Copyright challenges in the digital age

21 Oct, 2019 - 00:10 0 Views
Copyright challenges in the digital age

The Chronicle

Aleck Ncube

COPYRIGHT is a type of statutory Intellectual Property (IP) protection for the original works of authors. Such works include literary, musical, dramatic, and architectural works. The copyright protects the work immediately after it is fixed in a tangible medium, for example, a printed page, phonograph record or DVD. The owner of the copyright has certain rights to the work. Typically, these rights include the right to reproduce the work, to prepare adaptations of the work, and to distribute the work to the public. These rights can be either licensed or assigned to others.

A creative work is considered protected by copyright as soon as it exists, so long as it is both original and fixed in a tangible form. “Originality” means that the work was independently created by the author and has some minimal degree of creativity, and “fixed in a tangible form” means that the work is sufficiently permanent that it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated. 

Copyright law gives the creator of a work a diverse bundle of exclusive rights over his/her work for a limited (but substantial) period of time. These rights enable an author to control the economic use of his/her work in a number of ways so that he may, if he wishes, receive payment. Copyright law also provides “moral rights,” which protect an author’s reputation and integrity. 

Economic rights include the exclusive right by the holder of copyright to authorise or prohibit certain uses of his work. No one may exercise these rights without a copyright owner’s prior expressed permission. Economic rights are more than simply a “right to copy,” and emphasise several different rights which prevent others from unfairly taking advantage of the creative work. 

In this era of technology, what concerns the producers most is the preservation of any intellectual property in digital form, because of its volatile nature in terms of access. The journey towards an effective and harmonised system of copyright law and the quest for its proper enforcement continues to this day. The present copyright law situation is yet to achieve a secure form for the purpose of preventing the infringement of copyright rights. 

There are enormous reasons behind the non-achievement of the goal irrespective of newly enacted laws. Domestic as well as international efforts have been taken in terms of enacting laws and adopting treaties for the protection of copyright works. The efforts are yet to be successful in terms of enforcement. 

International harmony along with a strong domestic setup for protection of copyright law in order to prevent piracy has been the major goal. But the process of achieving the goal is less speedy than the rapid development of technology and for this reason the enforcement of copyright law to prevent piracy is yet to achieve its goal.

Generally, when a person makes copy or distributes a piece of literary and artistic work without having the consent from the artist, author, composer, recording artist, copyright holding company, that is copyright piracy. 

This unauthorised and prohibited use of the artistic works violates the exclusive rights, that is, to reproduce of the copyright holder and it is a form of copyright infringement. 

The exclusive rights incorporate control over copying and distribution of the original work. Copy right covers a wide range of works i.e. music, dramatic works, maps, photographs, architectural drawings, sound recordings, motion pictures, computer programs, paintings etc. In a sense, copyright includes every work, which has an original creator.

Music Piracy 

Music piracy is regarded as a new ‘crime’ in the twenty-first century and the concept of social moralities with has got a blurry effect as some people do not treat it as crimes in actual sense. “Internet piracy” includes various unauthorised uses of music or other creative materials on the Internet. 

Particularly, when the activities of a commercial nature amount to infringement on the internet then it is referred as internet piracy irrespective of the motive of the perpetrator. The violation of copyright of any creative content on the internet by means of unauthorised use is referred as internet piracy. 

This unauthorised use can be made via web sites, P2P networks, file sharing, or other means. Piracy activities fall into the following categories:

Physical music piracy embraces the process of making or distributing copies of sound recordings on physical carriers without the authorisation of the copyrights owner. 

The packaging of pirate copies may or may not be different from the original. Pirate copies are likely to be compilations, i.e. the “Best songs”, “Greatest Romantic Songs” of an artiste. 

It may be a collection of a particular genre i.e. rap, jazz etc. Sometimes it may be a compilation of hit titles of different music companies.

Counterfeits include unauthorised recordings which are done without required permission from the artist or publisher or the copyright holder. The label, trademark and artwork are also copied which are then packaged in order to make them look like the original as much as possible. 

The purpose is to mislead the consumer into believing or thinking that they are buying the original or genuine product.

Bootlegs imply the unauthorised recordings and duplication of live or broadcast performances. Without the permission of the artist, composer, producer or record company the recording, duplication and sells are made.

Online piracy is referred to as the unauthorised uploading of music files for the purpose of public use or downloading those uploaded files from internet site. 

It also embraces certain uses of “streaming” technology. Thus, it is interesting to note that downloading a single song without permission onto a PC is piracy, though it is not sold or used in any other unauthorised way. Unauthorised internet music sites use MIDI technology or MP3 files, which is available for the purpose of downloading by a user on the internet. The indefinite use of such music files puts the artistes or the producers of music companies under the threat of losing economically. Illegitimate downloads take place through file-sharing networks, illegal servers, websites and hacked computers. 

Zimbabwe affords protection to foreign works. They enjoy copyright protection similar to that of domestic works. Since Zimbabwe is a member of the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works, no additional formalities are required to protect or enforce copyright in Zimbabwe. 

The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work, regardless of where it was created. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

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