Copyright violations and copyright law may vary from country to country, but the legal and professional impact they can lead to is essentially the same. The U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia and Russia have all taken steps to prevent copyright violations online in 2015 with the help of ISPs. As a member of the IT community, you owe it to yourself and your clients to learn what steps these countries are taking and how they can impact other areas of the internet, such as social media and sharing sites.
Down Under Copyright Violations
In Australia, telecommunications companies will soon be required to let internet users know whenever they are in breach of a copyright and inform users of how to access information the legal way. As a way to enact this new mandate set forth by the Attorney General and the Minister of Communication, telecom companies have to create an industry code for the Australia Communications and Media Authority to register, an industry code that will include how internet users are notified.
Even if users don’t breach a copyright, Australia’s ISPs will still have to do their part in preventing copyright violations, such as working with copyright holders to implement a warning notice and education process. The cost of paying for the systems required for monitoring internet users and sending them the proper notification of a copyright violation will be divided between ISPs and copyright holders. Australia’s government has given ISPs an April 8, 2015 deadline for agreeing on a way to properly address copyright violations.
Starting sometime after the spring of 2015, British ISPs will start sending written notices to repeat offenders who download pirated material along with suggestions as to how they can obtain their materials the legal way. The voluntary mandate, known as the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is a joint effort between right holders groups and ISPs called Creative Content UK. For now, the program will only apply to P2P file sharing.
What’s unique about the UK’s approach to online copyright violations is that there aren’t any legal consequences for those who receive warnings. The campaign is more about properly educating internet users rather than punishing them for downloading pirated material. The bigger ISPs have signed on to start sending users written notices, and the smaller ISP companies are being encouraged to do their part as well.
Meanwhile, In Russia…
Russia has its legal sights set on cracking down on online piracy and copyright violation. Starting this year, any website in the country found to be guilty of several copyright violations will be permanently banned in Russia. If any website is found to be in violation of copyright and blocked, there’s no way that it can become unblocked. While this measure might seem drastic and somewhat biased towards those who are rights holders, what makes the situation even more extreme is that it doesn’t have to be verified that the website is in violation of copyright. A website can be legally blocked if it’s even suspected to be guilty of copyright violation.
The reason the country has taken such extreme measures to curb copyright infringement is that Russia is considered to be the absolute worst when it comes to copyright offenses. It’s been reported that there are more than roughly 70,000 websites in Russia that have been blacklisted, but mainly due to the loosely designed blacklisting mandate.
In addition to the new measure, Russia has also required that communications operators in the country will pay intellectual property rights holders a fee for unencumbered use of online content and universal licenses. What this fee also does is let users off the hook for any piracy liability, which might lower the overall amount of work courts and authorities have to do.
The Copyright Violation Felt ‘Round the World
As for which countries will adopt the same measures as the U.S., Russia, Australia and the United Kingdom, the answer remains unclear. Since copyright law is different from one country to the next, there’s no such thing as international copyright law. That being said, there are 160 countries that have agreed to a treaty that sets a minimum of requirements for safeguarding the legal rights of rights holders around the globe.
Something else to consider with the copyright laws for different countries is that it can be difficult to decide on what constitutes as a violation when dealing with content that’s shared with several different countries. What’s not considered a violation in one country might be a grave offense in another country. When it comes to such a situation, which country’s laws should be used to determine the outcome of the case?
Share and Share a Copyright
If you’re on any type of social media platform, then you can be considered to be a publisher. Unfortunately, many of your fellow publishers, and possibly yourself included, tend to publish and share without proper regard to the most current copyright laws. Think about it, how many times have you done your due diligence before sharing a picture, video or piece of writing? You might very well be in violation of a copyright right not and not even realize it.
In regards to Twitter, the idea that original tweets can receive copyright protection depends on the idea of whether or not the protection would safeguard the original author’s interest for work intended for a tangible medium. While you’ll have to fight beak and talon to copyright your tweets, doing so isn’t entirely unheard of.
While social media users are often under the impression that attributing another individual’s work absolves them of any wrongdoing or violation, that’s actually not the case. Giving credit and receiving permission are two separate things. For instance, the original owner of the work might not like the site his or her material was shared on. That being said, social media companies can now be held responsible for the actions of their users, and that’s especially true when the company either directly or indirectly encourages the violation of a copyright. Doing so can make the company vulnerable to a legal claim.
Members of the IT community will do well to remain plugged in to the latest developments regarding copyright violations worldwide. You never know when a user’s or client’s mistake might end up with legal troubles for the both of you.
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