UN Wants Multi-Stakeholder Discussions On 'Rethinking Copyright' — Ignores That The Only Stakeholder That Matters Is The Public
from the and-they've-already-decided dept
The UN’s Internet Governance Forum had a gathering to discuss rethinking copyright, in which WIPO made the case that it should lead “multi-stakeholder” discussions on how to reform copyright. WIPO, of course, has a history of having a rather one-sided view of copyright and who the “stakeholders” are. But now, it insists that it can hear all voices:
Trevor Clarke, assistant director general for the Culture and Creative Industries Sector of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said during a workshop on “Rethinking Copyright” today that the multi-stakeholder environment is “the best and and most appropriate” when it comes to the debate on copyright in the digital age. WIPO is preparing for such multi-stakeholder discussions, Clarke told Intellectual Property Watch.
Clarke said the WIPO director general and secretariat has added their voices to the call for a reexamination of the copyright system and have not shied away from the fact that some aspects of the law need to be revisited. Not only law, but also culture and infrastructure of the system, have to be considered, he underlined. Member state positions vary considerably on the issues, and it would make sense to include the private sector and also civil society into the talks, he said, adding, “We need that dialogue.”
While it’s nice to “include the private sector and also civil society,” that’s really ignoring the larger point. The only real “stakeholder” in copyright is the public. The private sector may be beneficiaries, but the system is supposed to benefit the public. And while “civil society” may represent the public in some areas, which is helpful, it seems that any real discussion on reforming copyright should be very, very open to the public.
Yet that never seems to be suggested by anyone.
And, really, when you look at what’s happening in reality vs. what’s happening in these discussions, you realize that the public has already made its position pretty clear. People are more than willing to pay for a certain amount of content if it’s convenient and not hindered/locked down. They’re willing to pay for content when they know they’re directly supporting artists they love. They’re willing to pay. But, if things are annoying and limited, expensive or inconvenient, they certainly might take matters into their own hands. On top of that, certain aspects of copyright law seem quaint or simply so unrealistic that they’re consistently ignored (such as with people making mashups and videos and the like). Yet, no one seems to want to address how the public is actually dealing with all of this, preferring to try to make up new rules based on artificial claims about copyright.
There’s no need for “multistakeholder” debates when the public has already said “here’s the deal: offer us what we want and we’ll pay and everyone’s happy.” The job of any governing organization right now should be to stop ignoring the public and start paying attention.