Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Henry V. Barry


The concept of information as property is not new, but has gained new momentum with the development of the Internet. During the past century, courts have developed theories recognizing and protecting limited property rights in information, and prohibiting forms of information misappropriation. The author argues that the expanding use of the Internet generally, and the World Wide Web in particular, have resulted in a "misappropriation explosion" which, if unmoderated, could result in reduced access to information.

The author traces the evolution of property rights in information. Next, the author discusses the recent expansion in the law of misappropriation in federal and state courts, efforts by the Clinton Administration to expand the scope of intellectual property rights, and international developments concerning information protection. The author concludes that the developing legal regime must carefully balance new property rights with the benefits of easy access to information in order to preserve the free flow of information.