5 Challenges for Global Copyright

Star Wars vs Battlestar Galactica. Apple vs Microsoft. Dyson vs Hoover. What do these six household names have in common? They’ve all gone to court over copyright.

While these high-profile cases make copyright infringement sound almost glamorous, it’s anything but. The reality is more likely to involve copyrighted content displayed as part of a presentation or emailed to a group of stakeholders. And those actions can prove costly to a business.

81% of the employees share content with their immediate colleagues every week, a recent study from Outsell Research, Inc. shows.

Our global workplace

As it becomes more common for businesses to have several offices globally, those offices are likely to be sharing more information around the world.

Per a study by Outsell, 81% of the employees surveyed share content with their immediate colleagues weekly. In the same survey, 75% stated that they regularly receive content from colleagues each week. Fewer than half of these employees were aware their company had a copyright policy in place. Figures like these highlight the size of the challenge that businesses face.

The simplicity of sharing content

So how is so much information being shared? Topping the list is email; 87% of respondents cited this as their main method of distributing information among colleagues, and internal websites, databases and downloading online information were featured as well. Almost half paste online content directly into emails, and more than a third distribute content in printouts and photocopies.

Research by Jinfo (formerly FreePint) further emphasizes the problem. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed believe they are free to share and receive web content. It is the simplicity of sharing content that makes copyright so challenging.

Fundamental copyright considerations

Sharing materials globally is part and parcel of daily working life for many of us, but what are the main considerations?

There is no international copyright law. Instead, there are international treaties, national copyright laws, licenses or subscriptions held by the content owner, and company copyright policies. Alone, each of these areas can be complicated; interactions of one area with one or more of the others raises complexity to another level.

Related: Assess your organization’s copyright risk.

Common content challenges

Content use is difficult to manage within any organization. The key is to understand what challenges you face as a business owner or senior business manager, such as:

1. Information overload. Having so many entry points for information makes it impossible to monitor the content use of every single employee.
2. Invisible sharing. Technology makes it easy to share content at the click of a button. Much content is shared not just without permission, but silently, out of sight of compliance teams.
3. Multiple locations. The more employees are spread across the country or across the globe, the harder it is to keep track of content usage.
4. Lack of awareness. Many employees assume that online content is free to share and that subscriptions can be forwarded. Others are unsure about how to get permission.
5. No fixed rules. When it comes to copyright, one size never fits all. To add to the confusion, copyright varies from country to country.

More needs to be done to raise awareness and provide the tools and training to protect businesses from inadvertently violating others’ copyright rights.

To learn more about the challenges your business faces and how to overcome them, check out our copyright licensing solutions. 

Author: Stephen Garfield

Stephen Garfield joined CCC in 2005 and is the director of corporate account management. Stephen is responsible for the annual renewal of corporate licensing solutions, which today generate just over $150 million, as well as overseeing a strategic account management plan designed to help companies educate their employees on copyright law. 
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