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Causes and Prevention of Intellectual Property Crime

NCJ Number
Trends in Organized Crime Volume: 8 Issue: 4 Dated: Summer 2005 Pages: 40-61
Nicole Leeper Piquero
Date Published
22 pages
This paper identifies the types of activities that constitute intellectual property, discusses the causes and theoretical explanations of intellectual property theft, and examines prevention techniques currently being used to control the misuse and theft of intellectual property.
Intellectual property refers to any product that results from the creativity and innovation of the human mind and the original expression of those ideas. Intellectual property right laws in the United States grant to the creator or author the exclusive ownership and rights to use, produce, and distribute his/her creative work. Legal protection for intellectual property stems from laws that regulate copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Violations of these laws occur when an owner of intellectual property is deprived of the control and profits derived from his/her property. Across all industry estimates, the losses incurred from intellectual property theft are significant. Advances in information technology have not only provided worldwide access to creative works but have also posed a threat to authors of copyrighted material. Copying technology has facilitated the ease of creating multiples from an illegally obtained master copy. In addition to increased opportunities, other causes of intellectual property theft are discussed under the topics of demographic/personal attributes of offenders, deterrence theory, equity theory, the ethical decisionmaking process, the theory of reasoned action, and learning theory. One of the most common prevention strategies is to use technological advances to increase the costs of engaging in piracy. These include the use of special codes and encryption technology to make it more difficult to intercept and copy owner material. There is a need to catalog the various preventive technologies and mechanisms for preventing and countering intellectual property theft. 66 references