Copyright. The laws vary from country to country, but the Berne Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Property (Berne Convention) is an international copyright treaty signed by almost 100 countries. Under the Berne Convention, copyright is protected during the life of the author and for 75 years after his/her death.
Copyright gives authors, artists, etc. the right to exclude others from using their works.
Copyright protects original works of expression, which include:
dramatic, including accompanying music
motion pictures and other audiovisual
pantomimes and choreographic
pictorial, graphic and sculptural work
Basically, copyright law gives the copyright owner of a creative piece of work the sole right to any financial proceeds from that work. This applies to all creative work and is valid for all media, whether in electronic or “hard” form. The copyright owner may reproduce, display or perform, sell, rent, distribute or transmit the work, provided that no other laws are broken in doing so.
Only expression is protected, not facts or ideas. Very similar, or even identical work produced at a later date does not infringe copyright if produced independently.
Although very complicated, the exception to the basic principle of copyright is the so-called fair-use provision which allows limited non-commercial use. Essentially this means that use of work, protected by copyright, for research, teaching, news reporting and such like is considered to be fair use.
Breach of copyright
The Motion Picture Association of America completed a survey which concluded that 25% of Internet users had downloaded films illegally. The survey also suggested that even more films would be downloaded if the download time was faster. Those who admitted to downloading films also stated that they had reduced the number of visits to a cinema or the purchase of DVDs.
This is just one example of copyright infringement. It is estimated that reproduction of material such as films, video games, software, etc. costs the industry well over $30 billion a year.
Song and music swapping
MP3 is a form of compression enabling the downloading of MP3 files from the Internet and playing them on a computer or burning a CD. The advantage is that it makes song files small enough to pass them around on the Internet relatively quickly.
This led to the development of music-swapping companies, one of the first being Napster which developed a different way of distributing MP3 files. Instead of storing the songs on a central computer, the songs were stored locally on users' computers and called peer-to-peer sharing or P2P. When downloading music with Napster, the music can be downloaded from another person's computer from anywhere in the world. Napster became so popular that within a year it expanded to 60 million visitors per month, before being closed down by a court order because of violations. It later re-launched itself as a legal music-download site.
File sharing networks, where Internet users can download and exchange music free are increasingly being cracked down upon by the music industry, which has been badly beaten financially.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has filed hundreds of lawsuits against Internet file-sharing networks throughout Europe and thousands in the U.S.A. on behalf of companies, including EMI, Warner Music and Universal Music. There is now a decline in the use of music-swapping networks and therefore the desired result is being
The threat from Internet
From the above it is clear that the Internet has become the largest threat to copyright. The Internet is full of information including news items, novels, plays, pictures, software, etc. and last but certainly not least - e-mails. And the fact is that almost all of it is protected by copyright law.