Advantages and Disadvantages of Intellectual Property in the Digital Age

Intellectual property is an umbrella term that covers copyright, patents, trademarks, designs, and confidentiality and trade secrets. Each of these terms covers a different type of property that is made up of knowledge. Many of these terms cover physical objects, however it is the idea behind them that counts and needs to be protected. The growth of the Internet has put pressure on traditional intellectual property protections such as copyright and patent.

Some forms of information, when made accessible on the Internet, are easily copied. Subsequently the costs of copying are low and because copying is often anonymous. As an every coin has two sides, this essay will focus on advantages and disadvantages of intellectual property law on the Internet.

The above terms are all for different types of intellectual property. For instance patents are for products, trademarks are for works, logos and pictures. Design rights are for the shape of something. Copyright is for literacy, such as music, film, multimedia and computer programs. First of all, for all of the above intellectual property terms, except from copyright, you must apply for the license and have it approved by the appropriate people and groups.

The reasons of these laws need to change is because people are stealing large amounts of intellectual property in the form of music and movies, and the culture of the new generations has become one of internet surfing, downloading and hacking because of that there are many advantages and disadvantages to intellectual property laws and how it is used in the digital age.

All of this means that governments and interests groups are making lots of attempts to move intellectual property laws with the times. However, with the speed of the Internet age, it is almost impossible for the laws to keep up. Secondly, a big part of intellectual property is money. The original concept of intellectual property was that everyone who had played a part in creating something that is in the mind makes some kind of profit. Due to illegal file sharing the Motion Picture Association of America claims that $2.3 billion was lost in the US alone from pirates.

However this maybe in part untrue because giving away intellectual property such as movies can sometimes mean more profit for the seller. For example file sharing protocols, such as Bit Torrent, offer movies at about a 320px X 240px size, which equates to around a 900mb file for a 2-hour video. This is nowhere near DVD quality (720px X 480px) and if someone really enjoyed the movie then they would be likely to go and buy it. The other example is music people may want to download an album from artist, to find out whether or not they want to buy the artists new album.

While intellectual property appears to be protecting the creators of the music, this is sometimes untrustworthy due to the way the music industry works. Because of the popularity of music there are lots of small local bands that are formed. The recording industry has a lot of choice when it comes to choosing the band it signs, and the ones that they don’t. This means that bands get unfavorable contracts, which signs way most of their intellectual property rights and gives it to the recording company. Intellectual property also affects the person holding the license because it means that things cannot be advertised as well. Moreover many shows have been recovered and have become popular due to illegal practices in online.

For example, famous episode Prison Break looked like it was going to be cut after one season but when was put on a Bit Torrent site, users got to watch it before it was in broadcast. It then became popular and when the FOX TV channel finally broadcast it lots of people were watching it, to either see a better version or because of advertise was from other people who had already seen the show via Bit Torrent. However, all of the videos have been taken down from sites like You Tube, by the broadcasters due to intellectual property laws thus the broadcasters do not get to receive the benefits from it.

The point of intellectual property laws are for the musicians and people making and writing the music to get money so they can be more creative. Furthermore, groups like the Motion Picture Association of America draw their revenue from the works of the artists and make their money from collecting money. The way how the Internet moves it is almost impossible for the law to change and evolve so that it works with the Internet, because law has a lot of due process and has to be approved by many people. This is very different to how the Internet works.

A couple of people can change the way the file sharing world works. This has been recently highlighted by an announcement by the pirates and hackers. In nowadays, intellectual property is a necessary part of the digital culture and digital creativity, however the way that we are currently going about enforcing it is wrong. This has something to do with the ever-changing situation or environment of the file-trading network, but also because people try to take advantage of the law. This issue is very complicated and any solution has to be flexible enough to survive with future technological advances.

On the other hand, regardless of the effects of piracy, whether positive, negative or mixed. Consequently it is not equity when someone spends hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds making something and marketing it, the law says that they should then have the right to determine how it is used. In fact, this is the idea of intellectual property. In other words, it is beside the point to speak about whether piracy is good for business or not. Even if it is sometimes good for business via additional publicity, the publicity is gained from someone giving a product away that is not theirs to give. The work of labor should be owned by the person who created them, the person who markets them, or by the public.

Anyone who participates in or supports getting copyrighted information for free without permission of the copyrighted owner cannot legitimately vested a claim to ownership of anything they have worked for. About the music business – the numbers you are throwing out there are only true of about 5% of the musicians trying to make a living. Nowadays, most musicians will actually make over 50% of what you pay to iTunes to buy their songs. All those other costs you cite are pretty much non-existent for the majority of musicians. The reason why people pirate music so much is simply because it is so easy to pirate.

People would steal jewelry just as readily if they could get away with it as easily. The agents and managers and producers who work day in and day out to get concerts for the artists and produce their albums and market their music generally work even harder than the artists do, which is something that of possibility most people fail to see. Because the adoring fans do not see these people, the fans think it is technically legal to pirate music.

But the truth is that it if weren’t for their managers and promoters and producers, accordingly you would have never even heard about The Beatles or Elvis Presley or Bob Marley or anyone else in the first place, and you wouldn’t know what to type on the Internet. To sum up, Intellectual property protections should be limited to achieve a balance that prevents direct copying but that encourages value-adding imitation. The Internet in particular is a highly interactive environment with sequential innovation, and attempts to impose new intellectual property protections or to extend existing protections on the Internet may be unsuitable because they fail to consider the value of creative imitation.

Reference:

  1. MV Hoorebeek, Intellectual property law (3rd edn Sweet and Maxwell, London 2009)
  2. L Bently and B Sherman, Intellectual property law (3rd edn Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009)
  3. K Cincotta. ‘Going For a Song’. (2007). http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/07/11/1183833529685.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2. Accessed 25 August 2011.
  4. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/10/04/uk_campaigners_call_for_anti/ Accessed 25 August 2011.
  5. World Intellectual Property Organization. (2011). What is Intellectual Property? http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/. Accessed 26 August 2011
  6. [World Intellectual Property Organization. (2011). What is Intellectual Property? http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/.
  7. Katie Cincotta. (2007). Going For a Song.