The rise of digital information and communication technologies has challenged our established system of intellectual property rights, one based on copyrights, patents, and trademarks. This legal edifice was built to encourage creativity and innovation by giving the producers of “creations of the mind” a limited monopoly over their products. However, as these immaterial products are digitized, transmitted around the world, and endlessly reproduced at virtually no cost, “intellectual property” is shaken to its foundations.

Amid these changes, new actors are emerging, bringing with them both questions and possibilities. Free-culture activists argue that the institution of intellectual property now does more to restrict the exchange of ideas than to promote progress. New kinds of pirates exploit the growing vulnerabilities of digital technologies. And all users of information technologies, with the means to copy, share, and modify creative products, face the legal, ethical, and social responsibilities that accompany these new powers.

This forum asks how we can promote creativity and insure the free flow of information, while protecting the rights of creators in our increasingly digital world.

Please join us for this Choices and Challenges forum, to discuss and debate the future of intellectual property with a range of experts from the fields of history, law, sociology, communications, and political activism.