(No.146) Intellectual property rights and the freedom to share: are the two compatible?

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Workshop Theme: 
Emerging Issues
Theme Question: 

What are acceptable and proportionate measures that offer Intellectual Property protection, yet allow for and respect individual users’ freedom to express themselves, to access and share content/culture, and to innovate and create?

Concise Description of Workshop: 

One of the fundamental tensions in Internet-related policy worldwide is the tension between the proponents of fundamental intellectual property rights and the proponents of a more liberal freedom to share, which is a unique attribute of the emerging information society and represent the quintessence of the right to receive and impart information and ideas. Indeed, the pervasive and widespread use of file-sharing services, peer-to-peer exchanges and social media - particularly by youngsters - also results in their abuse for illegal distribution of copyrighted content.
This workshop will focus on the tensions between intellectual property rights and the freedom to share. It will interrogate such questions as: Is the classical conceptualization of copyright reconcilable with the practices of online culture of sharing? Are the classical copyright enforcement tools adequate or efficient for copyright protection online? What are the ways content creators can thrive in online environment? What unintended consequences can strong enforcement of classical copyright thinking have for creativity online? What can those mean for the entrepreneurial communities, particularly in the developing countries? How do young people actually use file sharing websites, peer-to-peer exchanges, and social media? How do we respect people's right to profit from their intellectual property while preserving the openness, creativity, and innovation of the Internet?
This workshop will address those questions through an open discussion. The emphasis will be put to engage all attendees of the workshop in a dynamic dialogue and the panellists will act more as resource persons to trigger the discussion. Panellists will provide brief and concise presentations in order to highlight the heterogeneous approches linked to the discussed issues, and stimulate the intervention of the audience. To this latter extent, multilingual remote moderation will be provided, in order to facilitate the interaction with non-Anglophone remote participants.
In addition, in order to highlight the different perception of intellectual property rights - notably copyright - across different age groups, young participants will be included in the discussion. Indeed, we believe different perceptions of copyright and of the Internet culture, have a strong impact on the array of legal and practical solution that people envision.

Backgroung Paper: 
Organiser(s) Name: 

ISOC Next Generation Leaders Programme Alumni, under the mentorship of ISOC
Mr Luca Belli (coordinator), PRES Sorbonne University, academia, WEOG
Ms Grace Mutung'u, Fanartics Limited, private sector, Africa
Mr Paul Muchene, iHub, private sector, Africa
Mr Dmitry Epstein, Cornell University, academia, WEOG
Mr Markus Kummer, Internet Society, Technical Community, WEOG

Previous Workshop(s): 

"Core Internet Values and the Principles of Internet Governance Across Generations" http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/component/chronocontact/?chronoformname=W... (report at: http://www.elon.edu/e-web/predictions/igf_2010/youth_core_Internet_value...)

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Mr Luca Belli, PRES Sorbonne University, academia, WEOG, confirmed;
Ms Hannah Broadbent + Mr Jack Passmore and Ms Rebecca Cawthorne, Childnet, WEOG, NGO, confirmed;
Ms Fatima Cambronero, AGEIA DENSI, academia, GRULAC, confirmed;
Mr Stuart Hamilton, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, NGO, WEOG, confirmed;
Mr David Hughes, Recording Industry Association of America, private sector, WEOG, confirmed.
Mr Markus Kummer, Internet Society, Technical Community, WEOG;
Mr James Lawson, Human Rights Centre - Council of Europe, Governement, WEOG, confirmed;
Mr Paul Muchene, iHub, private sector, Africa, confirmed;
Ms Roxana Radu, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, academia, WEOG, confirmed;
Mr Carl Schonander, Office of Intellectual Property Enfocement, Government, WEOG, confirmed;
Mr Maciej Tomaszewski, European Commission - DG Connect, Government, WEOG, confirmed.

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Mr Tracy Hackshaw, Internet Society Trinidad & Tobago Chapter, Technical Community, GRULAC.
Reported by: 
Luca Belli and Dmitry Epstein
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 


The workshop was organised by Luca Belli on behalf of the Internet Society (ISOC) Next Generation Leadership Program (NGL) alumni under the mentorship of ISOC.  It took place on November 8th 2012 . The participants in the panel represented a range of age, gender, geographical, professional, and stakeholder groups.


The discussion in the workshop focused on three main themes:

1) Perceptions of copyright and piracy;

2) Challenges of intellectual-property- rights (IPRs) governance;

3) Rethinking IPRs for the Internet.


First, the panellists drew a complex picture of perceptions and practices around IPRs, focusing explicitly on the difficulties and needs of two distinct categories of potential “pirates”: youth and the library community. Talking about the youth, both the panellists and the audience highlighted the lack of awareness, lack of understanding, and the associated confusion regarding the boundaries of legal behaviour in regards to IPRs online. The participants highlighted the dissonance between the common practices of sharing content online and the expectations and assumptions of IPR holders regarding their audiences; there was an agreement that more education, of both the educators and the youth, and improved communication between the IPR holders and the online audiences will be beneficial. Talking about the library community, the participants highlighted the legal-uncertainty fostered by divergence of copyright exceptions and stressed the need to further harmonise national/international IPR solutions. Legal uncertainty surrounding IPRs exceptions may indeed hinder provision of cross border services, thus impeding the libraries in fulfilling their role as champions of global public knowledge dissemination.


Second, the panellists and the audience have jointly scrutinised some of the recently proposed juridical tools for copyright enforcement online, most notably SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. The participants agreed that those tools were drafted to reflect traditional approaches to IPR, which may be inadequate for the practices that have evolved on the Internet and the core values of the network. Participants especially noted the limited degree of transparency and multistakeholder involvement in the drafting of these initiatives; there was a shared understanding that such involvement could have helped to at least mitigate the inadequacy of the proposed tools. Participants agreed that a more inclusive, transparent, and multistakeholder decision-making process should be undertaken in the future. 


Furthermore, the panellists discussed several graduated-response mechanisms notably focusing on the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Recording  Industry Association of America , the Motion Picture Association of America ,  and several American ISPs, aimed at implementing a new copyright enforcement system based on a “six-strike” mechanism. Both the panellists and the audience highlighted the need of assuring the due process when implementing the graduated-response mechanisms. They pointed out that the main purpose of such techniques should be pedagogical, not repressive. 


Finally, the participants suggested that solutions to the challenges of the IPR holders may not necessarily lie in the realm of policy and regulation. They highlighted the need to develop new business models that would make legal ways of accessing content protected by IPRs easy and affordable. Indeed, the participants stressed that in many regions of the world piracy becomes necessary because of lack of accessible and affordable ways of obtaining IPR protected materials legally. Specifically, the participants pointed out the necessity to consider models that take into consideration the needs and the realities of developing countries, which differ significantly from the contexts in which most IPR holder operate today.


Conclusions and further comments: 


-Workshop Methodology:


The workshop was structured as a round table with an explicit emphasis on interaction between the panellists and the audience as well as among the members of the audience..The organizers provided a list of questions both to the panellists and the attendees in the room in order to facilitate the discussion. The panellists were not allowed to exceed a period of four minutes with their answers. Both panellist and participants were satisfied with the workshop format. 



-Workshop Content:


Workshop participants highlighted four main themes that should help reconciling the legitimate claims for IPR protection and the inherent to the Internet “freedom to share”: 


1) Promotion of education about IPR protection. For example, inclusion of on-line safety courses in the school curricula could be an important step in the right direction.


2) Harmonization of copyright exceptions on the global level in order to foster legal certainty about sharing of content online.Such harmonisation is particularly important for global knowledge sharing and development.  


3) Encouragement of alternative business models aimed at making legal offer affordable and accessible to every internet user. The “traditional” business models seem indeed inadequate to grasp the needs and realities of developing counties.


4) Utilisation of an inclusive multistakeholder decision-making process in order to elaborate new IPR-related juridical tools (both on an international and on a domestic level).