Baku, Azerbaijan – The need to bring all stakeholders together to discuss the future of copyright appears to have gotten a push from this year’s UN-led Internet Governance Forum.
Trevor Clarke, assistant director general for the Culture and Creative Industries Sector of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said during a workshop on “Rethinking Copyright” today that the multi-stakeholder environment is “the best and and most appropriate” when it comes to the debate on copyright in the digital age. WIPO is preparing for such multi-stakeholder discussions, Clarke told Intellectual Property Watch.
Clarke said the WIPO director general and secretariat has added their voices to the call for a reexamination of the copyright system and have not shied away from the fact that some aspects of the law need to be revisited. Not only law, but also culture and infrastructure of the system, have to be considered, he underlined. Member state positions vary considerably on the issues, and it would make sense to include the private sector and also civil society into the talks, he said, adding, “We need that dialogue.”
The 2012 Internet Governance Forum is taking place from 6-9 November in Baku, Azerbaijan (IPW, United Nations, 7 November 2012 ).
Vinton Cerf, one of the authors of the TCP/IP-protocol and now Google’s chief internet evangelist, said during the “Rethinking Copyright” panel that not only is the extended protection period harmful, there was also a really need for central registration of rights. There also is a need for shifts of ownership to allow those who want to use content to have transparent and easy access to it, he said, adding that with the internet being a copy engine, copyright might be the wrong basis for what would be allowed to do.
Questioned by Susan Chalmers, policy lead at InternetNZ, about a provision in the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that would ban even temporary copies on the net – something done by routers as they receive and send on packets with content – Cerf said he could not envisage how this could be realised at all.
US Author Jeff Jarvis, who participated remotely in the panel, said content has a value in itself, but that there are also new values created from the signals by users about themselves when they used Facebook, Google or other platforms. “You should not just try to recreate the textual Gutenberg area,” Jarvis said. Content also is the larger data set around interaction.
Organiser and moderator of the session, German Liberal Member of Parliament Jimmy Schulz, told Intellectual Property Watch after the session that the reason for starting the discussion at the IGF was the acknowledgement that it has become highly difficult or even impossible to regulate copyright in the digital age on the national level.
“You just have to accept that there are things you cannot control nationally anymore,” he said. Germany has seen several rounds of reform to its copyright law, which, different from the Anglo-Saxon copyright law regime, is called author’s law. This, according to Cerf, goes more to the heart of the matter.
But not even at the forward-looking IGF is it easy to escape the tension between the stakeholders involved. Chris Marcich of the Motion Picture Association warned during the panel that “if there is a crisis of copyright or not, the jury is just out on this. Contrary to what some claimed, the landmark UK Hargreaves report on copyright had not made the case based on evidence that fundamental change was needed, he said