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An Information Ownership Approach to Understanding Spyware

Date & Time:
15:00:00 - 16:30:00,
Thursday 12 May, 2005


The proliferation of spyware has become a pervasive phenomenon on the Internet, as network users have discovered and objected to the infiltration of their computers by code from a variety of sources. Both governmental and private proposals are currently under consideration to control or prohibit such code. Yet the exact definition as to what constitutes ‘spyware’ remains vague, and the problems presented by spyware remain surprisingly resistant to definition. Online interactions of all kinds, whether beneficent or malign, frequently involve the collection of transmitted data, or the insertion of software scripts onto the participating machines. Consequently, it is often difficult to ascertain exactly what rights, norms, or obligations might have been violated when these activities occur in relation to spyware.

This paper examines the spyware definitional problem from the perspective of informational ownership and control, using various forms of intellectual property as a metric to explore and define the problem of deterring spyware.

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  • Name: Professor Dan L. Burk
  • Affiliation: Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly Professor, University of Minnesota Law
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