Essay on Peer to Peer Technology and Copyright

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Peer to Peer Technology and Copyright

Recently, there has been a series of copyright infringement litigations against Internet businesses that are involved with unauthorized distribution of music files. The US recording industry claims to lose three million dollars per year because of piracy. A report predicted an estimated 16 percent of all US music sales, or 985 million dollars would be lost due to online piracy by 2002 (Foege, 2000; cited from McCourt & Burkart, 2003) Even though this claim has to be taken with caution, as it is based on false assumption that if copyright laws were strictly enforced, audio pirates would become buyers, it is apparent that audio piracy grew to a worrisome level for the record industry. (Gayer
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First, digital commodity is different from traditional commodity; it is non- depletable, its consumption is non-competitive and non-exclusive and so on. (Gallaway & Kinnear, 2002). Thus, it is being argued that copyright law designed for traditional intellectual and artistic property does not work well in digital environment. Second, we are witnessing increasing difficulties for the effective enforcement of copyright law; the outcome of the most current copyright litigation against a P2P service provider, KaZaA is said to be in doubt. Third, the scale of audio piracy is happening in such a large scale by anonymous P2P users that chasing down each copyright infringement activity looks next to impossible. Nowadays, not only whether copyright is compatible with digital environment is in doubt, but also whether effective enforcement of copyright law is possible is in question.

This paper aims to look at the changes brought by technology innovations and understand meaning of them. This paper, however, does not seek an answer for the basic questions about copyright; whether it is the best to way to promote artistic and intellectual creation while serving public interest at the same time or not. Instead, I will focus on the question if effective enforcement of the law is possible in current situation, even if present copyright law is well-designed and well-balanced so that it could achieve the goal it seeks if it could be enforced effectively.
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