What do The Two Gentlemen of Verona and the The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha have in common? There are probably several treatises written about this, but for our purpose, both their authors – William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra — died on April 23rd, 1616. To commemorate their lasting contributions, the United Nations declared today World Book and Copyright Day.

Although copyrights get a bad rap by many who believe that content should be license free, they, like patents serve a necessary role in society. Simply put, without copyrights, you wouldn’t have a vast array of books to choose from, or any other content for that matter, just as, without patents, you wouldn’t have innovation. Intertrust provides technologies that manage copyrights and other intellectual property rights for all generators of intellectual property.

Copyright is an interesting legal concept. The first copyright law was the Statute of Anne or Copyright Act 1709 passed by the British Parliament. The statute established the rights of authors or the printers they worked with to license their works to others for a period of 14 years, after which the work became public domain.

Born at a time when the printing press had created the first true mass media market, copyright has remained remarkably resilient as media changed over the centuries to include not just print, but still and moving images, audio recordings, games, virtual reality experiences and software. It has also survived as distribution formats and methods have changed from printed materials sold at bookshops to analog audio and video material broadcast over the airwaves or distributed on physical media. Now in the 21st century, digital technologies and the Internet have created an ecosystem where almost anyone with a connected device can create any type of content and instantly deliver it to a billions of consumer electronic devices — from laptops and smartphones to e-book readers and mp3 players, to set-top boxes and 80-inch connected TVs.

Supporting the Creator

Throughout these changes, the concept of copyright continues to serve its most basic purpose. Namely, to give the individual or group of creators who labor to create a work of intellectual property — be it in the hopes of entertaining or informing  the world — the ability to receive some financial compensation. Whether the creator is a single author, a group shooting a YouTube series, or a large production crew producing the latest Bollywood musical, creative works represent many man-hours of difficult work. The public is well aware of the authors, song writers and video artists who have achieved fame and fortune, but most people don’t think about the many others who labor in relative obscurity hoping for that big break. Copyright gives all creators a legal basis to maintain control over their work, whether the goal is revenue or to ensure the work is only used as the author intends. In many ways, copyright is fundamental to the economic workings of today’s digital media ecosystem bringing the modern consumer an inexhaustible supply of media in all sorts of formats.

The advent of digital technologies presents creators with a profound dilemma. The very same technology allows creators to easily distribute content is also used to easily copy and disseminate works without permission. Intertrust was born over 25 years ago with the vision that nascent networks would soon evolve to enable the exchange of digital knowledge while still ensuring that the rights of the creators are respected, regardless of the format of the intellectual property at issue..

Today, Intertrust not only operates systems to protect the rights of copyright holders; we also provide technology to better monetize content on mobile devices, the fastest growing platforms for content consumption.. On this World Book and Copyright Day, we embrace the purpose of this technology, giving creators the means to earn a living doing the work they love and from which we all benefit.