Here’s What You Need to Know About Digital Copyright Law
Like it or not, we live in a digital world. While all of us need to make regular time to disconnect from the reins of technology, we must also learn to tread lightly, and carefully, when it comes to digital technology. The Copyright Act was amended in 2012 to include various considerations for the modern age, and a new crop of legal experts specialize in what is now known as “digital copyright.”

In the interest of better understanding how digital technologies have impacted copyright doctrine, let’s examine five important issues that have arisen from the changes made in 2012:

Understanding The Basics of a ‘Digital Lock’

The addition of digital lock measures has arguably been one of the most controversial amendments to copyright law, both in Canada and on a global scale. These measures give some the ability to disable a lock that has specifically been put in place to prevent access to a copyright work. Many have complained that this creates unfair dealings and compromises existing user rights under the Copyright Act.

However, the amendment does specify that, if these measures are to apply, locks must be deemed “effective.” For example, easily circumvented locks should not be included in the amended provisions of the Act.

Application of the Bittorent Infringement Enabler Provision

Under the new provisions, digital memory providers, otherwise known as “hosts,” will not be held liable for any acts of infringement on the part of their clients, provided they are not made aware of a court decision that states otherwise.

Perhaps interestingly, the new infringement enabler provision seems to be aimed at P2P bittorent sites that traffic in the sharing of copyrighted music and video content. The broad language of the provision, however, makes it unclear whether it will be applied to lesser copyright infringing sites, such as Pinterest.

The ‘YouTube Exception’

The ‘YouTube Exception’ was put in place to avoid unnecessary infringement suits regarding user-generated content. In essence, it is designed to protect individuals who upload content that may have copyrighted music playing in the background. Unfortunately, the general consensus seems to be that, while the bittorent enabler provision appears to be too broad, the ‘YouTube Exception’ may be under inclusive.

The Definition of a Digital ‘Author’

Technology now allows us to command a computer to compose an orchestral symphony in a certain key, or to interact with game software in order to create a unique avatar. The United Kingdom considers a creator of software code to be the “author” of a computer-generated work. However, the 2012 amendments to our Copyright Act do not specify how to define an ‘author’ in the digital age. So, the question remains how courts will handle cases involving disputes of proper copyright ownership.

Still Much to be Desired

Fortunately for interested young lawyers, it seems that the digital provisions of the Copyright Act still leave many questions unanswered. In many instances, this means that many cases will arise challenging copyright ownership and infringement. Seems like a good time to research deeper into digital copyright law!

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Posted by: DSR
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Tag: Legal
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