An Insight: Significance of Copynorms

user Youssry Saleh & Partners calender 22 Mar 2016 views 1836 Views

 Copynorms are unofficial social rules used to indicate a neutralized social norm concerning the ethical issue of cloning copyrighted material. For instance, despite the fact that stealing is a socially unacceptable behavior,

people don’t comprehend that the norm of downloading, sharing and copying files is an act of stealing.


 The public isn’t paying attention that it is wrong to download files of copyrighted music, films and books, although such downloading might be an illegal act. The power of Copyright Law that governs copying of digital materials relies on voluntary compliance more than on the presumed civil or criminal actions against individuals violating such norms.

  Axiomatically, the legal rules follow legal consequences. The volition of Copyright rules leads to criminal and civil liability. The copyright rules grant legal rights on the creative, author or on the possessor’s work, comprising the right to make copies of work for the equitable use. Copyright differs from one country to another according to applicable laws and international treaties. 

  The causes for the difference between the Copyright Laws and Copynorms are hypothetical, due to the lack of the social research. It is suggested that the reason for accepting copying materials by individuals is the personal interest of them which pushes them to copyright materials (ie. engage in an illegal act) with an expected risk since it become easy to copy information and feel quite comfortable with it.

  Technological change can be a reason too, since copying materials was very expensive until after the middle of the twentieth century, however the digital technology like the internet reduced the costs of copying, sharing and downloading files until it turned out to be for free. Furthermore, most of the people don’t know the accurate range of proprietorship that the Copyright Laws grant the author/owner. Ultimately, many people believe that the Copyright Laws are oppressive/unjust; for instance, the users of peer-to-peer applications see that the companies of music, songs, films, etc. are the beneficiaries of the economic returns more than the authors.

  If the laws aren’t recognized and respected by the citizens, its execution will be hard. Therefore, if downloading, copying and sharing acts (copyrighted materials) been accepted socially, it will arduous to be controlled by the legal rules.

  Effects of Copynorms on Copyright are complicated. The appearance of Copynorms may be influenced by the content of the Copyright Laws. The Copynorm will be seen as equitable and lawful, if the Copyright Laws are perceived like that too and vice versa, the weakness of the Copynorms will restrain the Copyright laws from attaining its policy objectives.

Posner, E. (2000). Law and Social Norms. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Press

Shultz, M.F. (2005). Fear and norms and rock & roll: What Jambands can teach us about persuading people to obey copyright law.SSRN 864624

Schultz, M.F. (2006). Copynorms: Copyright and Social Norms. SSRN 933656

Smit & Van Wyk, Inc.