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Information Asset as Property: A Legal Perspective

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‘Information asset’ has not been perceived only as a jargon of the information age we are living today. Rather, it has increasingly become the reality, where people and society attach more values on business information and information system. The contemporary ‘information age’ is, therefore, not merely about a change of gadgets, but more so about a change of a whole environment. It is an arena where information becomes the main asset of business and the most valuable property of its owner.

Authors are thankful to Prof. Ida Medieha Bt. Abdul Ghani Azmi, Ahmad Ibrahim Faculty of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia.

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  1. 1.

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  2. 2.

    See, for example, N. Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (Open Media, 2nd edn, 1991).

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    W.H. Davidow, Overconnected: The Promise and the Threat of the Internet (Delphinium Books, New York, 2011).

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    Boyle, supra not 1, at 4.

  6. 6.

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  7. 7.

    See, for example, Y. Benkler, The Wealth of Networks (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006); J.R.M Hand and B. Lev, Intangible Assets: Values, Measures and Risks (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003) at 1.

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    Hand and Lev, supra note 7, at 1, they observed that patents, bioengineered drugs, brands, strategic alliances, customer data lists, a proprietary cost-reducing Internet-based supply chain are all examples of intangible assets.

  11. 11.

    See, for instance, the International Accounting Standards (IAS) on Intangible Assets. The document illustrated that intangible assets include: computer software, patents, copyrights, motion picture films, customer lists, mortgage servicing rights, licenses, franchises, customer and supplier relationship and marketing rights.

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    See also G. Olivar-Pascual, “Intangibles: An interdisciplinary approach”, in J. Wild (edi.), Building and Enforcing Intellectual Property Value: An International Guide for the Boardroom (Globe White Page, London, 2003) pp. 386–389 at 386.

  19. 19.

    Daum, supra note 8, pp. 35–36; the traditional theory basically says that the value of things will be diminished when more people use them. Informational value, in opposite, may increase with the increase of its uses.

  20. 20.

    Stewart, supra note 6, pp. 170–173.

  21. 21.

    Some writings were helpful in understanding further about the nature of information as public good. Read, for example, J. Sloman and M. Sutcliffe, Economics for Business, (Essex, UK, Prentice Hall, 2nd ed., 2001), ‘when goods, like information, have the two features of ‘non-rivalry’ and ‘non-excludability’, the free market will simply not provide them.’; R. Cooter and T. Ulen, Law and Economics, (Boston, Pearson Education, Inc., 4th ed., 2004), ‘to correct this ‘market imperfection’, government’s intervention is needed to provide such public good or to subsidize private entities to provide that goods.’; and N. Elkin- Koren and E.M. Salzberger, Law, Economics and Cyberspace: The Effect of Cyberspace on the Economic Analysis of Law, (Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar, 2004), ‘this central intervention can be in form of legislation of regulatory framework that will eventually provide incentive to whoever provides such informational good, this is especially apparent in the laws on intellectual property’.

  22. 22.

    This is among the reasons why copyright piracy is very popular, rampant and yet difficult to tackle.

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    Roger J. Smith, Property Law, (Harlow, Pearson Education Ltd., England, 3rd ed., 2000) pp. 3–4.

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    Jacqueline Lipton from Monash University elaborated that the conception of property justifies various areas of legal rights and liabilities including those of trading contract, taxation, electronic environment disputes, crime against property, as well as in secured finance law. See, J. Lipton, “A revised property concept for the new millennium?”, 7(171) International Journal of Law and IT, June 1999.

  31. 31.

    For basic conceptual discussion on intellectual property rights, see, for example, D.I. Bainbridge, Intellectual Property, (Financial Times-Pitman Publishing, London, 4th ed., 1999).

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    Id., at 10; Ida Madieha Azmi “The Philosophy of Intellectual Property Rights over Ideas in Cyberspace: A Comparative Analysis Between the Western Jurisprudence and the Shari’ah”, 19 Arab Law Quarterly, 191–207, 2004 at 191.

  33. 33.

    Federal Commissioner of Taxation v. United Aircraft Corporation (1943–1944) 68 CLR 525.

  34. 34.

    This is the dissenting view of two law Lords in Boardman v. Phipps [1966] 3 All ER 721, and [1967] 2 AC 90, the majority view in this case was that the information is nevertheless a property.

  35. 35.

    Oxford v. Moss [1978] Cr App R 183.

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    R v. Stewart [1988] 50 DLR (4th) 1.

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  40. 40.

    Herbert Morris Ltd. v. Saxelby [1916] 1 AC 688.

  41. 41.

    Rolls Royce Ltd. v. Jeffrey [1962] 1 All ER 801.

  42. 42.

    [1966] 3 All ER 721, pp. 745–746.

  43. 43.

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  44. 44.

    ELECTRO Cad Australia Pty Ltd. & Ors v. Mejati RCS Sdn Bhd & Ors [1998] 3 MLJ 422.

  45. 45.


  46. 46.


  47. 47.

    J. Lipton, “A Revised Property Concept for the New Millennium?” 7(171) International Journal of Law and IT, June 1999. Lipton noted that ‘the concept of property has never been absolute.’

  48. 48.

    See, for example, the Computer Crimes Act, 1997 on the criminality of certain abuse of information system; the Electronic Commerce Act, 2006 on the enforceability of electronic message as a form of binding transaction; and the Personal Data Protection Act, 2010 on the rights over privacy and security of personal data, both in electronic form and those on paper document.

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Zulhuda, S., Haseeb Ansari, A. (2018). Information Asset as Property: A Legal Perspective. In: Nirmal, B., Singh, R. (eds) Contemporary Issues in International Law. Springer, Singapore.

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