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Exploitation of Copyrights, Trademarks and Intellectual Property Rights

An Examination of the Challenges in the Application/Enforcement of Business Law on


Internet Users within the U.K.

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May 23, 2012

Outline
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II.
III.
IV.
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VI.

Research Context/Background
Aim
Significance of the Study
Methodology
Ethical Considerations
Time Table

Research Context/Background
Intellectual property rights are broadly defined as exclusive rights pertaining to
distinct intangible creations of the mind which range from music, designs and various

artistic works to broad categories such as inventions, literature and even phrases. The
basis for intellectual property rights is to protect the creators of unique inventions,
concepts or ideas from having their work arbitrarily utilized without their permission for
the profit of other individuals/ companies1. Without IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights)
various artists, writers and inventors would be reluctant to release any of their work to
the general public due to the possibility of their ideas being subsequently stolen and
claimed by others as their own work. Companies apply IPR law as a method of
protecting their patented and copyrighted products from being subsequently copied and
sold by other companies2. It is through this method of business law implementation that
various corporations have been able to maintain their positions in the global market
place due to their protection and control of their patented processes, products and
designs3. It is rather interesting to note though that within the past 12 years as a direct
result of trends in the digitization of products and services as well as the prolific use of
the internet many digital products such as software, music and images (taken or
created) are increasingly being utilized, shared and distributed online without the
aforementioned consent of the holders of their copyright. Business law policy responses
to this particular situation, such as PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic
Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy
Act) (as well as others within the U.K. and the European Union), have received
significant amounts of public outrage and backlash over the supposed violation of
1

J Ashling, 'U.K. Intellectual Property Review', Information Today, 24, 2,2007, p. 22,
MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
2
C Choi, S Kim, & S Yu, 'Global Ethics of Collective Internet Governance: Intrinsic
Motivation and Open Source Software', Journal Of Business Ethics, 90, 4, 2009, pp.
523-531, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
3
J Wilson, 'BPI ANGRY AT U.K. MINISTER'S FILE-SHARING STANCE', Billboard, 121, 5,
2009,p. 19, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.

inherent rights through their implementation which in effect prevented such proposals
from being enacted as laws4. This is indicative of a certain degree of disjointedness
between the goal of protecting the rights of companies through IPR enforcement and
the necessity of upholding the interests and rights of a countrys citizenry in terms of
their ability to freely use the internet5. This calls into question whether business law
involving IPRs of digitized content can still be considered enforceable/effective when
taking into consideration the flexibility the internet grants illegal online content
distributors and the public backlash that often comes with attempts at policing the
internet6.
How have companies responded?
One of the means in which companies have attempted to combat this issue has
been to lobby for stricter laws regarding digital good and services. An example of this
within the U.S. was the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) which in effect
criminalized the production and distribution of various technologies, services or even
devices which allowed individuals/groups to illegally access copyrighted works or
circumvent the process that prevents digital distribution. In effect this law in the U.S.
made it illegal to circumvent copyright protections on digital software for online
distribution and made methods associated with intentional violation of such laws
punishable by heavy fines or jail time. It must be noted though that the limitations of this
particular type of business law is evident in the fact that despite its implementation in

J Koranteng, 'U.K. PUSH FOR PIRACY CONTROL', Billboard, 118, 36, 2006, p. 18,
MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
5
E Legrand,'U.K. Forms Piracy Forum', Billboard, 116, 13, 2004, p. 7, MasterFILE
Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
6
J Wilson, 'BPI ANGRY AT U.K. MINISTER'S FILE-SHARING STANCE', Billboard, 121, 5,
2009,p. 19, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.

1998 online piracy has continued unabated and has in fact increased within the past
decade7. One of the reasons behind is the sheer size of the internet with quite literally
billions of websites and trillions of pages devoted to all manner of digital content 8.
Inherent Problems with Resolving this Issue
Despite the best efforts of any company or government agency it would be quite
literally impossible to police all known sites9. Not only that, even if a company or
government agency were to take down a website based on its supposed distribution of
pirated content the fact remains that website addresses can be changed resulting in the
site being transferred to some other corner of the internet where it would take months if
not years for it to be found by piracy regulators 10. Another problem in sufficiently
implementing IPR law is the fact that when it comes to laws regulating the online
distribution of digital content each country has a different application of IPRs 11. For
example, though the DMCA is enforceable within the U.S. it is still a U.S. based law and
thus cannot be enforced in other countries such as the U.K. that have a different version

L Szuskin, S de Ruyter, & J Doucleff, 'Beyond Counterfeiting: The Expanding Battle


Against Online Piracy', Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 21, 11, 2009,
pp. 1-13, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
8
E Dedman, S Mouselli, Y Shen, & A Stark, 'Accounting, Intangible Assets, Stock
Market Activity, and Measurement and Disclosure PolicyViews From the U.K',
Abacus, 45, 3,2009, pp. 312-341, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23
May 2012.
9
L Collins, 'Review of U.K. IP Law Recommends Updates for Digital Age', Research
Technology Management, 54, 5,2011, pp. 6-9, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost,
viewed 23 May 2012.
10
C Oppenheim, 'A CLARIFICATION OF U.K. COPYRIGHT LAW', Online, 30, 4, 2006, p.
60, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
11
D Yang, M Sonmez, D Bosworth, & G Fryxell, 'Global Software Piracy: Searching
for Further Explanations', Journal Of Business Ethics, 87, 2, 2009, pp. 269-283,
Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.

and interpretation of what constitutes enforceable action regarding intellectual property


rights12.
Extent of the Problem
Sites such as the Piratebay.org contain millions of music, video and software
files that were ripped illegally from legal sources and then subsequently shared online
for free13. This has resulted in significant losses in sales for hundreds of companies with
estimates placing the amount lost in the hundreds of billions of dollars within a given
year14. On the other end of the spectrum, billions of intellectual property right
infringements are also done on a single day by the sheer amount of videos and images
shared on social network sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Users arbitrarily share
images taken from official websites and magazines as well as post videos online
containing copyrighted songs, labels, symbols and images resulting in practically
millions of people being guilty of intellectual property right infringement 15. Yet for the
past 12 years companies have been unable to successfully combat this problem due to
its sheer scale and the inherent limits of business law in actually being able address the
issue16. What must be understood is that there are inherent differences between
12

J Wood, 'Connecting activists: unions and social networking: a report from the U.K',
Workingusa, 12, 4, 2009, pp. 629-639, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed
23 May 2012.
13
N Morton &X Koufteros, 'Intention to Commit Online Music Piracy and Its
Antecedents: An Empirical Investigation', Structural Equation Modeling, 15, 3,
2008,pp. 491-512, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
14
S Bhattacharjee, R Gopal, K Lertwachara, & J Marsden, 'Consumer Search and
Retailer Strategies in the Presence of Online Music Sharing', Journal Of Management
Information Systems, 23, 1,2006, pp. 129-159, Business Source Premier,
EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
15
S Miller &C Bove, 'Fighting Intellectual Property Theft in the Internet Age: Why We
Need a Statute Like the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act',
Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 23, 4,2011, pp. 3-11, Business
Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
16
S Hinduja & J Ingram,'Social learning theory and music piracy: the differential role
of online and offline peer influences', Criminal Justice Studies, 22, 4,2009, pp. 405-

violations of intellectual property rights between a company and an online internet


user17. When a company commits a violation of intellectual property rights business law
becomes more enforceable since the affected party is dealing with a single entity. In the
case of online internet users there are just far too many individuals, too many cases and
not enough enforceable evidence of intentional violation to actually implement a
successful means of deterring IPR violation in the scale it is seen today 18.
Present day methods of Protecting Assets and IPRs
When it comes to lawyers protecting the IPRs of their clients from being violated
online, there is actually little that can be done due to the sheer size of the internet. While
there have been cases where litigation has been effective in shutting down sites with
infringing content that are based within the U.K., lawyers are limited from taking action
on sites based within other countries that have a different set of IPR laws (i.e. Sweden).
This shows the inherent limitations that lawyers have to deal with when it comes to IPR
litigation involving online infringing content. Such a situation is particularly true within
developing countries that have almost nonexistent online IPR protection infrastructures.
Aim
The aim of this paper is to investigate and determine the inherent weaknesses in
the application of business law in the case of the exploitation of Copyrights, Trademarks
and Intellectual Property Rights through the internet and determine what possible
420, International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost,
viewed 23 May 2012.
17
S Bhattacharjee, R Gopal, K Lertwachara, & J Marsden, 'Consumer Search and
Retailer Strategies in the Presence of Online Music Sharing', Journal Of Management
Information Systems, 23, 1,2006, pp. 129-159, Business Source Premier,
EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
18
J Ashling, 'International Report', Information Today, 20, 3, 2003, p. 21, MasterFILE
Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.

strategies of policy creation would result in a more effective solution that appeals to both
companies and internet users within the U.K.
Significance of the Study
The significance of this study is that it will greatly contribute to the pressing
concern within the U.K. business community involving effective methods of Copyright,
Trademark and Intellectual Property Right protection through the internet 19. As of late,
there have already been significant concerns regarding this particular issue within the
U.K. legislature but few effective solutions have actually been developed that address
the concerns of the public and private parties involved 20. It is based on this that the
original contribution of this research paper will involve the development of effective
policy constructs that protect both IPR and public interests. The urgency of this
particular type of research is evident as seen in the sheer scale of protests, petitions,
and corporate action that surround the issue of the protection of intellectual property
rights online21.
Methodology
This study will primarily involve a doctrinal analysis of case law, library based
research, as well as an examination of general public opinion regarding the various
online IPR protection policies that have been advocated for within the U.K. The
literature to be used in the literature review will be drawn from the following EBSCO
databases: Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, MasterFILE Premier,
19

J Wilson, 'U.K. MUSICIANS PRESSURE PRIME MINISTER', Billboard, 120, 50, 2008, p.
18, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
20
L Brandle, 'U.K. Revisits Piracy Fight', Billboard, 116, 35, 2004, p. 55, MasterFILE
Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 May 2012.
21
J Wood, 'Connecting activists: unions and social networking: a report from the U.K',
Workingusa, 12, 4, 2009, pp. 629-639, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed
23 May 2012.

Global Events, ERIC, and Professional Development Collection. Other sources of


information utilized in this section will be drawn from various online resources as well
such as Jstore and various websites when necessary. It is expected that after
completing the initial data gathering procedure and examining the results, the
researcher will be able to construct effective business law policies that address the
concerns indicated at the onset of this proposal.
Ethical Considerations
After a thorough examination of the contributing factors to this study, it has been
determined by the researcher that one of the possible ethical considerations for this
type of research comes in the form of the personal bias of the researcher regarding the
various methods suggested by companies and legislators in their attempts to "police"
the internet. The researcher is under the belief that the internet should not be controlled
in any way, shape, or form that either violates the privacy of a user or constrains their
online activities. As such, this point of view may unduly influence the results of the study
which necessitates some degree of guidance and peer review to ensure that the results
and various arguments are presented in an unbiased fashion that conforms to the
highest standards of the academe.

Reference List
Ashling J, 'International Report', Information Today, 20, 3, 2003, p. 21, MasterFILE
Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Ashling J, 'U.K. Intellectual Property Review', Information Today, 24, 2,2007, p. 22,
MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Bhattacharjee S, Gopal R, Lertwachara K, & Marsden J, 'Consumer Search and Retailer
Strategies in the Presence of Online Music Sharing', Journal Of Management
Information Systems, 23, 1,2006, pp. 129-159, Business Source Premier,

EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.


Brandle L, 'U.K. Revisits Piracy Fight', Billboard, 116, 35, 2004, p. 55, MasterFILE
Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Choi C, Kim S, & Yu S, 'Global Ethics of Collective Internet Governance: Intrinsic
Motivation and Open Source Software', Journal Of Business Ethics, 90, 4, 2009,
pp. 523-531, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Collins L, 'Review of U.K. IP Law Recommends Updates for Digital Age', Research
Technology Management, 54, 5,2011, pp. 6-9, Business Source Premier,
EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Dedman E, Mouselli S, Shen Y, & Stark A, 'Accounting, Intangible Assets, Stock
Market Activity, and Measurement and Disclosure PolicyViews From the U.K',
Abacus, 45, 3,2009, pp. 312-341, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost,
retrieved 23 May 2012.
Hinduja S & Ingram J,'Social learning theory and music piracy: the differential role of
online and offline peer influences', Criminal Justice Studies, 22, 4,2009, pp. 405420, International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost,
retrieved 23 May 2012.
Koranteng J, 'U.K. PUSH FOR PIRACY CONTROL', Billboard, 118, 36, 2006, p. 18,
MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Legrand E,'U.K. Forms Piracy Forum', Billboard, 116, 13, 2004, p. 7, MasterFILE
Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Miller S & Bove C, 'Fighting Intellectual Property Theft in the Internet Age: Why We

Need a Statute Like the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act',
Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 23, 4,2011, pp. 3-11, Business Source
Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Morton N & Koufteros X, 'Intention to Commit Online Music Piracy and Its Antecedents:
An Empirical Investigation', Structural Equation Modeling, 15, 3, 2008,pp. 491512, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Oppenheim C, 'A CLARIFICATION OF U.K. COPYRIGHT LAW', Online, 30, 4, 2006, p.
60, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Szuskin L, De Ruyter S, & Doucleff J, 'Beyond Counterfeiting: The Expanding Battle
Against Online Piracy', Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 21, 11,
2009, pp. 1-13, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Wilson J, 'BPI ANGRY AT U.K. MINISTER'S FILE-SHARING STANCE', Billboard, 121,
5, 2009,p. 19, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Wilson J, 'U.K. MUSICIANS PRESSURE PRIME MINISTER', Billboard, 120, 50, 2008,
p. 18, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.
Wood J, 'Connecting activists: unions and social networking: a report from the U.K',
Workingusa, 12, 4, 2009, pp. 629-639, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost,
retrieved 23 May 2012.
Yang D, Sonmez M, Bosworth D, & Fryxell G, 'Global Software Piracy: Searching for
Further Explanations', Journal Of Business Ethics, 87, 2, 2009, pp. 269-283,
Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, retrieved 23 May 2012.