The start of the current century saw innovation and adaptations on the part of fraudsters stealing other people’s work. Intellectual property theft and fraud continued to mutate over the decades. Intellectual property criminals continue to express privatized approach towards producing and selling other people’s creative work and properties. There exist various properties categorized as intellectual property.
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They include copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and trademarks. Intellectual property has to do with individual innovations for which no one but the creator can claim ownership. This means that individuals package their ideas and register them for their sole use. Anyone wishing to use the ideas and other personal creations must obtain express permission from the creator.
There has been a growing concern by cultural and media producers that intellectual property theft has increased. Opportunities to commit this criminal activity have gone on the rise. This calls for stringent measures in order to safe guard the rights of cultural and media producers in regard to their creations (Albanese, 2007).
What is copyright and piracy?
Copyright refers to a legal tool that empowers owners (producers) of intellectual properties or works of arts to control how they get acquired and used. The legal device enables producers to control the right to reproduce ideas and creative works. It also empowers them to determine the distribution channels for the protected works to the public.
This tool gives exclusive rights to the producers determining the extent to which adaptive works can be derived from the original creations. The owners of intellectual properties control the creation of new works based on their protected ideas and innovations. One other pertinent framework of this legal tool is the exclusive right it gives the owner to control the performance of a protected work to the public.
This means that no one can perform copyrighted works before the public without the express permission of the creator. This will constitute the intellectual property theft or fraud which is a criminal activity punishable by the law. Copyright in this sense is a property of the owner (author). He alone or his agency (persons to whom the author has transferred some rights on the intellectual property) can exercise authority of the property.
The author can sue for damages should unauthorized persons reproduce, distribute, create adaptations or stage perform copyrighted property. The author can sell the creative work for a fee known as royalty. The creative work becomes a tool for financial empowerment. The author derives both recognition and incentive from copyrighting. Copyrighting becomes an integral process for all new and existing authors (Fishman, 2011).
Piracy refers to intellectual property theft. It has to do with the fraud or theft of other people’s ideas and products. It is the reproduction, distribution, creation of adaptations and the performance of copyrighted products and ideas before the public unlawfully. It is a criminal act for which the producers (authors) of copyrighted properties can legally sue offenders.
The problem of piracy is worldwide. Some nations with large populations like China particularly suffer because of the inability to control the amount of counterfeit products within their markets. Most of the software properties in countries such as Russia, China, Brazil, Thailand and India are predominantly counterfeits. The global outcry on fake pharmaceutical products calls for international remedies to curb this problem before it gets out of hand.
Piracy exhibits itself in various forms. When someone disguises his identity and sells counterfeit software through websites – that is piracy. An individual becomes a pirate when he uses a camcorder to record someone else’s music or video for illegal distribution. Distributing software, music file, movie and video game illegally is piracy.
What does copyright protect?
It is essential to understand that copyrighting exists to guarantee compensation to authors and producers of ideas and creative products. It exists to ensure right acknowledgement of those whose creative ideas and products become reproduced, distributed and performed to a public audience. It seeks to protect such creative art works and ideas from unscrupulous individuals – criminals.
This background suggests that copyright protects written ideas and works such as plays, arts, music, movies and books. It also controls the use of brand names, brand images such as company logos and top business secrets. This includes such secrets as the ingredients used in making soft drinks like coca cola. Copyright also protects scientists and innovators of unique and creative ideas including mathematical formulas and scientific models.
Copyrights protect the development of new ideas and products – scientific or otherwise. This does not include the protection of ideas that are to be used for clerical purposes and mechanical acts. One cannot also copyright information in the public domain such as phone books or even blank forms.
The work to be protected must be entirely original and new. Copyright can also protect new works built from copyrighted materials with advance authorization. Compilations and other adaptations done within the provisions of copyrighting laws can also be protected by way of copyrighting.
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How does copyright work?
There are several myths that exist with regard to the application of copyrighting. The general principle to remember has to do with credible acknowledgement of the ownership of intellectual property. Copyright works against the fear that original producers and developers of ideas and products could lose the right to their own creations.
It seeks to safe guard the interest of authors, innovators and developers. Copyright comes into existence automatically when an author fixes tangible personal words to his handwritten, typed or dictated ideas. Copyright begins to apply as soon as the owner of an idea or product appends their claim on them.
This would be enough except for the fact that unscrupulous individuals use technology to outwit it. Authors should place credible announcements on all publications. It also helps to register those claims with the government’s copyright office upon placing the publications.
Copyright works differently for ideas and products that get published from those which do not end up as publications. It is necessary to consider whether articles are to be published for the purposes of sales or distribution to the public when thinking about copyrighting.
Delimits of Copyrights
Copyright does not apply to hard facts. Fact filled materials might never see the light of the day when it comes to copyrighting. This is unless they get published within the author or originators words. This is because copyrighting has to do with the express words of the authors and originators. The belief that giving an author exclusive monopoly over the ideas and facts within their writings hinders creativity and intellectual progress holds.
This means that works such as poetry, music and plays get easily copyrighted than it is for expressions of facts. Copyrighting also discourages further creativity and innovations. The limitations placed on furtherance of copyrighted works inhibit fresh indulgence and recreation. This kills the power of critical thinking and reduces people to consumption of knowledge only as opposed to interacting with copyright materials.
The other limitation of copyright has to do with fair use. Copyright hinders the free flow of ideas and information. This is because copyright restricts new authors from copying directly from protected writings. The result of this restriction is little advancement in the growth of science and arts. The fees charged by copyright owners become exaggerated and discouraging.
This discourages other people from using copyrighted works and so retains a monopoly on the copyrighted information and ideas. This could only work for academic purposes but is highly not encouraged. The other limitation of copyright is that it does not apply to works done by the federal government. Copyright can also be lost or expire.
The copyrighted work becomes susceptible to massive fraud and theft in such scenarios. It is not possible to obtain copyright for information in the public domain no matter the extent of transformation. This limits indulgence with ideas within the public domain. It hinders the advancement of arts and science.
Just like anti theft regulations cannot stop a thief from stealing, so does Copyright Act cannot stop infringement. This is the reason why copyright infringement is on the increase globally. Copyright infringement has to do with the manipulation in part or wholly the exclusive rights of the copyright property owner – copyright piracy.
Copyright system organization and economic benefit
The lifespan of copyright vary according to the author and the duration of publication. The creative works done by employees would last over ninety five from the time of publication. The same copyright would last for more than one hundred and twenty years (120) from the time of creation. Copyright for works done beyond 1977 have a lifetime projection while those for materials published and created before this time got seventy years of existence.
This means that the copyright system become organized in such a way that an individual’s copyrighted work would outlive them. One is most likely going to be dead long before the copyright for their innovations and creative works expires. A person does not need to have created work to own copyright for it.
Work created and developed by employees for instance essentially belongs to the employer who claims a copyright for the same. This happens under an arrangement known as works for hire. This means that a copyright can be traded (supplied and purchased) like any other property.
This is the way the copyright system becomes organized to enable authors benefit economically from their works. Most authors are normally not able to produce their work by themselves. They sell their creative work – a book, music, play and poem to the publishers at a fee. This fee becomes known as royalty. This process becomes known as copyright ownership transfer.
It goes on for thirty five (35) years during which the author or his beneficiaries can decide to reverse the ownership. This does not mean that they have to return or refund the publishers royalty already received. The law provides this leeway for authors and their heirs just in case some unscrupulous publisher decides to short change the deal.
The economic reason for registering for a copyright has to do with encouraging new and fresh innovations. It encourages the utilization and creation of new products. This makes copyrighting a utilitarian activity. It develops into a grant system that enables the creation of new works to be maximized by ensuring maximum rewards to the authors.
The time between creation and purchase becomes minimized to enable the property to become a public property. This of course reduces the long periods of waiting by the authors before they begin to reap from their work. The charge on copyright is a crucial incentive towards the continuity of production of new ideas and products (Martin, 2002).
Current copyright issues and laws
One of the key issues surrounding copyright in current times is the extension of copyright term. This has to do with the determination of the economic value and benefit of considering charging royalty or copyright fee to the authors in order to extend the copyright duration. This idea seems viable in the present day and age. It acts as an opportunity and incentive towards the creation of new ideas and products.
The current trend shows an increasing work for hire model in copyrighting. The fee chargeable is assessment based on the contract signed between the creative personnel and the copyright claimant. The intrinsic value of the copyrighted property becomes challenging to compute. This is especially regarding economic values of intellectual properties created in the wake of 1922 – 1941.
The results of their quantitative analysis can be misleading bearing in mind the length of time for which they have existed. The fee chargeable on extension becomes computed based on how long the property has lasted and the change in its utilitarian value. The drop in the utilitarian value happens when a property loses legal protection and becomes a public property.
The extension fee for the ultimate user becomes computed in the light of the foregoing. The whole exercise calls for clarity on the use and users of public properties and incentives for creation of existing and new works.
The other current copyright issue has to do with the determination of the copyright’s monetary value. This means the total amount of royalty payable to the author by the time of expiry of the copyright term. The current challenge is to determine or estimate the values of the royalty to be paid on properties expiring after the current US Copyright Laws.
It is not easy to develop a statistical model that can simulate the commercial viability of the properties in question. It is equally not easy to determine the average value of each property. Copyright specialists have resulted to concentrating on books, music and movies. This is against the backdrop that these three media productions are most likely still under production.
It is easy to determine their commercial values. The value of products that cannot be reproduced becomes negligible. The monetary revenues garnered from copyright properties flows to the authors in two forms – mechanical royalty and performance royalty. Mechanical royalty refers to the revenues collected in lieu of production. Performance royalty comes from the sale of tickets during musical concerts, radio plays, television shows and commercials.
The extent of future ownership and copyright in the creative economy
The concept of author’s right sharply contrasts the traditional copyright concept. The traditional concept of copyright found its root in the civil legislation of the country or origin – England. All countries colonized by England adopted the same civil regulations and hence the traditional method of copyrighting.
This differs with the philosophical approach to copywriting as is evidence in the recent times. This approach looks at copyrighting purely from the utilitarian point of view. It identifies the purpose of copyrighting as stimulation for the production of fresh and new works (Goldstein, 2001).
The future copyright legislation will tend to focus on the extension of copyright term as an incentive that increases investment. The aim of these incentives will be to encourage authors to write more, producers to produce more and publishers to continue large scale publishing. This means that ownership and copyright issues will become the centre stage of the creative economy.
This will make Cultural and media producers become more sensitive towards copyrighting. This is because the approximated economic significance of the royalties earned from copyrights will stimulate more activity by the cultural and media producers. Copyrighting will become the alternative source of livelihood for the new and existing cultural and media producers.
The copyright system will become more synchronized and organized. The copyright formalities such as notice, deposit and registration, will become better articulated. The organized system will result in prompt rewarding of the independent authors and employees working under the work for hire arrangements. Many stricter regulations will aid in reducing to zero occurrence crimes pertaining to copyright infringement.
Regulations that awards damages to authors whose rights have become infringed get implemented. The broad public law will affect the copyright legislation. The result will be a more a linear and smooth copyright operating system. Reduction in piracy and more awareness to the author rights and media producer rights will prevail (McJohn, 2006).
The issue of fair use plays a crucial role to the future of copyrighting. It involves the right to access and use information to the greater good of the public. The advantage of the future cultural and media producers has to do with the current copyright laws that allow a small lee way on the concept of fair use.
The regulation allows a notable exception to the fair use rule on account of author’s copyright rights. Cultural and Media producers can now borrow from the protected works of others for purposes of critical analysis, reporting as part of news and teaching or research.
The only caution for them has to do with preserving the value of the copyrighted work. This projects the growth and expansion of the creative economy which depends heavily on peer reviewed information. Works done by others will find new insights and excellent ideas and products birthed in the process.
The crimes relating to author’s copyright infringement are on the global increase. There is a need to tighten the copyright laws and their enforcement. A well organized and functioning copyright system acts as an incentive towards increased investment in creativity and production of new ideas and products. The future cultural and media producers have an edge with the special exception on the fair use legislation. There era will see a rise in creative activities and the growth of the creative economy.
Albanese, J.S., 2007. Combating Piracy: Intellectual Property Theft and Fraud. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Fishman, S., 2011. The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know. United States of America: The NOLO.
Goldstein, P., 2001. International Copyright: Principles, Law and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Martin, J.V., 2002. Copyright: Current Issues and Laws. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
McJohn, S.M., 2006. Copyright: Examples and Explanations. New York: Aspen Publishers, Inc.