The Online Innovation Process of Copyright: How Does it Work in the Internet Era?

"What Is a Copyright?". By FindLaw, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
"What Is a Copyright?". By FindLaw, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The modern copyright has become the most effective way to protect the rights of creators. Since the first copyright law ‘The Statute of Anne’ was promulgated in 1710, today’s copyright protection has expanded from paper to internet media information and become an essential part of Internet information protection. Because of copyright, media intermediary companies can promote the values they support, and media audiences can create in a more protected online environment. However, governments of various countries have encountered authority challenges due to their difficulty in controlling uniform standards. Personally, copyright in the network environment can bring benefits to students’ creations. At the same time, because of the high cost of overmuch copyright information, it also brings adverse effects to individuals. Copyright innovation is indispensable for network information.

History and development

The World Intellectual Property Organization (2016, p. 4) explains copyright as:

“the act of copying an original work which, in respect of literary and artistic creations, may be done only by the author or with the author’s permission.”

It can be explained as the exclusive right granted to the creator of the original work. In history, ‘The Statute of Anne’ in 1710, which is the first law of protecting copyright, is being seen as a historical improvement for copyright development. This law promoted the attribution of copies of printed books to the authors or purchasers (Bracha, 2010, p. 1428). However, the Statute of Anne only protects personal rights of copying books, which is just a small area in the scope of coverage.

“The Stationers’ Company Mark”. By Stationers’ Company, CC0

In order to include multicultural copyrights in the scope of legal protection, United States released copyright law named The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), to standardize the copyrights of online media contents at 1998, It not only defines the technology of controlling access to copyrighted works as a crime but also increases the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet (Wilbur, 2000). The revision of the DMCA enabled copyright to be indeed promoted in the Internet field, and people began to learn about the source of media information and the scope of use. As more and more people pay attention to copyright awareness, some experts claim that copyright owners use these tools to strengthen control rather than to promote dissemination (Ginsburg, 2000). Therefore, DMCA is continuously revised to protect media audiences’ legal rights based on the latest internet environment.

Figure 1: The implement of #MusicModernizationAct. Rep Doug Collins. Source: Twitter

The current copyright regulations not only protect diverse rights and interests such as translation and derivative works but also cover music, photos, paintings, etc.. For example, the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, or Music Modernization Act or MMA, has been released in 2018 by the United States. The MMA adds the music and recordings of digital services in the scope of legal protection due to modern consumers’ preferences and technological developments in the music market (Deahl, 2018).

Figure 2: U.S. Copyright Office ‘Copyright on the Internet’ Source: U.S. Copyright Office (standard YouTube license)

Who gets benefits and who gets issues?

Nowadays, the copyright of communication media is continually updating and improving regulations as it gets close attention from media users. Also, new copyright laws are frequently being formulated to ensure that new media content can be protected. Therefore, copyright has become part of historical trends in internet information.

In a social and economic sense, media platforms companies get the positive effect by setting specific copyright regulations to protecting their own profit. In the Internet era, media companies have built information platforms for users’ daily activities. To a large extent, the laws of democratic countries allow online media to formulate and enforce their own rules, which also includes media copyright rules (Suzor, 2019, p. 113). When media companies have the rights, they can formulate their own copyright regulations to make their media content unique and unable to be viewed or used on other platforms. Unique media content will make users dependent and generate customer stickiness, which will increase the number of users. Take Netflix as an example: Netflix purchases the exclusive rights of many movies and TV series worldwide, which means that users can only watch the information through this website (“How Does Netflix License TV Shows and Movies?” n.d.). Netflix’s copyright protection regulations have effectively prevented the loss of customers, and the number of users has increased year by year (statista, 2020). Therefore, copyright in the internet landscape brings media companies to have more opportunities to protect individual rights and earn money.

Figure 3: Number of Netflix paid subscribers worldwide from 3rd quarter 2011 to 2nd quarter 2020 (in millions). Source: (statista, 2020)

However, most of the country governments received negative impact by inefficiently controlling the copyrights from media industries under globalization. Nowadays, the state is considered as a role in society, which needs to compete and cooperate with other institutions to achieve its regulatory goals (Suzor, 2019, p.110). The media platform has the right to formulate copyright rules. They manage through the social norms they encourage and directly issue copyright statements (Tan, 2018, p. 33). Moreover, many Internet providers can choose their business structure and whose laws they need to comply with. Losing control of internet copyright may increase negative pieces of information and threaten national information security. Although the concept of “digital constitutionalism” has been put forward in recent years, it has formulated new guiding principles to apply to many different actors in a unique way of managing the Internet in different ways (Suzor, 2019, p. 112). However, due to the complex international network environment, the methods of managing network copyright in various countries still need to be continuously strengthened. Therefore, the copyright regulations in the Internet age make it difficult for governments to control media information.

Individual Effects

In the academic field, university education now focuses on cultivating students’ copyright awareness, which significantly improves the professional level of personal academic writing. Many universities will set up a compulsory foundation course for copyright regulations to popularize and promote it among students. The ‘LIBR1000′ course offered by the University of Sydney is a good example: it requires students to study for academic copyright and complete quiz, and only after reaching the pass rate can they continue studying in other subjects. Learning relevant pieces of knowledge not only emphasizes the importance of copyright and allows students to avoid infringement in the paper; it also enhances personal proficiency in the use of professional resources. In this way, students can avoid law disputes caused by high similarity rate or misappropriation of academic research results of others. Therefore, copyright education can greatly helps students’ university studying.

Figure 4: the module outline of LIBR1000 by USYD 

However, the excessive number of paid copyrights in society has led to an increase in students’ expenditures for purchasing genuine information, which has brought an economic burden to individuals. In the multimedia age, a lot of information needs to be paid for the copyright. Media companies in particular set prices on popular music, films and articles to stimulate consumers to purchase and increase income. For example, many information media platforms today have set up “paid-up “members services, such as Youtube Premiere and Netflix Member Subscribe. Only by purchasing these services can you use the media content protected by the website copyright. For students, even if there are subscription items that bring discounts to students, such expenditures have become a burden in life. Besides, although media copyrights on the Internet are sometimes confused, and there are situations where piracy and genuine copies exist at the same time, students also choose to pay because of high media literacy (Hobbs, Jaszi, & Aufderheide, 2007). Therefore, too much copyright will also be negative to students’ financial expenditure.


From the perspective of the history of copyright development, the awareness of copyright on the Internet is continuously strengthening, and copyright will also become an essential topic of media audiences’ attention in the future. Although copyright rules can be formulated on their own to bring many benefits to media intermediary companies, the problem of unfavourable information management and control by global governments needs to be resolved to protect users’ information security. For students, academic copyright makes university study more professional, and the problem of expensive copyright in daily life needs to be solved. All in all, the development of copyright has become part of the trends in the era of digital media and it is getting better.


Ziqi Tang
About Ziqi Tang 5 Articles
Year2 student major in Digital Culture Music, live house and band addicted Have a 5 month Sphinx called "Maotai"