Intellectual Property Rights in a Global Market
An IP Survey by Donald Burleson
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
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.
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
of 1887, which provided for automatic international copyright between the
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
should be noted that the victim (Microsoft) probably spent a considerable sum of
money researching the labyrinthine maze of evidence collection and cross
?Griffiths claimed to be beyond the reach of U.S. law, and today, we have proven
otherwise,? said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher.
represents the Department of Justice's commitment to protect intellectual
property rights from those who violate our laws from the other side of the
?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
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:
An Unhurried View of Copyright - Kaplan, 1967
The Copyright Book - Strong, 1986
Copyright Law - Henn, 1988
Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Laws -
The Illustrated Story of Copyright - Samuels,