Multimedia Copyright Issues In The USA

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Misconceptions and conspiracies surround the concept of copyright concerning multimedia. The emergence of multimedia over the Internet in the digital age has complicated copyright issues. In previous decades, multimedia involved basic forms of creative works combining texts or songs. Producers and performers often copyrighted their text and music to protect their work and earn rightfully. Today, multimedia applications are available on YouTube, Facebook, and myriad websites that people can access effortlessly using digital devices such as phones and computers. The average internet user shares books, songs, and photographs across websites without much thought about copyright issues. Even so, there is increased awareness concerning copyright issues. As multimedia platforms continue to emerge in the digital age, there is increased awareness concerning copyright issues to ensure that creators, distributors, and consumers benefit.

Copyright law emerged centuries ago in the US. In the 1700s, the Statute of Anne formed a basis for the US copyright to offer authors and investors exclusive rights to their creations (Herlihy & Zhang, 2016). In subsequent centuries, the Berne Convention and The Sherman Act are examples of regulations introduced policies that governed the use of multimedia. Notably, consumers and the law were the driving forces for copyright issues at that time. The twentieth century saw technological advancements that inadvertently introduced technology as a determining factor concerning copyright issues (Reddy & Aswath, 2016). The Internet and player piano are examples of technological advancements that necessitated the introduction of concepts such as royalties and reproduction of work. Subsequent advancements in the digital age forced persuaded greater enforcement of multimedia copyright.

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Although multimedia copyright issues began decades ago, they became profound in the early 2000s. The turn of the century saw the introduction of digital platforms and an increased desire by the public to consume digital media (Hergueux & Jemielniak, 2019). Peer-to-peer file sharing technologies became more popular because people could share multimedia at the click of a button. The technological shock called for an increased need for copyright protection for creative works to ensure that producers of multimedia benefited fully from their productions. Beforehand, people made copies of compact discs containing songs or photocopied books and novels, which was often in small scale. As technology, evolved, digital media allowed people to share multimedia and engage in piracy rampantly (Reddy & Aswath, 2016). Recently, Netflix and Spotify are digital platforms that facilitate a sustainable business model that allows creators and distributors to benefit from their content and fight piracy.

Unlike in previous decades, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of copyright issues. Countries such as Canada and Sweden, and regions such as the US and UK have strengthened copyright and intellectual protections for multimedia (Hergueux & Jemielniak, 2019). Lawmakers constantly make additions to their constitutions concerning copyright issues and make publications. Resultantly, consumers now understand concepts such as fair use, ownership, and intellectual rights. Even so, cultural traditions and geographical differences introduce dissimilarities concerning market forces and laws. For instance, laws governing copyright in China are different from those in the US (Herlihy & Zhang, 2016). Ethical and legal issues often emerge concerning sharing multimedia without proper consideration of copyright because of the implementation of different laws on the same multimedia. For example, a video produced in the US might endure different copyright laws from those in China. Concerted government efforts are necessary to ensure consumers gain greater awareness about copyright.

Overall, multimedia copyright issues have evolved considerably over the centuries. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of laws governing copyright. In a similar vein, creators and distributors have benefited from policies that protect their creations in the digital age. Market forces and laws initially governed copyright issues. Even so, technology introduced the digital age, which meant that people accessed multimedia through various platforms that made piracy easy. Fortunately, lawmakers continue to introduce laws that ensure everyone complies with copyright.


  1. Hergueux, J. & Jemielniak, D. (2019). Should Digital Files Be Considered A Commons? Copyright Infringement in the Eyes of Lawyers. The Information Society, 35:4, 198-215. DOI: 10.1080/01972243.2019.1616019
  2. Herlihy, D., & Zhang, Y. (2016). Music Industry and Copyright Protection in the United States and China. Global Media and China, 1(4), 390–400. DOI: 10.1177/2059436417698061
  3. Reddy, A. & Aswath, L. (2016). Understanding Copyright Laws: Infringement, Protection and Exceptions. International Journal of Research in Library Science, 2, 2455-104X.


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