What are the legal issues of digital property?

Needless to say, it is very complicated. I think the main problem is that the legal system is very black and white. It is hard to apply regular laws that protect rights to an online world where it seems very grey. John Barlow (1996) who wrote, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” suggests that our regular laws should not apply to cyberspace. I like his idea of an online self-governing community where we all live by the golden rule. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic.

There is a Digital Consumer Bill of Rights  that acts much like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United States Bill of Rights or the Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens in People’s Republic of China etc. Since every country has their own interpretation of a bill of rights, it’s difficult to apply one across every nation.

The Copyright Act of Canada protects original content by artists, writers and actors. Once a works is produced, it is automatically protected for the life of the producer and 50 years after death. Facts and ideas cannot be copyrighted. Fair dealing in Canada notes exceptions for when copying is allowed like in education, research or journalism.

Lawrence Lessig is one of the founding members of Creative Commons which is an organization that allows artists, writers, photographers, musicians etc. to share their work with others according to the restrictions that they choose to apply. This is a free service that allows the general public to easily reproduce, remix, rip, and burn work that is not their own.  Organizations like Creative Commons give people a way to maintain responsible citizenship online by legally using other’s creations to produce something new.


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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cysS2nFOc08

Copyright Act of Canada. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Act_of_Canada

IEEE Standards Association. Retrieved from: http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1817/

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