Don't hurt the Web with rushed intellectual property laws, urges Internet Society

Greater transparency, as well as respect for the Internet’s open architecture and multi-stakeholder participation, are needed to help guide discussions around intellectual property policy on the Internet, according to the Internet Society.

Those principles and others comprise a new set of standards designed partly to address the explosion of content that has hit the Internet in recent years and to help ensure that the channels for distributing it are legally sound, the nonprofit group said.

The principles were outlined in a new paper by the Internet Society focusing on intellectual property on the Internet.

“With the emergence of the Internet, intellectual property law and policy making have been challenged on many fronts, including the one concerning the procedures that traditionally have been employed by policy makers and legislators to create, draft and implement intellectual property regulation,” reads the document, released Friday.

But, as the Internet has facilitated new means of communication, creativity and ideas, and with information’s rising accessibility, “traditional concepts of intellectual property appear increasingly antiquated,” according to the organization.

Part of the idea behind the group’s efforts is to get as many different voices involved as possible in bringing intellectual property policies more in line with various Internet platforms, such as YouTube.

The Internet Society’s principles are aimed at having all intellectual property policy stakeholders consider, at the minimum, a set of four standards around: intellectual property and transparency; intellectual property and the rule of law; intellectual property and Internet architecture; and innovation without permission.

In terms of transparency, for instance, “all discussions about intellectual property on the Internet should be conducted under an inclusive multi-stakeholder framework,” the Internet Society said.

And as far as Internet architecture goes, “the issue of intellectual property rights should be addressed in ways that do not undermine the global architecture of the Internet or curtail internationally recognized rights,” the group said.

The paper also points to OpenStand, an online movement built around developing market-driven standards on the Web. “This standards paradigm supports interoperability, fosters global competition and encourages standards development through an open participatory process and voluntary global adoption,” the society said.

The Internet Society’s principles might sound like common sense to some, “however they aren’t that commonplace in the context of traditional intellectual property rights discussions,” said Konstantinos Komaitis, policy adviser at the group and the paper’s author.

“Arguably, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the Stop Online Piracy Act suffered in part because the process to develop those policies did not take these principles on board,” he said in an email, naming specifically transparency, inclusiveness and the respect for global interoperability.

“We are hopeful that these principles will help shape further discussions related to IP,” he added.

ACTA is an agreement to create new IP enforcement standards that go beyond current international law, while SOPA was a controversial U.S. bill to combat online copyright infringement and the trafficking of counterfeit goods. SOPA was scrapped by its sponsors in early 2012 after online protests.

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