intellectual property rights that has changed the landscape of information dissemination.  The proprietary nature of the original World Wide Web was gone, and the proprietary landscape Western Union has been replaced by a free model with the bandwidth to transfer huge sets of valuable information. 

Web thieves can digitize bestselling books and pirate them for instantaneous downloads anywhere on the planet.  Worse yet, internet hackers are now attacking online databases and stealing data with free abandon.

Enforcement of international IP rights

Getting protection from an international thief is a costly and complex endeavor, but the wealthiest corporations have had some success in protecting intellectual property rights.  Take the case of Hew Raymond Griffiths, a man who was extradited from Australia to serve a sentence in the USA for piracy.  Mr. Griffiths had never set-foot on American soil, yet that did not keep Microsoft from extraditing him to serve a US prison sentence for his piracy of Microsoft products. 

However, it should be noted that the victim (Microsoft) probably spent a considerable sum of money researching the labyrinthine maze of evidence collection and cross jurisdictional issues.

?Griffiths claimed to be beyond the reach of U.S. law, and today, we have proven otherwise,? said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher.

'this extradition represents the Department of Justice's commitment to protect intellectual property rights from those who violate our laws from the other side of the globe.?

?Our agents and prosecutors are working tirelessly to nab intellectual property thieves, even where their crimes transcend international borders,? said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.?

We also see this copyright infringement claim by Oracle corporation against the German corporation SAP, a task made far easier because of the SAP presence within the US jurisdiction.

The internet: The 21st Century thieves market

The theft of intellectual property has become an epidemic, and authors like Steven King lost millions of dollars when his bestselling books were digitized and offered for free on the internet.  Midcap publishers are at the most risk.  One of my own books, the Oracle Press ?Oracle 10g Application Server Administration Handbook? was stolen and proffered for only $6.50 on eBay.  The publisher (McGraw-Hill) was able to have the auction removed but they did not get the thief arrested or prosecuted.

It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to facilitate the arrest of web criminals for the theft of intellectual property, and the crooks know that many small companies don't have the financial resources to challenge the thieves.  Unless you are a multi-billion dollar company, the average American publisher had little recourse from international Oracle theft.  As a consequence, crooks steal Oracle data without any fear of capture, arrest and jail.

Sooner or later, the problem may become so bad that traditional publishers will go bankrupt, their high quality information being superseded with reams of garbage, the clutter of 500M blogs.  It will only be with the worldwide enforcement of IP rights that people can be protected from the wholesale theft of their information.



Copyright & intellectual property notes


Here are my related notes on copyright and intellectual property status:

Copyright References:

  • An Unhurried View of Copyright - Kaplan, 1967

  • The Copyright Book - Strong, 1986

  • Copyright Law - Henn, 1988

  • Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Laws - Samuels, 1989

  • The Illustrated Story of Copyright - Samuels, 2000




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