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The Internet Battle:
The Copyright Industry's Fight Against the Use and Regulation of the Internet
Clay Garrett
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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Napster, Lime Wire, and Kazaa are all names that have become used in day to day conversations. The reason we know all of these names is because of the craze of free music and videos that can be downloaded from the Internet. The article "Hollywood vs. the Internet," by Mike Godwin, expresses the opinions that the music, video, and broadcasting companies have on society's ability to download copyrighted material for free off the Internet. If the big production corporations that are fighting to change copyright laws win and implement their plans, it will set back our technology instead of moving it forward, and change the way the Internet is used and regulated.

There are many different groups, or factions, fighting to implement their agenda on the regulation of internet piracy. On such group is the Tech Faction, the Tech Faction is "computer makers, software companies, and manufacturers of related devices" (Godwin 173). The Tech Faction is trying to regulate the software that can be placed on computers to limit their ability to download copyrighted material. Their goal is to "see a world in which copyrighted words are reasonably protected" (Godwin 175). They want to develop software that regulates what can and cannot be downloaded onto a computer, or broadcast over the Internet. If they do this, all the computers that have been developed would become obsolete and the new computers would have fewer functions than the ones we have now. Godwin expresses his opinion and the opinion of many others by saying, "If computers and software start shipping in a hamstrung form, mandated by government, I'll quit buying new equipment" (178). If computers start to be manufactured like Godwin expresses, they will all be made in a cookie cutter style. The ability to choose the software and features a buyer wants on a computer will not be an option. The Tech Faction and government will have to regulate what software can and cannot be placed on a computer. If this happens it will push back technology because some of the software, like CD or DVD creator, that has been invented and is already in use will not longer be accessible.

A different approach is being taken from the Content Faction, which includes record companies, publishers, and movie and TV studios. Michael Eisner, Disney CEO, reports the Content Faction loves the computers ability "to create remarkably pristine images," but is terrified of its ability "to make remarkably pristine copies" (qtd. in Godwin 175). If they succeed in passing their legislation they plan to imprint an invisible watermark onto all copyrighted digital media. If they do this, the Content Faction would also have to incorporate new technology that reads the watermark and disables a computers ability to copy the material. To create such technology, the Content Faction would have to team up with the Tech Faction to develop the software needed to make and read the watermark. To development and support of this system would cost millions of dollars from both factions. The watermark agenda would be a small step in the direction of creating a solution, but would again limit or replace existing technology with new technology that has fewer functions.

Both factions, although different in their views, agree and support the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. "The DMCA prohibits the creation, dissemination, and use of tools that circumvent digital rights management technology" (Godwin 175). Digitals rights management is technology that would be placed on all computers to prevent copyright infringement. If DRM is placed on all computers it would turn them into "special purpose appliances, something like a toaster" (Godwin 178), because they would be nothing more than appliances. Both factions think that the act is not the only act that needs to be in place, but it is a start to the limitation of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet.

Large corporations that are into broadcasting and the Internet, like AOL Time Warner, are riding the fence on whether they support the restriction of the Internet, or support letting copyright infringements go without prosecution. The production section of AOL Time Warner wants all the copyrighted material on the Internet to be removed; they fear if copyrighted material can be downloaded it will make their sales decrease. The Internet section of AOL Time Warner does not want copyrighted material to have strict regulations because they are making money off people wanting to download free media. When AOL Time Warner is asked how they feel about strict regulation, they reply with a very neutral response much like most of the motion picture companies (Godwin 176). Until companies like AOL Time Warner take an aggressive stance on how they view copyright infringements the ability to pass legislation regulating it will be hard because of all the pull they have within the government.

The government is, however, starting to act on the large quantities of copyright infringements on the Internet by requiring different government agencies to dedicate personnel to enforcing copyright laws. To dedicate different agents for the sole purpose of enforcing Internet copyright infringements it is going cost large amounts of money, from the taxpayers, for equipment and training. It will also take government trained agents and put them in front of a computer all day. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been assigned the task of creating a program that will not only give the government the ability to regulate Internet piracy, but will also "allow private copyright holders to issue warnings, including the FBI seal, to those suspected of infringing the holder's copyright" (Delaney 16). If copyright holders have the ability to issue these warnings it could get out of control because they would have the ability to pick and choose who they charge with infringements and who they let pass. The government is going to have to enable a structured procedure that the copyright holders will have to strictly follow to issue these warnings.

Another way the government is trying to regulate copyright infringements on the Internet is by allowing seizure of any copyrighted material. The Bureau has the ability to remove any copyrighted material that is pirated from the Internet off of a computer and charge a person with copyright infringement. The Bureau's ability to do this is very close to overstepping the Fourth Amendment which gives United States' citizens "the right of the people to be secure in their…houses,…against unreasonable searches and seizures" (US Const., Amendment 4). Kids as young as thirteen are being charged with lawsuits after downloading music that is advertised as free from the Internet. The reason the government is going to have to be careful with charging people with internet piracy is because most computers that have copyrighted material on them are inside people's homes. How are these agencies going to have sufficient evidence to search a computer inside a person's home without hacking into it, which is illegal also? There is going to have to be legislation passed with precise guidelines on how officers can obtain evidence to convict a person of Internet piracy. If the Bureau makes these guidelines and starts enforcing these laws by cracking down on Internet piracy, many Americans are at risk because all the copyrighted material that has been downloaded off of the Internet onto their personal computer is considered illegal.

The Internet is a tool that is intended to be free and open the public. It was created to enhance education by being able to access material that was once only available in long drawn out research. The Internet has enabled much advancement for humankind since its creation because research data is available for those that want to learn from or expand on experiments that have already taken place. It is also easier to share data and research over the Internet between big corporations and individuals. Because the Internet is a fast paced communication system, it allows information to be sent and received at incredible speeds. If the Internet is going to start being regulated based on copyrighted material it is going to be hard to research and use data off the Internet because most things are copyrighted. The Internet is supposed to be an open access to material for everyone. There are certain things that should be regulated on the Internet, like adult sites and things not suitable for all ages, but for the most part if it is on the Internet it should be free to access.

The ability to download copyrighted material whether it is music, videos, or broadcast has been a great advancement in technology. It is however, costing many companies multi-millions of dollars in revenue from CDs and DVDs that people use to buy before the Internet. If the copyright industry gets the legislation they want passed, they will have a large amount of power over the Internet and how it is regulated. There will be a change in regulations on downloading copyright material, but when, how, and to what extent is still unknown, when it does happen it will revolutionize the copyright industry. It will however be at a loss, and an enormous cost, to the individuals that use the technology of today and use copyrighted material from the Internet for research and pleasure.

Works Cited

Delaney, Edwin M., et al. "House considers bill to enhance criminal enforcement of Internet copyright piracy measures." Intellectual Property & Technology Journal 54 (2003): 16-18

Godwin, Mike. "Hollywood vs. the Internet." Speculations. Ed. Jason Landrum, Matthew Wynn Sivils, and Constance Squires. Kendall/Hunt: Dubuque, Iowa, 2003. 173-178.

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