IP issues in Cyberspace

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In the modern society of today, it is difficult not to be influenced in anyway by the rapidly evolving computer technology that enables people to communicate without respect to geographical or national borders at a remarkable low cost. One could say that Cyberspace is growing with such confidence and speed, that it may very well become in additional world, parallel to the “real” world. Authorities, companies and individuals around the globe are on the edge of realizing the vast potentials of this new swelling electronic world. If one chooses to enter Cyberspace, one can be seen everywhere, be contacted by anyone and contact anyone, no matter where the parties are physically situated on the globe. I am of the opinion that it is fair to say that this new world is saturated with digitized information of varied quality and importance. Due to the fact that all information is digitized, virtually everyone can reproduce everything flowing, as a whole, has never been experienced such as a hazardous environment, as it does in Cyberspace. In this thesis I will try to point out the new rapidly developing dangers concerning intellectual property in cyberspace. Since one cannot investigate and analyze everything about everything, one is unfortunately forced to limit the thesis to cover merely a few areas of interesting field. I have chosen to investigate and focus intensively on the legal development. One must realize that Cyberspace is not at all bound by any national borders. It is a universal region where all the legal system of world may intersect in one way or another. What distinguishes digital media from conventional media are six characteristics that will make it difficult for existing categories of intellectual property law to adjust to the protection of works in digital form. They are:

1. The ease with which works in digital form can be replicated,

2. The ease with which they can be transmitted,

3. The ease with which they can be modified and manipulated,

4. The equivalence of works in digital form,

5. The compactness of works in digital form, and

6. The capacity they have for creating new methods of searching digital space and linking works together.

In terms of Hyperlinking:

In order to provide more interesting websites, to make surfing easier, more efficient and less time consuming, most websites today provide various kinds of hyperlink. Hyperlinking has proven to be an essentialspart of the success of the internet as a resource and financially profitable medium. The ability to link to other sources of information surely has revolutionized information retrieval as well as reading documents. Hyperlinking are points in web documents through which users may transport themselves directly to other websites or retrieve information without typing a new location in the Uniform Resource Locator(URL). The traditional method of finding and retrieving documents require the browser to know the exact address required in the URL and a type and it by hand or equivalent. Once the complete an exact address is typed in the URL search for the address begins, and the user is transported to the new desired location. The utilization of hyperlinks makes knowledge of the exact address as the manual typing obsolete. If the active web document displays a link to another site, file or place within the same document, and the user clicks on it with the mouse, he/she will instantly without typing, be transported in one way or another linked page, file or place. The three most important methods of linking are hypertext links, inline links and framing.

History of IP

The idea of IP dates all the way back to 500 BC. It came about because the Greek state of Sybaris allowed its citizens to obtain a patent for ‘any new refinement in luxury”. Since then, refinements have been made and laws regarding copyrights and trademarks have become more complicated. However, the intent of the laws has always remained the same. The laws are created to encourage people’s creativity and make it possible for inventors to reap the benefits of their original ideas. Intellectual property is protected through the obtaining of copyrights, patents and trademarks. These entities were not mentioned in the early history of IP. The first statue involving any of these ideas did not occur until medieval times in Europe, when the Statute of Monopolies was initiated in 1623. During this time, various guilds controlled all major industries. Each guild had a significant amount of power, as the govt. endowed them to dictate which products and raw materials could be produced and sold. The guilds were also in charge of bringing new innovations to the marketplace. So, they had control over inventions, even if they did not create themselves.

Elements of IP issues in Cyberspace

Intellectual property(IP) assets have become the currency of business, used not just to protect technology rights, but also to gain competitive advantage and drive new revenue opportunities. In many organizations, however, there’s still a disconnect between IP strategy and business strategy. There are three core elements which will help in Intellectual property strategy in law or in business and they are:

• Protecting IP: At their most basic level, patents protect your IP investments by providing exculsionary rights. But the methods for protecting intellectual property are growing more sophisticated, requiring companies to rethink the tools and processes they use for research and publishing.

• Optimizing R&D operations: Traditional patent search technologies are so complex, and patent database have become so large, that comprehensive patents searches can take days, if not weeks, to execute. You can optimize both the search process and the ability to deliver actionable insights by getting advanced analysis tools into the hands of business users.

• Monetizing IP assets: An IP strategy is judged by the top- or bottom- line value it creates for your organization. Monetization involves more than just getting products to market faster with exclusionary right.

Cases related to IP issues in Cyberspace

In Sega Enterprises V Richards, it was held that under the provisions relating to literary works in the Copyright Act, copyright subsisted in the assembly program code of a video game and that the machine code derived from it was either a reproduction or adaptation of the copyright work.

In Apple computer Inc. V Computer Edge Pvt Ltd, it was held that a computer program consisting of source code is original literary work. A source code is a program written in any of the programming languages employed by computer programmers. An object code is the version of a program in which the source code language converted or translated into the machine language of the computer with which it is used. It was further held that an object code is an adaptation or mechanical translation of the source code within the meaning of the copyright law and copying of the object code was an infringement of the copyright in the source code.

In the case of Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes the US court has held that source code of the computer program constitutes Free speech and would be protected under first amendment.