Copyright infringement is a serious concern in academia as well as various professions and industries. While copyright laws exist to help protect the intellectual property of individuals and organizations around the law, the penalties for copyright infringement are not always strict enough to deter those who may steal the work and ideas of others. As such, copyright infringement penalties must be more severe to assist in detering acts of copyright infringement and also to seek justice for those whose intellectual property has been threatened.
Copyright infringement penalties should be more severe to help deter infringement and encourage individuals to take precaution to ensure that they do not accidentally plagiarize when quoting or paraphrasing sources. Many individuals do not realize what can be considered as breaking copyright law. For example, a student may paraphrase material from a paper he or she finds online without citing the materials. While the student has not directly copied the materials, the act of paraphrasing without proper citation and/or permission is considered an act of copyright infringement. Stricter penalties would encourage individuals to take copyright law more seriously, educating themselves on what could be considered infringement. Additionally, universities and other learning institutions may take greater measures to educate individuals about copyright law in order to present a wider understanding among the general public.
Another reason to support higher copyright infringement penalties is to seek justice for those whose materials and intellectual property are being stolen at an alarming rate. A prime example is the entertainment industry which suffers a significant loss due to copyright infringement in the form of piracy. As an article on the website Law on the Web explains:
It is vital within media organizations to preserve the creative and original work of their employees, not only for the organization’s or individual’s future profit, but for the individual creator to be reassured and satisfied that their work will not be copied or used for any derogatory purposes (“Copyright Infringement”, n.d.).
For this reason, both within the media entertainment industry as well as within academia, strict copyright infringement laws and punishments are essential to seek justice for the individuals and organizations which can be impacted by copyright infringement.
Those who do not support stricter punishments for have several arguments against more severe penalties for those who ignore copyright law. One such argument is that for the most part, copyright infringement is not detrimental to individuals. This is not true, however, as copyright infringement can severely impact an individual who has had his or her work stolen. For example, piracy in the music industry impacts sales of records and can hurt a musician who already has to split all income between band members, managers, record labels, etc. This example alone proves that copyright infringement can in fact be damaging. Addressing the severity of copyright infringement crimes, the act of infringement “often referred to by its victims as theft” (“Copyright Infringement”, n.d.). Because the law would not be lenient with those who steal physical items such as cars, televisions, and other material items, the law should also not be lenient with those who steal intellectual property or pirate media items.
Despite the arguments against stricter punishments for those who break copyright laws, the benefits of more severe punishment could assist in protecting intellectual property across academia and various industries where piracy and plagiarism is a serious concern. In making the punishments for copyright infringement more severe, it will encourage individuals to take copyright law seriously, educate themselves on how to keep themselves from breaking these laws, and will also protect individuals and organizations from having their materials stolen or misused.