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Intellectual Property In The Age Of The Internet

1787 words - 8 pages

Intellectual Property in the Age of the Internet

When Tim Berners-Lee created the Internet as a non-proprietor, not-for-profit information conduit, he could not have predicted how controversial digitized intellectual property would become. Prior to the Internet, intellectual property was a fairly straightforward issue. It was protected with copyright, trademark, and patent legislations, which granted exclusive rights to owners. Violations were not as abundant because distribution was constrained by time and space. Moreover, violators were identifiable because anonymity was difficult to achieve. In today's "global village" however, digital information such as books, music, ...view middle of the document...

R.4077, p.1). The losses felt both by the Music Industry and the individual artists, such as Metalica are undeniable. Napster was eventually shut down after residing Judge Marilyn Patel, in Napster v. A&M Records, exclaimed that Napster was ìengaging in, or facilitating others in, copying, downloading, uploading, transmitting, or distributing copyrighted sound recordingsÖî (UCLA Online Institute, p.1). Some might believe that Napster has not directly harboured copyright infringements. However, the reality is that Napster enabled music downloaders to share music files that they did not create and that they previously would have had to pay for. These individuals are infringing on copyright protection and Napster enabled them to do so.

The Internet has undoubtedly become defined by its ability to facilitate intellectual property violations. Thus, countries such as the United States amended punishments for Copyright infringers. Prior to the Internet, punishments for copyright violations were monetary damages, statutory damages, attorney fees, and preliminary injunctions. However because of the excessive amount of copyright infringements, the US Congress passed the No Electronic Theft Act, which amended Section 506 of title 17, of the United States Code, enforcing criminal liability to anyone who ìinfringes a copyright willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gainî(Bird, p.101). ìInternational Intellectual Property Association estimates that copyright piracy around the world inflicts approximately $20-$22 billion in annual losses to the U.S. copyrightî, thus resulting in the stricter punishments (up to 3 years in prison) (IIPA, p.1). To date, no one has served jail time for Copyright infringement in the United States.

Pirated music is an undeniable form of copyright infringement, however there are new, lesser-known violations, which have been created because of the Internet. Linking, framing and deep linking are all examples of copyright infringements, although they are newer and Internet-specific. In a 2-year long case, Mainpost v. Newsclub, a German newspaper, Mainpost, charged Newsclub, a German search service for violating deep linking laws. Munichís Upper Court decided that Newsclub violated copyright laws because of its ìíunfair extractioní of materials contained in a database, specifically mentioning downloading or hyperlinking as examples of prohibited extraction methods.î (Delio, Michelle, p.1). This decision ensures that any person or company who gives a specific destination on their website, may be liable for copyright infringement. The rules and regulations for each website are different, thus it is crucial to be attentive to the ëTerms of Useí outlined on each webpage. Nonetheless, the Internet has broadened the definition of intellectual property, which makes it a more complex and intricate issue.

A second amendment, the revision of title 17 of...

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