Copyrights And Copywrongs

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IMPORTANT TERMS OF THIS ARTICLE
 Intellectual property (IP) is a legal concept which refers to creations of the mind for which exclusive rights are recognized. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyright, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights, trade dress, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.
⇒ A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
⇒ A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
⇒ A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention.
⇒ A copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.
⇒ Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product.
GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS
⇒ Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks: Looks into the grant of various intellectual property rights.
⇒ National Institute of Intellectual Property Management – The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Intellectual Property Management is a Central Government Organization under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry engaged in conducting Training / Awareness programs relating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) i.e. Patents, Designs, Trademarks & Geographical Indications.
COPYRIGHT & THEORIES
⇒ Copyright is one among the many forms of intellectual property rights.
⇒ Various theories regard to copyright exist. Two broad categories can be made out of them.
⇒ First Category – would be those countries where copyright is used to benefit society
⇒ Second Category – would be those countries where copyright is used to benefit the author.
⇒ Second Category has again two subcategories – i) those that see the need to benefit the author due to notions of natural justice ii) those that see the need to provide incentives for authors to create (incentives being given due to the feeling that the creation is itself very valuable than the creator. Specially intended for the well being of the society).
⇒ According to the Progress Clause of USA, Copyright is only for the greater good of society & the author is given secondary consideration.
⇒ But well being of society doesn’t not mean that no copyrights should be there. Copyright is given to the author for motivating the creativity by way of a special reward in the form of copyright.
⇒ But it is for a limited period.
⇒ Even economic theories see copyright as an incentive mechanism designed to encourage creators so that they would be able to recover costs.
PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT REGIME OF COPYRIGHT
⇒ The ideal period for which copyright should be given is the time duration required to completely overcome the cost that go into the production of material.
⇒ But today we can see that benefits of a author are also being taken after his death by his children then grandchildren & then great grandchildren.
⇒ This should not be allowed.
⇒ Economic Theorist see a shift from the incentive based model to a rewards based model of copyright.
WORK FOR HIRE DOCTRINE
There arises a confusion in to whom actually the copyright be given – to the author or his employer ?
According to the “work for hire” doctrine, given in Section 17 of the Copyright Act, holds that it is the employer who is treated as the owner of copyright, not the author.
CRITICS OF “WORK FOR HIRE” DOCTRINE
This is actually against the natural justice.
Publishing is just one another type of business & hence all risks inherent with other businesses should come along with publishing. But this is not seen.
State should safeguard their investment by vesting in them a right. While it doesn’t do the same for another business. This problem arises because of the free transferability of copyright.
PROPERTY Vs. COPYRIGHT
There is huge debate about treading knowledge as a form of property.
Property, as we have traditionally understood it, has a few features like excludability. Knowledge, however, does not share that feature with property.
Once you know something that I created, I can’t exclude you from that knowledge that (unlike my ability to take back an apple you have stolen from me).
The two forms of “property” cannot be equated.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
⇒ Copyright is an ill-fit for all the things
⇒ In it’s present form it is a historical accident, which evolved into the state it is in a very haphazard fashion.
⇒ It is also seen as colonial imposition on developing countries because it does not value Indian Value like tradition. It values only modernity and newness.
⇒ Also be seen as a trade issue imposed on us through the Trade- Related Intellectual Property Agreement (TRIPS Agreements) as part of the World Trade Organization.
⇒ Copyright is not a single well-planned scheme. (Like for literature, visual art works, lyrics, musical tunes, etc. — it provides rights to the artist, while in other cases — for recordings of those musical tunes, and for films — it provides rights to the producers.)
⇒ Once upon a time, copyright existed for 14 years. Now, with the international minimum being “fifty years after the death of the author”.
⇒ Once upon a time, copyright was only granted to those who wanted it and applied for it. That has now changed, and you have copyright over every single original thing that you have ever written, recorded, or otherwise affixed to a medium.
Copyright in the Digital Era
All digital activities violate copyright, since automatically copies are created on the computer’s RAM, cache, etc.
Now-a-days each one of us violates copyright on a day-to-day basis. E.g. US President Barack Obama violated copyright law when he presented UK’s Queen Elizabeth II an iPod filled with 40 songs from popular musicals like West Side Story and the King and I. When even presidents, with legal advisers cannot navigate copyright law successfully, what hopes have we ordinary people?
The extreme injustice of copyright is easily observable if one sees the contorted map depicting net royalty inflows available on Worldmapper.org: there are a sum total of less than a dozen countries which are net exporters of IP; all other countries, including India, are net importers of IP.
Copyright acts as a barrier to free trade.
Mark Getty, the heir to the Getty Images fortune, once presciently observed that “IP is the oil of the 21st century”.
Government Copyright
The writers of articles (scholars) do not get paid by the publishers for their articles.
Most developing countries are not able to afford the costs imposed by the scholarly publishers.
Recently, India’s premier scientific research agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, recently declared that the costs of scientific journals was beyond its means.
Why this is important – i) establishes the idea of informational equity and justice ii) establishes the idea that taxpayer funded research (as most scientific and much of academic research is) ought to belong to the public domain, and be available freely.
Under the Indian Copyright Act, all creations of the government, whether by the executive, judiciary, or legislature, is by default copyrighted.
That means if you get a document from government under RTI, it is not a copyright violation. While if you publish that same document on the internet then that will be counted as copyright violation under the Indian Copyrights Act.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN COPYRIGHT
Recently, the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization passed a treaty that would facilitate blind persons’ access to books
Search engine like Google has been legalized.
SOLUTIONS FOR THESE COPYRIGHT PROBLEMS
When countries like the USA have suffered no ill effects by legally placing all government works in the public domain, then why India should be lagging behind in such case.
Indian government documents should be made available copyright free.
A single comprehensive plan and laws should be enacted to cover each minute concepts & stakeholders of copyright.
Define a particular time frame for the duration of the copyright.
Each copyright be allowed only till the prices/cost is recovered.
CONCLUSION
The Indian government needs to similarly redeem itself by freeing governmental works, including the scientific research it funds, the archives of All India Radio, the movies that it produces through Prasar Bharati, and all other tax-payer funded works, and by returning them to the public domain, where they belong.
Practice Questions
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