12 November 2012

IGF Baku - Workshop 146 outcomes 'Intellectual property rights and the freedom to share'

IFLA’s final workshop at the IGF 2012 took place on the morning of Thursday 8th November in Baku. The IFLA Director of Policy and Advocacy participated in a panel on intellectual property and the freedom to share, and the session proved to be one of the most lively yet.

The panellists were diverse – two teenagers from the IGF’s youth forum started the discussion by talking about young people’s views towards file-sharing (‘make material cheaper and more attractive and perhaps people won’t illegally take it’) before the way that current copyright frameworks don’t favour 21st century library activities were enthusiastically discussed by panellists and audience alike. Representatives from the US Copyright Office, the Internet Society (ISOC) and civil society groups concerned with balanced IP frameworks also moved the discussion through such topics as ACTA, the TPPA and SOPA/PIPA. The panel was notable for a contribution from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), often portrayed as one of the great enemies of the public interest in the global copyright debate but here presenting a slightly softer face by agreeing that the library copyright situation needed clarification and that copyright term may even have to be revisited in the near future on account of it being too lengthy.

Workshops and discussions such as this are valuable – and indeed are the point of the IGF. The IGF itself has no decision making powers but it does offer the chance for stakeholders with opposed viewpoints to get around a table and really get into the issues. Hitherto unknown points of agreement are often the result, as we all as a deeper understanding of why certain positions are held. While a lot of areas were covered and consensus wasn’t quite achieved, the best summary perhaps came one of the youth panellists who simply tweeted at the end : “Copyright, as a whole, is a mess” 

WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society), Azerbaijan, Digital inclusion, Intellectual property, IGF, Internet Governance Forum

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