Brief session description:
Tuesday, April 24, 2012- The Internet’s open architecture and generative nature have encouraged new forms of content creation by a greatly expanded range of actors engaging in previously unimaginable practices like globally distributed mass collaboration and remixing. But while widely celebrated as heralding a new dawn of empowerment and creativity, these developments also have presented challenges for those content creators who remain wedded to traditional business models based on the rigorous definition and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The resulting tension has produced conflicts such as those over the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation in the United States, which seeks to go far beyond existing approaches to rights enforcement by targeting (and potentially damaging) the Internet’s critical resources. Session planners asked: How do we reconcile the need to preserve the Internet’s fundamental character and its empowerment of new forms of creativity with the desire of content owners to control revenues generated by their products? And how do we do this in a globalized environment where nation-states and stakeholders often follow distinctly different policies and practices in accordance with their local cultures and interests?
Details of the session:
The session was moderated by Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Internet policy expert from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and panelists included: Vint Cerf, vice president at Google and Internet pioneer; Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer for ISOC; Robin Gross, executive director of IP Justice; Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director general of CERN; David Hughes, senior VP of technology for RIAA; Janis Karklins, assistant director-general for communication of UNESCO; Leon Felipe Sanchez, partner at Fulton & Fulton and professor at UNAM Law School; Martyn Ware, British musician and producer (Heaven 17, The Human League); Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, senior economic officer for WIPO; Hong Xue, professor at Beijing Normal University.
Much of the debate in this session hinged on the complexities involved when the ability of users to access content is matched up to the desire by creators and intermediaries such as publishing companies to be compensated for their work. The advent of new technology, most notably the Internet and the ease it offers in copying and sharing content, has added a new angle to the debate.
“The end game is not to repeat the tradition of battling two sides but to look forward and to find some constructive answers, how we can bridge these positions and come out with something new,” moderator Wolfgang Kleinwächter said. “We all understand there is an established framework that has to be respected. On the other hand, we see there are new technologies which partly undermine the existing framework.”
David Hughes, a staunch defender of artists’ rights to be compensated for their music, attempted to differentiate between entertainment content and general information and knowledge.
“They’re not the same,” he said, noting that while he is a fan of Creative Commons, it is “not applicable to professional content creators because music does not equate to software and technology development.”
Vint Cerf, emphasizing the open nature of the Internet, advocated for innovators to imagine and invent a broader range of options for content creators beyond the traditional categories of copyrighted work and those classified as being in the public domain.
“There is a spectrum of utility in control, non-control and access for all kinds of information and we need to take that into account as we think about intellectual property,” he said.
“We need to give creators of it a much broader range of options for the management of access to what they create.”
While not all were in agreement with Cerf’s remarks, generally everyone on the panel supported the notion that the current structure is broken and must be replaced with a new model that takes into account the use of the Internet in distributing content.
The basic premise of copyright laws is to incentivize creativity, Sacha Wunsch-Vincent said, but the question remains as to whether such business models are sustainable with the advent of digital content.
“I just think if we were inventing this system from scratch now, it’s completely not fit for its purpose,” Martyn Ware said. “I believe we have to acknowledge the reality of the situation and move forward and try to find a way that the average creator and artist can be compensated for their work.”
Just one example of that reality is the copyright protection of the TV industry, which Ware described in two words: “11 minutes.”
“Eleven minutes after the end of a TV show, the whole show, with commercials edited out, appears online,” he said. “I think we should be happy to revisit things like copyright, but right now creators don’t have any protection in many cases.”
While there is a pervasive perception that everything is free on the Internet, Robin Gross noted that all parties are in favor of artists being paid for their work. She encouraged utilizing the same powers of the Internet, including means of copying and distribution, that are currently hurting the entertainment industry.
“We should harness the properties of the Internet rather than trying to fight against those properties,” she said. “I see traditional business models trying to fix those when I think they should turn it around and harness those properties because that is where the business headed.”
Other panelists offered different options for restructuring the current system, including Rolf-Dieter Heuer, who said artists should be identified based on whether they want their content to be available for free or not.
“Why not try to distinguish between those who explicitly put it on the Web for free and those who put it explicitly on the Web to be paid,” he argued.
Leon Felipe Sanchez recommend a type of blanket licensing which would redirect the money currently being spent on copyright enforcement back to the content creators through licensing.
To Ware, such a plan might not even be necessary in the future; he predicts that people will no longer own content, but rather stream it. Examples of this model already exist, including iTunes and Spotify, both music applications.
“One of the things we need to keep in mind is irrespective of how rights are assigned or expected around a particular piece of content, something being available for free shouldn’t mean enablement of theft,” Leslie Daigle said.
Taking it one step further, Hughes contended that content creators have a “moral and material interest” to have protection for their work.
While no one suggestion was supported universally, Janis Karklins said a new approach is necessary, no matter how challenging.
“Our imagination certainly lags behind the first development,” he said. “It takes time, it is painful. We need to rethink many things which we are used to.”
Above all, panelists agreed that cooperation between users and creators must be encouraged and both must not be afraid to embrace new ways of thinking and new business models, while also working within the constraints of the law.
“At the end of the day, the Internet will create a world where there is much more art, much more culture, much more learning and knowledge,” Gross said. “So let’s not stifle and chill that in order to accommodate this one discrete, outdated business model.”
– Reporter: Caitlin O’Donnell
A selection of Twitter Reports from this ISOC 20th event:
#ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session “Digital Content, Intellectual Property and Innovation” one of three sessions starting the day in Geneva.
Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, Internet policy expert from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, moderator in “Digital Content” #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET
Vint Cerf, vice president at Google and Internet pioneer, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer for ISOC, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Robin Gross, executive director of IP Justice, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director general of CERN, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
David Hughes, senior VP of technology for RIAA, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Janis Karklins, assistant director-general for communication of UNESCO, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Leon Felipe Sanchez, partner at Fulton & Fulton and professor at UNAM Law School, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Martyn Ware, British musician and producer (Heaven 17, The Human League), panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, senior economic officer for WIPO, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
Hong Xue, professor at Beijing Normal University, panelist in #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET session on Digital Content, IP, Innovation.
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.