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Personal Finance

Use digital rights system to guard intellectual property

Once a work qualifies for copyright protection, then there are certain rights granted to the owners as set out in the Copyright Act.
Once a work qualifies for copyright protection, then there are certain rights granted to the owners as set out in the Copyright Act. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The world has grown increasingly digital especially during this time when most people are “working from home.” Today it is easier to access digital business solutions than was the case some years back. Some digital business platforms facilitate users to create and sell their works online. Digital business solutions have certainly enhanced e-commerce.

There is a lot of innovation that goes into creating new business solutions and most of the times the end works qualify for copyright protection. Copyrightable subjects include works that are literary including books, journals, poems, articles ; audio including songs, speeches, podcasts; audio-visual including videos and visual including paintings and so on.

Once a work qualifies for copyright protection, then there are certain rights granted to the owners as set out in the Copyright Act. The owner can control translation or adaptation, distribution, communication to the public and making available such work.

A lot of commercialisation of artistic works happens through digital platforms since producing such work is cheaper than traditional methods. Using digital platforms is also more advantageous to consumers than traditional medium. At the click of a button a consumer in another jurisdiction is able to access the works without having to go through rigorous procedures, therefore supporting accessibility.

It’s no wonder then that an increasing number of creators are opting for digital platforms to enable them commercialise their works. Some common examples of include platforms which enable distribution of videos to consumers on payment of access fees. There are some digital libraries which enable users access a wide range of books on payment of a fee. Creators of these works are therefore able to sell their works through these digital platforms.

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An area of concern for creators or sellers when using digital platforms, is how to secure their intellectual property rights. With increased accessibility to digital platforms it has become easier for third parties to undertake unauthorised reproduction, distribution and re-selling of original works denying the owners revenue. Digital platforms have made it easier to infringe copyright.

Despite the risk posed to the owners, it is still possible to manage the content and reduce incidences of infringement. One strategy is through the use of digital rights management systems. A digital rights management (DRM) system enables an author prevent unauthorised distribution, reproduction or re-sale of his works by controlling and limiting access. While DRMs significantly reduce incidences of infringement it is not possible to completely stop all incidences of piracy.

That is why the best strategy for authors is to couple DRMs with copyright enforcement. When publishing or selling your work, it is prudent to use the appropriate software to control usage of the work. For example through software it is possible to prevent illegal downloading of your work unless payment has been first made. It is possible to limit the ability to print or share the work unless payment is first made. The option of enforcement of copyright happens when there is a threatened or actual infringement. This means that as the rightful owner of the copyright, you can seek court redress against infringers. A few months ago, a man was arrested for selling pirated copies of this publication on social media.

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