The biggest contribution to the modern world is of the technology, specifically internet which helps in easy flow of information. The ease of obtaining information and communication has improved the working of the logistics which has made the operations far more convenient than it were earlier. However, it has a downside as well as it could be a potential threat to security. In the field of IPR law, digital world is seen as a challenge because it has made copying easier at low costs. At the same time, it has widened the scope of IPR law. This article will aim to analyse the overall impact of information technology on intellectual property rights.
Internet is the platform which is easily accessible from any part of the world. Although the fast flow of information removed the geographical, social and cultural barriers between different corners of the world but at the same time it posed a potential threat to the authors. Piracy is a big challenge faced by intellectual property community. However, it has increased the scope of subject matter of intellectual property; in the form of online journals, softwares and databases. The objective of this article would be weigh the positives against negatives of internet as far as IP law is concerned.
IPR Issues in India
The Copyright Act, 1957 has adapted itself to the digital era owing to the number of amendments like taking works in ‘any medium’ within their purview. However, there are still many issues which need to be taken care by the effective and stringent provisions of law. One such issue is the thin line between private use (warranted by copyrights law) and public use (prohibited unless permission of rights-holder is there). The differentiation has become negligible with the advent of internet because of the capability of an individual to send a copyrightable work to the number of users who can download simultaneously the work transmitted in perfect form. The other problem is with the publishing. The advent of internet has directly connected the authors with the readers and terminated the publishers. This has increased the problems of publishers and at the same time made easy the infringement of intellectual property like copyrights, patents and trademarks. These issues could be effectively dealt with by the stringent provisions of law.
Positives of Internet
Two decades ago, the scope of intellectual property law was very limited but it suddenly got expanded with the advent of internet. The widespread availability of information on internet and the ease of access has widened the scope of intellectual property. It has given more subject matter to be included in this field of law in the form of online journals, websites, software, professional databases and other copyrightable works. So, it has assigned more work to the legal professionals working in the arena of intellectual property law. Not only it has provided new subject matter to be included under this field, but it has also helped in the expansion, refinement and development of the already available works. The easy accessibility to the number of ideas, thoughts, methods, processes, procedures, designs and pictures laid down a ground to make them better with innovation and creativity and helped in the development of the world. In other words, the arrival of internet helped in the refinement and development of intellectual property. Not only did the subject matter but also the enforcement of intellectual property rights have got improved. The communication through e-mails is widely used as evidence in the courts nowadays. The burial of electronic evidence is a difficult task because data rarely gets completely destroyed. It is easier to recover the electronic evidence than other physical evidences. Also,the infringement is easily traceable with the help of internet. Consider the situation when some regional company pass off the product in the small region they operate. The trademark or patent holder would never come to know about infringement but for internet. The moment that company uploads its product on internet, it would become an easy task for the IPR holder to trace the same and take action against them.
Negatives of Internet
A coin always has two sides, same is the case here. Even though the advent of internet has increased the scope of intellectual property and made the enforcement easier by leaving room for storage of data but its downside is the widespread copying and piracy due to easy availability and accessibility of information over the internet. The capability of an individual to send his work to the number of users simultaneously has led to the thin line between the private use and public use of the protected works. For e.g. protected work could be used for research for private use but consider the situation in which such research would be available for and accessible to the great number of people if the same is uploaded on social media. The easy accessibility to the protected works implies the ease with which the rights could be infringed. Even artificial intelligence has its loopholes which allows space for piracy. The theft of online data is very widespread and it becomes almost impossible to take cognizance of piracy because of widespread use of information technology resulting into huge amount of data.
As far as the IP law is concerned, the of internet on it is mixed. There is a need to terminate the loopholes in the technology which allow for copying and theft. The development of new and strong software could be a solution in this case. Not only technology but what we also need is stringent provisions of law. Although we have statutes like Copyrights Act, 1957 and IT Act which govern the use of internet in the field of IP law but we need some specific laws. We need a proper standard to determine whether the use of some work is private or public. In other words, we need a law which could clearly distinguish and make a clear demarcation between private use and public use of the protected work.
- Aggrawal Aarti, Trivedi Jatin and Burman Sucheta, Usage of Internet and the Evolving Challenges of IPR Issues in India: A Review, 1 IEBQEAMR 1 (2015)
- Gibbs Andy, Intellectual Property, the Internet and Electronic Commerce Internet Trends: Role of the Internet in the Development. Management and Commercialization of Intellectual Property, International Conference on Intellectual Property, the Internet, Electronic Commerce and Traditional Knowledge organized by WIPO in 2001.
- Dr. Lulin Gao, Intellectual Property Rights in the Internet Era: the New Frontier, 5 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 589 (2006).
- Indian Copyrights Act, 1957.
- SCC Online, Manupatra.