In the 10th day of this January, a serious data leakage occurred ? That is, the HD version of Disney’s newly released animation, <Frozen> has spread all around the world via countless illegal file-sharing sites. To maneuver this unexpected turmoil, Walt Disney officially announced that
they would request heavy punishments to the people who uploaded or downloaded the files for the sake of guarding the rights of the company’s intellectual property. Likewise, the controversial issues related to the copyright law have always happen around us. In other words, the problems related to the copyrights have been dealt by people with different occupations, and the concept of a copyright violation is definitely not new to the general public. However, still many people have the puzzled look on their face when they hear the term.
The reason people apt to feel familiar to the concept of a copyright violation yet do not precisely know about it is because it is hard to determine which case hampers the rights of the original work by only seeing the copyright law. According to the Korean copyright law enforced by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, copyright violation refers to the acts of duplicating other person’s creations, excluding the case of using other person’s intellectual properties for public welfare, such as reporting, reviewing, researching and education. When applied this law in reality, it is hard to determine whether the case should be considered as legal or not. For instance, what if children
draw their favorite superhero characters and show them to their friends? What if someone does a costume play for a Disney princess? What if someone make a spoof of a certain movie and eventually bring more fame to the movie? It could be considered as an infringement of copyright when considering the law, but question lingers if these examples listed above truly cause harm to the original creator’s rights.
This vagueness of copyright law indirectly raises the problem of derivative works as well. Derivative work refers to the ‘expressive creation that includes major, copyrightprotected elements of an original, previously created first work’. Even though the rights of derivative works is individually
protected by the law, it still can be considered as illegal since it is counted as a violation of the copyrights of original work. It infers if the copyright holders have a will to punish the creator of derivative works, they can do whatever they want.
As a result, the copyright law inadvertently bestows much power to the copyright holder of the original work, thereby enabling a person or a company to covet rent-seeking behaviors. The example of the legal disputes between Apple and Samsung clearly shows this prospect. Considering the fact that the core technology of making smartphone was widely established as a common knowledge among firms, it is hard to say that the purpose of this lawsuit is to protect each
other’s intellectual rights. Rather, it can be viewed as a quarrel to make their profits bigger as possible as they can. Like this, the copyright law can be misused in a way to dominate
the profits that are derived from it.
It is evident that copyrights should be existed for the rights of the people who made their creations by consuming time and energy. However, we should not overlook the fact the copyright law ultimately exists for securing and fostering the people to produce intellectual property, not hindering them. Thus, more careful and detailed form of law would be needed to grasp the exact concept of
copyright violation with justice.
(Business Admistration, Ewha Womans University)