Few people are aware that the Internet poses the biggest danger to copyright since its birth, despite the fact that many people know it as an easily accessible one-stop shop for information, entertainment, and communication.

Authors of creative works—including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, architectural, and other intellectual creations—have their intellectual property rights protected by copyright laws.

The right to prevent others from duplicating or asserting ownership of one’s creation is granted by Internet copyright laws to the original creators.

Though ideas, facts, or operational procedures are not protected by online copyright protection, the manner in which they are expressed may be.

This article speaks about copyright protection on the internet.

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Copyright Law and the Internet

Copyright law and the Internet are two topics that are often intertwined due to the ease of sharing and distributing digital media online.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that grants exclusive rights to creators for their original works.

These rights include the right to reproduce, distribute, or publicly perform or display a work.

The internet has revolutionised the way in which copyrighted works can be made available, allowing for expansive distribution and accessibility.

In many countries, copyright applies to all works created after a certain date including literary, artistic, musical, and audiovisual works.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a specific set of laws in the United States that provide additional protection for digital content by prohibiting the production and dissemination of technology designed to circumvent copyright protection measures.

Application of Copyright Laws on the Internet

Copyright laws are equally applicable on the internet, mirroring their application to more conventional forms of media.

Sharing or transmitting copyrighted content, whether in full or in part, through actions like uploading, emailing, distributing, or transmitting over the internet, could be seen as a violation of online copyright laws unless the copyright holder has given explicit permission or a copyright statute exception or limitation is applicable.

The penalties for copyright infringement have a maximum limit of $150,000 per infringed copyrighted work.

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When Does Copyright Protection Commence?

Copyright protection at the federal level initiates when a work exists in a tangible form, such as a photograph or a book, irrespective of whether it’s on a hard drive, computer disk, film, or tape.

The copyright notice should adhere to the proper format, which typically reads as “Copyright or © (date) by (name of owner or author).” For instance, “Copyright 2023 ABC” or “© 2023 ABC.”

According to the Berne Convention, any work created after April 1, 1989, automatically receives copyright protection upon creation, without necessitating a formal declaration or assertion.

In essence, the moment the work is written or recorded in a physical medium, copyright protection is automatically conferred upon the author.

However, if the original author grants rights to the public domain or another individual, this action nullifies the copyright protection previously held by the author.

Copyright Protection on the Internet

Copyright protection on the internet extends to web pages and their contents, including:

  1. Overall design.
  2. All links.
  3. Original text.
  4. Graphics.
  5. Audio.
  6. Video.
  7. Any other original elements.

It’s crucial to understand that using any of these elements on other websites or posting them elsewhere without the owner’s permission constitutes an Internet copyright violation.

Additionally, scanning and sharing materials from published periodicals and books on the internet without permission is also an infringement of copyright.

If you intend to use copyrighted material, it’s advisable to seek permission, a straightforward process that typically involves contacting the owner, often via email, which can serve as documentation if needed in the future.

Suggested Reading: Difference between indirect and direct copyright infringement

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Protecting Copyrights Online: Strategies for Safeguarding Intellectual Property

Securing copyrights on the Internet necessitates employing various protective measures:

  1. Liability Measures: These entail imposing additional financial burdens on infringers. Such measures include loss recovery, compensation for moral harm, and damage recovery. Notably, compensation for moral harm is only applicable to safeguard personal non-property rights.
  2. Non-Liability Measures: These do not impose additional sanctions on offenders. They encompass actions like:
    • Seeking cessation of intellectual property rights infringement.
    • Pursuing legal action to prevent actions that infringe or pose a threat to intellectual property rights.

Liability measures are generally applied when the offender is proven guilty, but there is an exception for the violation of exclusive rights, where liability is imposed regardless of the offender’s guilt.

For violations of exclusive rights, remedies include the recovery of compensation and damages (as per Article 1250, Paragraph 3 of the Civil Code).

For infringements of personal non-property rights of the author, compensation for moral harm is sought.

Non-liability remedies are enforced regardless of the infringer’s fault.

Protection of an author’s personal non-property rights can be pursued through:

  • Recognition of the right.
  • Restoration of the pre-infringement situation.
  • Seeking compensation for moral harm.
  • The suppression of actions that violate or pose a threat to individual’s right.

For safeguarding exclusive rights, the following general remedies are available:

  • Recognition of the right.
  • Actions that infringe on or threaten to violate human or legal entitlements are restrained.
  • Compensation for damages.

Additionally, there is a special measure of liability that a right holder may choose instead of compensation for damages. This compensation amount is determined by the court based on the nature of the infringement, including:

  1. A sum between ten thousand to five million roubles.
  2. Twice the value of infringed copies of the work.
  3. Twice the value of the right to use the work, typically based on market rates for lawful usage.

It is important to acknowledge that authors suffer both financially and creatively when their work is used without permission.

In practice, copyright owners often pursue compensation for non-compliance with copyright, as it eliminates the need to prove specific financial losses.

Dealing with Copyright Infringement Online

When confronted with copyright infringement on the internet, it’s crucial to take the following measures:

  1. Document the Infringement:
    • Capture a screenshot of the webpage displaying the infringement.
    • Ensure that the violating information is clearly visible, including the URL, date, and time of the screenshot.
    • While not mandatory, seeking assistance from a notary public to secure evidence can be advantageous.
  2. Identify the Responsible Party:
    • If there is an online intellectual property violation, the website owner or administrator is automatically held accountable.
    • Obtain information about the website owner through the Whois service. Note that this information may be concealed.
    • If the owner’s information is hidden, contact the domain registrar with a legal request. The registrar is obligated to respond.
  3. File a Pre-trial Complaint:
    • In many cases, submitting a formal complaint can result in the removal of infringing content by the site owner.
    • For social media platforms, it’s advisable to reach out to the platform’s support or helpdesk, which can initiate its investigation.
    • Information intermediaries like YouTube or Vkontakte are usually cooperative in removing potentially infringing content to avoid liability.
  4. Legal Proceedings:
    • If the infringer does not comply with the complaint’s demands or if you seek monetary compensation, legal action may be necessary.
    • Typically, individuals file lawsuits in district courts, while LLCs and IEs may do so in arbitration courts.
    • Filing a petition may lead to a temporary blocking of the website upon the petitioner’s request as a precautionary measure.

Copyright’s Scope in Safeguarding Internet and Electronic Data

Copyright law plays a critical role in safeguarding intellectual property in the digital age, extending its reach to encompass various forms of electronic data on the internet and electronic bulletin board systems.

While copyright primarily seeks to protect creative works like literature, music, and art, it also provides essential tools for safeguarding digital content and data.

In the online sphere, copyright can protect written content, software code, multimedia elements, and other digital creations.

Creators and content owners enjoy a bundle of rights, including the ability to control reproduction, distribution, public display, and adaptation of their work.

This means that website owners can guard against unauthorised copying and sharing of their content, while contributors to online platforms can assert their copyright over user-generated content.

Nonetheless, copyright’s scope is not all-encompassing. It does not shield facts, ideas, or data itself. Rather, it guards the specific expression of these ideas and information.

Conclusion

Copyright protection of content on the internet is a complex subject matter that extends to a wide array of tangible medium, from digital files and internet materials to video recordings and book titles.

As the digital landscape evolves, so do the challenges in safeguarding copyright material.

Addressing copyright infringement issues in this digital age often requires a comprehensive understanding of the bundle of copyrights that cover objects of copyright.

Database publishers, in particular, must navigate the intricacies of protecting their intellectual property, while issues like the copying of documents and distribution of video recordings continue to raise questions about copyright infringement.

In this dynamic environment, it is crucial to uphold display rights and pursue copyright infringement lawsuits when necessary to ensure the integrity of creative works in the realm of the internet.

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FAQs

What is the scope of online copyright protection?

Copyright doesn’t safeguard every kind of information from all forms of copying.

However, it offers a valuable set of rights that can be applicable for protecting data on the internet and electronic bulletin board systems.

What is copyright protection on the Internet?

Copyright protection on the Internet refers to the legal safeguards in place to protect intellectual property, including text, images, videos, and other creative works, from unauthorised use, reproduction, or distribution on the Internet.

How does copyright apply to digital files and online content?

Copyright applies to digital files and online content just as it does to physical materials. If you create original content and publish it on the internet, you automatically have copyright protection for your work.

Can I use copyrighted material found on the internet for educational purposes?

In some cases, you may use copyrighted material for educational purposes under the doctrine of fair use, but this depends on factors like the purpose, nature, amount, and effect of your use.

It’s advisable to seek permission or use materials with open licenses whenever possible.

What should I do if I find my copyrighted material being used without permission online?

If you discover your copyrighted material being used without permission on the internet, consider documenting the infringement and contacting the infringing party to request removal.

If necessary, consult with legal counsel to pursue further action.

Are there international copyright standards for protecting online content?

Yes, international copyright agreements like the Berne Convention establish standards for copyright protection, which apply to online content as well.