Protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) from abuse is as important for companies today as is protecting computer networks from crackers. Infringement can cost millions of dollars of lost revenues to entertainment companies and computer companies alike. For this reason, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in October 1998 in the United States. This Act’s purpose was to implement global copyright laws to deal with the Intellectual Property Rights challenges caused by present-day digital technology.
In particular, the DMCA provided protections against technical measures that could be used to disable or bypass the encryption devices used to protect copyright, thereby encouraging authors of copyrighted material to place their work on the Internet in a digitalized presentation. The DMCA penalties were to be applied to any individual who attempted to or was successful in disabling an encryption device that protected copyrighted material. Stated simply, Intellectual Property infringement is theft—the taking of something that does not belong to the perpetrator of the encryption bypass and thereby depriving the true copyright owners of royalties for the sale of their human mind products.
Reports of a case of IPR infringement surfaced on May 22, 2005. Counterfeiters in Beijing, China, were selling illegally copied DVDs of the Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith movie just days after the film opened in theaters in North America. The price charged for the pirated movies, sold from vendors wearing shoulder bags on the streets of Beijing, was a mere $3.05. The street sales occurred despite numerous Chinese government promises to clamp down on the thriving black market industry that movie companies have argued cost them billions of dollars in lost revenue yearly. About 9,000 cases of piracy were brought to court in China in 2004.
Associated Press. Entertainment: Counterfeiters Move Fast On Illegal Star Wars DVD. The Globe and Mail, May 23, 2005, p. B7; Schell, B.H. and Martin, C. Contemporary World Issues Series: Cybercrime: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004.