Intellectual property is a relatively new idea, and has met with much confusion from the general public. Though the general idea of intellectual property has been in existence for over 100 years, it still requires some explanation for most individuals. Intellectual property is the simple concept that any imaginative or creative piece of work – including ideas and inventions – belongs solely to its original creator. This means that only the creator of the work has rights to use it, sell it or reproduce it. This idea has its basis in copyright laws, which legally determine who these new ideas, inventions or products belong to.
Intellectual property is heavily based in moral thinking. To many, individuals that create their own works have the right to protect them from plagiarism, theft or unapproved reproduction. As the person was the inventor of the work, they should have the irrevocable right to use that work as they see fit. Intellectual property often falls under the same heading as ‘private property’ for most people. As most intellectual property is privately formed, it should not be investigated, stolen or tampered with – the same way it is illegal to do so with private property.
There are several laws regarding intellectual property. Each of these laws works to protect individuals against counterfeiting or idea theft. By maintaining control over intellectual property, governments hope to stimulate markets and increase economic productivity. Such guardianship over intellectual property also protects the financial and practical investments of the creator, who is guaranteed to receive well-deserved credit and pay for their invention. However, there are significant drawbacks to a focus on personal intellectual property. Sometimes, this can result in a monopolistic sentiment; an inventor of a much-needed product can keep others from producing it, creating a huge demand that will drive up costs and strain supplies. This can even create moral dilemmas where they were once avoided. Holding back medical, scientific or militant ideas, for example, can have a negative impact on many. Intellectual property is, overall, a complicated and controversial topic for many people in the world today.