[pp.int.general] Request for Information

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Thu Mar 4 15:14:01 CET 2010

>    Richard, this is the reason why we are doing this -bad laws 
> compilation-.
>    It includes privacy, copyright, freedom of information and patents. 
> Name
>    it however you prefer, it's useful to know so!!
> It is a very useful project -- I just ask you please not to use the term
> "intellectual property" to describe it.
> The privacy issue is not among those that some call "intellectual
> property", and neither is freedom of information.  So if the topic"

There is a basic conflict between privacy and freedom of information, e.g. 
in case of public personalities and freedom of press. If former German 
chancellor Schöder dyes his hair, is the general public entitled to know, or 
is poor Gerhard allowed to keep this a secret? Should our royal family 
accept to be photographed anywhere and at anytime, just because they are 
public persons, paid by taxpayers? There are no simple answer to such 

> includes them, that name is simply inaccurate, as well as propaganda.
> (This happens often.  When people choose a set of legal issues to
> discuss, based on some practical reasons, the set they choose is never
> the same as "intellectual property", which is a set that was defined
> based on an abstract theoretical parallel rather than any practical
> similarlity.)
> Would the term "Laws about information" fit this list?  Copyright,
> privacy and freedom of information do fit it.  Patents fit it if you
> are concerned with software patents.
> If you are concerned with other kinds of patents as well, then "Laws
> about information" does not cover it, but you could put that in a
> different category.

"Information law" is a proper generic term, as adopted for instance by the 
renowned "Institute for Information Law" of Amsterdam Universty 
(www.ivir.nl). It covers copyright, patent law, trademark law, privacy, 
freedom of speech (send+receive), telecommunications law, media law and 
aspects of consumer law, and perhaps still other areas of law I don't 
remember right now.

But "information *rights*" are just as wrong as "intellectual property 
*rights*". There is no generic term, because there is no generic concept. 
Information may or may not be subject to rights ("subjective rights"= rights 
that tie an object to a person). Something that does not exist does not have 
a name ;)

Another important distinction is whether rights are *transferable*. That 
creates a trade. I can't sell my privacy, still it is a right. A nice 
example of controversial transferability are domain names, "generic" domain 
names in particular. "business.com" has become a very valuable (expensive) 
domain name, just because it is considered a transferable legal object. But 
it is controversial among lawyers.



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