Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Paul Torremans
Chapter 18: Challenges for the enforcement of copyright in the online world: Time for a new approach
The copyright regime cannot be considered fit for the digital age when millions of citizens are daily in breach of copyright. Large-scale copyright infringements on the Internet have been constant for a number of years, whether by means of file sharing through peer-to-peer (P2P) sites or, more recently, by other means such as unauthorised streaming. This has been facilitated by the difficulty of effectively enforcing the exclusive right in a technical environment that permanently changes. Obviously, the phenomenon is not new: copyright has always been challenged by the various technical advances such as the arrival of the phonogram, the radio, television, devices for recording works (such as tape-recorders or video-recorders) or the reprographic technology enabling the mass photocopying of protected works. What is probably different at present is the extent of the phenomenon, due to the facility of reproducing copyrighted works in the digital environment – in a quality now equal to the original – and the possibility of disseminating these works at zero cost via the Internet. As a reaction, the strategy adopted by legislators, with a strong encouragement from the cultural industries, has been to enhance the set of copyright rules at national, European or international level and to increase the range of penalties applicable. Hence, numerous legislative initiatives have been proposed or implemented aimed at improving the enforcement of copyright and at preventing infringement on the Internet.
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