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Business Copyright Violation Essay


Copyright violation is a vice that has haunted several industries in the business arena. Some industries such as the music industry, publishing industry and photography industry are more prone to copyright violation than other industries. With the advance of technology copyright violators have become more sophisticated making it more difficult for law enforcers to implement laws and policies that are meant to curb the vice. It is however imperative that all original creations of whichever nature are copyrighted to ensure basis for legal protection.

Copyrighting is a very sensitive issue and it includes various laws that control the usage of different expressions. When an individual or a corporate body reproduces the works of others without their permission, that is considered illegal.

This essay looks at the business copyright violation, in the light of two kinds of fields; music business and photography business. These are the two common kinds of industries usually prone to violation. The paper explores the copyright infringement or violation practice and how it is affecting the businesses. The paper shall be evaluating the music industry and the photography industry to support the research and finally come up with a solution for this major problem. Before beginning to question the world of copyright violation, there is need to understand what exactly copyright means.  Copyright is defined as the unauthorized usage of other people’s material(s) that are covered by the copyright laws (Judy Anderson, 1998)

Thesis Statement

This paper asserts that the war against copyright violation can be won. However this is going to take a holistic approach where all the stakeholders come together in support of the initiatives by the authorities as well as other players.

Main Text

A very obvious example of copyrighting is song compositions, writing lyrics for songs without the actual owner of this kind of property being the person who actually composed the song, the music and lyrics.

But where does this whole talk of copyright violation and stealing artistic material arise from?  It arises after one person’s original work is copied by another without the consent of original owner. But what is copyright infringement or violation? According to Richard Stim (2006), copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unlawful copying of material protected by the copyright law, in a manner that violates any of the original copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.  For electronic and audio-visual media, illegal copying as well as circulation is habitually referred to as piracy or theft.

There are various methods of copyright infringement, it comes in several forms, and these would involve: piracy and bootleg recordings. These could take the form of copying purchased content for personal private use for example copying a cassette to make up a car or party tape. It could also take the form of downloading for private use of already purchased or not purchased material. Uploading or making someone else’s work available is another way of infringing copyrighted work. The other form is the cottage industry commercial piracy which involves sale of infringing copies in electronic /DVD /CD format via websites; eBay etc. large scale commercial piracy is also another rampant practice.

However, there are countries such as Canada and parts of Europe where sharing copied music is still considered as legal, on the condition that this is not used for advertising purposes or for selling purposes. The other kind of copyright violation in music business is ‘bootleg recordings’. According to Fenick (1982), such recordings are newly created items – LP, EP, or CD and also include sleeves which have never been released or existed in this form as an official or original item or in any item that was never legitimately released in its present form. These materials are illegal and are usually pressed by fans themselves from materials that are otherwise not available on commercial recordings.[1]

The unlawful use of text material from books, journals and even the World Wide Web is very easy, especially because people do not seek the permission of the original artist. Copyright law is very important and its role is very crucial, this can be determined ‘by its key part in attempts to restrict peer-to-peer file sharing and the dissemination of music via the Internet more generally.

How the music industry is affected by copyright infringement.

It would be best to give examples from the music business in order to illustrate the copyright infringement problem. American music is globally popular; this has also led to a lot of musicians’ world wide copying musical styles. Madonna is a pop icon and her music has been copied by Indian musicians. The Asian musicians have been known to copy music from each other, yet no lawsuits are seriously filed to sue the other musician, who copies the music. One of the most famous singers from Algeria Khaled came up with a song titled ‘ Didi’ (meaning ‘Take take’), it became a world wide track, it even made it on the mainstream music channels, MTV kept playing this song.

Few years later, this song was copied by a Pakistani artist called Sajjad Ali, he released a song titled ‘ Babia’ (meaning ‘Sweetheart’), the musical notes were altered but the tune was similar, with less Algerian beat in it and more Pakistani styled. The outcome, people loved the music, of course it was not as catchy as the original song. People who had first heard of ‘Didi’ were pretty disappointed with a cheap imitation. The ones who heard of ‘Babia’ were mostly Pakistani and Indian people. This is most likely to come under the “sound-alikes” category, which someone purposely copies a very popular piece of music.

“This is often used by the advertising agencies when they don’t want to pay the price for the right to use the original of a piece of work.”(Harrison Ann 2003).

With copyrighting, the creator of such a musical composition has exclusive rights which they can exercise, without any restriction. If anyone uses their work without prior permission, this may end in litigation.

The law gives a provision for the necessity to ensure that work can circulate and be critically analyzed or otherwise, be available for research as well as be usable in certain quarters in the interest of the public (Harrison Ann 2003).

 In the music industry there is a term called ‘sampling and piracy’, which come under the violation problem as well. In the case of plagiarism, it is more or less like stealing someone’s ideas and labeling them as your own, without even recognizing that they are not yours. Sampling is round about the same thing, the only slight difference between them is that in order to be guilty of plagiarism, one needs to prove that someone had has access to the material of the original author and that it is not simply by chance that your work is similar to the work of someone who has copied your work. But is sampling theft? “Many people argue that all cultural evolution is based on taking bits of existing popular culture and adapting and changing them.  They argue that all new music forms ‘borrow’ or are influenced by earlier ones.”[2]

Now I shall be looking at the photography copyright violation, the law in Germany is very similar to the copyright law in UK and U.SA. In both the countries photographers enjoys the “picture rights” which are specified in the copyright laws.

Stealing of images taken by someone else is theft certainly, a lot of people on the Internet would make changes by adding touch ups or cutting out certain parts of the image and adding a title which makes the other seem, that the image was taken by the one who downloaded it in the

first place. This is very tricky and wrong, as it becomes very difficult on the Internet to differentiate the original photographer and the one who copies it and claims it to be their property. Some people on the Internet might even go to the extent of selling photographs of the original author, without their permission. On an online forum called ‘Photography on net- Canon Digital Photography Forums’, a user left a comment with regards to the copyright violation and selling of photographs without their permission. “Josh says: My advice it’s to prevent this type of thing from happening ever again and next time make your watermark large print directly across the main image so that there is no way to cover it over or erase it with out compromising the image (Frith, et al 2004).

Photography faces a lot of competition now, due to the digital technology prevailing, things have become tough, however whatever the case, it is very important for the photography companies to secure their works from getting sold illegally and losing out on profits.

Back to the music business, the Music Publishers Association of USA requires that one has to seek permission from the copyright owners if they wish to get hold of a music piece, or to perform that musical piece (http:// photography-on-the.net)

Recently, the Universal Music Group sued MySpace for running and uploading music videos illegally. According to Universal, MySpace is erring by promoting copyright infringement through reformatting clips so as to allow users to transmit them to others or post them on different websites. MySpace however does present a great and amazing encouragement to its users (http://news.com.com)

Overall, both the music and photography industry are the most common artistic fields to be pirated and copyright illegally, this is because it is always happening and changing, which leaves more room for the less talented people to take a short route to copying, or at times, if someone is inspired or wants to use a certain image, they should take permission, rather than using it straightaway.

The key to preventing piracy in music business is by making sure that every time a musical record is downloaded on the Internet, a payment is made, to cover its copyright charges. However, this may be wrong to say that piracy can be all together stopped, because there are pirated recordings take place. However, copyrighting, moral rights, trademarks and trade descriptions are the methods to make the photography and music business more safer.  The law does step in by taking enforcement in its hands, this would include: civil action, criminal action, private criminal prosecutions, trading standards officers, anti piracy unit and the international federation of the phonographic industry.

In one of the cases in the German society, The German Society for Musical Performing & Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) are insisting on claiming royalties from YouTube.. “According to a representative of the GEMA, YouTube should get rid of all the unlicensed music or simply make a payment. There are over 70,000 new music videos which are added to the website, and a large collection of them are unlicensed, which are posted by certain individuals on the website. At the moment, there is no initial broadcasting procedure to avoid copyright video clips from being added to the website. The German soccer club Bayern Munich has also warned YouTube, that it shall take legal action over the illegal material used (http://www.theregister.co..uk/2006/11/09/german_publishers_demand_royalties/ )

The American Copyright Law is similar to the other copyright laws; however it is very strict in every article it issues. In Chapter 5, the copyright law talks about the remedies of infringement, it mentions the following: “During any time as the action is under the title is pending, the court may order the confiscation, on such terms as it may consider reasonable, of all copies claimed to have been used in violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, and of all plates, masters, tapers, film, negatives, or other articles by means of which copies may be reproduced (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5..html#502)

The website also specifically mentions about the material online and how the individual or company can be liable for using that material illegally. Here is an example of what happens if online material is illegally used.

The Transitory Digital Network Communications example is a good one, here it mentions that a service provider will not be liable for monetary reasons, this shall only happen in cases where: for infringement of copyright by reason of the provider’s transmitting, routing or providing links through networks, which are run by or in the favor of the service provider. (b) The broadcasting of the material started by or on the instructions of an individual or other than the service provider. © the broadcasting, provision of connections or saving is carrying out is via an automatic technical process, without the selection of the material by the service provider (http://www.copyright.gov)

In my opinion these are the solutions that companies can follow and make sure their works are covered if not fully protected by piracy and violation, to let those art robbers know that the law is out there to punish them for every time they are caught and punished for stealing someone else’s creative ideas. An example of saving material online is demonstrated by the guidelines I mentioned earlier by the American Copyright Law. It is best for the individual and the companies to know who to contact if such a situation arises, where copyright infringement takes place.


Frith, Simon & Marshall, Lee (2004). Music & Copyright,  Edinburgh University

Press, Edinburgh.

Harrison, Ann (2003). Music the Business, Virgin Books Ltd, London.

Judy Anderson (1998). Plagiarism, Copyright Violation and Other Thefts of Intellectual

Property: McFarland & Company

Richard Stim (2006). Patent, copyright and trademark, Berkeley, Calif

http:// photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?p=3263807#post3263807





http://news.com.com/Universal+sues+MySpace+for+copyright+violations/2100-1030_3-    6136829.html


 ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/docs/other_actions/contributions/uk_publishers_annex1_col_en.pdf – 


2.1. Introduction.

2.2. Thesis Statement (Position of the paper on the issue).

3.1. Main text.

                What is the problem?

                Why is it important

                What are the effects?

                How has it been dealt with in the past?

                What else can be done?

4.1. Conclusion. Sum up with what has been discussed

5.1. References


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