Legal Dilemmas in Geographic Information: Property, Ownership and Patents

George CHO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The issue of property in, and ownership of, information in a legal sense is a vexed one. Protection of property rights in geographic information has yet to be addressed because of the some unresolved practical and emerging legal and theoretical questions. Maps, for example, have been used in many professional fields. Yet, it is still unclear exactly what parts of the map warrant protection. The representation of geographic data in digital form adds to further problems to the advances in information technology. As technological advancements continue to give rise to new and unforeseen property interests, the courts are struggling to apply legal concepts of intellectual property rights such as copyright to digital databases and maps. It is suggested in this paper that patents may be one way to go in terms of protecting property rights and in defining ownership. The problem of resolving rights in spatial databases illuminates shortcomings in legal theory in copyright as applied to geographic representations and to computer representations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Law and Information Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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