The World Intellectual Property Organization has released a massive new study on digital intellectual property issues, available at http://ecommerce.wipo.int/survey/. Following is an excerpt. The ‘global information society’ foreseen in the early days of the Internet has yet to become a worldwide reality, but the focus on information remains the key to the e-commerce economy. Although a good proportion of the information on the Web is in the public domain, that is, freely available to use and copy, an increasingly significant amount is protected as intellectual property. The enthusiasm excited by the availability of so much online information, easily accessible through browsing and hyperlinking, contributed to a general expectation that this information was free and its use uncontrolled. Even the term ‘hacking’, as initially understood, was a positive concept that implied expertise in computer programming. The intellectual property community has been addressing the challenge of this perception, in an effort to determine and exert legal rights over digital content, ever since. Difficult issues are raised for this community by the vast availability of intellectual property on the Internet, the ease of copying and distribution of copies and the relative anonymity afforded to these digital transactions. Key among these challenges is the expectation among many users that information and intellectual property sourced or downloaded from the Internet should be free of charge. Many .com companies took the approach that it was initially more important to make their products (information) available freely, and thereby establish a market presence, and to address issues of revenue and profit at a later stage. Most of these companies did not endure the burst of the .com bubble in March 2000. Many companies that continue to operate in the online environment have developed other business models, often relying on advertising revenue or value-added service charges to finance their free services and information. Surveys have shown that consumers are gradually becoming more willing to pay for online content. However there remains a general reticence to pay for material that was once free...This trend suggests that education of online consumers is key, through programs designed to raise awareness at an early age of the value of intellectual property and the realization that unauthorized copying of such works is theft. The intellectual property community, including film and music creators, software developers, authors and publishers, are now exploring ways in which to make their products available online, while protecting their rights and recouping their investment. To some extent, the uptake of fee-based intellectual property services is dependent on the efficient management of these rights, as well as the availability of workable and secure methods of micropayments that would enable pay-per-unit purchases, and the building of consumer confidence in online payment security, privacy and consumer protection. At the same time, however, creators and intellectual property rightsholders need to feel sure that they can protect their property from piracy and control its use, before they will be willing to make it available online. The current levels of online piracy were described by an American litigant as "a 21st century piratical bazaar." New international laws such as the WIPO Internet Treaties,... adapt the intellectual property laws to facilitate the dissemination of protected material over the Internet...When the American singer-songwriter, Bruce Springsteen, released his new CD ‘The Rising’, only ten advance discs were released and none were available online before being sold in stores, in an effort to thwart online piracy. Conversely, some music executives use online ‘leaks’ of forthcoming musical releases to win fans and media exposure, and thereby boost disc sales.