Intellectual Property and Software: The Assumptions are Broken

Unknown author (1991-11-01)

In March 1991 the World Intellectual Property Organization held an international symposium attended primarily by lawyers, to discuss the questions that artificial intelligence poses for intellectual property law (i.e., copyright and patents). This is an edited version of a talk presented there, which argues that AI poses few problems in the near term and that almost all the truly challenging issues arise instead from software in general. The talk was an attempt to bridge the gap between the legal community and the software community, to explain why existing concepts and categories in intellectual property law present such difficult problems for software, and why software as a technology breaks several important assumptions underlying intellectual property law.