What is a copyright?

What is a copyright?

Definition: Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. This is usually only for a limited time. The exclusive rights are not absolute but limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use.[1]

To sum up, copyright is the right of each author to decide what will happen with his work.

Copyrightable works include the following categories:

  • literary works
  • musical works, including any accompanying words
  • dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  • pantomimes and choreographic works
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • motion pictures and other audio-visual works
  • sound recordings
  • architectural works

It is known that in the Constitution of Romania, people are indebted to know and follow the laws and “nobody is thought to be ignorant of the law” as Aristotle says.

The activities of reproduction, distribution and commercialism of the works, without author’s consent, are known as illegal actions and they are called “Piracy

The phenomenon of piracy varies considerably by country. Independent research estimating that Spain and Brazil are the most affected markets, 45 % and 44 % of active Internet users using unlicensed services monthly. (accordingly to The Nielsen Company)

However, even in countries with relatively low levels of Service unlicensed illegal music, the volume of illegal music used, is much bigger than the volume of legal music consumption.

In UK, for example, 76% of the music obtained online in 2010, it was without license.

Researchers conducted by some institutions are showing that constantly the majority of the contain that is distributed in the networking of file-sharing, do not respect the copyright.

A study from Uppsala University in Sweden founded that sales of recorded music on a physical medium would be 72 % higher, and the digital music 131% higher in the absence of piracy.

Software piracy is a particularly important issue. According to a global study on software piracy for 2011 by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), 62% of PC users in Romania admitted that they have been using pirated softwares; some users have admitted that they are pirating softwares most of the times, while others occasionally or rarely.

Because of this, the rate of software piracy as grown to 63 % last year in Romania, and the commercial value of unlicensed software installed amounted to $ 207 million.

The damage is not only material, but also it is affecting the innovation. Software companies, not receiving the full proceeds, they cannot invest in strategies to develop a more efficient software.

Protection by means of criminal copyright is essential to support innovation and creativity, to achieve product quality and, consequently, for the development of a whole branch of the economy.

In Romania, the copyright protection, in criminal law, it is achieved through criminal proceedings, which can be used whenever the act of infringement of copyright meets all the elements submitted in the article 17, Penal Code.

Digital piracy is one of the fastest forms of cybercrime growth both in Romania and in other countries and poses a threat to the economies of all countries, damaging, however, the commercial relations by scaring investors.

For example, an illegal copy of a book is any copy obtained otherwise than by purchase.

If a book has been printed and then scanned and distributed by a person who does not own the copyrights without trace a material advantage, this book is a spoof and simple distribution is an offense.

copyright What is a copyright?

The vulnerable categories of works covered by copyright

The ability to access digital content is essential for economic progress and for the development of digital media itself.

However, digital products are very easy to copy, the quality is identical or very similar to the original product and the distribution is extremely easy in the online environment, also at a minimal cost, or for not cost.

The categories of works covered by copyright and digital piracy that are highly exposed include movies, music, TV shows, software, games, etc.

Lately, we encounter all sorts of cases in which photos posted on personal websites or social networks are taken over by other people, publications or brands and used for purposes that ultimately, have a result within commercial. Whether we admit it or not, every photo, for example, published in a report in a newspaper online turns one way or another in a win for that company and a payment equal to zero for the one who worked actually at that photo.

The most common forms which violate the copyrights are:

  1. Ad blocking:

The ads that appear on the screen when you visit a site is the source of income of that site, and the use of programs that block those ads, such Ad Block, can cause serious damage to companies online, and the user could be sued.

  1. Changing IP ‘s:

If you want to see the content of a site but is restricted to a particular country, it is best to wait until the page owner will publish content for everyone. Changing IP ‘s for such purposes is illegal.

  1. Sharing your password for accounts with paid content:

It is also illegal to share with other users, account and password to a site such as HBO, or others like that.

  1. Uploading material on social media that doesn’t belong to the user:

For example, YouTube has a rule about charging for materials that do not hold copyright. If these practices are detected, the video is deleted.

  1. Torrents are illegal:

Downloading movies and music from torrent sites is illegal if is done in order to obtain material benefits.


The duration of copyright

As we see, according to the type of work, from country to country, the duration of copyright may vary.

Although, the minimum duration of a copyright is equal to the life of the author plus 50 years.

In other countries the copyright is equal to the life of the author and then until 31 December of the year 70 years after his or her death, also named “life plus 70”.

In some countries it was not adopted a “life plus” copyright, so in some cases a specific work can still be in copyright in some countries, but out of copyright in others. These differences are made by the national laws.


Different types of rights

There are two different types of rights in the copyright laws:

  1. Moral rights
  2. Economic rights

Moral rights are those who include a copyrighted work and it is seen as an expression of the personality and humanity of its author or creator. There cannot be transferred by the creator to a third party

They include:

  • The right to be identified as the author of a work;
  • The right of integrity;
  • The right of first divulgation of the work. (making public)

In some countries, the moral rights tend to by minimize and the economic rights are see it more important (United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand).

Economic or exploitation rights are the rights of the holder to use, to authorize use of, or to prohibit the use of, a work, and to set the conditions for its use.

They include:

  • The right of reproduction
  • The right of distribution by way of tangible copies
  • The right of communication to the public
  • The right of transformation



What do you do if someone steals your work?

First thing you have to do is to track down the source and take actions. Make sure you find the right source because the stolen material can be spread via links and copies on many places and sometimes it can be confusing to find out who’s the real theft.

After you find the theft, you have to contact them and tell them that you are the owner of that material/the original source and ask them to change their link to your site with the original content.

Once you have contacted them, you wait. The response may be immediate or it may never come. While you wait, you take action.

First you gather information, by gathering information you are starting a paper trial of evidence in case you need it.


How can we use correctly a photo when it is not ours?

As we see it, the copyright of a photo it is often violate by us. There are several ways of taking photos right from one person to another person or a company.

  1. Copyright contract – a copyright contract can often come with the need for payments to the author. This is the safest method which cannot be challenged in the court. Once you got the copyrights, you can use the photo as a company without any problem, following the purpose and the conditions stated in the contract
  1. Written consent by mail – it’s a procedure that begins to be present more often. Has a legal value and is quite safe? Be careful, however, that in your or author formulation, to appear exactly written the following: the photo that will be used, where, when, how and under what conditions
  1. Using the distribution functions like – share on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, however, it is a delicate procedure. If you represent a company, the author can sue you because you take advantage of his work, pictures, to get a profit. this is not happening very often, but it is possible. For example, recently, a Facebook page with almost 800.000 fans, was closed due to copyright infringement.
  1. Mentioning the source websites – it is a method which sometimes comes in a win-win situation. Meaning that a company or a relevant website published a photograph of a photographer, thus gaining him notoriety by mentioning the source.


Case study

With the help of a questionnaire distributed on different socials media about copyright rights, we achieved 126 answers from 126 people.

The questionnaire had 10 questions: 8 questions with multiple-choice response and 2 questions were they had to express their opinions.

We’d like to bring to your attention the questions and they answer for a better understanding.

1 2 What is a copyright?The 1st question concerned whether they know the legislation of copyright rights or not. According to the results,

  • 59,5% said that they know it while
  • 40,5% weren’t aware of that.




1 3 What is a copyright?The 2nd question was about the consequences that come with the violation of copyright rights. It seems like more people knew about the consequences, thus:

  • 55,6% said that they know them while
  • 44,4% said they don’t.


2 4 What is a copyright?The 3rd question referred to whether or not in Romania, copyright rights are violated.

  • 88,1% considered that in Romania copyright rights are violated while
  • 11,9% said that they are not.

2 3 What is a copyright?On the 4th question, respondents were asked if they know how we can obtain the permission to use somebody else’s work.

  • 54,8% said they know and
  • 45,2% said they don’t.

3 2 What is a copyright?The 5th question referred to weather it is or not important the knowing of copyright rights

  • 91,3% said that it is important to know the rights while
  • 8,7% said no


3 3 What is a copyright?

On the 6th questions, respondents were asked if by implementing tougher sanctions, the number of copyright violations could be reduced.

  • 58,7% responded positively and
  • 41,3% negatively


4 2 What is a copyright?The 7th questions targeted the opinions of the respondents according piracy being a huge problem in Romania.

  • 56,3% thought that in Romania piracy it is not a problem while
  • 43,7% said it is.


4 3 What is a copyright?The 8th question ask them if they know that the most common forms which violate the copyrights (Ad blocking, Changing IP ‘s, sharing your password for accounts with paid content, uploading material on social media that doesn’t belong to the user, Torrents).

  • 43,7% said they know,
  • 41,3% said they don’t know while
  • 15,1% said they know only a little bit.

On the 9th question, they had to express their opinion regarding the measures that could be taken to combat the violation of copyright rights.

  • 15 users said that they would take no measures,
  • 20 users told us that they don’t know what measures they can take while
  • 25 said that they prefer the sanctions with fine

Other answers were:

  • Informing and educating the citizen
  • A security system much more effective
  • Encouraging people to get the permission from the original source to use their work

·         “None. I believe that unrestricted access to the Internet and permissive legislation in cyber/online are two of the best things and most appreciated in Romania and a reason of envy for other states with more restrictive legislation such as the USA, for example.”

  • “You cannot make any theoretical and practically comparison between the copyright concerning a book or paper and the online environment, where information is REQUIRED to run (SHARE), even if it comes from an author. When you don’t want to make your idea/work known you ‘re protecting it with legal methods that already exist. In case you already post it on the internet without safeguards, whereby access to such information is not given only to those who think or decide, then it is more than normal that the information it’s considered to be “free” like the online world.”


Respondents were told to express their opinion on the 10th question, regarding if they would change something about the copyright legislation thus

  • 30 users wouldn’t change a thing while
  • 25 are in doubts

Others answers were:

  • Cancellation of the legislation
  • Sanctions with fine


So, as you can see, it seems that respondents know about copyright. The percentages show that a large portion of online users know the legislation and its consequences, but the desire to respect these rights isn’t that big. You can see that some even think that it’s better if rights don’t exist. On the other side, many people think that a better information and education towards population regarding this topic would be great.


To sum up not everything that it is on the internet it is free. We must not confuse the free access to information with the right to use the information produced by others. Everybody has the right to choose what it is going to happen with his work, and we should all respect their choices.




[1]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

Article reviewed and approved by: Garais Gabriel
PhD Lecturer at "School of Computer Science for Business Management" - Romanian-American University

Article Autor/s:

Ruxandra Iorga

STUDENT at Romanian-American University, Law Faculty and Management Faculty (Bucharest, Romania) HOBBIES: • extracurricular activities • technology • design • photography • travel • literature • art • fashion INTEREST AREAS: • Media / Internet / Communication • Advertising / Marketing / PR / Social Media • Sociology and Psychology • Law • Education / Training

Diana Rotaru

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