New Age Digital Properties
Digital products, services and concepts have revolutionized the world. But what actually is a digital property? Let’s understand it in detail.
Any information, service, content (audio, visual, written), product distributed over electronic devices and an electronic device itself are Digital properties of the concerned individual or business.
Digital world exists broadly in two forms online (over the internet) and offline. Offline manifestations of digital world are radio and the audio content on it, television and audio-video content on it, music player, digital billboards, etc.
Most of us very well aware of these kinds of properties, as we are experiencing them for a long time now.
However, it is the online manifestation of digital properties that have revolutionized the world so quickly because of democratization of information/ content creation and large scale distribution at negligible cost over the internet. These online forms of digital properties are yet to be understood well by the masses. They can also be termed as new age digital properties.
For better understanding, let’s have a helicopter view at some of the examples of new age online/ offline digital products and services that we use in our daily lives.For better understanding, let’s have a helicopter view at some of the examples of new age online/ offline digital products and services that we use in our daily lives.
• Electronic devices: Computing hardware for example computers, tablets, smartphones, hard disks digital cameras and other related electronic devices are considered to be digital properties
• Any data that is stored in the cloud or online
• Any online accounts: such as email and communications accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts, photo and video sharing accounts like Instagram or TikTok, video gaming accounts such as PUBG, online storage accounts, and websites and blogs or vlogs on Youtube
• Website domain names.
These Digital products and services when owned by an individual or a business are known as digital properties of the concerned individual or business.
Broadly, Digital Properties can be broken down into three main categories:
• Personal digital property: A property that is Created or used for personal non-commercial purposes. For example a software code, domain name, a flash drive, a blog, a website, a music player, online account like email, PayTM, social media accounts, etc. created for individual non-commercial purpose.
• Personal digital property with monetary value: That is created in individual capacity but generates revenue for the individual who created it. For e.g. when a website, blog, video, photo, art, eBook, youtube channel can generate revenue for the creator via subscription or ad revenue.
• Digital business property: digital properties owned by businesses. For e.g. online accounts registered in the name of the business, online store (independent or on amazon, flipkart, snapdeal, etsy, ebay, facebook, etc.), domain name, digital mailing lists, digital newsletter, client information, websites/ blogs/ social media accounts/ youtube channel owned by a business, etc.
It’s important to protect your digital property. Particularly, if it has a commercial value attached to it.
In India, the IPR act/ law automatically gives protection to the creator or first owner of a piece of work. However, sometimes it can be difficult to prove this. If you produce something original, you can always prove that you are the original copyright owner by using the copyright symbol ©. For that you need to show prior publication. For that one should always publish your work on internet first such as songs or tune created using any music instrument.
It is a good practice to make a comprehensive statement such as ‘All rights are reserved. No part of this work may be reprinted, reproduced or used without the permission in writing of the publisher.’ Website owners can add to it an internet copyright notice which sets out the copyright position of their website content.
Encoding, encryption and watermarking are also done for some digital properties to protect them from unauthorized access or use, such properties include but not limited to photographs, licensed software, e-books, piece of music, etc.
In case of online digital properties, most of the times, it’s important for a business to give away some or all the features of its digital property to the user as a demo. In such cases the property can be used or downloaded on a time-limited basis - for example, a limited period trial.
If a digital property is used by someone without the permission of its owner they are usually in breach of your copyright. Just like general copyright infringement, digital copyright infringement is also a criminal offence.
Also, selling technology designed to break encryption on digital products/ services can also be considered as criminal offence. The owner of the digital property is legally entitled to stop the person who commits the act of infringement and the owner is also entitled for compensation for the damages caused.
Additionally, sometimes, the owner of the property is not the creator of property for example, a software written by a coder for fee. In such cases, the property owner must get “work on hire” agreement signed by the coder.
Digital property is a new age Gold mine which every creator shall protect by concrete means.