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Internet Society Board of Trustees Expresses Concern over Online Copyright Enforcement Strategies

12 March 2012

 

Encourages cooperation among all stakeholders in the search for solutions that respect freedom of expression and protect the open architecture of the Internet

[San Jose, Costa Rica – 12 March 2012] – In its first meeting of the year, held 10 - 11 March 2012, the Internet Society Board of Trustees reviewed various initiatives that several countries are considering or implementing in an attempt to increase copyright enforcement. The Board discussed the potential implications that these initiatives may have for the future of the Internet and expressed concern over actions that could undermine the open architecture of the Internet and restrict freedom of expression.

The Board observed a growing emphasis on technical measures to implement regulatory goals, as well as a trend towards greater utilization of Internet intermediaries, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as instruments of enforcement. Further, the Board recalled that the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) had established the principle that Internet governance should be open and transparent and involve all stakeholders.  The Board noted that some forums for the development of new Internet-related policies and laws are not adhering to this principle.

In particular, the Board singled out the process used to develop the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which was negotiated behind closed doors as if it were a typical trade negotiation.  Any negotiations centrally impacting the Internet should be open and transparent and involve all stakeholders. The Internet Society previously expressed its concerns regarding the process and substance of the agreement, noting that its implementation might limit Internet access and legitimate use, and stifle innovation.

The Board also took note of reports of concern about the proposed objectives of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) regarding intellectual property in the online environment, fuelled by a lack of information, transparency, and multistakeholder engagement. The Internet Society Board of Trustees urges the negotiating countries to open up the process and engage all stakeholders.

The Internet Society Board welcomed the decision of the U.S. Congress in January to revisit the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, which provide for filtering of DNS queries to prevent access to allegedly infringing websites. These draft bills caused great concern about unintended collateral restrictions to lawful communications and exchange of content, as well as extraterritorial reach.  The Board also took note with appreciation that several countries halted ratification procedures for ACTA.

“The Internet Society is a strong proponent of open, transparent, and inclusive multistakeholder engagement in the development of Internet standards and policy,” stated Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO of the Internet Society.  “We are concerned about national laws and international trade agreements that threaten the stability of the Internet’s global architecture and risk constraining legitimate communications.”

The Internet Society Board agreed to step up the monitoring of national laws and international agreements across the globe and assess possible adverse impacts on the Internet as a matter of priority. Any attempt to address problems should be based on cooperation in an open and inclusive dialogue among all stakeholders, respect freedom of expression, and protect the open nature of the Internet.

“We all have a role in the future of the Internet – individuals, governments, private sector, and civil society,” stated Raúl Echeberría, Chairman of the Internet Society’s Board of Trustees.  “The success of the Internet itself and the undeniable benefits it has brought to humanity, clearly underlines the success of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance.  The Internet Society believes that the key factors in the success of the Internet are openness, collaboration, and transparent governance. These aspects are central to the Internet’s development and its ongoing evolution.”

Over the past two decades, the Internet Society has been committed to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world.  The Internet Society believes that sustained collaboration amongst all parties is needed to address illegal online activities in a way that is consistent with the global architecture of the Internet. Any policies to curtail online intellectual property rights infringement should not stifle the evolution or legitimate use of the Internet or Internet technologies.

About the Internet Society
The Internet Society is the world's trusted independent source of Internet leadership. With its principled vision and substantial technological foundation, the Internet Society promotes open dialogue on Internet policy, technology and future development among users, companies, governments, and foundations. Working with its members and Chapters around the world, the Internet Society enables the continued evolution and growth of the Internet for everyone.