Is the UK copyright act of 1988 still an adequate means of protecting intellectual property from infringements such as illegal copying, plagiarism and piracy?
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Is the UK copyright act of 1988 still an adequate means of protecting intellectual property from infringements such as illegal copying, plagiarism and piracy? "It is difficult for intellectual property laws to keep pace with technology. When technological advances cause ambiguity in the law, courts rely on the law's purposes to resolve that ambiguity. However, when technology gets too far ahead of the law, and it becomes difficult and awkward to apply the old principles, it is time for re-evaluation and change." (Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (Information Infrastructure Task Force), Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure (Preliminary Draft, July 1, 1994)) The copyright, Designs and Patent Act (CDPA) of 1988 was introduced to give legal protection to the creators of these works in order to prevent exploitation and to ensure their moral rights. The purpose of the CDPA was to protect the following types of work: * Literary Works * Dramatic Works * Artistic Works * Musical Works * Films * Broadcasts * Published Edition * Performers' Rights Whilst the CDPA theoretically protects certain technological plagiarism through Section 107 of the Act which states that where an individual sells, hires, exhibits, or distributes an infringing copy of
site, thereby altering his or her perception of the material. The controversial nature and threat to copyright of this feature was seen in the Washington Post Co. v. Total News case. * Ease of Plagiarism and illegal copying Although the UK Copyright Act of 1988 protects Musical/Artistical works and the rights of performers, technology has once again outdated this feature of the act as well. The introduction of uploading software, CD copiers and file formats such as MP3 and AIV have meant that these works are no longer protected. This point was perhaps best highlighted in the recent court case between Napster.com and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) which branded Napster a "copyright infringement machine" (3). However whilst Napster has now been shutdown, nevertheless it acted as a catalyst to many other "sharing communities" like itself such as aimster.com, imesh.com and mp3.com. Similarly this approach to illegal copying is not merely limited to music files and is extended to movies and software. This is as a result costing the entertainment industry and software companies amongst other, billions of dollars out of pocket.
In contrast such a dual method will mean every country will have two sovereigns governing different areas of law. This would create vast grey areas between them that could render the proposal ineffective. Conclusion To conclude, the UK Copyright Act of 1988 was adequate at the time of design. However in the thirteen years since its design, Technology has come forward leaps and bounds. As a result this act that was initially designed mainly for the purpose of non electronic sources has now become out of date or is being largely ignored due to the growth of technology. However when incorporating any solutions to the current inadequacies, it is vital to realise that whilst the rights of copyright owners are an important component of the copyright equation, so are the rights of public for information dissemination, freedom of expression and informational privacy. As a result looking into the future, the government needs to re-evaluate the interests of all those involved and legislate towards a new more flexible copyright framework, suitable for the digital age. Similarly, due to the global nature of digital technology with no geographical boundaries, perhaps a more suitable solution would be to incorporate such a framework into a "cyberlaw". Marwan Nawaz Word Count: 2006
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