WEF publishes digital copyright principles


The World Economic Forum (WEF) published a set of digital copyright principles on Thursday, which are hoped to serve as a guide for copyright policymakers, owners and consumers.

WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Intellectual Property wrote the principles after identifying trends in the way Internet users consume digital copyrighted material.

The trends acknowledge the shift in content ownership, driven by the rise in cloud computing, as individuals no longer pay to own content, but to gain access to it.

They also highlight the difficulties associated with protecting digital copyright across jurisdictions as online material is accessed on a global scale.

David Kappos, former director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, said: “By focusing on what we ultimately want copyright to accomplish, the principles seek to emphasise the common ground between different groups, with the aim of moving forward a principle-based discussion.”

There are seven principles in the report, which stresses the importance of keeping a balance between creators’ interests and those of the consumer while streamlining licensing so it is as “easy and efficient” as possible.

John Wilks, partner at DLA Piper’s intellectual property and technology group in London, said that while on their own, the principles cannot harmonise copyright law across jurisdictions, “the principles which are more matters of policy than law have the potential to be more significant, and in particular those aimed at encouraging streamlined multi-jurisdictional licensing.”

He said that the challenge lies in encouraging those in the copyright market to move towards an international licensing model, which cannot be achieved by legislation alone.

The list also outlines the importance of educating the public about the value of copyright protection as the Internet allows for increased consumption of content from a variety of sources.

He said: “Educating the public about the importance and value of copyright protection should be undertaken in conjunction with the new measures which are intended to bring UK copyright law closer into line with current reality: eg, the proposed wider exception to permit format shifting music onto an iPod.

“Once the law becomes more realistic, it will be easier to convince people it should be complied with. Stressing that copyright infringement is not a victimless wrong (for example where copyright piracy has been used to fund terrorist organisations) can be powerful.”

This article was first published on 05 February 2013 in World IP Review

WEF, World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Intellectual Property, digital copyright, principles, David Kappos

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