What Is Right About Copyright? Essay

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¶ … copyright laws. This is accomplished by examining how it is helping or hurting different stakeholders. Once this takes place, is when we can see how this is impacting costs and the choices of content to consumers.

Throughout history, copyright protection has often been seen as way of safeguarding the work of those individuals who are creating something based upon ideas that they have. As the individual is taking a thought and is turning it into something that can entertain or transform everyday life. This dates back to 17th century England, when legal systems began to protect the rights of the producers of intellectual works. A few of the most notable include: literature, music, art, photographs and inventions. Part of the reason for this, was because the changes in technology were giving more people the tools they needed to easily steel these ideas from authors and producers. Once this occurred is when, various copyright laws evolved with the changes that were taking place throughout the years. (Varian 2005)

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A good example of this can be seen by looking no further than the U.S. Copyright Act. This is a law that protects the intellectual rights of authors and music producers. Under these regulations Congress will determine the amount of royalties that publishers and producers are able make off of the sale of recorded or printed material. Also known as, the compulsory licensing fee, the current rate is set at $.0695 cents per song or $.013 cents per minute. Over the course of time, this has meant that a number of publishers were able to enjoy tremendous amounts of protection under existing copyright laws. (Varian 2005)

Essay on What Is Right About Copyright? Assignment

However, during the last 15 years is when the overall scope of the changes in technology has become more rapid and advanced. This has made the previous models that were used throughout the decades to become obsolete. As a result, there has been renewed debate about the underlying strengths and weaknesses of various copyright laws. To fully understand both sides of the argument requires comparing the two viewpoints with each other. Once this occurs, is when we can be able to see how they are helping to protect a host of industries and discouraging the illegal theft of ideas. (Varian 2005)

The Strengths of Copyright Laws

The biggest strength of copyright laws is that they are providing individuals and other organizations with a way of protecting their ideas. This is because the process of creating and developing something will require: time, patience along with creativity. These elements will more than likely mean that there will be the possibility of financial losses in the process of bringing their ideas to market. To ensure that there is continued innovation, different regulations were enacted to protect the rights of producers. Over the years, this has allowed new ideas to be developed based upon the principal that intellectual rights will be respected. As a result, one could argue that this strength is what helped to increase the total amounts of innovations in literature, music, art and the kinds of products everyone enjoys. (Romer 2002)

At the same time, copyright laws are ensuring that everyone is receiving some kind of compensation for their idea years later (in the form of royalties). This is important, because this component is ensuring that producers will be compensated fairly for their ideas. Over the course of time, this has improved the quality of concepts that are presented, with most creators feeling that any kind of efforts are worth their time. This is when they will focus on producing something that they think could be able to offer them financial compensation and notoriety. Once this occurs, is when everyone is willing to focus on making their new ideas a reality. (Romer 2002)

These different elements are important, because they are showing how the underlying strengths of copyright laws are to protect the time and investment that is made to produce a new product. This can be in the form of a song / piece of literature to an actual invention. As a result, the different regulations are designed to provide producers with way of recouping what they have invested in their idea and the ability to receive a consistent income off of it. (Romer 2002)

The Weaknesses of Copyright Laws

When you examine the current regulatory structure, it is clear that existing copyright laws have a number of different weaknesses. The most notable include: they are hard to enforce, they can be costly and they are monopolistic. The way that these laws are hard to enforce, is because technology is continually changing. This is problematic, because it means that any kind of advancements could make current laws ineffective.

A good example of this can be seen with Napster. What made their service so unique is that anyone who signed up could be able to download and copy music onto their computer or a CD. The recording industry sued Napster, based on the fact that they violated different copyright protections under the law. This led to the eventual court decision that forced the company shut down its file sharing website with the court saying, "Consumers are not just making copies for their own use and the use of immediate friends and family, but are, in effect, indirectly making thousands of copies by exposing the copyrighted material to reproduction and distribution by the general public. This makes it essentially impossible for a record company to appropriate value of copying by price discriminating among consumers." (Klein 2002) As a result, this is illustrating how changes in technology can make existing copyright laws ineffective. This is one of the biggest weaknesses in trying to enforce them over a period of many years.

The way that these regulations can be costly to producers is in how various programs are structured to protect copyrights. Evidence of this can be seen with the fact that they are using a two tiered system. The first tier is designed to protect those who are considered to own the rights to a particular work. The second tier is the right to control the use of the ideas after the final sale. This system increases the overall costs of enforcing these provisions. The reason why, is because the second tier means that publishers and producers must use sophisticated tools to control how the content is utilized. This is troubling, because it means that the copyright laws will increase the total costs for consumers and distributors.

Over the course of time, this kind of behavior is considered to be monopolistic. As the producers, can keep demanding a continuous fee to be able to protect their rights to select content. This is when they can use copyright laws to control how and when various types of content are used after the final sale. Once this occurs, it means that certain companies will have greater amounts of control over consumer choices and decisions.

Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Klein (2002); he determined that the biggest problems with the current approach are that publishers and producers will attempt to restrict the flow of content based on outdated ideas. Most notably: the inability to price discriminate and to control price changes. This is because the transformations in technology and the ability of new competitors can undermine the pricing structure of firms. Once this takes place, it means that a company will have trouble adapting with the shifting tastes. This is significant, as it is showing how the monopolistic behavior of copyright laws is protecting anti-competitive practices. As they are using these laws to try and stifle any kind of innovations, that could have a profound impact on the industry. (Klein 2002)

The different weaknesses of current copyright laws are illustrating how they can protect the industry and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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