The copyright law is known to be the legacy of technology. With time, it has undergone structured changes keeping in mind the nature, extent and domain of technology involved to guard the public interest of imagination, invention and resourcefulness. The main motive of copyright law is to provide adequate incentives to the creators of copyright works and make such work reachable to the public. The ubiquity of internet has turned the world into a global digital village, where the protection of copyright works has become a serious concern for everyone. The internet together with computer networks has enabled faster dissemination of copyright work with a greater number of people participating and sharing the information quickly and endlessly in the cyberspace, thereby giving rise to global piracy. This has debilitated the encouragements to original creators of intellectual property. If estimated, the loss from pirated software, range into billions of dollars. Because of this feature, internet has emerged as the world’s biggest copy machine and has created anxieties for stronger registered control of information in the digital environment. It is a common misunderstanding that the information accessed via the internet on a public domain can be copied freely. However, it is not the scenario, unless the matter has been made available by the government, or the time duration for copyright has expired, or the owner of the copyright has given away his right.
The law protects the different ways in which an idea can be expressed, one such way is copyright. Basically, copyright is the right to copy. It gives the creators of original material the exclusive right to further use and prevent unauthorized duplication of that material for a given amount of time. Now-a-days, due to the technological involvement, the contract made between the owner and the consumer is facing digital world exploitation. The copyright work which includes news, stories, images, graphics, e-books, screenplay, videos etc. can be downloaded at any place and anytime and no proper renumeration is provided to the owner. At the time when the statute of 1957 was made, the technology was not that much advanced, as the law was developed in the regime of print media that slowly evolved its protective works to include paintings, drawings, sculptures, which later expanded to photography and cinema as well.
ISSUES AND CHALLENGES
The easy approach of materials available on the internet has constituted a great concern for copyright infringement. Digitalisation has made it significantly easy to copy, replicate and sell the original works of a copyright owner without his permission and detection of such infringement becomes almost impossible. The infringement of copyright in cyber-space includes-downloading and uploading to the hard-disk of one’s computer; compilation of two or more programmes to create a derivative work. The process of hot-linking(displaying an image on the website by linking to website hosting that image) stands in contravention to the copyright’s law. Software piracy is one of the major reasons for copyright violation. It involves unauthorised copying, distribution, renting, selling of hardware machines with pre-installed pirated software, of copyrighted software.
REMEDIES AGAINST INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT IN DIGITAL DOMAIN
Certain preventive measures can be adopted to ensure that the rights and interest of the owner or creators are protected. Blockchain technology is one such methods that can be used to record peer to peer transaction. It is a highly secure decentralised public ledger that encodes every transaction in to the block of digital data which is uniquely identified. Blockchain is a virtual chain made of blocks, where each and every block contains information. The major crucial role of blockchain technology in the registration and protection of digital copyright is to ensure the complete credibility of information, which includes copyright authorized information and copyright transaction information. It includes the information stored in the block as well as the block’s hash value, the amount of the transaction, and the time of the first publication. The copyright authorization information includes the authorization period, the copyright owner’s signature, the copyright right ownership, the time and place of completing the transaction, the hash value of the transaction, etc. The copyright transaction information contains the hash value of the block, the originator of the transaction, the recipient of the transaction and so on. For the above information, the system needs to ensure that they cannot be falsified and absolutely credible, and that the all blocks added with a hash chain to prevent fraud. The module of Copyright Information Management linearizes and packs the copyright information to the blockchain system. Digital watermark is one of the easiest methods to prevent the original work from duplication. In this technique, a watermark is embedded in the original work through which the unauthorised copying can be detected. Special features are embedded in such a way that are not visible to the naked eyes but can be read by a detection device which helps to find out whether the content used is authorized or not. Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to various technologies that are used by software and hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders, and individuals with the intent to control the use of digital content. Digital rights management includes technologies that control the use, modification, and distribution of works, as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies. DRM Technique such as Access Control and Copy Control enables the creator to keep an eye on the illegal exploitation of their work. Access controls prevent a user from getting a first copy of the work unless they have a license to do so. Copy controls stop public from reproducing the work once they have obtained a copy. DRM Encryption of content involves digital scrambling of the bits that prevents the content to be seen until it is decrypted. Encryption schemes can effectively prove to be useful in the fight against infringement of copyright.
DOCTRINE OF FAIR USE IN DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT
Copyright holders can use Digital Rights Managements to safeguard their work being duplicated or utilised by others. Nonetheless, copyright laws across the globe allows fair use of the copyrighted work. “Fair use” primarily means, utilising the copyrighted material for as part of or for transformative purposes such as for a commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship etc. This right to fair use has played a very important role in research, education and general intellectual development. Fair use acts as a defence against a copyright claim. If the use is fair, then it won’t be counted as an infringement of copyright. Basically, four factors are considered in order to measure fair use- i) The purpose and character of your work; ii) The nature of the copyrighted work; iii) the amount and solidness of the part taken, and ; iv) the effect upon the potential market due to its use.
Different countries have different laws on copyright exemption. The exemption of Fair use is engrained in section 107 of the Copyright Act in the United States of America. According to Article 9(2) of the Berne Convention 1883, it shall be the matter of legislation to permit the reproduction of such work in certain cases, provided that such reproduction does not contravene with normal use of the work and does not legitimate the interest of the copyright owner. Likewise, Article 13 of the TRIPS agreement states that Members shall limit restrictions or exceptions to exclusive rights to exceptional cases which do not conflict with the normal use of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interest of the owner.” In India, section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957 lays down the exceptions to Copyright infringement. Certain acts shall not be considered as an infringement in Digital World, for instance, making copies of the research material available on the internet for the sole purpose of studying; Accessing a journal from university’s website or library; Backing up copies on Hard Drive as protection against any loss, destruction or damage; Use of satirical content from a film in order to make certain points clear would not amount to be in contravention of copyright; The observation study or test of the functioning of a computer programme in order to determine the ideas and principle which underline and underlies the elements of the programme while performing acts that are necessary for the functioning of a computer programme; Making copies or adapting computer programme from a personally legit occupied copies for non-commercial usage; using any multimedia device such as CD, DVD, pen drive etc for playing songs in a room or hall meant for the common use of people in any residential area or as a part of any club activity for non-profit purposes; Publication of any speech delivered in public; Reproduction or publication of any electronic reports of any committee, council, body or institution established by an Act of the legislature or by state or central government.
Consumers have never been as extremely entangled in the nuances of copyright law as they are today. Boundless new possibilities are created by the internet technology for the methods of distribution of popular entertainment such as music and film. The public’s current distribution and exchange practices of copyrighted material on the Internet, which may not be in compliance with the rights of copyright holders, have nonetheless fuelled consumer expectations. And, perhaps, the infringement claims are bringing the copyright holder and the end user into closer proximity more than at any other time. Suits against several peer-to-peer file sharing services, for vicarious and contributory copyright infringement may have a direct impact on the Internet community worldwide. Copyright law is ultimately a commercial law; it protects the creator’s right to financially exploit his or her intellectual property. Digital technology has essentially cut out the middleman, and means of curtailing infringement are more visible and of greater interest to the public. Once unprotected material is transmitted over the Internet then, as a practical matter, the copyright holder can no longer attempt to effectively curb infringement by going after individual infringing distributors. Hence, both the law and copyright holders view prevention as the key to copyright protection.
The advent of digital technology requires either the expansion of the modifications of the existing old media notions. The need of the hour is to redefine the catalogue of limitations on the acts, taking into consideration, the peculiarities of the new environment in multiple facets. The age-old legislations and their core concepts in copyright law had to be re-entered, so as to make digital societal record progress. Digitalisation on one hand, has given opportunities to the creators to show cause their work and creations effectively, while on the other hand it has also raised copyright infringement concerns for the owners of the work. Even though several efforts have been made, both at International and national level to overcome the obstacles and to ensure the protection of copyrights in the digital world, still a lot is to be done. There is a need to create awareness among the people and to properly train the enforcement agencies along with the development of proper mechanism to tackle the issue of copyright violation. At the International level, there is a requirement for enriched provisions and principles in the international treaties and conventions to ensure effective implementation and management of digital copyright issues.
4th year B.A.LL.B
Fairfield Institute of Management and Technology, New Delhi