Digital Technologies – Digital Culture
Nordic Journal of Commercial Law, No. 1, 2010
26 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2011 Last revised: 30 Oct 2012
Date Written: May 19, 2010
The evolution of an entirely new digital culture is apparent. Intellectual creative activity has become something of a norm in our everyday lives. It would appear that besides the traditional copyright paradigm a new copyright conception emerges, where user-generated content earns great importance. Due to the mass creation of works of literature, musical and audiovisual works, and photographs the respect of copyright law and intellectual creativity has partially disappeared. The young digital generations – by lack of a better example – may feel that easier, faster and cheaper accessible materials do not have any monetary value. However, digital technology heavily affects intellectual creative activity. The spread of digital technologies have had at least two important consequences: first, intellectual creations may be copied and changed without limitation and without changing the quality. Second, due to the evolution of digital networks the distribution of, access to, and the forming of an opinion on accessible works has changed too: it has become easier, faster and more effective – both in time and in place. The traditional forms of human communication have been generally changed as well. Nowadays, people cannot imagine their life without digital technologies. Social networking sites, chat rooms, blogs, podcasts, e-newspapers, or streaming of TV or radio programs are great examples. Naturally, it is hard to determine, if a use is either right or wrong. For example, P2P filesharing services are generally used for illegal purposes, despite the fact that the technology has several positive effects. Vice versa: one example of Web 2.0, YouTube, collects millions of home videos created by “average users”. However, episodes of copyrighted TV shows or sports events are also accessible on the YouTube servers. Similarly, the Google Books Project impressively aims to preserve and provide access to millions of books in digital form. However, the original plan to execute the project raised legitimate copyright and competition law concerns, and so it sheds another light on Google. To sum up: only time will tell, whether a technological innovation or use will result in the improvement of culture or contribute to the deterioration of it. In light of the existing copyright system and the latest developments of the law of the European Union (with a special focus on the authors’ home country, Hungary) and the United States, the article tries to answer whether and how the phenomena of Web 2.0 and P2P (“peer-to-peer” filesharing), the digitization for cultural preservation, and several other special technologies affect the culture of our age. This article argues that the several different usages influence the culture in three main ways: it can improve, preserve or deteriorate the culture.
Keywords: web 2.0, peer-to-peer, P2P, European Union, Hungary, copyright law, digital copyright law, cultural preservation, digital technologies, orphan works
JEL Classification: K10, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation