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Intellectual Property in the Internet: if you can’t beat change, join it

  • 19 July 2016
  • Articles

Nowadays, alluding to the Internet by talking about new technologies practically makes no sense. Even though we can still argue over accessibility conditions and some issues of censorship, we are, by far, in the presence of a technology vastly installed all over the world. So much so that a large majority of its inhabitants don´t even imagine how they it would have been living without it.

Something which barely a couple of years ago was groundbreaking, now it has turned into commonplace. The practices introduced by the Internet in terms of searching, sharing, distributing and reproducing contents have gone truly internalized to the point of seeming the only possible options these days. And yet, no matter how old enough you are, it seems hard to remember those ancient practices of studying in the library, lending cassettes or renting a VHS.

So, in view of the long strides made in this field from the point of view of innovation, we can argue that the Law has been having a tough time ever since. The new forms of traffic challenge and affect seriously one of the basic pillars of cultural creation, which is intellectual property, and little has been done to revert this. In spite of these solid strides, the Law necessarily falls behind the fact and facts change to pose new scenarios on a daily basis-

How can we track and punish a phenomenon, which, in spite of being illegal, changes and reproduces itself minute by minute, in hundreds of millions, all over the globe? Just one example suffices to prove this: less than 24 hours before its premier, the first episode of the sixth season of the series “Game of Thrones” already had more than a million downloads only via BitTorrents, and 200,000 of those users were thought to have been sharing that same material in dozens of countries. So, at that point, can it be reverted?

The discussion on how to protect creations and copyright clearly can no longer be reduced to neither the limitation of such culturally deep-seated practices nor the idea of chasing them, since their vastness and territorial dispersion do not allow for the essential means to achieve this, no matter how much time, effort and money we spent to complete this task. However, we cannot relinquish those rights, either. Those who generate these cultural goods should be fairly entitled to derive an interest from them, so that they feel invited and motivated to continue creating.

Little by little, the system itself started to produce its own tools in this pursuit. Netflix’s or Spotify’s proposals, for instance, have introduced a relatively cheap offer, which gives access to large quantities of audiovisual or music material by paying royalties to the authors. Obviously, this is not enough. The amount of content resulting from “irregular” traffic remains infinitely large and for sure, articulating them into such a structure will not be an easy thing to do.

At this stage, the challenge we face relates to finding the mechanisms necessary to avoid that the undeniable benefits brought by the Internet in terms of relative access to information, knowledge and culture act in prejudice to those who not only contribute to their creation but also reshape the culture industry, reinvent mechanisms and rewrite rules.

The endeavor certainly calls for the concurrence of all players involved, not only in creative and technological aspects, but also in business and legal terms, without passing over the involvement of users. If we are able to strike that balance, the Internet will positively become something we all can keep enjoying.

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Intellectual Property in the Internet: if you can’t beat change, join it