Category : International

International Law

Copyright in the Online Space

digital copyright laws

copyright lawsCopyright is an increasingly hot issue, particularly with the emergence of online media. In contrast to ages past when copies were physical things such as CDs, books, and other such media, the online space has made copying a tricky thing for authorities to keep up with. The problem stems, it can be argued, with the fact that copyright law has simply not kept up with the evolutions in technology.

Copyright Law Today

Copyright law is very old and has, in many cases, simply not been updated to suit the way that online media works. In essence, copyright laws afford a creator a creative monopoly which prevents consumers from being entitled to make any copies of their works or products. Back in the days when such things were harder to achieve and more easily tracked, this type of law was fairly effective, as it stated that anything other than an official piece of work was illegal. However, in the online space, most everything nowadays is a copy. Notably, consider the use of MP3 files for personal use. Recently, the UK ruled that its legalization of ‘ripping’ CDs for use on personal MP3 files was unlawful, as it created an illegitimate copy of the data stored on the disc. This type of ruling is incredibly problematic in an age in which many are digitizing a large portion of their physical media – including films and books – to preserve them for use in the modern day.

What Can Be Done?

Recently, the EU has been making amendments to a set of European copyright laws, making provisions for such things as the ripping of files for personal use, as well as things such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) not restricting a users’ right to make private copies of content that they have acquired legally through services such as iTunes or Amazon Music. Should these amendments prove successful, it remains to be seen whether other countries such as the USA – who are notorious for their legal battles over copyright infringement – will adopt similar updates to their copyright laws in order to bring these centuries old laws into the digital age.

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International Internet Law

China Introduces New Cyber Security Laws

cyber security

china cyber security lawChina has long been a country associated with an overbearing amount of control over its citizens, and its recent legislature only acts to reinforce this image. The new law – as indicated by State media – allows Chinese officials to hand out punishments and gag orders over online activity. The law is not, however, limited to cyber security, but its relatively vague wording makes it applicable to every walk of life – from finance to religion. The law gives the government the authority to take any steps necessary to protect what it perceives as China’s sovereignty.

What Does This Mean for China?

Following news this week that China is cracking down on ‘foul language’ in its media and online social networks such as Weibo, the new legislature is a clear sign that China’s government is determined to keep the same tight control on its citizens’ use of the Internet as it has on its own media outlets. The law stipulates that all network infrastructures and IT systems be made accessible so as to allow them to make them “secure and controllable.” Such a law is sure to cause controversy particularly with companies operating in China, who fear they may be forced to hand over sensitive data to the Chinese government.

What do People Think of This?

Unsurprisingly, many legal professionals are concerned at the vague wording and broad reach of such a law, citing that the legislation does not stipulate what conditions or actions receive punishment, nor what punishment will be received. In essence, this leaves the Chinese government with a blank check to punish those who they perceive to have threatened China’s national sovereignty in the online space. With no guidelines in place, it will be incredibly difficult for violators of the law to defend themselves or indeed to know that they were violating the law in the first place, making this law an effective weapon against anybody with whom the government disagrees. Government officials, on the other hand, state that the law is absolutely necessary as the rapidly expanding online space is posing threats to China’s national security. They assure the people that the laws will not impede on their legitimate rights or the country’s core interests.…

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