If you’ve ever written a blog or a website, or even posted a useful link on Facebook or Twitter – there is a very real possibility that you have assisted in infringing someone’s copyright somewhere in the world.  That neat photo or graphic you found online added to this weeks blog update?  Did you check you were allowed to post it – or did you just copy/paste/upload image and move on.

Of course in reality, even though copyright is being infringed in all sorts of ways all across the internet – most companies take a pragmatic approach.  There’s little real value in pursing thousands of bloggers or web site owners for posting a picture or video that already exists in thousands of places online.

Companies in some countries did however, aggressively pursue even the smallest infringement. Several music companies in South Korea used to heavily monitor how their material was used on the internet.  They’d trace images and movie files that appeared on forums, blogs and sites then ensure they were removed.  Nowadays they rarely bother except in exceptional circumstances – it simply isn’t worth the effort. Even if you pursue in a country like the USA where law suits are a way of life.

There are still very strict intellectual property laws in many countries across the world.  But the reality is that there’s little a company can do against the torrent of files that are uploaded across the web every minute of the day.  Unless you start operating on the level of the Pirate Bay, chances are you’ll never get any problems with using such content.

It would seem that it’s finally becoming apparent that the business model of these companies has to change.  Selling an album for $20 on iTunes when a quick visit to a newsgroup or warez site can get it you for free is never going to work.  However when the price is much lower, people tend to stay legitimate with their purchases.

You can still put some protection up for material uploaded.  Most people have come across the – video not available in your country messages which show that content is being restricted to specific countries – more examples here – http://www.theninjaproxy.org/just-interesting/video-not-available-in-your-country/.   But the amount of resources required to keep track of every uploaded copy is simply not cost effective.  The clever companies are realising that such copying can actually be used to their advantage – perhaps like the incredible success of the ’Gangnam Style’ videos which have spawned a host of imitators to create a global phenomenon.