Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ownership of Digital Media Versus Licensing of Digital Media in the European IP Regime

Wian Erlank, North-West University; University of Stellenbosch, has published Books, Apps, Movies and Music – Ownership of Virtual Property in the Digital Library at 2 European Property Law Journal 194 (2013). Here is the abstract.


In this article, I discuss the similarity between real (existing tangible) objects that one would buy and use such as books, CDs and DVDs, and their intangible counterparts found in digital form. For reasons more to do with vested interests, greed or a misapplication of intellectual property concepts – the natural development of and change in the media or packaging of the traditional content from tangible physical objects to intangible online (virtual) objects has resulted in the virtual media being stripped of the competencies of ownership that are associated with the same (older) types of media on which the same content is contained. In the paper it is proposed that if a digital thing is bought in a virtual environment, the purchaser should be able to regard such an item as an intangible thing and as such be able to exercise and be the beneficiary of the same entitlements as one would have had if the virtual item was tangible. In other words books, apps, movies and music forming part of one’s digital library should be regarded as virtual property with accompanying property rights and not only as IP rights with limited licences of use, as is currently the case.
The full text is not available for download.

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