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Internet Governance 8 November 2012

Takeaway (Feeder EI) WS 169 Internet policy infrastructure for sustainable Internet development: lessons from attempts at IP enforcement

International Intellectual Property and Copyright laws try to protect innovation and sustainable Internet development. However IP laws are territorial with consistency provided through intenational treaties. In fact, there are 27 different copyright licensing regimes, therefore the process is difficult, expensive and must be stream-lined. The panel considered it necessary to have collaboration to prevent jurisdictionalistion in a global content environment. Internet content requires public policies to benefit from international cooperation since the internet does not respect borders.The modern copyright policies hinder innovation, indeed a new industry of monitoring is created by enforcement efforts and other innovations (such as counter-monitoring efforts). There must be a balance between the need for people with creative skills to profit from their content, while preventing an over-reliance on the law. That being said, minimum rights must be renegotiated and respect of the legal foundation kept in mind. The automatic take down and manner of notice must be carefully assessed to ensure user protection, particularly in terms of:– the pressure put on users to find alternate means of sharing such as through use of encryption (which would create a more complicated problem for detecting and responding to copyright infringement)– the technology must fit as part of the broader solution to provide for the enforcement of laws– Accountability for take downs with no grounds given. Intermediaries should provide open platforms, but policies protecting intermediaries are also critical to ensuring their survival. In fact, if intermediaries are forced to judge content and speech, it will lead to over regulation. Specifically with regard to copyright enforcement, voluntary procedures are best with transparency reports of those intermediaries. 

The effectiveness and proportionality of domain name blocking and filtering are questionable particularly in giving positive freedom of expression outcomes. Mandatory blocking must be proportional especially if there is a mix of legal and illegal content on the domain. If SOPA and PIPA can be used as indicators, Domain name blocking is not the answer. Rather, enforcement is preferred through due process limited by design and consistent rules distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate content. In any single process (whether it be through mediation or the courts) must find some mechanism to provide a clear balanced process, without compromising speed of resolution. 

Alternative business models like ‘pay for what you want‘ are good cost effective ways of dealing with IP enforcements and content service eg. netflix model. While new business models can be investigated providing different conceptual framework for rewarding creators, this is not a necessity. It is questionable if the pay what you want‘ and give donations to content provider has the same success or viability as an alternate business model.

There are other mechanisms that would help improve the copyright environment outside of the law (and the Global nature of the internet calls for review of these) such as development in the copyright infrastructure to facilitate licensing and other uses. The laudable intent is that all rights converging over different internet platforms must be respected. The Multi-stakeholder model does positively serve in finding the solution, but stakeholders must be more resiliant to adapt and to ensure transparency. More information on this session.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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