The computer software industry has the potential to become one of the most
internationally dispersed high-tech industries; the last two decades saw high growth rates of this sector and a dramatic increase in the spread of computer software and services world-wide. This paper explores the issues surrounding the development of the computer software and services industry; examines how intellectual property rights affect their establishment and growth in developing countries, and discusses the implications from that for policy formulation.
With the growing importance of knowledge-based industries such as computer software, the importance of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is at the same time being enhanced. The actual role and impact of IPRs, however, is being debated especially in relation to the process of developing domestic technological skills and capabilities in a globalized economy. On the one side of the debate, there are those who believe that the impact of IPRs is determining the sectoral economic performance while on the other side of the debate, others perceive the impact of IPRs as a hindrance to indigenous technological development.
This study reviews the debate in the context of computer software development in developing countries, with a view to expanding the economic opportunities of developing countries in this sector. The overall aim of this paper is to inform developing countries of new trends in this sector and their relevance to policy-making and future international negotiations on related issues. The paper demonstrates the growing importance of computer software by reviewing recent global trends in copyright-based industries, especially the associated growing demand for all information-based industries since the mid-1980s and the potential for developing countries to enter global markets in this area.