What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Intellectual Property in the Digital Age?
Intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term that covers copyright, patents, trademarks, designs, circuit layout rights, plant breeders’ rights and confidentiality and trade secrets. Each of these terms covers a different type of property that is made up of knowledge. Many of these terms cover physical objects, however it is the idea behind them that counts and needs to be protected. The above terms are all for different types of intellectual property; patents are for products, trademarks are for works such as smells, logos and pictures.
Design rights are for the shape of something. Copyright is for literacy, for example music, film, multimedia and computer programs. Circuit rights are for the way electronics are set out. Plant breeders’ rights are for new plants. In Australia for all of the above intellectual property terms, apart from copyright and circuit rights, you must apply for the licence and have it approved by the appropriate people and groups.
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The reasons these’s laws need to change is because people are stealing large amounts of IP in the form of music and movies, and the culture of the new generations has become one of internet surfing, peer to peer (p2p) downloading and hacking and because of that there are many advantages and disadvantages to intellectual property laws and how it is used in the digital age. All of this means that governments and interests groups are making lots of attempts to move intellectual property laws with the times.
Some of these include The Australian Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000 (Act No. 10 of 2000) and in the US The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Of 1998. Both of these have had some success in combating the illegal downloading and distributing of intellectual property. However, with the speed of the Internet age, it is almost impossible for the laws to keep up. On the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) website they say “IP serves important public purposes: encouraging creativity (copyrights) and innovation (patents and trade secrets) and protecting the public from being defrauded by misleading advertising (trademarks).
At the same time, IP must be carefully limited to protect your rights to create, access, and distribute information, as well as to develop new ways to do so. ” When the EFF mention ‘IP must be carefully limited to protect your rights to create, access and distribute information. ’ They are talking about fair use which is a part inside the IP laws which allow normal everyday users to legally use/ distribute/ change are small part of someone else’s IP.
A big part of intellectual property is money. The original concept of intellectual property was that everyone who had played a part in creating something that is in the mind makes some sort of profit. Due to illegal file sharing the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims that $2. 3 billion was lost in the US alone from pirates (1). However this maybe in part untrue because giving away intellectual property such as movies can sometimes mean more profit for the seller.
For example peer to peer (p2p) file sharing protocols, such as Bit Torrent, offer movies at about a 320px X 240px size, which equates to around a 900mb file for a 2-hour video. This is nowhere near DVD quality (720px X 480px) and if someone really enjoyed the movie then they would be likely to go and buy it. The other example is music people may want to download an album from artist, to find out whether or not they want to buy the artists new album.
While Intellectual Property appears to be protecting the creators of the music, this is sometimes untrue due to the way the music industry works. Because of the popularity of music there are lots of small local bands that are formed. The recording industry has a lot of choice when it comes to choosing the band it signs, and the ones that they don’t. This means that bands get unfavourable contracts, which signs way most of their intellectual property rights and gives it to the recording company. According to Steve Albini, an independent and corporate rock producer from