Copyright vs. Trademark vs. Royalties vs. Intellectual Property in Google Search

10 11 2008
Your life has been copyrightedYour life has been copyrighted

This is a post by Francis Deblauwe and was originally featured on the icommons website:

Copyright issues remain a source of concern all over the world. Yet, an analysis of the use of copyright-related terminology highlights the differences between countries. In a recent article, I used the free online Google Trends tool which allows tailored analysis of Google Search patterns, both chronologically and geographically. I have since switched to the more powerful and versatile analysis tool called Google Insights for Search. I analyzed the UK, the US, Germany, Belgium and France, therefore I included the translation of the terms in French, German and Dutch when applicable so as to get a more accurate picture. I faced off four terms:

  • “copyright” (droit d’auteur/Urheberrecht/auteursrecht(en));
  • “trademark” (marque déposée/Marke/eingetragenes Ware/handelsmerk/merk);
  • “royalties” (redevance(s)/Abgabe(n));
  • “intellectual property” (propriété intellectuelle/geistiges Eigentum/intellektuelles Eigentum/intellectueel eigendom).

I refer you to a post on my Word Face-Off blog for all the graphs in sufficient resolution.

First, I faced off the different countries for “copyright”: there was the most interest in “copyright” in the UK, the least in France. A November 2004 peak in the UK could be observed: I don’t know why. Over the 2004-now time span, Google-popularity went down in every country however. How about “trademark”? This time, the Belgians were the most interested, the French again the least. The UK was markedly less into “trademark” than “copyright” while Belgium was vice versa. I wonder if this had to do with different legislative traditions? It could also be that Marke (German) and merk (Dutch) are too generic. I redid this analysis without those two terms: lo and behold, this did change the situation. The US were now clearly the most interested in “trademark,” and Germany and Belgium ended up much lower. Again, all countries’ trend lines declined through time. In France, “royalties” was no. 1 and this was substantially due to a big peak in October 2005. This time too, I wasn’t able to ascertain why. There is no real Dutch term for “royalties”, the English word is commonly used. The US scored the lowest for this term. Looking at the evolution of the trend lines from January 1, 2004 through now, the downward trend was esp. noticeable in France but the UK, the US and Germany also saw declines. Belgium on the other hand saw a slight increase. Finally, the “intellectual property” graph taught me that the US and the UK basically shared the lead while German Googlers cared the least for geistiges Eigentum. All countries lost interest between 2004 and now.

It seemed to me that obtaining country graphs for the four terms together would be useful. In the UK, “copyright” towered over the three other terms, even when not counting the big November 2004 peak. “Copyright” again ruled in the US, “intellectual property” was the least interesting. Germany saw “copyright” and “trademark” at the top while “intellectual property” hardly showed. However, when we took out the too generic term Marke, the graph changed drastically: “copyright” was alone in charge now while both “trademark” and “intellectual property” held hardly any interest. Then I analyzed Belgium where “trademark” turned out to be no. 1 while “intellectual property” was in the doldrums. I eliminated merk again. Now “copyright” dominated while “trademark” almost disappeared; even “intellectual property” scored higher. At long last, I investigated the data for France. “Royalties” won out in la douce France, “trademark” hardly existed. “Intellectual property” held some interest.

This type of analysis can easily be done for other countries as well, after replacing the terms with their local-language equivalents. I’ll leave it to people more versed in the legal aspects of copyright to comment on the reasons for the the peaks and lows through time as well as the search volume hierarchy obtained, in general and for specific countries. The comment section is open to all iCommoners!

You can also see the post here.

Picture is by Damien Boilley.



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