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Copyright and Digital Media in a Post-Napster World - International Supplement

Copyright and Digital Media in a Post-Napster World - International Supplement

By URS GASSER - Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society - University of St. Gallen

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Abstract

    This Supplement to the Berkman Center's foundational White Paper, Copyright and Digital Media in a Post-Napster World, focuses on international legal issues of the transition to digitized media. The Supplement considers developments regarding copyright and related rights in Europe and Asia/Pacific (including Australia) against the backdrop of earlier studies by the Berkman Center's Digital Media Project that have reviewed the interplay of law, technology, and the business ecosystem.

    Part One briefly discusses the basic international copyright framework and provides an overview of three sets of important copyright agreements: The Berne Convention, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties.

    Part Two discusses the copyright framework in Europe as established by the European Copyright Directive and other European Union (EU) legislation. In this context, the Supplement explores legislative and regulatory developments at the level of both the EU itself and its member states. A selection of cases from European countries illustrates the current state of digital media law in action.

    Part Three reviews legislative and regulatory developments in the Asia/Pacific region and provides brief descriptions of the copyright laws in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, and South Korea. It examines the impact of the international copyright treaties discussed in Part One. This section also provides an overview of actions taken against file-sharing Web sites and peer-to-peer (P2P) services in selected countries in the Asia/Pacific region.

    Part Four summarizes the legal campaign against online piracy, provides information about legal actions taken against individual file-sharers, and briefly outlines current attempts to fight online piracy in coordinated operations across the world.

    Part Five offers some conclusions about how the legal landscape is evolving in response to the challenges and opportunities posed by digital media.

Facts on copyright

  • Copyright concepts are perceived to be under challenge in the modern technological era, from the increasing use of peer to peer filesharing, to the downward trend in profits for major record labels and the movie industry. Public interest groups and industry and alike are entering the public education system to teach the curriculum from their perspectives.
  • The author of an unpublished manuscript or little-known publication, which is remarkably similar to a popular novel, will have an uphill battle convincing a court that the popular novel infringes the copyright in their obscure work. Taking some precautionary steps may help to establish independent creation and authorship. For example, when a web designer designs a webpage (based upon his own work) under a contract for services, the webmaster owns the copyright in at least the underlying code of that website.
  • It appears publishers, rather than authors, were the first to seek restrictions on copying printed works. Given that publishers now obtain the copyright from the authors as a condition of mass reproduction of a work, one of the criticisms of the current system is that it benefits publishers more than it does authors. This is a chief argument of the proponents of peer-to-peer file sharing systems. It set out a rabbinical curse on anyone who copied the contents.

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