IPR in the digital world

IPR in the digital world

Intellectual property rights provide the cornerstone upon which innovation and creativity is encouraged and consumer trust fortified. But the digital world poses new obstacles — how to synchronize between “free” access to information and content which is considered by many to be a right when the cost of copying of such content is practically zero and enforcement of existing laws is difficult. This paper deals with the conflict in the insecurity in the digital world, protection of intellectual property and the threats to it in light of lenient legislation regulating the intellectual property rights and the digital world. The rapid growth of the digital economy has created global markets for content and rights holders. But it also creates a threat that – without adequate controls – infringement of intellectual property rights will damage the creative industries. Technology and the law are dynamic and ever-changing, but don’t always strike a balance. Given the digital world’s exponential progress, IT laws and regulations, including IPR law, need to be frequently adapted in order to make best possible use of modern digital technology. The evolution of IPR is no trifling matter for society and some even believe that IPR laws are as important for the emergent information society as the labor laws had been for the budding industrial society of the 19th century. The advancement in the technological world has always influenced the nature and outline of the laws governing the intellectual property rights. While society has evolved from an industrial to an information age over the last hundred years, we’re now operating in a Digital world where technological innovations and intellectual property reign supreme. This fast moving digital environment–including web, mobile and social media–requires a proactive stance on developing and protecting digital innovations as the global marketplace becomes even more competitive and organizations as well as individual creators and authors run the risk of losing critical innovations and information as others move quickly to steal ideas if the opportunity exists. Today, digital assets can be protected by utility patents, design patents, copyright law and trademark law. It is evident that intellectual property has become the central focus for organizations as well as individuals reaping monetary benefits and contributing to the vast world of creativity, intelligence and technology. The ever expanding cyberspace is replacing the physical world with such rapidity that existence in the digital world is equally or probably more important than that in the physical world. However, as discussed in this paper, the threats to our intellectual works on the internet are omnipresent and worrisome. The global community is striving hard to develop safeguard measures to tackle the difficulties faced by IPR owners in the digital world. Especially in case of India, the laws should focus on targeting specific issues like digital piracy, cybersquatting and data leaks etc. to have a comprehensive IP legal regime and make enforcement of such provisions effective.


With the advent of the digital environment, the access, use, duplication or modification of the original work has become really easy. Digital environment has created a platform for people for widespread cost effective distribution of the original works, posing serious threats to the interest of the creator.

Intellectual properties available on the internet are subject to these and many more such threats which result in creative distortion of works and financial losses to the owner/creator of such works.  


In simple sense, data leakage means sensitive data or information leaking out of the organization. (General term; no official definition exists) So in addition to Intellectual Property, Sensitive Data also includes, but is not limited to:

  • Personally Identifiable Information
  • Vendor Costs/Pricing
  • Health Records
  • Case Data
  • Customer Pricing
  • Strategic/Tactical Plans
  • Contracts
  • Financial Data
  • Trade Secrets


IP laws are effective only if they are properly enforced and respected. Yet, as far as information products are concerned; one observes a large-scale violation of the laws protecting them, a phenomenon known as “piracy. As piracy consists in infringing intellectual property laws, it is important to start by understanding what act constitutes piracy. That allows us to define more precisely what is meant by piracy.


Domain name is an address of a website that is intended to help web users easily find a person or business or organization, online. Almost all businesses today have a domain name registered and involve in promoting the same amongst its customers. Hence, domain names often end up becoming a brand in itself and must be trademarked to prevent misuse. One problem faced by many online businesses with popular domain names is Cybersquatting. Cybersquatting is an offence related to the registration of a domain name by an entity that does not have an inherent right or identical trademark registration in its favor.


Copyrighted material serves to protect against plagiarism. Plagiarism involves the intentional act of stealing another person’s writing, lyrics, conversation, or idea and then taking credit for the work. The act of plagiarizing material does not become an issue until it breaches a copyright that protects the intellectual property rights of the individual who created the original work. Plagiarism can involve stealing information from web pages, television shows, email messages, articles, artwork, interviews, books, lyrics, and magazine excerpts. When somebody takes information from another person’s work, it becomes necessary to indicate the source to avoid violating copyright provisions. Plagiarism does not strictly limit itself to copying information word-for-word. In fact, plagiarism engulfs the act of summarizing, paraphrasing, or taking words from an original work without adding a proper citation. Proper citation requires the inclusion of an internal citation within a body of text that snatches information from another source


The above mentioned threats have caused serious worries in the minds of creators and organizations as well as have put pressure on governments and international agencies to combat these hazards to IP and safeguard the interest of creators/owners/organizations.

The most effective and comprehensive safeguards to protect IP are the techniques which are covered under the head of Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Digital rights management (DRM) is a systematic approach to copyright protection for digital media. The purpose of DRM is to prevent unauthorized redistribution of digital media and restrict the ways consumers can copy content they’ve purchased. DRM products were developed in response to the rapid increase in online piracy of commercially marketed material, which proliferated through the widespread use of peer-to-peer file exchange programs. Typically DRM is implemented by embedding code that prevents copying, specifies a time period in which the content can be accessed or limits the number of devices the media can be installed on.

Access Control and Copy Control

Access and copy control software enables the creator to keep a check on the free and illegal exploitation of their work. These techniques ensure that only who pay, must enjoy a right over the product.

Encryption Schemes

Encryption Schemes allow creators to prevent any unauthorized access to their original work. Encryption of content is a way to determine the authorized user in the digital environment. Encryption involves digital scrambling of the bits that make up content to prevent the content from being seen clearly until it is decrypted. Only authorized users have the keys to decrypt the work.

Digital Watermarks

Digital Watermarks are the best techniques that help authors to trace the source of a work and any unauthorised duplication or distribution of their original work. The unique watermark embedded in the original work can link the use to the original work and any unauthorised copying or use can be traced.


It is evident that intellectual property has become the central focus for organizations as well as individuals reaping monetary benefits and contributing to the vast world of creativity, intelligence and technology. The ever expanding cyberspace is replacing the physical world with such rapidity that existence in the digital world is equally or probably more important than that in the physical world

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