Digital age a challenge to copyright

The digital age is creating challenges for the future of local Copyright Law.

Kevin Hunte
Kevin Hunte

Deputy Registrar of the Corporate Affairs Intellectual Property Office, Kevin Hunte, told an audience this week at a lecture on “Copyright and the Internet” that there were international treaties which Barbados has signed years ago, which would only be passed into law next year.

He said one of the challenges with keeping up with technological advances and the Internet was that by the time laws were enacted, the technology had moved well ahead, creating challenges.

“There are two Internet treaties now that have been developed for some time, one called the World Copyright Treaty and the World Photograph and Photography Treaty of which Barbados is signatory to both. That is going to filter down into our law by next year, but we signed these at least four or five years ago. Technology has since moved past that.

“[Y]ou have to make laws and you have to have the treaties, but by the time you sign the treaties and by the time it is filtered down into local law, the technology has moved on.

“I am here to submit that it is going to be very difficult to really keep up in this environment. So the challenge that we have can only be realistically met by educating all as to the importance of respecting all rights, the economic rights and the moral rights,” he said during the lecture in the National Library in opposite Independence Square, the City.

He noted that being party to treaties was crucial, and those in the field could only fight through knowledge.

“If rights holders would even value their work even more and lobby for value to be placed on their work then we can come to a position where we can demand of abusers that respect for our work be given,” he stated.

Serious challenges

“So we need to educate – start as young as primary school and work right up to the community at large, but copyright law will face serious challenges in the light of new technologies.”

Hunte pointed out that there were several providers of e-books and music, legally purchased online, where the customer was not allowed to copy the works.

There were other laws here and abroad he added, that prohibited the wholesale copying of entire works, and he told the Library Service, whose director indicated they were considering the move towards multimedia facilities for patrons, to look at what software was available to protect the intellectual property of the authors, or producers of the works they wish to offer in digital format.

The deputy registrar said too that there were jurisdictions as well where a special licence was given to consumers to download works but not for commercial purposes.

It was one of the areas he said that Barbados would have to examine the pros and cons to moving towards that kind of legislation. (LB)

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