The Internet has often been compared to America’s expanding western frontier during the 19th century. Like all frontiers, it has the potential to create enormous wealth through the exploitation of new technologies by the cowboys of the digital domain. The creation of a global communication network has attracted millions of entrepreneurs who are eager to make a name and a dollar for themselves by finding new opportunities and business models that take advantage of the unique nature of the Net.

The Internet is not just a source of wealth – it is also a source for the creation of new kinds of property rights. Domain names, broadband access, website designs, digital databases, digitized content, and quasi-public networks are all becoming new and valuable virtual property with little or no existing guidelines for the assignment of property rights to their owners. As governments worldwide struggle to catch up and resolve disputes by establishing property rights in these new areas, businesses must often act to secure their property when the Law is unable to provide adequate protection. This applies to intellectual property such as music and images as well as to virtual property such as domain names and private networks.
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