The emergence of digital media has made it easy for content creators to distribute their works globally, giving them access to international markets (David, M., & Kirkhope, J. 2004), which has brought income to creators and made it easier for people to collect knowledge, but the emergence of digital media has also made it easier to reproduce and distribute content. Unauthorized reproduction and sharing of digital content are common problems. Digital content is a common problem, which makes copyright protection difficult. But in fact, the advent of digital media has facilitated the development of the copyright protection.
The emergence of digital media has created new avenues to defend rights. Because of the popularity and influence of celebrities, they have played a role in publicizing and raising awareness of their rights and the ownership of their works and awakening people’s understanding of copyright.
Taylor Swift signed with Republic Records in November 2018 after her contract with Big Machine Records expired. Still, in June 2019, Scooter Braun purchased Big Machine Records, which includes Swift’s first six studio albums’ master tapes, music videos and artwork. Taylor Swift wanted to regain her rights, but Big Machine Records didn’t go her way. Not only did Big Machine prevent Taylor Swift from using her music at the 2019 American Music Awards and in her documentary Miss America (2020), but Big Machine also released her unreleased work without Swift’s consent. Since then, Taylor Swift has announced her intention to re-record her first six albums to gain full ownership of the new recordings. In October 2020, Scooter Braun sold the masters to Shamrock Holdings for $405 million on the condition that he would continue to profit from them. Swift voiced her displeasure and rejected the partnership offer. The success of this defence was not only due to Taylor Swift’s high level of artistry but also because, during the reason, Taylor Swift made good use of her ultra-high popularity and large fan base. （Wikipedia，2023）
After the emergence of digital media, the pressure of public opinion can no longer be ignored, and the emergence of digital platforms provides a more convenient channel to defend rights so that celebrities can use their influence to protect them. Digital media have played a perfect role in publicity, triggering people to think about the ownership of their own works and awakening people’s awareness of rights protection. Digital platforms provide a very convenient channel for people to obtain information. Some people who know the law can teach other people about the law on digital media, such as popularizing the relevant laws on YouTube, to raise people’s awareness of the law so that people will know how to quickly and effectively protect their own copyrights, and how to effectively counterattack to increase the success rate of rights defense when their copyrights are infringed upon.
The advent of digital media has also made it possible to protect the rights of less visible creators better. It provides a fast and efficient platform for creators to form organizations, like “unions,” based on their field of study. These “unions” are actually of great help to tiny creators. They are essentially a way of binding together the interests of many weak individuals with a collective interest that cannot be easily violated. The management of the “unions” may be professionals who are influential in the field or have knowledge of how to defend their rights. It is their responsibility to help creators, their “employees”, defend their rights when they are violated. This is the same as a union in general – they can solve problems for employees by advocating for them and acting as a negotiator in negotiations (campaigns) when their rights are violated（Fair Work Ombudsman，2022)
For example, suppose a tiny, unknown creator has a rights crisis, and his work has been plagiarized or stolen. In that case, there is a great deal of uncertainty that he will be able to generate effective advocacy on his own because he will not be able to get the attention of the community and the copyright authorities. No one will care about him as a small person. This results in the thief being even more daring. However, suppose he joins a labour union in the way described above. In that case, the “union” will represent him in his defence and file a complaint against the thief according to the “union’s” accountability system. The “union” has more public visibility and attention than an individual. This means that it is easier for them to do so. The public pressure and watch it generates can be fatal to the thief and the copyright authorities.
It can be concluded that “labour unions” greatly help protect the rights of non-famous creators. Digital media, because of its accessibility, efficiency, and breadth, has significantly contributed to the establishment and operation of “unions”. Therefore, digital media have played a positive role in protecting the rights of non-famous creators.
In short, digital media has ushered in a new era for content creators, both celebrities and non-celebrities, regarding global distribution and copyright protection. While digital media has made it easier to distribute content globally and access international markets, it has also brought unauthorized copying and sharing challenges. In fact, these challenges have facilitated the development of copyright protection mechanisms.
For celebrities like Taylor Swift, digital media has become a powerful tool for defending their rights. Their popularity and influence enable them to mobilize public opinion, make people aware of the importance of individual copyrights and awaken public awareness of their rights. Taylor Swift’s successful defence of her rights shows how artists like her can use their large fan base and digital media to protect their creative works.
In the realm of non-celebrity creators, digital media has paved the way for better rights protection. It has facilitated the formation of “coalitions”. These “coalitions” are essential defenders of small-scale creators, and the practice of joining a coalition brings together the interests of individuals and groups to work together to defend their rights, with the professional guidance and powerful tools of an organization that can be effective in resolving issues and acting as a negotiator in cases of rights violations. By utilizing digital platforms, these “coalitions” gain visibility and public influence that can significantly impact infringers and copyright.
Essentially, digital media plays a crucial role in protecting intellectual property rights. It enables famous and non-celebrity creators to access resources, gain support and raise awareness of copyright issues. Despite the challenges that digital media may present, it undeniably strengthens the foundation of modern copyright protection, making it more efficient for all creators to assert their individual copyrights.
- David, M., & Kirkhope, J. (2004). New Digital Technologies: Privacy/Property, Globalization, and Law. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 3(4), 437-449. https://doi.org/10.1163/1569150042728884
- Taylor Swift masters dispute. (2023, October 7). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Swift_masters_dispute#Dispute
- Lawyer Explains Why Taylor Swift is Re-Recording All Her Old Albums & Other T Swift Lawsuits. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved October 10, 2023, from https://youtu.be/AyjC6IKVcVs
Common copyright infringement defenses. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved October 10, 2023, from https://youtu.be/_VwRmHz66Bg
- Copyright Protection: What Can Be Protected and What Cannot be Protected. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved October 10, 2023, from https://youtu.be/GksQzsxGxYk
Fair Work Ombudsman . (2022). The role of unions – Fair Work Ombudsman. Fairwork.gov.au. https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employment-conditions/the-role-of-unions