Rightsholders secure G8 victory on online copyright
The G8 heads of state ignored pleas from Google’s Eric Schmidt and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to delay “premature” lock-down of the internet.
Instead, they preferred to support host French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s controversial view of how to tackle online piracy. But they hinted they may change their minds, given fresh evidence.
In a statement on the internet issued at Deauville, the G8 leaders said the sometimes heated E>G8, where both Schmidt and Zuckerman spoke, was a “free and fruitful debate” and “a contribution for all relevant fora on current and future challenges”.
Nevertheless, they were “renewing” their commitment to ensure effective action against “violations of intellectual property rights in the digital arena, including action that addresses present and future infringements”.
They said, “We recognise that the effective implementation of intellectual property rules requires suitable international cooperation of relevant stakeholders, including with the private sector.”
They committed themselves to find ways to increase access and openness to knowledge, education and culture. This included encouraging continued innovation in legal online trade in goods and content, that were “respectful of our intellectual property rights”.
This was a victory for copyright intensive businesses such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Fox Studios, as well as France’s Vivendi and even Orange, the French mobile network operator. At the E>G8 Murdoch himself as well as representatives of the above firms, and others, argued for tougher penalties for content thieves and vigorous policing of the internet by internet service providers (ISPs).
On the related matter of users’ privacy, the leaders said individuals were ultimately responsible for what they put online. They agreed it was important to protect personal data and individual privacy to earn users’ trust. While ISPs, regulators and governments had a role, users needed to be “better aware of their responsibility” when placing personal data on the internet, they said.
Turning to cybersecurity, the G8 called for coordination between governments, regional and international organisations, the private sector, civil society and the G8’s own work in the Roma-Lyon group, to fight cyberterrorists and cybercriminals.
They said user awareness of the threat of botnets was crucial to fight attacks against infrastructure, networks and services, and against spreading malware.
They called on all stakeholders to fight the use of the internet for trafficking in children and for their sexual exploitation. They promised to work towards improving online child safety and parental controls, without limiting free expression.
They said there had been good progress in improving internet access in developing countries, particularly for education and healthcare.
They said they looked forward to further input from several international conferences later in the year. These were the Internet Governance Forum (September), the OECD meeting on the internet economy in Paris (June 2012), the London Internet Cyber Conference scheduled (November), and the Avignon Conference on Copyright (November).