One of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics is ‘Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output’.
Please discuss the challenges involving IPR (Intellectual Property Right) that organisations need to combat in the digital world. Use specific legal case examples involving IPR and discuss their outcomes and implications in revising the IPR laws.
Introduction: Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are given to person over their creations. Basically, the creator gets an exclusive right for the usage and exploitation of his creation and benefitting from it. Intellectual Property (IP) rights have both commercial and moral value and these rights are intended to stimulate creativity and the benefits derived from its exploitation towards the creator. Also known as monopoly rights of exploitation it has a limited duration, scope and demographic extent .
IP rights are classified in to two categories namely Copyright and Industrial property.
Copyright includes the right to artistic works like books, music composition, paintings, sculpture, writings, films, computer programs, etc. All these are protected by copyright for a period of 50 years after the death of the creator. Under this category are also included “neighboring” rights which include the performers’ rights for example actors, performers, singers, musicians, producers of phonograms broadcasting organization etc. the main purpose behind the copyright is to provide protection to the owners, encourage and offer reward for his creativity.
Industrial property is characterized as protection of distinctive trademarks, monograms, signs, logos etc which distinguish their services and goods from others. Other kind of industrial rights fall in to the category of patents, trade secrets and industrial designs .
Identifying the key issues or areas of IPR
Intellectual property is creation of mind like lyrics, music composition, sculpture, painting, design, literary work etc. it is like any other tangible property which can be bought, sold or licensed. IPR gives the beholder the right to economically get benefits from his creations. Intellectual Property right has become very crucial for investment by big companies. Ideas and knowledge is receiving great momentum and many products that were traded as low-commodities or goods have earned higher reputation because of their designing and innovation . Today films, biotechnology products, on-line services, clothing, recordings, books, computer software are all being easily bought and sold because they contain an identity.
With the changing trends of business, WTO introduced ‘Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights’(TRIPS) which was an agreement on intellectual property rules in the multilateral trading system came in to effect on 1st January, 1995. It is the most comprehensive IP multilateral agreement that has three main features namely the standards, enforcement and dispute settlement. TRIPS agreement provides extensive protection to IP .
The speedy and dramatic improvement in technology is creating issues that are subtle and complex for example the evolution of satellite broadcast which is comparatively very cheap and hence it is not possible for broadcaster to get it patented or get copyright. Those who get broadcast without authorization re-transmit it to other cable systems and benefit commercially. Such actions reduce the validity of copyright and results in lower appropriable.
The same issue surfaces with regards to electronic transmission of data and other such kinds of proprietary information especially on electronic devices. IP right is feasible but very expensive in such cases especially because there are multiple users and the transmission is done over cheap telecommunication networks . Information technology is particularly vulnerable to massive copying and low-cost and these are raising issues related to global IPRs.
Analysis of Intellectual Property Rights Issues
The theoretical landscape of intellectual property has not attracted much philosophical interest. Basically the principal theory applied to utilitarian works that is inventions is theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarian theorist endorses the creation of IPR as it encourages innovation. The copyright laws in the USA have been built on this utilitarian framework . The copyright, patent, trade mark, design patents etc provide an exclusive privilege to the inventor for a particular period of time. There is broad array of modes of IPR protection and each has different standards of protection . On the other hand, the non-utilitarian theorists emphasize that it is the moral right of the creator to protect his work.
Digitalization has dramatically changed the IPR. There is immense proliferation of technologies which facilitate mass-market digital conversion, digital copying, peer-to-peer network, file sharing etc very easy on high speed and cheap internet connections. The technological tools have led to distribution of thousands of unauthorized copies . Particularly, the movie, music and software industry is facing this issue and are constantly searching for various technical and regulatory solutions to fight against this digital piracy. The digital piracy has shaken the movie and music industries. High-density digital copying enables mass copying with no degradation from the copyright content. Most of unauthorized copyright material is transformed through peer-to-peer sharing with multiple users.
For protecting digital piracy, a variety of technical options are being developed to prevent copy control, restriction on file sharing, file control, saving, printing, etc. Encrypting, electronic watermarking, tagging, flagging etc are being to protect digital piracy . All these copy protections are program in the software or hardware or in the operation system of the device. Piracy filters are being promoted by music and movie industries in the Internet service providers to screen or identify the pirated digital content.
Recommendations: Protection of IP is fundamental right for democratic societies and economic system. There is no doubt that IPR promotes invention and innovation and must be enforced. It is obvious that IPR can stimulate research and gives freedom to individuals to get benefits from their innovation. IPR has many benefits for example it prevents plagiarism, prevents others from using it, supports income generation strategy and allows free entry in to competitive market. Intellectual property of your own or your company is more valuable than the physical assets and whether it is a copyright, patent, employee know-how or trade secret must be protected.
Despite the IP provisions, piracy and counterfeiting is rampant and will continue in the future. Hence there is a need for proactive solutions and practical recommendations to tackle the piracy issues. Analytical studies demonstrate that one has to find his own way of protecting IP. IP is undoubtedly the life blood of each and every organization and if this is stolen it is difficult to catch the perpetrators, prosecuting them is still harder and retrieving the stolen information is impossible. Hence, it is of utmost important to protect the IP.
Few recommendations include:
Intelligence Property protection has become mandatory. The World’s largest innovators like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon are investing billions of dollars to ensure that their IP is secured and protected.
Conclusion: Intellectual property rights and laws are designed to promote innovation and free flow of creativity and simultaneously providing benefits to the owner. Intellectual property is an intangible property that is the product of mental labor. The organization must constantly strengthen its IP portfolio by filing new applications for copyright or patent, licensing and add value through multiple creative ways. In the current landscape, IP is facing many risks. With digitalization, cyber piracy has become a common phenomenon. The movie, music, pharmaceutical industry has become victims of piracy and copying. There is a need to develop statutory framework to protect intellectual property rights. Australia has well developed laws and that protects the IP of individuals and firms.
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