In recent years, there has been much
publicity about the unlawful distribution of intellectual property-protected
music, films, art, photos, scripts, and software (“content”) on the Internet.
These unauthorized downloads often violate national laws of copyright.
Because of the ease with which digital files can be downloaded, unauthorized
copying of content has been a major problem causing the loss of millions of
dollars in revenue for the owners of these rights.
E-Commerce business, it is important to
protect your IP rights on the Internet. This can be done in a number of ways.
Always clearly identify your content, either with a
copyright notice or some other
indication of ownership. You may wish to simply tell users what they can and
cannot do with your content.
Never distribute or permit downloads of third party content that does not belong
to your company and put in place programs to make sure that your employees
understand your company policies in this regard.
The Napster case in the United States
put an international spotlight on unauthorized downloading of music files. The
case, which resulted in the court issuing a permanent injunction preventing
Napster from operating its file sharing system, was a “contributory
infringement” case because the claim was that Napster facilitated illegal
copying by users of the system, not that Napster copied the files itself. Other
cases will continue to test the law in this area, and there may be different
issues and different results in different jurisdictions, but the lesson of
Napster is that it is important for an E-Commerce company to make sure it has a
clear policy against unauthorized copying of files, or any actions that
encourage or facilitate such copying.
It is also important for E-Commerce
companies to make sure that employees do not gain access to or keep in their
possession or on their systems any unauthorized copies of software or other
content. Your company should have a system of prevention, education and
monitoring to make sure that employees are not knowingly or unknowingly using
illegal copies of software.
All employees should know about the
company's policies against misuse of IP, and senior management should be
responsible for reviewing company business practices on a regular basis to make
sure that the policy is being followed. It is wise to assess situations in which
a policy violation is found, to see if disciplinary action should be taken.
Increasingly, some companies are utilizing technical means to protect content on
the Internet by watermarking, encrypting or otherwise creating
identification and tracking systems. Electronic Copyright Management Systems
are being proposed by business consortia and individual companies who see these
systems as a way to use technical means to control use of content.
How can Your SME Benefit from Copyright Protection?