A new body is being launched this week to protect the management of intellectual property (IP) and its role in Australia's knowledge-based economy, which Austrade valued at more than $35 billion in 2004/05.
The Adelphi Charter is calling upon government to adopt its global IP blueprint, which examines a smarter, information-sharing framework and the need to accelerate knowledge exports.
Roger Clarke, the chair of Sydney-based AEShareNet, which trades educational knowledge at its online marketplace, said the need for laws to protect intellectual capital or vapourware is a global issue.
"Governments, businesses and individuals all suffer if intellectual property laws inhibit, rather than protect and foster, innovation. Creative people need a fair go to generate revenue streams in a digital environment," he says.
"This is a global issue - 60 percent of the exports discussed in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement consist of intellectual property."
A contributor to the blueprint is John Howkins, author of Creative Economy - How people make money from ideas.
Howkins said the expansion of intellectual property laws over the last 30 years has left a system so radically out of line with modern technological, economic and social trends that it threatens innovation.
Academic Dale Spender believes that over the last 40 years multinationals have seized a huge amount of knowledge and privatized it.
He said IP rights are a much bigger issue than movie downloads and piracy.
A debate surrounding IP rights will be held in Sydney on March 2, 2006.
Information is available at http://www.adelphicharter.org