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Intellectual Capital - WSIS

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Intellectual capital in a digital world

There is no doubt that today we are living in the societies of knowledge, societies shaped by the information revolution, and run by communication technologies. Their capability to allow sudden ubiquity of information greatly contributes to the emergence of the information era.

At the dawn of this new age, the concept of “intellectual capital” has been used for the first time to explain the importance of intellectual resources - such as information, knowledge, and experience - in the modern economy. Intellectual capital supplanted industrial machinery and natural resources, and is today considered one of the most valuable factors for the creation of wealth, being at the same time source and final product. The management of intellectual assets has therefore become the most important task of business.

Information and communication technologies contribute to knowledge management, allowing seamless communication of information at real time anywhere in the world. ICTs therefore contribute to the creation of new forms of business, foster the growth of ‘virtual’ markets, and promote the development of innovative avenues for social and political expression.

The new economic and social order, however, is bringing about new legal and societal issues, which are generating a growing body of laws and regulations, and fostering discussion within the international community.

Some of these issues regard the management of digital information and knowledge, and the protection of intellectual property rights on the Internet, where it is necessary to strike a delicate balance between the need to protect authors' creations and encourage the dissemination of original ideas while at the same time promoting the public interest, allowing access to information and creative exchange. Protection is necessary not only for on-line music or written texts and information, but also for software: the debate on “open source” software, i.e. a software which sources can be accessed by users, is ongoing, and its economic consequences are being considered.

The continuous interaction between users and operators through the Internet, on-line transactions, e-commerce, and electronic banking, are also creating new concerns regarding the protection of users' personal data, and creates a need for innovative systems guaranteeing privacy and ensuring the source of the information (authentication).

The preparation of the World Summit on the Information Society offers a unique forum for the discussion of these new topics. The following page offers some background information to participants in the Summit, providing links to official documents, international reports, news and web pages. 



  Privacy and Data Protection


  Intellectual Property


  Open Source 




  Management of Internet Names and Addresses


Privacy protection:

E-Europe and Privacy 

"New advanced digital technologies are currently being introduced in public communications networks in the Community, which give rise to specific requirements concerning the protection of personal data and privacy of the user"

European Union, Internal Market: Data Protection 

Directive 2002/58/EC  of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications).

News on Privacy:

Info Industry Debates E-Privacy - Wired News

Other links to privacy websites:

Electronic Frontier Foundation - Privacy

International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG) - Data protection issues — next generation roaming 


Intellectual Property:

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

- Copyright Treaty 

- WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

- WIPO Copyrights and related rights 

- Intellectual Property on the Internet: a Survey of Issues

World Trade Organization (WTO): Annex 1C of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, signed in Marrakesh, Morocco on 15 April 1994 on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

European Union and Intellectual Property Rights:

European Commission - Intellectual Property

Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (EU Directive on Copyrights)

Copyright and education:


- Global legislation on intellectual property 

- INFOethics: Copyright and access to information in the digital environment

United States Copyrights debate:

US - Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) 

US Copyright office 

Supreme Court to decide online copyright debate

U.S. Supreme Court to Determine Legality of Copyright Extension Law

Eldred v. Ashcroft  

Academic and educational centres relating to copyright in the internet:

Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School

Berkeley Technology Law Journal 

Yale Law School: Law Meme

News and other sources:

Wired News

New York Times - Technology

First Monday  

The Register: The XXX Clause is Obscene



European Union and e-Commerce

International Telecommunication Union, Development Sector: e-Commerce projects and events

OECD - Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce  

WIPO: Primer on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property Issues  

Consumers and confidence:

An international study released this week found gaps in the credibility and privacy policies of many Web sites that give health and financial advice: "Credibility on the Web - An international study of the credibility of consumer information on the internet" (.pdf) - Consumers International

Study: Net Credibility Gap Gapes , Wired News  

Study finds fault with advice sites,

Digital signature:

DIRECTIVE 1999/93/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signatures 


Open Source:

What is the potential of software with a design code that can be freely accessed and modified by computer users?

Open Source Initiative (OSI): Open Source Definition

Open source studies and papers: 

Free/Open Source Research Community

Harvard University's Berkman Law Center

D. Bollier, The Power of Openness: why Citizens, Education, Government and Business 

Should Care About the Coming Revolution in Open Source Code Software (1999)


O'Reilly's Open Source page




Open Source Development Network

GNU Project

Opens source in the Government:

Timeline of Open Source in Government

The Center for Open Source in Government  

Open Source: A Case For E-Government

Georgetown University's Open Source Summit: Public Interest & Policy Issues

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Updated : 2011-04-04