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New Development in Copyright Law

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Manish Jindal

February 9, 2024

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New Development in Copyright Law

The topic of ‘new development in copyright law’ will explore the latest legislative updates, court rulings, policy changes, and emerging trends in the global landscape of copyright law.

From the effects of digital transformation to the legal challenges posed by AI-generated content, this exploration of new development in copyright law offers a window into the future of law.

New Development in Copyright Law – India

The Copyright Amendment Act, 2012

This amendment made several critical changes to Indian law, including ensuring that authors of works (especially songs and screenplays) are entitled to royalty payments and can’t assign their rights in perpetuity.

Online Piracy

While the IT Act of 2000 and the Act do provide some provisions to tackle this, it has been a continuously evolving battle to adapt the law to address this issue effectively.

Digital Rights Management

DRM technologies, used to prevent unauthorised redistribution of digital media, have been a point of focus.

The Copyright Amendment Act of 2012 introduced provisions that made the circumvention of effective technological protection measures a punishable offence.

Fair Dealing and Private Use

The concept of fair dealing allows the use of copyrighted works for private or personal use, criticism, review, and reporting of current events, to a certain extent.

The nuances of this provision and its adaptation to new technologies and use-cases are continually being explored.

Artificial Intelligence and Copyright

With AI now capable of creating works of art and music, questions arise about the ownership and copyright of such works.

New Development in Copyright Law – US

The Music Modernisation Act (MMA)

Passed in 2018, the MMA was a landmark legislation that modernised  law in the digital age, especially for music copyrights.

The act changed the way mechanical royalties are paid out to holders, and also made it easier for holders to get paid when their music is streamed online.

The CASE Act

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, passed in 2020, created a small claims court for disputes.

This new board, called the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), can hear cases involving  infringement with damages capped at $30,000.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Reform

There have been ongoing debates about the need to reform the DMCA to address the rise of streaming platforms and better protect against online  infringement.

The DMCA, passed in 1998, has provisions like safe harbor rules that protect service providers from certain liability if they comply with takedown notices, but critics argue that it is outdated in the current digital age.

Artificial Intelligence and Copyright

For instance, questions about whether AI can be an author, who owns the copyright for AI-generated works, etc., are topics of ongoing debate and potential legislative development.

New Developments in Patents Registration

Expedited Examination: The Indian Patent Office has offered an expedited examination process for startups and applicants choosing India as the International Search Authority (ISA). This has substantially reduced the time taken to examine patent applications.

National IPR Policy: India introduced the National IPR Policy in 2016, which aims to push IPRs as a marketable financial asset, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, while protecting public interest.

Amendment to Patent Rules: In 2020, the Patent (Amendment) Rules were notified, allowing for video conferencing for hearings, reducing transmittal fees for e-filing of international applications, and stipulating requirements for annual filing of “working of patents.”

Compulsory Licensing: The Indian patent law has provisions for compulsory licensing, aimed at ensuring that a patented product, like life-saving drugs, is available to the public at affordable rates.

AI and Patents: The intersection of AI and patent law is an emerging area in India as well. The patentability of AI-generated inventions and the implications of AI on patent law are significant issues.

Special Provisions in Copyright Law

Copyright law often includes special provisions designed to address specific circumstances or balance competing interests.

These special provisions can vary widely from country to country. However, here are a few examples of special provisions commonly found in many systems:

Fair Use/Fair Dealing: These are exceptions that allow for the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders.

Compulsory Licensing: In some circumstances, a government might allow certain uses of copyrighted works without the owner’s consent, usually in exchange for a set fee.

First Sale Doctrine: This provision allows individuals who have legally purchased a copy of a copyrighted work to resell, lend, or give away that particular copy, although they are not allowed to reproduce the work.

Orphan Works: These are copyrighted works for which the owner cannot be contacted or located. Some jurisdictions have specific provisions dealing with the use of these works.

Duration of Copyright: Copyright does not last forever. A work falls into the public domain and can be used freely once the duration of protection has expired.

Digital Technology to Protect Copyright in the Content

Digital technology has significantly changed the ways we create, distribute, and consume content.

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While this has brought many benefits, it has also made it easier for unauthorised users to infrive copyrights.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

DRM technologies are used by content providers to control access to digital content, limit usage rights, and prevent unauthorised copying or redistribution.

These technologies include various methods such as encryption, watermarking, fingerprinting, and licensing controls.

Content ID Systems

Platforms like YouTube use content ID systems to identify copyrighted material. The system checks uploaded content against a database of files submitted by content creators.

If a match is found, the system can block the upload, mute the audio, or allow the  owner to monetize the content with ads.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise  protection.

It can be used to create an immutable record of ownership, making it easier to track and verify rights.

Additionally, smart contracts on blockchain can automate licensing processes and ensure creators are paid for their work.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI and machine learning can be used to monitor the internet for unauthorised use of copyrighted content.

These systems can scan text, audio, and video content to identify matches with copyrighted material.

When a match is found, they can alert the holder and potentially take action to remove the infringing content.

Watermarking and Fingerprinting

These techniques involve embedding unique, imperceptible marks or patterns in digital content, which can help in identifying the content’s origin and verifying its authenticity.

This can deter copyright infringement and help in tracing unauthorised use of content.

Secure Digital Distribution Platforms

These platforms use secure technologies to deliver copyrighted content to consumers.

For example, streaming platforms like Netflix and Spotify provide access to copyrighted content in a way that’s hard to copy, thanks to their use of encryption and streaming (as opposed to downloading) delivery methods.

While these technologies can significantly enhance protection, they also raise issues related to user privacy and freedom of expression, which must be carefully balanced.

They also require broad international cooperation and consistent legislation to be fully effective, as copyright infringement is a global issue.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the rapid development of technology and the proliferation of digital platforms have prompted a profound transformation in  law.

Traditional legal structures are being re-evaluated and adjusted to accommodate new methods of content creation, distribution, and consumption.

From laws addressing digital rights management and fair use in the digital context to emerging regulatory approaches toward AI-generated content and blockchain technology, the landscape of copyright law continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

The challenges that new technologies present to intellectual property rights are significant, but they also offer innovative solutions for the protection of those rights.

The integration of AI, blockchain, and other technological advancements in the enforcement of  laws is becoming increasingly significant.

It’s clear that legislators, legal professionals, and content creators must continually adapt and respond to these advancements, balancing the need to protect holders’ rights with the benefits of technological innovation and open access to information.

The future of  law will undoubtedly be shaped by this ongoing interaction between law and technology, with an emphasis on creating a more effective, fair, and globally consistent copyright system.

This dynamic legal landscape offers exciting potential for a future where copyright law effectively supports creativity, innovation, and cultural exchange in the digital age.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the impacts of digital technology on copyright law?

Digital technology has drastically transformed the ways in which content is created, distributed, and consumed, leading to new challenges in copyright law.

Digital rights management, online piracy, the use of AI, and blockchain technology are all areas where technology has complicated copyright enforcement.

In response, copyright law has had to adapt to protect intellectual property in the digital landscape, through actions such as the creation of new legislation and the adaptation of existing legal principles.

How has copyright law changed to accommodate AI-generated content?

The advent of AI-generated content has presented new challenges in copyright law, as traditional copyright law revolves around human authorship.

While the legal landscape is still evolving, some jurisdictions are considering or have already implemented legislation.

It extends copyright protection to works generated by artificial intelligence, usually attributing ownership to the person or entity that initiated the creation of the AI-generated work.

However, these changes are not globally consistent, and the law in this area remains a subject of ongoing debate.

What role does blockchain technology play in copyright law?

Blockchain technology can provide an immutable, transparent ledger for copyright registration, proving ownership, and tracing the use of copyrighted works.

It has the potential to streamline copyright registration, licensing, and enforcement processes.

However, legal recognition of blockchain-based copyright claims is still in the early stages and varies between jurisdictions.

How does digital rights management (DRM) relate to copyright law?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a technological solution used to protect digital content from unauthorised use.

DRM tools limit the ways users can copy and distribute digital content, effectively enforcing the rights of copyright holders.

While DRM offers a way to protect digital content, it’s not without controversy, as it can restrict legal uses of content, such as fair use or fair dealing.

In response, some jurisdictions have implemented anti-circumvention laws to protect DRM systems, while also trying to maintain balance with user rights.

What is the ‘fair use’ principle in copyright law and how is it affected by digital advancements?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders.

It applies under certain circumstances like criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

With digital advancements, the fair use principle has become more complex, as it’s often difficult to determine what constitutes fair use in a digital context.

Some argue that current laws are too restrictive for the digital age, where content sharing and remixing are common practices.

As such, ongoing legal debates and new laws are trying to better define the concept of fair use in our digital era.

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