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AN ANALYSIS OF COPYRIGHT ISSUES IN CYBERSPACE

Author: R. Rebecca Vasanthini Percy, V year of B.Com.,LL.B.(Hons.) from School of Excellence in Law

Co-author: R. Yuvaraj Muthu Jebaz, II year of BA Criminology and Police Administration from DG Vaishnav College


ABSTRACT

As for how we term a farmer’s best friend as an earthworm, in the same manner, a person’s best friend is considered to be the internet in the recent scenario. With the availability of the internet in this advanced world, everything has become a Tom, Dick and Harry to everyone. Anyone can search anything on the internet and with just one google search millions of answers and websites pop out for us to see, refer and analyse as to which is best and which suits us. Even though the internet plays a vital role in everyone’s life and it has become everyone’s cup of tea, still it is a devil in disguise. As for how a coin has two sides likewise, the internet also has both advantages as well as disadvantages respectively. Copyright is considered to be a person’s hard work and labour which can be used by others only through authentication and approval by the owner of the work. Nowadays it has become a big nightmare to all the copyright owners because of the internet facility. Anyone can have access to the internet because of which many try to copy and paste the work of others which they feel proud about. Even though many sites are blocked or are approved only when paid, still many people hack it easily and break through the bars and get the content. Finally, no one gets an idea as to which is original and which is duplicated, which lands the real owners of the content in futile. This research paper will deal with the concept and evolution of the internet, meaning and rights of copyright owners, difficulties faced by the copyright owner due to the internet and suggestions to overcome the problem based on copyrightable work.

Keywords- Copyright, Internet, Original- Duplicate contents.


INTRODUCTION

Jonathan Rosenoer was the first person to coin the concept of “Cyber Law” for interpreting legal issues to internet users. The terminology which is used to describe the legal consequences relating to the use of communication technologies, in particular, cyberspace is called cyber law. The creation of minds for which property rights are recognised is termed intellectual property. The owners under the intellectual property rights law are granted various exclusive rights such as musical, literary, artistic works, inventions, phrases, symbols and design. As per TRIPS, the intellectual property rights are:

  1. Copyright and its related rights

  2. Rights of artisans, painters, musicians, sculptors, photographers and authors for copyright in their works;

  3. Rights of computer programmers whether in source or object code for copyright in their programmes and compilation data;

  4. Rights of performers, producers of phonograms (sound recording) and broadcasting organisations in respect of fixation on their programmes for copyright in their work.

  5. Right of traders in their trademarks

  6. Right of manufacturers and producers on geographical indication about such products and produce.

  7. Right of designers for their distinctive design striking to the eye

  8. Patents

  9. Rights of inventors for a patent to his invention

  10. Rights of plant breeders and farmers

  11. Right of biological diversity

  12. Right of computer technologists for their layout design of integrated circuits

  13. Right of businessmen for protection of their undisclosed information on technology and management.

A form of protection given to the author’s original work including dramatic, artistic, musical, literary and other intellectual works is known as copyright. The copyrighted works on the internet or computer include stories, novels, news, blogs, graphics, pictures etc.


COPYRIGHT ISSUES ON THE INTERNET

  1. Caching- It is a temporary copy attached to the RAM at the user’s end. It is an exception for infringement of copyright as fair dealing.

  2. Downloading and uploading- Producing a copy or reproduction of the file is termed as downloading whereas taking a copy of the original and uploading it to another source is known as uploading. Uploading pirated software is an offence.

  3. Derivative work- It is considered to be unauthorised if a person or group of persons combines two programs to form a derivative work. This type of work is considered violative of the principles and rights of a copyright holder.


AUTHOR’S RIGHT UNDER COPYRIGHT REGIME IN INDIA

The term “author” has various meanings, they are:

  1. Writer of book or article

  2. Profession of writing

  3. People composing poems, books, novels etc

  4. Author of the new tax plan

  5. Writer of a software program

In the source code of a computer program, the concept of copyright exists[1]. Section 2(o) of the copyright act, 1957[2] states that computer software and databases are considered to be literary works and come under the ambit of copyrightable works. An author is granted the exclusive right to use, enjoy and exploit his work as per section 14 of the copyright act, 1957. The rights conferred under section 14 include the right to reproduce the work, issue copies and communicate it to the public at large[3].


The copyright act, 1957 deals with author’s rights in two places. Firstly, the Author’s special rights are discussed under section 57 of the act which states that an author of a copyrighted work has a right to claim authorship of the work and also has the right to claim damages when the copyrighted work is modified, mutilated, distorted which tarnishes the author’s reputation. Secondly, the author’s right to relinquish copyright is specified under section 21 of the act.


COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND REMEDIES

When the rights of a copyright holder are infringed, he/she is entitled to sue the infringer for damages, injunction, profit of accounts and delivering back the goods[4]. Whether it's a violation that occurred in cyberspace or the physical world, section 51 of the copyright act, 1957 deals with the provisions in relevance to the infringement of copyright. Reproducing any copyrighted work or issuing the work to the public without the authentication of the author or owner’s right is an infringement of copyright which can be demarcated while reading section 51 along with section 14 of the copyright act. The suits for infringement can also be filed by the author or owner of copyrighted work even if the work is not registered as the registration is not mandatory[5]. The civil remedies are available to both the copyright owner or author as well as the licensee[6].


LANDMARK CASES RELATED TO COPYRIGHT ISSUES IN CYBERSPACE

Napster case[7], is one of the landmark judgements for copyright infringement in the digital era. For P2P file sharing, the plaintiff was sued by the defendant. The software was provided by Napster for sharing media files stored in his computer with his users. USD 1,00,000 was demanded by the music companies against Napster for copyright infringement. Finally, there was a settlement between Napster and the music companies wherein Napster agreed to pay one-third of the future profits to the music companies, later Napster was dissolved in the year 2000. In the case of Kelly v. ArribaSoftCorp[8], Leslie Kelly’s copyrighted pictures were displayed by a search engine that not only produced thumbnails but also large size pictures in its search results. It was held to be an unauthorised reproduction of the plaintiff’s images by the court. In Microsoft Corporation v. YogeshPopat[9], Rs. 23.62 lakhs was awarded to Microsoft Corporation by M/s Compton Computers Private ltd and its directors as per the order of the Delhi High Court as they committed copyright breach by uploading pirated software of Microsoft in computers which they sold after selling parts.


CONCLUSION

With the growth and advancement of digital technology, internet copyright infringement and software piracy became very easy and simplified for cybercriminals. With the passage of the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012 the copyright regime in India strengthens statutory protection available to authors to safeguard their rights both in the offline and online world.


[1]Ibcos Computer v Barclays 1994 FSR 275.

[2] Article 10(1) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provides copyright protection to computer programmes.

[3] See Section 2(ff) includes online communication or communication using electronic means.

[4] Section 55(1) of copyright Act, 1957.

[5] JN Bagga v Air ltd AIR 1969 Bom 302.

[6] Section 54(a).

[7] A&M Records; Inc. v. Napster; Inc. 2000 WL 573136, I (N.D. cal 2000).

[8] 280 F 3d 934(9th Cir 2002).

[9]2005 (118)DLT 580, followed in Adobe Systems inc v K.Khanna 2009 (5) AS ( Delhi) 954.