'Intellectual property' refers to the legal rights given to individuals or organizations for their creations.
For example, the author of an artistic creation is given exclusive rights through copyright law to control reproduction or alteration of their work for a period of time.
Similarly, the inventor of an industrial product may be granted a patent which prevents other parties from copying the invention for a period of time unless they negotiate some form of license.
With the arrival of digital technology, computers and the internet, it has become much easier to locate, copy and distribute the creations of others, including the written word, graphic images, music, movies, computer software and so on. Computers have become essential tools for Technology Professionals and the ready access to digitized information raises some very important professional and ethical issues.
The central issue is that intellectual property rights give ownership to an individual, a group of individuals or an organization. These rights place limitations and obligations on those who want to use that property for their own purposes.