Copyright in the World of Binary – Issues Present, Threats Posed and a Way Forward


One of the greatest achievements of the human mind has been the advancement of digital technology. Technology has provided a plethora of opportunities in areas such as media, entertainment, communication, advertising, and education. However, the easy availability of materials on the Internet has raised concerns about Copyright infringement. One of the most significant Intellectual Property Rights is Copyright, which refers to the creators’ rights to literary and artistic works. It contains, among other things, books, artworks, computer programs, films, databases, and maps. Copying, replicating, and selling a copyright owner’s works without his consent has grown much easier thanks to digitalization, making identification of such infringement difficult. This has posed a serious danger to the copyright owners’ or creators’ rights.

The Issues

The Internet and the Copyright

For a long time, the Internet has been one of the most serious challenges to copyright. Copyright protection varies depending on the information available on the internet. On the internet, copyrighted works include news, stories, photos, graphics, e-books, screenplays, and videos, among other things. Because of the vast amount of information available on the internet, determining whether a work is a duplication or a copy of a protected work is challenging. It is a prevalent misconception that content acquired via the internet that is in the public domain can be freely copied. However, this is not the case until the government has made the information available, the copyright term has expired, or the copyright holder has relinquished his rights.

Copyright Infringement in Cyberspace

  • Uploading and Downloading – The Internet has long served as a means of downloading software or files to one’s computer’s hard drive. Making a copy or replicating a copy of material available on the internet is known as downloading. However, there are several rules that must be followed, and failing to do so may result in an offense.
  • Work that is derived – When two or more programs are combined to form a derivative work, it is considered a copyright infringement or violation.
  • Hot-linking – It entails displaying a picture on a website by linking to the image’s host website. This practice of hot-linking or linking has the potential to infringe on a copyright owner’s rights.
  • Works that combine audio and video – Copying an audio or video file through companies that engage in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing of any digital music is likewise illegal.
  • Multimedia project – Multimedia is a broad notion that embraces a vast range of materials, including text, noises, audio, video, photos, graphics, presentations, live videos of speeches and performances, and so on. Multimedia can be protected by Copyright in the following categories: literary (software), artistic (images), cinematographic films (films or videos), dramatic (plays), sound recording (musical works), and pictures. The multiplicity of rights accessible to copyright owners under the purview of multimedia makes it difficult to protect the rights of authors and owners of the copyright.

The Internet and Social Media

Nowadays, social media platforms have become one of the most popular ways to connect individuals all over the world. These services allow users to share works that may be protected by copyright. Copyright infringements have resulted from the popular habit of sharing items such as photos and photographs on social media. A major cause of such infringements is the incorrect belief that all information uploaded on social media is free, which is fueled by a lack of knowledge about the status of copyright in such works. Copyright infringements on social media networks might take the following forms:

Using the content available on the platform without the owner’s prior authorization. Re-posting, saving, or sharing of works protected under Copyright. Re-posting and relaxing ownership or creation rights of already protected works.

The Concept of Fair Dealing in Copyright in the Digital World

Intellectual Property

The copyright protection sought by the artist or owner must be consistent with public rights. A person’s human rights should not be used to limit the rights of another. As a result, the notions of Fair Dealing and Fair Use have evolved in Copyright. The Berne Convention of 1883 is the most important convention in this field, as stated in Art 9(2) – “It shall be a matter of legislation in the countries of the union to permit the reproduction of such work in certain cases, provided that such reproduction does not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and does not legitimate the author’s interest.” 

“Members shall confine limitations or exceptions to exclusive rights to select extraordinary instances that do not conflict with the regular utilization of the work and do not unreasonably impair the right holder’s legitimate interest,” says Article 13 of the TRIPS agreement. Various countries have different regulations regarding copyright exceptions. The copyright exception is known as Fair Use is enshrined in Section 107 of the Copyright Act in the United States of America. Fair Use of Copyright does not constitute infringement, according to the document. Similarly European Union Directive, 2001/29/EU has laid down a list of compulsory and optional exceptions and directives, while 2012/28/EU provides for principles of orphan works (the works the owner of which is not identified) (the works the owner of which is not identified). In India, Section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957, specifies the kind of conduct that does not constitute a copyright infringement.

Some acts that are not considered infringements in the digital world are listed below:

  • Conducting For the sole purpose of studying, conduct research or study and make copies of the content available on the internet.
  • During class, a teacher uses material from a movie to make satirical points.
  • A journal can be accessed through the university’s website or the library.
  • Making backup copies on a hard drive as a precautionary measure against loss, destruction, or damage.
  • The study or test of a computer program’s operation in order to determine the ideas and principles that underpin any of the program’s elements in order to determine the ideas or principles that underpin the element of the program while performing acts that are required for the computer program’s operation.
  • Making copies or adapting a computer program for non-commercial purposes from a lawfully occupied copy.

Remedies for Copyright Infringement

Threats of Copyright infringement in the digital arena have prompted several preventative steps to ensure that the rights and interests of the owner or creators are safeguarded. The following are some of the most important treatments:

  • Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology – It’s a decentralized public ledger that records peer-to-peer transactions in a very secure manner. Each time a transaction takes place, the parties agree on the specifics that will be encoded into a block of digital data that is uniquely signed or identifiable. It is regarded as an excellent technique for resolving the problem of copyright in the Digital Domain because of its functionality.
  • Watermarks in Digital Format One of the easiest ways to protect the work of the creator of Copyright as it helps the owner to trace his work and prevent it from duplication. A watermark is implanted in the author’s original work in this technique, allowing unlawful duplication of the work to be detected.
  • Copy control and access control – It’s a piece of software that allows a user to check whether a creator’s work is being used for free or illegally.

Copyright Protection in Digital Domain

Digital Copyright

The influence of digitalization on society is enormous. But, just as it is rightly said that great inventions bring great threats, digitalization while playing a major role in changing the dynamics of society, has also given rise to a number of other issues, such as infringement of a creator’s or owner’s rights to work (in the context of copyright) through various means in the digital world. International organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have played an important role in preventing the infringement of these rights.

The World Copyright Treaty.

It is a sub-convention of the Berne Convention that deals with the protection of works in the digital world. They are granted three economic rights in addition to the rights recognized by the Berne Convention of 1885, namely, the right to distribution, the right to the rental, and the right to public communication. It ensures that any work created in the digital world is protected for at least 50 years. The treaty also deals with two subject matters that shall be protected by Copyright and they are Computer Programs, Compilation of data or material (databases).

WIPO Phonogram Performance Treaty of 1996

This treaty addresses two types of beneficiaries in the digital world: first, artists such as actors, singers, and musicians, and second, phonogram manufacturers. It also establishes the commercial rights of distribution, rental, and contact with the public by performers, as well as the economic rights of replication, distribution, rental, and making available by phonogram manufacturers. The treaty guarantees performers and producers of phonograms protection for at least 50 years.

Copyright in the Digital Age, with a Special Focus on India

The Copyright Act of 1957 protects copyright in India. Since then, various adjustments have been made to suit the evolving demands of society and to ensure that the producers of the work are protected. The act’s primary goal is to safeguard the creators’ and copyright owners’ works from unauthorized exploitation. The Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012, which is believed to be more significant, was recently enacted. The major goal of this legislation was to bring the act into compliance with the World Copyright Treaty of 1996 and the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Performance and Phonogram Treaty of 1996. The Copyright Amendment Act of 2012 expanded the provisions for copyright protection in the realm of digitalization. It also included rules for imposing sanctions on infringers, management information rights, and online liability.

It also aimed to ensure that royalties were distributed fairly among the work’s creators and owners. The law also aimed to make certain acts exceptions, i.e., certain acts will not be considered infringement. Section 52 of the act establishes a list of acts that fall within the doctrine of fair use. This clause is in accordance with the Berne Convention of 1885 and the TRIPS Agreement of 1995. In the digital age, the Indian judiciary has also played a critical role in preserving the rights of copyright owners.


Even though digitization has provided creators with more options to successfully display their work and creations, it has also generated worries about violation of owners’ rights. However, despite various attempts at both the international and national levels to remove impediments and assure the protection of copyrights in the digital domain, there is still much work to be done. At the national level, public awareness must be raised, enforcement agents must be trained, and adequate measures to avoid infringement must be developed. At the international level, it is necessary to ensure that the terms and principles codified in international treaties and conventions are followed in order to maintain effective copyright management in the digital age.