Current copyright system
Critically evaluate this statement. Does the current copyright system afford sufficient protection from on-line sharing/piracy? In my work, I will demonstrate how the current copyright system tries to introduce protection from on-line sharing/piracy, to expand on this point I will be introducing the basic concepts of copyright law thus taking the United Kingdom (UK) legislation as a basis, although the European Union (EU)and the USA which have similar legislations which I will discuss in coincidence with landmark cases such as A&M Records Inc v Napster Inc.
Judge Thomas states in the case of MGM v Grokster Ltd that “The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established distribution mechanisms”. This statement derives from issues where new technology has made it possible for end users to buy products or services such as music or video through the internet, rather than purchasing compact discs (CD) or digital versatile disks (DVD) which are formats used for music and video distribution. This has also effected how business earn their money rather than just how law is effected, via the introduction of new technology many stores such as “Virgin Megastores” have had to re-work their business strategies, offering services in their stores is just not enough, this has resulted in all major retailers including “Virgin” to sell online using digital means of acquiring music/video's.
Law in relation to business and economics pioneers many terms, business law forge the term “coercive monopoly”, which prohibits competitors from entering the same field, thus resulting in less competition and ensuing better pricing strategies and more profit. In economics we come across the term “de jure monopoly” which is a government-granted monopoly, this is a part of a coercive monopoly but gives a single firm the advantage to provide for the government, thus eradicating most of its competition and thus will become the market leader as it will inevitably have the biggest contract i.e. being the government provider. The above are some of what we refer to as “legal monopolies” in this field is also Intellectual Property (IP), this incorporates a number of legal monopolies over creations of the mind, being artistic and commercial.
Under intellectual property law owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, these can vary from inventions to music to even words or phrases, some of the best descriptions when speaking of intellectual property can be derived from writers such as Lysander Spooner and John Locke, they use the phrase ‘the right of property in them belongs to him, whose labour created them', this renders that the person who spends his time / labour into creating a piece of work is liable to a moral right. ‘Copyright is a property right that subsists in certain specified types of works as provided for by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988)', this act mainly provides protection for literary work, original dramatic work, original music work, original artistic work thus including film, sound recording and broadcast (LDMA). For the basis of Copyright to exists it does not have to be bound by being a physical object or item, a copyright does not have to physical but can be a digital artefact as a result even consisting on paper or a disk format.
This view does not come without its modern day critics such as Hettinger and Martin who see the concepts of freedom, property and self-expression related with the physical and social concepts of the world, i.e. they believe the copyright should be physical thus in objection with the natural law argument. In conjunction with music and copyright it is different in respect of defining ownership, for example the CDPA 1988 s.9 (1) states the information that the author of LDMA is deemed as the creator therefore owner, but in music there is usually no obvious creator so we rely on the CDPA 1988 s.9 (2) (a) which mentions the fact that in music (sound recording) the producer is deemed as the author consequently making him the owner. Copyright In the context of property rights entitles the author/creator of a piece of work monopolistic control, therefore giving the author the right to full market share, i.e. the author deserves reward for his Labour.
This then sheds insight onto how the author values his work and how society perceives it. In detailing copyright infringement, we see three forms of infringement firstly primary infringement which is governed by CDPA 1988 and sectioned under SS.16-21, secondary infringement which is governed by SS.22-26 and the third form of infringement which exists is in conjunction with authorising (authorisation) other people to do restricted acts, and this is governed by S.16 (2). Copyright infringement under S.16 states that digital copies, digital copies retained on disc, digital communication, and temporary data held/shown on-screen without licensing can also constitute copyright infringement.
It is fair to state that copyright laws are similar throughout the world as intellectual property is aimed at international exposure; this means there is one system for copyright laws. (Need to provide here the example that was given with a lecture where it was a website selling MP3s due to being in a different country doesn't consult to the normal laws artists/music producers have got together and to targeted the credit card companies instead need to ask the tutor to tell what site this was so I can relate this within my article to show that some countries have different laws) Due to the Internet, Copyright law has been deeply challenged as policing this domain is virtually impossible. A prime example of this is seen within MP3 downloads, it is now possible for people to get their favourite music on the MP3 format using P2P (peer-to-peer), and not having to pay for music (as stated above there are means now for people to download and pay).
This in the eyes of some (peer to peer's) is sharing but many (pro-Copyright /natural rights theory ) consider it to be theft, P2P works via someone buying a CD and uploading the digital information on the Internet, this then makes it available for the world to download for free, some say this is a form of sharing on a wider scale, for example if you was going to borrow a CD from your friend you would use exactly the same concept, this on the contrary is given digitally as a result being construed as stealing/theft, partially because half of the people downloading the information will not be friends of yours, and would never have the need to give you the digital information back as it would leave everyone with a copy, therefore destroying sales as they can be downloaded. Reading the above it is visible that keeping track of file sharing is very difficult.
The problem that we see is who should be punished, should it be the person who uploads the information or the person who downloads the information?, referring to the case of Amstrad the House of Lords saw a new type of HiFi system which allowed the user to make copies of tapes (the first of its kind). The House of Lords held that the hi-fi system merely holds the option to copy and the onus would be on the end user if they decided to use this option in an illegal manner. There is also a much important earlier US law case of Sony Corp, in this we see that Sony had created a new video recorder (VCR) which had the potential to copy videos, the court said that by merely presenting the option the onus would again be on the end user, as it did have lawful purposes as having unlawful ones.
Article name: Current copyright system essay, research paper, dissertation