File sharing: is it legal?


The entertainment industry has been fighting copyright infringers for a quite a long time now and as we know the ongoing fight went “online.”In a way, online distribution of creative works made it easier and cheaper to distribute materials but also at the same time it has the negative impact of distributing materials without permission of the authors, which may have negative economic impact on the authors (this is a matter of debate). Direct distribution of copyrighted material is illegal and thus authorities may take action against them swiftly. But, file sharing through peer to peer network is definitely a huge obstacle for the entertainment industry. Instead of buying creative content, people would anonymously download them from other people who already purchased the content, utilizing peer to peer (P2P) software.
Mongolia is a developing country, and in that respect everything is growing – from pro-piracyoperations to anti-piracy operations. The ongoing battle against online “pirates” is not doing well in Mongolia, but just like everything here it is improving. The public awareness of intellectual property and laws that govern it is still a bit fuzzy, but the Mongolian Government has already begun to take serious action against online pirates.
This battle against piracy was recently felt in Mongolia – that is, it was felt in the form of several Mongolian websites being shut down. According to the Government implementing agency CRC (which ordered the shutdown) the websites had copyright infringing materials on them that were being distributed freely. The shutdown order cites the infringement of Article 12 of Mongolian Law on Copyrighted Materials and other international copyright conventions Mongolia signed with other countries. This convention the order cites is most likely the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which Mongolia signed in 1998. It allows the work or creation of a person from one country to be applicable for copyrights in any other country that has signed Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. For example – if I were to publish a book in Mongolia it can be protected by copyright laws in other countries that have also signed the Berne Convention.
Now, directly distributing copyrighted materials through downloads (and also encouraging to do so) is a direct violation copyright laws, which the aforementioned websites all did and thus were shutdown.
But file sharing is a whole different can of worms. File sharing is 100 percent legal, but sharing copyrighted material is not – it becomes copyright infringement. The problem is that the P2P programs which enable users to share files use a method that makes a third party (authorities, for example) cannot know who is getting what from whom through the internet. Additionally, P2P programs are mostly used for legitimate purposes so it is impossible to do anything about the programs themselves.
Chad Perrin from Tech Republic puts it, “The reason copyright infringement is so difficult to prevent under traditional copyright dependent business models is quite simply that the aim of preventing such infringement involves trying to keep people from making copies of what you have already given them. Preventing theft is (relatively speaking) easy; just keep your doors locked and theft becomes an extreme rarity, because you possess something and want to stop someone else from getting it.”
Essentially, it is almost impossible to prevent file sharing, unless the authors do not distribute them at all – which is counterproductive.
In Mongolia, there are laws against copying and distributing (directly or indirectly), but just like the rest of the world, jurisdiction to “control” file sharing is not exactly perfect. Mongolian jurisdiction may have the “teeth” to combat copyrighted file distribution, but they may be a bit unprepared for file-sharing.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=2309

Posted by on Dec 27 2012. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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