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Copyrights: Intellectual Property and Technological Challenges

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Copyrights: Intellectual Property and Technological Challenges

The Government and many other agencies around the world are continuously at work to improve protections for intellectual property rights and the enforcement of intellectual property laws. In today's age of digital madness, passing legislation and actually enforcing of those laws becomes a very daunting task. However, the protection of intellectual property has both individual and social benefits. It protects the right of the creator of something of value to be compensated for what he or she has created, and by so doing; it encourages production of valuable, intangible, creative work

In order to understand the difficulties surrounding the laws associated with intellectual property an understanding of the term is needed. The Louisiana State Bar Association defines intellectual property as the product of someone's mental efforts. It is usually intangible, and its value lies in its appeal to others who might wish to use it or the goods it describes. Intellectual property can be covered and categorized into three separate protective laws; those include copyrights, patents and trademarks. The true key to understanding intellectual property protection is to understand that the thing protected is the intangible creative work, not the particular physical form in which it is embodied (Baase, 2003, p. 235).

This paper will discuss the ideas and laws behind copyrights as intellectual property along with the daunting task of protecting that property in a digital age where piracy seems to be commonplace. The fair-use laws and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 will also be covered, along with the challenges faced by those who choose to use the fair-use laws for educational purposes, and the impact that the DMCA has had on this law. Finally this paper will discuss what can be learned from having a basic understanding of copyright laws and the impact on world economics that the breaking of these laws could possibly cause.

Examining intellectual property can spark the old argument that standing is more tiring than walking paradox, how do you differentiate between an idea and a creative expression. Copyrights protect a creative expression, which is the expression, selection, and arrangement of ideas. The boundary between an idea and the expression of an idea is often not clear (Baase, 2003, p. 236). Most people would argue that there in lies the paradox, that an expression is an idea and that an idea is an expression. As you can tell, defining and creating legislation for intellectual property is not a simple task. As the constitution indicates, the purpose of copyright is to encourage production of useful work. Copyright law and court decisions have attempted to define the rights of authors and publishers consistent with this goal and the goal of encouraging the use and flow of information (Baase, 2003, p. 236).

Electronic media has made the protection of intellectual property very difficult. The advent of the World Wide Web and almost every form of digital media that we can dream of exists today. Storage capacity is at an all time high, personal computers have become blazingly fast, scanners, compression tools, and digital imagers all make the protection of copyrights very difficult. Distribution of copied materials is as easy as clicking a button on a mouse. Digital compression formats make the reproduction and distribution of music and movies easy for even the most novices of computer users. These types of compression formats even allow for an almost perfect reproduction of the original format and clarity of video and sound. Having access to this type of technology can turn even the most innocent of computer users into criminals at almost the touch of a button.

The fair use doctrine was written in 1976, the notion of fair use grew from judicial decisions. The fair use doctrine allows uses of copyrighted material that contribute to the creation of new work and uses that are not likely to deprive authors or publishers of income for their work. Fair uses do not require the permission of the copyright holder (Baase, 2003, p. 241). The fair use doctrine lists four factors that help determine whether a particular use is fair use or not. They are listed in the textbook as follows:

1. The purpose and nature of the use.

2. The nature of the copyright work.

3. The amount and significance of the portion used.

4. The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

It is usually a combination of the following factors that determine if something falls under the fair use laws, but the most common of the used four factors is the last one. If your use impacts the ability of the copyrighter to make money, than most likely it will not fall under the fair use law.

In 1998 congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that prohibits the making, distribution, or using of tools to circumvent technological copyright protection systems used by copyright holders (Baase, 2003, p. 240). Most people believe that money talks in congress, and the result of big corporations lobbying on congresses doorstep is what helped the DMCA get approved and written into law. Educators above all else feel the sting of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act more than any other industry. The biggest challenge to copyright laws and other doctrines is to try and maintain a fair balance between protecting the rights of the owners and their ability to make money on their intellectual property and the rights of the users to fair and just treatment

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