This Friday is World Intellectual Property Day, an event that marks the 1970 founding of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
This United Nations agency has more than 180 nations as members, and was created to “promote the use and protection of works of the human spirit.”
Around the world the organization has taken on added significance because of the growth in counterfeit goods, such as computer games, movies and clothes.
It has been estimated that some 7 percent of global economy is based on counterfeit products.
Here in the United States the date is important because it comes in the middle of some of the most fractious copyright debates in a long time, involving the illegal copying of movies and music.
What makes the day even more relevant is that Nashville is at the heart of the intellectual property debate, what with the recording industry and is becoming more and more a center for movie production.
Anti-counterfeiting and piracy outreach campaigns target a wide range of audiences with tailored messages – from campaigns that discourage young people from downloading music and movies illegally, to those that help teach law enforcement officers how to differentiate between an original and a counterfeit product.
The music, software and movie industries are leading vigorous efforts to reduce piracy through public awareness campaigns.
Government-led campaigns are often driven by the social costs of counterfeit and piracy, such as health and safety, links to organized crime and the negative economic impact.
And these issues are not facing just technological societies.
Indigenous groups are seeking protection for so-called “traditional knowledge” that is passed down from generation to generation, and does not easily fit into the definition of original works by individuals or corporations.
Every new technology has forced lawmakers to reconsider some of their basic assumptions about both technology and content.
Likewise, these new media forms are forcing everyone in the world to rethink their citizenship in the ever-expanding global village.