The Future of Intellectual Property

It’s interesting to speculate on the future of intellectual property. Will open source collaboration and peer-to-peer sharing lead to a world where information becomes a free resource? Or will patents and copyright restrictions continue to rule?

Two interesting stories this week provide contradictory insights. Computer Weekly reports that Eli Lilly, a leading US pharmaceutical company is putting research work out to open tender to enable its transformation to a networked organisation. In contrast, the Economist reports on the growth of patents in China and the opening of 50 courts to deal solely with intellectual property cases.

As with many things in life, there are contradictory trends. On the one hand we have the growing power and knowledge sharing and collaboration to develop valuable new intellectual property. And on the other there is the need to protect the increasing value of intellectual assets which are becoming more significant in an information-driven age.

One thing is clear though. Copyright restrictions have been growing throughout the last century, ever since Walt Disney made a fortune out of ideas lifted freely from the Brothers Grimm.

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Here's our response; the electrohippies -- communiqué 20090409 -- no embargo  the electrohippies call on people around the globe to celebrate World Intellectual Privateers Day 2009 A call to action against the inclosure of human society's creativity by "intellectual privateering rights" Produced by the Free Range electrohippies Project, 9th April 2009. Today the electrohippies are calling upon people around the globe to celebrate World Intellectual Privateers Day on April 26th 2009. In a concerted action across the Internet, we call upon people to select a piece of information or other creative work which should be in the public domain, but which is chained by the rules of intellectual privateering rights (IPRs), and to re-appropriate it for the people of the world to share in common by publishing it as widely as possible on-line.