The second ring of space law
Intellectual property rights is a classic example of a specific set of legal regimes and rules developed long before humans entered into outer space even by proxy, yet was next viewed with great interest by major groups of stakeholders in the space arena as offering sharp and strong legal tools to protect and/or further certain of their interests – and then nevertheless required some level of adaptation to the specific character of space activities and major space applications.
Intellectual property rights as a concept concerns the rights enjoyed by private persons and entities to own the invisible/intangible, ‘intellectual’ source of their work, and to protect such ownership by law.346 Generally, such property rights have been classified into two broad and generic categories, copyrights and similar rights, respectively patents and similar rights, but all of these regimes essentially provide for a balance between the interests of the individual whose property is at stake, and the interests of society at large in being able ultimately also to benefit from such property.
Copyright regimes usually also encompass additional neighbouring rights such as those related to production, editing and publishing, photographs, computer programs and databases. The essence of copyright is that protection of the content of a certain piece of work stimulates individuals to undertake the effort of creating it in the first place; they may be sure that (at least in law) free-riding is disallowed, since creators have an exclusive right to their own work. Of course, they...
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