Home Piracy What You Must Know About Copyright Infringement

What You Must Know About Copyright Infringement

What You Must Know About Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is a serious problem affecting all types of media and art. In fact, music copyright infringement is a growing problem on the Internet and in other arenas. In addition, illegal copies are then sold to the public. The television and film industry has suffered similar problems. Copies of movies are often illegally sold at a fraction of the original cost. 


The entertainment industry is currently working with law enforcement to enforce copyright infringement laws. However, like other laws, copyright infringement laws are often unable to keep pace with technology. Criminal enterprises constantly find new and creative ways to outsmart the language contained in copyright infringement laws.


Copyright infringement costs the entertainment industry billions of dollars every year. Many artists’ work is distributed on a mass scale, without the artist ever seeing a majority of the money made from such sales. There is, in fact, a large underground industry which makes money by underselling the artist and committing copyright infringement.


Copyrights entitle artists to exclusive rights to distribute, reproduce, or perform their own unique work and many people ignore those exclusive rights. Copyright infringement is a serious and growing crime that can incur stiff penalties. The reality is that most people commit copyright infringement on occasion without ever realizing it. However, the real problem is large networks of criminals that make their money of off copyrighted work. 


Today, many artists struggle to make money because their audiences can get their creative works cheaper by obtaining them illegally. Recently, copyright infringement laws have been utilized to impose large fines on individuals that obtained free or low cost music on the Internet via sharing websites. In fact, some individuals, even young children, have incurred fines that amounted to tens of thousands of dollars based on copyright infringement laws.


Individuals were accused of piracy even before copyright infringement existed as a law. As early as the 15th Century, people began making copies of literary works and other creative works without the artist’s permission. Essentially, many individuals illegally make a living off of the creative work of artists. In fact, artists currently make less money than they did before technology, such as the Internet, became so widespread. It is, in fact, very easy to obtain cheap or free copies of an artist’s work without their permission. 


The international community has begun to work together to impose harsher penalties, especially fines for individuals caught pirating artists’ works. Many DVDs now contain warnings that explain the crime of piracy and its penalties. In fact, part of the problem is that many people do not know the laws or do not take them seriously. So far, the public education campaign has failed to stop the mass copyright infringement that occurs every day.


Enforcement


Enforcement of copyright laws can sometimes be very difficult. In fact, it is very difficult to ascertain the guilty party’s identity when copyright infringement takes place on the Internet or in other public domains. However, international treaties have made it easier for guilty parties to be prosecuted across borders. Many times, those guilty of copyright infringement are not geographically located near the victim. In fact, those that violate copyright law may even be unsure who the victim is. In any case, the guilty party and victim do not generally meet unless they come face to face in the courtroom during a copyright infringement lawsuit. 


Owners of intellectual property must first locate those guilty of copyright infringement before any action can be taken. This process can take a long time as it is not always easy to identify those guilty before the statute of limitations runs out. There are so many ways for the offenders to hide their identity. 


Generally, the masterminds of crimes like this are hidden behind many levels of their gang. For example, those that sell illegal DVDs are likely to face criminal penalties before the person that is actually responsible for making the copies of the original material. Law enforcement can become overwhelmed by the pyramid-like structure of these criminal enterprises. In fact, individuals that make illegal personal copies of copyrighted material are much more likely to face criminal and civil penalties than those that benefit financially from the crime.


Prosecution


Prosecution of copyright violations is generally based on several factors. First, the owner of the copyright must be able to prove that they own the material and the timeline of when it was created. In addition, they must have the material copyrighted before anyone can be charged with violating ownership rights. Generally, in the United States copyright infringement is prosecuted by Federal courts according to an international treaty signed by approximately eighty countries. The treaty was meant to ensure intellectual property ownership across international borders.


Violators of copyright laws can be prosecuted in similar fashions around the world depending on where the violation took place. However, some countries are not a part of the treaty and pirates are rarely prosecuted in countries like that.


Music


Music is one of the most pirated types of intellectual entertainment material. In fact, there are numerous ways in which music is pirated. Copyright infringement is one of the biggest problems artists face. In fact, artists currently make most of their money by touring. The price of concert tickets has skyrocketed due to artists’ reliance on that income. 


Music is generally pirated on and from the Internet. There are many legitimate music sharing sites that charge users a fee, generally on a per song basis. However, there are also many illegal sites which allow users to trade music for free. In that case, the artist makes no money when individuals illegally acquire their copyrighted material.


Copyright owners have begun lawsuits against individuals that obtain their material for free online and through other venues. Some court cases have resulted in gigantic financial payouts to victims, sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars. Some bands have actually lost fans due to their enthusiastic pursuit of individuals that violate their copyrighted material.  Many people in today’s generation tend to view artistic material as freely available to the public. However, prosecution for violation of copyright laws has continued to increase in recent times.


Television and Film


Like other forms of entertainment, the television and film industry is subject to crimes that involve piracy. There has recently been a campaign aimed at public education in regards to copyright infringement laws and penalties for violating such laws. The campaign has been somewhat effective especially because many people were unaware of the laws and penalties before the campaign.


In the ads that play at the beginning of many recently released DVDs, a person is shown stealing goods from a store and then the theft is compared to copyright infringement. The ad demonstrates the serious nature of both crimes. Getting the general public to change their beliefs about the rights of owners of intellectual property is the first step in stopping the continued abuse of copyrighted material.


Many people give no thought to the ownership of intellectual property. For example, news programs that play a clip of movie likely had to get permission to play that film clip. Many times, the public takes such things for granted, assuming that these types of media are available for public access and manipulation. However, efforts by the entertainment industry have made the public more aware of ownership rights and entitlements in regards to intellectual property.


Internet

  

Due to the nature of the Internet, copyright violations can be extremely difficult to track. In fact, with numerous public computers available in libraries and Internet cafes, it is fairly easy for people to obtain copyrighted material illegally without leaving much of a trail.  What many people do not realize is that they often become the victim of such crimes themselves.  


Many people mistakenly believe that their rights to intellectual property are guaranteed when they post certain works online. For example, many people maintain websites or pages on social networking sights. If a person were to publish personal works, they may be surprised to find that work freely available all over the Internet. In addition, they may find that the website is now the owner of that work. 


Also, many artists that have copyrighted their work find that individuals violate those rights on the Internet on a regular basis. Music, artwork, TV shows, and movies are readily available on the Internet. However, that intellectual property is oftentimes available illegally.  Eventually, technology will allow owners of intellectual property to protect their work from infringement.                            

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