Copyright Law is considered to be the biggest revolution in the Intellectual
Property regime, with it providing safeguard to the owner of the creation from
possible copying of the creative work.
With the owner of the copyrighted work not only being provided protection
against possible copying and but also being provided with compensation in the
form of damages, in case of violation, copyright law seems to be comprehensive
protection that the owner of the copyrighted work needed.
However, when the Copyright Act was being framed by the legislature, technology
was not so advanced and we didn't entered the digital era. However, with the
advent of the technology, Copyright Act seems to be lacking in addressing the
problems being created by new digital data transmission and technology.
Issues in digital era with Copyright Act
Therefore, with the advent of the technology, Copyright Act faces three major
issues and setbacks that it needs to deal with. The first and the foremost issue
with the Copyright Act is that in digital era, there will be more and more
infringement of copyrighted work online and Copyright Act does not provide
effective measures to deal with such infringement. Online infringement is
difficult to detect, majorly because of privacy interests and laws, along with
continued public acceptance of digital copying. Thus, both the scenarios will
make Copyright Law even more difficult to enforce.
Second major issue with the digital era is fair use being permitted by the
Copyright Act. The Act permits copying of the work for private use under the
fair use regime. Thus, people will be able to copy the copyrighted work for fair
use and can publish the work online unauthorized, which will make it even more
difficult for Copyright Act to prevent such unauthorized use.
Third and the formidable issue with the current Copyright regime is that
Copyright Act provides narrow definition to the copyrighted work. Thus,
copyrighted work is not provided with any kind of online protection nor does
copyrighted work is being provided online protection through judicial
Therefore, if left unresolved, these issues will subvert the intellectual
Digital Technology: An impetus to change:
As nothing is concrete and is subject to change, technology have also came a
long way from analog technology to digital technology. Thus, with the advent of
the digital era, users of the digital technology are being provided with more
and more options, to record, download and transmit data of higher quality in
less time, as compared to the analog system which requires lot of time to
download and transmit data. Thus, the result would be that more and more
copyrighted work would be prone to infringement, at less cost and it will be
more difficult to prevent.
History of the Technological Advancement and hindrance to Copyright Law
Analog technology was mainly replaced with the digital technology back in the
1980s. The sales of the analog photographic albums were starting to show
downward trend and the Compact Disks sale was on its record high. Thus, digital
form of transmission of data was becoming more common as compared to the analog
log of transmission in the form of television, radio and fiber optic cable.
And the major reason for such drastic change form analog transmission to digital
transmission was mainly due to quality improvement, low cost of transmission and
high speed of data transmission and recording.
Failures of the Copyright Law in the existing regime
The major issue with the Copyright Law in digital era is its enforcement.
When Copyright Act was being framed by the legislature, digital era was not
at its peak and thus, remedies pertaining to digital infringement were not
kept in mind. Furthermore, with the advancement and introduction of Virtual
Portable Network, tracing the infringement roots have become even more
Another major issue with the enforcement of Copyright Law is the Right of
Privacy being given the status of fundamental right. Thus, tracing
infringement roots without violating the privacy rights have become next to
impossible as recording and transmitting of the copyrighted work will mostly
be done within the four walls of one's house, privacy interest will
interfere with fair investigation, thus causing hindrance to the Copyright
Public Attitude towards Copyright infringement: Public behavior towards piracy and copying of the copyrighted work goes hand
in hand with the investigation. Co-operation of the public thus, becomes of
utmost importance while dealing with the copyright infringement cases.
However, on the contrary, public attitude can also become an obstacle to
dealing with copyright infringement.
Public all across the world have become more and more accustomed to taping
copyrighted work and material. Furthermore, some polls conducted disclose
that most of the public believes that unauthorized copying is acceptable to
a large extent. This is mainly because these pirated works are available to
the public at minimal cost and sometimes even for free. And this behavior is
prevalent from analog era and is certainly not going to change in digital
era as well.
As every right has its pros and cons, right to privacy also comes with the
same scenario. Private use, as defined in various studies refer to use of
all copyrighted materials that are non-commercial and non-competitive.
However, once copied for private use, gaining commercial benefit from such
copied work is very likely and in such scenario, Copyright Act would not
prove to be beneficial to owner of the Copyrighted work.
And with the entrance into digital era, new opportunities have emerged for
the general public to copy the copyrighted work.
Defining the protected work: Existing copyright framework does not expressly define what is protected
under its regime? Copyright Act simple provides protection to the original
work, the work not being defined anywhere. Thus, it becomes extremely
difficult for the courts to determine the extent of such work, whether one's
work is included or not and if included, whether copying of the work amounts
to Copyright infringement or not?
Alternative solutions to Copyright problems in digital era
Anti-theft Technology and Contract: With the technological advances, it becomes extremely difficult for the
market to alone protect the copyrighted work without proper legal due
course. And with the technology ever expanding and evolution made in every
sector, protecting such work becomes even more important. However, one such
software known as software protection devices, which prevents users from
copying software and data into blank disks, can prove to be useful and can
go a far way in protecting the digital piracy.
Contractual Agreements: It have been observed that when two companies enter into a contract, they
have to share their confidential data with the other. In such scenarios,
contractual agreements obligating the other party to delete and destroy such
confidential information after their contractual obligation is over, can
prove to be very helpful in preventing copyright infringement.
Copyright Law is a complex law to frame. However, with the technology ever
advancing, legislation has to amend the law with the current requirements. If
such amendments are not done within the stipulated time frame, Copyright Law
provisions will not be able to protect the interest of owner of the work,
provided that such work is being infringed in digital era or analog era.