This report examines the rapid and complex technological changes and trends in computer software technologies and their possible effects on the U.S.'s intellectual property system. An effective policy must foster technological innovation to preserve economic competitiveness of the U.S. software industry in the face of changing [[technologies[ and markets.
In planning and and carrying out this study, OTA's objectives were to:
- understand the characteristics of software as a technology, as well as identify the relevant technological changes and trends that will confront Congress;
- explore the relationships between the legal protection of software and incentives for innovation; understand the market, trade and policy implications of the emerging global software industry;
- identify current intellectual property challenges presented by software and [[computing technologies and anticipate future challenges from technological developments in computer software, operations, and architectures.
The report identifies three policy issues:
- the appropriate scope of copyright protection for computer software;
- patent protection for software-related inventions and algorithms, and how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will handle these types of applications; and
- complications facing libraries and commercial and private producers and users of digital information, including computer-based mixed media products.