Brief session description:
Tuesday, April 24, 2012- The Global INET conference in honor of ISOC’s 20th anniversary closed with a plenary featuring several keynote speakers. Among them: Mitchell Baker, longtime leader of the Mozilla Project, is a winner of the Anita Borg Institute’s Women of Vision Award and Frost & Sullivan’s Growth, Innovation and Leadership Award. She has been Mozilla’s general manager since 1999. Mozilla coordinates open source Internet applications, including the Firefox Web browser and the Thunderbird email client. Francis Gurry, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is one of many leaders working in the global effort to address the intersecting challenges of intellectual property regulations and Internet innovation. He has been with WIPO since 1985 and was instrumental in establishing its Arbitration and Mediation Center. A prolific author of publications on intellectual property issues, he holds law degrees from the University of Melbourne and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.
Details of the session:
The last hour of the Global INET 2012 conference had one theme that ran through the wishes expressed by the leaders of the Internet and the three keynote speakers who spoke at the closing plenary: Connecting. Today’s world can connect through content on the Internet, the social opportunities on the Web and people’s hopes for the future.
The closing event of the Internet Society’s 20th Anniversary Conference, themed “Imagining the Future Internet,” kicked off with a 3-minute video showcasing the energetic responses of a variety of Global INET participants who had been interviewed about their wishes for the future of the Internet as part of ISOC’s Wishing Tree project.
Those interviewed for the 20th Anniversary Wishing Tree expressed desires for everything from “an Internet that is just as open as when it was invented” to a future in which people think of themselves as people of the world and no longer as members of individual nations.
As the “Wishes” video ended, Lynn St.Amour, president and CEO of the Internet Society asked, “As advocates of the Internet how do we all come together to continue this forward progress and realize our wishes?” And she answered herself: “By remaining vigilant and working together we can turn our Internet into an even more valuable resource for the world. I look forward to accomplishing great things together.”
She acknowledged there’s much more work to be done. “The Internet is challenging traditional roles in business, how nations govern their citizens, and in turn how citizens interact with their governments,” she said. “These challenges are complex, and in most cases, there are no easy, evident solutions. The discussions can be polarizing. Hard problems require a real desire by all parties to find a solution, which in turn requires open minds and open discussions.”
WIPO leader Gurry discusses unevenness, re-expression, celebration
Francis Gurry, the director general of World Intellectual Property Organization was the first of three keynote speakers set to appear at the closing plenary. He discussed the hot-button issue of the digital age that falls under his area of expertise – the concepts of property and ownership.
“I would like to quote Yochai Benkler,” Gurry said, “from a TED talk on open source economics in which he says, ‘The next time you read in a newspaper about an intellectual property decision it is not about something small and technical, it is about the way in which information, knowledge and culture are produced and distributed.’ This is an extremely important context.”
He described intellectual property as a balancing mechanism for reconciling all of the often-competing interests that exist in and around creative works. He said the Internet has “radicallly altered the availability of the previous repertoire or historical record of creation; it’s radically altered the size and location of the potential market; it’s radically altered the technology and the cost of the performance and recording of creative works.”
He pointed out recent controversies tied to the politics of control: the Internet blackout – led by Wikipedia – in protest of the proposed US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), the attacks by the hacker group Anonymous and globally in reaction to ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), and the ways in which intellectual property questions in the Internet world have become part of presidential election campaigns.
He said political tensions over property are here to stay.
“We should look at them,” he urged, “as a normal part of democratic life in the Internet world and the digital world. What we have to do is learn how to manage those tensions in a better way.”
He quoted an estimate that there’s $1.2 trillion invested in the generation of new knowledge each year globally in research and development.
“Intellectual property is increasingly becoming a source of competitive positioning between enterprises, between industries and between countries,” he said. “And there will be political tension over property rights in relation to knowledge and culture.”
He declared that the migration to the digital age “amounts to the re-expression of our culture,” adding:
“It is a massive task, because it involves the re-expression of the business architecture that existed for the territorial world of analog content, and the re- expression of that business architecture in a simple, efficient global digital marketplace. We know that we are on that track, but we are a long way away from achieving it. There are all sorts of unevennesses that exist in the legal, the law of the global digital marketplace and in the infrastructure of the global digital marketplace.”
There are three items that Gurry said need to be kept in mind about the great migration of creative content:
1. We should celebrate the democratization of knowledge and culture; it is extremely positive.
2. We need to ensure that the “policy mission of intellectual property as a balancing mechanism is neutral to technology and neutral to the business models built on technology.” He continued: “The purpose of copyright is not to influence the technological possibilities for creative expression, nor the business models that are built upon those technological possibilities, nor is it the role of copyright to preserve business models that are established on obsolete but moribund technologies.”
3. We should aim to make it “as easy to get creative works or content legally on the Internet as it is to get them illegally.”
“One of the beautiful features of the Internet is the enlargement that it has facilitated in the participation in creation of cultural works,” Gurry said. “It has enabled anyone really to become an author and a publisher, and it has enabled anyone to be a composer or a performer or a musician. This enlargement in participation is of course a very special feature and a very valuable feature of the Internet. But with it comes a fundamental challenge to our notions of author and authenticity upon which the copyright system is built.”
Baker: Connectedness is the key element
INET host Chris Brow introduced the second keynote speaker, Mitchell Baker, leader of the Mozilla Project as “a woman on a mission.”
She took the stage with a mission: to share her recent epiphany on the importance of connectedness.
“At last night’s Hall of Fame induction the thing that struck me the most was the idea of connectedness,” Baker said. “although we used other words for it, over and over again what I heard was the goal of enabling connections, as many connections as possible, connections between wildly different environments, connections between unknown and unforeseeable environments, and connections with as little friction as possible. So I’ve come away with an enhanced interest and focus on this idea of connectedness as a core organizing principle.”
Most people would nod their heads and say connectedness is easy, she said.
“But it’s not obvious today to most people outside of our world,” Baker said. “We see that connectedness is often regulated. Access is sometimes regulated for its own sake, or for the sake of control or for the sake of centralizing. We see that the ability to connect is regulated increasingly based on content, and increasingly we see that content and connectedness are merging. Sometimes those regulations on content are so extreme that they start to threaten the ability to connect. We see all sorts of government regulations and censorship, and all sorts of things with well-meaning intents, but that threaten the nature of connectedness. Sometimes the ability to connect the way the Internet permits is so threatening, that governments will allow a regulation of content and expression that they never would in other aspects of life.”
Countries that tend to have governments that regulate the freedom of speech regulate access to the Internet the most, Baker said, but extremely repressive governments are not the only ones who feel the need to regulate the Internet.
“Governments and societies that have much more open systems for content, and free expression in print are looking very carefully at the online world,” she pointed out. “They are allowing tracking and logging and censorship that would never be permitted in the world we have known to date. That, I think, is the power of connectedness being so strong that it’s forcing otherwise open societies down a more closed path than they realize. Part of the future for us is learning how to better express the distinction between connectedness and the absolute criticality of connectedness for this world, and the fears that arise as people get connected to content. We don’t have the answers yet.”
She said if the Internet is to work best as a tool for humanity the concept of connectedness depends upon an expansion of the number of people who don’t just consume but also create.
“We can see today that the centralized institutions of our world are not going to solve our problems,” she argued.
“The billions of people who are hungry are not going to be cared for by some large, centralized organization. Humans are smart and we are ingenious and given frameworks and tools for empowerment we do amazing things. This ability to create, to use those human values and to build an Internet and a framework and connectedness and an ability to create life across the planet is a tool, the Internet is a tool the likes of which we have not seen before.”
Baker said it is her mission and the mission of Mozilla to create communities of people who collaborate, connect and create.
“What is really important is the number of people who have experienced the real openness and creativity of the Web and are using it to build a better world and better lives,” Baker said. “If we are successful, millions of people will be experiencing that in other aspects of life, because we will not solve global problems, we will not solve employment opportunities, we will not solve the financial and environmental crises from any one centralized spot, not even here in Geneva. That has to happen on an organic basis, with lots of activities happening in different locales with people trying different things and finding things that work.”
– Reporters: Janna Anderson and Rebecca Smith
A selection of Twitter Reports from this ISOC 20th event:
Mitchell Baker, Mozilla (Firefox, etc.) GM since 1999, speaking at Global INET, #ISOC 20 anniversary opening plenary
#ISOC 20 closing keynoter Mitchell Baker is leader of the Mozilla Project
In 2005 Time magazine included Mitchell Baker in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world #ISOC 20
Baker was a counsel for Sun Microsystems before becoming one of the first employees at Netscape in 1994. #ISOC 20
Baker wrote both the Netscape Public License and the Mozilla Public License and has been mozilla.org GM since 1999. #ISOC 20
Mitchell Baker was instrumental in the launch of the Mozilla Foundation in 2003. #ISOC 20
Baker is a leader who believes in the power of the participatory, open-source collaboration #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET
Baker is AKA Lizard Wrangler, and her blog is here #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET @MitchellBaker
Mitchell Baker onInnovation video interview #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET @MitchellBaker
#ISOC 20 closing keynoter Francis Gurry is leader of the World IP Organization (WIPO).
Aussie Gurry is the fourth director general of WIPO the org working to sort out intellectual property issues. #ISOC 20
Francis Gurry has been working with global IP issues for WIPO since 1985 and helped found the Arbitration and Mediation Center. #ISOC 20
Before joining WIPO, Francis Gurry practiced as an attorney in Australia, and taught law at the University of Melbourne. #ISOC 20
Gurry has a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is author of many publications about IP issues #ISOC 20
The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at the Internet Society’s 20th Anniversary Global INET Conference included the following Elon University students, faculty, staff and friends: Jacquie Adams, Dan Anderson, Janna Anderson, Kacie Anderson, Nicole Chadwick, Jeff Flitter, Addie Haney, Brandon Marshall, Brian Meyer, Caitlin O’Donnell, Rachel Southmayd and Rebecca Smith.