The Internet and digital technologies facilitate intellectual property crime by enabling the rapid posting and distribution of intellectual property (briefly discussed in Cybercrime Module 2 on General Types of Cybercrime) in violation of existing laws in ways that were previously unimagined. The ability to swiftly access, download, share, and copy intellectual property generates many new challenges for bodies of intellectual property laws and concepts that were primarily designed to deal with physical analogue formats containing the expression of ideas in design, art, symbols, sound, and image (Wall, 2017). For some, intellectual property protection is considered necessary to the protection of property rights, fostering of competition, and growth of economies. For others, however, intellectual property protection is unfairly restrictive with regards to access to information (Silbey, 2008; Wall, 2017) and freedom of expression (see Cybercrime Module 3 on Legal Frameworks and Human Rights, for information about the freedom of expression and intellectual property protection). This Module explores these conflicting views on intellectual property by first examining what intellectual property is, the different types of intellectual property, and the national, regional, and international laws regulating and protecting it, and then considering the causes, reasons, and perceived justifications for cyber-enabled copyright and trademark offences. This Module concludes with an examination of the national, regional, and international intellectual property protection and prevention efforts.
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