Increasing importance of copyright in the public consciousness

One of the most significant developments in the field of copyright over the last 10 years was the arrival of Napster in 2001 which put copyright and intellectual property rights on the front page of virtually every magazine in the world, as well bringing such issues to the forefront of young people’s minds. So pervasive was Napster’s impact in this area that it rapidly became one of the top 5 most recognisable global brands, without spending a single penny on marketing or advertising.

Thanks in part to the extensive coverage of the rise and fall of Napster, copyright issues have risen to the forefront of the public consciousness and vigorous debate is happening in a wider social space than ever before. Young people are increasingly prepared to fight for their right to access, share and download online content. Indeed this has become a significant social issue which cuts across political divides. Against this backdrop there are also examples where the realm of copyright is expanding. In 2003 the Mexican Congress amended the 1996 Copyright Act to extend the term of copyright to be the duration of the author/creator’s life plus 100 years – an action which some would see as supporting copyright rentierism.