The rapid expansion of Internet sites, smartphones, and apps enabling media enjoyment anywhere has proven to be a blessing and curse.  While those creating content reach wider audiences digitally and leverage new formats like streaming, rampant piracy exists.  We will examine the protections and distribution of copyrighted works in the Internet age.

Digital Media Offers Creators New Frontiers

Digital channels provide tremendous opportunities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc. (collectively “Creators”). Creating blogs, albums, eBooks, podcasts, YouTube videos, and beyond is easier than ever, thanks to intuitive software and hosting options. Distribution via social media and digital storefronts allows for the creation of audiences globally.

Short songs for playlists, serialized anthologies perfect for e-readers, and streaming access across devices arise from tech advances. These utilize modern medium potential while still leveraging classic copyright protections.

Of course, Creators posting on the Internet must also understand piracy risks. While technology presents numerous options to produce and market original works, illicit usage can reduce their value if not protected.

Copyright Law Struggles Adapting to Digital Realities

United States copyright law, dating back to the late 1700s, has inherent problems when applied to modern tech. Lawmakers balance reducing piracy and promoting innovation on open platforms like YouTube and TikTok, where remixing and sharing are common. Similar tensions arise regarding music sampling, which can enhance creativity but relies on borrowing protected recordings.

Attempts to update copyright for the digital age could have been more effective amidst concerns over censorship and free speech infringements. Technologists argue attempts to limit piracy often go too far. Strict protection of authored works is difficult without damaging the creative process.

So digital copyright disputes continue, but there is little consensus on resolution. Technology is often ahead of the law, so new challenges arise before laws are finalized. Ultimately, copyright protections must balance safeguarding the Creator’s protections against new creativity.

Streaming and Downloading Raise Access vs. Payout Quandaries

Early digitization primarily focused on pirating physical media like CDs, DVDs, and print books via peer-to-peer sharing networks like the early Napster. These sites infringed IP rights. However, modern streaming and download services exist in murkier territory – often legal but still threatening compensation as consumers shift from purchasing owned copies toward cheaper on-demand subscription access models like Spotify and Netflix.

Creators must perpetually evaluate:

  • How broader distribution channels affect traditional income streams
  • What streaming royalty structures prove to be equitable
  • Whether to embrace exclusivity agreements that limit audience reach but ensure fairer pay
  • How much inconsistent global licensing dilutes regional opportunities

Creators are trying to decide if increasing total listeners and viewers is more financially rewarding than radio royalties and album sales payments, even at lower streaming rates.

Questions certainly exceed firm answers so far. There are arguments on both sides. Some artists thrive with greater exposure despite tiny per-play sums, but for other Creators, like prominent author J.K. Rowling, controlling eBook rights remains paramount to preserving millions in royalties. Individual Creators must weigh access against compensation carefully.

Publishing Online Content

Creators publishing original digital works must consider the following:

  • Adding site terms barring piracy
  • Embedding metadata protecting photographs and drawings
  • Watermarking visual media files referencing ownership
  • Monitoring comments to catch infringing links users might share

Proactively curating online environments sustains creator incentives while serving participating audiences.


Modern copyright policies should balance the tension between the ability to share content online freely and the pragmatic realities requiring compensation for Creators. But basics like registering rights and challenging evident infringement should be maintained. Creators should balance risks and opportunities across evolving digital landscapes while allowing access to original works. Healthy copyright norms still support both aims.

Contact Zale Patent Law, Inc., IP@ZALELAW.COM, 570-878-5000 to answer any of your copyright questions.

Join our newsletter

Sign up for occasional updates.

Get a personal consultation.

Call us today at 570-878-5000