With the emergence of digital technology and the internet, it has become easier than ever to make exact copies of data or use other peoples work in your own work. This might involve copying files, images, games, music and videos; it might involve using well known songs in videos you make; it might involve using images you find on the web in your own work. For all of this there are legal issues you must consider.
- Is it fair to give a copy of an MP3 to a friend when they haven't paid for it?
- Will piracy kill the film and music industries?
- Is taking images off the internet fair use, shouldn't we reward people for their work?
- If I bought something on one format (e.g. tape), shouldn't I automatically have access to it in other formats for free?
- Does Piracy actually aid some forms of media, as it increases the audience reach of that artist, making it more likely for them to buy it officially?
A way that companies try to control the use of media and programs is through the use of digital rights management systems. These systems may do the following:
- Prevent playback on 'unauthorised' devices, using encryption keys
- Use a database of approved devices
- Prevent copying of files in some media managers (such as iTunes)