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<nettime> basic terms in the IP discusssion
Felix Stalder on Thu, 28 Aug 2003 18:28:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> basic terms in the IP discusssion

I'm writing a little glossary for a newspaper [1] we are putting together
on IP issues. The newspaper will be distributed at WSIS [2]. Better
definitions are welcome.

Public Good: 
Goods whose use is non-rivalrous, i.e. using the good does not deplete it,
and non-excludable, i.e. once it is produced people cannot be excluded
from using it. The light house at the coast, alerting ships of potential
peril, is an example of a public good. Without intellectual property law,
particularly copyrights and patents, all digital information would be a
public good.

Private Property:
Information owned by a private legal entity (a coporation or a individual 
person). The owner has exclusive rights to the property as defined by the IP 
law and can do as s/he pleases with it. Most importantly, the owner can 
freely set the conditions under which it can be accessed and used by third 

Public Property:
Information owned by the state. Within the bounds of the law and what is 
politically acceptable, the state can do with the information has it sees 
fit. Example: census data.

Public Domain:
Information that has no legal protection, either because copyrights/patents 
have expired, or because it has been released into the public domain by the 
owner. Example: the works of William Shakespear.

A pool for information that is managed by a community of users. Acceptable use 
policies are set by the community. Usually, access to the resource is granted 
non a non-discriminatory basis and at no or low costs. Example: scientific 
information, open source software.

[1] http://www.world-information.org/wio/wsis
[2] http://www.itu.int/wsis/


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