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Intellectual Property Program
Intellectual Property Program – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property refers to intangible (non-physical) property, which includes copyright, moral rights related to copyrighted materials, trademarks, official marks, domain names, patents and industrial designs.
Although intellectual property rights are associated with a wide range of products of the human intellect, such as training manuals, publications, map products, videos and computer software, they are distinct from the physical medium on which these products are produced. The intellectual property is the set of rights arising from the creation and development of these products. For example, if a physical book is produced, the author’s copyright in that book is the intellectual property.
What authority does the Intellectual Property Program operate under?
The Intellectual Property Program operates under the authority of s. 2(1)(f) of the Procurement Services Act, which allows for the disposal of personal property of the government. Also, section 46(1) of the Financial Administration Act prohibits the "disposition or loan of public property" without proper authority.
What policies govern management of Province-owned Copyright and Intellectual Property Disposal?
How do I get permission to reproduce a part or all of a Province-owned work?
All requests for permission to copy a part or all of a Province-owned work should be directed to the Intellectual Property Program by submitting a completed Copyright Permission Request Form.
The Intellectual Property program will consult with the ministry responsible for the work to confirm there are no objections to the work being reproduced. If there are no objections, permission will generally be granted. However, where a substantial portion of a work or the entire work is to be reproduced, particularly where that work or a product containing that work is to be distributed commercially, then a License Agreement will normally be required.
This material was already paid for with my tax dollars! Why do I have to request permission to copy or sell it?
The BC Government is charged with the management and protection of Crown assets of all kinds. For these purposes, the intellectual property component of those assets is no different. Just as the Crown requires various kinds of permission for use of more conventional public assets (such as parks, waterways, and government buildings), permission is also required to use the intangible assets that belong to the Crown. Permission is not intended to restrict access, but rather to ensure the protection of those assets so that the BC electorate realizes the most benefit from them.
Why might I be required to license the material or pay a fee?
The BC Government develops and expends its budget every year for the purpose of properly administering public affairs on behalf of the electorate. When developing materials for Crown use, the primary concern is utility and value for government purposes. However, if material is developed that could prove useful to persons outside of government, the Crown must consider how to best distribute this creation. Who will bear the cost of further development? What if someone is injured by something originally developed by the Crown, but now marketed by a third party? These legal issues must be resolved, with the protection of the Crown (and thus the BC electorate) in mind. A license agreement will address these and other legal issues, and potentially provide opportunity for commercial exploitation of the material in question.
The permission and licensing fees charged by the IPP are intended to recover a fair share of the government's cost of providing goods and services from those who receive the direct benefits. These fees are not another form of taxation, but instead help to make the provincial government's revenue system fairer by shifting some of the burden away from general taxation, borne by all taxpayers, to those individuals or companies who derive a clear benefit from government-owned material. As well, these fees help to encourage responsible and economical use of government services by making the public aware of the costs of those services.
Who do I contact for more information about the Intellectual Property Program?