Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Unit 78 - Defining copyright and libel

Unit 78 Exercise
Defining copyright and libel

What is copyright law?

Copyright gives the creator of any media or product exclusive control over how their work is represented, reproduced, preparation of derivative work, used and distributed. Music, books, video and software can all be covered by copyright law. Exclusivity means only the creator of such work, rather than anybody who comes into possession of it.

Limitations imposed by copyright law
As an example, when you buy software, copyright law would forbid the user from:

  • Making a copy and giving it to a friend
  • Making a copy and then reselling it for your own profit
  • Using the software that is installed on a network (unless the licence approves this practice)
  • Unlawfully renting the software without the consent or knowledge of the copyright owner
The law that governs copyright in the UK is called the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Prevention of software piracy
Software companies are taking ever more complex and elaborate steps to combat piracy of their products. These can include online registration by the user or licence and serial number keys that must be inputted upon installation. In terms of video gaming, developers have traditionally employed some creative methods to stop unlawful sharing of their games. These have included answering questions mid game that can only be found in the games manual or inputting information from the back of the packaging. One of the most novel ways has been implemented by ‘Rocksteady Studios’ to protect their 2009 game ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’. Batmans’ cape glide is a crucial part of the gameplay, mastery of which will allow completion of the adventure. Many sections of the game cannot be bypassed until the cape glide is brought into play. ‘Rocksteady Studios’ employed a hidden routine in the game code that would recognize whether it was an official copy or not. If it was not, the cape glide would be removed from game. The game would still be able to be played, but without the cape glide the player would only be able to see a small section of it.

In general terms, purchasing software and installing it requires the following safeguarding processes:  
  • An agreement between the software developer and the user is mandatory and must be agreed before the software is installed. This is called the licence agreement and covers copyright.
  • Certain software requires a unique licence key to be entered before the installation will complete.
  • Many applications such as console games can only run if there is a copy of the disc in the drive..
  • Although less common, a peripheral called a dongle is sometimes needed to be inserted into the computer. This dongle contains the driver software that will enable the program to run.
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST)
FAST was originally founded in 1984 by the software industry and is now supported by over 1,200 companies. It is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to prevent software piracy. FAST has a policy carrying out prosecution towards anyone found to be breaching copyright law, and is strict in it’s approach and guidelines.
FAST also works to educate the public about legal requirements and the expectation of upholding good practice.

What is Libel?
Libel is generally termed as an untrue statement that has been published, and can therefore be classed as a written defamation. If false, it can be damaging to a person or company’s reputation. Libel can be personal libel or trade libel, which is also known as "product disparagement." Product disparagement can include a product, service or entire company. It is a wrongful act to defame or disparage someone and harm their reputation. The terms ‘Slander’ and ‘Libel’ are closely related, but do actually bear a distinct difference:

  • Libelous statements, whether they are aimed at a person, company or product, are published statements that are false and damaging.

  • Slander is defined in the same way as libel, but is spoken rather than written.

There are three ways to test  whether a statement is libelous:

First, the statement must be untrue. In order to be classed as defamatory, the statement must be untrue. If the statement is true or mostly true, then it is not defamatory. In a court of law, at this point the case will be over.

Second, the statement must be damaging. In order for the plaintiff to make progress in the case,  the statement must have caused substantial harm to the person or business. In a court of law, the plaintiff must at this point present evidence of the substantial harm done.

Third, the statement must be knowingly false. The plaintiff must also show that the defendant knew the statement was untrue, but published or broadcast the statement despite that knowledge.

The best way to make sure that you can avoid libelous action is to write only that which is true. Proof of your actions on this subject can be shown through research and note taking.

How are females represented in games?
Females in games have a tendency to be sexually objectified, and have a history of being secondary to game play and plot. They are often unrealistically represented, with an emphasis on what the developers perceive to be a 'perfect' physique.  

It has only been in the last few 10 years that players have been given more realistic and 3 dimensional characters; Females who can think for themselves and are more than capable of carrying out tasks in primarily male dominated environments.

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