In 2006, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), together with other related groups, launched a Digital Freedom campaign to promote fair use rights which would benefit the consumers. It started a heated debate about digital freedom and what exactly fair use entails.
Fair use is intended mainly to promote comments, reporting, education, and research and is subject to the amount of work re-used or referenced.
Critics of the CEA have mentioned that the CEA simply uses digital freedom as an excuse to use the works of others freely without compensating them for their work. The authors and creators of the works are dependent on the royalties gained from the selling of their works.
Although a fair amount can be used for research and education, one must remember that many of the authors and creators produce works specifically aimed at the academic sector.
If it becomes allowable to copy digital works freely, the creators will have no incentive for creating more works as they will have no compensation and acknowledgement.
Unauthorized downloading of software, music and videos has caused severe financial losses for companies. As such one has to carefully consider where the line should be drawn for digital freedom as to ensure that the creators still get their incomes due.
Musicians, songwriters, and artists are heavily dependent on exposure and as such will allow some form of free download, but full versions for instance, should not be allowed according to the parties opposing digital freedom.
Interests must thus be balanced ensuring fairness for all parties concerned if one is to create a working model for digital freedom. Digital rights management technologies are used by online companies to protect against misuse of digital freedom.
Contact us at Smit & Van Wyk for legal guidance and litigation assistance regarding digital freedom related issues.
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