University of Maryland University College
Dr. Charles Nwaka
May 09, 2009
Intellectual Property Rights: Music Piracy and Technology
The focus of this research paper is to examine the history of Intellectual Property Rights, with an emphasis on the authorized and unauthorized digital downloads of copyrighted music. Intellectual property rights and its relevance in the policing the music industry has been debated by many for years. With the increasing rate of advancements in technology, most certainly outpacing the policing of music piracy, the violation of intellectual property rights will continue on a global scale. The state of the music industry has drastically changed over the last ten years due to advancements in technology and the prevalent utilization of the internet and the popularity of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. Today, the availability of audio and video content is available to the masses. Where consumers used to purchase compact discs of their favorite artist, now with an internet connection and a few clicks of the mouse, they can enjoy the music of their favorite artist without having to leave the comfort of their home. With compression technologies, such as MP3s, electronic distribution of music is quick and easy, legally and illegally, with the later being the case much of the time. The arguments as to how much the music industry has been affected by music piracy are varied but consistently the numbers are large in scale. To begin, I will provide a brief history of Intellectual Property Rights, discussing its origin. I will then discuss how advancements in technology, specifically the internet, have outpaced intellectual property rights and the protection that they were designed for. There has been much empirical literature on this subject, so I will discuss some of these findings as well. I will then present statistics on music piracy and their purported effects on music sales, whether intellectual property rights are effective in preventing illegal and unauthorized downloads, and initiatives in place and some that are being discussed to limit or combat copyright infringement. The U.S. Congress enacted the first copyright legislation with the Copyright Act of 1790 designed to provide exclusive rights to authors of maps, charts and book. The act provided American authors exclusive rights to their works for a term of 14 years, with the right of renewal for an additional 14 year term if the author was still alive. While American authors had laws in place to protect their works, the Copyright Act of 1790 did not provide the same protection to foreign authors. This United States refusal to recognize the works of foreigner continued for over 100 years, when in 1891 Congress passed an international copyright act. Additionally, no protection was afforded to works such as musical compositions or newspapers during the initial copyright act. The Copyright Act of 1790 has undergone many revisions over the years. It has been modified many times to encompass new technologies such as music recordings. It has also been modified to extend the length of the term of protection and the length of the extension one receives when the initialterm expires. In 1909, the U.S. Copyright Act was revised to include all works of authorship, including music. From sheet music to the player piano and the compact disc, mechanical rights cover the mechanical reproduction of music. In this case, the copyright holder usually administers these rights directly, but mechanical rights are unique in that anyone is allowed to record a song once the copyright owner has done so or has allowed it to be recorded by others. Once this is done, a fee or royalties is paid to the copyright holder. The compulsory rate is currently 6.95 cents per song per recording, or 1.3 cents per minute, whichever is larger. ()Inevitably, whenever a new technology...