Copyright Protection in Cyberspace: Challenges and Concerns

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Technological advancement has created a new vista in human interaction, with attendant tension between the old analogue and new digital regime driven by technology. This strain is significantly caused by the ease of copying facilitated by digital technology and the Internet, making some scholars to seek the revision of copyright – or its disappearance.[1]

Other factors that have worsened this problem include: the effortlessness in disseminating copyrighted works to multiple locations;[2] the tension in enforcing digital rights management and the concept of fair use;[3] the extent and applicability of the dual-use technology defense;[4] lack of awareness as to legal implications of some actions carried out in the use of digital technology;[5] issues of jurisdiction and conflict of law;[6] and such ancillary concerns like enforcement of judgments in the digital age.

As a result of the porousness of the digital environment, there are genuine concerns by copyright holders regarding diminishing profits and increased piracy resulting from widespread sharing of protected works.[7] Unless governments around the world make relevant laws to protect digital copyright violations, public goods, such as movies and music, would be produced at socially sub-optimal level.[8]

In Nigeria there is still a lacuna in existing laws in relation to copyright protection in this digital age. Our Copyright Act, with its grossly analogue provisions, cannot be used as a weapon in the fight against copyright infringement in the cyberspace. There is, therefore, need to quickly pass a new law with provisions on anti-circumvention of technological protection measures. Until this is the done, we can only watch as other countries advance.

[1] See for instance J Litman Reader’s Copyright, 58 J. Copyright Society of the USA 325 2011; L Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid  Economy,(The Penguin Press, 2008); cf: Justin Hughes, “How Dis(respected) Is Copyright Law?”, accessed 8 August
[2] J Hughes, “On the Logic of Suing One’s Customers and the Dilemma of Infringement-Based Business Models,” accessed 8 August 2016.
[3] T Strong,“Digital Rights Management and the Process of Fair Use” (2006) Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 20, p. 49, Fall 2006, U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 07-10, accessed 15 April 2016.
[4] Sony Corporation of America v. University City Studio, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984). The Supreme Court held in this case that a dual-use technology that is capable of substantial non-infringing uses (from which ‘COSNU’ was taken) does not give rise to liability for contributory infringement.
[5]J Palfrey,U Gasser, M Simun, “Youths, Creativity, and copyright in a Digital Age”.
[6]  P Swire, “Of Elephants, Mice, and Privacy: International Choice of Law and the Internet,” (August 1998).
[7] M Meurer, “Price Discrimination, Personal Use and Piracy: Copyright Protection of Digital Works.”(1997) Buffalo Law Review.
accessed 28 March 2016.
[8] A Christie, Cultural Institutions, Digitization and Copyright Reform;T Fisher, Promises to Keep: Technology, Law, and the Future of the Entertainment, Chapter 6 “An Alternative Compensation System.” (Stanford University Press, 2004).
About Ezeudo Maduka 6 Articles
Ezeudo Maduka Esq. holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, a licence to practise as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a Master of Laws from the University of Uyo, and a diploma in copyright from the Harvard Law School and Berkman Centre of Internet and Society. He has been a practising lawyer for the past 7 years and a law lecturer at the Abia State Polytechnic Aba, Abia State. His research interests orbit the intersection of copyright law and the Internet; digital piracy; anti circumvention of technological protection measures; protection of digital works, and other areas within intellectual property law and practice in the 21st century.

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