Intellectual rights are a creator’s right to retain, sell, or give away all or part of his intellectual property. This designation typically includes any mentally-produced work, such as books, paintings, company logos, and musical recordings. A variety of types of rights apply to any given work.
The protection afforded by intellectual rights is usually divided into two areas: science and industry and the arts. Intellectual rights associated with science and industry are usually referred to as patents, trademarks, and design registration. Within the arts, intellectual rights are typically protected by copyright.
In many large corporations or governmental departments, the organization pre-empts the intellectual rights to a mentally-produced work. The individual often signs an agreement that prohibits the creator to own the rights to her creation while employed by the organization. Almost anything within the arts created by the human mind typically belongs to that creator, or to anyone to whom the creator assigns those rights. Protected artistic endeavors range from spoken word to mime routines to magazine articles to oil paintings.
The holder of the intellectual property rights to a creative work may sell, transfer, or bequeath all of part of the rights to his work. Many print publications purchase only first rights to an article, for example, which means the author can sell reprint rights to another publication later. A film producer may sell film distribution rights to several distribution firms located in different countries. A comedian may allow a premium channel to air her routine, but prohibit a network to do so. A musical group may sell recording rights to one entity, while selling merchandise rights to another.
Intellectual rights include the protection of a creator’s good name and the integrity and uniqueness of intellectual property. These rights are often difficult to enforce, especially when the intellectual capital is in easily-duplicated formats, such as digital music, videos, and web content. Owners of intellectual rights sometimes must file a protest under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
National and global organizations oversee the registration and protection of intellectual property, though in many areas, traditional cultures are still unprotected. Most countries have specific departments to oversee the protection of intellectual capital rights, for example, the United States Copyright Office. The World Intellectual Property Organization, known as WIPO, is a United Nations agency. In general, WIPO encourages creativity on a global scale, promoting the development of ideas, artistic works, and scientific and industrial inventions.