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Guarding Digital Assets: Copyright Protection Strategies in the Cyber Age

In this modern era, the Internet is the mainstream of e-commerce and is like a two-edged sword for doing business and developing communication. on the one hand, it develops a network of advanced technology, on the other hand, it violates intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights are patents, trademarks, copyright, industrial designs, geographical indications, etc.

There are various legal remedies if their rights are violated. Among these, copyright is an exclusive right to reproduce the work in copies, and to display or perform the work publicly. In January 1958, the Copyright Act 1957 came into force, it was altered by 5 times. In 1996, WPPT and WCT were created to promote intellectual property. they are known as "Internet treaties" .

Section 13 of the copyright act that it protects the original literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, cinematographic films and sound recordings, etc from unauthorized uses. when intellectual technologies increase, cyber crimes, and violations also increase. with the advent of information technologies, many people use the internet for downloading, uploading, cut-copy-paste, peer to peer(P2P) sharing files of the original owner. copyright infringement is when a work is used without getting permission from the copyright owner. cyberspace is a virtual world, using computers and the internet, cyber crimes are at their peak.

Copyright In Cyberspace

Like all other property rights, copyright also has the same principles. the landowner owns everything on his property from the sky to the ground like a copyright owner owns everything on his work but with certain restrictions. usage of computers and the internet restricts copyright enforcement in cyberspace. The Internet is the medium for authors to showcase their work, meanwhile, it allows viewers to copy someone's work on the site and alters the work without sacrificing quality and then uploading it to another site.

Whether the problem is social, economic, or technological, the solution is the law. this rule enacted copyright law. owner's rights must be protected even on the internet by not being allowed to upload, download, reproduce, or distribute their work. copyright protection must be given to the author irrespective of whether their work is digital or not.

Reproduction Rights

Reproducing work is quick, cheap, and easy. if a duplicate is created, it can meet the needs of millions of people but only the copyright owner, can reproduce their work, and it is their fundamental and exclusive right. if someone copies his work without permission from the copyright owner, it amounts to copyright infringement.

In case an internet user copies the work of another user, whether it is an infringement or not? In the case of the internet, the test of "substantial similarity" is not mandatory . because, if the software is copied it will be similar to the software of the original author. there is a thin line between public and private use. if reproduction for public use needs the copyright holder's consent and in case of private use needs fair dealing.

Distribution Rights

According to copyright law, a Copyright holder has the right to distribute their copies of work to the public. distribution can be done either by sale or by transferring ownership. digital networks are rising worldwide. once if author uploads his work on digital platforms like social media, it can be distributed all over the world within a short period in a single location and make it viral. it allows the netizen to reshare their works .but the problem is it not only constitutes public performance or display, but it also distributes copies to those who are accessing the network.

Public Performance And Display Rights

under US law, the term display is not defined but section 101 defined public performance and communication to the public. The copyright owner has the right to display his works. the display can also be done by making copies, then retailing or for lent. many are downloading software from the internet, if someone displays software or operation of software over the internet thus violates the copyright holder's right to display.

Copyright Violation:

  • Caching

    Temporary caching is also known as mirroring. Nowadays though It creates many copyright violations on digital networks which relate to computer software, it is an important tool to transmit messages through the internet without which it can't reach its predefined destination Caching violates the right of reproduction which involves replicating is of 2 types i.e. proxy caching and local caching. proxy caching violates the rights of public performance, public policy, public distribution, digital performance, etc. because copies are further distributed and displayed from copied server to the audience. according to Indian law, reproducing works must be in tangible form but it also includes "storing it in any medium by any electronic means" for creating caching as a copyright violation.
  • Plagiarism

    Copying the work and content of another is easy by using advanced technology. in this rapid evolution, if we can't control the infringement, it will be more difficult to identify the original work of the author. everything can be easily replicated with many copies and redistributed. we may think that every copyrighted work is protected and none of them is violated but in reality, everything can be copied from one website to another and can be reproduced by simply editing without sacrificing the quality within a fraction of seconds.
  • Illegal Use Of Database

    The term databases are included in the definition of literary works .in the Information technology act, of 2000 the term computer database was defined first time. Under the IT act, section 43 deals with the persons who violate copyright by computer trespass, digital copying, stealing data, interfering with privacy, etc, and online regulations can give criminal punishment and can fine up to not exceeding 1 crore rupees.
  • Illegal Use Of Computer Software

    The term computer software is included in the definition of literary work as a computer program which is words, codes, schemes, or any other to do a task or achieve a result .besides any other types of intellectual property rights, the computer program is also eligible for copyright protection under TRIPS(trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights). the creator of computer software has different forms of rights such as freeware licenses, demoware licenses open source licenses, etc. Under TRIPS, developing nations have been given the freedom to allow reverse engineering software.

Copyright Infringement

According to section 51 of the Indian copyright act of 1957, infringement occurs when:
  1. Allows the illegal use of copyrighted work with knowledge
  2. Makes a profit from the use of another's work that is protected by copyrighted work
  3. Makes use of any of the copyright works that are only available to the copyright holder
In the internet world, every transmission and reproduction of work is easy and fast. Now, copyright infringement has taken a new version in cyberspace as Information technology, particularly in areas like:
  1. Linking
  2. Uploading and downloading
  3. Peer to peer (P2P) sharing


Every website contains lots of information like words, photos, videos, graphics, etc. so it is also protected by copyright. when unauthorized work is promoted by creating a link, it amounts to contributory copyright infringement. linking means a mere connection between the content of two different files or a connection between different parts of a single file. linking, it becomes beneficial for displaying advertisements, marketing products, and spreading valuable information to more people. every website, by clicking a link, goes through the actual homepage and brings the particular file.

Linking is of 2 types:
  1. Surface linking- direct website's homepage is linked
  2. Deep linking-it skips the homepage, and it straightly goes through the internal page of the website.

The problem arises only in deep linking .it defeats the website owner's intention in the method of navigation and it steals traffic from the homepage of the linked site. As a result, it reduces the revenue that could come from an advertisement which depends on the number of users visiting the site. link is a URL, an internet address of a website just like a normal street address, but it is an aid to distribute the creative content of the original website owner. a hyperlink is a group of hypertext or button that directs to another location.

As a result, HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol)allows one website to link with another website without the knowledge or agreement of the webpage owner. the hyperlink appears as an underlined or highlighted and when clicked, it takes directly to the linked website.

In intellectual reserve inc v. Utah lighthouse ministry, the plaintiff intellectual reserve inc. holds a copyright for the church Handbook of Instructions. the court ordered the removal of the handbook from the website. defendants informed users by posting messages on their website as the handbook was online in their own 3 websites link. plaintiff argued to not post their handbook and claimed preliminary injunction. the court held that the defendant committed contributory copyright infringement and issued injunctive relief.

In v, the plaintiff filed a case against the defendant for allowing its user to view jobs on its website by entering the internal homepage of the plaintiff resulting in financial loss. the court held that it was a copyright infringement and restricted the defendant from deep linking, copying, and downloading the plaintiff's website.

Uploading And Downloading

When a person uploads copyrighted content without permission from the owner, it amounts to copyright infringement. if illegal music or movies are downloaded in low quality, it amounts to punishment under the Indian copyright act. even if there is no financial profit, the person who uploads the illegal content is liable.

Illegally downloading any kind of work are common nowadays. piracy is an important issue in the cinema and media industry, it creates annual losses of over $4 billion owing to copyright infringement . According to Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay high court, only when a user prejudicially distributes, sells, or lent, without permission, the user commits an offense.

In Microsoft Corporation v.yogesh Popat , the plaintiff company filed a case against M/s Compton computers private ltd and its directors for uploading pirated software of Microsoft in computers that the company sold after assembling parts. the Delhi high court held that it was copyright infringement and awarded compensation of Rs 23.62 Lacs to the plaintiff company.

Peer-To-Peer Sharing

P2P sharing is an exchange of digital files without a middleman server. it was mainly used for downloading illegal copyrighted music, movies, etc. though it was not designed to facilitate copyright infringement.p2p technology such as Napster, Gnutella, and Kazaa are the most popular and permit users to share files, transfer and to even download without any sacrificing quality.MP3 technology compress files to a smaller size and distribute within a short period. evolving mp3 technology for transferring files over the internet led to the creation of Napster.

In Napster inc v.A&M Record inc , only music files are associated with Napster, which is a central server that connects the user automatically with Napster members' music files after downloading the software. so that they can simply type the names of a song or artist and download music within a fraction of a second.

As a contributory infringer, the court ordered them to stop distributing music files and cut down their website and if anyone operated software like Napster is punishable under sections 14 and 51 (a)(ii) and 63 of the Indian copyright act,1957. till now,p2p technology is creating problems in the copyright field because it allows copyrighted music, sound recording, and software for downloading and sharing over the internet.

Technology Protects Copyright Violation

In today's world, the well-known platform is social media. As of now, 4.48 billion people are using social media worldwide . social media includes Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Linkedin, etc, in this they can post whatever they wish to post. it's paved the way to allow copyright violation though it is against the law and the platform's terms of conditions. if a person copied content from another user, the victim can report it and protect their interest and rights. Meanwhile, if there is any copyright violation happened in cyberspace, copyright owners can protect their works from being copied and shared through technology like: Electronic copyright management systems (ECMS)
ECMS is a technology that protects the work from being duplicated and distributed and copyright owners can track, manage, identify unauthorized copies by sending out 'robots', and preserve their interests and rights. It is widely used to prevent copying digital work such as digital watermarking systems.

This technique identifies the minute alteration made in those works, where encrypted information is incorporated. it's a legal measure to protect against third parties. if any infringing work is found, the copyright owner can remove copy by the requirement of the ISP on whose server work is identified. ISP is nothing but it's a company where users can connect to the internet like Airtel, Vodaphone, jio, etc.

Being a controller of the network, the copyright owner can sue ISP for allowing to upload copyrighted content and is capable to pay more damages than individual users. ISP can warn users to stop making copyright infringement. Section 79(a) of the IT Act,2000 provides legal provisions for ISP liability in copyright infringement.

There are 2 types of protection measures:
  1. Access control measures (passwords,set-top boxes, encryption etc)
  2. Copy control measures

There are 2 legal aspects of ECMS:
  1. Digital millennium copyright act(DMCA)1998
    In the US, protection for ECMS was first mooted in the report of the working group on IPR as part of the national information infrastructure task force(NII report) . This act protects copyright owners and provides provisions for online piracy and copyright infringement. when website owners received notice from copyright holders, they need to remove the copying content from the "notice and takedown system" which includes in DMCA Act.
  2. EU Copyright Directive (EUCD)
    Many directives of EUCD were drafted similarly to DMCA and followed the developments in the united states.EUCD mainly focuses on preparatory actions because it's not a single action of circumvention by the individual and it provides devices or offers services to circumvent and made a threat to IPR.this is found in Article 6 of EUCD.
Article 6(1): "Member states shall provide adequate legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures".it differs from DMCA and focus on the protection of access to works and is not limited to circumvention for infringing purposes.

Remedies For Copyright Violation

When copyright is infringed, the copyright owner can claim damages, injunction, account conversion, restrictions, etc. as a legal option from an Indian court. if anyone doesn't follow the rules and regulations, the court can order to take away and destroy it even if it is a master copy.

Copyright owners can also claim monetary compensation in the form of monetary damages, statutory damages, court costs, advocate fees, etc. Damages can be calculated based on how much losses the copyright holders have suffered due to the infringement of the work.

According to Indian copyright act, of 1957 provides three types of legal remedies if the copyright holder's rights are violated:
  1. Civil Remedies (Section 54 To 62)
  2. Criminal Remedies (Section 63 And Section 63B)
  3. Administrative Remedies
with the advent of advanced technology over time, there is a drastic change in the cyber world. the internet plays a major role in our day-to-day life routine. People were using the internet as a platform for displaying their talents and at the same time, infringement of intellectual property rights increasing in cyberspace nowadays. among all types of IPR, the most important is copyright in cyberspace. copyright protection is there for books, music, movies, paintings, and films but it extends its virtual scope to include computer software, a compilation of data, etc.

There is not sufficient stronger legislation was exist relating to cyber violations to protect the copyright holders .so there is an urge to incorporate more rules regarding cyber laws. people must be aware that their rights are safely protected from infringement because lots of people are adopting digitalized work.

Copyright violations create a negative impact in cyberspace. For example, online theft, etc. though the Indian copyright act, of 1957 protects computer software it doesn't provide any remedies for software piracy. International conventions and treaties were given lots of rules and instructions to prevent online infringement and ECMS provides adequate measures for the protection of copyrighted work.

On December 9,2014, which is an entertainment website was raided by Swedish police and made the site to permanently shut down because it doesn't get permission from the owner for putting them online for public viewing. likewise, Indian law authorities must make stronger punishments and heavier penalties, so that no one intends to infringe the copyright content in the future.


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