Intellectual property involves various types of scientific and creative output. It provides protection for both the creations and the creators under the law. This falls under intangible property.
Intellectual property law recognizes the role of intellect and creativity in producing value. In practice, it ensures that owners are given rights over artistic and scientific creations. Holders of these rights have the option to sell or transfer them. Owners of IP rights also maintain control over reproduction and distribution. However, after a certain period of time, usually set at 150 years after the creator passes away, the protected works are placed under the classification of public domain.
The establishment of intellectual property laws is essential in maintaining economic stability, particularly in fields which capitalize on intellect and creativity. There are basic international standards, although individual territories can expand the scope of these laws and strengthen protective measures. In many cases, strong IP policies can encourage more foreign investment and therefore be helpful in strengthening national economies.
With the growth in the use of the Internet, the scope of IP rights and regulations has also expanded. Easier and faster ways of reproducing and distributing works have arisen and gained popularity over the last decade. This poses challenges to various industries which rely mainly on creative output for income generation. The music industry, for instance, has lost substantial revenue with the introduction of file sharing services. One of the most notorious, Napster, was one of the main targets in the past, as it facilitated the unauthorized distribution of music.