Thursday, January 3, 2013

Knowledge, Culture, & Enforcement pose copyright system challenges

Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis (2008) provide examples of individuals prosecuted for copyright infringement. Some rightly accused; others wrongly. Our copyright system faces many challenges ahead as technology continues to advance. We have already seen evidence of the challenges in past technological advancements.

First, the knowledge of our copyright system in the general public is extremely weak. The Copyright Clearance Center (2012) offers a perfect example of someone who violates the copyright law without realizing it. Students receive very little education on copyright law in school. Some state mandate lessons on the topic, but teachers are either poorly informed about the law or breeze through the topic. The lack of formal education on the subject creates a society that feels as if they can take and use any intellectual property without consequences.

Secondly due to the lack of education and knowledge, a culture is bred where it is socially all right to steal music, videos, and other intellectual property. The file share platforms are a prime example of a culture that accepts breaking copyright law. Many people realize its illegal to take music and videos without paying the artists or recording companies, but they do it any way. Friends don't tell other friends not to do, because its socially accepted.

Lastly, the copyright system faces the challenge of enforcing the law against violators. Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis (2008) illustrate just how difficult it is to track down copyright violators involving music theft. Companies could start to trace violators through file sharing site records, but there are so many ways to rip music and videos from sites that it is almost impossible to track them down. Smart users could also bounce off multiple access points and servers if they were trying not to get caught. Additionally, the original copyright laws were not written to address issues like mp3 and mp4 file theft. Fines reach outrageous amounts, and questions arise about intellectual property rights.

Thus many challenges lay ahead for current copyright laws to either address or adapt to. Many cases decided in court have helped shape the current copyright system, but there is still a long road ahead for the system to catch up to. Also, technology is growing very rapidly too which again causes another issue with copyright.


Abelon, H., Ledeen, K., and Lewis, H. (2008). Blown to bits: Your life, liberty, and happiness after the digital explosion. Addison-Wesley: NJ. ISBN-13: 978-0137135592

Copyright Clearance Center. (2012). Copyright basics video. Copyright. Retrieved January 26, 2012 from

No comments:

Post a Comment